A study published in Psychological Science suggests that people who are able to let things go are healthier and less likely to report physical problems and limitations later in life than those who carry stressful emotions from one day to the next. In fact, even routine stressors – an argument, car trouble, a problem at work, for example – can impact long-term health if it causes negative feelings that linger, according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who conducted the study.
They analyzed data from the nationally representative Midlife in the United States Survey, an eight-day survey in which respondents reported how many hours a day they felt negative emotions like anger, irritability, fear, or loneliness, and the stressors they experienced. Ten years later, study participants completed another survey assessing chronic illnesses and physical limitations, including information about the degree to which they could perform basic and everyday tasks.
The researchers found that lingering negative emotions in response to stress were associated with a greater number of health problems after 10 years, even after they accounted for same-day emotional responses and average number of stressors. Next time you’re feeling stressed, remember Elsa’s advice in Frozen and, “Let it go.”