Why you must learn to cope with stress

Change your understanding of how to cope with stress to improve your health.

by
Woman biting on a pencil
Masterfile

There’s no way to escape the everyday stressors that come as the result of being a fully functioning adult in society. If you have a job, a family, a mortgage, a nasty landlord, or just an aging but beloved cat that needs pricey dental work, you’re going to feel the mental pinch.

But while stress may be the inevitable consequence of simply being alive, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that it’s still wise to learn how to cope with everyday stresses in ways that positively affect your health and overall wellbeing.

A recent article on the health website TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow underlines the necessity of keeping stress in check if you want to preserve health as you age.

The article cites a recent study by researchers in the U.S. that wanted to see how differing stress-coping styles impacted a person’s health. The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging, focused on two types of coping styles, which they dubbed “Teflon” and “Velcro”. The Teflon types didn’t really let things get to them, while the Velcro types had a hard time shaking stress off and dwelled on the incidents.

Not surprisingly, the study, which followed up with the participants a decade later, discovered that the Teflon types had the overall advantage when it came to maintaining overall health. By contrast, the Velcro types appeared to not only bear an emotional toll from stress, but also a physical one.

Those people who let daily troubles with friends, family, colleagues or even strangers get to them were more likely to develop health problems as the years went on.

The article cites an increased risk among the Velcro types for such chronic health issues as arthritis and cardiovascular issues.

The study makes an obvious point: Brooding on a perceived slight or ruminating over a past trauma does not bode well for future health and happiness. Even more obvious: it really doesn’t serve present health and happiness either.

But how can a Velcro become Teflon? It may start with changing how you perceive a life complication. Meaning rather than freak out that Canada Revenue called about a late payment, sit down and formulate a payment plan.

It may also help to put your health and happiness in the forefront. It’s a lot easier to let life’s slings and arrows glance off your heart and mind when you put personal wellbeing at the top of your increasingly large To Do list.

Tell us, are you a Velcro, or a Teflon?