Stress is widely understood to be a detrimental feature of modern life, and indeed it’s a topic that I’ve covered a number of times on this blog before. For instance, a recent study highlighted how stress impacts upon our employee engagement in a big way.
The commute to work has been shown to be a major contributor towards our stress levels, especially if we’re a woman, although commuting via foot or by bicycle have been shown to be excellent stress busters.
A recent study has explored the role stress plays in our overall health. This kind of research is not new of course, with studies such as the Whitehall Experiments, highlighting how the more power you have at work, the longer your life is likely to be. A major reason for that is the lower stress levels that power tends to provide.
Is all stress equal?
This latest study however looks at the different kinds of stress. Is it the case that large and stressful events have the biggest impact upon our health, or do the little stresses we experience every day add up to something more significant?
It suggests that those little, daily pains in the behind are just as important as the more major events that cause us distress.
It found that when people experienced a lot of regular, daily stresses, they were at a much higher risk of dying at an early age compared to the impact of a major event, such as the loss of a loved one.
“We’re looking at long-term patterns of stress — if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful life events, that could affect your mortality,” the researchers said.
Inside the study
The study explored both the daily stresses we all encounter, whether in our work lives or our personal lives, together with much more significant, yet one off, events, such as planning a wedding or the death of a partner.
Whilst they found that both types of event have an impact upon our health, each type had a unique impact. For instance, the irregular, one off kind of events seldom translated into more regular stresses. The researchers suggest this is largely down to the different ways in which we deal with stress.
In other words, it is how we react to stress that impact our long-term health. We don’t tend to have a great deal of control over those major, life changing style events, but we do have control over how we react to those daily events that stress us out.
If we want our health to survive intact therefore, it’s crucial that we find a way of flushing those daily stresses out of our system, or at least coping with them better. As I mentioned in the intro to this post, exercise has been shown to be highly effective in achieving this. What methods do you deploy to de-stress at work or home?