Once thought of as just something which affects overworked professionals, stress is a major contributor to heart problems, depression, insomnia and a whole host of other issues. But although these are well known and well documented, did you know that stress is in fact a major contributing factor in memory problems and proper brain function? When the body is under deep stress, it releases a bodily hormone called cortisol that has a deep effect on your health because it directly suppresses the immunity system. This makes a stressed person more susceptible to attack from bacteria and viruses and may cause anything from usually feeling run down to full blown influenza and heart attacks.
More specifically, stress causes the right side of your brain to shut down. The right brain is accountable for emotions and looking at the big picture. It’s the most artistic and creative part of you. This explains why artists and writers find it nearly impossible to work when stressed because they can’t access the creative streak within them. Your left brain is accountable for looking at things logically, in parts as opposed to in wholes. A stressed person usually becomes fixated on details and small things as opposed to looking at the big picture. They can frequently be seen to be going over and over irrelevant things, making problems seem worse than they actually.
Stress has a profound effect on your capability to learn new things, since your brain is not able to store info in the long run memory. This is mainly because learning occurs when two synapses or Connections between the brain cells communicate with one another. Stress causes the release of a molecule called corticotropin that directly interferes with the way these synapses communicate and therefore affects your capability to learn. Paradoxically, a small stress amount can in fact be great for you, as it can force you to think about the task at hand and just get on with it.
This explains why some people behave really well under pressure – their body is reacting to the stress which forces them to do well. The lesson here then is reaching a balance between consistent stress which may have health implications and small doses of stress which can spur an individual on to perform better. Persistent stress is a danger point on all levels and is especially bad for all those individuals who already have a health problem. Using calming and meditative techniques might help center an individual and reduce stress levels significantly. Daily meditation for instance has been proven to have a calming effect as well as lowering the heart rate and cortisol levels within the body. An individual who meditates on a regular basis will be capable to learn faster and more efficiently, get better sleep and respond to problems with a clear and open mind.