Stress can make you react like a small child

Stress can steal your ability to think critically, making you react like a child. (pic courtesy of stockimages/

Stress can steal your ability to think critically, making you react like a child. (pic courtesy of stockimages/

Think being stressed can help you focus and perform better? Think again. Being stressed can affect your ability to think, and you can end up making “snap” reactions from a place of emotion rather than logic – which is what small children do when faced with a problem they don’t understand.

That’s according to research from Benenden Health into the impact of short-term stress on our ability to think critically, use reasoning, and make practical decisions. Two groups of 100 people were given tasks to complete in these areas, with one group given stress-inducing activities before completing the tasks. The non-stressed group consistently outperformed the stressed group, especially in the spatial abstract reasoning tests (our ability to identify and work with patterns and sequences). The more difficult the decision, the harder it was for stressed people to make it.

The only area where stressed-out people performed better was in emotional recognition: they were more able to recognise sadness in someone’s face than the non-stressed group. Perhaps suggesting that stressed people are more likely to identify other people’s unhappiness because they’re unhappy themselves.

The study also found that eight out of 10 people (79%) attempted to deal with stress on their own – whereas “social support and talking through stressful situations can be the best coping mechanism”.

If you find you’re not coping well with stress and would appreciate the opportunity to talk through your own stressful situations with a counsellor, call Karen on 07956 823501 for an appointment. Counselling can also help you recognise triggers for your stress and identify ways not to react from an emotional child place, and instead wait to respond from a calmer, more logical, more adult place.

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