Chronic stress can lead to debilitating diseases and shorten your life by a considerable number of years. In one large longitudinal study that followed the participants for life, the negatively focused participants had 18 fewer healthy years. They not only died about 10 years earlier, they also spent about 8 years being sick when the positively focused participants were able to enjoy 18 healthier years. In the positively focused group the debilitating end of life diseases came at much older ages and much closer to the time of death.
Sometimes people don’t want to live longer because they don’t want to linger in unhealthy bodies. If you tend to be negatively focused, stressed, and unhappy your chances of living more unhealthy years is much greater.
Every bit of that is a choice you make. Focusing on the negative is a habit of thought that can be changed. Stress is not a matter of the situation, but of how we respond to the situation. There are skills that can increase your resilience, emotional intelligence and decrease (literally) the amount of stress you feel without changing the circumstances.
The great news is that when you decrease stress, happiness shows up. In recent years there has been a great deal of research on the benefits of happiness. Guess what? They are the same as the benefits from reducing stress. Why? Because stress and happiness are two ends of the same stick, they are on the same continuum.
High stress decreases your brain function. You’re literally not as smart when you’re stressed as you are when you’re not stressed.
In other words, you’re smarter when you’re happy.
High stress diminishes your immune function.
In other words, when you’re happy your immune system is working well.
Your digestive function, endocrine system, and more have the same relationship with stress and happiness. When stressed they don’t work as well, and when happy they are at their optimum.
Even the decisions you make about risky behavior, exercise, food, and sleep are better when you’re happy and worse when you’re stressed.
Many undesirable behaviors are simply attempts to reduce stress by someone who does not know a healthier way.
Give yourself or your employees the gift of greater well-being.