New research has found that coping well under stress and pressure is a sign of a healthy brain and that older adults who experience less negative emotions in response to stressful events tend to be in better cognitive health.
Those with worse brain health, though, often react with greater negative emotions and are in a worse mood in response to stress.
As reported in Psyblog, Dr Robert Stawski, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences, from Oregon State University, who led the study, said:
“These results confirm that people’s daily emotions and how they respond to their stressors play an important role in cognitive health. It’s not the stressor itself that contributes to mental declines but how a person responds that affects the brain.”
The study followed 111 people aged 65 to 95 for 2.5 years.
They did periodic tests of their mental ability and reported how they dealt with stressful events.
The results showed that among the oldest people in the study, the more reactive they were to stress, the worse their cognitive performance.
Those who were slightly younger (late 60s to early 70s), though, responded to stress better, Dr Stawski said:
“These relatively younger participants may have a more active lifestyle to begin with, more social and professional engagement, which could sharpen their mental functioning.”
As a mental toughness practitioner I am excited to read of this research because extensive research elsewhere has shown that mentally tough people are generally more positive, perform to a higher standard and experience a greater sense of wellbeing. They are able to better manage their emotions and are more able to withstand stress and pressure.
Dr Stawski concluded his research by saying “We can’t get rid of daily stressors completely. But endowing people with the skills to weather stressors when they happen could pay dividends in cognitive health.”
This suggests that mental toughness has definite health benefits especially with regards to cognitive health and achieving a healthy brain.