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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

Don't sweat the small stuff for more than a day—it'll make you ill
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Don't sweat the small stuff for more than a day—it'll make you ill image

Don't sweat the small stuff—but if you do, don't do it for more than a day. Stressing about minor problems for more than 24 hours affects your immune system, and makes you more susceptible to chronic diseases, a new study has found.

Those who still feel stressed and anxious the following morning seem to be the ones who damage their immune systems, say researchers from the University of California at Irvine.

Although we think of major life crises, such as a death or divorce, as having the most damaging effect on our health, the small daily upsets of life, such as an argument or someone jumping the queue, can cause similar problems—if we linger on them, said lead researcher Kate Leger.

In the study, Leger and her researchers questioned 1,155 people about daily stressors they had experienced over the previous eight days, and the effect they had on them, such as whether they had negative emotions about the incidents, such as feeling lonely, afraid, irritable or angry. The same group was contacted again 10 years later when they were asked to describe their health—and those whose negative emotions lingered were the ones more likely to also be suffering from a chronic health problem. They also suffered more functional impairments and difficulties with everyday tasks.


References

(Source: Psychological Science, 2018; doi: 10.1177/0956797618763097)

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