A stress-free life may harm your cognitive functions

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Stress is a universal human experience that almost everyone deals with from time to time.

But in a new study, scientists found that not only do some people report feeling no stress at all, but that there may be downsides to not experiencing stress.

They found that people who reported experiencing no stressors were more likely to experience better daily well-being and fewer chronic health conditions.

However, they were also more likely to have a lower cognitive function, as well.

The finding suggests that small, daily stressors could potentially benefit the brain, despite being an inconvenience.

The research was conducted by a team at Penn State.

A large number of previous studies have linked stress with a greater risk for many negative outcomes, like chronic illness or worse emotional wellbeing.

In the study, the team used data from 2,711 participants. Prior to the start of the study, the participants completed a short cognition test.

Then, the participants were interviewed each night for eight consecutive nights and answered questions about their mood, chronic conditions they may have, their physical symptoms—such as headaches, coughs or sore throats—and what they did during that day.

The participants also reported the number of stressors and the number of positive experiences.

The researchers found that there did appear to be benefits for those who reported no stressors throughout the study, about 10 percent of the participants.

These participants were less likely to have chronic health conditions and experience better moods throughout the day.

However, those who reported no stressors also performed lower on the cognition test, with the difference equaling more than eight years of aging.

Additionally, they were also less likely to report giving or receiving emotional support, as well as less likely to experience positive things happening throughout the day.

The team says it’s possible that experiencing stressful events creates opportunities to solve a problem.

So experiencing these stressors may not be pleasant but they may force people to solve a problem, and this might actually be good for cognitive functioning, especially as people grow older.

The study is published in Emotion.  One author of the study is David M. Almeida.

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