Holding on to stress could affect health

Research we're watching

holding on to stress

Published: July, 2018

If you're able to quickly shrug off stressful events, that may be good for your health. A study in the March 19 issue of Psychological Science found that people who held on to stress—those who reported still having negative feelings about a stressful event the day after it happened — had more chronic health problems a decade later.

Researchers analyzed data from a nationwide survey that asked more than 1,100 adults about the number and type of stressful experiences they had each day for eight days. These included everything from arguments with others to problems at work, home, or school. Participants rated their emotional reactions to these stressors at the time and afterward.

The researchers then followed up nearly 10 years later and asked participants about their health and mobility, including whether they suffered from any of 26 different chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and joint or pain conditions, among others. The participants were also asked to rate how much their health interfered with their daily life.

Those who held onto stress fared worse than those who let it go.

The results suggest that holding on to stress may be problematic for your health and learning how to better cope with stress and increase resiliency might be helpful in preventing these problems and protecting your health for the long term.

Image: © skynesher | GettyImages

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.