Tag Archives: aging

10 Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Stress pinned on noticeboardStress is a personal thing. What might stress me out may not bother you, and vice versa. A little bit of stress is good for motivation and may help your memory. However, ongoing stress can impact your health in negative ways. Increased doctors visits and serious illnesses may be linked to stress.

Stress can come from a short-term frustration, such as a traffic jam or waiting in line, or a major life event like losing a job or divorce. Either way, it can affect our bodies and our overall health.

Here are 10 ways that stress may be impacting your health, and you don’t even realize it:

Triggers cravings
Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, may trigger cravings for sugar and fat. If you already have a higher body mass index, you may be even more susceptible to cravings. The key is to know your stress triggers and stock up on healthy snacks. Or, make sure you don’t have unhealthy treats on hand when you know you may be guilty of emotional eating.

Causes weight gain
Stress can also be correlated with weight gain. In addition to the cravings caused by the stress hormone cortisol, higher levels of cortisol may also be linked to more belly fat. You may also have poor eating habits when you’re more stressed.

Messes up your memory
When you’re stressed about getting to an important appointment on time, it can be harder to remember where you put the car keys or when you last filled up the gas tank. Stress seems to fog up your memory and make it harder to remember simple things.

Raises blood sugar
Stress is known to raise blood sugar levels. If you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes, stress can substantially increase your risk of developing the disease. For those who already have Type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher when under stress.

Impacts your vision
Stress can cause a range of eye symptoms – from eye twitches to hysterical blindness. In both cases, it’s important to find the underlying causes of the emotional stress and then try to eliminate the causes of the stress.

Gives you headaches
The “fight or flight” chemicals that are released during a stressful event can cause vascular changes that give you a headache or migraine. It can happen while you’re stressed or during the “let-down” period afterwards. Stress can also make you tense your jaw muscles or clench your teeth, both of which can create a tension headache.

Keeps you up at night
Work issues or life events can keep you tossing and turning at night. Loss of sleep is linked to a number of health conditions and creates a vicious cycle. Insomnia increases your stress and keeps you up even more at night. Getting a better night’s sleep can help you cut down stress before it starts.

Creates digestion problems
Heartburn, stomach cramps and diarrhea can be caused by stress, or can be worsened by stress. Bouts of constipation and diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome, are also thought to be partially fueled by stress.

Weakens your immune system
Chronic stress can make it harder for you to fight off viruses and bugs. It lowers your immune system by creating hormonal changes in your body.

Makes you age prematurely
I want to live as long as possible. Traumatic events and chronic stress are both thought to shorten the telomeres in your chromosomes. This change causes your cells to age faster. It seems that exercising vigorously three times a week may be enough to counteract the effects.

We all know that chronic stress is bad for us. Our modern society creates a long-term state of stress, and it’s hard on our minds and bodies. If you’re feeling stressed, find ways to relax and learn to let go of stress!

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8 Tips to Prevent the Effects of Aging

hands-833821-mAs I notice more gray hairs and wrinkles, I worry about getting older. I recently glanced at myself when I passed a mirror and realized I could see a resemblance to my grandma. When did I get that old?

Aging is unavoidable. As morbid as it sounds, we are in the process of dying from the day we are born. Our genes are just not equipped to keep our bodies alive forever. One theory is that our ancestors lived short, dangerous lives. They passed on their genes to their children when they were young and fit. As a part of natural selection, the genes that counter the effects of aging were not all that important.

Even just a century ago, life spans were around 50 years. Today, the average life span has risen to over 77 years for men and almost 82 for women. Modern medicine and better healthcare have extended our lives, but aging is still inevitable.

First, let’s take a look at the common changes that are a normal part of the aging process.

Thinning hair and skin
Some of the first changes you may notice as you age happens with your hair and skin. Your hair turns gray, becomes more porous and starts to thin. Your skin loses its elasticity and becomes thin. Lines become more pronounced and muscles lose flexibility.

Shrinking bones and muscles
With age, your bones shrink in size and density. They become more weak and susceptible to fracture. You might get shorter. Muscles also lose strength and flexibility, and you may have trouble balancing.

Heart issues
Your heart rate slows down and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and arteries become stiffer. Your heart has to pump harder to move blood through your body.

Failing eyes and ears
Your eyes produce fewer tears, the retina thins and the iris stiffens making the lens of your eye cloudy. At the same time, the walls of your auditory canal thins and the eardrum thickens. You may gradually experience hearing loss.

Slow digestion
The entire process of digestion slows down as we age. Your intestinal function diminishes causing digestion to slow down and bowel function to change. The muscles around the esophagus weaken. You may start to experience more acid reflux. Even your teeth shifting as you age can affect digestion.

Decreased metabolism
Your metabolism will slow down as you age, leading to weight gain and sluggishness. You may feel tired more quickly. Your body just isn’t as efficient at breaking down and using calories as it once was.

Memory problems
After about 30, your brain begins to lose neurons. As we age, the speed at which we process information slows down. Also, certain types of memory start to decline. For instance, you may have trouble recalling names or thinking of a particular word. But this has nothing to do with your ability to think or your normal mental functioning.

So, now that you’re completely freaked out by the process of aging, what can you do to prevent or slow down the affects of aging? Can you be doing more to live a long, healthy life? The answer is “Yes.”

Here are 8 tips for preventing or diminishing the effects of aging:

Get moving
We often talked about the importance of exercise in this blog. Cardiovascular exercise combined with strength training will rev up your metabolism and build muscle. You will control your weight and move more easily. Keeping the weight down can help stave off a whole host of chronic health problems and diseases.

Make healthy food choices
Nourish your body from the inside out. Get your nutrition from the kitchen rather than a pill. You need to eat fruits and vegetables every day to give you the antioxidants you need to fight disease. Good nutrition also aids in digestion and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Drink water
Get six to eight glasses of water a day. When you feel thirsty, your cells are actually crying out for water. Your skin, bones, muscles, kidneys, digestion, metabolism and heart all depend on water to function properly.

Laugh
Laughing releases “feel good” endorphins that help boost immunity and reduce stress levels. Boisterous laughter expands blood vessels and improves blood flow. Laughing can improve your mood and overall outlook on life.

Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is extremely important to your overall well-being. Lack of sleep can make your more hungry, add to your stress and slow down your metabolism. A good night’s sleep can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day. It can also improve your health and promote longevity.

Manage stress
Chronic stress can take a toll on your body as well as your mind and soul. It can impact your mood and relationships. Stress can be harmful to your heart and your health in general. When you’re stressed, you are less likely to stick to your healthy habits.

Be social
Spending time with friends and family can help ward off depression and stress. You are more likely to laugh and enjoy yourself. We need relationships to find balance, stay more physically active and stimulate our brains.

Sharpen the mind
Just like keeping your body active, it’s important to stimulate your mind. Read, work crossword puzzles, find new interests and hobbies or write in a journal. Your mind needs a good workout every day, too.

You have a choice in how your body ages. By adopting habits that lead to a more balanced life, you can have an impact on the aging process. Continue to make gradual changes until they become part of your lifestyle. You can create a healthier, longer life!