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Effects of stress on memory and cognition

Effects of stress on memory and cognition

Stress is the body’s natural response to situations that are perceived as threatening or challenging. Although it’s a normal reaction, being overly stressed can have negative effects on your mental and physical health. One of the lesser known aspects of stress is its effect on people memory and on knowledge. In this article, we’ll scientifically explore how stress can affect our ability to remember and think clearly.

Figure 1: Stress and Cognitive Function: How to deal with the effects on your brain

The effects of stress on our memory

The modern world is characterized by rapid development and a frantic pace, which often puts our bodies and minds under constant stress. Prolonged exposure to stressful situations can trigger a number of physiological reactions, including increased release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. These physiological processes can have a significant impact on our brain and its cognitive functions, including memory and the ability to think.

Effects of stress on memory

short term memory

Stress can negatively affect short term memoryIt is responsible for temporarily holding information and data in the mind for short periods of time. Research has shown that high levels of stress can impair the brain’s ability to focus and memorize short-term information. This can manifest as frequent forgetfulness, difficulty remembering names or phone numbers, and feeling dizzy.

long term memory

In addition, chronic stress can have negative effects on health long term memory, which is involved in the long-term consolidation and retrieval of information. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can affect communication between brain cells, impairing the formation of new memories and the ability to recall previously stored information. This may make it difficult to remember important past events or experiences.

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Tension and perception

In addition to memory, stress can also affect memory knowledgeWhich refers to the brain’s ability to process information, think clearly, and make informed decisions. Some of the ways stress can affect cognition include:

Difficulty concentrating

Under stress, the brain may have difficulty focusing on complex tasks or multitasking at once. This can negatively affect work and school performance and lead to errors.

Poor decision-making processes

Stress can lead to a decreased ability to make informed and rational decisions. This is due to the lack of activation of brain regions involved in decision-making when we are under stress.

Learning problems

People who are chronically stressed may have difficulty learning new information or skills. Hypercortisolemia, or overproduction of cortisol, has been associated with decreased brain plasticity, which is essential for learning.

Managing stress to maintain memory and cognition

The good news is that there are several strategies for dealing with stress and preserving memory and cognition:

regular exercise

Exercise is known to reduce stress and improve brain health. Even a short walk or moderate physical activity can have significant mental health benefits.

Relaxation techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing, can help reduce your stress level and improve focus.

High quality sleep

Sleep is essential for brain and memory recovery. Making sure you get enough sleep and getting quality sleep can improve cognitive function.

balanced nutrition

A healthy, balanced diet can provide the brain with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Make sure to include foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in your diet.

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social support

Social support is critical to dealing with stress. Talking with friends, family, or a mental health professional can help share feelings and find solutions.


Stress can negatively affect memory and cognition, but there are many effective strategies for dealing with this challenge and improving mental health. Managing stress through exercise and relaxation techniques, good sleep, a balanced diet, and social support can help maintain brain health and keep your mind sharp and active.