Stay calm and live long

Here’s a news bulletin for you: life is stressful. Yes, by it’s nature being alive is a “stressful” enterprise. When you even get out of bed in the morning your body is challenged by gravity, your mind is challenged to encompass the day ahead, and your bladder is challenged by your partner being in the bathroom before you. “Stress” doesn’t have to be “bad” things happening, it is just things happening and you dealing with them and according to this new study if you can stay calm when dealing with life’s daily challenges then the world is yours, and a long life too.

The study involved 872 adults who reported their daily stressors and emotional reactions over an eight day period. Every day the subjects were interviewed by phone and asked to rate their positive and negative emotions and whether they encountered stressors. In this way the researchers could evaluate a person’s emotional response on days when they experienced stress as well as on days when they did not.

The measure how emotional responses (known in psych-parlance as “affective reactivity”) to daily stressors was impacting health the researchers took blood samples to measure markers of inflammation.

The results showed that exposure to stressors did not correlate to rises in inflammation in the body but emotional states did. In other words, regardless of how many stressful things had occurred during the day, if people remained calm then their inflammation levels remained lower. It was negative emotions and “feeling stressed” that led to raised inflammation levels. Since we know that inflammation drives many disease processes as well as ageing itself, it seems that staying calm will keep you healthy and help you live longer.

It’s an old adage, well worn, but equally true that you shouldn’t stress about the small stuff and in the broad scheme of things, it is all small stuff.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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