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Seven Ways to Effectively Cope with Emotional Stress

Seven Ways to Effectively Cope with Emotional Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Whether it comes from the expectations in our jobs or relationships with those around us, it’s always there. Sometimes the amount of stress we face daily can be overwhelming. Emotional stress is hard to pinpoint because it can be caused by so many factors. However, there are multitudes of healthy ways to cope. Here are seven ways to effectively manage and cope with emotional stress.

1. Don’t isolate yourself.

A lot of the stresses we face will make us feel alone as if we can’t talk to anyone. It’s necessary to reach out and sometimes get help from other sources to relieve stress. Even if you don’t feel like socializing, being around others in a positive way is a great option to clear your mind of negative thoughts.  If you don’t particularly want to be around your friends or family, you can volunteer with organizations in your community.

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2. Try meditation.

Meditation is a great option because it is relaxing, helps clear or control thoughts, and can help relieve emotional stress. By focusing on being calm, you’ll learn to redirect your thoughts instead of worrying about the negatives. Mindful breathing is part of meditation that regulates how quickly you breathe. Deep, calming breaths will be more helpful than short, quick ones. You can also practice some sensory training input and use a stimulus (like a smell) to help soothe you.

3. Find a therapist.

If the idea of sharing your emotional stress with friends or family makes you uncomfortable, you can always seek out a therapist to help if stress is reaching levels that make it hard to get through the day. By talking out some of the issues you’re facing, you’ll feel relief. You may also discover some of the causes for your stress, which will allow you to make  changes to eliminate them.

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4. Get an emotional support animal.

Studies have shown that pets are a great influence in our daily lives. Sometimes just being able to share a bond with another living creature is enough to make us feel better and reduce our anxiety. According to OnlineDogtor.com you can request an emotional support animal letter from your doctor or psychologist. They will explain what condition you have and this formal letter will be accepted by most places, including by your landlord and HUD.

5. Take care of your body.

Exercise is a great stress reliever. Yoga can be soothing and make you feel relaxed inside and out. You’ll want to avoid alcohol or drugs as they would likely add to your anxieties and stress. Eating well and regularly will also help contribute to helping you feel more stable, reduce moodiness, and keep your energy levels high. One of the best things you can do for your body and your mind is to get an adequate amount of sleep.

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6. Set some alone time.

This is not the same as completely closing yourself off from the world. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all the errands and socializing that we fit into a day. Taking a break to unwind and destress is a good idea. You can treat yourself to a spa day or go to the movies alone. You can try writing in a journal during this time to privately work out some of your ideas. You may also want to spend this time relaxing in nature to get away from digital influences.

7. Accept your emotions.

It’s important to address our emotional states as they happen. Rather than try to bottle up the emotion, allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Accepting your emotions and the stress they cause will allow you to let go and stop obsessing over them. By focusing on how you feel at the moment you feel stress, you’ll feel more grounded and less out of control. You’ll also reduce the need to redo those moments so you won’t have to relive any of your stressful periods.

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Featured photo credit: MasimbaTinasheMadondo via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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