How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia
Anxiety Is Draining Your Brain
How’s this for unfair: Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorders than men are, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. And to top it off, new research finds that those frequent bouts of worrying may be making it hard for your brain to complete even the simplest of tasks.
10 Silent Signals You’re Stressed
It’s no secret that feeling anxious isn’t exactly enjoyable, but Michigan State University researchers wanted to find out exactly what goes on inside an anxious brain. They asked 149 men and women who suffer from anxiety to complete a series of puzzles, while tracking the electrical activity in their brains.
The results: Although men and women performed equally well on the simple puzzles, women’s brains were much more active. Later, when the puzzles became more difficult, the women performed worse than their male counterparts.
13 Little Ways To Be Less Anxious
Why? The researchers speculate that the energy used up on simple tasks robbed the anxious women of thebrainpower needed to complete more difficult tasks. In other words, although your brain is technically an organ, it mimics a muscle in that it can be worn down by too much work. And, like carrying around an extra 10-pound weight, anxiety makes everything your brain does more difficult.
But not to worry; you can learn to get a handle on your anxiety with a few easy tips:
Control your breathing.Although you’ve probably been told to breathe deeply when trying to calm down, the opposite is actually true, says Alicia Meuret, PhD, a psychologist and anxiety specialist at Southern Methodist University. “Deep breaths worsen hyperventilation and anxiety-associated symptoms such as shortness of breath and a racing heart,” she says. So howshouldyou breathe? Slowly and shallowly, Dr. Meuret recommends. Try to take in as little air as possible, keeping in the oxygen for a second or two before exhaling, she advises. This will keep your body’s supply of circulating carbon dioxide at its proper level, which will calm you down, she says.
Which Type Of Anxious Are You?
Try an easy meditation technique.Learn to trigger your body’s “relaxation response,” says Herbert Benson, MD, director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Repeat a relaxing mantra or think about a place that makes you feel calm,” Dr. Benson says. This type of simple meditation has been shown to reduce both anxiety and stress, according to a study from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
See more green.Researchers at Kansas State University found that hospital patients who kept green plants in their rooms reported reduced levels of pain and anxiety, and had lower blood pressure. Plus, dozens of studies have shown similar correlations between exposure to nature and reduced stress and anxiety.
Video: How to fix the exhausted brain | Brady Wilson | TEDxMississauga
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