New Findings About Stress and Health

New Findings About Stress and Health

By Elizabeth Scott, M

  • Updated on December 06, 2020
Stress can weigh you down more than you may realize. Here’s what research has to say about stress and your health. Michael Blann/ Getty Images

We all may intuitively know that stress can take a toll on our health, but stress and health research provide us with a clearer picture of how stress and health are linked, and what specific choices we can make to better manage stress and create greater health.

In recent years, there have been many interesting and informative research studies on stress and many articles on the topic on this site have linked extra resources to help you put what you learn into action in your own life.

While no single study provides the whole picture of the link between stress and health, the following list of studies does provide some important information that you can use right now. Let this stress and health research be your guide to changes you can make today for a healthier tomorrow.

Short-Term Yoga Can Bring Real Benefits

Yoga has a reputation for being a health-promoting practice, and research backs that reputation.1 While there are documented health benefits, this study shows that even a short-term yoga program can bring real benefits for overall well-being and productivity as well.2

Stress Makes The List As A Top Childhood Health Problem

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health ranked 23 health concerns for children, and guess where stress ranked? Learn more about stress and children’s health, and how to keep your children less stressed, as well as healthier and happier.

80% Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease? Here’s What To Do!

What does stress have to do with the factors that contribute to 80% of chronic disease? And how can we keep ourselves healthier? It turns out that many of the risk factors for major chronic diseases can be alleviated by techniques that also reduce stress.

In other words, certain stress management techniques can help you feel less stressed and lower your risk for serious illness by a whopping percentage.

Exercise Can Increase Resilience Toward Stress

We know that exercise is good for our bodies, but it’s also good for our stress levels! Researchers studied different types of athletes and found that physical activity can work as a buffer against stress and help build overall resilience to stress.

Threat Vs. Challenge: How You See Things Makes A Difference

Researchers have found that a key difference in how stressors at work translate into chronic stress for workers has to do with outlook and how we perceive things.4 If we feel challenged, we fare better than if we feel threatened.

Stress Can Increase Your Risk of Mortality

Researchers from King’s College in London examined data that show that self-reported stress is associated with increased all-cause mortality in the next 20 years–that stress is, in fact, statistically associated with a higher risk of death from various causes.5 The authors of the study believe this could be due to one or all of the following three reasons.

First, it may be that the impact of stress or distress on well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer create this link. Second, there might be direct, underlying psychosomatic pathways where stress can affect the immune system or autonomic function. 

Finally, there might be common factors that cause both—shared genes or early adversities that predict both stress and mortality from other causes independently.

Managing stress is an important aspect of staying healthy.

Laughter Can Help With Stress—Even Before It Happens

Laughter is a great stress reliever in that it’s fun, easy and free. It’s also effective even before it happens! That’s right, research shows that even merely anticipating laughter can affect stress hormones in a positive way.

Job Stress Can Hurt Your Heart

In a large study, researchers found that lack of control, job awareness, unexpected changes, job strain, and stress could lead to poor cardiac health.

Losing Weight May Improve Brain Functioning

Stress and weight gain have been linked in several ways–and now here’s another fact about weight that can lead to stress: being overweight may affect the functionality of your brain.8 Learn more about the link between weight, brain functioning, and stress, and find resources for a low-stress, fit and healthy life.

Stress Can Lead To Fatigue and Illness

People always talk about feeling ‘sick and tired’, but research shows that the two can go together, and both states are linked to stress!9 That’s why part of staying healthy is basic stress management.

If You Think You’re In Control, You May Fare Better

It’s not just what you experience, or even how you handle what you experience–the level of control you believe you have in your life also makes a difference in how you experience stress.

Your Negative Thoughts Really Can Hurt You

Your thoughts can affect your health in ways you may not realize. Because of this, it matters what your habitual thought patterns are. (But don’t worry–you can change them!)

One Poor Habit Can Lead To More

A few days of not taking care of yourself can add to stress but it can also add to bad habits in other areas of self-care! One study found that those who were sleep-deprived for a few days ended up eating poorly and exercising less–all things that can create and exacerbate stress!11 Learn more, and find ways to live healthier and stress less.