JUN 11, 2015 2:56 PM PDT

You Are How You Stress

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
It's not the amount of stress people have but how they handle it. Researchers at Penn State say that acting positively when confronted by stressful situations could make the difference in long-term health.
How we react to stress may determine our longevity.
Measuring adults' reactions to stress and its impact on their bodies, the researchers determined that those who cannot be calm or cheerful when the minor stressors of everyday life seem to have elevated levels of inflammation. Women can be at higher risk. While inflammatory responses help the body to protect itself through the immune system, chronic inflammation can harm health and lead to obesity, heart disease and cancer. The researchers report their results about this phenomenon of affective reactivity, or emotional response, in a recent edition of Health Psychology, which is summarized in Medical News Today (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/295151.php).

According to Nancy Sin, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Biobehavioral Health, Penn State and her colleagues, the frequency of daily stressors was less important in terms of inflammation than the way a person reacted to the stressors. As she explained, "A person's frequency of stress may be less related to inflammation than responses to stress. It is how a person reacts to stress that is important."

Sin's stressed the important contributions of the effect of positive emotions in naturalistic stress processes. People who cannot regulate their responses could be at risk for certain age-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, frailty and cognitive decline, she said.

Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said that the study was "the first to link biomarkers of inflammation with positive mood responses to stressors in everyday life." After a sample of 872 adults from the National Study of Daily Experiences reported daily stressors and emotional reactions for eight consecutive days, blood samples were taken and assayed and subjects were interviewed by phone to rate their emotions and their stressors. Researchers calculated reactivity scores and predicted two markers of inflammation, Sin said. Stressors included "arguments and avoiding arguments at work, school or home; being discriminated against; a network stressor, i.e., a stressful event that happens to someone close to the subject; and other stressors."

Data came from the second wave of the Midlife in the United States Study, a national survey designed to determine health and well-being in midlife and older adulthood. The first national survey of Midlife Development in the U.S. (MIDUS) was conducted in 1995/96 by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. Developed by a multidisciplinary team from fields of psychology, sociology, epidemiology, demography, anthropology, medicine and health care policy, the study attempted to "investigate the role of behavioral, psychological and social factors in accounting for age-related variations in health and well-being in a national sample of Americans." MIDUS, now beginning its third cohort, is funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (http://www.midus.wisc.edu/scopeofstudy.php).
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Terpenes Provide Pain Relief in Mice
JUL 15, 2021
Cannabis Terpenes Provide Pain Relief in Mice
Cannabis terpenes, the part of cannabis plants responsible for its smell and taste, may be able to relieve pain both by ...
JUL 16, 2021
Coronavirus
Focusing on the Cause of Neurological Symptoms of COVID-19
JUL 16, 2021
Focusing on the Cause of Neurological Symptoms of COVID-19
We now know that COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms. Some of these problems are taking months to clear up in patient ...
JUL 21, 2021
Technology
Digital App Helps People Make Positive Eating-Habit Changes
JUL 21, 2021
Digital App Helps People Make Positive Eating-Habit Changes
We all have moments where the only thing that can comfort us is food, and a lot of it. However, such behavior can very q ...
SEP 05, 2021
Microbiology
Gut Bacteria May Influence Infant Brain Development
SEP 05, 2021
Gut Bacteria May Influence Infant Brain Development
Our health is closely connected to the community of microbes we carry in our gut. For example, these microbes have a pow ...
SEP 07, 2021
Neuroscience
Researchers Harness the Power of Machine Learning to Facilitate Drug Repurposing
SEP 07, 2021
Researchers Harness the Power of Machine Learning to Facilitate Drug Repurposing
Using machine learning and massive data sets from patients, researchers identify drug and drug combinations that could b ...
SEP 15, 2021
Neuroscience
Motor Cortex Involved in Vocabulary Learning
SEP 15, 2021
Motor Cortex Involved in Vocabulary Learning
The motor cortex, the part of the brain involved in the planning, control, and execution of voluntary movements, may pla ...
Loading Comments...