When today’s boomers, not to mention today’s pre-boomers (the new-chic word for geezer) were young, stress had not been invented. Oh, moms got frazzled with everything, dads (and occasionally moms too) came home bushed after a long hard day at the office, office buddies groused about too much work for too little pay – but nobody had figured out that Stress was messing with our lives.
Now we know.
Over on the PositScience site – this is a company that follows such things – Karen Merzenich reports on a Wired magazine article by Jonah Lehrer; it’s not online yet, but parts have been on Lehrer’s own blog. Lehrer has found, in talking with primatologist Robert Sapolsky, that stress is bad for one’s health even if one happens to be a baboon
Throughout decades of research studying baboon populations in Africa, Saposkly noticed that low social position created stress and poorer health in some of the baboons. Studies in humans have shown much the same thing. Specifically, things like having a mean boss or not having any control over your work contribute to a sustained stress response in your brain which negatively affects health and longevity. To paraphrase, Lehrer essentially says that stress doesn’t make you sick- but if you are sick, it will make it worse.
This news comes not long after an article in Psychology Today, by Howard Fillit M.D., about stress and its long-terms effects:
Over the course of a lifetime, the effects of chronic stress can accumulate and become a risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies have shown that stress, and particularly one’s individual way of reacting to stress (the propensity to become “dis-stressed” often found in neurotic people for example), increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
For boomers, pre-boomers, elders and geezers, if stress has been accumulating all these years, it’s probably a good time to change. Perhaps, just chill out. Chilling out is something else that wasn’t invented until after stress was… but it is a handy response for these days.
Happy August from Boomers and Beyond.