Don’t Let Stress Age You: Whole Body Considerations

Many factors – besides time, of course – contribute to how our bodies age. In fact, when it comes to visible aging, the most common signs are often rooted in manageable behavioral and environmental issues. The good news about that, though, is that it means you have more control over aging than you might think. These three steps can protect your body from the damaging effects of stress and keep you looking younger for longer.

Get To Sleep

Stress is a common cause of insomnia, and insomnia can leave you feeling more stressed, making it a physiological catch-22. It also makes it an especially important problem to address, in part because our bodies undergo significant renewal while asleep.

In particular, your body renews thin collagen fibrils while we rest, which helps keep your skin looking youthful and reduces wrinkle formation and other signs of aging. In other words, there’s a good reason that we call resting “getting some beauty rest.”

In addition to sleep’s restorative capabilities, the same high levels of stress that may keep you awake at night can increase cortisol levels, and cortisol breaks down collagen, thereby encouraging wrinkle formation. That means that if you’re so stressed that you can’t sleep, you’re not only forming new, healthy collagen, but you’re actively breaking down what you do have. At the cellular level, and as expressed on your skin, those late nights are making you look older.

Create A Supplement Strategy

Sleep gives your body an edge in the fight against aging, but it isn’t enough on its own. That’s why, to further minimize the effects of stress on your body, one thing you can do is adopt a rejuvenating supplement strategy. But with so many supplements on the market, how do you know which ones to take?

While there are many supplements that can help reduce your stress levels and reduce signs of aging, including popular options like direct collagen supplementation, it’s worth considering less well-known ones as well, such as an NAD+ supplement. NAD+ helps reduce signs of aging by encouraging the activity of anti-aging genes and supports your body’s cellular defense systems. This provides an energy boost and cognitive improvements that will make you feel years younger.

Manage Your Mental Health

Stress can worsen preexisting mental health issues and coping with mental illness can cause stress, but stress and poor mental health aren’t the same thing. That being said, researchers have discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – a treatment often used to help patients with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other mental health conditions reduce their symptoms – reduces cellular signs of aging. As patients’ anxiety levels fell, telomerase and glutathione peroxidase activity increased, providing enzymatic protection for the telomeres, a part of the chromosomes directly associated with aging.

Uncovering The Roots Of Stress And Aging

Though we do have a clear understanding of the fact that stress contributes to both visible and cellular aging, scientists are still getting to the roots of the various mechanisms involved. Luckily, targeted research examining individuals who experience premature aging, often related to disease, has helped enhance our understanding of the process, in ways that could help much larger populations. For example, research into individuals living with HIV, who experience higher levels of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, has helped scientists better understand how stress impacts normal cell activity.

Aging is inevitable, but how our bodies respond to normal influences – stress, lack of sleep, and the simple passage of time – vary based on a variety of factors. The more we learn to manage and influence those factors, the more we can slow the aging process and extend people’s lives. It’s an exciting frontier for science, but one with a long way to go.

For now, the best we can do is to treat our bodies kindly, with rest, supplements, and appropriate medical and psychological care. Such efforts can go a long way in not just extending our lives, but improving their quality.