Stress Can Take Over Your Life
Stress is a killer. Or at least it can be. But new research on stress suggests that getting together with another stressed out individual can lower both of your stress levels.
Imagine that you’re working on a huge project at work. You’re the head of your department and there is a lot to do. How stressed are you right now? Now bring in one or two of your co-workers to work on the project with you and while it still might be somewhat difficult, at least you have other people to share the stress with you. USC has found that even just talking to someone about your stress can help you cope. “The results show that sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat, according to the study. In other words, when you’re facing a threatening situation, interacting with someone who is feeling similarly to you decreases the stress you feel.”
The Power of Being Together
Our social interactions have more of an impact on us than just getting rid of a little bit of stress. While that is a huge benefit, understanding loneliness (or isolation or singularity or whatever you might want to call it) might motivate us to be around others more often. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, has studied loneliness and even wrote a book on it.
“We want to understand what importance our social connections have to people's biology. Early in human history, our species's survival required the protection of families and tribes. Isolation meant death. The painful feeling known as loneliness is a prompt to reconnect to others….. Loneliness shows up in measurements of stress hormones, immune function, and cardiovascular function. Lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely. Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing us to premature aging.”
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