FACE FACTS, HIGH LEVELS OF STRESS ARE AGEING US ALL
It’s safe to say we’re all feeling a reasonably high level of stress.
Between to-do lists and making money to tick it all off, downtime can be hard to pencil in – and 10 minutes a week with a sheet mask on doesn’t exactly negate the six late nights you’ve had in a row.
And while we all know stress can make you look a bit frazzled, a new study says a high-stress lifestyle can make you look up to 3.5 years older thanks to “cultural stress”.
Led by dermatologist Howard Murad, researchers found that unlike regular stress, cultural stress is constant, pervasive and ever-increasing – and doing our skin precisely zero favours.
“It differs from traditional stress, which I define as stress caused by something like a broken leg or a death in the family. While this stress is painful at the time, it does eventually subside and our bodies are designed to cope with it,” Dr Murad said.
“Cultural stress, on the other hand, is a type of stress that our biological systems are ill-adapted to handle. It has become increasingly prevalent over the past decade and it has snuck up on every single one of us.”
So how exactly does missing the bus each day make you look older? That would be thanks to cortisol, a natural hormone that helps the body deal with stress and causes tissues to break down, including muscle, skin and yes, precious collagen.
In small amounts, stress and cortisol are a normal and healthy adaptation reflex.
But today’s stress levels are high and constant and have caused an overproduction, leading to many unwanted side-effects, including a compromised skin condition.
“Skin has its own stress-response system and shares a common language with our nervous system.
“It can initiate responses and send out messages through its own network. This helps explain how psychological and physical stress triggers can have secondary consequences to our appearance and health.”
Aside from high-stress periods triggering everything from dryness and irritation to even redness, excessive cortisol has the power to accelerate the ageing process of the skin, causing dryness and dehydration, enhancing lines, wrinkles, age spots, skin dullness, and intensifying crow’s feet, puffiness and dark circles around the eyes.