How Stress Can Affect Your Physical Appearance
You need to beat stress!
Too much stress is unhealthy. Most of us are aware that it can affect our mental health and increase the risk of heart disease, but these aren’t the only negative effects it can have - stress can also have an impact on our physical appearance. In other words, chronic stress isn’t something you can hide.
Here are just several ways in which too much stress can have an impact on our physical appearance and what you can do to prevent these symptoms.
Stress is a fight-or-flight response designed to help us deal with dangers. It can be useful in survival situations, but not very useful in everyday situations that aren’t physically dangerous – and over a prolonged period of time, it can be downright harmful.
One way in which stress helps us to deal with dangers is by making our skin ultra-reactive to potential threats. This makes out the skin more prone to inflammation and can often cause existing skin conditions to get worse. Many people get outbreaks of spots and acne when under stress for long periods. Conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea can meanwhile get a lot worse. These skin conditions can cause permanent scarring if left untreated.
Stress also makes us more alert in order to deal with dangers. This can cause many people to suffer from insomnia or poor sleep quality. A lack of sleep can have a big impact on our appearance – if our sleep cycle is not completed, our skin can start to look pale and puffy. That natural glow that many of us want to achieve can only be earned by getting more sleep, which can only be achieved by beating stress.
High levels of cortisol as a result of stress can also break down elastin and collagen in the skin. This, combined with constant inflammation and puffiness from lack of sleep, can speed up our susceptibility to wrinkles. As a result, stress can physically age us.
Many skin products can be used to try and counter these effects. Moisturizers can help to fight off wrinkles, caffeine serums can beat puffy skin and products like tea tree and witch hazel can be used to beat spots. And of course, make-up can cover up just about anything. The best thing you can do however is to reduce stress.
Stress can also have a negative impact on our hair. The stem cells that control the color of our hair are often affected, which can lead to premature greying. This is why many young people who are under constant stress can start to find grey hair.
However, stress can have even worse symptoms including hair thinning and hair loss. Stress prioritizes certain bodily functions designed to help us in survival situations while shutting down other processes such as the production of new hair strands. Over time, hair can start to fall out without being replaced – leading to unwanted baldness.
Hair greying and hair loss as a result of stress is often reversible. Various medications exist to manage hormonal changes caused by stress, which you may be able to get a prescription online. There are also shampoos that can help to strengthen hair. Taking measures to reduce stress triggers will of course have the biggest impact.
Stress can also negatively impact our weight. For many people, it stimulates the appetite, which causes people to eat more. As a result, many people under constant stress will gain weight. This weight can often be hard to shift – stress can also make it hard to lose the pounds by encouraging our bodies to preserve fat for energy.
In other cases, stress may have the opposite effect, causing people to lose weight rapidly. Stress can trigger digestive problems such as IBS, which can cause some people to lose their appetite. For some people, it can also speed up metabolism, which can cause us to burn through fat reserves. This weight loss may be positive for some people, but more often than not it affects people who are already slim, potentially causing people to become dangerously underweight.
By keeping a controlled diet, you may be able to counter weight gain or weight loss. However, only by reducing stress can you truly get your appetite back to normal (certain foods may be able to reduce stress).
The key to looking good: beat stress
If you want to maintain a healthy physical appearance, you need to beat stress. Sometimes in life, we can’t avoid stress triggers, however, there are always ways in which we can destress to prevent stress from becoming chronic. Proven stress-busters include exercise, meditation, listening to music, laughter, and a hot relaxing bath.