Cheaper than a facelift; less painful than botox

May 31, 2014

th-7“Stress takes its toll.”

We hear it all the time and so many of us, including me, pay lip service to it. But do we really believe it?

Like aging, the ravages of stress sneak up on us. We’re all busy, every one of us. Work, family, and so many other responsibilities weigh on our shoulders. We women are famous for not taking time to ourselves, especially if we’re raising children. Some of us are adrenaline junkies, only happy if we’re over-scheduled. Others are trying out for Super-woman, trying to do it all.  We don’t have time to worry about stress. It’s just one more…stressor.

But the toll stress takes–and the way R&R can reverse some of those damage was brought home to me the other day in a very big way.

I hadn’t seen girlfriend for a while–my travel, her schedule and then some health problems that kept her and also me home.

She’s fit and active and a couple of decades older than I am.  But her schedule would make a 30-year-old gasp. A responsible job that required travel and homework. Her own time-consuming major creative pursuits. A significant social and networking life and a few other outside activities. She has a husband to care for, also retired, and some grown kids and grandkids to worry about.  She was busy seven days a week, keeping a calendar that I wouldn’t be able to. Because I’m pretty lazy.

But then, some health problems hit and she was forced to rest for a couple of months. No work. No activities. During that time, she came to terms with her schedule. She spent time reading novels. When she was up to it, she and her husband had some fun outings.

In short, she lived the life she should have been living all along. A mindful one. A relaxing one.  It was enforced, but it was definitely a big change.

dear-stressAbout that time, we met up for a day together.

I’ve known her 10 years and, despite her age and her health problems,  she looked the best she’s ever looked. The Best.

Facial lines that I thought were  the result of age faded and some disappeared. Her face softened. Her demeanor was more relaxed.

It was a living BEFORE and AFTER example of how stress ages us. How it makes our faces look older–tired, drawn and wrinkled.  The contrast between then and now was a clear illustration about the benefits of slowing down our lives.

Now, I can’t say that Girlfriend is particularly vain, although I do make her wear lipstick. Or at least that’s what she says.  But she eats right, walks everywhere and has taken good care of her health. She has a constitution that any of us would envy.

And yet, she had burned the candle at both ends for decades and paid the price. It took getting seriously sick to force her to slow down and in the process, she knocked at least 15 years off her looks– by simply resting more and eliminating most stressors from her life.

th-8Now, many of us aren’t able to be retired as Girlfriend can be. And those of us raising children or dealing with family members who have special needs are going to have to get creative with finding time to relax.But we do have control over our schedule. Our calendar. Whether we want to believe it or not. At least most of us.

And we can work to take ME TIME regularly, just like we eat our greens and exercise.  We need that time to stop and smell the roses.

And by the time we’ve lived eight decades, we can decide that we’ve done enough. Exerted enough pressure on ourselves. That we can sit back and enjoy what we do. Live more mindfully.

So take heed, adrenaline junkies who are concerned with aging. Because it may well be that we don’t need painful surgery or expensive pills and potions to look younger.

We may just need to spend more time living in the moment.

43 comments on “Cheaper than a facelift; less painful than botox
  1. so very true. 🙂

  2. This is such a great post, Carol. I think many of us over-achievers need to hear the message that it is okay to relax, slow down, unplug. And I agree that stress eats us up from the inside out. My stress levels since January have been really high…I needed this today! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lisa Froman says:

    I’m all about finding balance….it’s the Libra in me. When I’m off balance…I feel it down to my core. Thanks for the reminder to be more mindful. I forget, too.

  4. Truer words have never been spoken.

  5. kim tackett says:

    agreed! slowing down is the best gift we can give ourselves…that and a pedicure. well, perhaps not THE best, but in the top ten.

  6. Ellen Dolgen says:

    The timing of this blog is so perfect! You are so right! My husband and I are going to learn how to meditate to help us find the calm within during each and every day. We both work hard and play hard, but we need to break up with our stress! Love that phrase! He is 65 and I am 60 – it is time for us to be proactive about this — before we have a health issue! Thanks for this wonderful blog!

  7. Totally agree. There’s nothing that ages you more than stress. Would rather have smile lines than frown lines!

  8. Diane says:

    Why do we have to be FORCED to relax? My Husby is very good at taking me away for periods of time to just sit back and relax. If her didn’t, I don’t think I ever would! I heard a quote years ago that goes along with this: It’s worry, not work, that wears one out. I believe it!

  9. You are 100% correct Carol. Stress takes it tole both inside or body and outside. Being happy is a great age reduced!

  10. When you know someone well you can see stress clearly in his or her face. There’s nothing more aging, in my opinion.

  11. Pat says:

    Thank you for this post reminding me to slow and take care of myself.

  12. Laurel Regan says:

    The quality of my life changed dramatically when I switched from working full- to part-time. I’m so grateful I have the opportunity to do so.

  13. Karen says:

    I agree, Carol–though I have to say that when I suggest this to my adrenaline-junkie husband, he tells me that it would cause him more stress to stop doing all the things he crams into his schedule. I’m not 100% sure I buy that, but I do get his point that some people need more busy-ness than others.

  14. Elaine Plummer says:

    Several of my friends who get botox injections look great. But, I don’t want to go that route so I always appreciate reminders to relax. As I don’t have much to stress about, no need to add some to my being, just because. Now, I try to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the day and focus on the moment. Though, still a work in progress. Perhaps if I equate it to a reduction of face lines, I will be more motivated.

  15. Lana says:

    Stress is so harmful in so many ways, but we just gloss over it most of the time. Blogging has been a great stress reliever for me – if I keep it up, maybe I’ll lose some wrinkles! Thanks for this post – a very important message for all of us.

  16. Carol Graham says:

    Can you tell me why my comments were not posted? Thanks Carol

  17. Great post as uaual Carol! It is so hard to find that time. Even in our “relaxing time” we are doing other things. But the advantages are so well worth it.

  18. Donna says:

    Could we talk about me time??
    What does it look like?

  19. I agree totally with your post. For almost two decades, I worked in an extremely high-paying, but extremely high stress job with long hours, and it really took a toll. I finally burned out one day, and decided that I was finally going to have time to live. Our kids are grown, and we are making life changes to make the coming 20 or 30 years easier and more fun…now if I could just get the husband to relax a little.

  20. I heard that stress (the hormone cortisol) is also responsible, in part, for the belly bulge. Our body protects us from toxins by tucking it in our fat stores. It turns out that our fat stores can be classified as endocrine glands also. Fascinating stuff. Thank you for the reminder. I’m breaking the mid-thirties and aging is not something I want to usher in so soon.

    I liked the way you “told the story.” Blessings~

  21. Lynne Spreen says:

    Oh, you are so right. I love that you posted this. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. Valerie Rind says:

    Another great post, Carol! Thanks!

    Sometimes I find myself in the silly situation of rushing around as fast as I can so I can hurry up and get some time to relax.

  23. Interesting observation. I do think that what we think, eat, drink and how we cope affect our looks and our over all health.

  24. Kimba says:

    Five years ago I quit a very stressful job. Six months later I met a colleague for lunch and he noted: ” I’m not trying to be rude, but, you look so good I’m tempted to ask if you’ve had work done.” I had no idea what a toll working in that stressful environment was taking until I removed myself from the situation.

  25. Susan Cooper says:

    Well they’ve known for years the damage that stress does to our health, but our looks too? Where will this madness end. 🙂 Maybe that will be the wake up call we all need to slow down, enjoy the moment and live one day at a time.

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