In their journal article on chronic stress, Teixeira et al. (2015) conclude that:
“..chronic psychological stress associated with higher levels of cortisol impairs cognitive performance in business executives independently of genders, ..”
Whilst cortisol has many important functions in our body such as controlling our blood pressure and reducing inflammation (Health Direct, 2018) too much for too long can have a negative effect. Echouffo-Tcheugui et al. (2018) found higher cortisol was associated with lower brain size in younger to middle-aged adults.
In order to prevent chronic or long-term stress we need to do a few things:
- Understanding what brings your system into balance. This won’t be the same for everyone; running, boxing, meditating, walking or singing?
- Understand the signs of chronic stress; headaches, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, irritability, skipping productive parts of your daily routine such as lunch or drinking water.
- Measure the state of your system on a regular basis by measuring your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV measurement is an important part of our self-care toolbox.
You don’t start training for a marathon the day before the event, so we need to be proactive in our management of stress.
Renata Roland Teixeira, Miguel Mauricio Díaz, Tatiane Vanessa da Silva Santos, Jean Tofoles Martins Bernardes, Leonardo Gomes Peixoto, Olga Lucia Bocanegra, Morun Bernardino Neto, Foued Salmen Espindola 2015, ‘Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives’, <https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119025>
Health Direct 2018, viewed 13 November 2018, < https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/the-role-of-cortisol-in-the-body>
Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, Sarah C. Conner, Jayandra J. Himali, Pauline Maillard, Charles S. DeCarli, Alexa S. Beiser, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Sudha Seshadri 2018, ‘Circulating cortisol and cognitive and structural brain measures’, Neurology, <http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2018/10/24/WNL.0000000000006549>