The tired brain prioritizes old behaviors and rituals. Then, it is over purposeful, deliberative behavior to conserve energy and cognitive capital.

Distressed dogs prefer to lick their forelegs and paws frequently.

This is often achieved by good and balanced pets, but anxious dogs do so even more. They lick so often in extreme situations that they grow bald patches and skin ulcers.

In other species, including humans, researchers have found common anxiety-related behaviors. To the point of self-injury, often anxious or stressed-out individuals chew their nails. Then, they even scratch at their skin. These can be defined as body focused repetitive behaviors or BFRBs.

What do BFRBs explain? In the way tension biases brain function against repetitive thoughts and habits. This solution can be rolled up.

Are you nervous or stressed ?

And why does this matter ?


How tension reinforces old habits

A team of Dutch researchers studied the brain’s reaction to stress. This was from a 2019 report in the journal Brain and Cognition. They observed that the behavior in flexible, goal-directed brain structures appeared to decrease. This was when levels of the stress hormone cortisol rose following a danger or obstacle. In the meantime, activity has surged in habit-related networks.


They concluded that the exhausted brain gives preference to old behaviors and patterns. This is over purposeful, deliberative behavior. All this is in an attempt to conserve energy and cognitive capital. Tom Smeets is professor of social and behavioral sciences at Tilburg University. He explains the following :

” Habits need less cognitive attention. Therefore, they become our default mode of action while pressured.”

Different findings have emerged from several study teams. A  drag on willpower and enthusiasm is negative interactions. As a consequence, individuals fell into “automatic” and repetitive conduct patterns.

It’s not really a negative thing here. Tension may drive individuals into excessive drinking and binge feeding. However, it may also improve beneficial patterns. The study showed a person who typically eats well and exercises. It showed that he/she is likely to keep to those healthier habits during periods of stress.

A rigid regimen is essential to a stable existence.

Experts claim that we need more ‘zeitgebers’. This includes light penetration, workout, and mealtimes, to remain healthy.

In work-related situations, these same laws apply. Thus, this causes the brain’s propensity to fall back on old habits. This will prove to be once again useful. “Using well-established behaviors is good. It can be beneficial during difficult circumstances.” . This was stated by Lars Schwabe. Lars is the Head of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Hamburg .

“Shifting to habit memory under stress is important. This is because it can rescue performance.”


“Habits need less cognitive attention. Therefore, when pressured, become our default mode of behavior.”

All of this highlights the value of building healthy routines. Moreover, it highlights the difficulties of doing so through times of stress.

The behaviors of an individual are initially beneficial or stable. However, studies indicate that issues correlated with stress will emerge.

The memory of habit is “rigid and inflexible”. Therefore when shifting situations require a shift of actions, it may be dangerous. Consider a situation where a new supervisor needs new methods. Anyone who is highly accustomed to those  procedures can find it challenging to pivot.

An obedience towards personal rituals and behaviors is a “signature trait. This is for a broad variety of mental health problems. This includes anxiety disorders, eating disorders, psychiatric depression, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. The mixture of tension and habit will facilitate the production of a pathology. This is for individuals who are susceptible to these disorders.


Whether it is a BFRB like nail biting or a desire to exercise several times a day.


An unbending commitment to schedule is helpful. It will improve or enhance the stress-associated behavior patterns of the brain.the tired brain

“Consider if stress accelerates the transition. The transition will be from intentional actions to static reactions . This could be one route in which stress biases our perception. This in a way that raises the likelihood of a mental illness.”

About the antidote?

It can turn out that tension and routine are a destabilizing mix. Schwabe suggests that efforts to split up this duet by minimizing tension is helpful. Moreover, adjusting habits, and improving mental “flexibility” will help people escape future pitfalls.

Tilburg University’s Smeets talks about mindfulness therapy. He says that it is one of the activities that can be effective in mitigating tension. There is also proof that mindfulness meditation will increase cognitive resilience. This is the capacity of the brain to change thoughts and actions due to shifting situations .the tired brain

Certain behaviors have been related by studies to a decrease in behavioral flexibility. One of them, a 2018 report from Texas A&M University concludes, is media multitasking. Jesus Lopez is the first author of the report and a graduate researcher at Texas A&M.

Not understanding something can make you nervous. Moreover, hearing all the negative news all the time will make you anxious.

The results of the study by Lopez are in line with a broader body of evidence. This has identified connections between such devices that are habit-forming and stress-inducing. This includes email and social networking. This leads to decline in cognitive flexibility and mental wellbeing. 

Consider the relationship between tension and behaviors. Here, researchers also have a lot to understand. But what they’ve noticed so far shows that in ways that can be destabilizing, the two can play each other off.the tired brain

Hence, try to adhere to the various different tips mentioned in the article. Doing so will ensure that the tired brain does not fall back into old habits.


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