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  • Writer's picturePsykolog Ludwig Franke

The Impact of Stress on Cognitive Function


Brain and stress

Have you ever felt as though your brain just stopped working due to stress? This phenomenon, often termed 'brain-fog,' is a common symptom of burnout, exhaustion and long-term stress. It can manifest as forgetfulness, mental exhaustion, or feeling 'out of it.'

I recently collaborated with colleagues on a study exploring how the brain functions under long-term stress. We discovered significant impairments in attention, processing speed, planning, decision-making, and memory compared to healthy individuals. Interestingly, we found that people's subjective experiences of these impairments were only weakly related to their actual cognitive functioning, revealing a disconnect between how we perceive our mental state and its objective reality.


The good news? Data suggests that as stress levels decrease, the brain typically returns to normal functioning. Brain-fog is not a chronic condition. When experiencing it, remember:


  1. Don't catastrophize – it's normal to feel overwhelmed at times.

  2. Engage in self-care activities that suit you – yoga, meditation, exercise, or even rest.

  3. Seek help if stress feels unmanageable.

Have you ever experienced brain-fog? What helped you through it? Share in the comments below, and follow for more insights into mental health and wellbeing.


 

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