Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Relaxation and stress are emotional mental states that can transcend to affect our physical wellbeing. Stress is an imbalance of the harmonious workings of the organism, which can be defined as the absence of homeostasis, thus causing the body’s coordinated effort to re-establish that balance. A stress response triggers the release of powerful stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline. This causes the body to increase your heart rate, increases glucose in the bloodstream, elevates your blood pressure and makes your brain use glucose.
Studies show at the National Library of Medicine that long term ongoing stress contributes to a wide range of issues such as mitochondrial damage in regions of the brain, specifically the cortex and hippocampus. Damaged mitochondria can also cause DNA to leak out into the rest of the cell and eventually into the bloodstream where it’s not supposed to be.
Psychosocial experiences trigger a biological stress response. This circulating mitochondrial DNA acts like a hormone mimicking the release of cortisol. Mitochondria is the power generators of the cell that convert oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate which is responsible for storing and transferring energy in the cells. You can think of it as the main energy currency of the cell that drives many processes such as nerve impulse propagation, muscle contraction, chemical synthesis, and condensate dissolution. Pay attention to your emotional state because psychological stress translates into physical health effects. Kristoffer Månsson, PhD, a clinical psychologist and primary investigator at the Karolinska Institute has ongoing research on the brain's plasticity, cell biology, telomere length, telomerase activity and cellular aging. Månsson and his colleagues published a study on clinicaltrials.gov about how anxiety and stress affect telomeres.
How do we slow the aging process to live longer?
A scientific report explains how DNA methylation correlates with telomere length. By long term consistent mindfulness practices like breathwork, yoga, exercise or meditation techniques we increase our telomerase activity.
The hormone cortisol suppresses the immune system and the musculoskeletal system is also affected. Stress can increase the risk of hypertension, stroke, and even heart attack. A 2018 study in neuropsychopharmacology demonstrated that subjects with depression had high mitochondrial DNA in their bloodstream, and a 2016 study published, found it higher in subjects who attempted suicide. Chronic stress can induce multiple negative changes in neurological structures. Implications of stress were found to affect memory, attention and cognitive learning consequently impairing two significant processes. The rapid autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the slower hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is activated within seconds of a physiological response to stressors, creating a release of catecholamines such as noradrenaline (NA) from the adrenal medulla and the locus coeruleus in the brain. This prepares the body for “fight or flight” responses consequently affecting the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. Another system that is activated due to stress is the release of corticosteroids which readily enters the brain and binds to two different receptors that induce effects on cognition.
Based on a study at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, they calculated the effects of stress on life expectancy ...heavy stress shortens life expectancy and controls the rate of aging. Your emotional state is much more than a telltale sign of how you're feeling, but an in depth indicator of how your cells communicate with your body.
Dr. Robert Ader at the University of Rochester was involved in a study that reveals intricate interaction of consciousness, the brain, immune system and the central nervous system. This is amazing because it proves there's a direct connection between physical health and mental/emotional health. The study in Medical Sciences shows how severe heavy stress causes illness and disease. However, not all stress is equal ...short term stress on the body may actually be beneficial for boosting the immune system and activating anti-aging genes. It is the chronic consistent stress that is detrimental, it is the heavy ongoing long term stress that is the culprit. There is a big difference between long term emotional stress and short term physical stress on the body. Short term physical stresses on the body like exercise, actually does the opposite of heavy emotional stress. Just remember that it matters what type of stress your body undergoes. Exercise is effective for stress relief as it pumps up your feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins which are the brain's natural pain killers and mood elevators. Exercise reduces stress hormones in the body and muscles become less tense and more flexible. Rhythmic and repetitive workouts are best to achieve the desired endorphin release effect. Start off with simple short exercises and work your way up, It also helps with self confidence and stamina.
Examples of beneficial short term stress on the body, that has been shown to lengthen telomeres and activate anti-aging genes are;
Hot/cold therapy. Take a hot bath and then jump in a cold shower or bath for 3 mins. Or a sauna and cryotherapy.
