What are the dangers of being forgetful
What stress does to your brain
Stress at work, tensions in the family, financial or health problems - everyone experiences stressful phases in their life. Stress in itself is not a negative. It helps us to cope with stressful situations and to adapt to changes. Nowadays, however, stress is often a constant companion. When stress occurs for a long time or very frequently, our body loses its natural balance. What does stress do to your brain? We'll tell you.
What normally happens in the brain during stress
A very important brain region for our experience of stress is the amygdala, the fear center of our brain. It plays a big role in processing emotions. Above all, the development of anger and feelings of fear is anchored here. The amygdala becomes active as soon as our brain interprets a situation as new or potentially dangerous. As a result, the stress hormone cortisol is released. Our body is put on alert. Blood pressure rises, breathing becomes faster, and muscles tense. Our body is ready to act. This enables us to react more quickly to potential dangers. We are more attentive and more efficient. As soon as the situation is over, our body relaxes again. This recovery period is important to stay healthy. The body can regenerate and draw new strength.
What happens in the brain when there is too much stress
If these recovery phases fail to occur and stress persists for a long time, this has an impact on our physical and psychological well-being. In the long term, chronic stress can even lead to changes in the brain.
1. Stress makes us anxious
Persistent stress leads to the fact that certain cells in the amygdala multiply more strongly and the neuronal connections to other brain regions are strengthened. The amygdala is then overstimulated more quickly. We feel overwhelmed and helpless, become nervous and irritable. More and more memories are associated with fear and danger. This keeps the cortisol level constantly high. If the body is permanently prepared for danger, the brain inhibits functions that are not necessary in acute danger. The consequences can be cardiovascular problems, insomnia, loss of appetite, digestive problems and decreased libido.
2. Stress makes us forgetful
When constant stress overstimulates the amygdala, it affects the functioning of other areas of the brain as well. As a result, fewer brain cells are produced in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and remembering, among other things. This has a negative effect on our memory. The result: we become forgetful and have difficulty learning new things.
3. Stress affects our behavior
The amygdala is also closely related to the prefrontal cortex. It is important for controlling emotions and influencing our behavior. Constant stress leads to the fact that nerve connections are lost here. Our judgment is impaired and the overactivation of the amygdala means that situations are assessed more emotionally than usual. When the prefrontal cortex shrinks, we find it difficult to make appropriate decisions in stressful situations.
What does stress mean for us now?
Long-lasting stress unbalances our neural network and can lead to permanent changes in our brain structure. The amygdala grows, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex shrink. This paves the way for a range of physical and psychological ailments. We feel exhausted, irritable and overwhelmed. We sleep badly and become forgetful. Sometimes chronic stress can even contribute to the development or worsening of depression and anxiety disorders.
What can I do about stress now?
The good news is: the harmful effects of stress on our minds and bodies appear to be largely reversible. Physical activity, adequate sleep, a balanced lifestyle and targeted relaxation through progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training get your hippocampus going again. Our HelloBetter stress training can support you in this. Here you will learn different strategies on how you can better deal with stress and its consequences in everyday life. Join in - your amygdala will thank you.
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