Do you tend to hold onto stress? Are you still fuming the following day after an argument with a family member or frustrating meeting at work? If so, you’ll want to read on. This is because researchers recently discovered that the inability to let go of even minor, daily stressors can lead to numerous health problems, including chronic illnesses, functional impairments, and difficulties with everyday tasks, a decade later.
The findings were published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
For the study, participants completed an eight-day survey that included daily stressors along with negative emotions felt over the previous 24 hours. Ten years later, participants answered questions about their ability to complete basic functional tasks (like carrying groceries or climbing a flight of stairs) as well as any chronic illnesses. The surveys showed that people who had experienced a stressor the day before also experienced negative emotions. And, most surprising, this type of stress response increased the likelihood of chronic illness and/or physical limitations later in life.
“Stress is common in our everyday lives. It happens at work, it happens at school, it happens at home and in our relationships,” psychological scientist Kate Leger of the University of California, Irvine, said in a press release. “Our research shows that the strategy to ‘just let it go’ could be beneficial to our long-term physical health.”
Certainly this is easier said than done, but taking steps to ensure that stress doesn’t stick with you is an important part of your overall health and recovery. After all, stress is a leading relapse trigger.
Here are a few tips that might help you let go of stress and hold onto more positive emotions.
- Write it out. Journaling is a quick and inexpensive way to work through difficult emotions and let things go.
- Meditate. Meditation helps you focus on the present instead of fixate on the past. This skill will certainly come in handy when trying to let go of a stressful event or interaction.
- Distract yourself. If you find yourself dwelling on a daily stressor, do something that will quickly take your mind off of what’s stressing you. Some healthy ideas: read a book, do a crossword puzzle, call a funny friend, cue a Netflix favorite.
Stress Management at NorthStar
Our general wellness programming helps clients develop healthy habits and routines to better handle stress. To learn more about our health and wellness programs, call us today: 303-625-6335.