The Cause of Your Stress? Your Younger Brother

How Having A Little Brother May Affect Your Heart

Health News on|Amanda L. Chan

A new study of Bolivian villagers shows a link between having a younger brother and slightly increased blood pressure levels later on in adulthood, though the Brandeis University researchers did note that the effect seemed to diminish with age.

They found that the study participants who reported having a younger brother had as much as 5.9 percent higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels, than those who didn’t have a younger brother.

Therefore, “in a large family, the number of younger brothers may exert an impact on an individual’s blood pressure,” the researchers wrote in the Economics and Human Biology study.

Dear Youngest Brother,

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t the salt in my diet. It’s not the extra pounds I’ve got hovering around my waist. It’s not my job, my bank account or my extra gray hairs. It’s you, all YOU.

When you forced me to lower the amount of salt I consume in foods, I complied. I did! Gawd almighty, does food taste like crap now! That change alone has kicked up my stress level. I can no longer look at a potato chip without weeping.

They Make Me Happy

This summer, before I insulated my home to R54,006, you “recommended” that I record the temperature of every wall and floor in my home and compare it with the outside temperature. I agreed to the task. Your detailed explanation on thermal imbalances was instructive. I tried to concentrate and listen, but all I could do was fret over the millions of molecules of expensively cooled air escaping to the outside. Just the mere act of walking around with you while you pointed your Fluke 561 Infrared Thermometer at each wall and floor in my home elevated my blood pressure.

And when you hooked up your MURATA – ACM20-2-AC1-R-C – AC POWER METER, 85VAC to 264VAC  to every electrical device in my home to measure the power drain produced by each, I gritted my teeth and steeled myself against the stress of finding out that along with the billions of ions being sucked out of my electrical outlets, dollar bills were floating out of my bank account like a major butterfly migration. Al right. I suppose I don’t need to leave NPR on for my two dogs to listen to while I’m gone during the day.

I bought my freezer without having you there to check the kilowatts used per hour per year. But then I was so worried that the one I purchased wasn’t energy efficient enough, I was prepared to create and then paste a fake energy usage label over the one it came with.  Look, little brother, my freezer uses .0000000000000000000001 kWh/year! Hey, I’m producing energy for the nation!

Why do I still tell people that gardening is relaxing? It was once long ago, when you lived full time in that desolate and desiccated area of Texas, unable to grow anything but cacti, rocks and scorpions. But after you moved a few blocks away and began to plant your own Gloating Victory Garden, things changed. I can’t possibly compete with someone who lovingly repositions his tomato plants every half hour to give them the full advantage of the sun’s rays. And who actually assists in the pollinating process. Telling me that your plant, which was potted just two days ago, now has 88 tomatoes on it sends my blood pressure up the giant’s beanstalk. Yes, of course, little brother, your beanstalk is much taller.

Not Actual Size.

I can’t put plastic in the microwave anymore. I’ve been robbed of that convenience. Your admonishments about cancer causing agents leaching from the plastic has added significant seconds to my mealtimes. And now I have to wash an extra dish. Geez. If we’re going to go all formal like that, I might as well sit down at the table to eat instead of standing at the sink.

Thanks to you, younger brother, recycling is now my new religion, the altar, my recycling bin. Watch me dive into the trashcan to fish out a 1 cm x 1 cm piece of cardboard that accidentally fell into it. Watch the grocery store clerk glare at me when I toss a dozen apples onto the conveyer belt because I can’t bring myself to use the store’s plastic bags. Look at my collection of furniture and trinkets I made out of Styrofoam because I can’t bear to throw it in the regular trash.

Ignorance was bliss. And, it was less stressful. Now that you’ve helped convince me that global climate change is here, I cannot touch the thermostat, the light switch, any power-on button, or drive somewhere in my car without hearing that little brotherly voice of reason and reproach. I sweat in the summer, freeze in the winter, squint my eyes in a dimly lit home, and I walk everywhere. It could be worse. I could be living in a yurt in the middle of Idaho’s hinterlands.

OF COURSE our little sister has the blood pressure of a reptile sleeping in the shade. Or of a pillow. She doesn’t have a younger brother. She can compete with you, argue with you, get peeved with you, but HER stress level remains subterranean. I’m her stress bag. You, younger brother, are the lightning, sister is the kite string, and I am the metal key and Mr. Ben Franklin.

But let me say this last thing: Everyone, EVERYONE, would benefit from having a younger brother. The benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. I can do without the salt, the AC, the illumination and all the rest. I can’t do without a younger brother.

Styrofoam Crafts!
Stryofoam Crafts (Yes! It’s a website!)
Make the Owls!
Pinterest “Bonka Perry Crafts”

48 thoughts on “The Cause of Your Stress? Your Younger Brother

  1. Actually your younger brothers sounds like a kindred spirit Jean.

    Trust me, you have benefitted more than been hurt from his advice and can take great solace in knowing that the energy savings you’ve now incorporated into your life will make you proud while all of your non-green friends are still complaining about high energy bills.

