We can’t stress enough about stress but don’t get stressed about it
Don’t let stress ruin your health: Breaking the cycle helps you live longer!
Stress has always been with us; Saber Toothed Cats were once a source. Unfortunately, for millions of people in modern society, the worst kinds of stress are an everyday reality..
If you are worried about your health and then thinking about the perils of stress is itself a serious source of unhealthy stress. Knowing that makes it worse. The cycle begins.
From the COVID-19 pandemic, to inflation along with everyday stressors of work, finances relationships etc., we are bombarded with stress on a daily basis. All this stress negatively affects the body. Let’s take a look at how stress damages you and causes long-term health problems that can shorten your lifespan.
How does stress negatively affect my body?
Stress causes changes at the molecular level, and they aren’t good changes.
One study compared a group of mothers who were caring for a healthy child, with a group of mothers caring for seriously ill children. The group with seriously ill children showed more stress and they developed problems at the molecular level with regards to their immune system function.1
On a molecular level, the body reduces the concentration of telomerase, an enzyme that helps maintain the length of the telomeres Telomere length is used as a way to look age a person’s age from a chromosome standpoint. Smaller telomeres indicate a shorter lifespan, so a reduction when high stress dilutes telomerase that shortens telomeres, this can be looked at directly as increasing the rate of aging.
Another side effect of stress is greater inflammation. We have previously written about how chronic inflammation can lead to a host of issues from digestion issues to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Chronic inflammation means your immune system is on full time “Code Red” to the point it damages what it is supposed to protect and is too worn out to defend against real threats properly That means keeping your body in a constant state of stress makes the immune system less effective against germs, viruses, and bacteria.
This was just one of many studies showing, one of many ways that stress wreaks havoc with your health. Several studies now link stress with shorter lifespans. Now, we need to figure out how to reduce stress. Don’t worry, be happy! Just having more optimism reduces stress giving you a reason to be so optimistic!
So I’m Smiling: How does that help?
Dutch researchers studied nearly 1,000 people between the ages of 65 and 85 for an average of nine years. They asked them questions regarding their optimism. Nine years later, researchers determined that optimists had reduced the likelihood of premature death in both men and women.2
Another group that they looked at was men who had open heart surgery. Men whose responses to a survey indicated a more positive outlook on life lived longer compared to those who had a pessimistic outlook.2
Researchers studied elderly nuns in the early 1990s. They ranged in age from 75 to 102. The scientists analyzed their writings from the 1930s, when their Mother Superiors asked them to write autobiographies.
Nuns who had more positive emotions in their late teens and early 20s lived longer compared to nuns who wrote about negative emotions. Nuns with a more optimistic outlook had an average lifespan of 10.7 years longer.3
The reason the researchers studied nuns is because they generally don’t drink, smoke, and engage in less behavior that are considered risk factors for shorter lives.
We understand that you can’t flip a switch and be optimistic. If your opinion is things are going to be bad, you can’t just lie to yourself. However, you can catch yourself sweating the small stuff, dedicating too much time to worrying and complaining, or psyching yourself up about how bad things are for you, and dial down those stress-building sessions. The biggest thing optimists have going for them may be that they don’t do much of that. They concentrate on the good stuff and that’s why they naturally see more of it in their future. Stop reviewing and emphasizing the bad and you might see less of it ahead, so a bit of an increase in optimism is a measurement of the result rather than the result itself.
One way to work on this is meditation.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis went through great lengths to study the effects of meditation on human lifespan.
They examined two groups of 30 men each. A control group went about their daily lives without any changes (The other group responded to advertisements in temples and Buddhist magazines for a 3-month meditation study at the Shambhala Mountain Center and spent 6 hours per day in guided meditation.
Following 3 months, researchers observed that the group who meditated had a better (more positive) outlook on life. Perhaps more startling, the group who meditated had 30 % greater telomerase activity, compared to the men who did not meditate.4
As mentioned above, the more telomerase the longer your telomeres the less prone you will be to age-related disease.
Meditation can also lower blood pressure, notes another research group. Transcendental meditation and mindfulness training both led to longer lives.5
So how can I reduce stress and live longer?
You can do several things to reduce stress and live longer.
The Mayo Clinic suggests:
- Stay physically active. Even walking 15 minutes a day outside is something.
- All it takes is 15 minutes a day for mindfulness meditation.
- Practice yoga. There are many online resources.
- Laugh more. Laughing reduces stress and produces more stress-relief hormones.
- Get plenty of sleep. Humans need seven to eight hours of sleep.
- Connect with others. Spending time with people you care about helps reduce stress because humans need social contact with others.
Consider antioxidant supplements to reduce oxidative stress (there’s that word again) . Oxidative stress causes more free radicals in your body, which can build up and interfere with your body’s natural function.
KINETIQ Renew can help rejuvenate your body with proprietary blends of clinically backed natural ingredients that support mood and have been shown to reduce stress.
Epel E, Blackburn E, Lin J, Dhabhar F, Adler N, Morrow J, Cawthon R. 2004. Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Biological Science. 101(49):17312-17315.
Giltay E, Geleijnse J, Zitman F, Koekstra T, Schouten E. 2004. Dispositional Optimism and All-Cause and Cardivascular Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of Elderly Dutch Men and Women. Archives of General Psychiatry. 61(11):1126-1135.
Danner D, Snowdon D, Friesen W. 2001. Positive emotions in early life and longevity: findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 80(5):804-813.
Jacobs T, Epel E, Lin J, Blackburn E, Wolkowitz O, Bridwell D, Zanesco A, Aichele S, Sahdra B, MacLean K, King B, Shaver P, Rosenberg E, Ferrer E, Wallace A, Saron C. 2011. Intensive Mediation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 36(5):664-681
Alexander C, Langer E, Newman R, Chandler H, Davies J. 1989. Transcendental meditiation, mindfulness and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 57(6):950-964.