Here is the transcript and summary of Niki Korteweg’s talk titled “How To Protect Your Brain From Stress” at TEDxAmsterdamWomen conference. In this TEDx talk, science journalist Niki Korteweg focuses on the impact of stress on brain health and offers practical tips for enhancing brain resilience.
Listen to the audio version here:
So, is there anyone in this room who would like to have a better memory, better being able to remember things? Okay, that’s nearly half of you. And are there maybe people in this room who would like to have better concentration, better being able to focus on your job and not get distracted all the time? That’s even more people.
Well, I can tell you, if these things don’t work the way you want them to, it may have to do with stress. And luckily there are things you can do to improve it. I’m trained as a neurobiologist and I work as a science journalist. So you can say I know a thing or two about this precious organ. But there can be quite a gap between knowing a lot about the brain and actually being good to it, I learned.
When I started off as a science journalist 20 years ago, I was so eager to show the world that I could do it. I took on every assignment I could have, I interviewed every hotshot around, I worked till way past midnight. And I had to get up early because I had two little kids and a hard-working husband and all sorts of challenges and no time to think.
Now we all know where that leads to, right? I couldn’t believe it, but I had a burnout, and it felt like my brain had just given up on me. I wasn’t able to plan anymore, I couldn’t decide from a large to-do list what to do first, what to do next. I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I couldn’t remember anything, and my emotions were all over the place, mainly low.
As a science journalist, as a brain scientist, I knew that chronic stress is devastating for your brain. It gets marinated in a toxic cocktail of stress hormones, and it affects two areas in particular. The first area is the frontal lobe, and I brought a human brain model here, it sits in your head like this.