Feeling younger can help protect against stress and health decline!
In a recently published study published in Psychology and Aging researchers from the German Centre of Gerontology looked at data from 5,039 participants age 40 and older. They considered peoples’ perceived stress and their functional health. They also collected subjective age by asking “how old do you feel?”
The research found that participants who reported more stress had a increased risk for rapid decline in functional health over three years and the connection between stress and functional health increased as individuals were older.
Of note, subjective age seemed to provider a degree of protection. For those who felt younger than their actual age, the link between stress and declines in functional health were weaker.
Conclusions from this suggest that interventions that help people feel younger may result in reduced negative impact from stress and may improve health among older adults. On a larger social level, as we are able to counter negative age stereotypes and promote positivity around age could help people feel younger.
The research was not able to suggest an ideal gap between chronological age and subjective age. Further research is needed to clarify this point. This study references past findings that suggest it’s helpful to to feel younger up to a point but that benefits decrease as the gap between subjective and chronological age increases.
The lead author, Markus Wettstein, PhD, University of Heidelberg, said “Feeling younger to some extent might be adaptive for functional health outcomes, whereas ‘feeling too young’ might be less adaptive or even maladaptive.”
Davenport Psychology provides therapy and counseling services to gracefully aging adults in Sarasota and Venice FL. Call 941-321-1971 today if you want to talk about stress management or feelings younger.