Expecting a stressful day may lower cognitive abilities throughout the day

A law of attraction.


According to Penn State researchers, there may be some truth to the saying “getting up on the wrong side of the bed”. A new study suggests that starting your morning by focusing on how stressful your day will be may be harmful to your mindset throughout the day.

Waking up feeling like the day ahead would be stressful, affects working memory by lowering later in the day. Envisioning something upsetting greatly affected working memory paying little respect to real unpleasant occasions.

Jinshil Hyun, a doctoral student in human development and family studies, said, “Humans can think about and anticipate things before they happen, which can help us prepare for and even prevent certain events. But this study suggests that this ability can also be harmful to your daily memory function, independent of whether the stressful events actually happen or not.”

Martin Sliwinski, director of Penn State’s Center for Healthy Aging, said, “working memory can affect many aspects of a person’s day, and lower working memory can have a negative impact on individuals’ daily lives, especially among older adults who already experience cognitive decline.”

“A reduced working memory can make you more likely to make a mistake at work or maybe less able to focus. Also, looking at this research in the context of healthy aging, there are certain high stakes cognitive errors that older adults can make. Taking the wrong pill or making a mistake while driving can all have catastrophic impacts.”

The analysts enrolled 240 racially and monetarily assorted grown-ups to partake in the examination. For two weeks, the members responded seven times each day to questions incited from a cell phone application: once early in the day about whether they anticipated that their day would be distressing, five times for the duration of the day about current feelings of anxiety, and once around evening time about whether they anticipated that the next day would be unpleasant. The members additionally finished a working memory undertaking five times each day.

The scientists found that more stress anticipation toward the beginning of the day was related with poorer working memory later in the day. Stress anticipation from the past evening was not related to poorer working memory.

Hyun said, “Having the participants log their stress and cognition as they went about their day let us get a snapshot of how these processes work in the context of real, everyday life. We were able to gather data throughout the day over a longer period of time, instead of just a few points in time in a lab.”

Sliwinski said, “When you wake up in the morning with a certain outlook for the day, in some sense the die is already cast. If you think your day is going to be stressful, you’re going to feel those effects even if nothing stressful ends up happening. That hadn’t really been shown in the research until now, and it shows the impact of how we think about the world.”

“If you wake up and feel like the day is going to be stressful, maybe your phone can remind you to do some deep breathing relaxation before you start your day. Or if your cognition is at a place where you might make a mistake, maybe you can get a message that says now might not be the best time to go for a drive.”

The study is recently published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.


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