We all know that stress can be bad for our health. Not a day goes by without another news story telling us that it can cause a host of ailments such as, auto-immune problems, cardiovascular disease and premature ageing. But, whilst this may be true, exciting new research suggests that stress is more complex than we thought and has highlighted three areas where people can thrive well in the midst of stress.
Firstly, people who look after themselves, tend to be better protected. A 2014 study looked at 239 women over a year. The results found that the women who exercised, ate healthily, and had good quality sleep seemed to have a stronger physical resilience to stress. At a microscopic level, these women showed significantly less cellular degeneration (associated with stressful living) than a control group – even though their stressors were the same.
Secondly, fascinating new research suggests that stress does the most damage when people expect it to be doing them harm. When people are more likely to see stressors as a ‘challenge’ rather than as dangerous to their health, then their body reacts in a very different and less harmful way.
Finally, another recent study looked at the impact of stress on people over a ten-year period. Some of the people studied went on to develop chronic physical health problems. But, it wasn’t the stressful situations that caused later ill-health. It was the way that people reacted to these stressful events and not the events themselves. A positive attitude acts like Teflon when it comes to stress.
The research continues to say that stress can be harmful. But looking after your health and maintaining a positive outlook can increase your resilience and offer real protection from its damaging impact.
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