Brain Bulletin 112 - Best Tip Ever to Reduce Brain Stress

in Brain Bulletin

These are challenging, uncertain times. There are a lot of real reasons to be anxious and stressed.  

Worry, fear, frustration, and anger cause high levels of stress hormones. These stimulants cause an increase in electrical activity in our brains. In turn, this causes the brain to generate an increase in thoughts, and they come at a higher rate. The result is often "brain fog", at a time when clear thinking is needed. 

There are numerous ways to deal with stress. Many include distracting ourselves: comfort food, reading, walking, Zooming, TV, meeting the neighbours at a safe distance for drinks. All of these can help us cope with stress and anxiety, but there's one way that seems to stand out as especially effective. That is: to make a difference in someone's life. 

The University of BC did some interesting research*. Frances Chen and Yeeun Lee found that prosocial acts were effective in protecting our bodies and minds from stress. They state that acts of kindness help us cope, and boost our mood, decrease blood pressure, and help us live longer. Caring for others is a great stress regulator. It turns out that helping others helps us. 

Here's what the researchers did, "In our lab we are researching how caring for a stranger helps people to regulate their own stress. We told participants the story of a stranger in need and asked them to write an encouraging letter to that person. Participants spontaneously showed empathy, shared their own stories, and reminded the other person that they were valued. After writing the letter, participants saw their own problems as less overwhelming, and felt less stressed. Writing the letter seemed to increase participants' faith in humanity." 

This study contains a powerful truth: It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

Opportunities abound. As Seneca once said, "Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness." 

Start small: Smile at somebody. Phone someone who's struggling. Send an encouraging email, or even better, a hand-written letter. See where it goes from there. The list of course is endless ......

Try to make it a daily habit. Kindness, like most things, is a habit. First we form habits, and then they form us. Remember, brains get good at what they repeatedly do. 

Here's something else to read on this topic: Brain Bulletin #6 - A "Sure Fire" Stress Buster
And this: Brain Bulletin #76 - The Charles Schulz Philosophy

"Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom." ~ Theodore Rubin

Thanks for reading. 

* Source: Vancouver Sun, April 6, 2020


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