A recent poll of over 1000 women, who live in Surrey and the South East, has revealed that the majority believe stress and anxiety have aged them the most since turning 30. Nearly 30% of participants cited stress and anxiety as having a detrimental impact on their looks, this was followed by lack of sleep at 21%, which is a well-known symptom of stress and anxiety.
The survey, conducted by Surrey-based cosmetic medical clinic health + aesthetics, found that, despite studies regularly citing sun damage and smoking in particular as key causes of ageing, women still believe stress and anxiety have a much bigger impact on their skin. Factors such as sun damage, smoking and alcohol intake had just 13% of the results combined.
The downside of ‘having it all’
In the case of women in Surrey and the South East, ‘having it all’ could refer to ‘having all the anxiety’, rather than balancing a career with motherhood. 18% of women surveyed chose ‘having children’ as the most significant impact on how they’ve aged. Anxiety and stress are a common side-effect of having children, with specific causes of stress including post-natal depression and the pressure and guilt that can come with being a working mum.
Having children can have a direct effect on sleep, with one study showing that we lose 44 nights’ worth of sleep in the first year of a baby’s life alone, so if women are anxious, tired and have children, they are experiencing three of the most common ageing factors identified by participants in the survey.
How does stress and anxiety impact on our looks?
Frowning and a lack of sleep are two obvious side-effects that stress and anxiety can have on the skin. However, being in a constant state of stress can actually slow down the skin renewal process and cause us to produce more of the hormones that cause acne breakouts. Stress can also worsen existing skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea.
During periods of stress and anxiety, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult and poor diet and fitness can lead to problems with the skin. 15% of people surveyed chose poor diet and fitness as the key cause of ageing since they turned 30.
Not eating properly and not drinking enough water can rob the skin of moisture, as well as antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A and C. Not exercising enough can make our circulation sluggish, causing a dull complexion. Yo-yo dieting can have a drastic effect on the skin, with rapid weight gain and loss causing the skin to stretch and sag.
Reducing the impact stress and anxiety has on the skin with cosmetic treatments
Taking the time to look after ourselves is a key way to de-stress, with the added benefit that many pampering procedures in particular also help to improve the tone and texture of the skin. One benefit of ageing is that once in our 30s, we’re likely to have established careers and be earning enough money to indulge in specialist beauty treatments to make us feel relaxed and pampered.
Dr Rekha Tailor, Medical Director at health + aesthetics, explains the positive impact aesthetic cosmetic procedures can have on women, “A common fear women have is that having a cosmetic procedure will make them look ‘over-done’ but the aim of good cosmetic treatments is to make women look fresh and rejuvenated. It’s not about making someone 45 look 25 for example, it’s about educating women on the most appropriate treatments for them and supporting them in their goal to improve their skin and feel good about how they look.”
Treatments that were once seen as ‘taboo’, such as Botox and dermal fillers, are now readily accepted as ways to improve skin texture and reduce wrinkles. Other treatments such as facials or skin peels can boost skin quality and leave you feeling rejuvenated, having spent some time being pampered and looked after.
By making the choice to care for ourselves, we could actually improve our self-esteem, which could result in reducing stress and anxiety and, according to one study, even improve our relationships and performance at work.
What else you can do to improve your skin
There are plenty of options available to reduce stress levels and leave us looking good and feeling great, from wrinkle treatments to meditation. Below we look at some of the key factors that cause us to age and the ways you can combat these and start to feel more relaxed and rejuvenated inside and out.
- Chemical (skin) peels gently remove the outermost layers of the skin to remove dead skin cells and create brighter skin.
- Skin blemishes caused by sun damage include seborrheic keratosis (benign skin growths), brown spots and spider veins can be treated using Lamprobe technology, which uses radiofrequency technology to treat these common conditions.
- Alcohol dries out the skin, so reducing your alcohol intake is the simplest way to minimise the impact this has on the appearance of your skin.
- As well as upping your fluid intake, an intensive facial, such as a Hydrafacial can dramatically increase skin hydration as well as providing antioxidant protection.
- Lines caused by smoking can be tackled with dermal fillers which plump out and fill lines. This is a particularly effective treatment for lines around the mouth.
- For deeper lines, Botox can be used to ease deeper wrinkles around the mouth and eyes.
- Profhilo is a new treatment which restores the body’s natural hyaluronic acid to leave the skin looking tighter and rejuvenated. It treats the cause of wrinkles, rather than just treating the wrinkles themselves.
Lack of sleep
- Sleep tracking apps and devices will help you define your sleeping habits. These devices can recommend personalised sleep schedules, give you reminders of when it’s time to go to bed and tips for improving your night time routine.
- Meditation is a well-known way to reduce stress and anxiety, but did you know it can also improve sleep? One study showed that 58% of insomniacs showed significant improvements in sleep by practising meditation. The easiest way to drift off to a better night’s sleep is with a guided meditation app with features designed to ease you into sleep such as Buddhify or Calm.
5 ways to reduce stress and anxiety in your life
Tackle the problem head on by reducing wrinkle-causing stress and anxiety with these tips.
- Speak to your GP
If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress and anxiety and this is impacting your health, then the most important thing you can do is to speak to your GP. Your GP will help you define the cause of your stress and could refer you for further treatment, such as counselling or support group help, or prescribe medication if this is appropriate. For more information on getting professional advice to treat stress and anxiety visit Mind.org.
- Schedule in some ‘me-time’
Whether this is going for a coffee with a friend, reading a chapter of a book, going to a yoga class or treating yourself to a beauty treatment, just taking time out of your regular schedule will help you relax and gain some much-needed calm.
- Ask for help
Often this can be the hardest thing to do but asking for help can free up your valuable time and energy. If you’re struggling to juggle work and home life, you could ask a friend or family member to help out with childcare; speak to your employer about changing your work contract to flexitime or employ a cleaner to handle your household chores while you spend more quality time with your children.
- Learn a new skill
If there’s a certain person or activity which triggers your stress, then one way to tackle this is by learning a new skill to help you handle the stress more effectively. If a person at work consistently treats you like a doormat, then attending a course on assertiveness could be a way to combat this. If money worries are stressing you out, book in a session with a financial advisor for help and advice on handling your money or sign up to a bookkeeping course. Working in a job you don’t like can be very stressful, you can find out what areas you might want to focus your career on by doing volunteer work or taking a course in a subject you’re interested in.
- Unplug from technology
Studies have shown that excessive use of technology can cause sleep disorders and symptoms of stress and depression and as many as 1 in 5 people say they feel depressed as a result of using social media sites. Try a technology detox, whether this is not checking social media for a week or not reading online news sites after 7pm so you can avoid traumatic stories before bed. Doing something to cut down on the time you spend online should help to reduce stress levels.
Dr Rekha explains how looking after ourselves can help to diminish feelings of stress and anxiety, “If you’re busy with commitments at work and home, taking the time to look after yourself can soon slip way down on your ‘to do’ list. It’s so important to take a holistic look at your health and pin point exactly what factors in it are causing you to feel so stressed. There are options open to you and people who can help you feel in control again, whether this is something as simple as booking in for a pampering treatment to gain some valuable ‘me time’ or something more in depth such as a counselling sessions to get to the root of what is stressing you out.”
You can find out more about the treatments available from health + aesthetics and what to expect during a consultation and treatment by calling the team today on 01252 933133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.