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Over 30 years ago Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research, and her team of researchers began a study to look at the long-term patterns of stress in men. The team looked at two types of stress, the everyday hassles of such things as commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends, and signifcant life events, such as job loss or death of a spouse.
The study followed 1,293 men between 1989 and 2010 with a focus on how different types of stress could affect mortality.
At the end of the study period 43 percent of the men had died. Interestingly, about a third of the men who reported having few stressful life events had died, while closer to half of the men reporting moderate or high numbers of stressful events had died by the end of the study.
By comparison, those who reported few everyday hassels had the lowest mortality, at 28.7 percent. Just under half of the men reporting a mid-range number of hassels had died by the end of the study while 64.3 percent of the men reporting a high number of hassels had died.
The main headline here is that it doesn't matter if the stress comes from a major events in life or from minor problems, both can be deadly, it is in fact determined by how a person reacted to the stress. Aldwin says “It's not the number of hassles that does you in, it's the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems, taking things in your stride is key”.
Stressful life events are hard to avoid but men may live longer if they're able to control their attitudes about everyday hassels such as long queues at the shops or traffic jams on the drive home.
Perception is key. If you believe that a stressor is positive, then it will have a positive effect, while if you believe that a stressor is negative, it will have that effect on you.
As proven by statistical data Men are more likely to suffer the serious consequences of untreated stress, as a result of not seeking help or being open to discussing the problems they are experiencing.
Societal pressures and demands along with gender stereotypes have unfortunately created a world in which Men avoid dealing with their personal challenges, through fear of judgement, and the impact of this action, or lack of, can be devastating.
Men will often fall into one of two categories. There will be individuals who are experiencing the effects of Stress right now and are choosing to ignore it, play it down, hope it passes or push it to one side. There are also those who are suffering now but have not realised that these 'experiences' are due to Stress or mental health issues and believe it is simply part of life itself.
The most stressed-out people have the highest risk of premature death. Men in particualr are known for keeping their troubles inside and not reaching out for help. It's time for that to change.