Sunday, July 27, 2014

How Your Stress Makes Bad Decisions For You

Most people today have a source of stress in their life.  Stress is universal and ubiquitous to all of us.  The main components of psychological stress are lack of control and an unpredictable situation.  While this can be a daily occurrence, the stress affects our ability to make decisions when the stress is chronic, specifically for at least a week.  Sustained levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) causes the frontal cortex, the decision making area of the brain, to atrophy.  This is in addition to the other bodily harmed caused and linked to stress like poor digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, muscular pain, insomnia, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In an interesting study the cortisol levels of stock traders were elevated.  After seven days, the traders started to make risk adverse decisions.  You know, kind of like the behaviors and choices we continue to make when we feel stressed and stuck, even when we would like to make changes.  The chronic stress weakens resolve and the ability to think creatively.

While we may not be able to eliminate stress from our lives, we need to find ways to break the cycle.  Ayurveda uses meditation which physically lowers cortisol.  It allow us to come up with a better approach.  Exercise can lower cortisol levels.  A healthy lifestyle with good food, good sleep and good social connections will also lower cortisol levels.  Many people know this already, but they just haven't been able to do it.  Sometimes getting help from an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner or Health Coach can make these natural, beneficial lifestyle changes a reality.  If you think you can't do it because you have been stressed for so long, then maybe your brain structure has changed and you are the one who really needs the most help.

Stay healthy & well,

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