How many times a day do you get pulled out of what you’re doing by checking notifications on your phone?
If you’re anything like the average millennial, you’re checking it often, spending up to 2 hours every day with your screen. These tiny distractions, coupled with the bigger interruptions we juggle between work, children, and life in general actually activate primal stress receptors in our brain. Back in our caveman days, this neurological response made sense because the threats were pretty scary (think: lions, tigers and bears… oh my!). Our body responded by increasing our heart rate, tightening muscles, increasing blood pressure, and changing our metabolism, all which primed us for a fight or flight response.
While stressors today might may not seem as important as a bear threatening our lives, our brain activates the same stress response pathway to prepare for battle. For many of us, the tiniest thing can activate our stress response. We’ve all been there – checking our e-mail incessantly waiting to hear back from that super important job interview, only to find out Artizia is having another sale. Kaboooom! Adrenaline racing, and our body stops functioning in an optimal way (digestion, hormones, emotions all go wack) when stress is on the brain. The problem is, we are bombarded with these stressors all day long. Our bodies, and especially our brains are taking a brutal beating. So what’s a millennial to do to relax?
Neuroscientist and former Team Canada beach volleyball player, Julia Hamer, is here to help answer those questions as part of The Fit Brain Series. Her events explore neurological and psychological responses many of us experience in modern society from looking at blue light on our phones, to living in high stress environments. Her goal is bring light to age old solutions that we all perceive to be “good for us”, while providing a westernized medicine lens. She focuses on topics like meditation that have been practiced for years by the world over and breaks down how they are grounded in robust evidence-based science. For example, at her last event she dove into the effects prolonged stress has on the body and how the brain’s neurological activity during meditation (specifically changing your “default mode network”) can lessen these effects overtime.
Her events are interactive in that they combine movement and neuroscience education. At Flow and Glow, she led us through the neuroscience on how blue light (from our phones, tablets and computers) is affecting our brain health, followed by a candle light (red light) yoga flow. At the Drop and Give me Zen event, she led us through a chat on the neurological experience of being mindful before having us experience a guided meditation ourselves.
The last event in the series is this Wednesday June 20th from 7:00 to 9:00pm at RYU and will be focusing on food chemistry, the gut microbiome, and how our brain changes in response to them both. A ticket includes a HIIT workout in store, a paced 3-5 km run outside, followed by juices, brain snacks and a neuroscience talk on the gut-brain connection. For more information on her event, click here.