11 Tips for Reducing Stress and Promoting Anti-Aging

Chronic stress is a killer. It seems that more and more researchers are placing stress as a risk factor for a myriad of chronic health problems.

This article from the Mayo Clinic summarizes this well by saying, “Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body.”

Other evidence surfacing in recent years seems to point to the probability that stress can also age you faster (or at least it can make you feel older).

While eliminating stress entirely from our lives is neither possible nor desirable (a certain amount of stress is necessary to make us stronger), it’s a good idea to make your own management of stress a priority.

Here are 11 strategies I’ve used over the years to dramatically reduce the impact stress has on my body and mind. I hope you can start using these ideas in order to begin minimizing the damaging effects stress can have on your health.

1. Redefine Stress

When seen from the right perspective, stress is not necessarily negative. Ideally, it stimulates hormesis.

Stress is a transformative force. When present, one must adapt to it or slowly die.

Some of the greatest events and accomplishments in my life have followed peak times of stress, it’s the chronically stressed biological state that I want to avoid.

2. Be open to change

Change is a universal constant and thus a key aspect of anti-aging.

A big difference between an old person and a young person is the malleability of their organic tissues.

Functional age becomes apparent when old dysfunctional cells refuse to die off and be replaced by fresh ones. Ironically, by letting the outworn parts die, you live longer and better.

I see the separation of mind and body as an illusion so, to me, the malleability of my organic tissues is reflected in the malleability of my neuro-network (mind). The old “cells” are the memes, limited ideologies, and self-deprecating thoughts that refuse to die.

In order to live longer and happier, I know I must let the structures that are holding me back die. Clear out the trash to make room for the new.

3. One breath

When feeling stressed, I’ve noticed that I stop breathing momentarily.

I’ve come to understand his is an ancient part of the fight or flight response associated with the feeling of my life being out of your control.

Remembering to breathe deeply during stressful times seems to make things easier on my heart, blood pressure, etc.

I find that taking time to pause and practice deep breathing also puts me into a more productive mind state. This helps me find the root cause of my problems rather than continuously settling for quick fixes like sugar, getting pissed-off or engaging in abusive self-talk.

4. Stop believing in age

Just as anything else that holds negative connotations, I try not to feed the beast.

Despite that fact that everyone I’ve ever known eventually succumbs to the aging process doesn’t mean I’m not going to slow it down.

Although uncertainty can surprise us all, I’m committed to living long and well, and I work hard to make it so.

I treat age like a disease and have designed a lifestyle that combats it.

5. Nutrition

This is a huge subject, so I’ll quickly explain what I do on a typical day.

I wake up and drink a glass of water with powdered L-Glutamine. For “breakfast” I blend coffee with grass-fed butter, MCT-8 oil, plus a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I do this as a form of ketogenic intermittent fasting.

I’ve stopped eating food by 8:30pm the night before and don’t eat anything except the blended coffee until lunch, giving me a 16+ window of practically zero carbohydrates per day.

I do this 5-7 days a week. I’ve been doing this kind of “fasting” consistently for almost 10 years. Most of my energy now comes from ketosis which has stabilized my blood-sugar nicely.

When I do eat food, I still follow a diet similar to what CrossFit originally promoted – low grains and sugar, some fruits, vegetables, and meat.

Because of some joint pain/inflammation from old injuries, I’ve been experimenting with reducing my protein intake slightly while upping my fat intake. I’m seeing good results so far.

I stay hydrated with lots of water and some herbal tea in the evenings. As a treat, I often have a couple pieces of dark chocolate and a glass of Shiraz in the evening.

I also take a variety of supplements as needed including Ginkgo, Magnesium, NAC, Coenzyme Q-10,Omega-3 fish oils, among others.

This is not a one-size-fits-all schedule, but it’s worked well for me, and I’m confident that you have a program that is equally beneficial to your goals. If not, drop a note in the comments.

6. Sleep

This is my biggest hurdle. So much to do and so little time!

I’ve always been more inspired late at night, so my current situation of getting up early and going to work is a problem.

In the meantime, what sleep I do get, I try to make as high quality as possible.

I use earplugs, an eye mask, blackout curtains, a cool room, and a sleep app on my phone to track sleep and resting heart rate upon waking.

When my sleep quality is poor, I adjust my expectations for the day, but still try my best.

Sometimes, I’m surprised by having my most productive days despite little sleep. However, my productivity and immune system rapidly declines if poor sleep nights continue more than a day or so.

7. Fitness

I am constantly trying to get stronger, more flexible, and generally better at movement.

I still like doing the kinds of physical movements I was doing in my 20’s and 30’s but because my recovery is slower, most of my training these days is asymmetrically weighted toward mobility, active stretching, joint prep, and recovery.

I still try to cycle in training for the 10 physical attributes but much less than 10-20 years ago because I got tired of always being sore. (Funny side note: Did you know that I was sore every day for an entire year when I first started Capoeira?)

These days, I train 1-3 days a week focusing on the weakest links of my kinetic chain for anywhere between 30 minutes to 4 hours. I space out the training sessions by a day or so.

On “off” days, I still move stiff or sore joints as much as possible by performing light mobility throughout the day. If it’s a hard training day, I warm up and cool down with mobility and if I’m “just not feeling” the workout, I try not to do beat myself up as a lazy failure. Instead, I put in the time at a lower intensity.

I’ve also been experimenting with hot/cold therapy. For this, saunas and ice baths are nice when I can get them.

8. Gratitude

I spend time each day (usually before my evening meal or before going to sleep at night) being grateful for all the things and people I love in my life.

Sometimes it’s hard to find areas of our lives to find and give gratitude, so we made a list of some ideas in this previous post.

9. Always have something to look forward to

I believe that when we stop having things to be excited about in our future, we speed our death.

That’s why, in addition to being grateful for what I have, I’m always dreaming of a better future and daily taking small steps to making those dreams a reality.

10. Communicate your intentions

Communicating to family and friends about the changes you’re trying to make is very important.

Ultimately, you’re the one who gets to live in your body, so you need to do whatever it takes to stay healthy.

Still, it’s easier when loved ones are on board.

11. Stop wasting time and get it done

I don’t advocate the obsessive over-scheduling of one’s life.

However, by gradually incorporating these strategies over the years, I’ve made them habit. In other words, they are now easier to keep doing them than to stop. This has taken a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

As individuals, we need to define and prioritize what is most important, then batch everything else (like a bad-ass Pareto – 80/20ing that shit!).

Even though it’s a challenge balancing it all, every moment does count.

I’m committed to mastering the most precious thing that I will ever own…my body. So I do what I can with the time I have in this world.

So there you have it. Eleven ways you can protect yourself from stress related disease and potentially slow down your aging process.

I hope you start implementing at least some of these strategies today.

Do me a favor, let me know if you already practice some of these strategies in the comments below. I’d like to know what people are doing. While you’re at it, let me know which of the tips you are willing to add to your lifestyle moving forward.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all the things that can help manage our stress throughout the day. That’s why we have them all listed as healthy habits to track in The Agile Life Plan 4-week kick-start free course. Try it out for yourself 🙂

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