Although I’m only 23, I’ve noticed that stressful events make my skin look dull, thinner, and, well, just older. But I was recently curious as to whether or not science stands behind my findings, or if stress just makes you think your skin is aging.
Truth is, science verifies that stress accelerates skin’s rate of aging. According to dermatologist Dr. Amy Weschler in this month’s Shape magazine, “The skin has its own endocrine system, and releases cortisol [a stress hormone] and endorphins [calming hormones] accordingly. When cortisol levels increase, the rate of skin’s healing slows, collagen breaks down faster, and inflammation increases.” Hence, the skin looks dull, thinner, and shows lines more quickly and easily. Dr. David E. Bank, author of Beautiful Skin, adds in the book, “If you chronically stress yourself out…you deprive your skin of crucial oxygen and nutrients and aggravate any skin condition you may already have, such as eczema or acne.”
Thankfully, the same techniques that cure stress in the body soothe the skin as well. In addition to the usual anti-stress advice (sleep 7-8 hours per night, eat a healthy and balanced diet, relax more often), I love the following untraditional advice, from one of my favorite authors, Martha Beck:
- Write down the things you have to do tomorrow. Now think about how each activity makes you feel. Give each activity a rating on a scale from 1 (evokes a feeling of dread) to 10 (makes you feel like your best day ever). If your day is filled with mostly activities that fill you with dread or even a simple lack of excitement, you may not be living your best life. (And if that’s the case, I really recommend the book Finding Your North Star to find your way back. I am not being paid to say this; it is just my favorite non-dermatology book of all time!)
- Think about people, places, and events in your life that make you peaceful and happy. What do these events have in common? There is surely a common thread. For me, it’s reading, writing, learning new things, and traveling, which indicated to me as a pre-med that I should be pursuing side work in writing as well as studying to become a doctor. The website (and upcoming book ) really help me relax and make my life better on a regular basis. You too can find a rewarding activity, and help your stress levels – (and your skin )
- Reward yourself with fun activities – and often. For instance, after doing the laundry each week, I let myself spend half an hour reading a book or magazine.
- Look beyond yourself when you look in the mirror. For instance, stop focusing in on every little flaw, and instead, see the bigger picture, which is actually closer to how others usually perceive you. I personally started looking at the shower curtain behind me and my appearance in the bathroom mirror. Try it – It’s comforting!
For more anti-stress tips, here is an article from About.com.
While you are devoted to skin care, it’s good to know that your emotional health counts as well. Here’s to being as stress-free as possible, dear readers!
PS – Only 5 days left until the FutureDerm and Skinmedix.com giveaway!
Founder and CEO Nicki Zevola started FutureDerm as a medical (M.D.) student studying to be a dermatologist. She is an award-winning scientific researcher and writer. She currently is concentrating on FutureDerm and developing FutureDerm's one-of-a-kind products. She can be found on Google+ and Twitter.View all Nicki Zevola posts.
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