How thoughts and emotions affect the way we age

Some people seem healthy and younger than they are during their lives, while others experience premature aging and consistent health problems. Scientists found out that the difference in the aging process for different people comes from a variety of factors such as genes, diet, lifestyle habits and environment. Studies show that our thoughts and mental state can influence the way we age too.

Let’s turn to science to understand the aging process better. Our cells have special counters called telomeres which determine cells’ lifetime. Telomeres are the areas at the ends of chromosomes which become shorter after each cell division. The length of the telomeric regions determines the age of the cell - the shorter the telomeric “tail”, the older the cell is. There is a so-called Hayflick limit associated with a reduction in telomere length – when the number of somatic cell divisions comes to approximately 50, cells begin to show signs of aging. When they get too short, cell division stops. This is not the only reason for cell aging, and there are other factors which affect this process that we still do not fully understand. However, short telomeres are one of the main known causes of aging and cell death.

The study of telomeres led scientists to the surprising conclusion that telomeric regions can be extended. That also means that aging is a dynamic process which can be slowed down or accelerated, and maybe even reversed. Research shows that telomeres do not just follow the instructions of the genetic code, but also react to our thoughts and actions. The food we eat (here should be the hyperlink to the Nutrition page), our response to stressful situations, the quantity and quality of physical activity (here should be the hyperlink to the Physical Activity page), and many other factors influence the length of our telomeres and can prevent premature aging at the cellular level.

Now let’s look at some of the destructive emotions and models of thinking which have a harmful influence on our telomeres and health in general.

Ill will or spite

Continuous anger, malice and mistrust towards others lead to premature aging, shorten life span and cause various health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders. Such emotions negatively affect collagen production and skin rejuvenation as well. People who constantly experience ill will have shorter telomeres.  

Pessimism

Pessimistic attitude towards life can not only shorten our telomeres but also increase the risk of development of numerous illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases.

Dwelling on problems

When we spend too much time endlessly ruminating on negative situations instead of analyzing them once and moving on, we cause significant harm to our organism and become more susceptible to depression and anxiety. These mental conditions are associated with telomeres shortening and the development of multiple health problems.

Suppression of Thoughts and Feelings

This is another harmful habit that affects the length of telomeres. When we try to cope with strong negative emotions and difficult thoughts by suppressing and sealing them in the depths of the subconsciousness, we may face negative consequences. Our brain already does a great job of analyzing information, and by creating additional tension for it, we end up experiencing even more stress and dangerous effects on our health and appearance.

Destructive thoughts and emotions can occupy our mind, prevent us from seeing the real picture and analyzing it rationally. One of the solutions to this problem is mindfulness. We should learn to notice harmful thoughts, acknowledge them and their effect on our mental state. After that, we can start changing our thinking habits and reaction to negative events. With mindfulness, we are able to spot an unhealthy thought and let it go by understanding that this is nothing more than just a thought in our head. This can dramatically improve our response to stressful situations.

You can start to practice mindfulness by meditating and getting regular physical activity. In some cases, it is also recommended to attend therapy sessions where an experienced psychotherapist will help you cope with difficult emotions, become more mindful and fight various mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.

There are also some practices which you can start implementing straight away. Getting the right attitude in life can help you fight psychological aging and maintain your health and beauty.

Focusing on the future, not the past

The first sign of psychological aging is the feeling that our best years are already gone and left behind. Psychologically old people live in their memories, while psychologically young individuals move forward and make plans for the future. Strive to constantly learn new things, develop yourself and make plans, this will keep your mind youthful.

Concentration on opportunities

Psychologically young people believe in themselves and understand that reaching their goals depends only on their own abilities and motivation. We feel that we face more and more psychological and physiological limitations as we age, but it is important to remember that every period in our life brings new opportunities too. Monitor your needs and organize your energy resources efficiently to realize these opportunities.  

Emotional Stability

Reaching emotional stability from mindfulness practices and attending therapy sessions can help slow down the aging process. Learn to properly react to stressful situations, let go of destructive thoughts and find joy even in the smallest everyday moments.  

As a part of our program, experienced professionals help you find the most appropriate solution for coping with everyday stress, mental health problems and destructive thoughts. We may recommend you relevant mindfulness practices and therapy sessions based on your individual concerns and health state.

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