The Connection Between Stress and Aging

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Stress — we all know the feeling too well. Let’s face it, our modern lives are hectic and our schedules most certainly increase feelings of stress. Whether you’re late for a business meeting or juggling your kid’s extracurricular activities, stress can creep up when you least expect it.

The thing is, stress is natural — it’s a physical response that is meant to keep us safe. In some cases, stress can actually be a good thing. As hormones increase, including adrenaline and cortisol, our bodies get ready for what’s known as ‘fight or flight’ mode. Everything from blood flow to digestion will be altered. So, how does it affect our health?

We’re Experiencing Harmful, Chronic Stress Levels

The difference between beneficial stress and the type of stress that many of us experience on a day-to-day basis, is that stress levels are not supposed to run consistently high. Our ancestors used to benefit from this quick release of hormones, as it would help them escape a potentially dangerous predator.

Today, we may not stress about saber-toothed tigers, but we do stress about everything else — mortgage payments, deadlines, relationships, and whatever else we encounter on a regular basis. As you can imagine, staying within this heightened state, can actually cause more harm than good.

Study after study, research has shown that chronic stress negatively affects our health. It’s known to increase your risk of cancer and heart disease, but how does it affect aging? Are you more prone to suffer from wrinkles and premature aging if you’re always stressed — it appears so.

When your body perceives a threat, regardless of the cause, you will experience biological changes. This means that your immune system will be affected, as well as key hormonal levels. In turn, our bodies suffer at the cellular level, affecting everything from cell death to DNA damage — even wrinkles and the graying of hair.

If you are under stress, you may have noticed that you’re suffering from the following:

  • Rashes — believe it or not, stress can cause the outermost layer of skin to crack, as cells shrink and lipids begin to evaporate. This increases the risk that bacteria will find its way into the deeper layers of skin, leading to conditions such as eczema.
  • More acne — studies have shown that those who are calmer, actually suffer from less acne.
  • Puffy eyes — this generally occurs due to lack of sleep. Not only should you try and reduce stress hormones, but also work towards increasing natural melatonin production. 
  • Gray hair — for those who are predisposed to grays, stress can actually cause reduce melanin production. To prevent this, supplement with B-vitamins and or biotin — all while better managing stress levels.

Double Edged Sword

Unfortunately, as humans, we have developed habits and routines that help us deal with stress — many which make matters worse. For example, smoking and drinking, which often lead to issues with sleep quality. It’s all a vicious cycle that often leads to premature aging.

Stress leads us to unhealthy lifestyle choices and those poor choices lead to physical stress. Whether you’re suffering from work-related stress or emotional distress, it appears that living in a state of panic, does speed up cellular aging — something in which you’ll notice in terms of your skin.

The best way to protect both your skin and heart, is to practice effective stress management strategies. From deep breathing to mediation, herbal supplements to exercise, there are ways in which you can regain control. Feeling stressed all the time is not just uncomfortable, it’s damaging.

Learning to stay calm and promote positive thinking, can do wonders for both your looks and overall health. If you live a more carefree lifestyle, you’ll find that as you age, you will look and feel younger. Protect your skin and health by eliminating unnecessary stress from your life.

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