Stress and anxiety are not only bad for your body, but they are horrible news for your brain, too. In fact, stress and anxiety can affect your memory–your ability to maintain memories, recall memories, and even form new ones.
Being stressed or anxious can affect the ability of your brain to function at its best. For example, consider a stressful exam that is coming up. You’ve studied so hard, but you’re so anxious about the test that when you arrive at the classroom and get started, your brain seems to “shut off” and you can’t remember a thing that you’ve studied this last week in preparation. On the flip side, if you have absolutely no anxiety about the test, you might find yourself unable to focus because you’re unable to grasp the importance of the exam. It’s okay to have a little anxiety–but too much can hinder you more than help you.
Also, consider the long-term damage that stress itself can have on your brain. When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which can be harmful to your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for transferring memories from short-term memory to long-term memory). This can create a long-term problem for your memory.
If you’re dealing with stress, whether it be from work, a divorce, or other life event that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and overly forgetful, consider seeking support from friends and family or scheduling a visit with a mental health professional. Depression, anxiety, and stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and our brains, so take good care of yourself and find a way to release that negative energy so you can relax!