The Heart of Stress is the Brain

Even though people correctly relate stress to the heart, the reality is that the heart of stress is the brain. It’s true. Stress threatens the very thing that makes us think, yet we rarely think about it all. So, think about this: The entire body’s response to stress begins with the brain and so does the ability to manage it.

The brain sets off the chain reaction that sends the stress signal to every other organ in the body. Stress hormones and adrenaline released in the brain trigger shifts in emotion and memory. They also signal the heart to beat faster, the lungs to increase the respiratory rate, and the immune system to become suppressed. They send more blood to vital organs which means less blood for non-vital organs like skin, the gastrointestinal track and stomach. Pretty much everything goes into either overdrive or under-drive. Acute stress sends the body reeling and chronic stress inhibits the body’s ability to balance back from the stress response. Either way, it’s not good for your health.

It may not make sense that you can use your brain to tell your brain what to do but that is exactly what Relax. Set. Go. does. And, managing stress is a big part of it. When you relax, you call on the brain to balance. When you set, you tell the brain to respond in a positive manner. When you go, you put the response into motion. You connect ‘thought’ to physiology and stress response. The stress response is connected to brain fitness, or to what is commonly referred to as brain plasticity.

Brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt, to change and to be challenged throughout the duration of our lives. It is the brain’s willingness to fight against gradual deterioration and some say, to foster the idea of the brain’s very own regenerative fountain of youth. The old adage is true, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Even more true today, it is a terrible thing to waste away because of the mind.

Think of the brain as a robust mound of clay that can either stay moist and pliable or become dry and shrivel up. The plasticity of the clay, or in this case the brain, is the key to maintaining maximum function. You have to work the clay to keep it flexible. The same goes for the brain and keeping it fit and nimble from now through old age is an opportunity of a lifetime. Stress is a plasticity killer.  The word stress almost implies tightness and tension. So it makes sense that the connection between stress and the brain must not be overlooked. The brain responds to stress by sending a message to every part of the body.  What message are you going to send the brain? Relax. Set. Go.

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