New research has found a link between elevated stress levels and reduced cognitive function. According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, people with elevated stress levels were 37% more likely to have cognitive issues. The study was based on data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, which looked at differences in brain health, particularly in Black people living in the stroke belt in certain areas of the South. Both Black and white individuals had a similar association between elevated stress and reduced cognitive function, although Black individuals reported greater stress overall.
Experts in the field have noted the importance of learning to trigger the relaxation response in order to counteract stress. Things like meditation exercises, deep breathing, guided imagery, yoga, and prayers can produce a relaxation response. Additionally, engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as physical activity, healthy eating, getting restful sleep, connecting socially with others, and spirituality can help build up resilience and help manage stress.