Managing Stress – Are You A Velcro Or Teflon Person?
If you find yourself suddenly faced with a high stress situation, take a moment, breathe deeply and wait to react. If you delay your emotional response and take the time necessary to regain your composure and perspective, it may help you in the moment and more importantly, it may contribute to better health over your lifetime. A study out of Pennsylvania State University examined people’s reactions to stressful events and the state of their health a decade later.
The study involved phone interviews with 2,000 people over an eight day period, isolating a particular stressful event during the interval, and assessing how they responded and handled the tense moment. The researchers also took saliva samples to measure the level of the hormone, cortisol, which would indicate “degree of stress.” The researchers correlated the responses of the participants to general patterns of behavior in stressful situations, and then looked at the health of each of the individuals ten years later. Researchers categorized people who suffered and persisted with unresolved emotions, as Velcro people – the negative emotions continue to stick long after the event, without good resolution. Participants categorized as Teflon people managed to either resolve the stressful situation or “just let it go and move on.” The study found that Velcro individuals had higher rates of chronic health issues a decade after the phone interviews, compared to the Teflon group.
Managing your stress, by taking time to think through and resolve the situation with a controlled response, or accepting that you simply need to move on, can dramatically improve the chances of a healthier life over the next decade and over your lifespan. The study suggests that reactivity, or allowing negative feelings to linger, is a behavior pattern linked to a less optimal health profile later in life.