Being positive amid daily stress is good for long-term health

July 17, 2015 by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University
Credit: George Hodan/public domain

Relax. Breathe. It's all small stuff. When faced with life's daily challenges, adults who don't maintain a positive outlook have shown elevated physiological markers for inflaming cardiovascular and autoimmune disease, according to new research by Cornell University and Penn State psychologists.

"Hassles and minor frustrations are common in day-to-day living. Our findings suggest that how people react to daily stressors may matter more than the frequency of such stressors," explain the researchers in "Affective Reactivity to Daily Stressors is Associated with Elevated Inflammation," published June 8 in the journal Health Psychology and co-authored by Anthony Ong, Cornell associate professor of human development; along with Penn State researchers Nancy Sin, Jennifer Graham-Engeland and David Almeida.

While many scientists have studied how affects human health, the researchers explained that little is known about how reactivity to daily stressors affects biomarkers of .

The study found that those people who had difficulty maintaining positive emotional engagement during times of stress appeared to be particularly at risk for elevated levels of inflammation.

The researchers surveyed nearly 870 midlife and older adults. People who experienced greater decreases in positive affect on days when stress occurred were found to have increased amounts of interleukin-6 (a protein that acts as an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory agent) and C-reactive protein (an anti-inflammatory agent). Women who experience increased negative affect when faced with minor stressors may be at particular risk of elevated inflammation.

"Previous research suggests that the chronic experience of joy and happiness may slow down the physiological effects of aging," Ong said. "This study extends that research by showing that possessing stable levels of 'positive affect' may be conducive to good health, while disturbances in daily positive affect may be associated with heightened inflammatory immune responses."

Ong explained, "These findings are novel because they point to the importance of daily positive emotion regulation that until now have largely been neglected in studies of stress and inflammation."

Explore further: Resilience to stress may be key for long-term health

More information: "Affective Reactivity to Daily Stressors Is Associated With Elevated Inflammation." Health Psychol. 2015 Jun 1. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26030309

Related Stories

Resilience to stress may be key for long-term health

June 9, 2015
Reacting positively to stressful situations may play a key role in long-term health, according to researchers.

Good night's sleep linked to happiness

April 29, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Want a good night's sleep? Be positive – consistently. Although happiness is generally good for sleeping, when a person's happiness varies a lot in reaction to daily ups and downs, sleep suffers, reports ...

Childhood abuse leads to poor adult health

November 13, 2012
The psychological scars of childhood abuse can last well into adulthood. New research from Concordia University shows the harm can have longterm negative physical effects, as well as emotional ones.

Adult daycare helps caregivers' emotional stability

November 19, 2014
Caregivers who employ adult daycare services to help care for individuals with dementia have fewer emotional ups and downs, and that may protect the caregivers' health, according to Penn State researchers.

Adult day services for dementia patients provide stress relief to family caregivers

May 23, 2013
Family caregivers of older adults with dementia are less stressed and their moods are improved on days when dementia patients receive adult day services (ADS), according to Penn State researchers.

Parents' perception of teens' experiences are related to mental health

October 14, 2014
Adolescents whose parents better understand their daily experiences have better psychological adjustment, suggests a study in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal ...

Recommended for you

People are more honest when using a foreign tongue, research finds

August 17, 2018
New UChicago-led research suggests that someone who speaks in a foreign language is probably more credible than the average native speaker.

FDA approves brain stimulation device for OCD

August 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—A brain stimulation device to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has received approval for marketing Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

16 going on 66: Will you be the same person 50 years from now?

August 17, 2018
How much do you change between high school and retirement? The answer depends on whether you're comparing yourself to others or to your younger self.

Research eyes role of stress in mental illnesses

August 17, 2018
We all face stress in our lives. Even researchers seeking to understand why some people shrug it off while others face battles against disorders like depression or PTSD.

Men and women show surprising differences in seeing motion

August 16, 2018
Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on August 16 have found an unexpected difference between men and women. On average, their studies show, men pick up on visual motion significantly faster than women do.

It's okay when you're not okay: Study re-evaluates resilience in adults

August 16, 2018
Adversity is part of life: Loved ones die. Soldiers deploy to war. Patients receive terminal diagnoses.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.