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Kicking out stress to lengthen your lifespan

The pandemic is shortening our lives thanks to stress, diet and lack of sleep.

SAN ANTONIO — The coronavirus pandemic has thrown most of our lives off track, mentally, physically and emotionally. All three impact how long we live.

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 79 years, and unlike most other developed countries is not going up because we have more stress and obesity, but also lack of sleep - which all are related, but it all starts with stress.

So what do you do? Dr. Brian Kennedy, a longevity expert told us, "Trying to develop mindfulness strategies that allow you to recognize your own stress and deal with what's important that could be things like meditation, yoga, it doesn't take that much time during the day."

One way to tackle that is human interaction.

"You have to find ways to interact with your friends and family," Kennedy said. "That could be through the Internet or a safe place where you can meet in person."

That stress often leads to physical problems, too.

"In terms of sleep I think a lot of it is managing your stress," Dr. Kennedy said.

A recent survey taken during the coronavirus pandemic found eight out of 10 Americans have changed their eating habits and are moving less. About 80% of mothers are dealing with mild to high levels of anxiety, and 23% of moms are being kept up all night.

Lack of sleep has a huge impact on our diet. Dr. Kennedy told us, "If you are not sleeping well, you're probably not exercising well, and when you're up at two in the morning, you might be eating that big meal at the wrong time."

If diets don't work for you, fasting is another popular option - but talk to you doctor first.

"One of the ways to do that is through time restricted eating habits where you eat all of your food in an eight hour window each day," Dr. Kennedy said.

And along with eating healthier comes exercise, even at home. It'll help your sleep too. Dr. Kennedy added, "Exercising is a good way to improve your sleep. If you're exercising regularly data has shown that that's one way to enhance your sleep quality."

If you can adopt all of these good habits now while the pandemic is raging, you'll have a better chance at sticking to them once the pandemic takes a hike.