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Are you too stressed to think clearly?

Are you too stressed to think clearly?

Tackling stress from two different angles is a great way to prevent it from affecting your thinking and memory.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 4 minutes

Stress isn’t always bad, until there’s too much

It’s Monday morning and you’re about to leave for work, but you can’t stop thinking about how many new messages you’ll find in your inbox, and the client meeting that you haven’t finished preparing for. To top it all off, it takes you 10 precious minutes to find your house keys, which were right in front of you all along.
Situations like this aren’t always a case of bad luck. While a little bit of stress can improve your productivity by giving you motivation and energy,and sometimes help you to remember things2, too much stress can have the opposite effect.2

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to harmful situations, or situations that make you feel threatened.We all experience stress, but the causes and effects of stress are different for different people.4,5 This means that:
  • Something you don’t find stressful may be stressful for someone else,
  • Stress can affect all different parts of your body4
  • How stress affects the bodyvaries from person to person4
Stress can have physical symptoms, which tend to be easy to notice – you might feel your heart racing or your muscles becoming tense, or you could get an upset stomach. But stress can also have effects on how your brain works, that you won’t necessarily notice – it can lead to racing thoughts, make your thinking seize up, or cause you to think less positively about situations.4
Regardless of how stress affects you, it’s important to make sure that you’re not constantly stressed out. So it’s helpful to find ways to keep stress at bay, to prevent burnout. Making an effort to monitor your stress levels is also useful – you can do this by learning to recognise how stress affects you,4 including the effects it might have on your brain.

What effects can stress have on your brain?

Stress can affect your brain in different ways. It can influence the way you think and behave, and this can be affected by your personality.4 Here are some of the more common effects that many people will experience when they are stressed.
  • Having racing thoughts4
  • Being unable to focus or quiet your mind4
  • Experiencing brain fog (lack of mental clarity)4
  • Worrying constantly4
  • Feeling fearful6
  • Being forgetful or disorganised4
  • Exercising poor judgement4
  • Feeling overwhelmed4 or pessimistic4
  • Having trouble sleeping4
  • Procrastinating or avoiding responsibility4

What should you do during stressful periods?

If you notice that stress has started taking a toll on your mind, you can tackle it by taking a twofold approach. This means taking steps to address both the cause and the symptoms.
You can address the cause by:
  • Taking regular breaks from work7
  • Getting enough sleep so your brain has recovery time6
  • Making time to socialise – it’s important!8
  • Building in time for fun and laughter8
You can address the symptoms by:
  • Boosting your exercise levels3
  • Listening to music that you enjoy9
  • Using relaxation techniques such as relaxed breathing and progressive muscle relaxation9,10
  • Mastering your thoughts by meditating3,6
  • Considering a herbal supplement that could help your brain cope better with the impact of stress6, such as Keenmind® < link to Keenmind product page > or Gincosan ®
  1. healthdirect. Stress management.  Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stress-management  Accessed November 2018.
  2. Cherry K. 5 surprising ways that stress affects your brain. Available at:  https://www.verywellmind.com/surprising-ways-that-stress-affects-your-brain-2795040  Accessed November 2018.
  3. White DM. Recognizing and dealing with stress.  Available at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/recognizing-and-dealing-with-stress Accessed November 2018.
  4. WebMD. Stress symptoms.  Available at: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#1
  5. Scott E.  Causes of stress differentials between individuals.  Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/why-do-stressors-affect-people-differently-3145061  Accessed November 2018.
  6. Alban. 12 effects of chronic stress on your brain.  Available at: https://bebrainfit.com/effects-chronic-stress-brain  Accessed November 2018.
  7. Cole N. Burned out: This 1 habit will ensure you never burn out again.  Available at:  https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/the-1-habit-that-prevents-burnout.html  Accessed November 2018.
  8. Bergland C. Cortisol:  why the stress hormone” is public enemy no. 1.  Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1  Accessed November 2018.
  9. healthdirect. Irritability and feeling on edge.  Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/irritability-and-feeling-on-edge  Accessed November 2018.
  10. healthdirect. Relaxation techniques for stress relief. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief Accessed November 2018.
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