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Study shows that stress can “shrink” the brain

It is common knowledge that overworking yourself can cause stress, which can then lead to headaches, mood swings, fatigue, and nausea— all of these being regular symptoms of stress. They might seem like minor issues that would not need much tending to, but what’s not common knowledge is that if your levels of stress are prolonged or constant; there will be more severe symptoms than simple headaches.

Other than developing chronic illnesses such as hypertension or cardiovascular disease, researchers have uncovered the more fascinating neurological effects of long-term stress.

According to scientists from Yale University, synaptic connections between brain cells can decrease the mass of your brain, specifically in the prefrontal cortex. These synaptic connections between brain cells are destroyed by cortisol, which is a ‘stress hormone’. Cortisol has the capability to kill brain cells, and even impair general brain functions.

The prefrontal cortex, the area affected by stress, is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating things like your behavior and attitude, which can explain the mood swings.
Since your brain mass decreases through stress, it can literally be said that stress can shrink the brain. The process of your brain shrinking is called cellular atrophy.

But before you become fearful of ever being stressed again, you can rest assured that this only applies to exceedingly lengthy levels of stress. If your stress levels are brought on in normal, small doses from life’s everyday pressures and obstacles, you probably don’t need to worry about your brain shrinking.

Small doses of stress can actually be fulfilling, healthy, and helpful. For example, experiencing stress right before giving a speech or preparing for an interview will provide you with an extra boost of adrenalin and energy.
Being immune to stress is unavoidable, and although there’s no way to predict the financial, personal, and other problems in our lives, the only thing we can do to fight potentially dangerous long-term stress is to develop a resilience to it.

Exercising is one of the best ways to combat your inevitable exposure to stress-related issue, along with at least 20 minutes of meditation every day.

Often, people link meditation to monks in robes sitting cross-legged inside temples; however, you can simply sit in silence and clear your thoughts in any comfortable environment. This simple act can already be considered your personal meditative technique. Studies show that people who exercise and meditate daily are more at ease and ready to handle problems that come their way.

October 17th, 2016

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The Benefits of Music Therapy

Music has long been known to help provide ease to those experiencing certain levels of anxiety or stress, but studies show that music is not speculated to only provide comfort.

The effects of music can soothe the mind especially in its most heightened moments, such as those with anxiety or panic disorders. These effects include:

– Reduced muscle tension: This is usually induced through background music therapy, which consists of listening to calming music in the background for around 8-12 hours per day.
– Decreased anxiety and agitation: When listening to soothing music becomes a routine, this has been proven to occur.

– Improved group cohesiveness: Often the effects of contemplative music therapy. This particular approach involves administering the music in a group setting.

– Successful and safe emotional release: Also brought on by contemplative music, the group is given a biography of the composer and small details about the piece, which in turn gives the listener a closer ‘bond’ with the music.

This enables the music to bring out morbid experiences from each patient’s memories and help them face it in a safe environment.

– Increased motivation and self-image/self-esteem: Frequently used with those who’ve stayed in a hospital for a long period of time, executive music is the approach that involves an individual or group singing and performing live.

It has been known to strengthen the patient’s feeling of self-worth among others.

– Increased verbalization: This effect is induced by creative music therapy. Creative music therapy is quite self-explanatory; as it involves having the patients create their own music. This could be a simple writing of lyrics, or composing a melody on an instrument.

– Enhanced interpersonal relationships: Also making use of creative music therapy, patients can also play a musical instrument for the enjoyment of it, without having to create a piece. They can learn to play existing pieces or just fumble with the keys/strings and let the sounds comfort their running minds.

The effects listed here are only a few of the many benefits music can give to those suffering from any form of anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or the simple oncoming of stress. Whether you are going through relationship problems, prepping yourself for an eventful moment ahead, or overcoming a fear, you can always try turning to musical therapy and see how it can help you.

The good thing about music is that any piece is eternal, meaning it won’t be going anywhere while you are still deciding your approach. It can always be found online, through musical instruments, or anywhere you can access it to begin your musical therapy today.

October 10th, 2016

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