Stress can cut your life short. Research by the National Institute for Health and Welfare has found that life expectancy is impacted not only by traditional lifestyle choices (such as your dietary regimen) but also by factors such as how much heavy stress affects your life. In fact, battling intense stress could reduce your life expectancy by two to three years. But the good news is, there’s something you can do about it. Longevity Live Paid Content.
Stress and the Amygdala
Smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure can all up one’s likelihood of cardiovascular disease and shorten the human lifespan. Chronic psychological stress can also negatively impact one’s heart health, because it provokes heightened activity in the amygdala. In a 2017 study published in The Lancet, researchers observed 239 patients for 3.7 years, giving them a PET/CT scan to record their brain, bone marrow, spleen activity, and artery inflammation.
During this time, almost 10% of patients had cardiovascular events. Those with heightened activity in the amygdala had a greater risk of this type of disease. They also had increased bone marrow activity and inflammation in the arteries.
Stress and Sleep
Getting enough sleep quantity and quality is key if you wish to live long, something which numerous studies can attest to.
For instance, a University of California-San Diego study on women showed that longevity means getting enough sleep. Additionally, a 2022 study undertaken at the University of Rochester showed that if longevity is your aim, you need to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and avoid exposure to light at nighttime.
It is easy to see, however, that stress can keep you up at night. It can cause you to cause and turn, lead to late-night snacking, and cause nightly terrors during sleep. Some people with severe stress develop nightmare disorder, which wakes them frequently and makes it hard to fall back asleep.
This disorder has an array of unpleasant symptoms, including a racing heartbeat, seating, and impairment of daily functioning. If you have regular nightmares, see a mental health professional. They can recommend therapists who specialize in areas such as image rehearsal therapy, systematic desensitization, and self-exposure therapy.
Battling Stress Effectively
In order to live a long and healthy life, it is important to keep stress at bay by tackling it proactively on a regular basis. Those experiencing severe stress can benefit from professional therapy. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help people identify more productive ways to express their stress.
Numerous studies have also shown that holistic therapies such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Tai Chi have the ability to lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Spending time in green or blue areas such as forests, parks, and beaches has also been found to induce a state of calm and lift the mood.
Finally, regular physical exercise can shield both children and adults from the harmful effects of stress. A 2022 study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session indicated that regular exercise had nearly double the cardiovascular benefits for people with depression or anxiety.
Stress is a silent killer. When chronic or severe, it can affect your cardiovascular health. It can also impact the quality of your sleep, and good sleep is a pillar of good health and long life. It is therefore vital to tackle stress proactively, by embracing physical activity and holistic pursuits as a means to keep stress hormone levels down.