The neurons in our brain
Part of our brain’s composition includes a highly specialized cell called a neuron. Neurons store information that is received through our senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Our motor skills are developed through the organization of neurons that help our muscles and skeleton understand and apply mobility. Neurons are also responsible for hormone production – either by producing it themselves or stimulating glands located in different parts of the body to do so. This is important because hormones help carry messages in our body.
Today we’re going to focus on how our brain stores data. There’s a lot to discuss on this topic and I’m thinking it would be good to break this down in different blog posts (including a separate post to highlight how our brains maintains the data it receives). For now though let’s discuss the basic principles of data storage.
Neurons are unique in that they carry a bunch of different chemicals internally where information is received, processed and stored. Any time you learn something new, a neuron captures that information and locates all other neurons that have stored similar information. This forms a network of knowledge among neurons and is how we’re able to comprehend new topics – by tying them to other things we have learned in the past. When this is repeated several times, you have a bunch of neurons creating a network of information where learning is reinforced. Think back to when you were learning how to multiply and divide. It took repetition to remember that 2 x 2 = 4.
What I described occurs with any thought. Neurons receive information, tie it back to similar thoughts and then store that information for future use. This is how we’re able to display attributes of courage, fear, compassion, acceptance, etc. All experiences and thoughts become a road map to how we will act. Well balanced brain activities are the most important source we have to be happy. Stress is caused by unreal thoughts, fears or even by lack of social acceptance. I firmly believe that this is tied to the soul of each person. Innately we all want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Unfortunately many times we undervalue ourselves and spend too much time overrating other people’s skills, gifts or attributes. Whenever we benchmark ourselves against others it becomes difficult to accept one’s own self worth. Instead we run a heavy schedule of perfection trying to be the perfect person for everybody in our work, social and personal lives. This imposes a high level of stress based on fears with thousands of neurons containing false information creating a negative chemical impact. This exhausts the brain as it is working on trying to sift through true and false information and evidence (based on the neuron networks created) to keep your mind and body in order. This causes the neurons to be on constant alert which is devastating to your physical health.
There are certainly other chemicals the body carries to help de-stress itself in these scenarios however an overstressed mind will overtake many of these components. One of these components is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that produced in the brain by a small group of nerve cells. Dopamine transmits signals/messages to other nerve cells. Its best known role is that of reinforcing behavior through creating a feeling of emotional reward. Dopamine can create feelings of happiness as well as feelings of relief after overcoming adversities. Dopamine is even released when there is the potential of something positive happening – these feelings motivate us to pursue a desired goal.
All of the chemicals in your brain that work to elevate your mood and stop you from feeling depressed are depleted when residual stress is present. When I say residual stress I’m not referring to single episodes that may be currently present. Residual stress refers to stress that is still present from previous unresolved episodes in our life that cause us to overanalyze or overreact whenever we have a new challenge in our life. Keep in mind that all stored information saved in our brain will be present whenever a similar situation is before us. If the chemical and electrical charges in our brain are a bit out of whack we will be presented with the wrong file and our perception of reality changes. Additionally, other chemicals are released which block the ability for our bodies to receive the dopamine necessary for us to feel good and happy. This inhibits the ability for to love or be compassionate towards others. Instead, unpleasant emotions take their place and we are filled with feelings of inadequacy, lack of belonging or love. Under these circumstances we can begin to believe that this is who we are, feeling stuck and unhappy.
Although our minds will work on trying to correct the problem, physiological changes occur and illness creeps in impacting our hormonal/endocrine, digestive and immune systems. Under stress we’ll begin to have a lack of sleep and an inability to absorb nutrients. This in turn affects our brain leading to disorder and commotion in both our mind and body. Meanwhile, in an effort to maintain sanity our brain works extra hard build a false perception that everything is fine. In reality though, under such a state it is very difficult to embrace life and live an authentic life. Instead we build fears, become oversensitive and scared that others will be able to see our imperfections. The question then is “is it possible to bring the chemicals in our brain back into balance?” The answer is yes. There are natural ways to create chemical balances to feel happy, fulfilled and energized again. In my next post I’ll discuss 3 tips that I’ve found to be effective in restoring the balance in our mind and body.
Originally posted September 5, 2014