Older men who lead high-stress lives, either from chronic everyday hassles or because of a series of significant life events, are likely to die earlier than the average for their peers, new research from Oregon State University shows.
“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,” said Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.
Her study looked at two types of stress: the everyday hassles of such things as commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends; and significant life events, such as job loss or the death of a spouse.
Both types appear to be harmful to men’s health, but each type of stress appears to have an independent effect on mortality. Someone experiencing several stressful life events does not necessarily have high levels of stress from everyday hassles, Aldwin said. That is determined more by how a person reacts to the stress.”It’s not the number of hassles that does you in, it’s the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems,” Aldwin said. “Taking things in stride may protect you.”