Ageing is multifactorial*, and stress is included in this.
Stress is a ‘major ager’, it speeds up the ageing process – mind, body and spirit! It’s not important if it is emotional, mental, physiological, environmental or nutritional, or biological, they all lead to the same result – continual stress equals faster ageing and faster body breakdown.
Today, stress is everywhere, it is killing us. It starts in the morning with perhaps eating a rushed breakfast in the car on the way to work; to organising your day and how to fit your tasks into it; to disagreeing with a colleague or family member; to dealing with a bad driver on the roads – these are all stressors. Stress never stops!
Continual and unrelenting stress causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. This creates a continual flow of cortisol in the bloodstream, which is highly destructive. This includes suppressed thyroid function which can cause blood sugar imbalances, which will lead to insulin resistance; impaired cognitive performance including concentration, memory, and problem solving; decrease in bone density and muscle tissue; high blood pressure which effect the function of the arteries; and increased abdominal fat which leads to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Continual stress also degrades the immune system, our protector, leaving us wide open to such things as cancer and age-related, degenerative diseases. High stress levels also cause behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, unhappiness, or the opposite, extreme happiness, together with insomnia, and reduced mental and physical control.
Think of it this way, any stressor will create a six hour shut-down of the immune system, when there are two or three stressors at a time whether it be, emotional, physical physiological, environmental, or nutritional, we get a twelve or eighteen hour shut-down. Bereavement can throw the whole body into total hormonal bewilderment for as much a six month.
As we age our hormones decline, in menopause our sex hormones decline drastically over a five year period, putting the body under an incredible and continual stress load. If we are already highly stressed and are also menopausal, our stress will be exacerbated because of this factor (and we definitely will not be sleeping).
How to control stress levels?
To remain, fit, healthy and youthfully active we need to ensure that we control our stress levels by doing such things as yoga, curling up with a good book, taking a hot bath, making time for sleep, sex, and for ourselves, meditation, massage, and exercise, but restorative doctors believe that stress control on a permanent basis is impossible ‘unless and until’ hormonal balance is restored.
*Multifactorial – involving or dependent on a number of factors, especially genetic or environmental factors.