Stress can double the amount of time it takes to recover from illness according to the latest research.
Being told to relax when you are ill might seem a tall order, but according to the latest research it will help you recover faster.
Scientists measured the level of the stress hormone cortisol in 25 volunteers and gave them a questionnaire to find out how they coped with the strains of daily life.
Small ‘punch’ wounds were then inflicted on the volunteers and the healing process was observed by ultrasound.
They found that the least stressed individuals healed at roughly twice the rate of the most stressed out volunteers.
‘There is a huge variation in the speed of recovery’ says Professor Weinman from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, who led the study.
‘These studies focus specifically on how the life stresses people experience can impact on their ability to recover from different types of wound.’
In a separate experiment the researchers asked one group of volunteers to write about their worries in a diary, whilst another simply wrote about time management.
Those who wrote about their worries were less stressed and healed faster demonstrating the physical benefit in mentally unburdening ourselves.
“I hope that these findings can now be used to identify psychological interventions to help speed up the recovery and healing process.”