Don’t overthink it: Dwelling on stressful events could raise inflammation levels in your body by 20 percent, say researchers from Ohio University.
When you ruminate over the past, you’re basically recreating a stressor in your mind, says study author Peggy Zoccola. “Stress can lead to changes in your body—your heart rate, blood pressure, or cortisol levels—and thinking about a stressful circumstance can activate that same set of responses in the body,” she says. (Keep stress whipped into submission all day long by following these 19 Ways to Live a Stress-Free Life.)
While occasionally stewing over something doesn’t cause the kind of inflammation that’s considered high-risk for cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, constantly doing it could make you more vulnerable to inflammation-related disorders, says Zoccola.
If you’re freaking out, slap a smile on your face. Believe it or not, even just faking a grin can help reduce stress responses and lower your heart rate, says a study from the University of Kansas.
Researchers believe that activating certain facial muscles—like those used to smile—sends a message to your brain: You’re happy. Calm down.
(In the time it took to update your status, you could have done one of these 10-Second Health Checkups.)