Thursday, February 21, 2013

Active vs Passive Stress

Someone asked the other day about the difference between active and passive stress and the resulting impact of each on the body's immune system. My brain's opinion is that active stress involves something that you are actively involved with (e.g., you are meeting a deadline of some type, you are choosing to exercise, you are taking a class at the Junior College). If the outcome is successful and your life is in balance, that type of short-term active stress can actually boost immune system function.  On the other hand, passive stress (e.g., watching a scary movie--which is the reason I never do--, a situation that you can't do much about such as the 9-11 disaster, or chronic and prolonged stress) can suppress immune system function. You can always do something about almost anything. And when you do something, it helps to moderate the stress of feeling passively helpless. For example, when bad things happen you can acknowledge what happened and then try to identify something you can learn from the experience or something for which you can be grateful.

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