Sure, we know stress can wreak havoc on our body by weakening our immune system and upping our risk for heart disease. Now scientists know it can shave years off our lives by damaging telomeres– this is part of our DNA that shortens as we get older. Here’s the good news: a recent study in the journal LANCET ONCOLOGY led by Dean Ornish M.D., shows effective methods for bringing our stress levels back down and warding off DNA damage. For instance, by eating a balanced diet, being physically active, and hugging your honey (which can also be a furry friend) reverses damage in three months. It works because chronic stress decreases your body’s production of telomerase, the enzyme that repairs and lengthens telemeres. When you bust stress, the production of telomerase increases again. Never underestimate a bear hug.