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People who dwell on the minor stressors of yesterday are more likely to develop chronic illness and physical limitations later on compared to those who let them go, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.
“Minor stressors are events that happen regularly that can be resolved in a single day,” says study author Kate Leger, a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine. (Think: A flat tire, an argument that will blow over quickly, or a canceled workout.)
If something happens that’s less than ideal, it’s okay to initially respond with disappointment or frustration. But if you’re still holding on to those emotions the next morning, they can encourage unhealthy habits, like skipping a workout or opting for a less nutritious meal, Leger says. Down the road, that negativity can activate stress-related physiological systems and lead to long-term problems like digestive and heart conditions and even limit your physical abilities as you age.
On days when you're dealing with minor stressors, practice mindfulness meditation before bed or when you wake up to wipe the proverbial slate clean. “Focusing on the present, especially the things you’re grateful for, has several benefits, including improving your mood and overall wellbeing,” Leger says.