If you’re taking RO2 exams, you’ve just got to do something about stress if stress is a feature in your life. You’ve heard of the hormone, cortisol? It’s a stress hormone and has a horrible, destructive effect on your brain’s ability to learn and memorise stuff. When your body is busy dealing with stress, it hasn’t got the resources to develop and grow the dendrites and axons between the brain cells, and this means messages can’t be passed very easily and learning for your RO2 exam becomes very difficult.
So if, as we get older, the blood flow to our brain reduces, it means that the brain cells, the neurons get fewer nutrients and oxygen, the stuff they need to thrive. Sugar, energy in the form of glucose, is absolutely necessary and also amino acids, which are converted into neurotransmitters, without which your brain cells can’t speak to each other and everything grinds to a halt.
Eating food with a high saturated-fat content, drinking alcohol and smoking all hinder the blood flow to everywhere in your body and of course also in your brain. However this doesn’t necessarily happen at the same speed as someone else at the same age. You do have some control over it, thank goodness.
You can probably imagine, one of the best things you can do is keep your blood flowing, and to do this you need to exercise on a regular basis. Exercise helps your heart to stay healthy and strong, which you’re depending on to pump the blood to your brain in the first place, and also helps to clear out the bad cholesterol from your arteries, keeps the arteries and capillaries flexible and helps you to have a long and healthy life.
So to be absolutely clear, it’s important to keep stress down to a minimum and keep your blood flowing.
Exercise. Regular walks. Go for a swim or bike ride. Workout at the gym, if you must! You can probably gather from this it is not my favourite activity. Hey, each to his own! Do what ever you enjoy, because that way you’re likely to keep doing it.
Join a yoga or meditation class.
Take a good, long, hard look at your diet. Find out what makes good brain food and bad brain food. Watch out for saturated fats.
Look at your alcohol consumption. If you’re like the vast majority of people in this country, and I daresay others to, you will probably drinking more than is good for you. It comes as no surprise to me that recently the government has begun a campaign to encourage people to have at least two alcohol-free days in a week.
Drinking puts an enormous strain on your body, because alcohol is a poison and your body has to metabolise it and get it out of your body. That takes an enormous amount of energy and it’s a strain on your system.
Smoking is bad for you! But we know that don’t we? It’s going to have your body and brain age much faster, if you do. The problem is, of course, when most people take up the habit the damaging effects aren’t apparent at first. But they will certainly catch you up later.
Avoid stress where possible. Okay, I’d be the 1st to say that life will chuck a few curveballs at you, and that there can’t be more than a handful of individuals on the planet who experience no stress whatsoever.
Stress is a part of our lives, which is why we have the stress response to cope with it. However you’ve heard me say many times before that physiologically we are the same as we were 10,000 years ago when we lived in caves. The stress response has kept human beings alive, when faced with real mortal danger, such as a hungry carnivore looking our way. Most of us don’t have this particular problem these days. But somehow we react to things around us as though we are in massive danger, and our bodies respond with the stress response. Our bodies are designed for it.
And we’re designed to metabolise the stress hormones after the panic is over, in order to leave us back where we started, in a state of calm.
Watch any animal. Watch your cat or dog suddenly react to something that startles it, and then go back to sleep!
We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to go back to calm state, because we’ve already fixated on the next source of stress or worse we haven’t let go of the first one yet. It takes about 20 min for our bodies to get rid of stress hormones. It takes longer for men than it does women, incidentally.
If you keep finding things to stress you, you will have cortisol and adrenaline sloshing about in your veins continually. That overloads your body, and makes you ill.
Seriously ill, if you keep it up over time.
Stress will make it difficult to retain information you’re learning for your RO2 exam, so investigate ways to combat it.
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