Is Stress Making You Old?

Is Stress Making You Old?


Did you know that stress, aside from being rather, well, stressful, can actually make you look older than you are?


It’s true!


When you’re stressed, you’re tired, you’re not thinking straight, you’re probably not eating properly, and you have a huge amount of Cortisol (the stress hormone) whizzing around your body. Excess Cortisol can make you put on weight, it makes you downright unhappy and all of this adds up to a rather ageing situation which has no place in the modern beauty regime! Studies have also shown that stress can affect your body on a cellular level too, shortening the length of something called telomeres in your DNA. This is a small item which sits on the end of your chromosomes and ascertains the age of the cell. It basically makes your cells older!


Aside from the appearance side of things, stress is extremely dangerous for your overall health and wellbeing. Did you know that in severe cases, stress can actually be life threatening? Yes, really! Stress places strain on your heart, it increases your blood pressure, it encourages the body to think it’s in danger, forcing the ‘fight or flight’ response. Whilst a little stress is good, and can even be motivating, too much stress is hugely damaging. Aside from anything, it just makes you miserable and increases the risk of developing depression and anxiety.


Being able to recognise when you are stressed out and therefore manage the situation at hand is vital. The problem is, not everyone recognises the fact they are feeling stressed. This can be as a result of living on high alert for far too long; it almost seems normal. It’s not normal! If you’re constantly tired no matter how much sleep you get, you’re not eating properly, you’re avoiding social situations, you have regular headaches, your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, and you simply feel hopeless and down, you need to ask yourself what the issue is. If you can pinpoint a situation which is causing stress, your next action is to minimise it and eventually eradicate it.


The following are the pillars of stress management:


  • Identify the problem and tackle it head on – talk to someone!
  • Look at your diet, are you eating enough fruit and vegetables? Are you eating breakfast? Give yourself a routine and factor in a balanced, healthy diet – you’ll feel better!
  • Work on relaxation and ensuring that you are getting enough sleep and that you have a high-quality sleeping routine in place
  • Try some form of exercise that you enjoy. The endorphins released during exercise will distract you from the problem, making you feel much better, and therefore putting the issue into perspective
  • Place your social life high up on your priority list. We all need to spend time with family and friends; this isn’t a luxury item, it’s a necessity!
  • Seek help if you really feel that you can’t cope. You will first need to ascertain what the issue really is, but by asking for help you can tackle it head on and therefore reduce the stress you feel
  • Practice time management techniques to give you ‘virtually’ more hours in the day. This is especially useful if it is a work problem you’re stressed about, and will help you feel more in control
  • Avoid unhealthy coping techniques, such as drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. These won’t help and will simply make you feel a million times worse – make exercise your new coping technique and see how great it feels!


Stress isn’t something to take lightly, and it’s not something to joke about. Businesses lose countless working days every year due to employees who are stressed, and from a personal point of view, it’s not something that’s worth the time. Life is too short to be stressed!


Figure out the reason, stamp it out, and work on giving yourself some TLC – doctor’s orders!




Nicola Curtis


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