Stress is running rampant in society. From sitting in traffic or facing financial worries about going through an unexpected life event such as the death of a loved one or a job loss, it’s very common to suffer from stress. In fact, it’s estimated that 77% of people in the United States experience physical symptoms of stress and that nearly half of U.S. residents say it keeps them awake at night.
All of this stress can not only undermine physical health but can also lead to unwanted changes in your appearance. Stress that is especially intense and ongoing—known as chronic stress—is even more likely to affect your looks. Here are seven ways in which stress effects on the body can take a toll on your looks.
With too much stress in your life, you’re more likely to develop wrinkles. While it can be brought about by excessive frowning or pursing your lips in reaction to the circumstance, it also happens because cortisol—the stress hormone—can wreak havoc on your skin. Collagen is responsible for skin’s elasticity, and less is produced under stress. As a result, you may notice more wrinkles.
2. Facial redness and dryness
Your body releases histamines in response to stress—chemicals that are responsible for triggering inflammation and allergies. Get ready for existing allergies to flare up, or for new ones to develop; the likes of hay fever and asthma are common allergies that arise in response to stress effects on the body. All of that sniffling and sneezing is not only annoying, but it can redden your face, create red, puffy eyes and lead to chapped, dry lips.
3. Skin irritations
Changes in your body chemistry are also responsible for triggering skin diseases and disorders. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you’re under stress and notice that you’ve started breaking out in hives or developing psoriasis. Not only might new skin problems surface, but any preexisting ones are more likely to be magnified.
4. Puffy eyes
Since it’s common for people to toss and turn at night due to stress, it’s likely that you’re not getting sufficient levels of sleep when you’re stressed. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends that adults obtain 7-8 hours of sleep daily—chances are, you receive much less. Lack of sleep can not only lead to a foggy mind and certain health problems, but it can cause fluids to accumulate in the eye area and create a puffy-looking face. Getting decent amounts of sleep is necessary for fluids to effectively move about your body. Without enough sleep, capillaries in the eye area suffer, and the signs of this suffering are very visible.
5. Adult acne
Forget thinking that acne is something that only teenagers experience. Adults get it too, and—just like many of the things already mentioned in this article—stress effects on the body can exacerbate it or lead to a first-time occurrence. Breakouts happen due to elevated stress hormones in your body, which creates changes that can manifest physically. Just be sure not to pick at your skin; although you might think popping and poking at your acne may help it go away, it will only worsen the condition.
6. Hair loss
When you’re under stress, your hair follicles actually receive a signal to slow hair growth. They can go from an active to a resting stage, and when if that latter stage is reached too early then a significant amount of hair may be shed. Fortunately, most women who lose hair under stress-related circumstances find that their locks grow back.
7. Weight changes
Finally, experts at the Mayo Clinic note that people under stress often attempt to regain control of their lives by turning to food. Let’s face it, food is comforting and enjoyable—often the exact opposite of what you may be experiencing in life. But that’s where weight gain comes in; people often tend to reach for unhealthy foods during times of stress effects on the body, gaining weight as a result.
Indeed, one major study found that in times of major stress effects on the body, the most common change to physical appearance involved weight; over 60% of people experienced changes in this regard. This isn’t only limited to weight gain, but can also relate to a lack of eating or excessive time at the gym. These two ways of reacting to stress can cause you to lose too much weight.
Clearly, it’s essential to eliminate as much stress as possible. While you can’t just snap your fingers and make it happen, the American Psychological Association has tips for managing Stress Effects On The Body. They include identifying your stressors and paring them back when possible, reaching out to family members, and engaging in relaxation exercises such as yoga.