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How Anxiety Impacts Your Appearance and How to Fight Back

Right when you need to be looking your best, anxiety can take you down a notch or two.

A reunion that has filled you with equal parts dread and worry. A vacation that you’ve been looking forward to but are not fully prepared for. A visit with the in-laws that has been weighing on your mind…

Can overthinking about daily events and future worries move from the mental to the physical? Overwhelmingly, health experts and studies say yes. When your mind is stressed out with worry, your body responds by releasing cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones go to work to increase your energy and enhance your body’s ability to repair itself. It’s good news in a “fight or flight” situation. Say, if you are being chased by a bear. But not such good news when it’s your in-law on the phone.

Because another effect of these hormones is it temporarily shuts down other functions. For example, your immune system, your digestive system, and other important functions.

In a nutshell? The body is pretty terrible at sifting through your worries and deeming which require a boosted ability to physically run away.

Curious about how stress hormones in your system can show up in your appearance? Read on!

Your oral health.

When life gets busy, you might not feel like you have time to floss. But it’s exactly during this time when it’s the one thing you should not skip.

According to Sam Carroll DMD, Yuma Smiles, who has a dental office in Yuma, AZ, “Stress can have a negative impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections such as gum disease.”

Additionally, Carroll notes that mouth sores are also common when an individual is stressed out. Aside from flossing daily, he recommends that you boost your diet with immune-boosting foods and, of course, watch those stress levels!

Your skin.

Ever find yourself awake at 2 am wondering if you’ll ever fall asleep again? The next morning, you look haggard. Your skin is dry and your wrinkles are more defined.

You do not even need to have skipped a night of sleep to experience the ill effects of cortisol. Cortisol damages your skin’s ability to retain water. Which is what makes your skin look firm and smooth.

Additionally, stress triggers inflammation throughout your body, which can lead to acne outbreaks. So not only does your skin start to look older than your years, but acne that only troubled you in your youth might come visiting.

Where to start in reducing the negative impact of stress on your skin? Get more sleep. This might seem hard to do when worry or stress often prevents you from sleep. But it’s the one thing that repairs skin function and lowers your stress response in one go.

Your eyes.

Blood-shot eyes with dark circles underneath them tell others that you probably did not get enough sleep last night.

The detailed reason for sleep deprivation will differ from person to person, but often the overarching reason is anxiety. In other words, stress.

Thankfully, there are some effective remedies to helping you overcome this impact of stress on your eyes. Healthline.com suggests a warm compress on your eyes for 10 minutes. Or if that doesn’t work, your body might respond better to a cool compress.

For the dark circles, try a retinol cream. Retinol has been studied for its ability to improve skin tone and stimulate your body’s production of collagen. Collagen bolsters the skin barrier, which helps to even out your skin’s color.

Your hair.

Can stress really be the cause of those grey hairs that are coming up with more frequency? Yep. Usually, the effects are not permanent, so long as the stress lets up. But if you are experiencing an extremely stressful event, then it’s likely that the grey hair you found is a result of the event and not a result of aging.

Remember how stress hormones halt certain body functions it thinks unnecessary to your survival? One of those functions is melanocytes, the reason you have pigment in your hair. So when you are stressed, melanocyte function decreases and grey hairs increase.

Since life will inevitably hand you a basket of lemons, getting rid of stress entirely might be too much to hope for. But there are ways to deal with grey hairs. Use a shampoo that boosts your natural hair color. Focus on nutrition that helps with hair health, such as cranberries and apple cider vinegar!