Tosin Adewale
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To-Sync With Nature...

Stress in Tech: Memory and Memorylessness

Tosin Adewale's photo
Tosin Adewale
·Feb 12, 2022·

4 min read

Stress in Tech: Memory and Memorylessness

The moment you saw that that headline, it is not uncommon for you assume "we already know everything about Stress and how it affects our memory", "How does this relate to people in the tech sector? ". I had the same thoughts months ago. Unfortunately most of our assumptions about the stress is wrong. Most people still think stress causes ulcers, when it's actually a bacteria.
Thus, it is highly beneficial to know how stress impacts your memory, regardless of whatever profession you are in.

1. Short-term Stress Enhances Memory First the good news. You likely remember your first kiss, your first program, your first web page, your first designs. Amazingly, exciting and momentous events (or better referred to as mild to moderate short-term stressors) gets stored and cemented in our memory right away. It's not a matter of individual intelligence or retention, it's a matter of nature. How does it happen? Mild to moderate short-term stressors simply triggers you, causing a sudden rush of blood and particularly glucose to the brain, making more energy available to the brain cells, therefore better memory formation and retrieval.

When we say mild to moderate stressors, do not confuse this with some incidents that even though they seem minute in gravity, they are disastrous. Not everything that does not kill you immediately, makes you stronger. Some of these small evils just like to accumulate before crushing you. Stressors such as unwanted interruptions when you are working, I have heard too many stories of how many developers or techies dread the culture of daily stand-up meetings, people just want to come in to work to work, right?? How hard can that be? . Unintended pressure from family members can be uncomforting too. One minute they are saying you stay on your computer for too long, the next minute they are wondering why you are not already as rich as Bill Gate. All these events can be disheartening, we are social animals and when we feel our place in society is being threatened, it can really weigh us down.

2. Long-term Stress Disrupts Memory
As you transition to moderate stress to severe stress, your memory also gets negatively affected. Think of it like your computer overheating, at some point you are likely to destroy some computer components mostly your hard drive (memory). Being under intense or traumatic events can inhibit the brains ability to form or retrieve prior memories. Memories are not lost, just harder to access. As with computer hard drives, when it's currently overheating, storing or retrieving files can be slower than usual, for humans it is even much harder. When someone is drunk, their brains are not able to form memories at that point, which is why when they finally wake up they can't remember anything - just blank! I had one of those moments years ago. Most of us have gone one to too many shots of martini like Tom Brady, and it's mostly the same story, you can't remember much by the time you wake up next morning.

But here is the good news, you must have read somewhere before that one sign of superior intelligence is actually Forgetfulness. The WITTGENSTEIN-SOROS MEMORYLESSNESS THEORY goes thus: Waissman found difficulties working with Wittgenstein because he had "the gift of seeing everything as if for the first time". Soros claimed he was helped by a bad memory so he couldn't remember past opinions & could not be married to them. Forgetting somethings can actually be beneficial, I'm not talking about drowning yourself with liquor. I'm talking about just being sometimes stressed, so much that you forget some details, it affords you the chance to see things from a new perspective. Which is why sometimes when you are frustrated with debugging a nasty bug, you are advised to take a walk. The walk helps unplug your memory from the previous failed strategy that you have been using, your brain then takes a step back to reassess unconsciously to devise a new strategy, that is most times the solution will just pop into your head suddenly. Always feels amazing. I hope you have gained one or two things from this piece. I hope to explore and write more about topics such as this. Follow me right now for more interesting articles! I also welcome comments and contributions. Thanks for reading!

 
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