As we transform from our teens well into our adult years, we’ve heard all about the the burden of stress and aging, as the inevitable follows us around like our very own shadow. Some have characterized their stress by the symbolic “grey hair” that pop-ups out of nowhere. The good news: grey hair is most commonly linked to genetics rather than stress, so you can put those worries aside, but not for long. Research shows that chronic stress is linked to premature aging and takes a toll, not only on how we look, but also how we feel.What is Stress?Although many have argued the exact definition of stress, in short, it’s our flight-or-fight response from our nervous system when we sense a threat, like a deadline or bills. When our body senses that we are in a “threatening” situation, our system kicks in to overdrive, producing stress chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.Does Stress Age You?Cortisol is our primary stress hormone that has been proven to break down collagen in the skin. The more stress that we experience, the more cortisol is produced, meaning that our body is working overtime to breakdown the elastin in our skin, causing premature wrinkles.Many wonder, does stress cause aging? The answer to that is a bit more complex than a definitive yes or no. When we experience stress or anxiety, our body's physiological response may consist of a quickened heart rate, excess sweating, lightheadedness, increased alertness, and sometimes, panic attacks. These responses have a direct effect on the overall health and wellness of our body and, when experienced over an extended amount of time, can play a huge role in our outward appearance.When our body is constantly going through the motions of stress, it can take a toll on our body. Lack of sleep, loss of appetite, poor eating habits and little to no physical activity can directly affect how we look which is why many believe that stress can lead to early signs of aging. Your overall appearance can be a telltale sign that you are experiencing high amounts of stress and anxiety, further affecting how you look and feel.Can Stress Age Your Face?Although stress can make you feel sluggish and run down due to lack of sleep and poor diet choices, it can also have a big part in our outward appearance, especially our face. When making a first impression, people tend to see our face first, which can also be one of the most telling of our stress. As previously mentioned, the more stress we experience, the more cortisol our body releases. Over time, the repetitive release will cause lack of elasticity in the skin, eventually leading to the body’s lack of ability to produce and rebuild the skin's elastin, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles.Stress and aging are both natural parts of life, we will experience both in our lifetime as they are inevitable. However, stress management is key, not only for our overall health and wellness but also in reducing early signs of aging. When we begin to notice fine lines and wrinkles, there are cosmetic, non-invasive techniques that can help restore youth and vitality to our overall appearance. Putting yourself and overall health first will have a huge impact on your mental, physical and emotional state in the long run.