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Sweating the small stuff may harm your mental health

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." But that may not be the case when it comes to daily stress, according to findings recently published in Psychological Science.

In the study, researchers analyzed survey data from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE). Study results showed that minor sources of stress, not just major life events, can have long-term consequences on mental-health outcomes. According to a UC Irvine release:

.. [R]esearchers found that participants’ negative emotional responses to daily stressors – such as arguments with a spouse or partner, conflicts at work, standing in long lines or sitting in traffic – predicted psychological distress and self-reported anxiety/mood disorders 10 years later.

“How we manage daily emotions matters to our overall mental health,” said [lead researcher Susan Charles, PhD, UC Irvine professor of psychology & social behavior.] “We’re so focused on long-term goals that we don’t see the importance of regulating our emotions. Changing how you respond to stress and how you think about stressful situations is as important as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.”

The results were based on data from 711 men and women between 25 and 74.

The study builds on earlier work showing that how people react to everyday stressors, rather than the stress itself, influences physical chronic-health problems later in life, such as pain and cardiovascular conditions.

Previously: How does your body respond to stress?, Using an app to get a better handle on what stresses you out, Study suggests anticipation of stress may accelerate cellular aging and Workplace stress and how it influences health
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