Stress is a normal part of everyday life. No matter the role you play in society, whether you’re a parent, a student, or an employee, our routines and responsibilities can stress you out at some point. However, too much stress can take a toll on your health.
Chronic and compounding stress can put you at risk of depression and heart disease. It can also affect your immune system, making you prone to infection and diseases — and it doesn’t stop there.
Stress also has negative effects on your face, hair, and nails. It produces a chemical response in your body, causing your skin to be more reactive and sensitive. Find out below what these damaging effects are and a few stress management tips to combat them.
What Are the Effects of Stress on Skin?
When under stressful conditions, your body releases the hormone cortisol which activates the body’s fight or flight response. Too much stress results in the overproduction of cortisol. Higher cortisol levels trigger the body to produce excess oil, resulting in clogged pores and inflammation.
Stress is classified into 2 types: acute and chronic. What’s more harmful to the skin is chronic stress. The more you put up with too much stress, the heavier the brunt your skin bears.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, or environmental stress we’re experiencing — dermatologists say our bodies can’t recognize the difference. Chronic stress has an ugly impact on the body’s largest organ.
Every person has a different response and threshold level to stress, as defined by our genes. However, below are the most common stress-related skin conditions:
- Increased inflammation
Your mind, skin, and gut are connected. Upon sensing stress, the mind commands the gut to slow down digestion. This downward trend continues as stress persists.
Reduced rate of digestion then causes the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can result in “leaky” or permeable intestines. The result is increased inflammation.
- Aggravated skin conditions
During stressful conditions, increased cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body cause a spike in blood pressure and heart rate. It also affects the immune system, resulting in inflammation. You then begin to experience acne breakouts or psoriasis or eczema flare-ups (if you are predisposed to it).
- Skin dryness
Chronic stress can cause dry skin. A pump of adrenaline triggers the sweat glands to produce more sweat to try to cool down the body. The more you sweat, the more your body loses water. This eventually leads to skin dryness.
Stress can also make your skin oilier. This is another reason why you experience acne breakouts when you’re stressed out. Overactivity in the sebaceous glands not only increases oiliness, but it also blocks the pores and causes oily hair and scalp.
- Eye bags
Swelling bags of skin under your eyes or puffy skin under your eyelids usually appear as a person ages. This is due to the weakening of the muscles around the eyes. Stress-induced loss of skin elasticity is also a contributing factor.
When you’re stressed and are not getting enough sleep, you are prone to sagging skin, uneven pigmentation, and loss of skin elasticity.
- Gray hair and falling hair
Some people may even experience graying hair and hair loss when they’re stressed. According to a study, constant stress can make stem cells that produce melanocytes (cells responsible for producing melanin which gives hair its colour) to disappear. With the absence of these colour-producing cells, new cells lose their colour and become gray.
In addition, too much stress can interrupt the hair growth cycle. Chronic stress, shock, or traumatic event can lead to the development of a temporary hair loss condition called telogen effluvium. Lasting for about 2 to 4 months, telogen effluvium can cause a large number of hair strands to fall out.
- Appearance of wrinkles, fine lines
Reduced elasticity can also lead to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. Inadequate sleep can cause creases and folds to form on the forehead and other areas on the face that fold when a facial expression is made.
How Can I Manage Stress?
Stress is inevitable, especially now that the world is wading through a global health crisis. Circumstances like this are out of your control. However, this does not mean you are helpless. With a little effort, you can effectively manage stress.
Here are some tips you manage stress and prevent it from affecting your health:
- Carve out time to relax and unwind
One way to effectively handle stress is to tackle it with intent. It’s important that you recognize when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Know when to take a step back and relax. Set a specific time during the day to do activities that help put your mind at ease.
Get a warm bath. Read a book. Unplug from social media even for just an hour. Get a massage. Do deep breathing exercises. Find time for things you love to do. Relax.
Physical activities are one of the most effective stress busters. Exercise helps reduce stress, lifts up your mood, keeps your body strong, and puts your mind off stressors.
Go for a run around your neighbourhood, or try yoga and meditation. If you want a higher-impact exercise, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Establish healthy habits
What you do every day can make or break your overall well-being. Live a healthy lifestyle that benefits your mind and body. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Strive to get a restful 8 hours of sleep. As simple as they may be, these 2 habits are essential in taking care of your body and keeping stress at bay.
- Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs may make you feel good or forget your worries at the time, but it’s only a band-aid solution. Turning to substance use to relieve stress is dangerous to your overall health.
- Let it out
Reach out to your spouse, friend, or family member. The load becomes lighter when you let it out and receive support. If you’re experiencing anxiety and depression, don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional for counselling or therapy.
Avoid shrugging off or tamping down unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it demonstrates a willingness to get better for yourself and the people around you.
It’s normal to feel the pressure of everyday life and be overwhelmed from time to time. The danger comes when stress levels become so high and persistent that it affects your skin and overall health. Among the most common stress-related skin conditions are acne breakouts, eczema flare-ups, wrinkle formation, skin dryness, hair fall, and eye bags.
Take proactive steps to cope with stress before it takes over your life. Protect your well-being. Slow down, relax, eat well, get adequate hours of sleep, and surround yourself with a strong support system. All these can go a long way in fighting off anxiety and preserving the luxurious glow of your skin.
When you want to restore the beauty of your skin and eliminate premature signs of aging, turn to em clinic and spa. We offer a complete range of skincare products and treatments. Let us help you battle the effects of stress on your face and body. Call us at (519) 668-7449 to instantly book your appointment.