According to the American Psychological Association Annual Stress in America report, the most common sources of stress are really not a surprise considering the state of our world at the moment. They are as follows: The Future of our Nation (63%) Money (62%), Work (61%), Current Political Climate (57%), Violence and Crime (51%). It is interesting to note that in 2015, money was the highest stressor to Americans but that has now been topped by worries about the future of our nation—something that is increasingly apparent in the news.
- In fact, no matter their age, 59% of Americans believe this is the lowest point in our nation’s history.
- From a neuroscience perspective, our brains were not designed to be under stress for long periods of time, so chronic stress has definitively negative impacts on our brain. In fact, stress can cause of loss of volume to the brain which can cause cognitive and emotional impairment.
- Stress makes us less effective at work, makes us lose brain capacity and can keep us from accessing our prefrontal cortex which is the genius decision-making part of our brain. As such, stress makes us less smart.
- Simple steps to help remedy stress are taking a short brain break every hour. People can set a mindfulness bell/alarm to go off every hour. When the reminder goes off, a person should take at least a minute or two to relax, stretch, yawn (which gets oxygen to the brain quickly) and clear their minds. These breaks refresh the brain and we find people are more productive when they do this regularly.
- Likewise, meditation can be broken down in these same types of small chunks. Many of us do not think we can afford 15-20 minutes to meditate, but we could easily fit in 2-3 minutes throughout the day. The benefits are still there for the person practicing.
- The biggest positive change people can make is a change in attitude. Consciously practice being more positive. Our brains naturally focus on negativity so we need to regularly practice becoming more positive and helping our brain reframe information. Instead of stressing about having too many chores, we can be grateful we have clothes to launder, a house that needs cleaning and the ability to buy groceries. It’s all in the perspective.
Available for Interviews: Carol Barkes
Carol Barkes is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results.
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.