Photo Credit: © Mirco Vacca/Kozzi Inc.
Most people know that prolonged stress is not good for your physical health and has been linked to all kinds of health problems from the common cold to heart disease. However, few people seem to consider how stress affects your mood and even your memory and how chronic stress can really handicap your quality of life.
Stress And Mood
Prolonged stress can change a person’s attitude and their entire way of thinking. For example, stress can make a happy go lucky competent person suddenly become irritable, anxious, and someone in constant need of reassurance. It can make an extremely social person, suddenly withdraw into themselves or change an even tempered person into someone who is constantly irritable and given to angry outbursts.
Worst of all, stress can affect a person’s mood to such an extent that they can begin having difficulty relating and working with co-workers and ruin what was once loving relationships with family and friends. Worst still, prolonged stress can lead to feelings of loneliness, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.
Stress And Memory
Chronic stress can also have a huge effect on memory and the ability to process and retrieve information, which only serves to make a highly stressed person suffer more changes in mood as they feel less able to deal with normal day-to-day activities.
Under normal conditions, the body releases cortisol in varying amounts depending on the situation and activities that a person engages in. In a highly stressed individual cortisol amounts remain excessively high. High amounts of cortisol interfere with the neurotransmitters (chemical brain cells) ability to communicate with each other, making it difficult for a person to commit new information to memory. That is why a highly stressed person may often find it difficult to remember a recently scheduled meeting, or even to pick up a gallon of milk on their way home from work.
However, stress does far more than interfere with the learning of new information; it can also affect the ability to retrieve information that is committed to memory as well. This may make a person forget a recipe they have made a thousand times before, or even the route to the grocery store. As people realize that they are having difficulty with memory, they feel even more stressed as they know something is wrong, but may not know what. This may cause even more mood swings and changes in personality as the person tries to hide their problems with memory from those around them.
In order to stop or prevent stress from affecting your mood and memory, you first need to understand the effects that stress has on both your body and mind. Once you realize the effects that stress is having on your mood and memory as well your health, you can begin to find ways of reducing your stress level in order to improve the wellness of both your body and mind. It may not be easy at first, but making changes one at time and finding a variety of ways to release your stress can result in a healthier, happy you.