Studies on Stress. Part I

Research studies on stress demonstrate how stress can affect our health, mind, behaviors and life

Stress has always been an interesting matter for researches due to its large area affected by it: physical and mental health, behaviour, habits, ways to react in concrete situations, and finally – life.

You’ve probably heard a lot about how stress can affect your health but below you’ll find some concrete examples of research studies on stress. Here is a selection of best known researches and studies related to stress and their results.

Exercise can improve resilience and resistance towards stress

What is good for our bodies is also great for our stress levels. A research on athletes found that physical activity can be a wall between you and stress. It works as a buffer against stress helping at the same time to built overall resistance to stress. It’s not necessary to be a professional athlete to show that kind of results towards stress. A regular physical activity (3 times a week) is considered to be enough for resilience mechanism to start. So if you have regular physical activity or at least use to climb the stairs instead of using the lift or have long everyday walks, you’ll be more protected than those who don’t do any of the things above.

Even a short-term yoga can have good benefits in fighting with stress

The study on employees that practiced yoga once a week for 1 hour (6 weeks) proves that yoga can help improve confidence, increase life purpose and satisfaction, rise energy levels and resilience to stress. This British study shows that even short-time yoga can have important benefits on stress levels and on managing with stressful situations.

A good laughter can help when stress occurs or can help even before you laugh

Researches from Loma Linda University in California studied how cortisol, adrenaline and dopac (a brain chemical that helps produce adrenaline) levels of male volunteers were deviating from initial index during and after a humorous event that they were anticipating. Scientists found that cortisol was reduced by almost 40%, adrenaline by 70% and dopac by 39%. And all that even before the laughter began.

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Stress can actually reshape the brain

According to a research emotional or physical tension can cause a neuron wrap. Stress make neurons shrink or grow. The most worrying thing is that stress in early life (even in womb) can lead to undesirable changes. Prenatal stress can change the brain forever having a great impact on later behaviour, on ability to remember or learn things.

According to Fred Helmstetter, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, long lasting chronic stress physically affects the brain. The study held on laboratory mice that were restrained for 6 hours daily, for 21 days consecutively, without food or water, showed that mice’s hippocampus (region responsible for memory and learning) shrank by 3%.

Another study on adopted children from orphanages abroad show that stress brought an increased activity in amygdale – the region responsible in formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. They all showed long-lasting changes in ability to regulate emotions.

Negative emotions can weaken your health

Your negative emotions can affect your general health, the fact being showed in different studies. Pessimists were shown to experience less happiness, poorer health and less success.

Read in the second part about other studies on stress.