How Stress Affects your Skin

The aphorism that beauty is more than skin deep may in fact hold, but one needn’t look very far past the skin to see the effects of stress.

Skin is the largest organ in the body and its broad canvas does a fairly faithful job of broadcasting the operations and health of the body’s less visible parts. A healthy body and psyche will reveal a healthy facade; likewise will many points of internal disorder be unfortunately trotted out for all to view.

On a physiological level, stress impacts skin through its role in increasing the production of free radicals – those dastardly renegades that premature aging is often imputed to. On a psychosomatic level, those self-same stressors that inspire free radical production instigate the facial manifestations of despondency – namely frown lines and furrowed brows. In fact, the ways in which stress can negatively impact the immune system quite often organically leads to a person who LOOKS sick.

When stress reaches unhealthy levels, the adrenal glands secrete excess cortisol which has been proved to lead to protein loss, muscle catabolism, and an altogether uncool condition wherein body fat is redistributed so that the extremities lose muscle mass and size while the trunk and face gain fat. Just pondering that malicious irony may be cause for stress to compound. I mean, seriously, THAT’S where the fat decides to set up camp when stress invades? In the face?

Stresses impact on the skin can also be traced to the ways in which unhealthy levels of stress inhibit proper digestion. When the body does not digest food properly, the nutrients conducive to supple, radiant skin cannot find unhindered course to their desired destinations and dull, inflexible, dehydrated skin results.

That stress can also lead to or exacerbate such skin disorders as acne, hives, warts, cold sores, blisters, and psoriasis is all but peremptory, and ofttimes it is the unsightly appearance of one’s perceived blemishes that compounds the stress and redirects the mind and body to their aggressive vicious cycle.

It’s not all bad news, however. While “distress,” or negative stress is the stress that gets all the pomp and press, there is a healthy, beneficial stress known as “eustress.” Although the body cannot distinguish between distress and eustress and both are equally taxing to the body, eustress can – through its potential to motivate and enliven – work on the brain’s mood-elevating neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, thereby reversing those aforementioned distress-induced frown lines into the radiant, glowing countenance of a radiant, glowing happy person.

Get enough eustress and it won’t even matter if beauty is skin deep, because through some blessed, happy contrivance, that beautiful skin will have come from within.