Effects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions - 310 Blog

Effects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions

Jul 11, 2017
1530 Views 34 Comments

Stress can age you in a number of ways. We all undergo stressful situations, but it is a matter of how we handle it.

Four Ways A Stressful Life Can Age You

  1. Lack of Sleep

Affects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions

Stressful situations can often create more anxiety and increase worry. When we are feeling stress, anxiety and concerns creep up interrupting our sleep, which is never a good thing.

Sleepless nights make for an unproductive recipe. Even if you are able to power away running on fumes, downing cups of coffee and energy drinks, research shows that excess caffeine[1] use encourages our angst.

Does this mean you have to abstain from your morning cup of coffee? Not exactly. In fact, further studies indicate a boost of energy resulting in better performance. The same study also suggests that moderate caffeine consumption plays a role in counteracting effects of aging.[2]

“These results suggest that caffeine makes more energy resources available for task performance. The effects of aging on P3b latency were counteracted by caffeine. Other caffeine effects did not differ significantly between young and elderly subjects.”

Affects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions

Further examination of moderate caffeine intake in mice indicates that caffeine helps to ward off Alzheimer’s[3] disease.

“A recent epidemiological study suggested that higher caffeine intake over decades reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)”

  1. Stressful Situations Can Disrupt Our Cognitive Function

Stress can also interrupt our brains, thus impairing our cognitive function[4]. A self- report of 138 healthy volunteers in four age groups found that, “cognitive failures were strongly associated with stress and anxiety.”

  1. Worry Affects Our Mood

Additionally, a heightened level of stress can turn that smile upside down. More research shows a link between stress and mood disorders. Further studies show growing evidence that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps to stabilize mood is decreased when exposed to stress. Likewise, a reduction in BDNF function can cause susceptibility to mood disorders such as depression.

  1. Stress Can Heighten Addictive Tendencies
Affects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions

Furthermore, stressful events can lead to turning to alcohol or cigarettes to unwind. According to aging research, three factors contribute to the aging process: 1) oxidative stress 2) glycation and 3) diminishing telomeres. Oxidative stress is damage done to our bodies from free radicals that deplete antioxidants. A depletion of antioxidants from cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol[5] can result in cell damage and early signs of aging.

Finally, stress and addiction[6] often go hand in hand. More research exposes the association between the two:

“The preclinical literature suggests that stress increases reward associated with psychomotor stimulants, possibly through a process similar to sensitization. While it is not conclusive that a similar process occurs in humans, a growing clinical literature indicates that there is a link between substance abuse and stress.”

Addiction can negatively influence the aging process, especially if the addiction is a substance abuse issue.

Three Simple Ways To Reduce Stress

  1. Get plenty of rest. When you are well rested, you are more productive and can function at optimal levels. Having good sleep hygiene[7] is imperative for your mental and physical well-being. This means disconnecting from electronics or anything that might cause too much stimulation before bed.

Affects of Stress on Aging: Signs & Simple Solutions

2. Make sure you are getting regular exercise. The average adult requires at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise per week. Most people can reach their goal by walking 30 minutes, five days a week. However, if you do not have the time then try squeezing in 15-minute exercises to start.

3. Reduce your stress level by adopting healthier coping mechanisms. This can include eating healthier, nutrient-rich meals and avoiding addictive substances. Getting into healthier lifestyle choices can also incorporate vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant supplements.

Being Stress-Free Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

By maintaining healthy coping mechanisms to help reduce stress, you can avoid potential burnout. Staying fit can even help you exercise your way out of depression and reduce anxiety, making your health a top priority. Additional alternative ways to help unwind might mean trying out meditation techniques and coupling your Zen-time with essential oils and aromatherapy. Finally, reducing the aging process also requires nurturing your skin with skin-loving anti-aging products. Taking care of your skin and managing stress are both two significant ways you can age gracefully while living a happier life.


Sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet might seem a little too elementary, but they are significant steps towards a stress-free life!

