The Brain Warrior’s Way to Combat “Pandemic Stress Disorder”

The Brain Warrior’s Way to Combat “Pandemic Stress Disorder”

If you’re someone who’s been following Amen Clinics for a while, you may consider yourself a Brain Warrior. Brain Warriors are in a fight for the health of their body, mind, and spirit. As a Brain Warrior, you’re equipped with a toolkit of techniques and strategies to combat stress and promote calm and relaxation. But with the avalanche of stress upon us now—COVID-19, economic uncertainty, homeschooling, isolation, loneliness, frustration—that toolkit may not be enough. Too many people are suffering from “pandemic stress disorder” and need next-level coping mechanisms.

Have your stress-management techniques failed you recently? If so, it’s time to bring in the Brain Warrior Special Forces Unit.

Have your stress-management techniques failed you recently? If so, it’s time to bring in the Brain Warrior Special Forces Unit. Click To Tweet

THE DANGERS OF UNBRIDLED STRESS

Most people are aware that chronic stress can be harmful to your physical health, increasing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. You may even know that ongoing stress can also wreak havoc on your mental health, leading to issues like depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. But few people are aware that uncontrolled stress is also associated with cognitive problems, such as having trouble thinking clearly or memory loss/dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia).

Chronic exposure to stress chemicals, including cortisol, can damage the brain’s memory centers. Research shows that overexposure to cortisol shrinks the size of the hippocampus, an important brain region involved in forming memories. Chronic stress in midlife has been associated with memory problems later on, as evidenced in a 2014 study in BMJ Open.

Experiencing stress is considered a normal part of life when it is occasional and temporary, such as feeling anxious and stressed before an exam or a job interview, but when it becomes frequent or chronic, as in a prolonged pandemic, you need to take action.

THE BRAIN WARRIOR’S WAY OF COPING WITH ANYTHING

If pandemic stress is taking a weighty toll on you, it’s time to get serious and rise to the ranks of the Brain Warrior’s Special Forces Unit. This involves pulling out all the stops and attacking stress from every angle. Here are 12 research-proven tips that work to lower stress and boost your level of happiness and overall mental health. Try them all to combat PSD.

  • Start on a high note. Begin every day with the words, “Today is going to be a great day.” Your mind makes happen what it visualizes. When you start the day by saying these words, your brain will look for the reasons it will be a great day rather than looking for reasons why it will be stressful.
  • Avoid “breaking news stress disorder.” Stay informed, but don’t let fear-inducing headlines and news programs ramp up your stress. A 2012 study shows that women are more likely to experience stress-related to negative news than men. Limit your exposure to news to no more than 15 minutes a day.
  • Focus on what you can control. Decades of research show that feeling a lack of control over a threatening situation causes more stress. Training your brain to think about the things you can control helps alleviate stress.
  • Exercise. It’s the fastest way to feel better. And remember, more isn’t necessarily better. Studies show that going for a brisk 20-30-minute walk several times a week can provide stress-reduction benefits.
  • Do a Loving Kindness Meditation. This meditation, which is directed at showing kindness to yourself and others, is a proven way to relieve stress and improve your mood.
  • Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day. Researchers found that people who did this significantly increased their sense of happiness in just 3 weeks. When you feel happier, you feel less stressed.
  • Enjoy some dark chocolate. In one study, people who rated themselves as highly stressed lowered their levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines after eating dark chocolate every day for 2 weeks.
  • Listen to music. Just 25 minutes of Mozart or Strauss has been shown to lower blood pressure and stress, according to a 2016 study. Listening to ABBA has also been shown to lower stress hormones— “Mamma Mia!”
  • Drink green tea. It contains l-theanine, an ingredient that research shows help you feel more relaxed and more focused.
  • Take a walk in nature. It’s associated with reducing worry, according to a 2015 study.
  • Journal your feelings. Journaling helps to get your stressful thoughts out of your head and helps you gain perspective.
  • Learn to kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). Whenever you feel stressed, sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down your negative thoughts. Next, ask yourself if they are really true, or if they are a bit distorted to make you feel worse. Focusing your mind on positive, rational thoughts will help you feel much better.

Chronic stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

8 Comments

  1. Love the comprehensive, holistic approach. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Amy Richardson — November 18, 2020 @ 4:18 AM

  2. Interested in this for my staff.

    Comment by Rev. Debra Shultz — November 18, 2020 @ 6:12 AM

  3. This is so helpful,I am struggling and feel quite alone !,!, my friends are my salvation but hard on them and me because of my struggle with anxiety and depression !,feel like people with this struggle on Medicare have nowhere to go!! If I was an addict or an alcoholic you can go somewhere!,,but not us the forgotten senior citizens on Medicare thank you

    Comment by Louise — November 18, 2020 @ 6:35 AM

  4. How much is the cost of brain scan?

    Comment by Iraj — November 18, 2020 @ 6:49 AM

  5. I often see covid as the stressor listed on this site. Remember also that riots and the toxicity of movements that use threats and violence affect mental health even more than covid. (Such as the STILL OCCUPIED AUTONOMOUS ZONE in Minneapolis!!)

    Comment by Paula Kavanaugh — November 18, 2020 @ 8:03 AM

  6. We appreciate everything you mentioned here so helpful to reducing our stress. We also find that when we state what we are grateful for, when we meditate, listen to music , exercise and walk in nature, kill the ants…life is more peaceful. Our challenges seem to help us too. Going out in nature for a walk here in Alaska means extra layers of clothes, boots with cleats, hats & gloves with our walking sticks to brave the ice on the snow covered paths and today wind with gusts up to 80mph…sound extreme? Well this is Alaska , the true last frontier and when we return from our walk the challenge it takes just to go is a reward in some weird way. Thank you for your encouragement and your wisdom!

    Comment by Patricia Whitman — November 18, 2020 @ 9:52 AM

  7. Thank you so much for this article. I really needed it and I’ve shared on my FB page. Life saving article.

    Comment by Renee Koutsis — November 18, 2020 @ 1:48 PM

  8. I am a caretaker of over 30 yrs. Both of us are 67 -68 yrs. old. I was married to her for 15yrs. Her life, as i know it was as a ginny pig and medical research educational tool at the age of 14. Too many meds not enough cures… They seemed to Practice Too MUCH. She goes to one of the Amen Clinic doctors for her major problems . she is doing better but there is a a long way, with very little time ! We are working everyday to save another day on the good side of life. Watch the pit falls.
    Then with all the hoops we have to jump thru .and we are saving the Gov. so much. Keeping our financials above water. AND then we have to keep ourselfs alive to the virus, etc… etc… PEACE is not easy place to find, and when you do its hard to keep all the time. We all need to practice open mindness . find a cure for each of our own problems. We all have answers we need to find. STRESS. what STRESSSSS. Phew!!!!!!!!!!!! …

    Comment by Fred Friedrich — November 18, 2020 @ 3:53 PM

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