The Neuroscientist’s guide to beating stress

Hayley Dawes
10 June 2024

At Dreem Distillery we pride ourselves in offering key advise that will help you get the best night’s sleep, rest and recovery. This week we read an interesting article written by leading neuroscientist Nicole Vignola. She has recently brought a book out, Rewire: Break the Cycle, Alter Your Thoughts and Create Lasting Change. Here are some top strategies for reducing stress and improving your well-being and thus improving sleep, rest and recovery.

Key strategies for stress reduction:

1. Rewire your brain:

 Forming New Habits: Change takes 18 to 254 days. Be patient and consistent.

2. Distract your brain:

Joyful Activities: Engage in activities like painting or yoga to lower cortisol and boost mood.

Practise positive self talk: When under chronic stress, the brain conserves energy, making it hard to form new habits. Negative self-talk can keep you stuck, whereas positive reinforcement can release dopamine, which makes you feel good and encourages repeat behaviour. Celebrate small victories like cooking a meal or sleeping well the previous night to motivate further positive actions.  If anxiety arises when going to bed or you have worries on your mind, talk positively to yourself about the rejuvenating and restorative night’s sleep that you are so looking forward to and deserve.  Enter your bedroom with a positive mindset rather than one full of worries and anxiety.

3. The power of CBD and GABA:

  • CBD benefits: CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. It enhances GABA activity, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Worth trying our Night Drops should you struggle with falling asleep or waking up during the early hours of the morning.
  • GABA’s role: GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain. Boosting GABA activity through relaxation exercises, or natural supplements like CBD, can improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety.

4. Morning and evening routines:

Starting your day without immediately checking your phone can keep your brainwaves in a low-frequency, relaxed state, perfect for planning your day. Vignola suggests waiting to check your phone to avoid volatile dopamine spikes.

Similarly, turning off your phone by 9pm can help you wind down and ensure you get the recommended eight hours of sleep, which is crucial for reducing stress and improving overall health. An evening ritual of an indulgent warm bath or shower can also aid a good night’s sleep. Try our Into the Deep bath oil or The Z’s bath soak.

5. Quick calm techniques:

Physiological sigh: Double inhale through your nose, hold, then exhale slowly to calm your nervous system. Try our breathwork videos which are free with any Dreem purchase which are an excellent toolkit for resetting one’s nervous system day or night. Our belief is that if you can create ‘pockets’ of peace and joy daily, you won’t need a total reset every few months. Breathe Easy.

6. Change your perspective:

Panoramic View: Stepping outside and taking in a wide view reduces stress hormones.

7. Write it down:

 Journaling isn’t just a wellness trend—it’s backed by neuroscience. Writing down your thoughts recruits your frontal cortex, helping to organise and make sense of your feelings. This process can reduce the emotional load and provide clarity.

8. Visualise success:

Visualisation is a powerful tool, especially for forming new exercise habits. By mentally rehearsing your routine, like getting out of bed and putting on your running clothes, you’re more likely to follow through. This technique primes your brain to perform the activity, making it easier to integrate into your daily life. Equally try visualising how much better you will feel after a good night’s sleep.

For more insights and strategies, check out Nicole Vignola’s book Rewire. Transform your stress levels and overall well-being today.