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In a previous post we focused on bad news. This post focuses on good news about the brain and recovery. Below are six ways to help buffer and repair your brain after stress.
1) Exercise: Having a good workout shortly after a stressful experience will help your brain get rid of the stress chemicals that cause negative effects. Exercise also helps your hippocampus to grow, helping you concentrate, keep your sense of humor, catch yourself before an error, make decisions, and learn new tasks. If you're a science geek, like us, read more about this here.
2) Rest: While we sleep, the brain and body “heals itself,” clearing away the clutter and processing the day. Nearly everyone needs 7-8 hours for this process to happen. Not getting enough sleep is also associated with weight gain, blaming others, and skin aging. If your work requires you to travel across time zones click here for an info sheet with some helpful tips.
3) Activities involving Spatial Reasoning: There’s some evidence that activities or games that involve spatial reasoning – organizing a warehouse, sports, Scrabble, or Tetris - may distract the brain from negative processing after a traumatic event. These activities provide a needed break for the brain, and can assist recovery.
4) Friends: Having friends you can laugh with, lean on, and talk to, is one of the most significant ways to buffer yourself against stress. If you feel like no one is on your team, it’s probably not true. Revisit this post. Reach out. For a deeper discussion of the role social support plays in resilience, click here.
5) Prayer & Meditation: There is significant evidence that meditation helps shrink the part of the brain (Amygdala) associated with stress and anxiety. Stress is causing the Amygdala to grow – and meditation is helping to shrink it back. There are many ways to do this, but a key component involves slowing down your breathing and being aware of your thoughts.
6) Meaning and Purpose: There is a reason why this work matters to you so much. It’s tied to what you value, the things you believe in, and what you most hope for. Don’t let yourself lose sight of these things. Engage in activities that fill your spirit. There are many ways to do this. Here are a few. If you find yourself questionning beliefs that don't seem to fit your present circumstances, consider working through this reflection tool, or reading about VT and its affect on spirituality.
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