Learning Strategies Blog

How Stress Affects Your Neural Circuits

by Pete Bissonette

Stress can change the neural circuits in your brain, creating a cycle of more stress.

According to a study from a research team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the journal PLOS ONE, work-related stress can have severe neurological consequences including exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

The study evaluated 40 participants diagnosed with work-related burnout symptoms along with a control group of 70 participants with no history of chronic stress.

Both groups were asked to look at pictures designed to generate neutral or negative emotions.

While participants focused on the pictures, researchers played a loud burst of sound and measured participants’ reactions using electrodes on their faces.

The group with a history of stress not only had stronger reflex reactions to the startling noise, they also had more difficulty regulating their emotional responses when focusing on the pictures than the control group.

Long-term stress and feelings of burnout have significant effects to well-being, the researchers caution, including a greater risk of depression.

Despite its consequences, it’s not unusual for some to wear feelings of overwhelm like a badge of pride.

If you find yourself boasting to family or friends about the multiple tasks you’re juggling, be mindful, says Hale Dwoskin, author of The Sedona Method, and co-author of our Letting Go Paraliminal.

Once you start to feel you have taken on too much, it’s often too late, he says.

“The snowball has built up its momentum, and here you are barreling through life at 95 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.”

On a practical note, feelings of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and burnout can be a sign that you need to consider trimming your obligations and taking more time for what truly makes you happy.

Remember, a feeling of overwhelm is just a feeling, says Hale. “Often when we feel overwhelmed we forget that. We try to change the circumstances or avoid the feeling in order to solve it. By facing the feeling and letting it go, you’ll find that no matter how overwhelmed you feel, it can be released.”

To free yourself from unwanted emotions and gain greater access to your inner strength, resilience, and wisdom, I recommend you listen to the Letting Go Paraliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen. This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about Letting Go and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.