Viewing stressful situations as a threat can trigger the development of mental and physical health complications, latest evidence shows.

A new study from the University of Bath has found that health problems are less likely to occur in people who see stressful incidents as a challenge.

Nearly 400 athletes took part in the trial by filling in a virtual survey to outline how they view stressful circumstances.

In addition, each participant self-reported whether or not they were experiencing any health complications.

First author Dr Lee Moore said: “We found a convincing link between mental and physical ill-health, and the way a person typically views stressful situations.

“The more you’re able to appraise a stressful situation as a challenge, the more likely you are to report good health and wellbeing.”

Individuals who frequently perceive stressful incidents as a threat are more likely to develop depression, the flu and colds, the study has reported.

“Researchers have speculated for the past 15 years that people who repeatedly believe they don’t have the resources to cope in stressful situations are putting their health at risk, but we believe this is the first time the theory has been properly tested, leading to us finding a link between stress appraisals and health,” said Dr Moore.

He added: “Most people will fluctuate in the way they appraise a situation, depending on the details of the specific situation, however, some people are far more likely to appraise all stressful situations as a threat, and this study shows that this tendency is associated with poorer health and wellbeing.”

Read the research here.

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