High levels of stress can cause premature ageing

Dr John Demartini explains how stress accelerates the ageing process and offers advice on how to combat this

Experiencing high levels of stress can make you age prematurely. You probably know at least a few individuals who have experienced what they imagine to be highly stressful events; maybe a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a reduction in income, debt or the discovery of a serious health issue that has accelerated their ageing processes quite rapidly.

I remember a young man who found out that his mother had metastatic cancer. Within a few weeks he began growing a patch of white hair. It was quite amazing how quickly his hair aged. I watched a young 20-year-old girl find out she was pregnant, without knowing who the father was, and saw how she felt the pressure of the social and financial implications. I literally watched her face age at least five years in just a few weeks. It’s scary how quickly stress can take its physiological toll.

So what can you do if you find yourself experiencing circumstances that feel emotionally distressing? Having a close friend or a professional to communicate with would be ideal. Meditation and stilling your mind to enable your inner solutions to arise can also assist. Exercising to channel off some extra tension will maybe assist temporarily. Making sure you eat quality, nutritious food during such times is certainly wise. Also, ask yourself: how could your perceived stressful situation actually serve or benefit you now and in the future?

To perceive only the negative side of the emotional equation and not even attempt to search for the accompanying positive side can further exacerbate the stress and keep you perpetually bound to the so-called ‘stressor.’ This will certainly drain your adrenal gland reserves over time and age you. Balancing the equation dissolves the charge of the ‘stressor.’ A balanced mind is more timeless and ageless.

Ask yourself what the drawbacks would be if this emotionally stressful event had not occurred? Sometimes we assume that our life would have been ‘much
better’ if things would have turned out differently.

Sometimes people compare their present realities to falsely optimistic fantasies. Having unrealistic expectations about the world or yourself can add to your stress perceptions when life doesn’t match your ideal fantasy. Be sure your life expectations are balanced and realistic. Life offers a balance. One-sided events don’t occur.

Since many stressful situations involve personal interactions with others, it’s wise to ask where and when you have participated in such an interaction with someone else who perceived you as being the source of their stress. This question can humble you and make you think twice about unwisely judging others, since a lot of stress involves exaggerated judgments about others. Self-reflection is wise and honest introspection often reveals humbling histories.

When you become reflective your expectations often become more realistic. 
Since every action involves an equal and opposite reaction, try to find the exact opposite or ‘anti’ event taking place in your life right now. If someone is criticising or rejecting you, ask yourself where someone is simultaneously praising or accepting you, although maybe not within the same location. This takes deep inspection, but it is worth the moment of exploration. A great discovery is revealed when you take the time to honestly probe the initially unseen world that balances every event.

Experiencing high levels of stress can make you prematurely age. But there are a few sensible actions you can do to remedy such stress-induced ageing dilemmas. By applying the above few outlined approaches to dissolving or reducing stress you can keep your more youthful energies.

Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, international best-selling author and the founder of the Demartini Institute.