Stress is considered a natural reaction when a person is under pressure; in the short term, it can provide positive motivation. For instance, it can push you to finish a project or to hit the brakes to avoid an accident. Chronic stress, however, can lead to various physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems and more.
This study’s findings add cognitive problems to that list, with the researchers determining that risk for cognitive decline — also known as mild cognitive impairment, or MCI — was greater among the most stressed participants, regardless of age, race or sex.
The American Psychological Association notes that reducing stress should not only make you feel better now but also protect your health long term. How to do that varies from person to person, but the APA says it starts with determining the cause of your stress and developing a plan to address it.