Skip to content
Home » Tommy Shek- How Does Stress Affect Your Brain? 5 Things You Must Know, Including 4 Ways to Reduce Stress.

Tommy Shek- How Does Stress Affect Your Brain? 5 Things You Must Know, Including 4 Ways to Reduce Stress.

It seems like we’re in a constant state of stress these days. Work and everyday life can be enough to send anyone over the edge, but did you know that stress can also affect your brain? That’s right—the way your stress affects your brain affects just about every aspect of your life says Tommy Shek.

Stress and Your Brain: 5 Things You Need to Know

Your brain is the command center for the rest of your body, and as such it needs all sorts of nutrients to keep it running smoothly. When you’re stressed out, those nutriments aren’t easily available because they’re being diverted to wherever they’re needed most in your body. And so, without those necessary substances and minerals, parts of your brain start to work less efficiently than usual, making you:

1) Less Creative –

Stress inhibits an area of the prefrontal cortex referred to as Brodmann Area 10 (BA10), which is responsible for higher-order thinking, including creativity.

2) Forgetful –

Stress increases cortisol, which reduces activity in the hippocampus, where memories are stored and retrieved. Stress also makes you more forgetful because it inhibits communication between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Essentially, when you’re stressed out your brain isn’t moving memories from short-term storage to long-term storage as often as it usually would (thanks to cortisol’s effect on your hippocampus). And so they remain only in the short term and they’ll be gone very quickly after that stress ends says Tommy Shek.

3) More Likely to Make Bad Decisions –

When under stress, we tend to make decisions with greater speed than we would normally do. Those decisions tend not to be as well thought-out as they should. That’s because stress makes you rely on your amygdala, that part of the brain responsible for fight-or-flight reactions. And you know the saying: “He who fights and runs away, lives to find a better day.” The result — you make bad decisions more easily than when you’re calm and collected.

4) Less Supportive –

Under stress we become less empathetic and less likely to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Why? Again, it has something to do with cortisol and how it affects certain neural pathways between the anterior cingulate cortex (the part of the brain responsible for empathy) and the medial prefrontal cortex (responsible for regulating those neural pathways). When cortisol is high, it reduces the number of neurons being communicated through those neural pathways explains Tommy Shek.

5) Less Effective at Problem-Solving –

As far as problem-solving goes, stress inhibits our ability to think about a problem creatively and critically. By reducing activity in a part of the prefrontal cortex called Brodmann Area 46 (BA46), specifically on the left side. So when you’re stressed out you’re probably going to have a harder time. Coming up with new ideas or seeing things from another perspective. Your brain is essentially working less efficiently than usual because it has been trained to focus all its energy. Either on survival or reproduction (depending on whether your body thinks you’re facing an external threat or not). And it can’t multitask very well, since it’s busy trying to keep you alive. And avoid other things (like other people) that might want to kill or mate with you.

But don’t lose hope. The good news is that all those negative effects of stress on your brain can be lessened. If not completely reversed by doing simple things like eating the right foods (specifically tryptophan). Exercising (stress depletes endorphins, which are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals), and practicing mindfulness…


Stress is bad for your brain.

In other words, stress can decrease cognitive function in many areas of the brain. By reducing activity in certain parts of the prefrontal cortex and thus inhibiting communication. Between different parts of the brain that are normally connected via neuronal pathways says Tommy Shek. Long-term effects of prolonged stress may include memory loss and even potential structural damage to parts of the brain. Including a reduction in size or cortical thickness.

Stress is bad for your brain. Science says so. Let’s do something about it, shall we? If you want to learn more on how stress affects our brains, feel free to check out the article! And if you’re interested in dropping me a line let me know! I’d love to hear from you. Cheers!