    However, that being said, even I think that fishing out a 1 cm x 1 cm piece of cardboard that accidentally fell into the garbage is a bit too much. :-)

  2. PHew, glad I missed that problem. I blame all my stress on my husband. They were born to carry that burden. I hate smary perfection driven gardeners, especially those that are all bent about weeds, Weeds like living too you know. A great post Jean.

  3. my younger brother was …always taller than I was. I was getting HIS ‘hand-me-downs starting in eighth grade. Boy…did I resent that! He was three years younger! Now we talk almost daily….and he is 1200 miles away. I give him my hand-me-down advice…like how to make gravy. Brothers are cool….buy my older sister is a pain in the ass. ;)

  4. Oh, THANK YOU!! I can finally get off the elliptical and go back to my olives! My whole blood pressure issue is because of my two younger brothers! I love them to pieces, but I’m really happy to have someone to blame for my BP!

  5. Great post:) I have a younger brother too. I also have high blood pressure. I wish I could blame that on him, but he lives far away and we don’t get together that often. Unless, I’m still hanging onto the” leave the light on I’m reading” -”no, turn the light off I’m relaxing” x15, etc. left over from our teen years. That’s gotta be it;)

  6. I’m the youngest, so my brothers aren’t raising my blood pressure, and I’m a sister, not a brother, so I’m not raising anyone else’s — I’m like a blood pressure island.

  7. An energy-saving light bulb has gone off in my head. I have one 10-years-older brother and LOW blood pressure. But, don’t get upset with me. There were days when my life flashed before my eyes because of his evil tormenting-his-younger-sister ways. What adorable photos of your brother! With that cuteness going on, how is it at all possible that you have high blood pressure?

    1. Oh, I remember the tormenting so very well. I have two older brothers, though the younger one didn’t really torment me that much. Sometimes I think parents would be horrified if they knew what kind of sibling shenanigans went on when they weren’t around.

      Yes, my youngest brother is so photogenic!

  8. I have an older brother. Since I’m a lesbian, I suspect my antics may have contributed to his middle age health woes. When he was in his late forties he predicted he wouldn’t live to see fifty. I said, “Lucky you.” In eight days he’ll be fifty-nine. I bought him a card months ago. Now I have a few days to find it before taking on the next challenge, remembering to mail it. Yes, he and I get on quite well.

  9. What a great post. It reminds me of my cousin on the other side of the lake who has tolerated / mothered her younger brother all her life ( and drives him crazy…he’s the rancher naturalist who now lives near big Bend far away from cell phones, emails, and internet – unless he drives to town…we all say he moved there to hide!)
    I have an older brother – who probably would still gladly sell me to the gypsies
    FUNNY post!

  10. Oh my gosh – did somebody put false eyelashes on that kid? What a cutie!

    I had 3 younger brothers but we lost one to cancer some years ago. They’re a natural resource that we should all appreciate – thanks for the sweet/salty reminder.

  11. Are those tomatoes for real? Are they tomato plants? (Can I come back and ask the same question?)

    Your obvious love for your brother is lovely. Largely because it shines the brightest in this sweet post of yours.

  12. I could completely relate to this post. Ask my elder brother, he is going to tell the same thing that, I am the cause of his stress. :) Now I am happy that, I am the youngest in our whole family.
    Great post!! I enjoyed reading it a lot.

  13. Funny and sweet, SDS. And I know exactly how you feel about that gardening thing. We have friends whose vegetables all grow as if they’re competing with each other. They gave us one of their many thriving indoor plants — an aloe. They have one in the living room the size of a love seat. Ours died in a month. My blood pressure spikes every time I’m there.

  14. Jean,

    Mom is sitting here agreeing with you about the stress. She states I have the same effect on her. It’s hard to get her to recycle correctly but I continue to try. You think you have it bad; how about digging in her trash to get the discarded bottles and cans she just cannot seem to get in the correct bin.

    Anyway, hilarious post. However, I definitely see some Green areas that we need to reinforce when I get back to Boise in May.

    1. Mom is wrong. Her stress is sitting there on the sofa, eating chocolate, and yelling out her name every couple of seconds. Mom knows what to recycle – she chooses not to. Fortunately for them, they don’t produce a whole lot of waste.

      Looking forward to further energy-saving tips from you!

    1. I’m so glad you did, too! And you’re welcome. If you could see my sister in motion (if you want to call it that), you’d suspect she has very low blood pressure, or she’s wearing concrete shoes. I’ve never seen anyone move that slowly without the aid of modern cinema. But, she’s lucky. I get excited and hysterical for her.

      1. I’d hate to be behind your sister on the road. I wonder how much road rage she’s caused over the years? Concrete shoes? You’re hilarious. I’ve been fighting the temptation to put the blood pressure cuff on my pillow. Hehe.

  15. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back someday. I want to encourage that you continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

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