It is normal for anyone to be exposed to situations and events that causes stress and anxiety. From work-related circumstances to schoolwork, these are unavoidable events that could make the person feel more tired and uptight. Stress can come from any thought or situation that would make a person feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. Anxiety on the other hand is a feeling of apprehension and fear. However, a little dose of stress can make a person more aware and alert of his surroundings, and this, in turn, could make a person more motivated and productive. It actually depends on how a person perceives the stress that they experience, if it is panic or somewhat a challenge. Normal stress can give protection from threatening situations, but prolonged stress can have the potential to damage a person’s health, including the brain.
Usually, when a stressful situation happens, our body reacts by releasing hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. These specific hormones increase the heart rate and respiration, send out more blood to the skeletal muscles, dull pain, stimulate the immune system, and turn sugar and fat into energy. This reaction of the body to the stress and anxiety that we encounter is considered as a normal mechanism for both the body and mind. Most of the time, the response happens for a limited time to help a person deal with a stressful scenario. After that, our body returns to its normal, non-stressed state. But sometimes, people deal with such stress and anxiety in a constant condition that can have ill effects on both their body and brain. Sustained abuse, combat, illness, pressures and anger-producing situations can damage and shrink certain brain areas, specifically in the hippocampus.
The major role of the hippocampus in the brain is for memory. People with prolonged stress often experience forgetfulness and difficulty in learning. Today, scientific studies claim that certain portions of this part in our brain such as the hippocampus can recover once the stress response is reversed. Such information is important for those people who are exposed to stress and anxiety in their line of work, school, and other activities.
In order to prevent such stress and anxiety from ruining one’s life and memory, it is crucial for people to undertake ways to cope with these that could also help a person’s health. Through exercise, the body is strengthened and the reduction of stress, depression, and anxiety becomes possible. A lot of scientific studies have proven the relationship between mood and exercise. Since exercise promotes fitness and relaxation, the body’s immune system is also strengthened and makes people respond better to different stress responses. By practising relaxation through biofeedback, meditation, along with other techniques, the patient can experience a lowering of the blood pressure, a slow down in respiration and reduction in metabolism and muscle tension — all of which counteracts the effects of stress. Social contacts with friends and family members also provide significant emotional comfort that can help reduce stress. By having a good attitude towards life, with confidence and optimism, people can now stop the harmful cycle of stress in their lives.