Women who reported more stressors experienced more distress over the course of their lives and higher rates of dementia.
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The stress comes, Marder theorizes, from the kind of personal versioning that is so common in analog life — the fact that you (probably) behave slightly differently when you’re with your mom than you do when you’re with your boss, or with your boyfriend, or with your dentist. And it comes, even more specifically, from the social nuance of that versioning behavior colliding with the blunt social platform that is The Facebook. Behaviors like swearing and drinking and smoking, the study suggests, are behaviors that you (might) do with friends — but not (probably) with your boss. And, more subtly, language that you might use with your friends — in-jokes, slang, references to Breaking Bad — probably won’t track when you’re not with your friends. The awareness of that discrepancy — Facebook’s tendency to disseminate even highly targeted social interactions — leads to stress.
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In an experiment that was smile-worthy in its own right, researchers used chopsticks to manipulate the facial muscles of their 169 participants into a neutral expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile. In addition to the chopstick placement, some were explicitly instructed to smile. Then, they were subjected to a series of stress-inducing, multitasking activities, which they struggled to perform while continuing to hold the chopsticks in their mouths. […]
The participants who were instructed to smile recovered from the stressful activities with lower hear rates than participants who held neutral expressions, and those with genuine smiles were the most relaxed of all, with the most positive affect.
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