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8

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Chronic stress can depress you, blow up your blood pressure and lead to heart disease. Physician and neuroscientist Mithu Storoni discusses the dangers of chronic stress and explains how to defuse it. To begin, she says, a positive mind-set can ward off the negative effects of stress. She offers enlightening, concrete suggestions about diet, exercise, behavior and lifestyle changes to help eliminate chronic stress and improve your physical, emotional and mental health.

Summary

Stress “boils” the brain. “Unboil” yours by teaching yourself to become more resistant to stress.

Much like hard-boiling an egg, stress boils the brain. As a result, it can experience “structural change,” during which the brain’s wiring transforms. You can take steps to unboil your brain by combating the effects of chronic stress.

When a stressful event occurs, the rational side of the brain can react calmly and reasonably, while the brain’s irrational side can panic and trigger your emotions. Chronic stress works overtime to shut down the brain’s calm side and to promote its unreasonable side. 

The brain is the headquarters of the autonomic nervous system. Its sympathetic nervous system manages the stress response, which the brain activates when a perceived threat looms. Today, most threats are psychosocial and provoke “emotional reactivity.”

The rational side of the system exerts a calming influence. When a threat occurs, your brain’s prefrontal cortex can reduce “stress reactivity,” control your emotions and enable you to keep ...

About the Author

Mithu Storoni is a physician trained in ophthalmic surgery and neuroscientific researcher. She holds a PhD in neuro-ophthalmology and conducted her research in that field at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.


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