The daily stress we experience in our life is the modern-day equivalent of our body going into prolonged fight or flight mode. When our body goes into flight or flight mode, one thing that happens is that it releases the stress hormone, cortisol.
When cortisol remains high for a prolonged period of time it reduces the skin's ability to hold onto moisture. And when our skin becomes dehydrated, wrinkles result.
Prolonged increased levels of cortisol will also cause a decrease in the hormone called DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), referred to as the anti-aging hormone. Our levels of DHEA start to diminish as we enter our 20's. This natural decrease coupled with increased cortisol levels which add to the loss, will lead to added wrinkles.
And if that wasn't enough (sorry), stress increases our blood sugar levels. And elevated blood sugar levels damage the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin which are the critical support structures. As they become more damaged, our skin will begin to sag and develop wrinkles.
It would be easy to say "keep your stress levels in check" but, in today's world, this is by no means easy to put into practice. So what should you do? Well when you feel the stress levels begin to rise in your body (eg upset tummy, headache, your heart rate rises, sweaty hands, feeling a bit panicky or flustered), take action as soon as possible. Don't ignore it. Because the longer you hold stress in your body, the bigger the impact it will have.
Here are some suggestions as to de-stress your body:
- place your feet on the ground (take your shoes off if you can), close you eyes and breathe deeply into your stomach and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times until you feel the feelings of stress subside
- go for a walk, preferably in nature but if that isn't possible, just enjoy the fresh air on your face as you walk outside
- meditate... either use a guided meditation, listen to relaxing music or just being present in the moment
- practise yoga, either at home or in a class
- take up a new hobby that is fun and relaxing such as knitting, sewing or, simply, reading
- dance and/or sing... either alone or in company. But really let yourself go