Stress, Anxiety, and Memories: How to Balance the Negative

It is not unusual for people to experience memory loss in tense situations. It can happen for many reasons, including stress, anxiety, and confusion. Fortunately, there is some good news to balance the negative. Here are the results of research on the impact of stress on memory, along with where to find therapists: 

Stress, Anxiety, and Memories 

Stress can influence how memories are formed. Stress makes it harder for people to create short-term memories and turn them into long-term memories, making learning more difficult.

The types of memories we make can be impacted by stress. 

Consequently, when we are under pressure, we might have a more challenging time remembering the specifics of an event. Even if someone is confident that they saw something in a particular manner, it does not necessarily mean they are correct. It contributes to the reliability issue with eyewitness evidence.

Researchers have found that when people are asked about an experience and given false information, this information will skew their memories and affect how they perceive what they went through. Since this knowledge is more recent than the actual event, it is also simpler to recall. This is why inquiries with the best of motives occasionally produce false memories.

A meta-analysis of 113 stress studies was conducted by researchers, meaning they examined many different studies on stress and memory to determine the main results. These investigations have expanded the body of evidence demonstrating the impact of stress on memory:

  • One of the most intriguing findings was that stress, which occurs before or during encoding when memories are formed, could block memories from being created. The good news is that there was a little delay between memory creation and encoding. 
  • Additionally, memory was improved when learning information directly related to the stressor. Post-encoding stress improved memory encoding and recovery, showing that stress encountered after a memory was encoded improved memory encoding.
  • It’s interesting to observe that women who used oral contraceptives experienced less harm. Although cortisol levels increased in reaction to stress, there was no connection between them and how stress affects memory. As a result, just because stress causes the body to create more cortisol does not mean one will have a worse memory than someone with less hormonal sensitivity.

How to Improve Memory in Tense Situations

Work on Respiration Techniques and Other Abilities

One study of police cadets in training revealed that psychological performance training could enhance the recall of cadets who experienced stress compared to cadets who didn’t learn and implement these techniques. 

Do Breathing Exercises 

The techniques included breathing exercises, a well-known stress-reduction design, mental performance imagery (vividly visualizing practice and success), and attentional concentration. It has been established that these methods work. It means one can reduce stress by controlling breathing, focusing, and using vivid imagery.

Practice Mindfulness

By lowering the stress that might be affecting memory and enabling higher-quality sleep, researchers found that practicing mindfulness can enhance it. According to one study, practicing mindfulness reduces stress, memory problems, and sleep issues. This result supports the statement that people frequently experience anxiety, memory problems, and trouble sleeping. 

Consider Trying Therapy 

Therapy may be a successful strategy to enhance recall under pressure. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to recognize and alter unhelpful thought and behavior habits. Through CBT, people can learn to challenge unfavorable ideas and create better-coping mechanisms. In turn, lowering stress levels and enabling people to concentrate on the job at hand can aid in improving memory in tense situations.


Overall, it is clear that stress can have both positive and negative effects on memory. While it can help us remember specific details more efficiently, it can also interfere with the ability to recall information. Stress can also affect concentration, leading to difficulty in forming and retrieving memories. One should maintain a balanced stress level and avoid extreme stress levels to optimize memory. 

Therapy24x7 provides life counseling and psychotherapy services online. For problems impacting everyday life, such as stress management, clinical depression, chronic anxiety, unresolved childhood issues, grief, and body image problems, they work to provide support, improved coping mechanisms, and results-based therapy. Book an appointment with therapists in New York City today. 

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