The holiday season is filled with happiness, but it’s also filled with stress. This year in particular, you might have spent the holiday season trying to balance local regulations with family gatherings. You might have been working from home while also managing your children’s Zoom lessons. Most of your shopping may have been done online, and many of us found additional stress in waiting for packages that arrived late or not at all. There’s no doubt about it: The holiday season of 2020 was more stressful than most holiday seasons (and they tend to be stressful to begin with!).
If you’re noticing that your face looks tired and that you have some extra wrinkles, you’re not alone. Between the tension of the season, a lack of sleep, dietary indiscretions, and other seasonal and situational woes, it’s not surprising that many of us don’t look like our usual youthful selves. The good news is that you can take some steps now to bring vigor and smooth, glowing skin back into your life.
PREVENT FURTHER STRESS-RELATED WRINKLES
While most of us will develop wrinkles in response to the natural aging process, some of the wrinkles we notice around the holidays and other stressful times in our lives are actually caused by that stress itself. In addition to lifestyle factors (like getting less sleep, drinking more alcohol, or frowning), our DNA actually responds to stress with changes that make wrinkles more likely. The science behind it has to do with telomeres, which are a piece of the DNA strand that shortens in response to stress.
Getting back into a less stressful routine can help. Now that the holidays are over, some of that stress will be relieved naturally. However, 2021 doesn’t look much different from 2020. And since all of us have normal stressors at various points of our life even without the current state of affairs, knowing how to reduce our overall stress levels will help minimize the impact on our skin.
First, get back into your normal routine. If it’s been many months since you’ve been in your regular routine, that’s okay. Find a new normal. You might not be able to zone out and listen to music on your train commute right now, so find a different way to fit in your meditation or relaxation. It might mean getting up a little earlier and listening to a mindfulness podcast before the rest of the family gets up. Or it might mean getting outside into the brisk air for a walk.
Speaking of walking, exercise will help. It will reduce your stress levels and increase circulation to all of the tissues of your body, including your skin. Just be sure to slather on sunscreen (yes, even on cloudy winter days!) to prevent wrinkles caused by UV rays.
Drinking enough water will help plump up your skin and minimize wrinkles. This is moisturizing your skin from the inside out, which is just as important as applying moisturizers from the outside in. If you don’t want to drink plain water, try adding a wedge of lemon or a slice of cucumber. Or you can drink herbal tea or other beverages. Try to stay away from too much caffeine and sugar, though. And don’t count alcoholic beverages in your tally of fluids for the day, as they tend to be dehydrating.
Chances are good that you might have overindulged a bit on chocolate, cookies, and other heavy foods over the holidays. That’s no problem, but getting back on track will help your skin as well as your waistline. Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy sources of fats (like avocados and olive oil), and lean sources of protein (like poultry, fish, and eggs). Eating healthy foods with lots of vitamins and minerals will go far in healing your skin.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Remember that your skin rejuvenates itself overnight, and skipping out on your 40 winks can lead not only to more wrinkles but also to a generally dull appearance. Tired eyes also make you look older. Focus on good sleep hygiene practices, like putting away your phone an hour before bed and keeping your room nice and cool, so you can fall asleep and stay asleep easily. You can also talk to your doctor if you are having trouble with insomnia.
TREATING THE WRINKLES YOU HAVE
In addition to making some lifestyle changes to prevent further wrinkles, you can apply treatments to your skin to help smooth it out.
Tweak your normal skincare routine. Wash and dry your skin, then apply hydrating and skin-plumping serums. Try one with hyaluronic acid to help smooth wrinkles. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and other antioxidants are also great ingredients to look for. You should also look for products with collagen, which plumps and repairs skin, minimizing wrinkles. Topical products are good, and some people like to add oral supplements, too. Just talk to your doctor or pharmacist first if you are already taking other supplements or if you are on any prescription or non-prescription medications.
A moisturizer with collagen or retinol is another good product to add to your regimen if you have wrinkles forming. Look for night creams containing retinol for an extra wrinkle-busting boost. You can also talk to your dermatologist about prescription retinoids, which go the extra distance in reducing the signs of aging.
Wrinkles caused by stress are not something you are alone in dealing with. Getting that stress under control will help you look younger and feel more like yourself, however. It is also good for your overall health; studies have shown that excessive stress can lead to a host of health issues. Learn how to reduce anxiety and enjoy feeling better. If you are having a lot of trouble, talk to your doctor or a counselor. There is help available, and there’s no reason to suffer from too much stress if this is a problem in your life.