Stress is a general physical and mental reaction to day to day life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a war, or the death of a loved one can be a reason of stress. Sometimes stress can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and make your muscles ready to respond.
Stress management is necessary for every individual. Though stress helps to understand difficult situations better nothing is good for the long term. This affects your health and has a great role in aging.
In this article, we will be talking about the different effects your body has on experiencing stress that can lead to aging.
Stress in aging
All humans are destined to experience stress and tension throughout their lives which are likely to impact their health and quality of life. Chronic illnesses, cognitive impairment, psychosocial stress of caregiving or personal losses of people, independence, and financial issues are generally faced by people who are in stress in the context of aging. However, different individuals react differently to stressful situations. Some people face depression and in the case of old aged people; some of them die as a result of the adversities. Others in the group have that mental strength to keep themselves stable and handle the situation with calm minds. Models of chronic stress exposure have generated mental illness in older adults. It has been studied among several individuals such as the chronically medically ill, those with spousal bereavement, and family dementia that simply support the stress-health relationships between stress, coping, and mental illnesses.
Stress speeds up aging
Stress can speed up aging. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that stress may add long years to the age of an individual’s immune system cells. The study had a focus on telomeres, the caps on the end of chromosomes. Whenever a cell divides, the telomeres in that cell get a little shorter and a little more time runs off the age clock. Now, when the telomere becomes too short, time runs out, that is, the cell can no longer divide or replenish itself. This is a key process of aging, and it’s one of the reasons humans are immortal, that is, death is human’s final destination.
When the brain senses danger or a need to fight, it tells the muscles to tighten and signals the adrenal glands to release stress hormones which are adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make you breathe faster, get more oxygen to your muscles, and they also trigger the release of sugar and fat into the blood, giving your cells more amount of energy. To accommodate these needs, your heartbeat becomes fast and your blood pressure also goes up. All these physical changes are the parts of the stress response, which is helpful if you need to jump out of the way of danger. When the brain senses safety, body function returns to normal with gradually normalizing your heartbeat.
Psychological response to stress on aging
Inflammation related to stress has been implicated in insomnia, depression in old age, anxiety, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Aging is accompanied by a 2- to 4-fold increase in plasma/serum levels of inflammatory mediators, which can be cytokines and acute-phase proteins. In addition to it, chronic inflammatory processes are implicated in diverse health outcomes that are associated with aging, such as atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Again, there is some evidence that aging is associated with a dysregulated cytokine response which follows stimulation. Consistent with this research, inflammatory mediators are strong predictors of mortality independent of other known risk factors.
Stress is very common among all but we can put what we know about stress and aging to work for us. If you learn to manage and reduce your stress load, you can have a longer life than usual. Maintaining a positive outlook is one of the most important factors. A study reveals that people who feel good about themselves as they get older may live about seven and a half years longer than others. There is a lot of researches that says people with more positive attitudes cab deal with stress better and can have a stronger will to live. Regular exercise such as cycling, indoor exercises can reduce a lot of stress. In this case, meditation can greatly help out.