Stress afflicts so many people in our fast-moving era where speed and competition render one’s life a constant struggle, often to the detriment of our health.
To top it all, a study found, it apparently can make us seem less attractive.
Behavioural expert Dr Fhionna Moore examined how mental and emotional strain can affect the way someone’s physical appearance is perceived.
Her research revealed men and women become significantly more attractive to potential partners if they have lower tension levels than their rivals.
Reduced attractiveness was attributed to the anxiety hormone cortisol which increases the amount of glucose floating around the body, while also inhibiting muscle and bone growth.
The overall impact is that stressed individuals appear less healthy and therefore uglier.
Dr Moore, a lecturer in psychology at Dundee University, conducted several investigations into the effects.
In one study, she measured levels of cortisol from saliva samples and took photographs of the faces of our participants.
‘Cortisol is an interesting hormone because it is released when we deal with a stressor, and allows us to cope in the short term. But if it’s elevated for longer periods, though, for example during more difficult times, it can be very bad for our health.’
She continued, ‘We found that the faces of men and women who had high levels of cortisol in their saliva were rated as less attractive and healthy than those with lower levels of cortisol.’
She added that traits linked to attractiveness often indicate good health. These include facial symmetry, because a strong immune system is needed to develop evenly on both sides, and colour in the skin suggesting a healthy diet and good cardiovascular health.
This study is rather interesting as it confirms the general view that people devoid of stress are likely to age less and maintain a youthful body that defies the degeneration of old age which, in this case, is somehow stopped in its tracks.
I believe there is nothing worse than one’s attractiveness prematurely disappearing when it could be reasonably arrested. If you can’t help nature then nature won’t help you.