Your brain is extremely sensitive to stress. The brain bears the burden of the stress you suffer throughout your lifetime.
When you are stressed(assuming you’re an adult), your body releases a steroid called glucocorticoids from your pituitary gland; steroid receptors are released into your brain.
It’s not selective amnesia, stress has impaired your memory
Glucocorticoid receptors are normally in your brain but in small amounts. However when you’re stressed, the steroid receptors increase, and strides have shown that acute increases in the steroid in your brain impairs the retrieval of neutral information, while significantly increasing the retrieval of emotional information.
That’s why sometimes you try to remember why you were angry, and you can’t get the true reason behind it. This normally happens in relationships wherein a stressful situation, one or both partners is quick to remember what played to his or her emotions than why they were angry.
Low concentration of glucocorticoids is also not good for you. Some reports, although not conclusive, have linked it with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that receives little attention in Africa, and should be discussed more. Children who have been neglected or have been traumatised also have a low concentration of glucocorticoids.
Stress reduces the volume of this part of your brain
Exposure to chronic stress also affects the part of your brain that deals with short and long term memory, and spatial memory too: this part is called the hippocampus of the brain. It shrinks the hippocampus volume. Low self-esteem is also associated with a reduced hippocampus volume.
Your everyday stress is detrimental to the brain. It can lead to brain shrinkage, hindering nerve cell growth, and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
We all have to learn how to manage our stress. More than 37% of Kenyans have hypertension. And we joke around with comments like “hauta nipatia pressure,” and yet we are barely finding ways to manage this stress.
Foods to cut out when you’re stressed
Firstly, avoid using alcohol to deal with stress. Very many men and women will pick a bottle of wine or a case of beer to drink down the sorrows, that’s where the problem begins to get bigger.
Several studies say that you can have a glass of wine to relax you. The problem is the glass becomes a bottle, and the bottle a case, and before you know it’s an everyday habit that gives you comfort. This is bad comfort, one that we don’t wish on you.
Your brain is already shrinking from the stress, no need to exacerbate the situation by intoxicating yourself with alcohol.
Make a habit of knowing the foods you eat; sign up for our free membership, and we will work with you to improve your food habits.
Put pen to paper, and have some hot chocolate
Let’s replace that wine or beer with some hot chocolate and a journal. Yes, a journal to write down your thoughts, to try and understand what really is bothering you, and to help you figure out how to find a solution.
We suggest you get an actual book (any notebook will make a journal) and a pen. You will be amazed at how well the brain thinks when you give it a pen and paper.
Put pen to paper, and help your brain understand and figure out how best to move from where you are to where you want to be.
Endorphins to elevate your mood
When you’re stressed, get yourself to eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet will give you the endorphins you need to elevate your mood.
Most of us forget to eat when we are stressed. We go the whole day with that “heartburn” feeling. Try to eat foods that are rich in iron, folate and Vitamin D are associated with improved mood.
Ensure that you have all your meals, especially breakfast! And eat it like a Queen or King. An example of a breakfast meal that is rich in iron, folate and Vitamin D is roast potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, chicken livers; with tree tomato juice.
When your mind is stressed, you must treat your body like a Queen or King, help it heal.
Tried everything, and you’re still stressed
If you’re constantly stressed, even for one consecutive week, please see a doctor. This kind of stress can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
If your doctor recommends a counsellor, commit to seeing the counsellor to manage your stress; you could be mitigating the risk of getting Pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Talking it out helps. Speak to someone. Call Amani Counselling Centres, or send us a message, we’ll see how to link you up with an organisation that is well equipped to help you better manage your stress.