It’s when tension becomes long term – as it has for so many of us – that your mood, your body, and your beauty – suffers. The following conditions are common beauty leaching reactions to stress. Fortunately, most disappear once you stop feeling frantic.
Spots and breakouts: The stress response hormone, cortisol, causes the body to secrete extra androgen, a sex hormone that increases sebum production. This excess sebum clogs pores and leads to blackheads and whiteheads.
Pale complexion: Have you ever looked in the mirror one morning during a particularly hellish week at work and wondered why you look so washed out? Blame it on a decrease in blood flow to the skin, because blood is what gives skin its rosy glow. A stressed body prioritizes its blood flow, sending the majority of blood to vital organs like the brain, heart, and lungs and, therefore, away from the skin. Stress is not a disease. It can, however, lead to numerous ailments and agravate any existing health conditions.
Scaly skin: The diminished blood supply that makes skin pale can also cause flakiness. That’s because without a rich supply of blood, the skin’s cells renew themselves more slowly. Keep in mind that when you’re under stress, your skin may simultaneously break out, look pale, and display flaky patches.
Itchy bumps: When your body is stressed, it often releases histamines, which in turn can create itching, inflammation, rashes, and hives in those of us who are prone to those kinds of things.
If you tend to pick at your skin when you are under stress (don’t be ashamed lots of us do that), don’t spend time standing in front of mirrors. You’ll only end up staring at your face, searching for pimples to squeeze. This leads to infected cyst-like pimples and scars.
Body aches: When tension persists, the primed muscles (remember the fight-or-flight response?) remain rigid and inflexible. Blood flow diminishes, starving the muscles’ fibers of oxygen and causing them to shorten. The result: sore shoulders, stiff neck, tight jaw, and/or knotted back, plus enough discomfort to make life miserable. This can really have an affect on your posture and bearing. Most heart attacks occur on Monday mornings. Why? Experts believe it’s the stress of having to return to a pressure-filled job. Now what more motivation do you need to find work you love?
Tummy troubles: You remember those nervous stomach aches you got as a kid before your first day of school – or you still get when faced with a week of insane work deadlines or some unpleasant relationship or family issue? When stress strikes, the brain douses the gastrointestinal tract with neurotransmitters and hormones. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract, in turn, responds in several ways – by going into spasms, slowing down or speeding up, or secreting more acids. The not-so-lovely result of all this is a churning stomach, waves of nausea, or an irascible bowel.
Headaches: Clenched muscles in the neck, face, and scalp can lead to tension headaches. Also known as muscle-contraction headaches, these range from mildly irksome to severely painful. They feel like pressure, often described as a “vice grip,” is being applied to the head or neck. For some people, the pain is so bad that shampooing, brushing, and styling hair is painful. Stress depletes the body of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B6. If you’re undergoing a prolonged period of stress, consult your health-care provider- about taking a vitamin B-complex supplement.