Managing stress will go a long way towards helping you live longer, according to new research.
Stress is directly linked to changes in your personality and fuels the likelihood you will take part in a self-destructive spiral, says the study the Future of Aging for financial firm Axa by Dr Peter Joshi.
He reveals a sixth of how long someone lives is defined by their genetics, while the other factors are external, such as lifestyle.
Among the largest external factors affecting longevity is stress.
How you handle the stress in your life can lead to personality changes, with the degree of change linked to the severity of the stress.
Anger and swearing
Stress can often lead to anger, and 46% of 2,000 people interviewed in the study admitted they were always stressed and often felt angry.
People who said they were always stressed agreed they were a third likely to swear more and twice as likely to cry compared to those who are only sometimes stressed.
Axa’s 2018 Stress Index found that 72% of us are stressed at least some of the time during a typical week, highlighting how prevalent the issue is throughout society.
The study found that stress not only leads to a change in behaviour, but triggers them taking part in unhealthy activity. For example, 44% of people who said they were always stressed regularly stay up late, while a third eat unhealthily.
Cycle of stress
A third of the always stressed group said they spent more time at home, a quarter had stopped eating regularly and a fifth engaged in irresponsible spending.
Failing to deal with stress led people into feeling more stressed, with 87% worried about their health and 10% admitting they drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
“There are a myriad of ways people react to stress, but unfortunately a lot of the time we take part in activities that are harmful to both ourselves and those around us,” Eugene Farrell, a mental health expert with AXA PPP healthcare
“Unhealthy eating, getting into arguments, or shutting down completely is more common than most people think. The issue here is people are turning to a short term ‘fix’ instead of trying to understand the core issues that are causing their stress in the first place – be it work, finances, relationships or health.”