How Stress Affects Biological Aging And How To Tackle It

  • According to a recent study, stress may temporarily alter our biological age, but the effect is reversed as the stressor is removed.
  • Stress can result from physical illness, mental illness, drug use, exposure to the environment, or a lifestyle change.
  • When the body remains on high alert long after the stress subsides, this is known as chronic stress
According to a study that was just published in Cell Metabolism, biological age can rise when people are under stress, but it can also fall when the stress is reduced. Researchers tracked and recorded alterations in biological age in humans and mice in response to stress using DNA methylation clocks.
Methylation is a chemical process in which a molecule is added to proteins, DNA, or other molecules in the body. The risk of contracting particular diseases can change as a result of methylation changes.

What The Biological Age And Stress Research Showed

In one trial, the researchers performed heterochronic parabiosis – a surgery connecting sets of mice that were 3 months and 20 months old to share a typical flow. According to the researchers, heterochronic parabiosis, a stressful circumstance, could cause the younger mice’s biological age to increase relatively quickly. However, the younger mice’s biological age was restored after the mice were separated.
The researchers hypothesized, based on this information, that periods of naturally occurring physical or emotional tension would result in reversible changes in biological age. The researchers investigated human traumatizing experiences like emergency surgery, postpartum recovery, and COVID-19 recovery.
Within days of the emergency surgery, the increase in biological age was noted to have returned to normal. The same was true for recovery after childbirth, though women recovered at varying rates. Immunosuppressant medications improved COVID-19’s biological clock recovery.
The researchers noted that the biological age could alter in humans as well as animal models for the following reasons:
  • Disease
  • Addiction recovery
  • Changes in lifestyle
  • Ecological exposures
They said the study’s findings cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that age advances in one way by showing that biological age may be fluid, variable, and flexible.
This idea instantly implies that lowering biological age may reduce mortality and that the capacity to bounce back from stress may be a key factor in good aging and longevity. He concluded by saying that biological age could be a helpful metric in evaluating physiological stress and its treatment.

How The Body Responds To Stress

According to Harvard Health, there is a fight-or-flight reaction when presented with a stressor, whether it is an actual event or imagined. The body responds to instructions from the brain by getting ready to either fight or run from the threat.
Some physical responses include:
  • Blood pressure and heart rate rise.
  • Breathing accelerates
  • Diffuse pain response
  • Pupils widen
  • Increased awareness and observation
  • Your body is pumping adrenaline, which gives you more energy and strength.
To aid in sustained vigilance to deal with a threat, the body creates cortisol. According to Babita Spinelli, LP, a psychotherapist and consultant for workplace mental health in private practice, the flight or fight response is a psychological response when we are confronted with anything hazardous or scary, whether it be emotionally or physically. It is brought on by the hormones that are released when one is in danger or running from it.
Spinelli said to Medical News Today that the flight or fight response is a response to an encounter or event that is seen as stressful, frightful, or traumatizing. It causes a neurological reaction and creates intense tension, which makes one desire to fight or flee.
Untreated flight to fight might have negative physical effects on the body. This behavior is meant to survive a circumstance that appears ‘threatening’ and may be useful [short-term]. During a fight or flight response, everything briefly stops. Constantly being in flight or fight mode can lead to chronic stress, which in turn can cause brain changes, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, and other physical and medical problems.
When a person’s response to stress cannot be slowed or when they continue to be hyperalert long after the stressor has subsided, this is known as chronic stress.
Long-term exposure to high cortisol levels can cause the following:
  • Increased appetite and fat tissue accumulation
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Heart and lungs under strain
  • Inhibiting the immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches
Your body and health may be negatively impacted by all of this. The new study concludes that it can also shorten your life.

Lessening The Negative Effects Of Stress

Spinelli stated, “I have discovered that incorporating a healthy mental and physical lifestyle can positively impact or restore stress, which increases biological age.” Stress can be reduced by paying attention to one’s mindset, which ultimately has a positive effect on the body.
Age perception is influenced by trauma and other major life stressors. Spinelli went on to say, “Trauma affects both mental and physical health.” No matter how old a person is, the effects of illness, surgery, and other traumatic events affect how they feel and how they move through life. People in their twenties can feel more seasoned while encountering difficulties and hardships. It does catch up with a person physically and accelerates the aging process if they do not make time for recovery and work on those traumas. Be that as it may, through reclamation, which I consider giving and applying dynamic consideration to recuperation, both physical and mental, there are inversions in the natural maturing process. When healthy habits are incorporated into one’s life, stress can be managed and controlled rather than led.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that even 10 minutes of exercise daily can help lower stress.
They Recommend The Following Pursuits
Exercise – Being physically active can help with mental health. Ten minutes of stretching, dancing, or other exercise might be beneficial.
Deep Breath – Try sitting with your eyes closed and inhaling deeply while you practice deep breathing. Breathe out gradually ten times, then repeat.
Meditation – Sit quietly for ten minutes while meditating, concentrating on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, pay close attention to how each breath feels. Bring your attention back to your breath if you notice that your thoughts are straying.
Practice gratefulness – Write down three to five things each day for which you are grateful as a practice of gratitude. As you carry on doing this, you might find that you have more optimism throughout the day and are constantly on the lookout for happiness.
Be sociable – Spend time joking around and getting together with friends. A sense of belonging and purpose in life may be found in developing connections. 
Listen to music – Create a playlist of your favorite songs, sit back, close your eyes, and listen. 
Take good care of your body –  The keys to a healthy life are exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol, and utilizing tobacco products.

Yoga For Stress Reduction

Many individuals do yoga to lessen their daily stress.
Yoga’s ability to reduce stress is among its many advantages beyond its physical health advantages. A qualified yoga instructor at Dew Yoga, yoga is a practice for one’s complete self, not simply the physical container in which we find ourselves.
The vagus nerve is influenced by yoga as well. Stress can be reduced using the vagus nerve to alter one’s nervous system from a sympathetic fight-or-flight reaction to a parasympathetic rest and digest response.
women who practiced yoga for 12 weeks had less stress, anxiety, and sadness. Researchers found that when taken as supplemental medicine, it might lower treatment costs and the need for symptom-relieving medications.
A master trainer with YogaSix, the mind-body connection that distinguishes yoga from other exercise modalities is started through deliberate and particular breath methods. These breathing exercises, sometimes referred to as pranayama, reduce your resting heart rate and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Yoga is based on the breath.
More medical experts and scientists are now concentrating on the advantages of mind-body connections, which examine how our ideas, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes may either favorably or negatively affect our physical health.
The mind-body link is strong, according to Spinelli. The body keeps track of its performance, and ongoing stress will deteriorate the body and speed up the aging process.

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