What if you could train your brain to ignore stress and stay stress free throughout your day? It isn’t difficult to do, and it requires some creative thinking on your part.
In this article we will look at how you can retrain your brain to look at the little annoyances and the big hassles differently, so you can live a stress free life.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO STAY STRESS FREE
Our brain uses neurotransmitters, which are chemicals, to send signals to other parts of the brain that control our body. Neurotransmitters are how our brain makes decisions to sleep, eat, flee danger, and even what mood we will be in. We have many different brain chemicals and we have discussed them in previous articles, which you can read to reacquaint yourself with your brain’s user manual.
Noradrenaline is one key brain chemical that we hear less often about, which you need to learn to harness the power of to stay stress free. Too much or too little noradrenaline isn’t good for your body’s stress response, but if you can find the ‘sweet spot,’ noradrenaline helps enhance brain-body communication.
The brain-body communication is what is needed to manage your stress response. By using the technique that we describe below in response to stressful events, you can maintain the good level of noradrenaline and help your brain tell your body to remain calm.
Some daily stress can be avoided, but some can’t. For example, if you know that your neighbor is a negative person, you can avoid spending time in conversation with them. But when your car won’t start and you have to deal with the repairs, you can choose how you respond when you retrain your brain to stay stress free.
WHY RESEARCHERS SAY SOME STRESS IS GOOD FOR YOU
Researchers in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology say that a moderate amount of stress is healthy for us. Experiencing some stress for example in our early childhood, makes us resilient to other stress in our lives.
The study looked at the ability to adapt to stress by the amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced in response to a stressful situation for two groups; children who were adopted at an early age and children who spent longer in foster care before being adopted.
The early adoption is seen as a moderately stressful life event, compared to being adopted later, which is seen as a more severely stressful life event. The researchers found that children with moderate stress early in life produced less of the stress hormone cortisol in response to a stressful event than the other group.
This is one way that we can use stress to adapt to future stressful events. By learning to cope with stress and see it as helping us to become more resilient, we continue to develop our skills to train our brain to stay stress free.
A healthy dose of stress helps us to avoid being overconfident. We are more careful when we know there is a risk of something bad happening, which is sometimes the case in a stressful situation. However, we can also trust in our ability to come out of a bad situation with a good outcome, because we have been able to do it successfully before.
BRAIN RE-TRAINING DONE RIGHT
To train your brain to be stress free, you have to learn how to make a mental switch to choose to perceive the stressful event as excitement rather than as stress.
Recent research shows us just how to make the switch from feeling stress to being stress free, and it’s as easy as telling yourself that you’re not stressed out, but that you are very excited about this challenge.
Researchers in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that ‘individuals who reappraise their anxious arousal as excitement feel more excited and perform better. Individuals can reappraise anxiety as excitement using minimal strategies such as self-talk (e.g., saying ‘I am excited’ out loud) or simple messages (e.g., ‘get excited’), which lead them to feel more excited, adopt an opportunity mind-set (as opposed to a threat mind-set), and improve their subsequent performance.’
Although this research was specifically related to stress that we can anticipate, like an upcoming performance, we can use this information to train our brain to handle stress differently when we are not aware of what is coming.
If we look back at our example of a car that won’t start, we can train ourselves to respond to the stress differently by saying ‘I can handle this with calm grace because I’ve successfully handled similar problems before.’ In response to making a mistake that causes us stress we can train our brain to be stress free by saying ‘I am definitely going to learn something from this experience that will help me the next time, and I can forgive myself, because I’m only human.’