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Jul. 30 2010 - 11:49 pm | 40 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Chilling out for August

Sunrise over a lake near Leybourne. Sunrise ov...

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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.


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    I’ve been a writer since probably before you were born: newspapers, magazines, trade publications and websites beginning with Beliefnet.com’s start-up issue. Working as a hospice volunteer and with AIDS groups led to a 1999 book Dying Unafraid (still in print and apropos) and more involvement with end-of-life causes. This is how to end any cocktail party conversation: “I write a lot about end-of-life issues.” So with Boomers and Beyond I’m working backwards and sideways and wherever concerns of these generations lead. I grew up in beautiful downtown Ashland, VA) and migrated through Atlanta eventually to San Francisco where I live with my final husband, Bud (my college Senior Dinner Dance date before we lost track of each other for 37 years.) Manhattan/Asheville/Atlanta kids, parents of my five flawless grandchildren, keep me attuned to Boomerhood. Full rather braggadocio disclosure: the Manhattan daughter Sandy is married to T/S super-contributor Miles O’Brien.

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