From The Amen Clinics newsletter:
5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Feel Less Stressed
I woke up very stressed today, hate when that happens.
Did you know that chronic stress has been shown in studies to shrink your hippocampus, one of the major memory centers in the brain, and suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and viruses such as COVID-19, according to additional research? It’s true. While a certain amount of stress is healthy and necessary in life, chronic stress is not.
Chronic stress has been shown in studies to shrink your hippocampus, one of the major memory centers in the brain, and suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and viruses such as COVID-19.
Unfortunately, we are all under a lot of stress. The latest Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association found that 74% of U.S. adults reported having experienced various impacts of stress in the last month. Here are 5 things that can help you to feel less stressed now.
5 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS
1. Learn to say “No.”
Unfortunately, I’ve had to say “no” way too often. I love helping out my friends and neighbors, I’m not the only one who constantly gets defrauded and ripped off. I just can’t do it anymore, can’t even properly deal with my own crap. The corporations exploit, deceive and defraud with impunity.
2. Practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Unlike meditating, it’s easy and it works. The hard part is remembering to do it. Pain in my arm is a good reminder that it’s time to relax and prevent a heart attack.
3. Use your 5 senses to calm your emotional brain.
Vision— Curate a collection of images that you can look at that make you feel happy. Nature images are particularly soothing, according to research.
Looking at pretty pictures does nothing for me. Doesn’t stop my brain thinking about my deadlines. Watching an interesting video is more helpful. Of course, that’s not helping getting things done.
However, I try to take breaks and work in the garden or greenhouse if I can make the time. Obviously, that’s not an option when you have a deadline a few hours later. I always tremendously enjoy working outside after a major deadline.
Hearing— Use an audio streaming service to develop a playlist of soothing music. If you need a suggestion, try David Lanz’s “Beloved.”
Soothing music is not normally what I want to listen to. But when I have computer and especially legal work to do, I sometimes try to find something enjoyable on YouTube and it definitely improves my mood.
Touch—Don’t underestimate the power of human touch. Ask for a hug, get a massage, pet your animals, or try acupressure.
I’ve never liked being touched and since Covid I don’t even want to get close. Animals are the way to go. Haven’t tried acupressure.
Smell—Aromatherapy offers a plethora of calming scents. Try diffusing essential oils or lighting a natural candle made with them.
Love essential oils and recently got a large bottle of lavender.
Tastes—Savor powerful flavors and spices such as lemon, fresh basil, garlic, curcumin, cocoa, cinnamon, saffron, mint, and nutmeg.
Cacao is great and I have more spices than most, literally buy them by the pound. However, when seriously stressed, I’ll go for a pound of ground beef, extra spicey with lots of capsicum, and half a pound of spaghetti. Or more. I usually eat only at night, and it makes me tired. I just want to SLEEP. And the pepper keeps me from having a heart attack. I often get cravings for cayenne when I haven’t had spicy food for a while or am very stressed.
4. Know when your nervous system is out of balance and bring it back.
When you perceive a threat, real or imagined, it activates your sympathetic nervous system (SNS), causing a fight-or-flight response that allows you to quickly fight or flee to safety. Stress hormones are released in the process. In a healthy nervous system, our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) counterbalances the SNS and helps us calm down. They work together to keep stress in check. Yet, this very same system, meant to protect, can get activated by frequent stressors or trauma (such as during our current pandemic) to the point that it does not downregulate; it stays on, causing you to feel anxious, panicked, hyperaroused, hypervigilant, restless, and sleepless, or it can be “stuck off,” leaving you to feel depressed, flat, exhausted, confused, and disoriented.
When your nervous system appears to be out of balance, take action! If SNS appears to be overly active, calm it with meditation, prayer, hypnosis, guided imagery, diaphragmatic breathing, and calming supplements, such as GABA, magnesium, or theanine. If it appears sluggish or “off,” activate it with brain healthy physical exercises, such as dancing or table tennis.
I’ve been taking GABA and so many supplements. Have no idea what works.
5. Don’t turn to alcohol or marijuana.
While you may be tempted to turn to alcohol or marijuana during times of stress, don’t. Both substances are harmful to your brain, and while they may provide temporary relief, they can both cause more stress in the long run.
