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Retrain Your Brain – Better Stress Management

Heather Edwards Mental Health Counseling / Articles  / Retrain Your Brain – Better Stress Management

Retrain Your Brain – Better Stress Management

Heather Edwards stress“I can’t take it anymore!”

“I need a vacation!”

“Maybe I’ll sell everything and move to an island!”

Have you had similar thoughts?  I know I have.

This. Is. Stress.

We ALL experience stress. It’s NORMAL in our highly opinionated, fast paced, multi-tasking, master of all domains world.

In fact, I just had a perfect storm of stressors in my life that created exhaustion and overwhelm. But I’ll spare you those gory details.

What is stress??? The dictionary definition is: A state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Sound familiar?

Your nervous system is activated.

This is your fight or flight reaction.

All functions aimed at survival take priority.

And stress kills, right? Wrong!

Research is demonstrating that it’s what we do with stress that kills us.

When there’s a perceived threat in our environment, stress happens – and then our bodies resume normal functioning when that threat is gone.

In the case of poor coping, that stress response lingers, leading to an extended activation of your nervous system and potential health consequences – like heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

It’s imperative that you hit the reset button after the stress trigger has left the building.

The catch is that our brains are evolved with a negativity bias.Heather Edwards stress

We naturally scan our environment for potential danger.

It’s kept us alive as a species since early man.

And It makes our brains function like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good, according to Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain.

In other words, the bad sticks and the good slips away.

Since We don’t face the same physical threats to our survival as early man – like being chased down 5th Avenue by a rhinoceros- we must work harder to hold onto the good and let go of the bad.

Here’s one way to do it…

It’s a technique using the neuroscience of retraining your brain.

We know that our brains are very plastic and can be shaped, literally by the way we think.

When you spend time focusing on the good, you begin changing your brain’s physical structure.

You develop new neural pathways, that naturally notice the good unfolding around you.

It’s just like taking a walk in a meadow.  Imagine a winding pathway through the grass. The more you walk that path, the deeper and wider it becomes.

The neural pathways in your brain develop the same way. The ones you travel most often become the most ingrained.

So travel the ones that bring you health, positivity, and peace.

My favorite way of doing this is by writing in a 3 step journal.

1.The first step is – what I’m feeling today. Check yourself and write about that.

2.The second step is – what I’m grateful for today. Take stock of what you already have. This creates an abundance mindset.

3.The third step is – my intention for today. Focus on what you want and walk that pathway into the fresh day ahead.

Heather Edwards stressIt takes about 5 minutes. When you commit to this it  jump starts positivity.

Your neurons fire in ways that feel good. The pathways to happiness are reinforced.

It’s uplifting, empowering, and grounding.

And Despite the happiness saboteurs around and within you, it invites THE GOOD to stick around longer, and for peace and calm to become your pathway of choice.


photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by nenetus, vectorolie, dan.

Heather Edwards, LMHC, BCC

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