Why Stress Is A Beauty Buster


Stress- We all have it but some of us deal with it better than others.  If you look at any recent United States President from their first day in office until their last, you will see that all aged appreciably in only four years. Why? Because carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders took its toll on their appearance.  Even if you’re just an everyday lady boss or Mom trying to make her way in the world, stress can cause you to age before your time. Here’s how and why according to New York Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez.


Dr. Hafeez says that, “Aside from the unattractive scowl that stress brings to the face, it creates direct physiological changes. Stress is defined as the reaction of the body to a stressor or stimulus that causes stress. Stress can be acute, which affects the body in the short term, or chronic, affecting the body in the long term. Synonyms for stress include anxiety, nervousness, apprehensiveness, impatience, fear and restlessness.”

Dr. Hafeez explains that, “Stress that is not controlled most certainly affects the body’s physical characteristics or beauty. It affects skin, hair, fingernails, digestion and sleep patterns. Stress-induced conditions include hair loss, heart disease, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sexual dysfunction, tooth and gum disease and ulcers or indigestion.”

Some Common Symptoms of Stress Induced Beauty Busters

Under-Eye Bags: Tomorrow’s to-do list can weigh on your mind, keeping you from getting enough beauty sleep. This can cause fluid to pool below your lower eyelid area, and what you end up with is a puffy mess in the a.m. Stomach sleepers, bad news: You can expect the puffiness of your under-eye bags to be even worse because of gravity.


Flushed Face: “When you’re stressed, you breathe in short, shallow breaths and can even find yourself holding your breath for periods of time, which can lead to flushing and redness,”  says Dr. Hafeez.


Hair loss: Stress can trigger alopecia areata, which causes patches of baldness anywhere on the body, including on your head. Stress can also trigger a tick where you pick at head hairs out of bad habit. This condition is called trichotillomania. Usually, this hair can grow back, but it doesn’t even have to fall out in the first place: Pay close attention to your own habitual responses to daily stress, to avoid similar sparseness.


Gray Hair: Hair can also age prematurely due to stress. If you are genetically predisposed to have premature gray hair, stress will further decrease your production of melanin, easily increasing the number of gray or white hairs. By increasing your consumption of biotin, protein, and vitamin E you can reduce these negative effects to keep your hair strong and youthful.


Pimples: Stress alters your hormones. It increases cortisol production, which in turn increases the oil production in your skin. All of this leads to greater odds of clogged pores. Stress can also multiply the number of acne-causing bacteria in the body, which might require a high-dose antibiotic prescription from your dermatologist.


Mini Menopause: Dr. Hafeez says this isn’t proven, but some believe increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause a dip in estrogen that’s similar to the decrease during menopause. Less estrogen means less collagen production which can leave your skin dull and dry.


Wrinkles: Anxiety, crying, feeling down and a lack of sleep can cause deeper lines around the eyes, forehead, eye area and mouth.


Dark Circles:-Stress can break the fragile capillaries under your eyes, leaving you with under-eye rings and a tired appearance. 


Lines on the fingernails: The appearance of vertical lines on your fingernails is fairly common and is related to both the natural aging process and nutritional deficiencies. But when they extend from the cuticle to the tip of the nail, it’s a clear sign that your stress is having an effect on the body.


Stress and Weight Gain: Most of us become overeaters when we’re feeling a lot of pressure. This happens thanks to your fight-or-flight response, a.k.a. survival mode — once your body reaches a certain stress level, it does what it feels it needs to. In most cases, that means overeat. Why? “Because your body thinks you’ve used calories to deal with your stress, even though you haven’t, says Dr. Hafeez.  She adds, “As a result, it thinks you need to replenish those calories, even though you don’t.”  Levels of “the stress hormone,” cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.


How Can We Mitigate Stress ?

Countless books and articles have been written about dealing with stress. Dr. Hafeez explains that, “The first step is recognition. To help deal with your stress, write down a list of what you are most worried about before any event, or what chronically causes worry in your life. Identifying your stressors is the first step in managing them. If you are chronically late or find that it hard to get organized, figure out what you do that makes you late or disorganized. Write it down and acknowledge it. Then you can come up with a plan to preemptively tackle what may drive you and your loved ones into a stressed-out situation.” Another trick in dealing with stress is plain old reasoning and the realization that you cannot control everything. Sometimes we trap ourselves into worrying about things that we have no control over, and recognition of that fact can reduce stress immeasurably.


About the Doctor:

Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens. 


