When we think about women and stress, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Modern women fill many roles within the household than their counterparts just 30 years ago.
Women today face a great deal of stress balancing work, home, children, aging parents, finances, paying for college… all while keeping their marriage/relationship in a positive place.
The bad news is that as we age, the feelings we experience from all these stressors have a significant impact on the way we age including muscle loss, weight gain, slower metabolism, poor skin texture and deepening wrinkles — all signs of accelerated aging.
The good news is we can take action to ease the effects of stress which inevitably helps to delay the aging process, so we can stay healthy and active for a long time for our families!
In this article, we’ll define stress, discuss its impact on our bodies, and explore what we can do to relieve ourselves from it and stop the vicious cycle of accelerated aging.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is “the brain’s response to any demand” - good and bad, and these demands are what we call stressors.
By definition, stress is not a bad guy. It’s simply our brain activating so our body can respond to what our external environment needs us to do.
In moderate amounts, stress can be helpful. It acts as a nudge for you to prepare for something that can potentially go wrong. Who hasn’t listened to that ‘gut feeling’ and averted a problem? A little stress and mild anxiety can go a long way to help you stay alert and focused to prepare for a sales presentation or meeting with the boss.
Stress only becomes harmful when it’s intense, chronic, and not dealt with properly.
To understand stress better, it’s helpful to know its types:
Acute stress is a short, immediate response to a sudden danger that you either witness or experience first-hand. It can happen due to scary situations and thrilling ones, like going on a teacup ride at Disney or watching other people ride a roller coaster.
This type of stress is not necessarily harmful. Little bursts of stress can practice and condition your body to respond better to stressful events in the future.
Severe acute stress, however, is more impactful. It’s a response you have to life-threatening events that can lead to trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Episodic Acute Stress is the frequent occurrence of acute stress. It happens when you are in situations that constantly make you anxious because you know something terrible can happen. They make you feel unrestful, agitated, and apprehensive of the future.
You will most likely experience episodic acute stress if you work in a high pressure environment — think ER nurse, law enforcement, or high-powered executive.
Even though this type of stress only happens briefly, it can occur intensely every time. Therefore, it can still negatively affect your physical and mental health.
Chronic stress is when you experience high stress levels for a long time. This type of stress can cause cardiovascular diseases and compromise your immune system and mental health.
Chronic stress plays a factor in developing depression, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, sleeping problems, and headaches/migraine.
The causes of stress are as varied as our experiences, personalities, and perceptions of the world. Check out this article on the American Psychological Association (APA) website to understand how our interpretation of an event, and not the event itself, determines how it affects us and stresses us out.
But there are stressors that are generally more impactful to us than others. A 2015 survey by the APA reveals that the most common causes of stress are money and work. Other studies pinpoint relationships, socio-economic status, discrimination, family demands, and long-term, life-threatening illnesses.
How we manifest stress is also as varied as what caused them, but we can classify it into:
● Physical symptoms of stress (such as lethargy, stress eating, back and neck pains)
● Emotional symptoms of stress (such as depression, mood swings, and irritability
● Mental symptoms of stress (such as forgetfulness, worrying too much, inability to focus) ● Social symptoms of stress (such as isolation or being asocial)
● Occupational symptoms of stress (such as burnout, poor relationships at work, lesser productivity)
Stress signals the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.
Cortisol increases your heart rate and blood pressure and floods your body with glucose to energize your muscles, preparing your body for a fight-or-flight response. This is a normal and healthy response that can save your life from danger.
However, if you are constantly stressed and your body is always in high gear, your health will suffer. Too much cortisol causes heart diseases, high sugar levels, and digestive issues.
But here’s a little-known effect of stress: it produces a chain reaction that affects your muscles, which in turn affects your metabolism, and ultimately leads to rapid aging.
Stress activates integrated networks in your brain and puts your endocrine system to work so your body can respond to it and save you from danger.
The corticotropin-releasing factor is the beginning of this response. It involves activating the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When both are activated, you’re off to the races.
Now, if you often experience intense and long-term stress, the HPA axis activity increases. This spike signals the adrenal glands to produce more glucocorticoid (you’ve likely heard of the most well- known, cortisol) hormones that increase protein degradation (breaking down of muscles) and suppress protein synthesis (prevents building muscles) which can lead to excessive muscle loss - the thinning and wasting away of muscles.
As a result, your muscle mass, and consequently, your lean body mass, will decrease, which is terrible news for your metabolism.
