December 29th, 2012| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


I don’t know how 2012 has been for you. If you are like most, pretty stressful. Not that 2012 was any different, except for fiscal cliffs, shootings, and presidential elections, murder of a U.S. ambassador, the death of Whitney Houston, a luxury cruise ship running aground in Italy, the Diamond Jubilee of QEII, the monarch, Arab Spring, the Mars landing of Curiosity, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s sound barrier-breaking space dive, Hurricane Sandy, Palestine acquiring non-member observer status at the U.N., and other odds and ends of daily life and its indignities—loss of employment, loss of health, car trouble, marriage turmoil, relationship issues, children going astray, abuse of different kinds in different arenas of life, lack of success and fulfillment, a dearth of peace and contentment ….

The result? Stress.

Actually it’s worse than you thought it was. That stress is pretty darn catastrophic. It shrinks your brain!

Researchers at Yale, following a study supported by the NIH and published in Biological Psychiatry, discovered, in stressed-out folks, reductions of gray matter in the pre-frontal cortex—a part of the brain that deals with physiological and emotional functioning, such as impulses and desires, blood pressure and gloucose.

MRI scans were performed on 103 healthy volunteers, as they answered questions about traumatic life events—loss of spouse, loss of job, loss of home, etc.

The press release from ye olde University stated: “They found that even the brains of subjects who had only recently experienced a stressful life event showed markedly lower gray matter in portions of the … area of the brain that regulates not only emotions and self-control, but physiological functions such as blood pressure and glucose levels.” This even in otherwise healthy individuals.

Lead author, Emily Ansell, Asst. Prof. of Psychiatry observed that “The accumulation of stressful life events may make it more challenging for these individuals to deal with future stress, particularly if the next demanding event requires effortful control, emotion regulation, or integrated social processing to overcome it.” In other words, it all snowballs into disaster. More life stress and more brain shrinkage significantly impact one’s ability to handle future stress, leading to even more shrinkage, and even more incapacity to deal with stress, leading to ….

Professor Rajita Sinha of the Department of Neurobiology noted: “The brain is dynamic and plastic and things can improve—but only if stress is dealt with in a healthy manner. If not, the effects of stress can have a negative impact on both our physical and mental health.” The shrinkage is apparent quite soon after the stressful events and may be harbingers of future psychiatric disorder such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, and may be warnings even of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.

The one of steadfast mind
You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

Yup, that is the only way to get a “steadfast mind,” an unshrinking brain! Trust in God that leads to “perfect peace” (“peace, peace,” in Hebrew).

LORD, You will establish peace for us,
Since even all our works You have done for us.
Isaiah 26:12

He alone makes us secure in peace. Even our so-called accomplishments—all of them are his works, the deeds of God. No reason to fret, fume, fuss, or flounce. Our deeds are faulty, feeble, and fraught with failure. Let us remember for 2013 that it is not our fragile deeds that matter, but the firm workings of an Almighty God.

Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD,
we have an everlasting Rock.
Isaiah 26:4

Let not thy brain shrink!


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