Friday, April 28, 2006

2422 Keeping stress levels low

When I read the Thursday Thirteens, I'm aware that people, women particularly, use this list to let out their frustrations about parenting, work, in-laws, traffic, phobias or spouses. They say it's relieving the stress, but is it? I noticed a little blurb in the magazine Natural Health, April 2006. "A study published in Psychological Science suggests that contemplating personal values in the moments preceding a tense situation can keep stress levels low, physiologically as well as psychologically. Study subjects who affirmed their values before delivering a speech and then being harassed measured significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared with a control group. Continuously elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, autoimmune diseases, and depression."

Could you be making your stress level rise by giving legs to it in your blog? If you're going for a tough job review, or a family reunion with folks you don't like, try writing down the 10 simple pleasures meme first and carrying it with you.

Pew Research Center has studied happiness (and actually I know most of you really are happy, and are just listing 13 gripes because you want to fill a list and you did movies last week). Did you know 84% of Americans list themselves as "Very Happy" or "Pretty Happy?" So here's what the folks at Pew found: "Married people are happier than unmarrieds. People who worship frequently are happier than those who don't. Republicans are happier than Democrats. Rich people are happier than poor people. Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks. Sunbelt residents are happier than those who live in the rest of the country. We also found some interesting non-correlations. People who have children are no happier than those who don't, after controlling for marital status. Retirees are no happier than workers. Pet owners are no happier than those without pets."

But before you get carried away on the "rich vs. poor" question, consider this. Pew has been doing this happiness survey since 1972--more than 30 years--and it doesn't change. But adjusted for inflation, Americans have more than doubled their per capita income. Americans have more money now than they did 30 years ago, but we're no happier. (Although if it went much higher than 84% you'd have to wonder what's in the brownies, wouldn't you?)

1 comment:

Natalie said...

When I focus on the positive aspects of a situation, not to the point of being Pollyanna-ish, I handle things much better. It's interesting that the studies agree. I'm glad.