How much does chronic stress impair working memory? Should I just give up on life since I can't seem to manage my anxiety?Read Now
Chronic stress greatly impairs the mind's ability to retain information.
Here is an answer added to the Quora Mind-Body & Chronic Pain space.
When we are under stress our minds do not function as well as they should. We are too busy managing the stress to be fully engaged and effective.
All processes, such as reason, logic, problem solving and memory are negatively impacted.
Chronic stress is a common complaint, but no one should give up on life because of it.
Here is a process that can be followed to relieve chronic stress.
1 Write a list of all the current Demands we have including all of the internal (physical and mental health) and external (environments and people) stimuli that require attention and action from us.
2 Decide what methods can be used to reduce Demand and the stress reaction we have to it.
I’ve attached links to a simple spread sheet (Excel and CSV versions) that can be used to record our Demands, and make choices about how to proceed with them, in order to lessen the stress caused by our set of Demands.
Demand Review Spreadsheet - Excel
Demand Review Spreadsheet - CSV
We can control our stress, by reducing our exposure to Demand.
How do you stay in the present when dealing with anxiety?
It’s different for every person.
I try to find enjoyment or at least some sense of accomplishment in what I’m doing at each waking moment. Even for things I would rather not do, such as chores or dealing with a difficult situations or people.
If our present is pleasing and fulfilling, we are less likely to spin off into ruminating over the past or worrying, needlessly about the future.
Make some plans, adjust as necessary and let go of the idea that thinking endlessly about the future will somehow change it. Easier said than done, I know.
We need to know our stress levels, because that would tell us whether we needed to act.
We do such a pathetic job in the United States of teaching people to care about their own mental and emotional health. There is often a hyper focus on physical health with little understanding that optimal physical health depends on a healthy mind.
When we recognize that the demand in our lives overwhelms us, we’re given an opportunity to change things for the better. Adopting a practice of reviewing the demand we face, seeing how it effects us emotionally, then taking steps to make different choices, empowers us to live our best life.
This was first posted in the Mind-Body & Chronic Pain space on Quora.
I hope you all enjoyed the Go Slow series and you have discovered ways to take back some control of your focus, thoughts and time to help regain a sense of purpose and safety in your life.
Here's a recap slide:
This is the 5th and last post in this Go Slow Series.
Concept 5 - Live your life with spirit
The definition of what it means to live your life with spirit is as unique as each individual and there are no set rules about how we connect to the world outside of ourselves. For some people it is a connection with God or nature or the energy of the universe.
This sense of spirit can be imbued into our daily interactions with the people in our lives, or through helping others in the community, either in person or anonymously. The sense of spirit can be shared through helping animals or through environmental efforts.
When we cultivate a sense of spirituality, whatever that may be, we help ourselves improve our emotional well being by creating a connection to something that is outside of us. These spiritual associations can bring us feelings of peace, gratitude, contentment and acceptance.
How do you connect?
Can you find this kinship of spirit in some other way with the world or universe? We live a very short time here on Earth, but we can make that time more luminous when we live with spirit.
If you've read this Go Slow series, I hope you've found it useful in thinking about how we can take back some control of our focus, thoughts and time to regain a sense of purpose and safety in our lives.
This is the fourth post in the Go Slow Series.
Concept 4 - Spend your life connected to the people around you and the situations you inhabit
There may be many people around us at any given time, but what is our connection to them while we are with them?
Here is a way to have a meaningful connection with others that should be rewarding to both parties and shouldn’t take much time.
Do we look them in the eye, inquire about their lives, really listen to what they say and take the opportunity to truly relate to that person and do we share something with them?
,The Look-Inquire-Listen-Share (L.I.L.S.) approach to connecting with people isn’t an easy thing for everyone, but it is something almost anyone can begin to integrate into their daily life. Many people will say they are introverts, which is certainly fine, and they may not even speak with many people, but when they do, they should try L.I.L.S. Why? Because, human beings are social creatures and they suffer greatly when they live in near complete isolation. These short L.I.L.S. encounters can bring us mental health benefits including better self-esteem, increased empathy, lower rates of anxiety and depression and a better quality of life. Connection also offers physical health benefits such as strengthening the immune system, reducing inflammation, faster recovery from illness and a longer life.
Connecting with people is beneficial to all of us, but making connections to places can also be important. Places in nature are particularly good and can give us a sense of omneity, which is delightful feeling of allness or oneness. A forest, the ocean, a beautiful park, field, farmland, a sunny sky or a starry night can serve as a points for humans to connect to their natural world. In this case we are, of course, a part of the natural world and we're just another bit of its wonder.
As we seek to gain positive control, adding connections to people and nature is another way for us to increase our chance of bringing harmony into our body and mind. When we have this feeling of unity in our lives, we are much better at stopping incidences of stress, tension, illness and pain.
This is the third post in the Go Slow Series.
