How stress affects your appearance and how to stop it!

beauty salon Watford


Reduce your stress levels to become the most beautiful you

Grinding away every day, sloshing back gallons of black coffee to meet the rigid demands of our jobs and lifestyle is normal right? Feeling stress is kind normal? Well sure, but normal doesn't mean healthy.

In recent years many studies have been conducted and analysed resulting in startling statistics being presented by the NHS, leading Universities and all variety of health associations and one not so suprising finding they've all found is that over 44% of cases seen by GPs in 2016 were directly related to stress and over 78% of participants in a study performed that year, when asked how they would rate their current stress levels gave an alarming number of 5 or above! From this information alone it's clear that being stressed has become so normal that we might not even regard it as anything to be concerned about, everybody is stressed so what's the big deal, that's life! Oh dear, oh dear..

Stress happens to all of us, through every facet of life, but since it's not possible to avoid going to work, paying bills, struggling with relationships, the optimal thing to do is to educate yourself on and practise the various ways one can combat stress. This includes eating the right things, exercising multiple times a week, sleeping a recommended amount, and just general overall well being. If you neglect to take steps to combat the onset of stress, symptoms of stress will inevitably make themselves known through your hair, skin, and even the appearance of your nails can tell a story about what's happening inside.

It's no secret that stress can manifest itself physically in your body, you probably know that stress inflicts many problems on the body, sore and aching muscles, pulsating headaches, heart problems and high blood pressure to name a few. With that in mind it's no surprise that stress can also have a direct impact on the appearance of your skin and other parts of your body, in fact stress is the culprit for many of the afflictions we battle spending countless money on product after product without ever addressing the root cause. Acne, out of whack hormones, dark rings and bags under eyes as well as wrinkles are all directly linked to heightened cortisol levels (the stress hormone), unfortunately for some, many of us are very sensitive to the effects of stress and experience these symptoms almost as quickly as the troubles in our life occur. Stress is something we all experience and shouldn't be ashamed to seek advice to treat, it wrecks havocs on us in all kinds of ways, keep reading to learn about the problems stress can cause for your appearance.

Problem: Puffiness & Bags under your eyes:

Look like you've been up all night?

When we think about the endless things we have to get done today, tomorrow or even next week, the very thought of that impending doom can really take it's toll mentality. This extra mental weight and emotional baggage can lead to a lackluster nights sleep and cause actually baggage, right under your eyes! Not getting enough sleep causes fluid to gather underneath your lower eyelids and the result is a puffy bee-sting like appearance when you look in the mirror the next morning. For those who opt to sleep on their stomachs we're afraid to say that this exacerbates the problem, you can thank the laws of gravity for that one! Lesson? Sleep longer and on your back!

Solution: Get more sleep:

It may be simple but we understand it's not always easy. A rejuvenating nights sleep is within your grasp and it's important that you cut down on any habits that aren't supporting this goal. For instance the light emitted from your smart phone or laptop or any number of digital devices with screens, can actually stimulate your body in the same way that sunlight does, signalling to your system that it's time to be awake. Give yourself at least a 30 minute break from your devices, which definitely means no Facebook on your phone in bed and instead immerse yourself in a dark quiet environment with little sensory stimulation, allowing your body to start entering a more sleep ready mode. Many people have found success in using applications for their laptops such as f.lux which reduces the “blue light” in your screen which is seen to be the main culprit when it comes to light stimulation, this app will dim you screen colours and brightness to mimic the sort of sunlight exposure you eyes should be receiving, in-sync with any given time of day. Insomnia however isn't that modern of an invention it certainly pre-dates smart phones, so next in line to go is those extra cups of coffee you have been indulging in too late in the day. Swap out any drinks containing caffeine such as sodas and even tea's and instead try something like a cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea to help induce a relaxed state before getting into bed. If after making all these changes your eyes still have some puffiness in the morning; one little trick you can try is taking a tea spoon, popping it in the fridge and then massaging the curved back gently on the problem area, this should helps any swelling go down and help start the process of draining any fluid build up.

Problem: The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles:

hmm have those lines always been there?

When your parents used to say don't make those horrible faces or you'll stay that way forever, well there was some truth to that tale. When you are consistently frowning, pursing your lips or furrowing your eye brows, you're folding your skin and teaching your cells to conform to persistently be in these positions, over time this can lead to the appearance of new or deep wrinkles.

Solution: Prevent lines from forming:

Be aware of certain unconscious facial expressions you make in certain situations; usually stressful ones such as at work or chasing the kids around the house. These habits are tricky to shift as muscle memory has built up over years from repeatedly forming these expressions, a common one is furrowing your brow, which creates deeper lines between your eyebrows just above your nose. A little trick to help retrain that muscle memory is to put a piece of tape between your brows and every time you feel It crinkling up you will know to correct yourself. Other than that, it's important to just stay relaxed and very well hydrated as this will give your skin more elasticity and will reduce the on-set of such self induced wrinkled lines.

