Combat the physical effects of stress

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a stressful year so far. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it an anxious time for all of us as we deal with the health ramifications of coronavirus. And then there’s the toll the crisis is having on the economy; Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said that the negative effects will last at least a year. Whether you’re facing work-related pressure or an increasing fear of the virus and its impact, stress affects us in a variety of ways – including skin breakouts and weight gain. These in turn can affect our self confidence and feeling of well being. If you’re need a bit of a revamp or boost, here are a couple of things you can do to help.

Types of stress

According to the Copeman Healthcare Centre, there are four main types of stress – and all of them have negative effects. Physical stress includes migraines and headaches; mental stress is depicted by anxiety and memory loss; emotional stress often involves mood swings; and behavioural stress can manifest through eating and sleeping disturbances.

The negative effects of stress

#1 Bad skin

When stress gets acute or chronic, it can disrupt the our regular hormonal response system to stress (known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis). This can lead to neurogenic and inflammatory response triggers on the skin level, directly affecting the skin’s ageing process. For example, an increase in stress levels results in the release of the hormone cortisol. This can increase sebum production, and the likelihood of getting acne.

Stress can also cause the skin to dry out and develop wrinkles. Over time, hyperpigmentation and volume loss can occur, too. One way to tackle skin ageing is through a laser treatment like the Pico Fractional Laser at Amaris B Clinic. This FDA-approved, 450-picosecond laser treats a wide variety of skin concerns including fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, acne scars and pigmentation issues.

#2 Overeating

Are you reaching out for that bar of chocolate every time you’re feeling stressed? Watch out for signs of emotional eating, which involves over-consuming food (and often unhealthy food) to deal with stress. If you’re looking for a holistic approach to weight management, consider exercise therapy. Amaris B Clinic uses vacuum and compression therapy; this involves low-impact exercise where you cycle in a special vacuum pod to supercharge the body’s natural fat-burning system. Results can include increased blood circulation, reduced cellulite, better lymphatic drainage and effective fat loss.

#3 Fat accumulation

According to multiple studies, including this research from 2018, prolonged stress may cause a build-up of abdominal fat. Increased levels of cortisol (a hormone produced during times of stress) are strongly related to abdominal obesity.

If you’re finding it hard to shed the extra tummy flab, VASER Lipo may be the answer. Known as a less-invasive form of liposuction, the treatment targets persistent fat. It permanently removes it through ultrasound wave energy without harming the surrounding connective tissues. It also tightens the skin at the same time.

#4 Migraines

Another effect of stress is that it can be a mighty trigger for intense, persistent headaches like migraines. Did you know that Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections can be used as a treatment for migraines? They help to relax tensed muscles, thus reducing migraine symptoms and pain as a whole. Another solution is Myotherapy. This is a form of physical therapy that focuses on the management of musculoskeletal pain: myofascial (trigger points) pain, neuropathic (nervous system) pain and articular (joints) pain. Myotherapy techniques include massage, trigger point therapy and corrective exercises.

Where to go?

Established in 2004, Amaris B. Clinic offers medical aesthetic and surgical body sculpting treatments, including laser skin treatments, gynecomastia and VASER Lipo. Medical Director Dr Ivan Puah has over 20 years of clinical practice in medicine. Accredited by the Ministry of Health Singapore to perform liposuction, he is a VASER-certified physician, and is also the appointed trainer for Picocare in Singapore.