Brain Strain!

What Stress is doing to your brain and what you can do about it.

Spare a thought for our poor brains, every waking minute it’s besieged by the pressures of modern-day life.

Stress in the 21st century can cause our brains to shrink physically from our thirties onwards and affect our memories.

The culprit is the stress hormone cortisol, which can toxically affect crucial brain regions such as our hippocampus which holds all our memories, emotions and learning habits.

Research has found that people with higher levels of cortisol than average had smaller brain volume than those with lower levels of the stress hormone. And brain shrinkage is not the only danger caused by cortisol. Chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol causes us to be less efficient and more prone to confusion.

The good news is that there are a lot of things we can do to help to protect our brains against the negative impacts of stress.

Healthy Food


The first important action to take is managing our diets.

Cortisol from chronic stress doesn’t only damage our brains, it also drives our appetites into “urgent” mode, which drives us to fast food fixes. Typically, this involves highly processed convenience foods (due to cortisol driving us instinctively to gobble calories in case we need to take flight or fight). And our brains suffer.

Processed foods and drink products are not modified foods, but formulations mostly of cheap industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients plus additives using a series of processes.

To keep a brain healthy, research shows that healthy diets have a powerful influence.

No faddy regimen is required, simply a diet of good fresh food.

Walking in forest



Next on the list is exercise. Feeling stressed can easily deter people from taking exercise. Numerous studies have shown how exercise can protect our brains against age-related decline.

We don’t need to run marathons or become gym bunnies.

Brain scanning studies have shown that by just walking 4,000 steps, about 3km a day, helps to keep the memory related area of the brain in robust health.  Because regular moderate exercise helps to pump blood more effectively to our brains and promotes the growth of new brain cells.

Last April neuroscientists at UCLA warned that habitual sitting in our everyday lives causes cells to die off in the area of our brain vital to learning and memory.



Sleep is one of the most undervalued components of health in today’s society. It’s come to be regarded as optional! If we don’t put an importance on our sleep it can have consequences on our health.
Short term sleep deprivation causes:

  • Increased levels of the stress hormone – cortisol
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar
  • Activates the nervous (sympathetic) system
  • Makes us feel anxy in situations
  • Increases levels of inflammation in the body and skin.

So, ignore your stressed brains urging you to check your emails and social media just one more time at night. Switch everything off an hour before bedtime and relax into some vital soothing sleep.

Relax Feet hammock


Just as important as diet, exercise and sleep is relaxation.

Relaxation is the strongest and most powerful treatment for all symptoms we feel when we are tired, stressed, lacking motivation and are down.

Hypnotherapy is a recognised form of relaxation therapy.

It can reduce the stress chemical cortisol and bring the body back to balance. With regular sessions it can ease built up pressure and tension, helping you to feel calmer, more in control and in a better frame of mind to look after yourself.

The hypnotic trance is the induction of a deeply relaxed state. The mind is guided away from the troubles of everyday life and into a place of tranquillity and peace. During this process, therapeutic suggestions are offered to encourage changes in attitude and behaviour, or relief from stress-related symptoms. This relaxation therapy is comfortable, safe and beneficial for both the mind and body.

The key benefits that can arise from this type of deep relaxation are:

  • helping to restore and strengthen the immune system
  • reduce cortisol levels
  • lowering of blood pressure
  • stress relief and the lessening of chronic pain, tension headaches, back pain and migraines
  • diminishing any emotional upsets and unlocking emotional blockages that can contribute to stress
  • aiding concentration and motivation
  • improving energy levels
  • aiding sleep.

Hypnotherapy provides a confidential and comfortable setting in which your mind and body can be safely filtered of tension and stress, easing you into a relaxing state of mind.

By taking some of these steps now, in decades to come your brain will thank you for it.

Happy Old Couple

When you book an Initial Consultation, I provide a full explanation on how hypnotherapy works and how it may help you. 


Tel: 07765 692 072