Concept 3 - Resist reacting to everything that is going on around you
The world that we exist in is a busy, intense and a sometimes exhausting place that seems to demand so much from us, but that is only true when we allow it to invade our minds and consume all of our resources. The amount of energy we have on any given day is finite, so we need to make decisions about where we will spend that power.
So how would this concept play out in our day-to-day?
Email/IM/Texts - We don’t have to be on call to every manner of communication. Learn to turn it off for periods of the day, so you can take back that time for yourself. Set a schedule for reviewing these communications that puts you back into control of your thoughts and your time.
Phone calls - Don’t grab every phone call. While you are working on a task, turn off the phone and get back to it later. If it is important they will leave a message and if not, you just gave yourself some time back to use as you see fit.
Conversation on Demand - If you are working on a task or relaxing and someone suddenly wants to talk to you now, you have every right to tell them you are busy and will get back to them. They do not have a right to your time, but you do have the right to manage it.
Saying no to people may not feel ‘friendly’, but it is a reasonable way to conduct ourselves and it allows us to claim more control over our lives. We should always try to be respectful, but firm about how our time will be spent. We need to live our lives for ourselves and we can do this while caring for our friends, family and community. These kinds of changes may be difficult to implement at first, but they get easier as we continue to exercise them. Managing our own time is another tool for reaching positive control and reducing the triggers that bring us illness and pain.
This is the second post in the Go Slow Series
Concept 2 - Spend your precious time with purpose
In the previous post in this series about Slow Living we talked about focusing on your current moment in life right now.
Here we will look at bringing meaning to the time that we have.
Spending your time in life with purpose may sound lofty, but this concept contributes to our feeling of positive control and we can reap the benefits of it in several ways. Maintaining a state of positive control reduces the chance that Tension-Based Pain and many other physical issues that stress and tension bring by keeping the body at a basic level of homeostasis. We are mostly unaware of homeostasis, a self-regulating state of equilibrium, because our bodies are usually quite good at maintaining our health without too much intervention.
When our physical and mental health is poor, it becomes impossible for our autonomic nervous system to keep up with the demand and this leads us to a condition of imbalance, which often ends in illness and or Tension-Based Pain. When we have a strata of emotional and physical dis-harmonies, our nervous system will flip into fight-or flight, which can continue for weeks, months or years. Unburdening ourselves of these disruptive issues one by one is the key to returning to a baseline of normal homeostasis.
When we spend our time each day living with a sense of purpose and meaning we are supporting a state of positive control. In addition to using our time in a beneficial way, we are keeping ourselves steady, tension-free and in a pain-free state. When we boost our lives with these genuine, affirmative states of minds, we are creating a practice of calm and safety.
The idea of Slow Living has been around for some time and it was most likely born out of the slow food movement, which is characterized by an approach to slow, traditional cooking methods using organic, seasonal and locally sourced foods. There have been many books written on the topic of slow living, as well as numerous blogs, websites and YouTube videos, but the focus here will be on how we can use slow living to help us put our lives in an order that makes sense to us and gives a feeling of positive control.
When we feel positive control over our lives it allows us to be at peace and feel safe. Readers who follow me know that I correlate feelings of being unsafe with the autonomic nervous system response called flight-fight. Our busy, hectic lives sometimes create a condition of low-level-flight-fight (LLFF) in the body that may continue for weeks, months or years. LLFF creates tension in the body that develops into pain and illness (Tension-Based Pain) that doesn’t simply destroy parts of the body or lead to a poor quality of life, but may lead to death.
Tension-based pain is a relentless enemy responsible for more pain, suffering and disability than any other form of sickness, malady or ailment worldwide - in my opinion.
This series examines five concepts that we can employ to help us reach the goal of feeling more in control, more centered and more at peace each day of our lives.
Concept 1 - Focus on your life right now - forget external distractions
Many people will consider this idea and say “that’s impossible, I must multi-task around the clock to finish all the things I need to get done”. I’ve felt this way myself at times, but the truth is we can only do one thing at any given time. Multi-tasking doesn’t really work for most people. Research shows that multitasking actually wastes more time and reduces productivity.
Multitasking while driving a car and using technology, such as cell phones, has resulted in the deaths of many people, passengers and innocent victims, because human beings are just not able to complete multiple complex tasks.
So what does this concept look like in daily life?
Start with a plan to do one thing at one time. Not three, not two, but one thing that will get all of your attention, energy and focus for a period of time. That is the goal. First be sure that you have everything you need to complete that task, as well as the appropriate amount of time to get it done. Really put your energy and heart into the effort and try to enjoy the process.
There will be distractions, the phone will ring or buzz, someone will try to pull you away from your task and even your own mind will try to divert your endeavors. Don’t give in to the distractions - stay on point. When you are done with the task you can catch up briefly with other people and demands. When the job is complete you’ll know it was done right and that you can now move on to your next successful activity.
This could be the start of a new way of being in the world that will bring you feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.
After trying every conventional therapy for crippling, chronic low-back pain, I discovered the problem was completely within my control. I experienced an amazing health transformation in a matter of weeks. Mind-Body medicine worked for me, and it can for can too!