Stressed Out and Stupid
It’s just minutes before the biggest meeting of your career and you’re staring at your desk clueless about what you’re looking at. You’re drawing a total blank. Did you need a pen? Did you print the files for the presentation? Where’s your phone? What the heck is going on? Simply put… you’ve stressed yourself out to the point of stupidity. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just how we’re wired as human beings. Granted, the wiring is outdated, but it has its purpose.
We’re built to respond to stressful situations with a fight-or-flight response… the problem is that our body chemistry doesn’t differentiate between someone chasing us down the street and something less threatening like speaking in public. So we flood our bodies with adrenaline and cortisol – the stress hormones. Everything else becomes secondary. Hunger, sleep, memory – they’re all put on the bench until the stress subsides. Sure, it’s a temporary thing. Or is it?
Recent studies by Stanford University reveal that over time, continued exposure to stress can actually damage brain cells. That’s right, being stressed out all the time can cause brain cells to atrophy and have fewer connections to other brain cells. So, we become less alert, less focused and unable to remember things we’ve known for years. And while it may seem counter intuitive to those wishing to safeguard against aging, sometimes the best course of action is to just give your brain a rest and relax.