5) Build in Stimulation
New research on the brain from Princeton University shows that chronic stress can actually cause brain damage because brain cells stop regenerating. The good news? A stimulating environment can help heal that damage by boosting cell regeneration.
Dr. Doug Saunders, a clinical psychologist who teaches at the University of Toronto, suggests an activity he calls “creating islands of peace.” Choose an activity you enjoy, one that engages your brain in such a way that time passes almost without you being aware of it. It could be running, gardening or doing a crossword: anything that takes your mind’s focus away from your stress. “It’s the equivalent of being in a light trance, and it’s a way of giving your mind and body the opportunity to recover from the fight-or-flight effects of chronic stress,” he says.
Want to boost the stress-busting effect? Opt for an activity that has physical as well as mental benefits. A 2008 British study of almost 20,000 adults found that those who exercised daily—even simply walking—were 41 percent less likely than non-exercisers to be highly stressed.