Problem: Flaky, dehydrated skin:

looking like you've spent a week on the beach?

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article it's fairly common to be drowning your system in caffeine which is a diuretic, meaning for every cup you drink you are draining your body of all important h2o. Most fizzy drinks like cola are equally evil in this regard. So next time you boil the pot to finish off that overwhelming stack of paperwork due the next day, just make sure you are countering it's diuretic effects with ample amounts of water. When your skin doesn't get the volume of water it needs to maintain itself you can bet your complexion will begin to resemble an old crinkled buried treasure map.

Solution: Glowing skin and bright eyes:

As we will keep on saying as it's so incredibly vital and inexpensive to do; drink lots of water, at least eight glasses a day! You can also eat foods that are high in water content such as fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, melon and celery which are made up nearly entirely of water as well as containing other skin nourishing ingredients. If you are trying to get an instant hydration cure after an irresponsible day of neglecting your water intake, you could try using a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, this ingredient can be found naturally in your body and holds 1,000 times its weight in water and is likely to help give your skin that coveted healthy glow.

Problem, Acne, psoriasis & eczema:

Acne, ol' buddy ol' pal how good to see you..

Probably the most well known and equally unwanted by product of excess stress, acne often flares up due to your hormones fluctuating due to the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) into the bloodstream, this causes breakouts that usually couldn't come at a worst time such as that hot tinder date. Now it may be that you are not particularly prone to acne but these flair-ups can also present themselves as psoriasis or eczema and the doctor will be sure to tell you the same. It's not just your hormones that stress wrecks havoc on but it also disrupts the rather delicate balance of bacteria in your gut, this is a prime trigger in skin and blemish breakouts. To a more extreme level when this imbalance in the gut becomes really out of control people have been known to break out in rashes and hives which are both caused by dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut) which is when your bad bacteria severely outnumber your good bacteria.

Solution: Reduce toxins, increase relaxation.

Everything we have said so far about staying hydrated is even more important here, drinking an abundance of water allows your body to flush out toxins, many of which are responsible for skin irritations. Cut out sugary foods that aid the body in producing excess sebum as this will cause your pores to block more easily. Keep up good all around hygiene and stop touching your face, many people have a habit of leaning on their hands with their face as they work and then see spots cropping up in the same area, you are spreading bacteria so find a new way to sit comfortably! We have already spoke about the importance of sleep but in this case it's worth mentioning how important it is to keep changing and washing your sheets and pillow cases to stop any repeated exposure to dirt or bacteria that might lead to further acne break outs. Stress itself plays it's part in your spotty complexion by throwing your gut and hormones out of whack so finding some time to meditate - to soothe your mind and body - is going to make a noticeable difference in the fight against acne and your body even heals better when you're not stressed out which will help reduce scarring and healing time of acne breakouts. If you're stress has been going on for so long that the bacteria balance in your gut is seriously out of whack it might be worth speaking to your doctor to get some powerful probiotics prescribed to help restore order.

Problem: Graying and thinning hair:

hair today, gone tomorrow..

Your hair is another innocent victim in the war against stress. If you're genetically predisposed to grey hair then the presence of stress can inhibit the melanin in your hair from being produced, this is the natural chemical that helps your hair boast a beautiful colourful appearance and without it, your hair is going to turn grey a lot faster than nature had intended. Now whether your male or female we've all had those moments after a shower where we are shocked by the amount of hair we seem to have shed, it's pretty common knowledge that one of the main catalysts of this is stress; stress will reduce the growing phase of your hair to the resting phase to the falling out phase I.e. speeding up the normal life cycle of each hair.

Solution: Reduce hair shedding and maintain colour:

There are some studies that indicate supplementing with biotin and B vitamins will help strengthen your hair and thus stop it from falling out. When you brush or comb your hair do so gently and avoid vigorous towel drying. For guys sometimes balding is just going to take it's natural path as male hair follicles are often attacked more severely by DHT (a type of testosterone) which shrinks the follicles, causing hair to stop growing in that area. There are some topical solutions available such as minoxidil which can slow the process down but in any case keeping on top of stress is only going to help. If you're not already, try using a high quality shampoo that is rich in proteins to try and strengthen your hair but making the right changes to your diet by including lots of healthy fats, proteins and vitamins will make the largest difference, after all your hair is made up of amino-acids (proteins). Unexpected hair loss is usually linked to heightened amounts of stress in an individual but there are other factors to consider like whether or not you have just started using a new birth control pill as this may cause shedding as your hormones will be adjusting to the medication, so it may be worth consulting your doctor and having some tests completed.

Problem: Pink/red flushed appearance:

stress can really make your skin angry

Breathing is something we do subconsciously, without really paying much attention to the tempo or the depth of each breath, but when things get tough around us and our heart rate increase we start to take shallow breaths and even hold our breath for extended periods of time. This causes more blood to rush to the areas around our face as we are starving our brains of oxygen, so the body responds by attempting to transport more there.

