When you’re under a lot of financial pressure, are you always capable of making the best decisions? Whether it’s how to pay your bills or how to get by on a limited weekly budget, having to decide what to deal with now and worry about later can create a lot of stress. And living like this for a long time can badly affect your brain.
When living in constant stress, the part of the brain that deals with emotions and memories sends constant fear and stress messages to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for logic and decision-making. And these fear and stress signals change how new brain cells develop.
Rather than connecting the emotional centres of the brain to the prefrontal cortex, they block the way. And this makes us less able to process emotions logically, meaning we make rash decisions based on emotions rather than reason.
What it Means
Living under constant stress for long periods of time can affect our brains in the long term. And it goes beyond our decision-making capabilities. Children from poorer, less-educated families for example tend to have thinner subregions of the prefrontal cortex than children from wealthier, more educated families. And this happens due to the constant stress their prefrontal cortexes are bombarded with.
To conclude, stress can affect the brain’s decision-making capabilities beyond our control. It’s for this reason that when stressed, it’s often hard to make good decisions. And so, rather than self-blame or criticising others for being stuck in a bad situation, it’s important to try reduce this stress at its roots and map out a healthy decision-making process.