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Relationship problems, the loss of a job, financial concerns, the death of a loved one or a massive to-do list. No matter what the reasons for your sky-high stress levels you might be experiencing some of the health issues that often accompany it such as headaches, poor digestion, and high blood pressure, but did you know that when you’re under stress for extended periods of time it can also wreak havoc on your looks and cause you to appear years older than you are. Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD, Colombia University Professor and Founder of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services in New York City addresses some of the ways that stress affects your looks:
UNDER EYE BAGS can occur when stress keeps you from getting enough beauty sleep. Fluid can pool below your lower eyelid so you wake up with puffy eyes, and for those that sleep on their stomachs, the problem is even worse since gravity is a factor.
DARK CIRCLES may happen when stress causes lack of sleep thereby causing the blood vessels to dilate and make the area appear darker. Also, the fragile capillaries under the eyes can also break under stress leaving your face looking sallow and tired.
ACNE isn’t for teenagers only. Many adults suffer from it due to stress hormones and they often make it worse by squeezing poking and picking at their pimples to relieve tension, but instead exacerbate the inflammatory response, adding to their stress.
COMPLEXION ISSUES like rashes, hives, flakiness, rosacea and eczema can flare up because stress can lead to inflammation and changes in skin moisture. Also, chronic stress causes a continuous flow of cortisol which can cause your estrogen levels to dip. Less estrogen means less collagen and moisture. Less collagen and moisture means duller, dryer skin and more noticeable wrinkles.
AN ENLARGED JAW isn’t uncommon when you’re spending time clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth. This happens because the muscles become larger in this area because they’re working more than usual and the end result is a heavier looking jawline. This grinding action can also result in damaged teeth.
HAIR LOSS can cause the hair follicles that are in the growth stage to switch from this to a resting phase. When this happens prematurely, it stays in this phase for about three months before being shed and can cause noticeable hair loss. Fortunately, for most women, this hair will grow back.
Though small stressors like traffic, a busy schedule, and tantrums from the kids are often part of a normal life in the day, it’s important to minimize the damage from everyday stress as well as those that rock you to your core, especially if you aim to keep you health and good looks where you want them to be. Exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of rest are key to help you handle whatever life throws your way and the benefits of add-in stress relievers such as aromatherapy oils, warm baths and showers, and massage treatments should not be underestimated.