5 Ways to Reduce Stress (and Keep You Younger)
“We’re taught that there’s a prime of life. I say, throw that out the door. Every moment is your prime. There is no peak. It just gets better”. _ Cindy Joseph
It is inspiring to see people who take on exciting challenges later in life, proving that “age” is just a number. For example, Cindy Joseph started a professional modeling career at age 49, sporting grey hair; the beautiful, Greta Ponterelli, who became an internationally ranked pole dancer in her 60’s; and Ernestine Sheppard who became a body builder at age 80.
But, can you really stay young as you get older? More and more studies are saying yes. In her latest book, “Younger”, Dr. Sara Gottfried explains that genes are only 10% responsible for disease and aging. The other 90% is up to "epigenetics". Dr. Sara explains that epigenetics is “the ability to turn genes on and off”. In short, it’s the choices you make in lifestyle and your environment that decides your genes are expressed.
I have not had genetic testing, however, I am guessing that I have a genetic pre-disposition for alcohol intolerance. In earlier years, socializing with a few glasses of wine would lead to feeling sluggish, lethargic, and simply unwell the next day, compared to my friends who seem to have no problem with alcohol tolerance. Dr. Gottfried mentions the gene (scientifically referred to as “MTHFR”) that determines how you detox alcohol. If you receive a variant of this gene, you may not be able to process alcohol, leading to problems in your metabolism. Keeping my possibly mutated MTHFR gene quiet means abstaining from, or drinking very little alcohol. I’ll have a Virgin Caesar please!
Gottfried provides practical guidelines and lifestyle changes that can positively influence your genetics, keeping both body and mind youthful, healthy, and disease-free. One of the most important changes? Managing stress – one of the major causes of disease and aging. Studies show that too much cortisol (the hormone produced by stress) causes increased wear and tear in the body and disruptive patterns such as mood swings, sleep disturbance, and weight gain.
An interesting note: Men are better at managing stress than women. Women with more perceived stress aged ten years faster than women who perceived their stress to be less.
So how can we reduce stress and stay on the path of a healthy, youthful life? Here’s five suggestions from Dr. Gottfried:
1. Have a “Forest Bath” - Japanese studies found that spending a minimum of 20 mins in a forest lowers cortisol levels. You don’t need to book a plane ticket to Japan to reap these benefits. Take advantage of parks and pathways near your home and go for a run or walk. My favourite route is Weaselhead Creek.
2. Meditation & Mindfulness - Gottfried establishes that meditation is a powerful intervention that can alter how your body ages. Meditation is a tool to help alter your perception of stress, and entering a state of mindfulness can interrupt the effects of cortisol on the body. Since I consider myself a “newbie” meditator, I use guided meditations such as “Zivamind” found online.
3. Orgasm - Dr. Gottfried is a big fan of the benefits and importance of orgasm for lowering stress. 😉The release of the oxytocin hormone during orgasm lowers cortisol levels, strengthens vitality, and helps improve bone density!
4. Socializing with your gal-pals - Though men are better at managing stress, women are better at producing oxytocin, the “warm and fuzzy hormone”. Oxytocin in men is known to increase when they spend time with a woman, while oxytocin in women increases when they are with their girl friends.
5. Make pleasure a priority - Pleasure decreases cortisol. It is far easier to increase the positive and focus on oxytocin-releasing activities than it is to decrease the negative. Pleasurable activities help reset and rebalance hormones. It is valuable and important to our health, yet our North American culture tends to place it as a lower priority to other life endeavors. I like to combine business with pleasure every day! I consider it a successful day when I am having fun at work with my clients and co-workers.
Without a doubt, managing stress is a key factor in turning off those genes that age us while turning on the ones that support our bodies, improving quality of life.
I love the book Younger for its combination of evidence based theories and practical steps. Sara Gottfried clears the path to keeping you young as you get old, and helping you to be the best version of yourself. Stick with our AgeSmarter blogs over the next few weeks as we follow Gottfried’s protocol! For more of my favourite reads, check out Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup, and Longevity by Cameron Diaz.
Tell us how you lower stress and increase pleasure in your life by commenting below and you will be entered into a draw to win our "Younger with Thermae" package: a consultation with one of our expert practicioners and a personal treatment plan with products and services created just for you to guide you down the path of youthful skin.
With Warm Regards,
Founder of Thermae Centre for Advanced Aesthetics
Personally follow Hannah’s own beauty and health journey on Instagram here: @AgeSmarter