Have you been looking after your brain? Have you had any fun today? Some fun each day will keep the psych away...Have you moved today? Movement protects your brain from stress....
by Erica Patrick
Stress and the brain
The brain acts as the central regulatory organ in the stress response. Specific areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus play different roles in our feelings, behavior and body functions. The hippocampus is involved in the formation of new memories, and associated with learning and emotions. It is also involved in appetite regulation. The amygdala is responsible for the processing of memory, decision-making and emotional responses (including fear and anxiety). The hypothalamus links our endocrine and nervous systems together and influences many of the body’s key processes, maintaining the body’s internal balance. In the 1960s, researcher Bruce McEwen made the discovery that glucocorticoids released in response to stress accumulate within the hippocampus of the brain. Chronic exposure to cortisol, which is akin to chronic stress creates neuronal changes and can cause reduction in the size of the hippocampus and an increase in size of the amygdala. Ultimately the changes that chronic stress creates can lead to reduced memory and learning capacity, as well as reduced ability to rationalize events. How to prevent stress changes in the brain Keeping cortisol levels down to a minimum by getting plenty of sleep is extremely important. Exercise on a regular basis is extremely helpful for your hypothalamus and has even been shown to increase its size. Exercise also metabolises the stress hormones we produce. Practice deep breathing exercises or yoga to reduce the number of stress hormones produced.