Keep calm and live longer
Never has the phrase keep calm and carry on been more appropriate. While many of us may have the words emblazoned on a mug, tea towel or T-shirt, researchers believe putting them into practice when faced with a stressful situation could be the key to a longer life.
According to the new research carried out by Pennsylvania State University, reacting cheerfully or at least as positively as possible to a crisis can help reduce inflammation in the body significantly.
“Positive emotions, and how they can help people in the event of stress, have really been overlooked,” Nancy Sin, postdoctoral fellow at the University said.
The study looked at how everyday challenges can weaken a person’s immune system. And it was discovered that it wasn’t the amount of stress that was the problem, but how a person chose to deal with it.
If the body is put through periods of short-term stress in the form of illness or exercise, it copes by using a high immune response to help repair itself. But over a longer period of time, chronic inflammation can cause real health issues. It’s even thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer.
As part of the study, a cross-sectional sample of 872 adults from the National Study of Daily Experiences reported on daily stressors and emotional reactions for eight days in a row. All participants had their blood taken so it could be tested for inflammatory markers. Then, during the daily phone interviews, each person was asked to rate their positive and negative emotions, as well as whether or not they encountered stressors.
“We calculated reactivity scores to see how participants generally reacted to stressors,” Nancy said. “Then we used it to predict two markers of inflammation. The inflammation occurred more often in people who were unable to brush off stressful events.”
The research follows similar advice given by Mayo Clinic scientist, Dr Amit Sood, who claims that one of the four steps to becoming happy and healthy is by being emotionally tough.