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Spring 2024 Edition


Study Links Propensity to Worry to Early Death

Your personality may dictate how long you’ll live. After studying 1,633 men over a 12-year period, researchers at Purdue University determined that chronic, excessive worrying can take several years off your life. Negative thinking triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that can be dangerous when elevated for long periods of time, says study author Dan Mroczek, Ph.D. Unhealthy coping techniques, such as overeating or drinking to excess, may also contribute.

“We observed that neuroticism levels are a clear indicator of how long one can expect to live,” Mroczek said. The good news is that participants in the study who found a way to reduce their worry lived longer. “Neurotic men whose levels dropped over time had a better chance at living longer,” Mroczek said. “They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused.”

How can you reduce the negative impact of chronic, excessive worrying to your health and longevity? Mroczek said that those who worry excessively can learn to deal with their potentially negative personality trait in a positive way. “For example, very neurotic people can work toward dealing better with stress,” he said. “They can seek treatment, take up yoga, schedule daily walks to help themselves unwind, listen to calming music or even meditate.”

3 strategies to decrease worry and improve your health

If you are concerned about the amount of worry and anxiety you may be feeling, below are three strategies to help:

Control your worry. Select a half-hour “worry period” that will take place at the same time and place each day. Observe your worrying throughout your day. When you “catch” a worry beginning, postpone it to your worry period, reminding yourself that you will have time later to worry about it and there is no use upsetting yourself now. When you get to your worry period, spend 30 minutes thinking about your concerns and what you can do about them. Try not to dwell on what “might” happen. Focus more on what’s really happening. Distinguish between worries over which you have little or no control, and worries about problems that you can influence. If you can influence the problem, do some problem-solving and take action. If the worry is largely beyond your control, recognize that little or nothing can be done and that you are only making yourself feel bad by worrying.

What causes you to feel anxious? Try to pinpoint what it is you are feeling anxious about. If you can recognize what’s really bothering you, what can you do to eliminate or minimize the situation in some way so that it isn’t so stressful? More important, how can you react differently so you won’t be so affected by this situation?

Exercise and learn relaxation techniques. Not only can exercise and relaxation techniques ease tension and relax the body, they can give you a break from worry. For exercise, focus on aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling. Relaxation techniques may include muscle relaxation, yoga, biofeedback, meditation or deep breathing. Choose what works best for you.

Getting help

If your worry or anxiety seems excessive, uncontrollable or is significantly interfering with your daily functioning, contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for CONFIDENTIAL counseling, referrals or information. We’re here to help you or your dependent family members with most-any personal, family or work-related concern. If you need help, why not call a professional EAP counselor today? We’re here to help.


Healthy Exchange is © Jenican Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice on personal wellness matters. Please consult your physician for medical advice.