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Evidence that Love Does Conquer Fear

Remembering that you’re loved can reduce your brain’s threat response.

Everyone faces stressful times, but new research shows one way to mentally fortify yourself beforehand. Researchers found that if subjects are shown brief images of people receiving love and support just prior to seeing threatening images, the brain`s threat monitor (the amygdala) doesn`t fire. The love reminder helps shield and restore nerves during stress, particularly for anxious people.

PositiveTip: For peak mental health, meditate on the love of others and remember that God’s “perfect love casts out fear”.

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Do Healthy Habits Protect Against Stress?

A good lifestyle may protect us from life stresses.

Cellular aging is thought to be accelerated by major life stressors. Researchers studied the impact of stressors in middle-aged women over a one year period. They found that a significant amount of change in telomere length could be predicted by life stressors (such as divorce, job loss, or caring for an elderly parent). However, when subjects ate, slept and exercised regularly the stress they experienced did not seem to impact telomere length.

PositiveTip: Choose to eat, sleep, and exercise regularly to counteract the impact of life stresses.

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A Surprising Reason for Migraine Strikes

Relaxation after high stress may trigger migraines.

Researchers may know why migraines sometimes strike the weekend after a stressful week. The debilitating pain of a migraine headache is five times more likely to strike in the first six hours after a reduction in heightened stress. Evidence suggests that the stress-hormone cortisol, which spikes during heightened stress, may trigger a migraine as its blood levels drop during relaxation from the stress.

PositiveTip: Deep breathing, walk breaks and other stress management techniques can avoid chronic elevated stress and the potential migraine fallout.

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Your State of Mind and Heart Risk

Easily distressed people may have higher risks of heart disease.

Preliminary research in Denmark has found that easily distressed individuals were significantly more likely to develop fatal or nonfatal heart disease during a 15-year follow-up period. This vulnerability was measured on a 12-item questionnaire. The authors stated that this measure could be a marker for some other factors, but stress is a known risk factor. More study is needed to control for confounders such as diet, alcohol intake, and stress biomarkers.

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Stressed Seniors Ripe for Fatal Strokes

Stress and negative emotions can have profound effects on health.

A recent study involving Chicago seniors shows that depression, stress, and a negative outlook on life may predict the risk of dying from a hemorrhagic stroke, but not an ischemic stroke. The most distressed seniors were 2.97 fold (P < 0.0001) more likely to die from a stroke compared to the least distressed after almost 7 years of follow-up. This association persisted after adjusting for other stroke factors. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms of these findings.

PositiveTip: Attitudes affect our health. Are you struggling with depression? Seek help immediately!

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Stress at Work May Increase CHD

Being stressed at work increases risk of CHD.

A recent review of European studies has found that workers who report feeling job stress have an almost 25% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease compared to those reporting no stress in the workplace. These findings hold true even after adjusting for lifestyle and demographic factors. This study only measured job strain at baseline, suggesting that several repeated assessments over time could be a stronger predictor of CHD.

PositiveTip: Job stress is real, but "whistling while you work" could reduce your perception of stress and reduce your risk of CHD.

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Worry May Speed Aging

Those who worry a lot may be the equivalent of 6 years older than those who worry less.

An observational study of more than 5,000 women in the Nurses Health Study strongly suggests that chronic panic, fears, and other anxiety disorders may contribute to the premature shortening of telomeres. The difference between those with higher stress scores was comparable to women 6 years older than those with lower stress scores. Controlling our stresses may extend life!

PositiveTip: "Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble." (Psalm 119.165)

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Alcohol Prolongs Psychological Anxiety of Stress

Alcohol consumption to relieve stress only prolongs the agony.

People often use alcohol as a way of coping with life's stress. New research indicates this may actually just bring more unpleasantness. Although alcohol reduces the cortisol secretion of the stress response, it also prolongs the negative psychological anxiety of stress and takes away the pleasurable effects of alcohol. So stress and alcohol feed the worst in each other, leading to an increased risk of developing stress-related diseases and alcohol addiction.

PositiveTip: Try positive ways of dealing with stress, such as going for walks, doing deep breathing exercises, or talking to a friend. An often overlooked but powerful tool is prayer.

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Physical Activity Reduces Upper Respiratiory Tract Infection

Exercise reduces upper respiratory tract infection in men and women especially under stress.

A Swedish study of more than 1500 men and women found that moderate to high levels of physical activity was associated with reduced upper respiratory tract infections. Benefits of physical activity were greater for those under high stress.

PositiveTip: Exercise regularly. Brisk walking is an excellent form of physical activity, and improves immunity and lung function while reducing stress.