“I’m so stressed” seems to be a catchphrase we hear all too often in this day and age. Some people are intrinsically aware that they may be getting worked up about work, pun unintended, while others may unknowingly be feeling pressure building until it overflows in a torrent of frustration and despair.
From premature aging to issues affecting the heart, and we don’t just mean the heart solely as a muscle but also emotions related to the heart, stress from the daily grind can damage our health in irrevocable ways. So what exactly does stress do to us and how harmful is it to our bodies and skin in particular?
Some stress is needed for getting through situations that require immediate attention and focus but when stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released for extended periods, they end up reducing your body’s response to fight viruses and instead becomes susceptible to illness
Cortisol causes oil production in the skin glands to increase thereby possibly leading to clogged pores, acne breakouts, inflammation, wrinkles and in the case of those who suffer from chronic stress – accelerated skin aging. Stress hormones are capable of wreaking havoc on skin because of its ability to break down collagen and elastic — two crucial building blocks for healthy and supple skin.
Psychological conditions and the immune system share a symbiotic relationship. Some of the more common side effects of stress are anxiety and depression and these factors have been directly linked to digestive problems, heartburn, headaches, muscle aches or pains and general irritability.
Stress has also been known to mess with the appetite and not necessarily be good for our waistlines. High levels of pressure can cause an imbalance in the gut which in turns causes inflammation. Even though the inflammation is internal, it can show externally in the form of skin conditions like acne, eczema or psoriasis. People with existing conditions would be more sensitive to stress as well.
With your heart having to pound faster and harder to push oxygen-rich blood all over your body and your lungs working double-time to keep your heart pumping, the body is put through immense pressure on a daily basis. Even the brain is forced to work overtime to keep up with all the stress signals being sent. It is no wonder fatigue sets in and other organs like the skin do not get enough attention.
While some people are more prone to genetically acquiring chronic illnesses or diseases, large amounts of stress can further push the body to develop serious illnesses like cancer, liver cirrhosis and heart problems — possibly also brought on by external vices like excessive drinking and substance abuse.
When the stress gets too much to handle and the fallout includes muscles aches and mental fatigue, it becomes easier to reach for pain medication or a swig (or three) from the bottle. However, because it is not in the body’s natural impulse to reach for a cigarette or drown your sorrows in alcohol, we should refrain from imbibing if we are reminded of the opportunity cost of dry and aged skin.