Stress, Wrinkles & Premature Aging

It turns out that the best wrinkle cream is stress reduction!

Wrinkles are caused by holding our muscles in a particular expression over time. Yes, that “old wives tale” is true! Worry causes tightening of muscles groups in your face that will create lines over time. Smiling will also create wrinkles, but which ones would you rather have?

Instead of suggesting that you buy a particularly good wrinkle potion, I’m going to suggest an alternative form of wrinkle prevention. STOP WORRYING! “Worrying is like pre-paying a toll for a bridge you may never cross!” (*see below for facial exercises to help you repair the lines and sags)

Intriguing research has been done in this area described as the “facial feedback hypothesis”.

Scientists have found that blocking the ability to move our muscles or body causes changes in emotions, and even more amazing, in our thoughts!

Researchers found that subjects using Botox treatments were significantly less depressed!

Psychologists say the facial feedback hypothesis explains that when you are smiling, the whole world smiles with you. The research actually suggests the opposite: When you’re not frowning, the world seems less angry and less sad.”

In other studies, it was found that worrying can also cause us to age prematurely. There has been a longstanding belief that chronic stress causes people to appear older and indeed this study showed a link between chronic stress and aging. It explained that telomeres (structures at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with aging) also shorten prematurely in persons experiencing long-term psychological stress, in effect, prematurely “aging” the cells.

The research is pointing to the fact there is a feedback loop

If you hold a happy expression on your face, the rest of your body responds to that expression, and you start feeling the emotion. Practicing holding a happy expression can even have change your immediate negative thought reaction to things you read, see or hear that are more potentially stressful. That means if you smile, you’ll feel happier, and may even stay younger looking, age slower, and be healthier!

What does this mean and how can this help us?

If you’ve been responding to events in your life with worry, or tension, look at your face. Have you habitually been holding this expression of tension on your face? Do you already have wrinkles that are etched into your face?

I’m certainly not encouraging you to go out and get botox injections. There are ways that you can intentionally increase your happiness, and lessen the probability of getting tension or worry wrinkles! Pay attention to the tight feelings in your face. Then reduce them by focusing on joy, happiness and good memories. You will feel an immediate change from the tight band across your forehead, the tightening of your eyes to a loosened relaxation in your face. This can work like a relaxing meditation: stay present in the moment, focus on a happy event in your life, let yourself smile, and take calm breaths while focusing on joy.

Yes, by focusing on joy, you change your facial expression which will have an effect on not only your wrinkles, but on your autonomic nervous system, your positive thoughts, increase your happiness and improve your health and feeling of well-being!

Yoga and Facial Wrinkles

I’m also a certified Yoga Instructor. One of the methods I use during yoga is to have people focus on the expression on their face, especially when doing a difficult position (asana). If they are scrunching their face, it means that they are not relaxed. I encourage you to use this focus on your face- when you are concentrating, talking to someone, or any other activity. Is your brow furrowed? You may need to practice, but try to soften the muscles around your eyes and relax your face. It’s a great stress relieving activity!

If you have deep wrinkles in your forehead that don’t go away even when you sleep, there’s one other product that can actually help change your expression. You might even detect a difference in your dreams- more positive? I’d love to hear from you if you try this.

The product is called Frownies. It’s like a tight bandaid that keeps your skin from getting wrinkled from frowning. You put it on before going to sleep. But if you can keep it on whenever you want – but at night, you won’t have an audience!

Think about it: Choose to be happy, and you will improve your looks and your health. That sounds like a winning combination to me!

For more ideas about creating a happier, EFT Tapping is a fast stress relief tool.

(*Here’s the link to find some great exercises to help rejuvenate your facial muscles)