stress managementIn our professional and personal life, we all are constantly exposed to very harmful effects of stresses, and many experts name chronic stresses a real curse of our times. Stresses can simply destroy our health and make us feel sick and tired of this life in all possible meanings. They damage our immune system function, can cause problems with thyroid activity and cause hormonal shifts, can seriously affect our brain activity, and their negative effects on our cardiovascular and nervous system are tremendous. Though many people do not realize that, but in our times, mastering and practicing effective stress management techniques is a key to a better health and much longer life. Yoga, physical exercises, breathing exercises, getting involved in various outdoor activities, spending time with friends, trying new hobbies, are among the most commonly known and the best stress management approaches. Most of those were thoroughly studied by the experts and received scientific prove of their being effective as great stress relief approaches.

This month, the findings of one more related study by an expert group from Princeton University, New York, were published. The scientists decided to check out whether it is possible to ‘walk away’ our stresses, as some of stress management specialists suggest to everyone of us. Using brisk walks or small jogging sessions have got the fame of great solutions for nervous tension and anxiety, thus being very good strategies to relieve stresses and feel less tense. relieve stressAs the study has shown, these approaches can really work very well and cause very powerful calming effects since jogging and brisk walking are linked to a renewed function of our brain neurons and this causes very strong feelings of psychological relief. This was the first study which managed to establish the connections between jogging-like physical exercise and our brain activity. The findings were published recently¬† in one of the issues of the Journal of Neuroscience, and reprinted by the world’s leading news agencies.

The scientists looked closer at the effects of walking on brain activity of lab rats. The tests involved the following simple procedures. First, the animals were divided into two groups one of which was stimulated to run around and do all their activities for some time, while another was stimulated to lead a kind of sedentary time (or stayed relatively motionless). Then, both groups of rats were exposed to stressful kind of conditions including putting the rats to lower temperatures, etc., and the response of the rats on the outer stressors was evaluated and studied. It turned out that the runner rats had much calmer response, and the researchers found out that the rats from this group had higher amounts of special brain neurons to help calm down and inhibit certain brain activities. Compared to the behavior of the sedentary group rats who reacted on stresses quite anxiously and demonstrated very tense behavior, the runner group rats looked and behaved much calmer. The researchers discovered that increased amounts of neurons stimulated the function of hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses. Therefore, these newly produced neurons helped the runner group rats to calm down their negative emotions linked to stresses.

The scientists are convinced that the same mechanism works in our human brain as well. ‘Understanding how the brain regulates anxious behavior gives us potential clues about helping people with anxiety disorders. It also tells us something about how the brain modifies itself to respond optimally to its own environment,’ said Elizabeth Gould, Professor in Princeton University and one of the study leaders. The findings of the study have solved the previous paradox and helped to understand how exercises and physical activities can reduce anxiety. Before, it was known that exercising cause new brain neurons to be created which were considered more active and more excitable. However, as the Princeton University researchers managed to see, exercising also means strengthening and improving mechanisms in brain preventing excessive anxiety in brain cells and assisting to those who want to relieve stress.

Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.

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