Stress is a common experience for many of us, but did you know that it could be affecting your cognitive function in the long term? According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, elevated levels of perceived stress can increase the likelihood of poor cognitive function by 1.37 times, regardless of race.
Long Term Impact
The study evaluated a cohort of over 24,000 participants aged 45 and older who participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. The researchers found that not only is perceived stress associated with poor cognitive function, but it may also be a precursor to cognitive impairment in the long term.
The study’s authors noted that perceived stress can have long-lasting effects on physiological and psychological function, making it a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging, reduced cardiovascular health, and more. Perceived stress may also worsen unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity.
The study’s findings suggest that understanding the impact of perceived stress on cognitive function in different populations is critical for developing targeted interventions that could have significant public health implications. The study’s authors also noted that stress from low socioeconomic status and discrimination may contribute to a higher incidence of dementia in racial and ethnic minority groups.
Despite the study’s limitations, which include a limited participant rate and missing cognition data at follow-up, its findings have significant clinical applications. For instance, regular screening for stress among high-risk older adults who present with cognitive decline in primary care could be helpful.
What You Can Do to Reduce Stress
Here are some tips to reduce your perceived stress levels and protect your cognitive function:
1. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Get enough sleep.
4. Eat a healthy diet.
5 Practice good time management and prioritize tasks.
6. Seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
7. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms Required
In conclusion, the study’s findings highlight the importance of managing stress to protect cognitive function in the long term. By incorporating healthy coping mechanisms into your daily routine, you can reduce your perceived stress levels and potentially prevent cognitive impairment down the road.