How Stress Affects Your Brain
Most of us know that we change a little bit when we are stressed out. Most of us recognize that we get a little edgy or curt when we’re under stress — we may even go so far as to describe ourselves as intense, overly serious or a bit reactive.
Would we know if our level of stress actually affected our brain?
The answer is no — we wouldn’t.
Stress creates a physiological response in our bodies because the body perceives the stress as a threat and prepares us for battle. But stress also impairs cognitive performance like thinking, memory, concentration, and behavior. So someone at the height of a stressful situation would not have a lot of self-perspective.
Compound stress over time and it could completely change a person. In other words, while we may value qualities like kindness, creativity, and problem-solving, we may actually be behaving in a way that is mean, narrow-minded, and fatalistic due to constant or high levels of stress.
The good news is that it is fixable.
People who make a commitment to reduce their stress and find healthy coping strategies see results right away. Experiencing a sense of calm, greater joy and more self-control are all possible; the resources for reducing nearly any kind of stress are readily available to us. And as with all major changes, the first step is to take stock of where you are, reflect on your past behavior and decide if it is acceptable to you or whether you might need to make a change.
Coaching Assignment: Answer the following questions about yourself.
- Do I behave in an acceptable manner when under stress?
- Is my current level of stress impacting my life in a negative way?
- Do I expect people in my life to make special accommodations for me when I am under stress?