Stress, Negativity and Alzheimer’s – Happy New Year!

The start of a new year often brings promises that “this year” you are going to take better care of yourself, relax, eat healthy foods, and eliminate stress.  All of this is good given everything we know about health habits and stress.  And the results of a recent study gives us even more incentive to reduce stress, as it may have a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders suggests that increased stress could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.  The article mentions that stress can raise levels of certain neurotransmitters and lowers others, affecting the efficiency of the brain.

The negative effects of stress are well known, including cardiovascular problems, the impact on our immune system, depression and anxiety, etc., and now we have cause for concern related to cognitive impairment.  Of course more research is needed, yet how much more information do we need to understand the impact of stress on our bodies and mind?

The article also points out that unfortunately, all too often stress is self-imposed.  It is noted that perceived stress is a “modifiable risk factor” for cognitive impairment, and hence a target for treatment.  How are we advised to deal with it?  As with other diseases, we should do all of the things we don’t necessarily want to do!  Regular physical exercise, eating healthy, practicing stress management techniques, meditation, and yoga are just a few methods for prevention.

When considering strategies for better mental and physical health, think about your attitude as well.  Another study indicates that how we think and “choose” to think impacts our attitude and the risk for Alzheimer’s.  The study suggests that people who hold negative beliefs about aging (and who doesn’t sometimes!) are more likely to have brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s.  The good news is that it is not inevitable – if you change your beliefs.  Prior studies on harboring thoughts on aging indicate that a positive attitude about aging may add as many as seven or more years of life versus those who are negative.

All the research provides more reasons to get a handle on your thoughts, beliefs and consequently your behavior.  Make a promise to yourself in the coming year to control the stress and negativity instead of letting it control you.  There are a plethora of books, articles and strategies to access in order to improve your physical and mental health.

Besides, life is short!  Choose to be happy, relax more, worry less and enjoy – leave the harmful, damaging, stressful negativity behind. Wishing you a healthy, joyful and relaxing in 2016!

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