How we think and react to life’s routine stressors directly impacts our appearance in aging. When stressed, we see it in our skin tone, texture, elasticity, and overall glow. “When someone is under stress they can appear up to 5 years older, 10 years if they don’t manage stress or make changes to their lives,” explains Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a Colombia University Professor and Founder of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services in New York City. “Stressful relationships and careers age people. I have seen patients end relationships or get new jobs and look 10 years younger within days. People are spending money on creams, facials and cosmetic procedures but if the stress is still there it will still show in their face,” she offers. These are a number of way in which stress can appear on your face:
Dark Circles Stress results in excessive blood flow to the major organs. Dr. Hafeez explains that this pressure affects the delicate under-eye area where fragile capillaries break under pressure, leaving the face looking sallow and tired.
Heavy Jaw Grinding teeth and clenching of the jaw are common symptoms of stress. Unfortunately, these habits can cause the jaw muscles to work overtime. This can result not only in damaged teeth, but also a far heavier jawline, as the muscles “bulk up” with the grinding action.
Under-Eye Bags There is a reason they call it “beauty sleep.” “A lack of sleep and regeneration can cause fluids to pool beneath the lower eyelids, creating a puffy appearance,” shares Dr. Hafeez. Stomach sleepers should be advised that under-eye bloat is actually exacerbated by gravitational pull.
Hair Loss Stress can trigger sudden hair loss by literally flipping the switch on the hair follicle’s growth stage from an active to a resting phase. When the follicle prematurely enters this phase, it remains dormant for about three months, after which time a large amount of hair will be shed. When you experience an overall shedding of hair, you must cast back a few months to find the trigger. According to Dr. Hafeez, stress hair loss in women is usually temporary.
Adult Acne Acne is not just for hormonally-charged teenagers. Many adults suffer from acne as a result of stress hormones. According to Dr. Hafeez, for stressed-out adults, the condition is often exacerbated by an obsessive need to squeeze, poke, and pick at lesions as a way to to release tension. No picking, as it only increases inflammation.