Recent studies have found that everything from air pollution to tobacco may speed up the aging process. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Yale University found that stress may be another factor that does the same thing.
However, their work also found that consumers can work to counteract some of these effects by lowering their stress levels through self-control and emotional regulation.
“These results support the popular notion that stress makes us age faster, but they also suggest a promising way to possibly minimize these adverse consequences of stress through strengthening emotional regulation and self-control,” said researcher Zachary Harvanek.
Working on stress levels can improve aging
For the study, the researchers utilized GrimAge – an epigenetic clock that measures biological age. The team collected blood samples from 444 participants between the ages of 19 and 50 and analyzed their biological ages. The participants also answered questions about their stress levels and emotional wellness.
Ultimately, the researchers learned that stress played a large role in the participants’ biological age. Those who struggled with chronic stress were found to be biologically older than those with fewer biological markers for long-term stress. This was true regardless of factors such as race, smoking, income, and body mass index (BMI).
However, the study showed that there is still hope for stressed-out consumers. Two factors stood out as being important in terms of stress management: self-control and emotional regulation. When participants were able to master these two things, they were more likely to cope with their stress and slow down the aging process.
The researchers hope these findings encourage consumers to reconsider their mental health and get serious about managing their stress levels in healthy ways.
“We all like to feel like we have some agency over our fate,” said Rajita Sinha. “So it is a cool thing to reinforce in people’s minds that we should make an investment in our psychological health.”