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It seems our lives are becoming increasingly stressful as we juggle work pressures, family commitments and social engagements. As a GP, I see the impact that continual stress has on my patients on a daily basis. In fact, a high percentage of patients I see are suffering from stress and stress-related illnesses. These range from insomnia, weight gain, digestive issues and depression to an increased risk of heart disease.

Few of us, however, realise the full impact that stress has on our skin.

Stress is not only bad for your health, but it also has a clear detrimental effect on your skin. Studies have linked stress, depression and anxiety to an increase in skin problems.

So how can stress cause premature ageing of the skin? When you experience stress your body releases a surge of hormones, including cortisol, in an effort to prepare your body for a fight. Whilst cortisol can help the body manage stress, if you are experiencing chronic stress it causes the adrenal glands to overproduce the cortisol, which decreases the skin’s ability to regenerate. This leads to thinning of the skin, accelerating skin ageing and wrinkles, sagging skin, fine lines and dryness. So how can you delay the onset of premature ageing?

Set a regular sleep routine

Try getting to bed earlier and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. If you can resist the urge to stay up and cram more into the evening, you’ll get more out of your days.

Exercise regularly

Pick an exercise you enjoy and vary it to keep you interested. Try to recall how it makes you feel once you’ve gone for that walk or swim; those endorphins running through your body should put a smile on your face.

Practice deep breathing

It only takes a few minutes every day and you can try it first thing when you wake up and at night when you go to bed. Breathe in through the nose, let your abdomen expand and hold your breath for a count of three, before breathing out slowly through your mouth. Repeat this three times. Try deep breathing when you feel your stress levels rising.

Seek support from friends, family or a professional

Sometimes we cannot deal with our issues on our own. Seek alternative strategies to help manage your stress levels or do something as simple as speaking to those closest to you – they might be able to see your issues from a different perspective.

Don’t neglect your skin care routine

Even if you are feeling tired and stressed keep up your regular skin care routine – your skin will thank you for it!