Chill Out: Reduce Your Stress

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Chill Out: Reduce Your Stress

Here's a good reason to reduce your stress: It kills off your cells prematurely.

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Back in 2004, researchers managed to uncover a definitive link between the mind and the body. Unfortunately, it wasn't very good news: Geneticists found that chronic stress shortens the lifespan of cells in the body by affecting telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that allow DNA to successfully replicate itself and form new cells. When these telomeres wear down (as they do naturally over time; the process accelerates when the mind experiences stress), the DNA in the nucleus of a cell can no longer divide. As a result, cells, then tissue, then organs, begin to die [source: UT Southwestern].

Since stress can lead to a premature shortening of the telomeres found at the ends of chromosomes, reducing the stress in your life is an internal anti-aging technique. Reducing stress also leads to better sleep, which, in turn, reduces the appearance of age, like wrinkles and the bags under the eyes.

There are a number of stress reducers in your life that don't require any pills or medical intervention; what could be more natural than exercise? Most physicians recommend taking up an exercise regimen as a fundamental method of reducing stress. Exercise can boost self-confidence, release pleasure-inducing chemicals in the brain and bestow a sense of well-being, all of which combat stress. Practicing positive visualization, learning time management, spending time with friends and family and even improving communication can all lead to decreased stress.

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