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00845371
[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168559795000695

[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452206009377

[4] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pr0.1998.82.3c.1432

[5] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm

[6] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924977X03001779

[7] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/000579678690197X

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34 Comments

  1. Stress can have so many big negative effects on your health! We are all susceptible to it but important to remember to try and reduce as much as possible!

    Reply
  2. Stress is such an awful thing to be going through, it is wonderful to have anything that would lighten the load when it comes to feeling as though everything is getting on top of you.

    Reply
    • I know, when I am stressed out I tend to get upset and sort fused. I also used to turn to wine quite a bit. I now realize that turning to healthier methods of coping with stress is key to a balanced life. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Stress is a serious health problem in our modern world that leads to bigger problems. We need to destigmatize mental health issues so that people are not afraid to seek help.

    Reply
    • I know, the destigmatization process has sort of begun and awareness out there more than before. However, there is still a heavy stigma around mental health because I think people are mostly afraid to speak up about it. They worry about what others might think. I think this adds to our stress level, when we feel like we can’t open up about what we struggle with.

      Reply
    • I know, I felt the same when I finally got put on sleep medication for my severe insomnia. I now get 8 hours of sleep and can function, which is a big deal. I also feel less down and way more positive when I’m sleeping. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Sleep is definitely something I need to make a higher priority. I feel more stressed and make more mistakes (which stress me out) when I’m overly tired.

    Reply
  5. The only thing I really have is a big problem from your list is sleeping. I have insomnia and no matter what I do to try to sleep it doesn’t always work. I do exercise regularly and that definitely helps with my stress.

    Reply
    • I also have insomnia and have to take medication for it. Nothing seems to work for my insomnia either. 🙂 I’m glad that exercise helps with your stress, it does the same for me too. 🙂

      Reply
  6. I can definitely relate to the part about ‘lack of sleep!’ Here I sit late at night reading your post when I should be sleeping in the other room lol

    Reply
    • Sorry for keeping you up and thanks for reading. I can understand because I have insomnia, so it’s easy for me to go without sleep. Proper sleep hygiene is so important. I hope you get some sleep tonight. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Stress totally can have so many negative effects on your health. This is such a great post and giving some solutions. I totally agree that exercise can totally help relieve some stress.

    Reply
    • I notice I always feel better after I exercise and when I don’t, and am up all night from insomnia. It’s super hard to stay positive or be productive. It’s nice to know how to relieve stress in our lives. 🙂

      Reply
    • I agree and feel the exact same way as you do. Now that I have a 2-year-old toddler and I’m no longer in my 30s also, stress tends to get to me more. So, I’m trying to practice what I write, it’s not enough to do the research, it’s also important to implement proper sleep and healthier habits. 🙂

      Reply
    • For sure, stress can often cause issues with our ability to be focus on a solution. So, I can see how removing stress from our lives can often feel overwhelmingly complex. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Reply
  8. This is my weak point and I know I am not alone. I am right now trying to figure out how to work some me time into my schedule

    Reply
  9. I can definitely use less stress in my life! I love the three tips you shared — especially on how much exercise an adult needs in a given week. I’ve started implementing 15 minute walks in the morning and afternoon, and that really boosts my mood!

    Reply
    • I’ve been doing the exact same with the 15 minute work outs. Hey, 15 minutes is better than nothing. I find that we can get a lot accomplished by making sure we do the three things: sleep, exercise, and living healthy (eat balanced). 🙂

      Reply
  10. This is so true. When I’m very stressed (anything that last over 3 days) I can start to see it in my face. I can definitely tell it ages me faster when I-worry over certain things.

    Reply
    • Yeah, same here! You can see it with under eye circles or worry lines creased on our foreheads. Stress and worry can age us. I’m so glad you took the time to read the article and value your feedback. And you are right, anything that consumes our minds with worry or stress beyond 3 days…that’s when we have to say “okay, I need to deal with this now.” 🙂

      Reply
    • I know what you mean and it isn’t healthy to be stressed out all the time. Take some time out for yourself and you will feel better. Thanks for commenting and reading. 🙂

      Reply

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