You may consider yourself a generally positive person, or you may be a little bit grumpy. Surprisingly, though, these attitudes may affect how you age. Researchers at North Carolina State University discovered that when adults have a positive attitude toward aging, they tend to be more resilient in stressful situations.
The researchers gave a daily questionnaire to participants between ages 60 and 96 for eight days. At first, they asked people questions about their childhood. Then they asked questions about the participants’ general attitudes in their adult lives, such as whether they felt useful or happy. Finally, researchers measured the participants’ responses to stress. They also measured negative emotions like anger, irritability, and fear.
The researchers concluded that the participants who had positive attitudes about aging also responded better to stress. They didn’t feel the same big increase in negative emotion that people with negative attitudes did.
Though these results are interesting on their own, they could have even bigger implications. It suggests that for older people, quality of life is affected by attitude. Other studies have linked stress with physical health risks.
Your body’s natural stress response is a chemical reaction that increases your heart rate, tightens your muscles, and causes you to breathe quickly.
Over time, this stress response can have a negative impact on your body. In addition to panic attacks and anxiety, stress can cause depression. You may even have symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, and chest pain.
This resonates with the study, as researchers linked the more extreme emotional responses with increased heart health risks.
If you do suffer from stress, know that you’re not alone. Forty-three percent of all adults have negative stress symptoms. It isn’t easy to flip a switch and be positive all the time. However, trying to stay positive can help you reduce and manage stress. Additionally, try to remember that you can’t control everything that happens. Try taking up a relaxing hobby and getting plenty of sleep at night.
If stress or fears about aging persist, you may want to talk your doctor about it. Remember, retirement should be a time for relaxation, not stress!