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Tuesday, 15th October 2019

Psychologist’s advice to Network Ireland Louth – ‘keep smiling‘

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Smile for the camera! Pictured at Network Louth's October event 'Finding the "I" in the Storm, Find your Stress Sweetspot' with Dr. Sabina Brennan at The Westcourt Hotel were (from left): Nicola Connolly Byrne, I am Positive Mindset, Dr.Sabina Brennan, Gerry Kelly from LMFM and Lisa Dunbar from Lisa Dunbar Health. All proceeds from the event wen to SOSAD. Photo: Jenny Matthews.

“Keep smiling, it tells our brain we’re happy”

Among the many ways of dealing with stress offered by Neuroscientist and psychologist Dr. Sabina Brennan, the keynote speaker at the October meeting of Network Ireland Louth, was to “keep smiling”.

Sabina, who is also author of “100 Days to a Younger Brain”, took as her topic for the event was “Finding the ‘I’ in the Storm” focusing on stress, its effect on the mind and body and how to work on managing it. 

Sabina spoke about positive and negative stress and how an optimal amount of stress is good for us – our stress sweet spot.   If we are not motivated or have too little stress, this can have an adverse effect on our brain.  Her mantra was “use it or lose it”. 

However, chronic stress causes changes in our brain and stops neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.  Prolonged stress is also harmful to our central nervous system, which can impact on how we behave.  

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Sabina advised that we have to embrace change and challenge to remodel the architecture of our brains, but it takes time to retrain our brains and work on developing new behaviours.

She also stressed the importance of making time for hobbies and being active.   She told the audience that prolonged sitting induces anxiety, so we need to get up and move.  She spoke about having a healthy diet and getting good quality sleep – go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning!

Sabina said we should be realistic of what we can achieve, what others can achieve, and be practical by identifying our stress triggers.  She advised to keep a diary of what our stressors and stress triggers are.  A further bit of advice in managing stress was to “keep smiling – at least five times a day” – it tells our brain we’re happy.

Sabina was joined on a panel by Nicola Connolly Byrne of I Am Positive Mindset, Lisa Dunbar of Lisa Dunbar Health and Gerry Kelly of LMFM was the moderator.  A highly interactive questions and answers session followed with both Nicola and Lisa giving their input on self-awareness and stress management.  

Sabina was asked how we should prepare for retirement and, whilst she did not really advocate retirement, she said we should revisit how we look at life and prepare our escape plan.  “It’s like any good book – the last chapter should be the best”.

Entrance fees, on the evening, were donated to SOSAD, the chosen charity for this year for Network Ireland Louth.

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