Science tells us that anxiety and stress can literally kill us. If we constantly get worked up over everything, research suggests that our risk of early death increases from a variety of causes, including cancer, heart disease, and even accidents and injuries. In other words, stress kills.
However, one of the biggest myths about stress and anxiety is that something “out there” causes it. Stress and anxiety are internal (i.e. brain and body) reactions to outside stimuli. Whether you believe it is chemical in nature (it is) or it is controlled by the mind/working brain (it is), the result is that anxiety literally is “all in your head.”
The other day I was waiting in line for some coffee, picking up some food for a group of is. My friend was in the car with me, literally experiencing the same stimuli as I. There were people back home chomping at the bit to eat, and our fifteen minute wait in line for three coffees was a tad frustrating to say the least. Nonetheless, I was happy and enjoying the time away from everything. I was looking forward to the delicious coffee, with sweet cream and mint-chocolate flavoring. I was happily anticipating the beautiful brown ambrosia hitting my tongue. My friend was getting anxious, and worried about people getting anxious back home. A friend even called, which he immediately predicted had to be about their pending impatience.
In the end, nobody back home was impatient, at least not that we were told. The phone call was about something else. And yes, the coffee was delicious. Had our friends at home been impatient, and the call been an anxiety-filled admonition, we still wouldn’t have made it through line any quicker. In other words, the only real issue boiled down to what was happening inside each of our heads. We literally experienced the same stimuli, with different reactions. Same stimuli, and different body physiology. I probably gained an hour of life, he probably lost one.
Everyday little things work us up. Things that don’t matter shorten our lives. So, what has shortened your life today? Below are a few things that have worked me or others up, that just aren’t worth losing days of precious life. Don’t laugh. These may not be your issues, but I am sure you have your own. Actually, do laugh. You’ll live longer.
– Bad Traffic
– A restaurant dish being less cheesy than expected
– Someone stopping for coffee on the way home from a trip
– Getting a phone call at the wrong time
– A cap gun being fired inside a house accidentally
– Being a few minutes late for church
– A magnet being moved a few inches on a refrigerator