How stress can make you unattractive
The body is a wondrous thing, is it not? From the intricate workings of your innards to the magnificent mechanics of your outers, the human body is rife with bells, whistles, and countless charms. But that’s not to say it’s all unicorns and rainbows. How can it be, when stress and its corresponding hormone cortisol are lying in wait for the least little stressor to occur, at which point it infiltrates, wreaking havoc on your skin, hair, and nails. It’s all downright stressful. And thus the whole process starts again.
Let’s face it. The effects of stress can do a number on your looks. And real life is chock full of daily stressors that are simply too intense to “ohm” away. When those stressors lead you down the path of eating poorly and losing weight, your body goes into self-preservation mode, placing your hair on the very bottom of its priority list, and redirecting all of its energy away from your once lustrous locks and towards other areas that are essential, like say, your vital organs. Amy McMichael, the chair of the department of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical told Real Simple that when this happens, “follicles in the growing stage go immediately into the resting and shedding phase, which means that the normal number of hair strands (about 100) that we all lose daily, starts to eek it’s way up to a much scarier number (300.)
Of course, if your hair is falling out in handfuls, consult with your doctor first. He or she may test for any deficiencies and suggest taking supplements and practicing a little something called stress-management, which should reverse the stress-induced hair loss in 6 -10 months.
It’s not just your hair that can fall victim to the effects of stress — your skin is also a prime target. From losing its dewy glow, to acne and fine lines and wrinkles, stress can lead to actually looking older than you really are.
Here’s how that little buzz-kill works. The heightened levels of adrenaline and cortisol essentially tell your body to free up more glucose (blood sugar) in order to have the energy necessary to fend off the “threat” (a.k.a. that impending deadline, argumentative ex, or over-bearing boss.) When this happens, the raised sugar molecules in your collagen form compounds called advanced glycation end products or AGEs (*ahem), which stiffens collagen, giving your skin a brittle appearance. Oh, and did we mention that cortisol also reduces levels of skin-plumping glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronic acid? Yep, it does that too.
Reducing your simple carbohydrate (white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup) intake can help stabilize blood sugar, while peptide- or retinol-containing products can help produce new collagen — but for heaven’s sake calm down. Try yoga, meditation, a brisk walk, and when you feel your itchy stress trigger being engaged — stop, and use the moment as an opportunity to rehash all the horrific effects of stress we’ve highlighted today. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?