Is Your Stressful Lifestyle Making You Appear Older?
Here in the UK, stress is a big problem. According to the Mental Health Foundation, over 12 million people in this country alone went to see their GPs last year regarding their mental health and wellbeing. In addition to this, around 13.3 million working days are lost per year as a result of stress, anxiety and depression.
The Effect of Stress on the Body
There are actually two types of stress. The type of stress you experience when embarking on an exciting journey or starting an exam is generally seen as ‘good’. Indeed, it’s this type of stress that makes us human and keeps our lives interesting.
The other type, sometimes classified as ‘chronic stress’, has considerable negative impact on the body. Hormones released during stress are not dispersed harmlessly through the blood, but instead, build up, which affects the body’s vital mechanisms. This is why stress is a contributing factor in many serious health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.
Can Stress Age You?
According to medical evidence, stress can have an adverse effect on your appearance. Here’s how:
- Cortisol and adrenaline. Natural cell renewal, which helps to keep skin young and fresh-looking, naturally slows as we age. However, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline make this process even slower, which speeds up aging. An excess of stress hormones can also cause acne break-outs, rashes and susceptibility to pollutants and free radicals in the air, which can also make you age more quickly.
- Vitamin deficiency. Stress hormones also impact on digestion, and stop your body from absorbing vital nutrients. This has a wide variety of adverse impacts on your appearance; such as hair loss, gum disease, brittle fingernails and dull skin.
- In 2004, scientists observed telomeres, which appear at the tips of our DNA strands. If telomeres fray, the cell stops being healthy and may appear more aged. The same scientists discovered that stress is the main enemy of telomeres, and this damage greatly speeds up the appearance of aging.
How to Beat Stress
Sometimes, it can be difficult to address stress. Heavy workloads, family situations, financial worries and many other things can cause stress to build up in your life. However, there are things you can do to ease the effects of stress on your body. Here’s some suggestions.
- Researchers discovered that those who attended a three-month yoga retreat had boosted levels of telomerase in their blood, which prevents the damaging effects of stress aging the body. Whereas you might not be able to take three months off to mediate in the sun, you should be able to find the time to practice meditation at home.
- Express yourself. Instead of keeping emotions bottled up, find a way of expressing yourself. An excellent way to do this is through a creative hobby, such as singing, art or writing.
- Eat well. Many foods are thought to help combat the damaging effects of stress on the body. Pistachios lower blood pressure and help protect DNA. Omega 3s in oily fish boost the growth of telomeres. Antioxidants, which are found in many fruits and vegetables, help protect the body against free radical damage. Avoid processed, sugary or fatty foods, and maintain a healthy diet instead.