Stress doesn’t affect your lifespan – but how you feel about it does. Not what you’re used to hearing? Here’s proof: researchers in Michigan asked 30,000 people to rate their stress level and also rate how much they believed it impaired their health. Those who felt it was harmful were 43% more likely to die in the study period. Cheer up and it might never happen.
If you need help ‘reframing‘ stress try this: moderate doses help you recover faster from illness, according to Stanford University.
Sure, you might sweat it when the boss dumps a new project on you. But you’ll also feel excited. That’s the pleasure chemical dopamine flowing in your brain; you won’t get your dopamine from doing the same old thing. So don’t be put off by pop psychologists who call stress a killer. Otherwise you’ll miss out on all its benefits – and a chance to climb the ladder. Man up and move up.
Make stress a strength
1. Think of your pounding heart as your body tapping resources in preparation; it’ll widen your arteries and boost attention, says The Journal of Experimental Psychology.
2. Rebrand ‘stress hormone’ cortisol as the ‘get up and go’ one. Concordia Uni found that optimists display less of a stress response (they’re also likely to use Monty Python ringtones).
3. Give your time to family or charity: do-gooders live longer, says a University of Buffalo study, even if stressed. It’s not like you’re busy or anything.