Are you always looking at your watch slash phone, anxiously waiting for the minutes to go by? Well, it may be best to try and quell that impatient streak, as new research has found a link between this and the process in which our DNA ages.
The study – conducted by scientists in Singapore – involved over 1,000 healthy undergraduate students. The research is based on the Stanford Marshmallow Test, in which children were told they can have one marshmallow now, or two later. In this case, participants were offered the choice between an immediate cash reward and a higher sum at a later date. Previous studies found that those who were able to wait longer tended to have better life outcomes based on SAT scores, educational attainment, and body mass index, amongst other factors.
Participants who went for the immediate cash reward were deemed more impatient, and when scientists examined their DNA, they found that their telomeres – the protective part of the DNA strand – were more damaged. Telomeres grow shorter and eventually wear away completely as we grow older, so they can be used as a marker of how fast a person is ageing.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the study also suggests that the link was more pronounced in women.
Dr. ing Zhang, previously of the National University of Singapore who conducted the study, said that negative effects can even extend to mental health: “Impatience is linked to cognitive and social incompetence, inability to cope with life frustration and risk of mental disorders. These untoward effects associated with impatience lead us to contend that impatience can lead to shorter telomere.”
The team is now planning a follow-up study to see if mindfulness – a form of meditation can help reduce impatience and preserve telomeres for longer.
“We hope to investigate the extent to which the changes in the degree of patience demonstrated by subjects predict any changes in telomere length,” added Dr Zhang.
“This will enable us to address the question of causality to some extent. If changes in patience precedes changes in telomere length, the findings would be pointing to the idea that improved patience leads to preserved telomere length.”
The takeaway here? Try and take a breather. Living your life by the tick-tock of a clock is stressful enough as is, without throwing aging DNA into the mix. Life is to be enjoyed, and so often, it’s only when we slow down and take stock of what’s in front of us, that we realise that it isn’t a race; you can get where you want to be with a lot of hard work and determination and a little patience. Any hey, if this slows down the ageing process, well, that might not be too bad…
Via The Telegraph