"'I have heard that
the people of high antiquity...
all exceeded one hundred years.
But in their movements and activities there was no weakening.
As for the people of today,
after one half of a hundred years, the movements and activities of all of them
Is this because the times are different?
Or is it that the people have lost this [ability]?”
Qi Bo responded:
“The people of high antiquity,
those who knew the Way,
they modeled [their behavior] on yin and yang...
[Their] rising and resting had regularity.
They did not tax [themselves] with meaningless work.
Hence, they were able to keep physical appearance and spirit together
and to exhaust the years [allotted by] heaven.
Their life span exceeded one hundred years before they departed.'"
Long translation short, if we all chilled out a little bit, we would all live to be 100 years old. But let's dive into this a bit. If you look back at my previous blog post about the power of yin and yang, you'll understand that it's not a theory of opposition, but one of complementary aspects that expands throughout the entire universe. This includes our lifestyle. The constant on-the-go lifestyle would be an aspect of yang, and more sedentary lifestyles would be an aspect of yin. When we properly balance our rest and activity (rising and resting), and don't sweat the small stuff (aka meaningless work), we age slower and get sick less often and therefore, can live the amount of time given to us by heaven. This theory is backed by actual science.
Ever hear of cortisol? It's a hormone your body releases in response to stress. If epinephrine and nor-epinephrine make you run or fight, cortisol keeps you running or fighting. It also stays in your system much longer than the catecholamine hormones and makes you more sensitive to further stress. Thus, a vicious cycle can be created if you're not getting enough time to rest and come down from the sympathetic nervous response. How does this affect your body? In an attempt to harvest as much energy as possible to deal with your stressor, cortisol takes from systems that aren't considered necessary in the moments you're fighting for your life. (It doesn't matter if you're actually fighting for your life, being yelled at by your boss, or watching a scary movie. All stress effects your body the same way.) This leads to suppression of your general immune response, slowed wound healing, counteraction of insulin (which means higher blood sugar levels), and reduced bone formation (contributing long term to osteoporosis). It will also prevent collagen production (hello wrinkles), inhibit protein synthesis, and decrease amino acid uptake by muscles because more amino acids in your blood means more energy and more building blocks to create more stress hormones. That also means decreased muscle mass, gastrointestinal distress, and drops in blood pressure. Cortisol is also linked with your diurnal cycle. The amount of it will decrease with as little as 3 hours of sleep, but with all that energy running through your system, it's going to be very difficult to get some. Lastly, increased levels of cortisol have been found in mood and anxiety disorders, psychological stress, impaired learning, and difficulty retrieving long term memories.
Moral of the story, don't be like me a run around like a chicken without it's head. Take some time to be a little more yin. Let your body rest and recuperate to prevent the effects of stress and you too can live to be 100.