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Avoid Burnout Tip – What Stress does to Your Brain

May 24, 2010

This is a fascinating website – and an excellent resource for educators to boot.   I was doing some research on the effects of stress on humans and found Stress and the Brain.

As we all know, a little bit of ‘stress’ is good – it catalyzes us and gets us moving, especially in dangerous situations.  However, long term stress is very detrimental.

In the short-term cortisol presumably helps the brain to cope with the life-threatening situation. However, if neurons become over-loaded with calcium they fire too frequently and die – they are literally excited to death.  –Your Amazing Brain, Stress & the Brain

Now, I don’t think we really needed scientists to tell us prolongued stress is bad for us, but it never hurts to have an expert back us up.  The question now is, now what?

Researchers speculate that the hippocampus, the part of your brain that relates to a great many human functions, among them being long-term memory.  Disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder show effects in this part of the brain as well.  Now you may ask what this has to do with stress.   It turns out the hippocampus is especially suceptible to the effects of stress, to the cortisol that is produced during stress.  Not in a good way, either.

It sounds simpler than it really is, but here it is –  people need to find ways to reduce stress in order to preserve a healthy brain.

We’ll be posting some tips for stress reduction.  Here is one to start with from The Mind website out of the UK. 

    • Learn a relaxation technique. First close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.
    • Locate any areas of tension and imagine the tension disappearing.
    • Then, relax each part of the body, bit by bit, from the feet upwards.
    •  Think of warmth and heaviness.
    •  After 20 minutes, take some deep breaths and stretch.

Next time you are feeling stressed, find some time to bring yourself back to a healthy baseline of relaxation by trying this out.  Remember what prolongued stress does to your brain – it’s important.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2010 7:58 pm

    While certainly not an option for many, I relieved stress in my life by merely finding work that I loved and held most of the control. Tutoring, writing, editing… deadlines don’t even stress me as much because I’m in charge of my own work. For those that can’t do it, your tips are excellent. I’d also probably throw a nap on that list also.


    Instant Healing

    • May 26, 2010 2:18 am

      Steve, you make an excellent point – naps whenever/wherever possible.

      And yes, finding a way to do what you love in as low-stress a manner as possible, that is certainly a good move. There are ways to be a teacher, without all the stress of the typical teaching setting. It requires some thinking out of the box, much as you have done.

      Thanks for posting, Steve 🙂

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