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It can, according to a recent study.

There’s a pandemic on. Your job may be in jeopardy and life’s uncertain – we get that – but if it’s true that worry actively HARMS the brain, is it worth it?

Recent research shows that worry actually changes the structures in your brain, and not in a good way. Researchers discovered that older people who worried a lot regularly were more likely to exhibit cognitive decline and memory loss than those who had a sunnier outlook

Chronic worriers also have raised levels of “beta-amyloid proteins”. These are compounds which form brain plaque associated with degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. A study suggests a strong relationship between anxiety and dementia – those with anxiety and depression typically exhibit patterns of worry.

DO WE DECIDE TO WORRY OR DOES IT JUST HAPPEN?

There’s a saying that “energy flows where attention goes.” Worry seems to breed worry, and actively choosing not to worry, as hard as that may be, is enormously beneficial to your health. We actually have a CHOICE as to whether to worry or not!

Worry can literally drive you crazy and the key is to develop stress management techniques in order to start the process of quieting your fight-or-flight reaction before it turns into a cycle of compounding stress.

GRATITUDE CAN REWIRE YOUR BRAIN TOO – TOWARD POSITIVITY

Did you know that actively “practicing” intentional gratitude can make you feel more positive throughout the day? Try it, it’s absolutely true. Making a habit of seeking out reasons to be grateful can change your entire outlook on life after a while. Researchers found that gratitude was associated with a thicker prefrontal cortex region of the brain, which is a characteristic that they found was tied to life satisfaction.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE ON PURPOSE

  • Start a gratitude journal. Just a few lines a day are all you need to notice a positive change.
  • Start a gratitude habit at mealtime or bedtime, and involve your family. Ask everyone to share something they are grateful for that day.
  • Pause several times throughout the day and consider something you’re grateful for. Meditate on that and why you are so grateful. After a few days you’ll start noticing the smaller details in life that bring you joy.

It actually takes very little to be grateful. To see the beauty around you and to appreciate those who you can be grateful for in your life. It’s a wonderful practice I highly recommend. I’m SO grateful for all of you and all you have shared with me during these past few years on Facebook.

 

Disclaimer

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Originally published on https://www.facebook.com/SallyAnnCreedSA/ in 2020.

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