Your Brain & Stress (3 min)

Your Brain & Stress

Your brain can change — even as an adult. This is referred to as neuronal plasticity, or your brain’s ability to be plastic or changeable. Your brain can change in a positive way when you learn something new, like a new route to work, or concept. “Until the mid-1990s, we thought that people were born with however many brain cells they would die with. We now know that the growth of new cells — a process called neurogenesis — occurs throughout life, even in older ages,” Dr. Kathryn Papp, a neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School explains.

However, this plasticity also means that your brain can also change in response to chronic stress or negativity. Chronic stress and high levels of stress hormones can create long-lasting changes in the brain that make you more prone to anxiety, mood disorders, and learning difficulties.

Of course, neuronal plasticity means that the brain can change again and recover from the effects of stress. Rest and taking time off can actually improve brain function. In this Scientific American interview, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, senior consultant at Strategic Business Insights, says that:

” Rest is not this optional leftover activity. Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can’t have the high without the low. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.  ” 

Make a point to use your vacation days and do relaxing activities throughout the week in order to promote your optimum brain health.