How memory is affected by stress – and smiles

soramsey —  8 November 2013 — 3 Comments


by ACCA student blogger Elyse Burns-Hill

Exams can be a stressful time; the pressure we put on ourselves, as well as pressure (real or imagined) we feel from our employers, parents or other fee payers.

We need to make sure we keep this stress in check though, if we are to perform our best.

There have been numerous studies looking at the effect stress can have on our memories, and most come to the conclusion that too much stress has a negative impact.

There are three stages of memory formation and retrieval:

1.         Encoding; receiving and processing information

2.         Storage; creating the record

3.         Retrieval; calling back information on command.

When the body is under stress, cortisol (a stress hormone) is released into the blood stream which can impair one’s ability to both create new memories and retrieve existing ones. In other words, don’t be stressed while studying or taking the exams!

While a little bit of pressure or nervousness often helps us to perform better, when the stress gets too intense, there will be downturn in our performance. So don’t let panic take over, or let pressure rest on your shoulders for too long.

Make sure you have some good stress-releasing activities to do. Exercise is very good because it releases the physical tension out of your muscles, releases endorphins (the ‘happy hormone’) into your blood and gives you some mental space to think about something else (or do like I do and clear my mind completely, like meditating).

Something else you can do for a really quick fix is to smile – a proper smile that lights up your whole face. You can do that wherever you are now – go on try it! Making your brain think you are happy by smiling will cause you to actually be happier. If you’re happy, you can’t be stressed as well.


3 responses to How memory is affected by stress – and smiles


    great advice elyse :)


    great elyse …. hope it will help me…
    because i have same problem that you outlined above..


    great advise elyse but I forget after studying how can I increase memory power

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s