Oct 16, 2009

WEEKLY UPDATE: Are You Too Stressed to Think?

Summary: This post is dedicated to my uncle who passed away this week. The preparations for his memorial service are a reminder that, in times of stress, one of the first things to be affected is the way we communicate. Both short-term and long-term stress impair the brain's cognitive function, making speaking clearly difficult. Follow the links below for more info. and tips on how to alleviate stress from your daily life.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my uncle, Steve Murray, who passed away this week. Right now, my extended family is bustling with preparations for this weekend's memorial services. My heart goes out to them.

In times of duress, the way we communicate with each other is one of the first things to be affected. The very first thing to feel the strain is the way we think, or our brain's cognitive function. This includes the ability to learn and collect information, process decisions, recall memories, and yes, speak. Just last year, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, conducted studies that determined it's not just long-term stress (such as grieving) that affects the brain. According to the study, short-term stress lasting as little as a few hours can seriously impair cognitive ability throughout that timeframe.

Certain hormones are released at the molecular level during bouts of acute stress, impairing the natural process by which the brain stores and collects memories. And if the brain's cognition is disrupted this way, it's no wonder that it's difficult (or even impossible) to communicate clearly when you're feeling stressed.

The primary emotional responses that tend to come out when we are able to finally find our voices and speak are confusion and anger. Many diseases can also create the type of stress—both long-term and short-term—that negatively affects communication. Diseases such as autism, bipolar disorder, and depression can regularly affect communication skills, but you may be surprised to learn that physical diseases, such as diabetes, can also affect verbal and cognitive functioning.

If you find yourself in a position where you're under stress—either short-term or on a regular basis—there are things you can do to alleviate it. (Both of the above links take you to informative articles by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, a fellow writer and blogger who shares further info. on the subject and provides 8 tips for reducing workplace stress that can also be applied to your personal life.)

I'm sincerely proud of my family for the respect they continue to show each other, even in times of great pressure. And I want to take this time to say that they're all inspirations to me.

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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