Stress management is one of the 4 pillars of brain health. Therefore it is vitally important for us to understand and learn about stress and stress management in order to keep our bodies and brains healthy.

Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life. But when we’re not able to cope well with stress, our mind and body will pay the price.

Stress and Your Brain

According to the book titled “Brain Rules Stress and Your Brain: Stress Management, by John Medina, our brain can safely handle stress that lasts for about 30 seconds. Our brain is simply not designed to handle long term stress. Long term stress damages our brain.

Stress damages virtually every kind of cognition that exists. It damages memory and executive function. It can hurt your motor skills. When you are stressed out over a long period of time it also disrupts your immune response. You get sicker more often. It disrupts your ability to sleep. You get depressed.

When we’re stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released. In the short-term, cortisol helps the brain to cope with life-threatening situations. However, if overloaded with it, the brain’s neurons end up firing too frequently and they end up dying.

Giving rats daily injections of cortisol for several weeks has been shown to result in the killing off of certain brain cells, particularly in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory). Stressing the rats daily for the same amount of time had an identical effect. A study where rats were tightly restrained for six hours daily for 21 days, without food or water, resulted in the animals’ hippocampus shrinking by 3%.

Without cortisol you would die – but too much of it is not a good thing either.  That’s why it’s critical for us to learn stress management techniques.

Stress Management

Typical stress management and stress relief techniques include:


Physical activity helps in reducing and preventing the effects of stress.  Exercise triggers the production of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for what’s called the “runner’s high.” Researchers at Duke University have shown that exercise (30 minutes per day, three to four days a week, for four months) can relieve anxiety and depression symptoms as effectively as prescription antidepressants.

Just be sure not to overdo it. Overdoing it can actually trigger excess cortisol production! An out of the norm, overly exerted exercise bout can elevate your cortisol levels. However, adhering to a regular, progressive and sustainable exercise program will slowly “teach” your body to produce less cortisol in response to a given workload.

Relaxation techniques:

Relaxation techniques help train your mind to become less responsive to stress. Practicing relaxation techniques enables you to maintain calm and peaceful feelings throughout your day.

Relaxation techniques include activities such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

A great resource I’ve found for delving deeper into relaxation techniques for stress reduction is:

Healthylifestyle: StressRelaxation

Getting enough sleep

The importance of getting enough sleep can’t be overstated. Sleep and stress are inter-related. Stress makes sleeping difficult and lack of sleep makes us more stressed. It can be a vicious cycle.

Researchers say we should try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. What can you do if you don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep? Try taking a power nap!

Positive outlook and self talk

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, then your outlook is more likely a pessimistic one. If the thoughts you have are mostly positive, then you’re more likely an optimist.

An optimist is someone who practices positive thinking.

The health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

On the other hand, thinking negatively most of the time, or focusing on things that make you frightened, fearful or angry is called rumination. Studies have shown that those who focus on negative aspects of themselves or on a negative interpretation of life had an increased activity in their amygdala. This results in a flood of destructive neurochemicals being released in the brain.

A great resource on self talk:

Ratracetrap: are-your-thoughts-helpful

Useful Resource for Stress Management:

The link below is a good resource for learning more about stress, and stress management techniques.

Helpguide: stress_management_relief_coping

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4 pillars of brain health, cortisol, exercise, relaxation, relaxation techniques, stress, stress management

51 comments untill now

  1. Thanks for providing wonderful details on stress management and techniques to overcome stress.

  2. [...] ability to manage stress is very important. I noted in a previous post on stress management that when we’re stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released in our body. In the short-term, [...]

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It is a great post. Thank you.
    .-= stress management´s last blog ..How To Use Your Social Networking Time Wisely =-.

  4. thanks for the great article. i guess a large part of us are missing out on the “exercise” factor here.

  5. Great post! I gained a lot of knowledge from it. Especially since now there are so many jobs requiring almost a full day’s work in front of a computer. This will greatly help! Thanks again

  6. Really good article about stress relief techniques, if in future i feel stress, i will definitely use this techniques to reduce my stress. Thanks a lot.
    .-= Stress management´s last blog ..Homely cure for baby acne =-.

  7. Thanks for providing wonderful details on stress management and techniques to overcome stress…
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  8. Check my website; This e-book is intended to serve those people who suffer from extreme mental pressure. The book is designed with several practical techniques to handle anger in a better way than you had been doing earlier. The workbook and questionnaire provided at the end of the book will be very useful to you in managing your everyday problems.

