Though we don't have a lot of data about the mechanisms that link stress and aging, we are brought up to believe that stress is correlated with infections. In fact, stress is perhaps the greatest ager of them all. The more you're stressed, the greater your risk of accidents, infections, and arterial aging.
It's not really the stress we're worried about, since everyone has it, but more so your response to stress. It seems that when you're in high-stress mode-working your tail off at work, for example-you're cruising along fine. But when you come off that stressor, you get sort of a rebound effect where you're a lot more prone to infections (your T and B cells go into hiding to avoid a fight and are slow to come back to help you).
In terms of stress-reduction techniques, one person may like playing basketball to blow off steam; another may like sitting in steam. Some may like listening to Mozart; others may like listening to Metallica. But there's at least one thing that everyone can do in the face of stress: Take yourself out of a stressful situation immediately, whether it's with a walk or moving to the next room.
That momentary time-out gives you a chance to breathe and react rationally. Whatever it is, you need some sort of back-up plan-some technique that removes yourself from the emotions of a stressful situation. It may be taking 10 deep breaths, or even scrunching your face up for 15 seconds. Whatever it is, you can make your RealAge up to 6 years younger by developing a back-up plan for reducing stress when your first lines of defense fail.
The other important thing to do is to change the way you think about some of the nagging stresses in your life-a demanding boss, an airline losing your luggage, kids throwing ketchup in a restaurant. Look, few people are trying to be jerks on purpose. What's stressful is your reaction to the situation or the action. That may not help you get your luggage any faster or take the ketchup stain out of your favorite shirt, but when you remember that stress comes with the situation and action, and not so much from malice, then you're better able to have manageable response to otherwise stressful situations-and that's a healthier way to deal with it.
Though we don't have a lot of data about the mechanisms that link
stress and aging, we are brought up to believe that stress is
correlated with infections. In fact, stress is perhaps the greatest
ager of them all. The more you're stressed, the... More