Marital trouble can accelerate the declining health associated with aging.
Although much research has indicated that married people are often healthier, an unhappy marriage can lead to heart disease and other health problems. A new study shows that this can be particularly damaging to the health of the elderly.
The study looked at a survey of over 1,000 married men and women who were interviewed several times over an eight-year period. They were asked questions about their marital quality, and also asked to rate their physical health.
When the researchers divided the subjects into narrow age groups, they found that only the older seniors who endured stormy marriages suffered from noticeably poorer health. Conversely, older adults with happier marriages were the only ones to show health benefits.Health problems due to chronic stress can build up over the years, and older adults are also more vulnerable to such problems due to age-related immune function decline and other issues.
Mounting evidence is proving, beyond a doubt, that your emotions -- both positive and negative -- play a far greater role in your physical health than conventional medicine ever imagined. Lingering hostility and running arguments with your spouse certainly do your health no good.
This is yet one more piece of evidence that happier people are also generally healthier. Stress is a key factor in any illness, and it plays a major role in the health of nearly every patient I see.
To completely eliminate stress from your life is virtually impossible, and probably unhealthy. It is not that stress itself is unhealthy; without stress we would be bored to death. Exercise is a type of stress, and without it our health rapidly deteriorates.
Many people complain about all the stressors in their life, but you can change how you interact with these stressors.
If you didn't have any stress you wouldn't grow. It is not about not having stress at all, it's rather that you don't stick around in it, and you use systems and strategies to help you exit it as soon as possible.
Stress can actually help you, very similar to exercise. If you didn't exercise at all you would quickly become out of shape. Likewise, if you had no stress in your life you could be bored out of your mind.
So it is not stress that is the problem, but the way you handle it. If you don't learn how to deal with stress in a healthy way, your brain may actually "rewire itself," altering its connections in such a way so it affects the way the brain functions.
So what can you do about it?
Clearly the key is not to eliminate the stress itself but rather adjust your body's ability to tolerate it. There are many effective tools that will help you address this, including a deep spiritual commitment. So find the tool that works for you and stick with it.