Thankful For Women & Girls Campaign Comes To South Florida

IMG_6242The air in Atria Senior Living buzzed with compliments that the residents exchanged with one another. The smiles and excitement were personally intoxicating for me. Thankful, which is a lifestyle brand founded on the principle of practicing gratitude, took over the assisted living facility to host a private event for their ‘Thankful for Women & Girls campaign.’ Atria residents were the honored guests of a private tea party. But before the live Frank Sinatra performances and tea sandwiches, guests were also invited to receive a makeover from GlamSquad courtesy of Becca Cosmetics.
“We want to give them a beautiful experience. These women are trailblazers. They have paved the way for us to live the lives we live today,” the founder of Thankful, Kim McDonnell, said.
Becca Cosmetics displays surrounded the residents who opted to be fully pampered for the day. Even the star palette for the event (Becca’s ‘Be a light ‘ palette) had encouraging mantras such as “Be Fearless,” written across the palette’s mirror.
“Every woman has an inner beauty and inner glow. The ‘Be a Light’ palette helps people ignite their inner and outer glow,” Justine Dunton-Rose, Becca’s Senior Manager of Influencer Relations, said.

Being Bipolar and How I Got My Groove Back


“You have bipolar disorder.”

My heart sank. My thoughts raced. What was going to happen next? Would I ever get better? Why did these four words seem so daunting and scary, all at the same time? Would I always be ‘the girl with the mental disorder?’

All thoughts that raced through my head around September of 2008 when my doctor’s intake led to these results.

I knew something was wrong when my credit card debt racked up, my glass of wine became bottles, my stress about my upcoming wedding led me to barely enjoy the planning, my fights and arguments with friends became unsolvable (in my head), my job at The Miami Herald too stressful, my highs were way high, my lows became tear-stained evenings crying over everything, my “Sex and the City” late night watching binges led to 5 a.m. bed times and my loneliness seemed heightened, even with a million friends around me. I had an answer. Something was wrong.

I knew it now, and I was the more powerful for it.

I am sharing my story because I still get these feelings and make the same mistakes, but they are thankfully more contained thanks to 5 mg of Abilify, a supportive husband and group of friends that believe in me. But you want to know what the hardest part of it all has been?

Believing in myself.

Let’s continue this story by saying, I am considered successful. People say they love me. I am now a high school teacher and professor, leaving behind a very stressful journalism career only to freelance on the side when my soul needs to create the written word…I miss journalism, but not the deadlines every day. Not the constant parties and social events where people said “they were friends,” which only would lead to me missing them when they stopped calling, triggering a panic/manic episode.

I love writing, I love some of the friends I made through that career, but when you are clutching your 5th vodka soda at a Grey Goose event to self-medicate thanks to the crowd, you need a moment and the recovery, mentally, takes days.

You could say believing in myself is hard, but I believed in myself enough to realize…enough is enough. I wanted to be happy, inside the darkness of my mind and the struggles of my insecurities.

You could say my children/students saved me. I am not yet a mother, but after the layoffs of 2008/9 at The Miami Herald, I found my calling, standing in a classroom at Florida International University teaching masters degree students the joys of writing. The passion of journalism. Seeing them believe in me, 26 years-old, as I stood in front of that classroom shaking my first day, brought me some light. Having them sing me happy birthday that October 2009 with chocolate cake and telling me they “got it” and “loved my class” made me realize I had a calling. I was hooked…I felt at peace.

Then, I decided to continue this route, entering classrooms in Miami-Dade College, lecturing at Florida Atlantic University, all while working stints as an editor at Where Magazine, where I cut back on events, and later in 2015 at Bauer Xcel Media, as a senior web editor for J-14 Magazine, working from home. It seemed like a dream job.

Only problem is, despite doctor visits and monitoring, my demons, my bipolar cloud, will always be there. Loneliness working from home triggered it. I was happiest in the classroom. Breaking into tears, I knew I needed to make a change.

That’s when I realized…I am successful, but to what cost? What success did I want for myself? I wanted to make a change, have better hours, change lives…I wanted to be a high school teacher as well as continue my college teaching career.

Scared, I applied. I got the job. Boca Raton Community High School is now home. I am going on my 4th year as a teacher there and it was like putting myself back through school, learning the ropes, making new friends, going through the new teacher program, taking exams and finally, this year, being fully certified as Florida Department of Education teacher.

And then there’s the kids. My 10th graders.

You could say they make me smile. You could say they saved me. But in the end, I saved myself and I followed my dreams and realized despite a disability I can, too, live a full life and focus on my goals.

Fast forward. It is almost August 2018. I am writing this on a break as I teach international students at ISSOS (International Summer School of Scotland) at Yale University. I also still write. My husband is still around, and so is my cat, Luna. I have some good friends and family. I am still here.

I share my story because I have my days. I go dark. I think about my mistakes. Student loan debt. Credit Card debt. Lost friends, lost chances…what if. “You are ugly, you are not smart enough, you are not doing enough, you are not working hard enough, you should NOT BE IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE.”

All of this happens in a bad, low episode.

Then comes the high…and I am magic. All is beautiful. I am loved. I am pretty, smart and talented. I am a rock star.

And guess what I do?

I hang on to that moment and I tell my bipolar disorder thank you.

I will hang on to the positive. I am still here. I am enough.

And then I start my day all over again, realizing this disease will not go away. But, I can fight it. And, my dear readers, you can as well if you’re ever diagnosed with any disability or mental disease.

You, too, are enough.


36423166_10104402815793838_4162038182742851584_n Aurora Dominguez Director of Worthy Reads