The Impact of Stress on Learning


The problem of the occurrence of stress attracts the attention of many specialists. Stressful events are widespread in educational settings for both students and teachers. Lots of exams, assessments, and deadlines create a lot of pressure to complete. Stress can critically impact memory, thus, the learning process. The level of stress has a long-term impact on many aspects of a person’s nervous, physical, and mental development.

Stress Mechanics

The Biological Side of Stress

The human body and brain respond to stress with a complex array of hormones and neurotransmitters. In a situation of danger, three important hormone-producing areas, the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands, release steroid hormones — glucocorticosteroids (Bornstein et al., 2019). Among them is cortisol, the primary hormone responsible for the stress response, directly affecting the heart, lungs, circulation, metabolism, immune system, and skin. When cortisol reaches the hippocampus under the influence of acute stress, which is responsible for transferring information from short-term to long-term memory, its choroid plexuses quickly disintegrate. When it happens, the brain’s ability to identify and retain critical information is impaired.

Learned Helplessness

When people feel they are not in control of a situation, they may begin to act helpless. Learned helplessness is characterized by the developing of a belief that the individual cannot cope with adverse contexts. It develops due to the repeated experience of aversive events that are perceived as inevitable or unavoidable, leading to a feeling of uncontrollable outcomes (Trindade et al., 2020). Learned helplessness leads to three significant disorders: decreased motivation, difficulty in ascertaining the relationship between actions and outcomes, and depression. As a result, inaction can lead to a significant decrease in productivity, more and more problems in learning, such as debt, and a complete loss of motivation to study.

Behavioral Plan

Causes of Stress

To begin with, it should be noted that stress at school stems from increased intellectual pressure and significant changes in the lifestyle of students. And to cope with stress and strengthen the body’s resistance, one first needs to understand why stress appears at school. If one lets this matter go by itself, one can create many problems with health, mentality, and, as a result, with studies. Stress appears in the life of students for entirely different reasons (Coon et al., 2018):

  • A sudden change in the common environment
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Mental and physical stress
  • Lack of sleep and malnutrition
  • Conflicts
  • Insufficient amount of rest
  • Lack of social life

Strategies for Coping with Stress Within the School

A few simple steps:

  • Organize a place of confidential assistance for a risk group within the school. In addition to teacher support, children may benefit from the help of a school psychologist.
  • Encourage introspection. It is helpful to have a lesson that will detail the symptoms of stress and nervous tension.
  • Learn to listen to one’s feelings. Modern education teaches children to think first of all about the result, but it is equally important to understand their emotions.
  • Make exceptions. For a shy student, answering on the blackboard or reading in front of a class can be an absolute nightmare. Therefore, one should not subject the student to stress but find an individual approach.


After studying the materials of weeks 3 and 4, it becomes clear that the common opinion is that the idea about stress is rather superficial. A lot of people believe in the positive effect of stress on a person’s formation. In general, that, for the most part, is either a delusion or a complicated truth to achieve. Stress can be positive if a person is truly healthy from the start before the stressful situation arises (Coon et al., 2018). In addition, there is no universal guideline for reducing stress levels among students. Each class has its own story, and each teacher has their way of dealing with emerging problems.


Bornstein, S. R., Berger, I., Scriba, L., Santambrogio, A., & Steenblock, C. (2019). Adrenal cortex–medulla interactions in adaptation to stress and disease. Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research, 8, 9–14. Web.

Coon, D., Mitterer, J. O., & Martini, T. (2018). Psychology: Modules for Active Learning (14th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Trindade, I. A., Mendes, A. L., & Ferreira, N. B. (2020). The moderating effect of psychological flexibility on the link between learned helplessness and Depression symptomatology: A preliminary study. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 15, 68–72. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Impact of Stress on Learning." April 2, 2023.