Solution:Calm your breathing to calm your skin:

Learning how to breathe deeply and into your diaphragm will reduce the chance of you appearing flush all the time. Deep breathing actually stimulates the vagus nerve when done correctly and this in turn helps to keep your body in a rest and digest state as opposed to fight or flight. Being more conscious of your breathing by participating in yoga or meditation classes is a great step in making such breathing techniques automatic and unconscious.

Problem: Appearance of blemishes on nails:

watch out for horizontal lines!

Horizontal grooves and ridges that run from one side to the other, are known as Beau's lines, and they often appear when the body is weakened and the immune system is compromised from stress and causing damage to our bodies ecosystem. This is a symptom of stress often overlooked as it's known that vertical lines on your nails are a natural sign of ageing however these horizontal lines are indicative of something else entirely.

Solution: Stop biting, eat better!

When you start to notice uncharacteristic horizontal lines on your nails, take this as a sign that your body is potentially in a weakened state and start putting into practise everything we've spoken about so far and definitely stop biting them if that's a habit you've picked up! Start by eating correctly and perhaps go to the doctor to have some tests done to see if you might be low in any nutrients which might be causing your nails to look the way they do, for some people it might be as simple as getting more vitamin D or iron either way it's best to always rule out every possibility.

Life style changes to reduce stress:

Right, so now that we've got all the problems that stress can inflict out of the way, it's time to be more positive and talk about some of the best remedies and preemptive measures to keep these undesirable symptoms to a minimum. Below are some simple steps that we highly recommended you try and incorporate into your lifestyle to reduce stress and combat any appearance problems the “S word” might be responsible for. A lot of these methods really compliment each other but even adding one thing into your routine day by day is going to make a positive impact on your life.

1) Get more sleep, on average most people get around 5 hours of high quality sleep per night, most health professional recommend 7 – 8 hours per night.. A fatigued mind often leads to poor decision making abilities, so by sleeping more you should be able to think more rationally, make wiser choices throughout your day and thus reducing stress. When you're less stressed it's more likely your nervous system will be in a parasympathetic state (rest & digest) which will make it easier to get more sleep and by getting more sleep it's less likely you will be stressed! See how everything is linked together?

2) Eating a well rounded and nutritious diet. A growing number of us try to make up for having to work so many hours by saving time on important things, like eating properly and instead favour sticking a ready meal in the microwave or getting take out. Not only will such habits fatigue you even more with the amount of additives and other nasties that fast food contains but your system is going to be starved of vital nutrients such as important vitamins and minerals. Making sure you are eating a wholesome diet full of foods which contain B vitamins and other stress fighting ingredients such as magnesium and calcium, which help keep our muscles relaxed and our nervous systems calm. Eating the right things will not only reduce stress but will help improve your overall complexion, fighting the cause of issues like acne both directly and indirectly. One recommendation from us is to include avocados in your diet; not only are they high in B vitamins, they contain healthy fats to help nourish your skin and are also proven to help raise your serotonin (happy chemical) levels plus they are delicious! You might also consider supplementing with fish oils but for the most part it's always better to try and get your vitamins from wholefoods instead of pills as they will have much higher bio-availability this way, think kale, broccoli, spinach for the maximum dose of vitamin goodness.

3) Find some time for yourself to really let go and relax. It may be you spend all day worrying about other people I.e. your kids or your colleagues, it's important to unplug from the world once in awhile. Actively practising relaxation techniques is probably the most effective way to reduce your stress levels. Learning about mindfulness meditation or taking up yoga not only gives you time to focus on calming down your breathing but also gives you a break from the constant myriad of things that are thrown at you everyday. Relaxing doesn't just have to be these deliberate solo endeavours, it could be going out with friends, participating in sports or hobbies that you enjoy; the important thing is to stop worrying and get out of your head, be present in the moment. Do things that make you feel good whether that's watching a film, some fun between the sheets (even if that just means reading your favourite book) the aim is to simply let your body and mind unwind and to release feels good hormones that will help keep your system from burning out. You might consider getting a massage (we offer them here: https://createyourbeauty.co.uk/treatments/massage/ at our beauty salon in watford) which is a great way to discover where your body has been hiding all that stress (trust us you will know when we find it) or a beauty treatment such as a facial might take some load off; let someone else take care of you for once. Incorporate at least a few of these ideas into your life style and we promise you that your muscles will ache less, you will feel less anxious and depressed, sleep better and keep that blood pressure from going through the roof.

The Create Your Beauty team would love to lend a hand if you could do with some pampering, just head to our luxurious beauty salon in Watford and we'll take good care of you - https://createyourbeauty.co.uk

172 Bushey Mill Lane, Watford, Herts, WD24 7PB 01923 804 445