According to the American Psychological Association, stress remains one of America's top health issues. Everyone experiences stress, some more than others, which makes us more easily irritated, more challenged to focus, and feel constantly tired. more so if such has prolonged for a while.
Basically, stress is defined as a human response to any given situation. With that being said, stress is not necessarily negative. But then again, stress comes in various shapes and sizes. Stress can come all the way from a quick single conflict, like forgetting something at home as you head to work. Stress can also come from habitual circumstances, chronic/toxic stress, where the severity is greater and lingers for an extended period of time; examples of such would be a toxic work environment or relationship.
So how does stress actually affect our brains?
Primarily stress embodies attributes of a chain reaction. Facing a stressful situation, one’s amygdala, our brain's emotional processor, transmits a distress signal to the hypothalamus of the brain. The hypothalamus is the smart control coordinating center of our brain and, in truth, our whole body. This part of the brain communicates with the nervous system, leading us to a fight-or-flight response.
A human being’s fight-or-flight response is accountable for the visible physical reactions most people experience when stressed. It could be reactions like an increased heart rate, sweating, and heavy breathing.
Lastly, Cortisol plays a significant role in stress. When such is discharged, it contributes to energy loss. So with that, when one presents a high level of cortisol, they are experiencing high levels of stress, usually chronic.
Understanding how stress affects your brain and body can help an individual adjust their lifestyle for the better. With this understanding, it is easier to identify possible stressors in your life and devise a plan to manage yourself better and the situations you face. It is always essential to be aware of how stress literally affects your body to equip you on how to deal with stress better.
Bernstein, R. (2022, April 12). The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain. Touro University WorldWide. Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/
Cohut, M. (2018, October 25). How Does Stress Affect the Brain? Medical News Today. Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323445