When it comes to stress, it's better to be Teflon than Velcro.
Don't let stress stick to you like fuzzy stuff to Velcro. Let it
slide away, like a cooked pancake off a Teflon skillet.
Psychologists long have known that chronic stress causes
psychological ailments such as depression, anxiety and anger. But
"reactivity" to stress - or the overreaction to stress - gets
physical and can lead to cardiovascular and infectious diseases. It
makes people more susceptible to the common cold - or worse.
Until recently, studies focused on chronic stress. Now a Penn
State University study says a person's inability to handle the
"minor hassles of life" on a daily basis - a pending deadline,
unpaid bills, road rage, a burdensome chore or a spat with a loved
one or colleague - also affects health.
In 1995, the Penn State research team interviewed 435
participants each day for eight days to gauge the stress levels
they experienced, and their reactions to the stress. The team also
did saliva tests to measure their levels of the stress hormone,
cortisol. A decade later, in 2005, the team repeated the testing
Published recently in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the
study found emotional reactivity to daily stress was "associated
with an increased risk" that a participant would report a chronic
physical health condition 10 years later.
"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.
Reactivity to daily hassles also can lead to hypertension,
stressful social interactions that increase the risk for metabolic
syndrome that's a precursor to type 2 diabetes and even
cardiovascular disease. The study says the problem isn't stress but
a person's reaction to it.
Velcro and Teflon types face daily stress. But Velcro types
respond more emotionally and have problems letting the moment pass.
For them, every unit increase in stressor reactivity results in a
rise of 10 percent in the risk that participants in the study would
report a chronic health condition 10 years later.
"I think our activities of daily life have evolved faster than
body physiology," said David 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. …