The long term impact of chronic stress


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The long term impact of chronic stress

  1. 1. The Long Term Impact of ChronicStress By Brenda McCreight Ph.D.
  2. 2.  Some forms of stress can be exhilarating and energizing. Indeed, stress can give you the kick you need to get through a high pressure meeting or recall what you need to score well on an exam. Chronic stress, however, will slowly and systematically create havoc and damage to your physical and emotional health. Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  3. 3.  For those engaged in Hazardous Parenting, chronic stress is part of life but the good news is that the damage it does to your body and your brain can be alleviated. Here’s what stress does to you ...
  4. 4.  First, the stress trigger happens. It might be that the phone rings and you know it’s your child’s school calling to tell you that your child has to be sent home for the day yet again. Or, the social worker just called to say that the funding for your respite care has been cut. Or, it’s almost time for school to end and you become stressed knowing that the daily afterschool chaos is about to begin. Brenda McCreight PH.D. workshop series
  5. 5. The trigger will ignite the amygdala inyour brain – that’s the part of thebrain that alerts your whole body todanger and sets you into flight, fightor freeze mode. It results in therelease of cortisol and other toxichormones that flood the brain andcause your heart beat to increaseand your blood pressure to rise.Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  6. 6.  It also shuts off your pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that reasons and evaluates and allows for long term thinking as well as problem solving.
  7. 7.  The hormones in your brain make you irritable and impatient and they disrupt your sleep cycle, causing more stress and more cognitive problems. Cortisol even impacts your weight, as it slows the metabolism and sends fat to your waist – leading to obesity and the health problems that go with that.
  8. 8.  Your body and your brain get pretty worn out from the chronic overdose of cortisol and so they become sluggish and depressed and exhausted and you find that you don’t have the energy to exercise or the will to eat right. If you have a genetic tendency to other health problems, such as migraines or heart problems, these are going to develop in full force. In the long run, the chronic stress, if unattended, may be a factor in developing dementia!
  9. 9.  The downward cycle continues as your now chronic irritability and impatience alienates you from friends, from support, from your spouse and your other children. Sooner or later it will impact your work and then you have even more chronic stress to add to the damage already happening inside of you.
  10. 10.  What can you do about this? Well, you can’t remove the source of your stress, which is your child, and she isn’t going to get any better in the near or immediate future.
  11. 11.  Here are some things you can do to increase your brain health by lowering the cortisol levels and increasing the function and activity level of the rest of your brain.
  12. 12.  Here’swhat doesn’t work:Addictions or bad habits, such as alcohol,shopping, affairs, food, reading, the internet,carbohydrates, and other quick fixes thatonly add to the burden your brain isexperiencing.
  13. 13.  Here’s what does work: Exercise – no matter how difficult it is, get up off the couch and move. Start with a walk around the block, then find a gym where you feel welcomed, or join aqua aerobics – just do something. Remember, you need both cardio and muscle resistance exercises to make sure that your cardiovascular system and your cognitive capacity are supported. Brenda McCreight PH.D. workshop series
  14. 14.  Breathing techniques – anything that gets oxygen to your brain is great. There are many biofeedback breathing techniques (check out, yoga is excellent too. A simple breathing technique I devised is at the end of this presentation. Check it out. Brenda McCreight Ph.D . workshop series
  15. 15. Therapy – many therapies help alleviate thesymptoms of chronic stress, includingCognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR,neurofeedback, biofeedback, EmotionalFreedom Technique (my favorite) andothers.
  16. 16.  Meditation is excellent for brain health and for stress reduction. Search the net for meditations that suit you – or go to my Hazardous Parenting website where we are always adding new, and short, meditations. You may feel that meditating is too “new age” or too time consuming or too weird or too….. But it takes less time than a heart attack and its been around way too long to be considered new. Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  17. 17.  Play – that’s right – you are entitled to play and have fun – whatever that looks like to you. Take time to golf with your buddies, or go to a movie without the kids, or go away for a weekend with your spouse or your friends Join a group activity that isn’t about parenting
  18. 18.  Healthy eating – I know you already know about this – but make sure you do it! Add some fruit and vegetables to your existing diet Swap out carbs for vitamins from raw foods See a nutritionist if you are unsure about what to do with your food intake.
  19. 19.  People die early from many things, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but often it’s the underlying factor of chronic stress that led to these fatal conditions. You don’t have to be a victim of stress, you can heal and recover and flourish! Remember – you are entitled to a better day.
  20. 20.  Brenda’s breathing technique – QUIET THE MONKEYS Picture a tree – try to make it make it big and thick with many branches and full of shiny green leaves. Now, picture monkeys on the branches – they may be swinging from one branch to another, or they may be settled firmly on their favorite spot, peeking out at the world from behind smaller tree limbs, still leaf filled. Picture the monkeys chattering away – all chatter at the same time, without pause, without meaning that you can discern.
  21. 21.  Now, picture the monkeys slowly quieting. One by one they cease their noise, one by one they close their eyes and assume a resting position. They begin to fade behind the leaves, and tree stands strong and silent. The monkeys are quiet. Square your shoulders
  22. 22.  Think about a word that describes how you intend to feel. Pay attention to your breathing for about 30 seconds Breathe a little bit deeper and a little bit slower than usual for about 30 seconds Think about your heart for about 30 seconds
  23. 23.  Picture your oxygen rich blood flowing up to, and through, your brain Picture the oxygen washing out the stress hormones and toxic thoughts that fill your brain for about 30 seconds, or longer if you have time Think of something you love or something that makes you feel wonderful, or think of a person, place or event that brings you joy for about 30 seconds Slowly open your eyes
  24. 24.  Brenda’s books at
  25. 25. Thank you for sharing this time with me You can check out other services and products at these sites: The Hazardous Parenting facebook site (search under Brenda McCreight) (search under Brenda McCreight) (search under Brenda McCreight) Brenda provides counselling and parent coaching worldwide via skype,