It’s not hard to get caught up in stressful situations. Maybe it’s your family giving you a hard time, you’ve got a major project at work, your health is in jeopardy, the little daily pressures are just adding up—whatever it is, the stress is there hanging over you.
Which is why it can be so interesting to meet people who are just happy. They seem to let daily stresses roll off their back without a care in the world, truly enjoying life. And while you might marvel at their ability to avoid getting sucked into the stress web, the reality is that you can do it too!
People experience stress for different reasons, and a lot of it comes down to their personality. Everyone gets stressed from family, work, or health issues at some point, but some stress is also a product of personality. For example, people with neurotic personalities experience more stress and exhibit traits like compulsive worrying, jealousy, and moodiness. People without these traits experience less stress, and as a result, are at lower risk for some serious health conditions. And recently, researchers added Alzheimer’s to this list of serious health conditions.
Researchers followed 800 women for almost 40 years to see how, or if, personality could influence the risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Participants underwent a series of personality and memory tests to determine levels of neuroticism, whether they were introverts or extroverts, and if they had experienced any long-term stress that lasted a month or longer and was related to work, family issues, or health.
Over the trial period, 19% of the women developed dementia, and the ones who scored highest on the tests for neuroticism and showed long-term distress had twice the risk of getting dementia than those who scored lowest. The highest-risk group were those who were easily distressed and introverted, but as an individual risk factor, being shy or outgoing played no role in dementia development.
These results show us the more stress a person has, with less outlets, the more at-risk they are for dementia and Alzheimer’s. I think the moral of the story is that it’s important to identify the things in your life that you can control and the things you can’t.
If you’re worrying about potential outcomes you can’t control—or aren’t even real—getting jealous of other people, and overreacting to any little problem you encounter, you’re putting your brain under a lot of pressure and it’s taking a toll. You might not experience the effects now—other than the discomfort of stress and worrying—but it will impact your brain in more severe ways in the future. Try to remember that when you find yourself sweating the small stuff that either doesn’t matter or you can’t control.
If you display neurotic tendencies, try hard to remember you can’t control everything so it’s not worth your while. To take your mind off things, try taking up a new hobby or doing something you enjoy. At the end of the day, enjoying the majority of the moments that make up your life can defend you from Alzheimer’s. Every time you feel yourself getting out of sorts over something you can’t control, remember these three words: relax, unwind, smile!
Source for Today’s Article:
Haines, C., “Personality and Alzheimer’s Risk: MedlinePlus Health News Video,” MedlinePlus web site, October 2, 2014; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/videos/news/Jealously_Alzheimers_100214-2.html.