Stress: Fountain of Youth?

There has definitely been an inordinate amount of stress in my life recently.  The past month has brought the sudden death of a family member,  my husband’s job loss, and culminated in last week’s marathon clean up to our rental property in Naples, after the tenants skipped out leaving the place in a shambles and owing us two month’s rent.  So imagine how comforted I was to read that stress can actually strengthen your body and help you live longer.

It’s true.  The process is called hormesis…when the body is under stress, healthy cells will crank up and produce extra compounds to fend off the harmful chemical effects of the stress reaction.  The body tends to overcompensate in favor of the healthy cells, so as long as the ratio of stress is lower than the amount of good cell  byproducts, the strong, healthy cells become more plentiful and stick around in the body, defending you against all kinds of other menacing evils that develop with age.  Much of the research in this field has been done with physical exercise, chemical toxins, and taxing intellectual work, all of which stimulate the body to create stronger cellular structure and neural connections.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  The human body is quite a marvel of self-preservation.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve half expected to look in the mirror and find myself transformed into a withered and decrepit hag – but I usually look pretty much the same as I looked three months ago before all this happened.  Well, a few more gray hairs perhaps.  Last week before we left for Florida, I wouldn’t have bet a nickel that Jim and I could clean, repair, and paint that house ourselves.  But somehow we did, working six to eight hours every day, and falling on our faces as soon as we hit our bed at night before getting up the next day and starting all over.   As I write this,  the finishing touch (new carpet throughout) is being installed, and the house looks  brand new. 

There are plenty of adages about the human spirit being able to rise to the occasion, and finding strength in adversity.  While I know that our troubles are certainly small potatoes in comparision to many others in the modern world, it’s still not been an easy time for us, so I was rather gratified to know that my own heart (not to mention back and shoulders!) would come through when I needed them.  

And it’s a bonus to think that all the stress and all that physical labor last week might have set off a firestorm of cellular regeneration which will help me live longer and stronger.


4 thoughts on “Stress: Fountain of Youth?

  1. Ha! You are so right. We do tend to rise to the occasion when necessary, and I know how much work is needed on a house like that. Dad had lived alone for years and few repairs had been made on his house over the years. We had to clean it out, paint and repair a lot of things before we moved in. Hurray for you and I hope you find good renters soon.

  2. Hello,

    I am sorry to hear about your run of bad luck, lets hope it has passed and goods times are on the horizon.

    What you wrote about stress makes very good and encouraging reading, this being the case I should live to be well over a hundred.

    Take care,

    p.s. I love the pictures of your little dog.

  3. We are often capable of much more than we’d anticipate, yet we are also running on reserve energy though. Take the necessary rest as well!

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