- People who work hard and accumulate stress without getting enough rest are at risk of developing brain fog syndrome, which can affect short-term memory. However, the long-term effects could be much more severe, with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and early onset dementia all distinct possibilities.
- Prolonged exposure to stress can result in the onset of a number of disorders, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and cancer.
The brain is responsible for controlling movement, behavior and aspects of homeostasis* such as our heartbeat, blood pressure, bodily fluid balance and temperature. Moreover, the brain is pivotal for retaining knowledge, controlling emotions, learning movement, and a range of other skills. The human brain differs from that in animals in that it gives us a sense of self, enabling complex reasoned thought in both concrete and abstract terms.
Brain function deteriorates with age, and those who work hard and accumulate stress without getting enough rest can develop what is known as brain fog syndrome. Short-term effects of this condition are reduced memory function and other brain function inefficiencies. However, long-term effects can be much more severe, with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and early onset dementia all distinct possibilities. Constant care of our brain from an early age is essential if we wish to protect ourselves against these damaging diseases.
Being overworked and suffering from sustained stress can cause brain fog
If you suffer from insomnia, frequent bouts of exhaustion, chronic headaches, feelings of frustration, forgetfulness, and a significant increase in the amount of time it takes to make decisions, you could be suffering from brain fog syndrome, which is caused by prolonged periods of undiagnosed stress. When combined with insufficient rest or working at a computer or phone screen for extended periods of time, this condition causes the brain to produce free radicals that destroy nerve cells or inhibit brain function. It is often the case that prolonged exposure to stress can result in the development of other health disorders, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and cancer.
Adrenal fatigue brought on by stress
Suffering from five or more of the following symptoms, common during periods of high stress, could be a sign that the adrenal glands are beginning to pose a health problem:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Exhaustion, lack of energy and wanting to nap in the daytime
- Feeling sleepy but being unable to drift off
- A desire to eat sweet and/or salty foods
- Urinating more regularly than normal
- Frequent allergic reactions
- Indigestion, gas and constipation
- Feeling stressed and depressed
- Exercising regularly but not being able to lose any weight
- Dry skin that is prone to allergic reactions
Adrenal fatigue is usually associated with the hormones cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Cortisol, a stress hormone that is most frequently produced during the morning, helps us to feel refreshed and energized before its levels gradually reduce to a mere 10% during the evening. In times of stress, cortisol plays a crucial role in raising blood pressure and increasing heart rate, preparing the body to confront danger. However, if we are chronically stressed, the increase in cortisol levels can lead to physical degeneration and the onset of various health disorders.
DHEA is one of a number of male and female pre-sex hormones. It is an anti-stress hormone that helps to improve strength and delay physical degeneration. It also suppresses the effects of cortisol when the body is stressed.
When diagnosing adrenal fatigue syndrome, doctors must screen the levels of these hormones through a simple blood test. Currently, treatment for the condition is focused on redressing any imbalances between the aforementioned hormones.
7 ways to relieve stress and protect the brain
- Use technology wisely and take regular breaks—it should not be used for too long at a time. For example, rest your eyes once every 15 minutes when using computer or mobile phone screens.
- Get plenty of sleep. 7-8 hours a night is recommended, as is getting to sleep before midnight.
- Be optimistic and maintain a positive outlook on life.
- Exercise regularly, as this will strengthen the brain.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, and do not drink caffeinated drinks during the evening as they are likely to disrupt sleep patterns.
- Relax by taking part in any number of appropriate activities, such as playing games, playing with pets, listening to music, watching a favorite TV series, cooking or meditating.
- Eat a balanced diet consisting of foods that provide nourishment for the brain or food supplements that offer the same benefits.
Nourishing the brain
- Fish oils are prevalent in various types of fish, including salmon, tuna and mackerel. They contain vital Omega 3 fatty acids, such as DHA which helps prevent dementia and strengthens eyesight by nourishing the retina, and EPA which reduces inflammation that accumulates when the body is stressed and improves circulation to the brain.
- Ginkgo biloba extract contains flavonoid and terpenoid antioxidants, which protect against dementia by reducing the presence of free radicals and improving circulation to the brain. Improved circulation also reduces the risk of stroke, and increases blood vessel strength and flexibility—both crucial in terms of circulatory function.
- Choline bitartrate is a nutrient contained in vitamin B and is a key component within the cell membranes of brain and muscle cells. Moreover, this substance plays a crucial role in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that transmits signals in the brain.
- L-theanine is a chemical found in green tea that aids the production of serotonin, dopamine and GABA. It also helps us feel relaxed by reducing stress and improving quality of sleep.
- Phosphatidylserine is the main component of the brain’s nerve cell membranes. It can protect against, or delay, the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It can also decrease a person’s risk of developing ADHD, reduce stress and improve symptoms of brain fatigue to strengthen a person’s overall emotional health.
- Soy lecithin contains phosphatidylcholine, a member of the choline chemical family which aids knowledge acquisition and memory function.
- L-carnitine L-tartrate play vital roles in the production of acetylcholine, a chemical found in the brain that is responsible for communication between the brain’s nerve cells. These chemicals also manage the presence of free radicals in the brain, effectively delaying age-related degeneration of brain cells.
- Inositol is a chemical belonging to the vitamin B family and is beneficial in terms of cell membrane production, especially the myelin sheath.
- Ginseng extract is taken from an herb that has been used in the field of medicine for over 5,000 years. Ginseng extract contains a range of useful ingredients that help to reduce stress, rehabilitate and improve physical functions, increase immune system efficiency, and delay the aging process.
- Complex A, B, C and E vitamins aid the body in its fight against free radicals, allowing the brain to function at full strength while supporting the work carried out by other vitamins throughout the body.
Managing stress levels on a daily basis is by no means a simple task, especially if we are unable to alter our perspective of stress—that it is an abstract concept instead of a concrete problem for which a solution can be found. We should be careful not to overthink problems to the extent that they suffocate our thoughts, and we should do our best to make lifestyle adjustments in order to avoid stress from developing into a chronic disorder.
*maintaining the equilibrium of life
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