The Health Impacts of Stress

Self care: it seems to be the theme of our modern day. Celebrities get applauded for taking time for themselves, and the internet roars with the collective chant of “treat your self!”

Yet, self care is not solely for internet memes. In fact, many senior citizens are finding a new form of self care, and health care, through doing a very simple action: taking a break from constant news. 

The Connection Between Frequent News & Stress

This may seem counterintuitive: you may think, how can turning off the news be self care? Is not knowing any better? Isn’t it our civic duty to stay informed?

Yet, there seems to be a correlation with anxiety-induced symptoms as well as frequent news watching. A 2018 study by the American Psychological Association discovered that prolonged exposure to the news actually changes our mood and heightens our collective stress levels. 

Gram Davey, editor in chief of the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology states that “Our studies showed that this change in mood exacerbates the viewer’s own personal worries, even when those worries are not directly relevant to the news stories being broadcast.”

The Health Impacts of Stress

With the understanding that prolonged news consumption causes stress, we can now delve into the health impact that stress causes on seniors. It is well known that heightened levels of anxiety can cause health concerns for the elderly. Namely, the hormonal release that is connected to stress has been linked to several ailments. The aforementioned 2018 study stated how cortisol, one of these hormones, can bring about cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other physical ailments. 

It should be noted that the previous study was based on the general population and not targeted specifically at the elderly. Yet, within this group, there is an understanding that heightened anxieties can cause specific problems within senior circles. These problems manifest in the form of insomnia, muscle pain, frequent urination, or imbalanced eating habits. It can also cause significant stressors on mental wellbeing, with many seniors stating they feel “depressed, restless, or forgetful.”

Taking Breaks When You Can

Thus, with the understanding that our current 24/7 news cycle is causing stress, and that stress is causing health concerns, many seniors are “treating themselves” to taking a little break. Laurie Archbald-Pannone, a physician in geriatric medicine at UVA Health, recommends that seniors take a news diet. She states that seniors should read an update in the morning, and an update at night. For health and wellbeing, she states that no one needs to watch more than 30 minutes to an hour of daily news.

If your elderly loved one could benefit from in home health care, don’t wait to speak with a nursing agency about your care needs.