It’s not stress that leads to poor health, it’s how you handle it. It’s been known for a long time that chronic stress has a dramatic effect on your mental health, causing depression, anxiety and anger. Now a Penn State University study says if you’re unable to handle minor daily hassles such as deadlines, traffic jams, or disagreements at work or home, you’re much more likely to suffer from the physical ailments cause by stress. These can cause or increase cardiovascular issues, autoimmune diseases and even make you more susceptible to the common cold.
“Results indicate that people’s reactions to daily stressors are predictive of future chronic health conditions,” the study states. “Daily stressors are less severe than chronic stressors, but they are nonetheless associated with adverse same-day physical health outcomes,” the study says, noting the occurrence of fatigue, sore throat, headache and backache. In people with chronic health conditions, it increased their pain sensitivity, causing tension headaches, joint pain, and psoriasis to intensify.
Velcro and Teflon (easygoing) types of people both face daily stress, but Velcro types respond more emotionally and have problems letting the moment pass. “I think our activities of daily life have evolved faster than body physiology,” said David M. Almeida, a doctor of psychology at Penn State’s Center for Healthy Aging, and the study leader. “We are trying to determine who the Teflon people are and who the Velcro people are. Not surprisingly, people who have more financial and socioeconomic resources are more likely to be Teflon people.”
This study is the first to link everyday stress reactivity to certain physical health conditions previously associated only with chronic stress, including digestive problems, pain-related problems and urinary-bladder conditions. The study calls for further investigation of how chronic and daily stressors interact on health effects.
Thomas Kamarck, a University of Pittsburgh professor of psychology and psychiatry, says “The unique twist in this study is that the authors measured daily stressors shortly after they occur, at the end of each day, rather than measuring chronic adversity, such as long-term unemployment, marital strain and so forth…The findings suggest that there may be some value in measuring stress and [response to stress] with a finer resolution than we’ve been accustomed to seeing in this research.”