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Friday, September 10, 2010

Aging, Stress and Interpersonal Relations

Over the last few days I have experienced more than usual amounts of stress.  First, I am preparing to return to the classroom. As an instructor, my need to have everything prepared increases stress and affects my memory.  For example, yesterday I went to my upstairs office three times to see if I had completed my Introductory Psychology Course Outline.
          The other more extreme experience occurred two days ago when I drove my car over at the Muriel Arnason Library to see the room where I will be presenting my Retirement Workshop next week.  When, came back outside, I put my key in the ignition. It would not start the engine and the gears would not shift.  Needless to say my stress-response system kicked in and the cortisol began pumping. And there was no one to “fight” and nowhere to run away. My wonderful wife and I only live about fifteen minutes, by bicycle, from the Library. I called her and she rode over. I was so stressed that I could not take effective action. She took over and movement began. I waited for an hour till Roadside Help arrived. Ten minutes later we were at the repair shop. The car has now been fixed and my brain has rebalanced.
         It has been found that social support helps buffer us against stress by helping decrease blood pressure and it helps us live longer. On the other hand poor interpersonal relationships increase our wear and tear and shortens our lives.  Obviously our stress responses, in a short-term “fight or flight” situation, might save our lives.
         It has been suggested that stress experience coupled with good social relationships is a factor in helping us learn to recover more quickly from discouragement.  Aging inevitably exposes us to stressful situations. Survival and adaptation may contribute to our wisdom and personal growth.


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