Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Healthy Relationship To Kill Unhealthy Stress

A new study underscores that a solid relationship may be good for your health. Researchers at the University of California's Los Angeles and Davis campuses have found that women in happy marriages recover more quickly from workday stress than women in unhappy ones.

Emotional lives

The research is a reminder that our bodies respond to what is happening in our emotional lives. "Maybe in addition in promising to go to on that diet, you could also promise to sit down with your spouse and talk to them," said Rena Repetti, a psychology professor at UCLA.

And as more people opt to remain single, it will be interesting to see if other close relationships in people's daily lives can provide similar physical benefits, said Davis professor Adrience Nishina.

New patterns

Nishina and Repetti, along with University of California Los Angeles doctoral student Darby Saxbe, wrote the study on stress and married life in Health Psychology. They found that the stress hormone Cortisol, which normally rises and falls throughout the day, followed different patterns depending on gender and the state of the marriages.

Men, whether in happy or unhappy marriages, tended to rebound quickly from a busy, stressful workday, their cortisol levels showed.So did women in happy marriages. But women in less happy marriages rebounded more slowly indicating that it took them longer to shed workday stress.

"We know everyday stress is associated with more health problems in the future," so this differing cortisol response may help explain a gender-related twist in health and marriage, said Saxbe, the study's lead author.

Effects of marriage

A number of other studies have found that married men tend to live longer and recover from illnesses better than single ones. For women, the effect is more nuanced, with the health boost generally going only to women in happier marriages.

Social well-being

Women in unhappier marriages also had less variation in cortisol levels throughout the day, a pattern other researchers have sometimes linked to health problems. Other research has found that people with wider social networks have a stronger immune response.

If there is one message from this work that people can take with them, Saxbe said, it is this: "For your well being, having a good relationship is as important as eating your vegetables and doing your jogging."

So, untangle all your relationship problems and start looking for a stress buster in the arms of your beloved. If you are still unable to cope up with stress and looking for more ways out, you may find some relief and stress management tips here!

1 comment:

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