Spring is just around the corner and along with the April showers and May flowers, many people dive into a spring-cleaning project. It just feels good to do a deep clean, get rid of stuff you don’t use, and eliminate some clutter.
Researchers say that clutter contributes to stress which can lead to depression and anxiety, so decluttering your home is a great place to start.
But sometimes we must take it a step further because clutter in the brain and body can lead to stress as well. That can manifest as many different health issues like low immune function, obesity, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is this dangerous domino effect that can spiral out of control if you aren’t diligent and stay on top of it.
Decluttering the body may mean avoiding highly processed foods or eliminating sugar and sodium. If you consume a lot of takeout or fast food, committing to cooking at home two or three days a week is a great start. Shifting to a diet of whole foods with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains will do the trick.
Take Care of Your Brain
Decluttering the brain is another issue. The brain is responsible for keeping all the systems within the body working at an optimum level. It is responsible not just for things like movement, digestion, and keeping your heart beating, it also protects the body by regulating pain response and concentrating blood flow to the organs when it perceives that the body is under attack.
And that is where many people get into trouble without even realizing it.
When a person is under stress, the brain perceives it as a threat. In response, it releases certain hormones, such as adrenaline, that are designed to prepare the body for that threat so that it can fight or flee.
Prolonged stress leads to prolonged “battle ready” status for your brain. It can only hold up for so long, then everything starts coming down. The body starts to show signs of stress like backaches, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Brain fog is another common symptom, along with poor memory and difficulty concentrating.
When it gets to that point, the situation is critical. It is time to take steps to declutter your brain, reduce the stress, get out of “battle-ready” mode, and relax.
Decluttering Your Brain
While there are some stressful things in your life that you just can’t control or reduce, there are ways to help your body be better prepared and better able to combat the stress.
- Gut health – Good gut health is important and when you are under stress, it is more important than ever. Many doctors refer to the gut as the “second brain” because it affects so many functions in the body. Ask your doctor to help you find a good probiotic and be kind to your gut.
- Sleep – Sleep is important. Few people will argue that. But most people do not get enough sleep each night which means the majority of people you encounter in a day are sleep deprived. Set a time to go to sleep, get off the devices 2 hours before bedtime, and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Hydration – Most people, this very minute, are experiencing low-level dehydration. This means that chances are good that you are dehydrated and don’t even know it. The problem is, researchers have found that even low-level dehydration can cause damage in the body, affecting the kidneys, heart, liver, and more. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and avoid sugary sodas.
- Brain-friendly foods – Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are well known for their brain-boosting benefits. Fresh fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and blueberries are all great for helping your brain function more effectively.
- Exercise – Exercise is great for the entire body, including the brain. While it can help control weight, it does have some remarkable brain-positive perks. When you exercise, the brain releases hormones that boost your mood, give you more energy, help control the appetite and reduce cravings.
- Stress management – Yes, this is easier said than done, but even if you have stressors that you can’t get rid of (like your kids), you can learn to manage them better. This may mean talking to someone to get a different perspective on what you are currently doing and what you can do to help you deal with stress better.
- Put down the devices – Limiting your screen time is a very smart move, especially if you spend a lot of time on social media. While it can be fun, the constant scrolling and things that are often encountered on social media can lead to depression and decrease your attention span. Several studies have found that spending a lot of time on social media actually has a dehumanizing effect which decreases empathy in many people. This is because of the lack of contact with real human beings. They just become an avatar on the screen.
- Brain games – Some experts say brain games are important while others say they don’t help much. But what they all agree on is that the more you use your brain, the sharper you will become and the more likely you will reduce or stop age-related degeneration of the brain.
- Spend time with people – Recent research found that loneliness is one of the leading causes of serious illness and death in the elderly. That doesn’t mean it can’t affect younger people too. Humans are hardwired to be social, albeit some more than others. But people need people, so go to lunch with a friend, call a family member, or even get involved in a club or senior center. Even a couple of hours a day can make a difference.
- And of course… Neurofeedback Therapy! – Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, drug-free, pain-free therapy that can help with the symptoms of many issues like anxiety, PTSD, trauma, depression, and a cluttered, stressed brain. It literally remaps your brain so that it functions the way it should. And who wouldn’t want that?