How we get stupid when we are stressed

Whilst human evolution is a magnificent accomplishment, these days there are many parts of our make-up that are not quite as useful as they once were.

For example, the fight or flight mechanism is probably one of the reasons we are still around today. That chemical self-injection of adrenalin that primes and prepares our bodies to defend ourselves and keep safe by either running away from a situation or engaging in a battle.

Thankfully these days we don’t have many sabre tooth tigers jump out and want to eat us, but we still have the evolutionary trait that enabled us to fight or flee them.

These days though that same response can be triggered through our thoughts, for example we can’t remember if we turned the iron off, we have an argument with a team member or client, someone cuts us off in traffic.

Anything that stresses can cause the release of the fight or flight chemical cocktail.

Long term stresses as we all know are very dangerous for us.

Whereas we used to expend a whole bunch of energy to fight or flee the sabre tooth tiger at that instant, which in turn burned off the chemical cocktail, these days the chemicals can continue to float around in our system.

The other serious thing that happens is our brain shunts all the blood from our frontal lobe (our smart part of the brain other species don’t have) to our reptilian brain, which is in charge of movement.

Thus we have minimal blood in our thinking part of the brain which means we don’t think properly and can make bad decisions we may not have usually made.

So, next time you feel a bit stressed, don’t make a big decision and go for some exercise to burn of the fight or flight chemicals.

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