Clinical research and SPECT imaging at Amen Clinics show that even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with brain shrinkage, reduced blood flow to the brain, and atrophy to the hippocampus, which compromises memory function. What’s more, research shows that heavy drinking is associated with higher levels of stress. And if you already struggle with anxiety, a hangover often makes that anxiety worse. Additionally, consuming alcohol disrupts sleep. Disturbed sleep patterns exacerbate stress and anxiety.
I’ve been looking forward to a margarita on a warm summer afternoon or evening all of 2021. Even got organic lime juice so I’d be ready any time. It never happened. I had maybe 10 beers the entire year, mostly at the river. There’s nothing like walking barefoot on the sand, slightly intoxicated, listening to the water — it’s a different world.
Despite some studies suggesting stress-relieving benefits, other studies point to marijuana’s serious negative effects on developing brains. It also has been found to impair cognitive function, disrupt the brain’s normal maturation process, and decrease blood flow to the brain. Human clinical studies on marijuana use demonstrate a common anxiety-producing response to THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana), especially at high doses. In a recent 2020 study participants with preexisting depression and anxiety, who used marijuana for pain, self-reported even greater symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Being 63, my brain isn’t developing anymore.
It is true that high doses can lead to more anxiety. I feel like I’m less capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems. But I know that it’s just the weed and that I’ll wake up in the morning feeling ready to go again, so it’s all good.
If I was stoned all day I wouldn’t get anything done and make so many more mistakes.
Of course it would be better to be able to STOP THINKING through meditation or some other method, but it is what it is and it works for me.
When I smoke in the evening, I can actually get some serious work such as web design done a couple of hours later. Despite feeling exhausted and burned out before smoking weed. It can improve my mood, motivate me. It enables me to shift focus from whatever caused the stress to another project.
Sometimes I wonder how smart I would have been if I had never done drugs.
Started at 15. Dropped out of school when I was 16. Used to smoke on my way to work in the morning until I was about 22. Life was unbearable.
But I still passed the test for my California real estate broker license on the first try. And I overturned two federal judges in one appeal in 2018. Never took a law class aside from real estate law at the community college.
I’ve tried many drugs and realized quickly how destructive they are. But hash and marijuana saved my life again and again and again.
It STRESSES me that so many corporations defraud me and millions of others with impunity. And it stresses me that in recent years I just haven’t had the time and energy to put up a good fight anymore.
My organizational skills, MEMORY, are my biggest problem. I rarely have the ENERGY to work until 3 or 4 am anymore.
And since I learned about the circadian rhythm and how awful it is to go to sleep so late, I’ve been TRYING to go to sleep earlier. But, late at night I’m most focused. I’m not disrupted at all and my brain kicks ass.
Chronic stress is a true physical and mental health liability. In addition to these suggestions, find new ways to seek calm in all areas of your life. Remember, any activity that allows you to relax and your parasympathetic nervous system to be activated is good for you!
Chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.
In the end, it all comes down to money.
I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t received an inheritance in late 2020.
THAT is stressful to think about. Especially as I’ll soon be as poor as ever.
Who can live on $251 social security and food stamps?
I really wanted to get a brain scan at an Amen Clinic and contacted them several times about pricing. They always wanted me to CALL them. I don’t have time to record phone calls and transcribe them so that I have a record of calls.
According to a recent NPR interview, Amen Clinic treatment can cost over $100k. Way more than my entire inheritance. Insurance doesn’t pay for it.
Looking for Dr. Amen’s DVD set about the various types of brain damage, I found 12 DVDs CHANGE YOUR BRAIN – the masters coaching program on a shelf. I’m confused now, remember having a DVD set with the most fascinating explanations of the various types of brain damage like ADHD, with the brain scans.
Will have to watch the coaching program on a slow night.
In the last couple of years reading books has turned into a 100% waste of time because it takes so long and I forget what I read very quickly — no matter how interesting and important the information is.
And I just don’t have the TIME to read. I listen to podcasts while cleaning or cooking and really enjoy watching docuseries and interviews with experts, especially with graphics and pictures. That’s how I remember best.
Have two of Paul Stamet’s mushroom books and just bought the Kindle versions so that I can quickly find how to grow various mushrooms. My Lion’s Mane popcorn is ready for the next step.
Update: Tried to watch DVDs and could NOT. Wasted literally hours, finally found out that Microsoft hit a new LOW, removed the ability to play DVDs in Win 10. They want $15 for software. UNREAL!
Downloaded the free open-source VLC player:
Just noticed win32 instead of 64, but it works great. And I donated $5.