You sit behind your computer, fidgeting. The white screen before you beckons; a ghost, taunting you with every blink of the cursor, reminding you of the seconds ticking by toward your impending deadline.
Feel that tightness in your chest? The muddled soup of your brain, pulling in a thousand directions at once? That’s stress. And while some stress can be good, giving us a rush of energy and motivation to accomplish important things, chronic stress-- like the stress many students experience while in educational programs not meeting their needs-- actually does more damage than you’d think.
This insightful and bite-sized animated video: “How Stress Affects Your Brain” by TED-Ed shows us exactly what happens to the brain when exposed to constant levels of chronic stress.
“Too much of it results in the loss of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that regulates behaviors like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things.”
Let’s take a moment to absorb that. Chronic stress makes it harder to learn and remember things. A rather important function for young students looking to learn and expand their minds toward a better future, don’t you think?
Now for those of you hanging your heads, feeling stressed about being stressed (we’ve all been there!) there is hope. Madhumita Murgia, creator of this TED-Ed lesson, tells us that curating a lifestyle that prioritizes meditation, mindfulness, and exercise helps curb and even reverse the effects of chronic stress. Huzzah!
So as you go about your day today, try to stop and take ten deep breaths. Allow yourself to be in this moment, where you can handle anything put in front of you.
Today, we invite you to encourage and aid our community of learners by sharing: What is your favorite way to alleviate stress?