  9. Thanks for this insightful article. These are all great tips in dealing with stress and I definitely need it.

  10. There are so many good, simple techniques around now, and yet many people stay stressed. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

  11. If in future i feel stress, i will definitely use this techniques to reduce my stress. Thanks a lot.

    Thanks for the tip!

  12. I find that having a positive look at things very much do the job! And if I really do get stressed, taking some few deep breaths, gives an immediate reaction. On the longer term I dayly do a short session of meditation (approx 10 minutes). This makes a huge difference :-)

  13. Thank you so much for these tips. I’ll think about this whenever I’m stressed out. I’ll try to do some of these advices like deep breathing and positive thinking, they seem like really good ideas. Even if you’re not stressed that much you probably still need 7-8 hours of sleep and the exercise as well.

  14. Bottom line do exercise , get enough sleep and keep yourself happy that all we can do. But at the movement i cant get enough sleep due to my work schedule . hope life gets back on track

  15. Well informative one.
    great article written.
    very much help full in dealing with stress.
    thanks for the post.

  16. I totally agree with the sleep point. I can only sleep for 5 hours a night (I just wake up automatically after about 5 hours!) but then I do get at least one power nap during the day. Works a treat.

  17. Thanks for your useful tips.
    I usually practise Yoga every moring and every night before going to sleep.It’s so effective and I feel more comfotable

  18. I can identify with it somehow, but I can eat very little and lose weight. I mean sometimes we eat more than they should to the extent that I am uncomfortably full and I have been doing that for a while from time to time. How I can stop and control myself. I tried eating salads instead of fast food I started eating fish instead of chicken and I can not stand fish. I have also tried baking instead of frying, but nothing seems to work consistently allday way up and down every day from 8 to 10 hours, so the problem is. What I can do to increase my metabolism so that my adrenaline so you can lose weight. I feel very uncomfortable with my weight and I’m stressing, and I get depressed. I cry sometimes when I look at myself. I have 3 children I am almost 22 years old and weigh about 225 pounds and 5 ’6”and I’m sad about my weight can you please give me some tips on what to do? I certainly appreciated Thanks!

  19. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read something like this before. So nice to find any individual with some unique thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for beginning this up. this website is something that is wanted on the net, someone with somewhat originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

  20. hi this is Amanda and i am so enjoying to read out to content .thanks for it.

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  22. Stress is also known to be the attracter to many other mental illness. Including anxiety and depression. By managing stress you ward off anxiety. Deep breathing and yoga is a perfect combination for stress relief.

  23. It is good to know how we can handle stress. Nowadays there are many who are seeking answers to get help for stress management. I think playing games such as chess or backgammon can also help in coping with stress. This article helps us understand how our brains are affected by stress.

  24. As usual this was a thoughtful submit today. You make me want to preserve coming back and forwarding it my followers?-.

  25. Excellent post, I love brain and all his mistery, honestly I am a very stressed man, I have tried several tricks for stress management but they didn´t work properly.
    Will try what you posted, thanks

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  27. Hey(: So I’m in high school and I was wondering what are a few stress management tips/techniques I can use? Were learning stress symptoms and management in my child development, and we have to come up with some techniques :) Thanks.

  28. stress have everyone but more and more stress is dangerous for health.

  29. stress management is essential for everyone. Does homeopathy provide good solutions for stress management???? reply please…

  30. stress is a very critical issue. How can I avoid stress due to mental irritations? please reply….

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  32. I do everyone needs this. It is really important to know about how to manage stress because basically stress will lead to sickness or other diseases.

  33. In the sources I have consulted about stress management, so far, it is said that BT is one of the most efficient ways to cope with stress. But how exactly is it applied? any website, reference or resource where to keep learning about this?

  34. I offer training in Relaxation and Stress Management and have worked for several organisations through word of mouth from my one-to-one sessions and found it very rewarding. I’d be interested to find out what you think is the best way to approach organisations for this type of work.

  35. The world no hopeless situation but the man who falls into despair.

  36. How can I avoid stress due to mental irritations? please reply….

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  38. To be careful of your thoughts, because it will soon become your actions; Your actions have to be careful, because it will soon become your habits; your habits, be careful because it will soon become your character.

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  48. their shins where it’s more difficult,” she said.”So the same exercise can be done by the beginner and the person who’s really strong.”Vitorino says she loves incorporating the stability ball because she knows that everyone will walk away from the workout feeling that they’ve worked to their ability.Stability balls vary in diameter from 55 to 85 cm (22 to 34 inches).

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