Intermittent fasting. Have a small eating window during the day. Don’t eat after a certain time to give your digestion a break.
Fasting. Fasting for 3 days or more can have absolutely incredible results by activating Autophagy to get rid of the senescent cells.
Do exercise that increases your heart rate. Moderate exercise is good most of the time but a few times per week you should run so fast like you're running from a tiger. This turns on your anti-aging genes into protection mode.
Longevity and anti aging expert and scientist, Dr. David Andrew Sinclair is a professor at the department of genetics and co-director of the Paul .F. Glenn Center for the Biology of aging. David’s Sinclairs research has shown favourable outcomes, and he says implementing these tiny stressors every few days along with healthy food choices will add at least 10 years onto your life expectancy, along with improving the quality of your life.
David Sinclair is known for his groundbreaking studies on how to slow down aging and prevent disease. In his best selling book, “Lifespan” he details that the symptoms of epigenetic changes in our bodies that occur over time are the called, "The Hallmarks of Aging" which can be slowed down with implementations with strict control. The scientific studies have concluded that certain habitual changes can slow the aging process and promote longevity and wellness. With his team at the Sinclair lab at Harvard Medical School at the Blavatnik institute of genetics, they have demonstrated a variety of techniques on molecular biology, and epigenetic reprogramming. David's lab includes the work on DNA repair, whole body tissue reprogramming, cellular healing, cardiac, muscle and mitochondrial alteration, epigenetic and genetic stability. The main components to creating a harmonious working body with prolonged youth and wellness is all about how you live according to your repetitive habits. That's how important habits are ...they are life generating, life changing and completely make up your whole body and mind, thus creating your life.
Breathwork & Stress Management
Deep breathing is always a winner when it comes to needing to calm the mind, and body. Get in the routine of doing breathing exercises every time you feel tense stress coming on. The breathwork exercise is designed to flood your lungs and cells with optimal oxygen which sends messages to your brain to relax.
How do we use this breathing technique properly?
Breathe into your belly by taking a slow deep breath ….practice pulling the diaphragm down with each inward breath, and pulling the diaphragm upward when exhaling. Engauge your stomach, diaphragm and abdominal muscles when breathing.
Breathwork helps free the breath in an exhilarating way ….fully engaging the diaphragm which helps the lungs fill more efficiently and encourages full oxygen exchange, and increasing the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. In particular, this breathing practice promotes muscle relaxation and mind calming clarity. A number of studies show the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing that seem to trigger good physical and mental body responses.
Aromatherapy is another great way to de-stress, many scientific studies show. In one study published in The International Journal of Nursing Practice a lavender scented oil spray used on clothing was found to be effective in reducing work related stress for 3-4 days. The effects of Lavender essential oil can reduce stress or anxiety by triggering the cardiovascular system and stimulates brain cell receptors called GABAAR. Jeremy Appleton is a licenced naturopathic physician from the Natural Collage of Natural Medicine who currently serves as a director of scientific affairs at integrative therapeutics. Jeremy has come to the conclusion in The Natural Medicine Journal that 80mg of high quality lavender essential oil is superior to pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepines. Lavender oil has been shown in controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials to be very effective for depression and anxiety management. Sandalwood and bergamot essential oils are also used therapeutically for stress relief. Complementary Medicine Research presents a 2017 study published on phytotherapy research found that exposure to bergamot oil for 15 minutes improves emotional state, clinically at a mental health treatment center.
Take action to create peace in your life, why wait?
Use an oil diffuser with your favorite essential oil to unwind after a long day of work, this will definitely help uplift the mood with a scent of a beautiful fresh aroma in the house which calms the nerves. When you take a shower put 3 drops of essential oil on a loofah to create an aromatherapy steam room, and you will love how the beautiful aromas trigger your tickling sensations!
The content on this site is solely the views, and research of the writer, and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.