You eat well, you exercise, you try to have a good work/life balance — you're doing everything you can to live a long life. Unfortunately, new research has found that some of the "right things" may actually shorten your lifespan. Here are five incredibly common ways you're hurting yourself.
1. You sweat the small stuff. Does the woman who had 15 items in the express lane stay with you all day? You might be shortening your life. A found that how you react to the stress of even minor events (like a rude stranger) affects your health. "Always perceiving your problems as stressful creates adverse health effects," says Carolyn Aldwin, PhD, director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Oregon State University. And that's dangerous — the chronically stressed have the highest risk of premature death. To prevent this, keep it all in perspective, says Dr. Aldwin. Ask yourself, "on a scale of one to 10 (where 10 is living in a war zone), how stressful is this problem?" says Dr. Aldwin.
2. You retire early. With all the dangers of stress, you may think you're doing yourself a favor by eliminating a supreme source of frustration: ahem, work. However, found that retirees were 40% more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke than their working peers in their first year of retirement. Plus, a found that delaying retirement actually helped ward off dementia risk by 3% for each additional year of work because using your brain on the job protects it. Instead of abandoning the workforce altogether, work part-time or volunteer. According to a recent , those who work past retirement age are "typically happier and more satisfied with their health than their retired counterparts."
3. Your commute is more than 30 minutes. Rush-hour driving has been linked to spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure, an increase in anxiety and depression and overall life dissatisfaction, according to a 2014 . And numerous studies have found a higher instance of "ultraviolet-linked skin cancers arising on the left rather than the right side" in driving commuters because car windows only protect against UVB rays.
Getting a job closer to home may not be an option, but you can:
- Talk to your boss about changing your start time to avoid rush-hour traffic.
- Take long, deep breaths to reduce the physiological effects of stress, suggests Dr. Aldwin.
- Wear sunscreen and consider protective film for your car windows, which by up to 99%.
4. You exercise too much. have found that endurance athletes' excessive training is linked to tooth decay. They often get dry mouth, which depletes tooth-protecting saliva and increases bacteria. So how does that shorten one's life? There's a link between , and bacteria in mouths can inflame preexisting heart conditions. Ward off dry mouth on runs by chewing gum and drinking plenty of water. Also, avoid sugary sports drinks and get your dentist's recommendations for preventing tooth decay.
5. You don't have friends at work. You know that sitting all day is bad for you, but your nonexistent relationship with coworkers might be just as detrimental. A found that people who lacked a support system at the office had a higher instance of mortality than those who had a good network.
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