How do you react to stress? Do you hold your breath and bite your tongue? Do you lash out and then feel guilty afterwards? Do you withdraw?
According to a new study from Penn State involving over 800, reacting in a “positive manner” to stressful situations plays a key role in our long-term health. These quaified investigators measured adults’ reactions to stress and how it affects their bodies.
The researchers used several different types of common stressors such as:
- arguments and avoiding confrontations at home
- being discriminated against
- witnessing a stressful event that happens to someone we care about
- and other potential daily stress situations
Results clearly showed that adults who fail to maintain positive moods such as cheerfulness or calm when faced with the minor stressors of everyday life have elevated levels of inflammation. And women are at heightened risk. It appears chronic, long-term, inflammation can undermine health, and appears to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer.
This isn’t the first study to find a relationship between stress and health. Previously, data published revealed that the way a person responds to daily stressors, such as an argument with a spouse or an impending deadline, are predictive of future chronic health conditions.
The author of this study stated that, “Positive emotions, and how they can help people in the event of stress, have really been overlooked.”.
While it is easier said than done, reacting cheerfully to stressful situations may be the key to a long life. And medical experts from the Mayo clinic suggest the following four steps to achieving this goal:
1. Start your day optimistically: Wake up with gratitude, resisting judgment and expressing kindness.
2. Get emotionally tough: When things go wrong, focus on what went right within what went wrong.
3. Connect your mind and body: Consistently engage in activities such as reading, exercise, music, art, prayer, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.
4. Pick healthy habits: Simplify your life, pick your battles and lighten up. For instance, just think, will this matter five years from now? If not then it’s not worth your time.
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