There is no way to avoid all stress, it’s just a part of life, but it’s been proven time and again that too much stress can have devastating effects on our physical health and overall well-being.
Recent research from Oregon State University now reveals that older men leading high-stress lives, from either chronic everyday events, or due to a series of significant life events, are likely to die sooner than their peers.
Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU, noted in a press statement, “We’re looking at long-term patterns of stress — if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful life events, that could affect your mortality.”
The researchers looked at two types of stress that can affect a person’s overall health, including things like the everyday hassles such as commuting, job stress and family arguments. The second type of stress was associated with significant life events such as a job loss or the death of a loved one.
Both types of stress negatively affected mens’ health, and each type had different effects on their mortality. In this study, researchers examined the stressful life events and everyday hassles of 1,293 men between 1989 and 2005, and then followed them until 2010. Roughly 43 percent of the men had died by the end of the study period.
Researchers reported that half of the men who said they suffered high levels of stress in their day-to-day lives died during the study period. This number was just one-third among those who stated they experienced fewer everyday hassles – the group had the lowest mortality rate at 28.7 percent.
Just under half of the men who noted a mid-range number of stressors had died by the end of the study, while 64.3 percent of the men reporting a high number of hassles had died.
The bottom line, said Aldwin, is that, it’s “not the number of hassles that does you in, it’s the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems. Taking things in stride may protect you.”
Stressful life events are hard to avoid, but men may be able to enjoy a longer life by controlling their attitudes about everyday hassles, such as standing in a long line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic jams.
Aldwin says, “Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Coping skills are very important.”
While managing stress can be a daunting task, one simple trick that can help whenever you find your heart racing and your anger rising is to stop and take a slow, deep breath. Try to count to three slowly as you inhale, hold the breath for another count of three and then exhale for a count of three. Do this until you gradually feel a sense of calm.
Regular exercise and scheduling in some downtime to relax or do something you enjoy are also great ways to combat stress and improve your health.
-The Alternative Daily