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How Stress Affects Health

Five "Fun" Facts About How Stress Is Cramping Your Style

Ah, stress. You don't need us to tell you that it sucks, but it's all too easy to get complacent about it and accept that you're just going to have to let things grind on. If you have a hard time prioritizing your well-being just as much as you do your work and home lives, though, consider this: not only is stress harmful to your overall health, but it's also just plain bad for your skin, hair, nails, and everything else. But how, specifically, is being overstressed screwing you over? To find out, just keep reading.

  • It's aging you before your time. Yup. Research has established that chronic stress and long-term emotional strain make the telomeres (bundles of genes) inside your cells shrink, which occurs naturally at a much slower rate. So basically, if you're stressed out constantly for long enough, you really will become physically older than you should be.
  • It's giving you zits. This one isn't surprising, but your body reacts to stress by raising lots of its hormone levels, which might be helpful if you were, say, running from a predator, but if you're just feeling bad, it leads to inflammation and over-productive oil glands, and then you're in pimple city.
  • It's creating under-eye circles. Stress also leads to poor circulation, which in turn means more "old" blood trapped under your eyes. Add that to the lack of sleep you're probably "used to" and it's a recipe for looking dead tired all the time.
  • It's making your hair fall out and/or stop growing. When you're stressed, your body tries to conserve energy, so it knocks your hair growth into resting phase instead of an active growth phase. This often leads to slower hair growth, and in some cases your hair will (temporarily) start falling out.
  • It's ruining your nails. People who bite or rub their nails aren't the only ones whose hands suffer when they're anxious. Even nonbiters get peeling, brittle nails and white lines across their nail beds when they're under too much emotional strain.

Need ideas for de-stressing? Find out how to kick stress in the behind and live a calmer life.

Source: Flickr User Sara. Nel

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