Metabolism is a process that turns food into energy. The energy produced in this process is what you use to function daily.
Metabolism works best if you have more muscle and lean body mass than fat because your muscle tissue burns more calories than your fat tissue. In other words, if you have more muscle, you have a higher metabolic rate and you burn more calories at rest.
If this is the case, it follows that when you lose muscle, you’ll have a lower metabolic rate. Meaning, your body will be burning less calories all throughout the day, and the excess calories that were not metabolized into energy will be stored as fat instead.
It’s hard to know when our metabolism slows down, so most people continue eating their normal amount of food, but with less muscle, they will store those excess calories as fat. This results in lower energy, increased body fat, and therefore, weight gain.
All of stress’ adverse effects on muscle and metabolism make you age faster from the inside out!
Muscle loss reduces your strength, energy, and ability to function physically. It also slows down your recovery from injuries which further limits your physical abilities.
Also, muscle loss can make us look older! Good muscle mass tightens our skin, so losing muscle makes our skin loose, crepey, and wrinkly. And because gravity pulls everything down, loose skin eventually droops and sags.
In other words, muscle is key to a youthful-looking skin, healthy aging, a beautiful glow, and a great quality of life!
Now that we understand stress and how it affects our body, let’s start doing something about it through the stress management tips below.
Let’s also talk about a breakthrough solution to preventing stress from making you age rapidly!
Reduce stress by being kind to yourself. It may sound cheesy, but a healthy change in attitude and perspective can greatly improve your way of handling stress. It’s probably one of the most effective stress relief tips that won’t cost you anything.
Start developing self-kindness by forgiving yourself for only being able to do so much. Forgive yourself for attending an important work meeting instead of being with the kids. And forgive yourself for being in recitals and soccer practice instead of finishing an important work project.
If you’re wondering why you still haven’t consistently done all the self-care habits you want for yourself, it’s because they’re too many.
Our days are busy and unpredictable. You can’t expect to make a ton of changes simultaneously. And when you can’t finish the list of habits you promised yourself you’d do, you’ll feel disappointed in yourself, become discouraged, and just stop trying.
So, in the spirit of kindness, pick just one priority habit that relieves your stress, and focus on integrating it into your life before moving on to the next habit.
Some amazing de-stressing habits are meditation, yoga, reading, drinking tea, or anything that makes you feel relaxed and pampered.
Did you know that clutter can affect your mental health? The mess you see affects your mental clarity. So, Marie-Kondo your house and set a regular day to organize your home, and consequently, your mental space.
Once every two weeks— say, every other weekend— should work. Decluttering this often can help you avoid seeing random stuff in places they aren’t even supposed to be in— like what are your keys doing in the fridge?
Maintaining a healthy body will give you an edge in combating stress. As mentioned earlier, building and maintaining healthy muscles is vital in living a healthy life, and proper nutrition and exercise can help you with that!
A cutting-edge product has been created to turn back the clock and reduce signs of aging caused by stress!
You can 10x the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise on muscle health by taking AgelessLX, the secret of hundreds of women who are defying aging!
AgelessLX has a proven formula that contains HMB. HMB activates protein synthesis and fights protein breakdown to preserve and build muscle while combating muscle loss. This process results in a healthier muscle and even weight loss for many satisfied users!
AgelessLX is also rich in essential vitamins D3, K2, and biotin that enhance your body’s collagen production for stronger nails and hair and more beautiful skin. Collagen is a vital protein for the connective tissues in your skin and muscles that enhances the firmness and elasticity of your skin.
Fight stress and rapid aging with the most effective, age-defying weapon you can have: AgelessLX!
Stress isn’t naturally bad. It’s simply a biological response to the demands of the environment. However, too much of it can adversely affect your body, specifically your muscle, metabolism, and weight, and accelerate aging.
But you can fight the effects of stress by being kind to yourself, setting one important self-care habit, decluttering, maintaining healthy habits, and taking the life-changing AgelessLX!
Visit our website to know more about the supplement that women in their golden years are raving about!
If you find this article helpful, you may also want to check out our podcast and listen to Michele Drielick go deep on the effects of stress on aging with Dr. Deb Matthew and stress management through self-respect with Brodie Welch!
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**Individuals may have received free product or compensation in exchange for their honest review. Individual results will vary. All other benefits/effects noted in these testimonials/reviews are the individuals’ personal opinions and have not been studied.