Handle your stress – Don’t let it handle you

Stress is part of our everyday life, and some days we handle it better than others. Some days we get stressed about being stressed, starting a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc on our nerves, our work , and personal lives. However, you shouldn’t feel so guilty, as some of these are reactions are completely justified – in fact, it’d be strange if somethings didn’t cause you stress.

New research published in “The Journal of Neuroscience” shows that a stress you can control is very different from a stress that you can’t control. An example of an uncontrollable stress could be a traumatic event, such as the divorce or death of a family member. A controllable stress could be training for and running a 10k race, or preparing for your dream vacation. Not all stress is bad.

Since we’ve already identified that stress is inevitable and unavoidable, we can then agree that it’s how you handle the stress that is most important. After exposure to a controllable stress there is increased activity in the frontal cortex and research suggest that exciting this area can create resilience to stress in general. So just as with anything in life, practice dealing with stress. Set goals for yourself that required a certain amount of controllable stress, be they fitness, professional, or social. The  small amounts of stress that you are able to handle and conquer will help train your mind and body to deal with those unavoidable uncontrollable stressors in life.

But how do you keep the frontal cortex activated when the uncontrollable stress comes into play? The easiest and simplest way to do that is through the use of biofeedback, and slowing your breath rate down to a more optimal functioning level. By changing your breath rate, you change your heart rate. If you can get those two to dance together in sync, moving at the same beat, then you have created physiological balance. Both the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system will preform better and keep the frontal lobes in an active state.

There are breathing programs that you can purchase for home use such as MY Calm Beat or M Wave, which I have both used and recommend. There are other things that you can do to help keep your brain balanced, depending on the different variables.

Remember, not all stress is bad; it is how we handle it that counts. Handle your stress, don’t let it handle you.