From Medical News Today
New research, led by Robert Stawski, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon’s State University in Corvallis, suggests that it is not so much the stressful events in themselves, but our reactions to them that harm our brain health.
Specifically, Stawski and colleagues examined how seniors’ response to everyday stressors, such as a traffic jam, affects their cognitive health.
Overall, the study found that people whose response to daily stressors involved more negative emotions and were of higher intensity had higher inconsistencies in their response time, suggesting poorer mental focus and brain health.
The research also revealed significant age differences. For instance, the older participants — who were in their late 70s and up to their late 90s — were most affected. That is, their high-stress reactivity correlated strongly with worse cognitive performance.
The study’s lead investigator adds that older seniors should pay more attention to their emotional response to daily stressors and try to reduce their stress where possible to preserve their cognitive health well into old age.
“We can’t get rid of daily stressors completely,” Stawski says, “[b]ut endowing people with the skills to weather stressors when they happen could pay dividends in cognitive health.”
In this context, brain health and cognition are particularly important, as the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are on the rise globally, along with the aging population.
“I use a meditation app daily,” Dr. Birken said. “This allows me to deal with stressful situations with more reason and less reactivity,” he continued.
“I like Calm as my go to meditation app but there are many others available that provided the proper conditioning for mindfulness.”