Stress Reduction: Helps Memory

M. Chris Wolf, PH.D.

Stress reduction is essential in preventing memory loss. Stress is kind of like chocolate: A bit of it is good for you, but too much of it is not. If you are temporarily in a stressful situation your memory may, in fact, improve. However, if the stress is ongoing and unrelenting (chronic) this is going to diminish your memory along with damaging your overall health. It is imperative that you figure out techniques for handling stress or you will become sick.

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The Biology of Stress

Stress is the condition the body and mind are required to exert more energy and effort than what is required when at rest. A person needs a certain stress to function in their daily lives; when stress becomes chronic and overwhelming, it can interfere with memory.

When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol, which is a hormone that is both beneficial and detrimental to your health. The good thing about cortisol is that it prompts you to think quickly, such as in a life or death situation. That is the fight or flight response. In that split second you may be far smarter, more decisive, stronger, and faster than you normally are because of the influx of cortisol into your system.

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However, sustained levels of cortisol are harmful to the brain and your body, including to your adrenal glands. When your body is in the fight or flight mode it has mobilized itself to survive, which is good, but when his intense response lasts over a long period of time it impairs judgment, memory and your ability to make good decisions. The fight or flight response must be corralled because it can lead to health problems.

When you are stressed, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is the main target of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. This area of the brain is involved in cognition or the ability to acquire knowledge and emotion.

Stress and Memory

When a person (or animal) experiences chronic stress, tests performed on rats that were purposely stressed reveal that the transmission of glutamate in the prefrontal cortex is suppressed. This diminishes memory. On the other hand, acute stress heightens the glutamate receptors as well as working memory.

If you are under colossal pressure at work and home and you start forgetting things this is to be expected. Stress reduction is very important. Too much stress overloads your brain with potent hormones that only intended for short-range duty. The collective effect damages and then kills brain cells so, naturally, your cognitive function, including your memory, is affected. Handling stress in your life is a meaning to minimize this effect.

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For more information about this topic consider these resources:

A Better Brain at Any Age: The Holistic Way to Improve Your Memory, Reduce Stress, and Sharpen Your Wits [Paperback] Sondra Komblatt (Author), Fernando Vega (Foreword)

nstinct Based Medicine (IBMS) Stress Reduction Package (3 CD's) by Dr. Leonard Coldwell by Instinct Based Medicine

Mindfulness Meditation and Stress Reduction for Beginners: The Garden of NOW (Audio CD)Derek G. Turesky (Artist) | Format: Audio CD

Return from Stress Reduction to Brain Fitness

Memory Loss Facts

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