Your attitude to ageing – more than a passing thought?
We’re almost continuously bombarded with tips and advice about the secrets of remaining young but have you ever considered how your attitude towards ageing could impact you in other ways?
Ageing and resilience
New research from North Carolina State University (NCSU) examines the link between attitudes towards ageing and resilience. The team at NCSU were curious to know why previous research examining older adults attitudes towards ageing and resilience had shown mixed results. Lead researcher, Jennifer Bellingtier explains,
“… some studies have found that older adults are less resilient than younger adults at responding to stress; some have found that they’re more resilient; and some have found no difference … we wanted to see whether attitudes toward aging could account for this disparity in research findings. In other words, are older adults with positive attitudes about aging more resilient than older adults with negative attitudes?”
Forty three participants, aged between 60 and 96 were asked to complete a daily questionnaire regarding stress and negative emotions they’d experienced over a period of eight days. Researchers factored for how optimistic and upbeat participants generally were in order to establish whether attitudes specifically towards ageing influenced resilience. Participants were asked a series of questions at the beginning of the research to establish their attitudes towards ageing. For example, researchers asked if participants felt they were as useful now as they were when they were younger, or whether they were as happy now as when they were younger.
Bellingtier and her team found that older people with a more positive attitude towards ageing were more resilient in the face of stressful events. The older people with a more positive attitude did not show a significant increase in negative emotions on more stressful days. Participants with a more negative attitude towards ageing showed significantly increased negative emotions in relation to stressful events.
Implications of the research
The way we think about ageing has a very real impact on our ability to manage stress as we get older. Stress has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The research illustrates the importance of managing our emotions and cultivating the skills that allow us to effectively deal with stress. We’re are all able to practice and develop the techniques that enable us to enhance a feeling of calm and quickly move away from negative emotions rather than dwelling on whatever has caused us to feel that way. Why not try Positive Change Guru’s ‘how mindful are you? assessment to get started on managing your negative emotions.
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