How Managing Stress Levels Slows the Aging Process

How Managing Stress Levels Slows the Aging Process

Oct 3rd 2020

Stress Management

We’ve all joked about stress turning our hair grey, and everyone understands that serious stress feels uncomfortable and can cause short term health and psychological issues. And yet there was never conclusive published proof that chronic stress could actually shorten your life span by accelerating the aging process until recently.

How Chronic Stress Damages Your DNA

New research indicates chronic stress actually erodes and damages critical parts of our DNA over time. Focusing on high chronic stress occupations of lifestyles, the conclusion was in synch with what logic tells us about stress.

We’re not talking “healthy” stress, which actually acts as a motivator and pushes people with normal levels to accomplish more. We’re talking chronic levels of stress that are omnipresent. The damage and erosion inflicted on the DNA can increase our odds of living a shorter life span.

Shortened Telomeres

The study showed that those under chronic stress had shortened telomeres. Telomeres are the protective edges that bind the ends of DNA strands together. The damage to the telomeres leads to errors in how the DNA instructs cells to behave, so their length is directly tied to our longevity.

The shortening and damage of these DNA communicators leads to a heightened potential for mutations in otherwise healthy cells and genes. When our genetic code and transmission is broken, it means our bodies have a higher likelihood of cancer and other life shortening diseases - and generally poor health and weakened immunity.

The evidence uncovered showed that stress can actually shorten your life span by as much as four to eight years depending on how you handle it. Exercise and a healthy diet can help offset some of the damage done by stress, but chronic and heavy stress is a tough thing to completely overcome by lifestyle alone.

How Stress Makes You Sick Through Weakened Immunity

Not only does stress facilitate damaged DNA and shorten life spans. It also can literally make sick a lot more often than you should be. Studies have shown that high stress levels also damage the chromosomes and mechanisms responsible for the functionality of your immune system.

When our immune system is compromised it’s easy to catch every little virus and bug that comes along, including the virus that causes cold sores aka fever blisters. It also makes it harder for our bodies to fight off disease and cancer since our immune cells are our frontline defense against all things unhealthy.

Stress Management Does Help

How you manage stress can be a huge benefit and may offset how your DNA reacts to chronic high stress. Exercise has shown enormous benefits in the biometric readings that are associated with stress such as blood pressure, heart rate and levels of harmful “stress hormones”.

Exercise and movement help you to blow off the steam that builds from various anxiety-inducing realities. Pressures on the job, in your personal life, financial stress and other common stressors can be greatly reduced by exerting energy.

By exerting this energy instead of keeping it bottled up really helps to release pent up aggression, anxiety and stress in a healthful way. Managed breathing can also help to bring down the biological responses that occur with psychological stress.

Techniques like visualization and meditation can also produce visible favorable changes in your body’s stress response. If you can manage the biological responses that occur, then you can minimize the damage done to the DNA and potentially add some precious (healthy) years to your life span.