If you experience high and long-lasting bodily reactions to stress, you are more likely to die in old age. Fortunately, the best coping mechanism would be to not worry about it.
Researcher have found that the personality trait optimism is related to fast physical recovery from stressful situations. Slow bodily recovery after stressful situations is found to increase your likelihood of developing life-threatening diseases in old age – for example cardiovascular disease. This means that people who are optimistic are less likely to develop those disease and thus, are less likely to die.
The study on which these findings are based upon used participants who are between 55 and 76 years old. Accordingly, the mentioned findings are only meaningful for people in this age category. More in detail, the participants were grouped into two groups – the first group endured a stressful situation while the other group encountered a non-stressful situation. Precisely, the stressful situation entailed performing tasks in front of a supervising comitee. The non-stressful situation consisted of the same tasks alone. Once before and 10 times after the groups experienced the specific situation, the bodily stress response was measured. Additionally, every participant answered a questionnaire assessing the trait optimism. In the end, the results of the study indicate a faster bodily recovery to stress for people who are optimistic and experienced the stressful situation compared to the people who are pessimistic and experienced the stressful situation.
Therefore, optimistic people are less likely to die in old age.
Reference which this blog entry is based on:
Puig-Perez, S., Villada, C., Pulopulos, M. M., Almela, M., Hidalgo, V., Salvador, A. (2015). Optimism and pessimism are related to different components of the stress response in healthy older people. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 98. 213–221. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.09.002