How Stress Affects the Brain

How Stress Affects the Brain

Stress is good in small doses. It’s important too. In short bursts a stress response saved our ancestors from the threat of predators. For example, the stress response elicited by the sight of a lion walking toward you in the jungle was a good thing. The increased heart rate, the hyped up muscle response, got you out of the person killer’s vicinity pretty quickly.


In times of stress all your energy gets diverted to your brain and muscles, and to help prepare the body for action, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Ideally a stress response should be a message for you to change something. For instance if you smell smoke in the building you’ll want to run out of there. Smoke! Stress response – run!


But what if you find yourself living with a prolonged stress response? If circumstances have left you stressed out on a daily basis, creating the latent smell of smoke in every room of your house that you can’t seem to get rid of? Someone looking for a job, or between jobs could find themselves living with a degree of prolonged stress. Being stressed out is not the optimum attitude to have while on the job hunt.


Physical responses to stress

The body is not meant to maintain a constant state of alert. If such a state persists, the immune system starts to decline. Signals to the brain get muddled, learning and memory suffer, but that’s not even the worst of it. Long term stress and increased cortisol levels can kill off brain cells and make your brain smaller! Judgment, the ability to make decisions also shrink and the risk for depression increases.

Using exercise and meditation to mitigate stress

Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate stressful situations from your life, mindful meditation and exercise can be very helpful in counterbalancing the stress.


Mindful meditation means keeping your awareness in the present moment, not letting it wander to either past or future circumstances – presumably the cause of your stress. If you can focus only on what you are doing at the given moment the stress will have nothing to cling to (hopefully).


Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean getting yourself to the gym. It can mean getting out for a walk or a bike ride, a yoga class, a swim. Something to move your body and get you out of your head.


Exercise and meditation don’t just help you cope with the stress, they can actually help reverse the effects.


Of course, the best way to deal with stress, and save your brain from shrinking in the first place, is to identify the factors that set you off and deal with them before you feel like you’re living in a house full of smoke! If your stress is job hunt related, make yourself a plan for everyday and follow it. Ensure you’re more concerned with doing than with worrying. Stay in the moment while you’re on task, then take time to get up and move in between!


There are just about as many ways to de-stress as there are to stress. Here are over a hundred more from Health Grinder

Outdated Career Advice, part 2

When listening to career advice it’s important to remember that the employment situation is constantly evolving and what was good advice in the past may not still be relevant. This is part two of our two part series on outdated career advice.

Starting The Year Off Right

Starting The Year Off Right


Are you totally happy with the way you did your job last year? Are there things you’d like to do better? When it comes to how we do our jobs, most of us have a few bad habits. Here are four things everyone faces in their daily lives that many of us can do better.

It’s not my job

We’ve all done it. When someone questions why something simple hasn’t been done, and we just stare back at them blankly and say, “It’s not my job.”

While it’s true that some things you may be asked to do are technically outside of your job description, if you see something that should have been done or that should be done, and it’s in your power to do it, then go ahead and take some initiative. You’ll look good in the eyes of the powers that be, and you can feel good for making things just that little bit smoother and better. Not everything you should do “is your job”.


There are many reasons people procrastinate. Because something seems boring, or difficult, or because the deadline isn’t within the next twelve seconds, but procrastinating will only extend the time of boredom or difficulty and it will make those final twelve seconds a nightmare.

Lighten your mental load. Give yourself timelines for projects that end well ahead of scheduled deadlines. Make procrastination a thing of the past.


If you’re one of those people that always run in at the last second, then it’s time to mend your ways. When you have to rush around to get yourself out the door you’re apt to forget something. You arrive at your destination slightly flustered and you look unprofessional.

Find ways to get yourself on time all the time. Set your alarm earlier, change your clocks so they are always ten minutes ahead. Decide to make being on time a priority.


We all run into negative situations or people in the course of our workdays. There is no avoiding that. What you can avoid is negative talk and negative thoughts.

Talking about how unhappy you are with things only fuels the flames of negativity and it doesn’t do anything to move the situation forward.

If you’re not happy then get to the bottom of the problem and take action to change the situation. Positive action will make you feel a whole lot better than negative words or thoughts ever will. And it will get help move you out of the negative situation altogether.


The Problem Is Not The Problem

The Problem Is Not The Problem


Problems get in the way of us doing things. They create stumbling blocks or insurmountable mountains. They make us feel like we can never get where we need to go.


It’s true if you wait for a problem to go away or hope it will go away or decide there’s nothing you can do about it and give up, then yes, the problem will definitely stop you from achieving your goal.


