STRESS: The Good, The Bad, and How It Can Make You Ugly(ier)!
I’m no Adonis; I know this. Still, I do my best to work with what I’ve got. Even when the days get long, and times get tough. Maybe the same goes for you. So, I must ask, “Have you ever noticed how when you're under a ton of stress – whether it's from work, home, or whatever – you suddenly seem to look more worn and haggard?”
I’ve got the answer - It’s not your imagination. That's STRESS at work!
More than just a health issue, stress can affect your skin, hair, and even your nails – in some cases almost immediately, but in others, the results could show up much later.
When it comes to your skin, cortisol (that stress hormone I keep talking about!) tells your cells to produce more oil … which makes you more prone to acne and other problems. It also can produce inflammation, which plays a role in many health conditions, not just those related to skin.
For some men, stress can even cause hives, which is a red, bumpy, and itchy reaction on the skin. And, if you've already got a chronic skin condition like rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema, stress can make it even worse. Skin reactions (like hives!) can happen immediately.
Weird TMI fact: I know a guy (who shall remain nameless) who gets hives every time he has to do his taxes! For others in the same situation, a skin reaction to stress can take a day or two (or even longer) to show up.
And, because most guys think skincare is girly, or that it's somehow emasculating to invest in a quality moisturizer, and apply it daily; wrinkly and crepey skin can appear as early as your forty's. Add to this the stress of working long hours under fluorescent lights for weeks (even months) on end, and you've got a severe case of the uglies growing on you!
How's Your Hair?
Stress can also cause your hair to fall out (GASP! It's NOT just age-related!) – the problem is that you usually don't see it happen immediately. When you get a significant rise in stress hormones, your hair follicles can get weak. In many cases, they die. And, because you don't see the immediate stress damage, you think you're doing fine. Then, about three months later, you're wondering what the hell happened to make your mane look so stringy, or forehead grow SO HIGH!
So if you suddenly notice more hair in the shower, my advice would be to ask yourself whether or not you experienced a stressful event a few months earlier. Then, start working on ways to manage those stressors in the future.
Your fingernails can also take a hit from stress a couple of different ways.
First of all, nails grow thicker and tougher with age. Bad enough your toenails have the texture of corn chips, but when it comes to your hands; if you already have the nervous habit of biting your nails, rubbing them with your thumb, or otherwise picking at them, the chances are good that you're going to do it even more when you're under stress.
Poor nail care is an effect of stress that can be obvious. The result leaves you with a less than professional manacure and fingernails that look more like the kind a Hobbit-handed field worker might have. Blame it all on stress, and the way you handle (or don't handle) it.
As if calloused, nubby nails weren't creepy enough, stress can also cause those weird little white lines to appear on their surface, making them susceptible to peeling or becoming brittle. Like with hair loss, these issues can take a while to reveal themselves after a stressful event.
So … that's the bad news.
What's the good news?
There are some things you can do to cut back on how stress affects your body … and also cut back on stress in general.
Here's the main thing; when faced with stress, many of the guys I know jump ship on their self-care routines (especially when it comes to their exercise and nutrition)! Don't let that happen!
You must MAKE time for yourself.
Remember: Your skin is the largest organ on your body (sorry, sir, it's not the "best friend" you've had since puberty)! So, whether you like it or not, you must take care of it - and the REST of yourself, too!
Get on a regular skin care regimen, and stick with it even when you feel tired or stressed
Drink plenty of water (at least half your weight in ounces) every day
Eat a healthy & balanced diet including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables (like a real grown-up)
Get enough sleep (6-8 hours a night)
Move your body EVERY DAY to burn off stress/increase endorphins (the feel-good hormones your body produces while working out)
Meditation and breathing exercises can also be a simple, on-the-fly way to help calm down your body's stress and inflammatory response almost immediately!
No, it's not always easy to fight off stress, or the after-effects of it, but it only gets worse if you neglect the responsibility you have to care for your physical wellbeing. If you struggle in this area, and need accountability or help to stick with your routines, shoot me a message. I'm here to support you!
Until next time, own your age, love your life, and keep moving toward a better you!