Reacting positively to stressful situations may play a key role in long-term health, according to researchers.
In a study measuring adults’ reactions to stress and how it affects their bodies, researchers found that adults who fail to maintain positive moods such as cheerfulness or calm when faced with the minor stressors of everyday life appear to have elevated levels of inflammation. Furthermore, women can be at heightened risk.
Inflammatory responses are part of the body’s ability to protect itself via the immune system. However, chronic — long-term — inflammation can undermine health, and appears to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer.
These findings add to growing body of evidence regarding the health implications of affective reactivity — emotional response — to daily stressors.
The frequency of daily stressors, in and of itself, was less consequential for inflammation than how an individual reacted to those stressors. Positive emotions, and how they can help people in the event of stress, have really been overlooked.
In the short-term, with illness or exercise, the body experiences a high immune response to help repair itself. However, in the long term, heightened inflammatory immune responses may not be healthy. Individuals who have trouble regulating their responses may be at risk for certain age-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer.
A cross-sectional sample of 872 adults from the National Study of Daily Experiences reported daily stressors and emotional reactions for eight consecutive days. Blood samples of participants were obtained during a separate clinic visit and assayed for inflammatory markers.
Subjects were interviewed by phone every day for eight consecutive days. They were asked to rate their positive and negative emotions, as well as whether or not they encountered stressors. This enabled researchers to evaluate a person’s emotional response on days when they experience stressors, and compare it to days when they do not.
Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s comments on “Your reaction to everyday minor stressors will determine your level of inflammation and your development of disease”:
Inflammation is the root of all disease and what this study showed is that inflammation is increased simply by you having the wrong attitude to minor daily stressors. It is not just the big traumatic shock stressors or the long term chronic stress that produces disease. This study demonstrated it was how you handle the little stresses, the minor stresses that determine your level of inflammation and thus your level of health or disease.
Simply put, how you see things is how they become. If you let the minor, little things in life weigh you down then you are producing inflammation and potential disease. On the other hand if you keep your eyes fixed on HIM, your journey and keep going forward, keeping the big picture in mind and not focusing on the little things that wont matter 5 years from now then you will remain in health and become disease protective.
Always ask yourself this question with every stress that comes into your life:
- Is this really worth my energy and effort to focus on this or should I be focused on the solution rather that the problem?
- How can I grow from this so it no longer is a stress?
- Will this matter 5 or 10 years from now?
- Does this have eternal or temporal significance?
You should always be eternally focused not focused on things that are passing away.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. NIV