The Baby Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. That change marked the generation with a strong cultural cleavage, between the proponents of change and the more conservative ideations. These individuals were able to experience, first-hand, historical events such as the first man walking on the moon, the Cold War and the… read more
Brain Function Under Anxiety and Stress: Reduce Stress by Smiling
Stress and anxiety can have very adverse effects on the brain and the way it functions. Many times stress acts as a process to deal with threats both physical and emotional. Under normal conditions stress is necessary to protect the body. However under unusually high stress situations the brain can actually be damaged by too much stress and anxiety.
According to Robert Sapolsky, “the cause of the damage to the brain comes from the hormone adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. All of these hormones act to increase the heart rate and can act to diminish the feeling of pain”. Robert Sapolsky has found that prolonged stress can shrink the hippocampus section of the brain.
The hippocampus is one of the major components of the brain and is responsible for long term memory as well as spatial navigation. The function of the hippocampus section of the brain can be improved through decreasing the effects of stress.
Taking charge in the way one deals with problems can dramatically decrease the stress one experiences. The first step in dealing with stress is identifying where the stress is coming from. Many times, changing one’s outlook on life can decrease stress. Positive thinking is the key mechanism in controlling stress. We may not be able to control the environment around us; however, we can directly control the thoughts that go through our mind.
An extremely effective way of managing stress can be the act of smiling. Even if one does not feel like smiling, consciously smiling can have a big effect on ones mood. It can be that simple. When you feel very stressed, try lifting the corners of the mouth to form a smile. Notice the feeling from a smile and consciously focus on how good it feels. Smiling can be a very strong form of meditation.
By smiling, one is letting their body know that everything is all right and is actually good! The body is tricked very easily. This can decrease the amount of adrenaline that is released and helps to decrease stress. Instead of telling the body it’s time to fight or fly, a smile tells the body everything is good and it’s time to relax and have a great time.
The reason smiling works so well is that it forces the body to release endorphins immediately. Endorphins can create a feeling of euphoria. Smiling therefore is a less addicting way to experience the euphoria producing hormones that can be felt by taking drugs such as cocaine or even heroine.
Check out this video for some more information to live a better life.