Stress and Shyness Cut Years Off Your Life

Stress and shyness can shorten your life. That's because they cause psychological problems such as premature aging.
Stress and Shyness Cut Years Off Your Life
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 14 March, 2022

Stress and shyness can seriously damage your health. In fact, many physical and mental problems accompanied by premature aging are consequences of these conditions.

Recent scientific research shows that there’s a high probability that shy, fearful, or anxious people are the best candidates for continuous stress. This predisposes them to live less longer than extroverted or happy people.

The functions that your body performs are governed by your brain, your central nervous system, and your state of mind.

A woman trying to learn to overcome shyness.

Your mind and body form an indissoluble bond. Indeed, your metabolic processes, heart rate, and blood pressure all depend on your nervous system. Therefore, when you subject your mind to prolonged psychological stress, it’ll cause countless physical problems for your body. Particularly severely damaged will be your immune system.

Fight or flight

Your body responds to stress with a defense mechanism called the flight or fight reaction. This response is vital to overcome situations that involve danger or threat. At these moments, your senses are alerted by your nervous system. This modifies your heart rate and breathing, increases your muscle activity and the levels of glucose in your blood, and decreases the response of your immune system.

Hormones produced by the adrenal glands, such as glucocorticoids and adrenaline are responsible for mobilizing this energy in your body. However, sometimes, the flight reaction isn’t activated for only a few minutes but is prolonged. This is as a result of factors that influence your emotional state like work problems, family problems, and illness. Consequently,the level of hormones that initially were beneficial to you begin to continuously damage your body. That’s due to the decrease in your defenses.


Studies published in the journal, PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) show that stress hormones can be released in high amounts in situations of shyness. Or, in new situations where there are feelings of unfounded fear. For example, meeting strangers, and experiencing fears about people, objects, and places, even though they involve no real threat. This is called neophobia. Young children and young people are the most affected by this disorder.

A child with selective mutism.

If you allow the rhythms of society to continually stress you out, you’ll keep releasing hormones, causing the aging process to accelerate. In addition, you’ll get sick more easily.

If you take on these new situations with fear and timidity and continue in the same way for the rest of your life, they’ll cause a continuous increase in your hormones. This could reduce your life expectancy by approximately ten years. Therefore, the best thing to do is to try and lead a calm and peaceful life. At the same time, you should be determined, brave, and free from anguish. Finally, try not to be shy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.