Feeling younger than your chronological age is said to improve your well-being and cognitive abilities, and to also protect you against stress and health problems.
Age seems to be a fixed measure, yet it can be subjective. For example, you are 40 years old but feel more like a 20-something. This is not a mental disorder and, more importantly, it could be good news. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, people who feel younger than their actual age are healthier. The authors of this study note that they generally feel better, have better cognitive abilities, less inflammation, and a lower risk of hospitalization. It could even increase longevity. All of these benefits are related to one factor: stress.
Reducing the effects of stress
The authors of this study analyzed the medical records of more than 5,000 people aged 40 and older and their responses to a survey. The survey asked about stress levels, health, daily activities, and perceived age. “In general, we find that health declines with age, but we also know that these age-related health trajectories vary greatly,” says Markus Wettstein, one of the study’s co-authors. Analysis of the data showed that the health of the more stressed peoples declines faster, the older they get. In contrast, the relationship between stress and declining health is weaker among people who feel younger than their age.
Fighting age stereotypes
This psychological rejuvenation, the researchers suggest, could reduce the negative effects of stress and thus improve health. They speculate that “campaigns against ageism and age stereotypes” could reduce the effects of stress in this population. Anti-stress interventions are also seen as an effective means of improving the health of older people. Sometimes referred to as the “disease of the century,” stress has a significant impact on quality of life, as well as on the body and health. It increases the risk of overweight and obesity, strains the heart, and has even been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.