Can Stress Actually Kill You?

Did you know that your reactions to stress can make you seriously sick and shorten your life?

So if you are worried about some things in your life, it is time to stop! Every time a particular stressor challenges you, you are given the opportunity to choose to adapt healthfully...

Scientific evidence has surfaced that stress reduction bolsters longevity by directly impacting your DNA in a favorable way; Telomeres are a protective casing at the end of a strand of DNA. Each time a cell divides, it loses a bit of its telomeres. An enzyme called telomerase can replenish it, but chronic stress and cortisol exposure decrease your supply. When the telomere is too diminished, the cell often dies or becomes pro-inflammatory. Recent research suggests stress is one of the most consistent predictors of shorter telomere length. When we expose our bodies to years of chronic stress arousal, we see effects that override normal aging, making our telomeres look like they are from a significantly older person.

This video spotlights some of the scary effects stress has on the human body: For one thing, there's evidence to suggest that it messes with your immune system, and may be involved in the development of cancer and other serious illnesses.

But there's hope for the perpetually stressed. The hormone oxytocin is known to curb the body's stress response -- and it's not called the "cuddle hormone" for nothing. Our bodies release oxytocin when we experience positive interactions with others.

Oxytocin helps your blood vessels relax and even regenerates the heart from stress-related damage!

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