Steve Pavlina has some great insights from time to time, and his last one was on stress. He said,
“On average, each highly stressful year that you endure shaves about 6 years off your lifespan.”
And he even explained the mechanism responsible–how it happens.
“People experiencing high stress have been measured to lose their telomeres much faster than normal. Telomeres are the caps at the end of your DNA strands that keep them from fraying. You slowly lose these telomeres as you age, but stress can speed up the process dramatically, effectively causing your body to wear out much sooner.”
Telomeres are an interesting body part (well, maybe they are too small to actually be called a part), but they are also where your reactions are recorded. For instance, if you react in fear or anger to some triggering event, you will likely react that way again because it is recorded in your telomeres.
They are responsible for making your patterns of behavior. Say you blow up at your kid or your husband/wife because it appeared they did something you had asked them not to. Later you find out that it wasn’t how it looked. You feel like a fool, but the worst part is the wear and tear on you.
Not only does it age you, but it also sets you up for another explosion. So now you are aging doubly. First you have the stress which ages you. Plus you are more apt to do it again. Not to mention that anger creates free-radicals that hammer your cells.
What can you do?
You can choose to breathe the next time before responding. I had a client who had a problem exploding over everything, according to his wife. (Even he admitted that he got angry easily.) Everything just set him off. He didn’t know what to do about it.
So I taught him to breathe in for seven seconds and out for seven seconds three times when he felt his anger or frustration level starting.
He came back so excited! He said it just smoothed everything out inside. He said it was the best thing I’d ever taught him.
Sometimes the simplest, cheapest things are the best!