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Worrying is Bad for Beauty

How anxiety can mess with your skin, sleep and coping mechanisms.

| August 1st, 2011
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Worrying is Bad for Beauty

Worrying isn’t pretty. Not only is it bad for your beauty, but according to a new study, it’s destructive to relationships too.

In a new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were observed to use four distinct coping methods that often sabotaged interpersonal relationships—intrusive, cold, nonassertive and exploitable.

“All individuals with these styles worried to the same extent and extreme, but manifested those worries in different ways,” says study lead and Case Western Reserve psychologist, Amy Przeworski, Ph.D.

QUIZ: How Stressed Are You?

To understand how two different people with the same worry may express it differently, take the concern for a loved one’s safety as an example. On one hand, a person may intrusively call every few minutes to ask for safety updates, while someone else may naggingly harp on behaviors they believe are careless.

“The worry may be similar, but the impact of the worry on their interpersonal relationships would be extremely different. This suggests that interpersonal problems and worry may be intertwined,” adds Przeworski.

In other words, you probably think your worries are yours alone, but you might be annoying the heck out of your friends and family. Then stress comes twofold: the stress from worrying, and the stress from strained relationships.

Stress is a crazy skin-ager—it can cause you to look three to six years older. Stress causes collagen to break down, which speeds up sagging and wrinkling. Stress can also cause flare-ups of acne, eczema, rosacea and dandruff.

Since stress notoriously causes difficulty sleeping, it’s not uncommon to see a change in the eye area almost immediately. “Sleep deprivation can contribute to dark under eye circles by increasing the blood in the veins that are in and under the skin below the eyes,” says dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D.

MORE: How Sleep Affects Your Skin, for Better and for Worse

Luckily, when it comes to beauty, there are a plethora of solutions lining store shelves to help counteract oily skin, acne breakouts and dandruff.

To combat white flakes, look for hair cleansers that contain zinc pyrithione, which is naturally antifungal and antibacterial, and more effectively reduces the microorganisms that cause dandruff than any other over the counter ingredient. The longer you allow the zinc to penetrate the scalp, the more effective your results—so don’t suds and rinse too quickly.

For acne breakouts that crop up during stressful times, adding salicylic acid into your daily routine by way of a serum or lotion will help clear skin by speeding up cell turnover, so that pores aren’t given less of a chance to clog. Salicylic acid also helps absorb increased oil production.

While you may find ingredients like caffeine in eye creams that claim to stimulate circulation and reduce under-eye darkness, Schultz says there is no truly effective topical treatment for circles except for camouflage by makeup. Light-reflective cream concealers are among the formulas that offer the most efficient coverage.

Yet when it comes to cures for the psychological aspect of worrying, effective therapy requires more involvement. And a few deep breaths and a good night's sleep don't hurt either.

MORE: Learn About the ABCDE Method of Thinking Through Your Worries

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