“It is optimism Vs pessimism!“– Paul Ebeling
People who believe their bodies and minds will break down with age create a self-fulfilling prophecy, a recent study suggests.
Researchers found that older adults with a dim outlook on aging tended to report more physical health symptoms on days when they were stressed out than on less stressful days.
In contrast, people with more of a “golden years” perspective seemed to have some protection against daily stress. They actually reported fewer health problems on days where they felt more stressed than usual.
“We’ve known that there’s a strong relationship between perceived stress and physical health,” said lead researcher, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, in Corvallis.
Numerous studies have found that when people habitually feel stressed-out they may eat poorly, skip exercise and have long-term consequences like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
But the new findings suggest that a brighter outlook on aging can be a buffer against the physical effects of daily stress.
That is not to say that people are to blame for their physical symptoms, she noted, or that anyone should ignore symptoms with a smile.
But people should be aware that their perceptions of the aging process may affect how they feel, and “reframe” that story if needed.
The findings published recently in the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences are based on 105 Oregonians aged 52 to 88. Over 100 days, they completed daily surveys on their stress levels and a range of physical symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, shortness of breath and upset stomach.
At the outset, participants completed a standard questionnaire on attitudes toward aging. It asked whether they agreed with statements like, “As you get older, you are less useful.”
On average, the study found, people tended to report more physical symptoms on days where their perceived stress was higher than their personal norm.
However, it turned out that connection depended on whether people had a positive or negative outlook on aging: If it was the “glass half-empty” variety, high-stress days brought more physical symptoms. That was not the case for people with a more positive outlook on aging.
The Big Q: What shapes a person’s perceptions of aging?
The Big A: Throughout life, people internalize messages from the media as well as folks in their lives, consciously or not.
If your parents or grandparents remained upbeat and vibrant as they grew older, your ideas on aging are probably different from someone whose older relatives were riddled with health problems, or complained about aging.
But attitudes toward aging probably also reflect a person’s general disposition, according to a senior scholar with George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, in Fairfax, Va.
Looks to me like this is really getting at optimism Vs pessimism.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Think young, Live lively