Stress can be our friend if we know how to use it properly.

We have more receptors to store fat from cortisol, the stress hormone, around our bellies than anywhere else in our bodies. Cortisol loves to store fat. A little fat does not impact your health or longevity. A little bit more can begin that journey to obesity, diabetes, and a shortened life.

Stress and Longevity Stress affects the quality of our life, now and in the future. I have told many audiences over the years that it is not the stress that is critical, but what you do with it. When you hang on to it and never let it go it can affect your health.

The biggest influencers on life expectancy are smoking and diabetes. Many people smoke to reduce stress. Many stressed people are overweight. It is like a trifecta – smoking, diabetic, and stressed.

Physical stress (think ‘exercise’) increases HGH (human growth hormone) levels in your body. Emotional stress (without physical involvement) has been tested with mixed results. Sometimes HGH is increased and sometimes not. It is best to keep our HGH levels as high as possible. HGH levels decline with aging.

Chronic, prolonged stress is not good for the body. In many cases, it is not what is happening to the person, but what the person responds to. Each one of us controls how much stress we accept from other people or events.

Stress can be internally or externally generated. Stress can be mental, physical, or emotional. Stress can aggravate health problems. If there is stress in your life, you should do something daily to remove or reduce stress.

YouTube has great videos to manage stress. Depending on the stressor, it is best to remove yourself from that person or thing causing your stress. That is number one! Why give control of your emotions to someone or something else? Dwell on it for the moment for what it is – stress. Then let it go.

When it is not possible to get away from the cause of your stress, then other activities should be considered as soon as possible to help reduce your stress levels. Many people exercise, read, meditate, do breathing exercises, etc.

Do not allow stress in your life for more than a moment. Ninety seconds is enough time for the initial surge of stress to flow through your mind/body and be alleviated by specific stress reduction actions. Are ninety seconds too long to wait before you react to the stress? Remember the advice we have heard most of our lives – take a deep breath, hold it, and release it slowly.

Stress and Cortisol Stress is good in some aspects of our lives.  It directs how your body processes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Inflammation is lowered and blood pressure is regulated by healthy stress levels. Sleep and energy are optimized when stress is under control.

However, most of us are not controlling stress. We are unaware of stress accumulating in our bodies every day. It does not go away on its own. Under normal conditions, stress is the alarm system for our life. The ‘fight-or-flight’ reflex is there to protect you. Our mood, motivation, and fear are the result of stress.

Stress releases cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. The initial surge lasts a minute or so. It is that initial reaction to a situation/person that can be controlled.

The easiest way is to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do it a couple or more times. Another method is to smile. A big smile forces a different mindset. The brain cannot hold on to a positive and a negative thought at the same time. The act of smiling forces a positive impression back into the brain and rids the brain of any negative thought.

Stressed Out Stress left uncontrolled can increases risks that can lead to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, premature death, and more.

There are several good stress-reducing options to do daily such as getting good quality sleep every night, not dwelling on the past (The past is the past – learn from it), doing aerobic exercises to increase your pulse rate, concentrating on your breathing, remaining positive, and eating healthy foods.

Stress and Mental Attitude A change in mental attitude is essential to combat stress. Most people dwell on the negative. Negativity abounds everywhere. Television news focuses on the negative, yet many people insist on watching the news before going to bed. Those news stories will linger in your subconscious mind as you sleep. They are embedded in our archive of ‘personal’’ experiences.

Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between real and imagined. These real or imagined experiences will be used to determine the actions we take later in our lives. What we saw on television might not have involved us, but that experience is registered, nonetheless.

Positive thinking increases life span, lower the rate of depression and distress, enhances the immune system, improves cardiovascular health, and allows us to cope better in times of stress and hardship. Many of us take things personally.

We are the first to blame ourselves without knowing the whole story. This increased stress and negative attitude are not helping to improve our current and long-term life. Sometimes, a person looks predominantly at the negative aspect of something rather than the total picture.

One negative statement said by a person peripheral to your life can cancel out dozens of positive remarks over time. Do not allow other people to control your emotions and your health. Let it go!

I think it wise to know and prepare for the ‘worst-case’ scenario in some situations. However, that is all it should be. A plan, an option, a thought to be better prepared. Things rarely ever result in the worst-case scenario, but you are better prepared by knowing what you would do in that situation.


I tell my audiences a short story about reducing stress almost instantly. All of us have been sitting at a red light that we know only allows three or four cars through at a time. When the first car moves as the light turns green, the light can be made easily. If there is a delay, then you might have to sit through the light cycle again.

When you are prepared with a ‘worst-case’ scenario for this fictitious event at the stoplight, you can expect and release stress almost instantly. Assume for a moment that you are in a hurry and you are now stuck for another sequence of lights at that intersection.

You can be angry with someone who was texting (or whatever) and allow that person’s inattentiveness to increase your stress levels. Yes, you can be upset for a few seconds, but it should not be more than that. Take a deep breath and smile.

A smile forces the muscles of the face back toward to brain. You cannot have a negative and a positive thought in your mind at the same time. The event placed an instantaneous negative thought in your brain. The smile drives that negative thought away. It takes less than 30 seconds, and the stress of that extra red light is gone.

Stress helps us but is not meant to be accumulated and dwelled on. Smile and get on with your life.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *