Dealing with the minor stresses and strains of everyday life in a positive way is key to long-term health, a new study finds.
The research found that people who remained calm or cheerful in the face of irritations had a lower risk of inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to health problems like cancer, heart disease and obesity.
The study provides further evidence of how people’s emotional response to everyday stressors impacts their health.
Dr Nancy Sin, the study’s first author, said:
“A person’s frequency of stress may be less related to inflammation than responses to stress.
It is how a person reacts to stress that is important.
Positive emotions, and how they can help people in the event of stress, have really been overlooked.”
The types of stressors the researchers studied included arguments at home and work.
Women were particularly susceptible to elevated inflammation if they didn’t deal well with stress.
Another of the study’s authors, Dr Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland, explained:
“We examined both positive and negative affective reactions to stress and compared the effects of stress exposure with responses to stressors.
Little is known about the potential role of daily stress processes on inflammation.
Much of the relevant past research with humans has focused on either chronic stress or acute laboratory-based stress — methods that do not fully capture how people respond to naturalistic stressors in the context of daily life.”
The study was published in the journal Health Psychology (Sin et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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