3 Ways to Reduce Stress Related Aging

Let’s face it. Life can be stressful. There are moments when I look in the mirror and see the sign of stress related aging. There are days I wish I could go back and be a kid again, when my biggest concern was getting my homework done in time to play outside before it got dark. Though I have never seen the movie, sometimes I would love to be Benjamin Button, living life in reverse.

The truth is, even though we would love to, we can’t take away life’s stressors. We can, however, control how we choose to deal with them. Though I have always been one who handled stress fairly well, there was a time a few years ago when it all just felt like too much. I was just fried, done, caput. Stress related insomnia had me wide awake at night and sluggish during the day. As a lifelong “tired eater” I was also consuming way too much of the wrong foods.

Then, I took back control. Hey, that’s what a control-freak does best, right? Though there was a lot at that time that was out of my hands, there were still a few things I could get a handle on, particularly the basics. At that time I discovered that I cope better with stress when I have more sleep, so more sleep became a priority. I broke out my food diary and started making myself accountable for all those empty calories. And I began a new exercise program, the type that kept me wanting more rather than making excuses to stop.

We always joke around that stress gives us gray hairs, as evident by the way our Presidents always age so rapidly while in office. During periods of heightened stress, our bodies can accelerate the aging of our immune cells, making us look older, feel older, and way more susceptible to disease.

Apparently, I was on to something with those lifestyle changes. A new study from the University of California at San Francisco found that while the impact of stress can accumulate over time and accelerate aging, those negative effects may be lessened by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

The study found that people who exercised, slept well and ate a healthy diet had less cellular aging than people who did not maintain a healthy lifestyle when those people were under similar levels of stress. However, if we focus on our lifestyle, particularly in times of stress, we can potentially protect ourselves from those negative effects of stress related aging and stress related illnesses.

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.

Eat well. Maintain a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein and vegetables. Don’t skimp on your Omega-3’s. Drink green tea. Utilize mindful eating strategies. Reduce your saturated fat intake. Look for organic options when possible.

Exercise. Do heart rate increasing exercises for a significant amount of time at least three times a week. Go for a run, take a hike, walk on the treadmill, do yoga, take a class, work out with a trainer – whatever gets you going and helps you stay motivated.

Sleep well. Develop good sleeping habits and maintain a calming environment for sleep in your home. If you have trouble, consider a natural alternative such as melatonin or essential oils to help you rest better. (If you have any questions about which essential oils to use, shoot me an email at Jessica@EatSleepBe.com and I’ll help you out.) Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the right options for you. Getting regular exercise early the day should also help you to sleep better at night. Just make sure that you are not exercising too close to bedtime.

So take it from me, and from science. Stay active, eat healthy, and sleep well. Because life is stressful.

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Comments

  1. Getting enough sleep is so important. I wish I got more!

  2. I’m working on doing all three

  3. I definitely need to focus more on exercise. Going to sleep is pretty easy for me…but I should probably do it much earlier most nights.

  4. What great tips! I’m definitely trying to work out more since I also find that I sleep better when I do (and my mood is SO much better too :))

  5. I need to really start working on my stress over the summer. I have had trouble managing the work, which I am blessed to have, and then the kids at home needing me.

  6. Great tips!
    I am a big stickler for sleep but sometimes I don’t exercise as often as I should or eat as well as I had hope.
    Will have to work on those as well!
    My stress level is pretty even keel so i’m thankful for that!

  7. I try to exercise 5 days a week and this has helped my stress levels so much! A good night’s sleep is also important too!

  8. These are some great tips! I know for a face that I need to eat better and get a better rest at night.

  9. This is really interesting because I certainly don’t eat well when I’m under stress. I need to make some changes.

  10. Angela S says:

    Thanks for this. It’s been a rough week. I’ve probably aged 10 years.

  11. Kelsey apley says:

    I really need to soak these in and do them! I’m such a stress and anxious person.. Working on it though!

  12. I have to work on the sleeping well one. I usually only get about 4-5 hours of sleep each night.

  13. These are a great reminder for everyone. We really have to take care of ourselves if we want to be around longer and have less stress, even when we are crazy busy.

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