There is no doubt that stress is not good for you. Stress is a major contributor to many disease states and if left unchecked can damage the body and mind beyond repair. There are many sources of stress in modern life, from our jobs, families and the general environment. In this post I just want to highlight how stress could be eating your intelligence and various ways to reduce its impact in your life.
Stress causes the release of the hormone Cortisol, this hormone is not a bad one in and of itself, but when it is chronically elevated for prolonged periods of times can lead to major damage of numerous body systems.
Cortisol destroys brain cells located in the hippocampus which has a role to play in memory encoding and retrieval. This is how stress gradually erodes your intellectual capacities resulting in some form of major or minor cognitive deficits. Stress fries your brain and you should do anything in your power to reduce its effect. Below are some of the methods I have found very useful in the reduction of stress.
1. Use of Adaptogens: These are herbs like Ginseng, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola Rosea etc. These herbs have been confirmed to reduce the effects of stress on the body. I use ginseng from time to time and I can personally attest to its effects. Although it usually takes about 3 weeks to kick in. After 3 weeks on ginseng I notice I am more cool headed than usual and find it easy to focus on one task for prolonged period of times without the constant urge to switch except for needed emergencies or other scheduled tasks.
2. Moderate exercise: This is not your usual sweat if off exercise to lose fat or gain strength. Although you need some physical exercise in your life to stay healthy and a good 30 minutes is usually recommended, what I am talking about here are simple exercises that can be done in less than 5 mins. My favorite one is what has been termed Super Brain Yoga! a google search will reveal more detail. These are the basics like I practice it everyday. You cross your hands across your chest holding each opposite earlobes with your thumb, raising your tongue to the roof of your mouth, with closed lips of course and squat 14 times per session. The breathing motion is also important as you breathe in when going down and breathe out when coming up. I have found this method very effective. I have also found it as a great way to release myself from writer's block too, this blog would not have been possible without this exercise. Another cool one I do from time to time is simple regular pushups, just as much as you can do. One to three sets of about 10 pushups is enough to get me relaxed and functioning again.
3. Music: Another way I find very helpful in reducing my stress levels is listening to relaxing or pleasant music. Mozart does the trick for me but you could find other kinds of music that do it for you.
4. Alternate nostril breathing: I find that inhaling from one nostril while blocking the other and exhaling from the blocked nostril after you open it and the alternately block the nostril you inhaled, repeating for both nostril for about 3 minutes calms me down and cools my head. Beginners could start with 1 minute or less. Details about how to properly do this can be found through a simple google search
5. Power Resting: I have written extensively about his method look at POWER REST for more.
6. A good night rest: Well I don't need to say much about this because we have all felt the evil of sleep deprivation in our lives. If you have to work late for reasons beyond your control then make sure to pay for your sleep debt during the day with POWER REST. If you don't do you are destroying your brain by walking around with elevated cortisol levels.
These are a few out of the numerous methods out there for reducing stress. I have personally found these very effective but if you have others that I have not mentioned and they have worked for you feel free to share it in the comments section. Thanks.