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, and these steroids 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. It normally happens in relationships during a stressful situation, when one or both partners is quick to remember what played to his/her emotions than the actual facts around what happened.
Low concentration of glucocorticoids is also not good. Some reports, although not conclusive, have linked it with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that receives little attention in most of Africa. Children who have been neglected or have been traumatized also have a low concentration of glucocorticoids.
Stress reduces the volume 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 35% of Kenyans have hypertension, which is chronic high blood pressure. And we joke around with comments like “hauta nipatia pressure,” and yet we are barely finding ways to manage this pressure.
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. 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 a 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.
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 in control of 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 the mood
When you’re stressed, take a walk for 30 minutes. The quickest way to elevate your mood is through increasing your endorphins, and the fastest way is to exercise. A 30-minute walk will do.
A healthy diet also works to elevate your mood. Most of us forget to eat when we are stressed, or eat too much. We go the whole day with that burning-heart feeling.
Ensure that you have all your meals, especially breakfast! And eat it like a King or Queen. 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.
Try to eat foods that are rich in iron, folate and Vitamin D, these vitamins are associated with an improved mood.
When your mind is stressed, you must treat your body like a Queen or King, help it heal.
You can also put on some good music, play short and sweet and odi odi dance to the beat, and you’ll find yourself feeling quite sweet. Music is great at making you feel better; but you must select music that is uplifting, the kind that makes you smile and move.
Tried everything, and still stressed
If you are constantly stressed, even one consecutive week of stress, please see a doctor. This kind of stress can lead to Type Two diabetes, but if diagnosed early, you can manage it better. If the doctor recommends a counsellor, see one.
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 organization that is well equipped to help you.
Make sure to Sign Up for free membership while it lasts, we can help you gauge the foods you eat, and better manage your stress better.