How This Alters Your Brain Chemistry and Structure

It turns out my mom was right.

Like any teenager, I used to get upset. Not doing as well on a test as I wished I had. My boyfriend moving out of state to go to college. Not being able to go out with my friends because I had to work.

Mom would look at me and say, “Why don’t you clean the house?”

That elicited every bit of drama, whining and eye rolling that can come from one teenager. I saw it as her trying to change the subject — because she didn’t care (loud sigh), and get me to do chores instead — something that she wanted.

Now research shows that controlling what you can (in this case, dust and dirt) when you’re surrounded by uncertainty really does help.

Here’s what happens in your brain when you’re stressed out a lot (which most of us are these days) and three things you can do to short circuit the negative changes this can bring.

The Brain /Body Connection

So: you could have a shrinking brain, be hypervigilant about looking for other stressful situations, and be spreading your anxiety around.

If that’s not enough of an issue, when you’re under pressure, your adrenal glands secrete more of the hormone cortisol. This increases sugar in your bloodstream, to prepare you for fight or flight, and spurs other chemicals that will help you repair your body if it’s injured. In addition, it shuts down “nonessential” functions, such as digestion.

But if you’re swirling with cortisol because of chronic stress, this can create health issues:

  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings (particularly irritability and depression)
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired brain function

Use the tips from the video to make sure your cortisol levels aren’t in overdrive. We need all the brain power and resilience you have to help us get through this!