However, what if you decided to think of each problem as an opportunity. An opportunity to try a different approach. To talk to different people. To learn something new.


So often things that start out as problems turn out to be inspirations. They lead to things and situations that are better than our original plan.


Life and how you feel about it and what you get out of it are all a matter of perspective. When you run into a problem. Instead of worrying about how you’re going to get around it, search for the opportunity buried inside it. You might find buried treasure.


Looking For A Job Where You Can Grow?

Looking For A Job Where You Can Grow?

Never Stop Learning sign


Some people are just looking for a job where they can do their thing, go home and pursue other interests outside of work. Others are looking for something a little more challenging. Work where they can continue to learn and expand on their knowledge base.


If you’re into working for a company where you can grow, personally and professionally, check out 26 Companies Where You Never Stop Learning from The Muse.

What I Do Defines Me – Motivation Monday

What I Do Defines Me - Motivation Monday

What impresses you when you first meet someone? The car they drive? The Neighbourhood they live in? The clothes they wear? Those are the sorts of things that might grab your attention in the first few seconds, but after you’ve known someone for a while the exteriors matter less.

You start to pay more attention to what they do, how they treat others, their work ethic, their concern for the things they believe in.

Who are the people that impress you most? Are you impressed by what they have or what they do? Do you have a boss or a co-worker who always goes out of his or her way to help others? A neighbour who shovels the walk of the elderly couple across the way? A friend who drops by with a pot of soup when you’re sick? Those are the people we respect. The people we care about. The people we should strive to be.

When Commissioner Gordon shines the bat light in the sky he’s not doing it to summon a guy in a bat suit, he’s doing it to summon the person who he knows will help his city.

The outside stuff is cool, but ultimately, it’s transient. The things that make a lasting impression, the things that define us are the things we do.

Motivating Millennials

Motivating Millennials


Up until ten or fifteen years ago, corporate work structure hadn’t changed much. People came in, moved through the ranks, got promoted based on seniority, communicated through hierarchical structures. However millennials are not like the workers that came before them. They’re a generation who’ve grown up in a world of instant access to everything. They share information and tips, ideas and thoughts. They’re about crowd sourcing and putting themselves out there on You Tube or Instagram and making a name for themselves based on their own initiative.


They’re inspired and creative and hungry to make their mark. How do you entice them to make their mark with you?


Encourage communication

Millennials come in with fresh eyes and fresh perspectives. They’re eager and motivated. By having an open communication policy where ideas are welcome regardless of how long someone has been part of the organization or how much responsibility they may have, millennials will feel heard and appreciated. They’ll be more likely to give you their full attention and enthusiasm.


Provide opportunities for professional growth

Because millennials are so determined to make their mark without having to go through an arbitrary twenty years in the system, give them opportunities to expand themselves. Offer workshops, training sessions, conference calls with people who can help and inspire them. The more you give them, the more they’ll give you back.


Fulfillment through side projects

There’s nothing like the pride of accomplishing something from start to finish to motivate someone. That something doesn’t have to be huge, but trusting someone with a side project they can make their own, giving them recognition for their efforts, privately and publicly is just the sort of boost that will encourage millennials to strive even harder.


Millennials may not be willing to follow in the footsteps of those who came before them, but with the right kind of encouragement, oh the places they’ll go!


Gratitude Is The Parent Of All Virtues

Gratitude Is The Parent Of All Virtues


How much of a factor does gratitude play in your life? You probably say thank you when someone opens a door for you or when someone overtly goes out of their way to do something nice.


Gratitude builds on itself

Did you know the more gratitude you bring into your life, the more reasons you’ll find to be grateful? The more you notice the good things, the better you’ll feel. The happier you feel, the more likely you’ll be willing to go that extra mile to achieve the success you’re after. That’s because by actually noticing and acknowledging the good things in your life you are focusing your attention on the good and in the process taking your attention away from the negatives. Do it enough and you can actually rewire your brain to pay more attention to what’s good than to what’s bad.


Pay it forward

It’s easy to remember to feel grateful when an overt reason is staring you in the face. The key to deep gratitude is to spend some time each day finding reasons to be grateful. We don’t mean you should make up reasons to be grateful, we mean to actually take five or ten minutes at the end of each day to think back and recognize where the good was and who helped bring about that good. After you’ve recognized what you’re grateful for go ahead and let people know. Spread the gratitude.


Sometimes the difference between a mediocre day and a great day is a change of perspective. From a grateful perspective every day is better. Gratitude truly is the parent of all virtues.