Just because you are getting more “seasoned” doesn’t mean you have to grow old. But several life factors can accelerate the aging factor. One of these factors is stress. Stress is a fact of life that’s here to stay. And with our modern day stress levels increasing all of the time, stress is becoming a major tool in advancing the aging process.
Excess, prolonged stress can actually lower your immunity, boosts the risk of heart disease and generally makes you feel less healthy. It can also sap your energy and bring on bouts of depression.
But now Elissa S. Epel, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, has cell-level proof that too much stress triggers premature aging of the immune system. Mothers of chronically ill children who felt most stressed, she found, had the most extreme early aging of these cells.
So what should you do to unwind? “The first step is realizing you are stressed and noticing the signs — you might feel your heart racing, or feel sweaty,” Dr. Epel says. “The short-term way to reduce stress is to do deep breathing, what we call diaphragmatic breathing.” The longer-term fix: “Make time in your life to do things that reduce stress.”