A scary picture often comes to mind at the mention of the word “stress.” It has become a harbinger of frightening conditions. This feeling is however not as bad as people might conceive it. In fact, it is necessary to life. Chronic stress is what you really need to be worried about. Among other problems, it is said to contribute to signs and symptoms of aging, some of which we will be discussing here.
Simply put, stress can be described as the feeling you have when under immense pressure. It is associated to that fight-or-flight reactions we get when faced with a difficult situation. It causes certain hormones or chemicals to be released into the body to supply energy and focus for a while. Attention is typically on stress being caused by psychological or emotional pressure. However, the problem can also be caused by physical or physiological factors, such as environmental toxins, insomnia and chronic infections.
As mentioned earlier, stress only becomes worrisome when it assumes a chronic dimension. The brain sets off the release of hormones when a person feels stressed out. Most notable among this is cortisol, which is released throughout the day. The normal rhythm of this substance’s release contributes to get us ready to go to and get out of bed. Typically high levels of cortisol in the morning becomes higher when you do not get enough sleep.
In the case of acute, short-term stress, the production of these hormones is halted when levels become elevated. The brain may lose its ability to properly regulate levels when stress is ever-present – that is, when there is chronic stress. This gives rise to all sorts of problems. Older people produce higher amounts of stress hormones. To worsen matter, the levels are not as efficiently regulated in these individuals as they are in young people.
How stress contributes to aging
Aging is associated to a lot of problems, both physical and psychological. It gives rise to certain changes and conditions that many people find unpleasant and even frightening. This explains why such people are often ready to do anything to fight it. We discuss below how stress can contribute to the problems of aging.
It causes cell damage and death
Scientists have long known that cells in the body become more prone to damage as people get older. It is this cell and tissue damage that is responsible to visible body changes that are seen in older individuals. Stress can lead to premature cell aging due its effects on telomeres, sections that provide protection to the DNA. These structures play a role in the determination how fast the cells age. Stress causes telomeres to shorten and this is a major contributed to cell deaths that leads to aging. This damage has been connected to several scary conditions.
It worsens weight gain
If you have been trying to lose weight without success, stress may be the hindrance. It is said to contribute to the speeding up of fat accumulation in the body, especially when not sleeping enough. The reaction can interfere with the ability to burn fat and make cells in the body less sensitive to insulin. You are also out of luck when trying to lose weight through caloric restriction. Cortisol levels are further elevated by this, especially when there is also sleep deprivation. The hormone breaks down muscle tissues and increase fat storage as commonly seen in older individuals.
Chronic stress promotes infections and illnesses
When feeling stressed, your immune system is stimulated in the short-term. This puts your body in ready mode to heal wounds and prevent infections. But chronic stress makes cortisol levels to be dangerously high to a point where they interfere with your immune system. This makes you more vulnerable to infections by reducing or slowing histamine secretion and your body’s inflammatory response. This is a reason older persons are more prone to cold, influenza and other viral illnesses as well as infections when under stress of any kind. Weakened immune system also prolongs recovery from these infections and illnesses.
Stress Causes Diabetes
Diabetes is another problem that commonly affects older people. It has also been associated to poor control over stress. To give you a shot of energy, your produces more glucose when having this feeling. And blood sugar returns to normal levels when the stressor has been dealt with. The body reabsorbs the sugar that is not used. But there is a problem regulating glucose level this way when you are suffering from chronic stress. It becomes hard to control the extra blood sugar that is released. This increases the risk of you having Type 2 diabetes.
It worsens respiratory issues
People often tend to breathe quicker in response when under stress. This is an effect of the stress hormones that are produced. This action is useful for distributing oxygenated blood to different part of the body. This is a way of helping you pull through whatever challenging you may be facing. However, it can worsen already present respiratory issues such as asthma. The effects of these problems can take further toll on the body, contributing to aging.
Chronic stress may lead to cardiovascular disease
Your heart health is at risk when stress is not adequately dealt with. With increased breathing rate, your heart also pumps blood faster. What is, perhaps, more worrisome here is that stress hormone can cause blood vessels to constrict. This raises your blood pressure and forces you heart to work overtime. With this comes the risk of hypertension. As a result of the faster heart rate, stress also makes you more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Stress encourages unhealthy, unsafe lifestyle
Chronic stress can encourage certain lifestyle choices that can put a person in harm’s way. It can cause a person to smoke, drink alcohol and use addictive substances. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise may also be encouraged by this feeling. Virtually all of these behaviors are known to contribute in one way or the other to signs of aging. This unhealthy lifestyle could make you to care less about your health and wellness.
