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Stress, Health and Beauty Don’t Mix

Skin woes, hair loss or sleepless nights? You might need to get your stress in check.

Stress much? Whether it stems from big-picture issues like constant work overload or money trouble, or from stressful daily minutia like getting stuck behind a slow truck during our daily commute, we can all commiserate over the nagging anxiousness that stress inflicts.

QUIZ: How Stressed Are You?

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In fact, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America survey, the majority of American experience unhealthy stress levels in daily life and more than 40 percent of all adults report lying awake at night due to stress. In addition to that negative feeling, you may vaguely sense that you don’t feel or look your best during a particularly bad week.

But, what you might not realize is that stress is enemy numero uno to beauty. Don’t stress over it though—YouBeauty is here to help you chill out.

First, though: What exactly is stress?

You know what it feels like, but what is going on in your body that causes all that unease? On the most basic level, it is an immediate danger that fires up the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response you have to a snarling dog or tray of dishes smashing to the floor at a restaurant. During this process, a number of chemicals flood the body, including epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and cortisol (the “stress hormone”), which in turn increase your heart rate and blood sugar levels and prepare you for a confrontation or a sprint.

This basic type, called acute stress, doesn’t negatively impact your health—in fact, dozens of studies indicate that it is a beneficial, immune-boosting response. Chronic stress, however, can be quite harmful. This is the cumulative feeling of frustration from ongoing problems, such as long hours in a cubicle, a lingering illness or tension with your significant other. Here, the sympathetic nervous system is constantly on and the body can’t get a break from the stimulating fight-or-flight chemicals. The result: Excessive wear and tear on the body and mind, as well as consequences for your looks.

RELATED RESEARCH: Caffinated Women Thrive Under Stress

It’s a topic that Dr. Amy Wechsler, YouBeauty Dermatology Advisor, extensively explores in her book, “The Mind-Beauty Connection.” According to Wechsler, stress is “the root of all evils today, at least when it comes to health and beauty.” 

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