How do you react to stress? The question is one worth asking, as an increasing body of research shows it has a tremendous impact on your overall health — both now and as you age.

The latest research comes out of North Carolina State University. A new study shows that having a positive attitude about aging makes older adults more resilient when faced with stressful situations.

People who had more positive attitudes toward aging were more resilient in response to stress.

“There has been a lot of research on how older adults respond to stress, but the findings have been mixed: Some studies have found that older adults are less resilient than younger adults at responding to stress; some have found they’re more resilient; and some have found no difference,” Jennifer Bellingtier, a Ph.D. student at NC State and the lead author of a paper describing the work, said in a statement.

“We wanted to see whether attitudes toward aging could account for this disparity in research findings. In other words, are older adults with positive attitudes about aging more resilient than older adults with negative attitudes?”

The answer — yes.

Forty-three adults between the ages of 60 and 96 participated in the study. At the beginning, they were asked about their attitudes toward aging. Then they filled out a questionnaire for eight consecutive days.

Among other things, participants were asked if they felt they were as useful now as they had been when they were younger, and whether they were as happy as when they were younger.

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The daily questionnaire asked participants about any stress they’d experienced that day, as well as the extent to which they experienced negative emotions — fear, irritability, distress. The researchers also accounted for the personality of study participants. Were they optimistic and upbeat about everything? And were there benefits tied specifically to an individual’s attitudes about aging?

People who had more positive attitudes toward aging were more resilient in response to stress — meaning there wasn’t a significant increase in negative emotions, Bellingtier said. Study participants with more negative attitudes toward aging showed a sharp increase in negative emotions on stressful days.

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Stress has been linked to serious health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes — and those are just some of the long-term effects. Day to day, stress can make people miserable. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, muscle pain, upset stomach, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and even changes in sex drive, according to the Mayo Clinic and others.

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“Many studies look at more distal outcomes (e.g., mortality rates or hospitalizations). We’re saying a positive aging attitude can have a concrete impact on your well-being today and any day you have a daily stressor. The impact is immediate and ongoing,” Bellingtier told LifeZette.

But it’s not just about older people who are impacted by stress. The outlook is one we might all learn and benefit from — no matter our age, said Bellingtier.