It may contribute to cancer
It is thought that stress can contribute to the scary and aging-aggravating condition cancer. However, the evidence is rather weak and, when compared to those of other medical conditions, less direct. The unhealthy lifestyle that stress encourages is an explanatory factor that has been proffered. For instance, drinking, bad diet and smoking are all risk factors for having cancer.
Stress Harms Sexual Function
This reaction to disturbing stimulus can interfere with your sexual function. And lack of interest in sexual activity is a common issue among older persons. This might not be unconnected with high level of stress they experience and the reduced ability to deal with such. Elevated cortisol levels that are seen with stress interferes with the levels of sex hormones in the body. This results in low libido or lack of interest in sexual activity.
Harmful lifestyle habits, such as consumption of alcohol, which stress pushes a person into can harm sexual function and enjoyment. For instance, drinking can make it difficult for men to have an erection. It dehydrates and creates problem of sexual lubrication, thereby reducing satisfaction or even causing pain.
It ages the brain and hurts memory
Chronic stress can cause your brain to age faster. This in turn makes your recall ability and mental alertness to suffer. Research has shown that it plays a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in older individuals. This condition can be quite embarrassing when you, for example, find it hard to remember things easily, including where you kept your keys and other items. Research suggests that women are more likely to experience early brain aging than men as a result of stress. Researchers from University of California at Berkeley observed that the kind of gene activation and deactivation that takes place as the brain ages progress at a faster rate in women.
Thankfully, there are certain steps that you can take to check the debilitating, aging effects of chronic stress. There is no complete cure to this phenomenon because it is not really a disease. You can only manage and keep it at normal level. Below are a few tips you can work with.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
As you may have observed, there is what one can call a “vice-versa” relationship between stress and unhealthy lifestyle – a vicious cycle of sort. Stress contributes to unhealthy habits, and the reverse is also true. You will be saving yourself from the harmful effects of this feeling by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Keep a healthy diet and cut down on junks and processed foods. Eliminate or reduce alcohol consumption and stop smoking.
You should also exercise regularly as this is known to be a powerful stress-buster, regardless of your age. It helps to control the harmful effects of cortisol on the body. Exercise doesn’t have to be highly tasking, although that is very beneficial. You also benefit from less tasking exercises such as walking, biking or aerobics. It has been observed that the stress response of a woman in her 60s who is physically fit is comparable to that of an unfit younger lady in her 20s.
One of the things that could cause or worsen your stress is loneliness. While it is a good thing to be alone with your thought sometimes, you should not allow this to become habitual. This provides needless opportunity to brood on the problems in your life. Reach out to your family and friends. Being close to loved ones is of greater importance to older individuals who tend feel lonely. Studies have shown that social interaction can boost your mental alertness. It may help to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease and promote longevity.
Positive attitude can make a whole lot of difference. Worrying about the problems or challenges confronting us has never helped and is unlikely to help to deal with them. No matter how daunting the issues you have to deal with, do all you can to remain calm. Researchers have shown that being upbeat not only help to deal with stress, it can also make positive individuals live several years longer than their peers.
There are several supplements on the market that can help deal with the aging effects of stress. These are worth considering in that all essential nutrients may not be available in your diet. While they may not really attack that harmful feeling attributed to pressure, the supplements may help address signs of aging that it causes. Take GenF20 Plus as an example, it helps to boost human growth hormone levels in your body. This, in turn, can help reverse aging signs such as wrinkles, lean muscle loss, weight gain, poor memory and low libido. Brain enhancers, such as BrainPill, can help to deal with aging effects of stress on the brain.
Stress is necessary for life. Only chronic stress is worth “worrying” about as it is what really causes many health issues. It contributes to some of the unpleasant physical and psychological changes that are linked to aging. A healthy diet and regular exercise is helpful in guarding against the harmful effects of chronic stress. Social interactions and positive attitude towards life are also very beneficial in managing this problem. Practically anything that can make you feel relaxed can help to fight stress and help you enjoy life more.