Men who are chronically stressed due to life events or other factors could have a 50% higher mortality rate than those who are not stressed, according to a new study. The study was the first of its kind to document the effects of major stressors over a long period of time, such as the death of a spouse or placing a parent into a retirement home. While the study did find that stress has a considerable negative impact on longevity, there were protective factors that helped to negate the effects.
Participants who reported to be healthy tended to live longer, as well as married men. Researchers found these characteristics to be protective against stress-induced mortality, highlighting the power of optimum health and emotional stability.
Of course while the study found many factors that can protect you, they also found many factors that further increased the risk of death:
“Being a teetotaler and a smoker were risk factors for mortality,” said Carolyn Aldwin, lead author of the study and a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University. “So perhaps trying to keep your major stress events to a minimum, being married and having a glass of wine every night is the secret to a long life.”
Smoking is a known health destroyer, though the real health effects of alcohol are up for debate. A known neurotoxin, many studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol may help to extend your life. Wine does contain resveratrol as well as antioxidants, and some studies have even found that alcohol consumption reduces your risk of diabetes and dementia. On the contrary, scientists are now questioning the supposed benefits of alcohol consumption, looking at the lifestyles of moderate drinking to find the answer.
“The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right — they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately,” said Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has criticized the research. “It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.”
Managing stress levels and optimizing health through exercise and proper nutrition will help to decrease your overall risk of mortality from all disease. Meditation, high intensity exercise, brisk walks, and prayer are all powerful methods of dealing with stress as well as improving health on many other levels. Set aside at least 30 minutes per day for yourself to practice one or more of these habits, and watch your stress levels diminish and your mental clarity become anew.