Better Than Botox
Ease worries to fight wrinkles.
Published: August 4, 2012
The best beauty aid could be stress reduction.
You can be wearing the most exquisite outfit, with your hair artfully styled and your makeup impeccable, but if you’re stressed, you’ll look it. All the Botox in the world can’t remove worry from your face. Also, when you’re stressed, you’ll always be more agitated and less patient, which detracts from your beauty quotient.
For all of us, there are different kinds of stress: the demands of deadlines and new procedures and what interacting with co-workers can bring. Friends, family, and life in general often bring personal, emotional stress.
Just as building self-assurance through healthy vanity means taking time to care about your appearance, building emotional health through stress-busting means taking time to rid yourself of unnecessary worry.
This is something I’ve heard endlessly from my female patients over the years—that they do not have any time to themselves to do what is needed to make themselves happier and less stressed. And when they do try to take this time, they often feel guilty and selfish. However, to take care of yourself and your stress is far from selfish—you will be more effective and successful at everything you do at home and at work. You’ll be a much happier person, and those around you will appreciate that.
So, how do you manage stress?
The Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” is one of the most sage uses of two little words that I’ve ever been given!
When I first started out as a surgeon, one of the ways I helped myself manage the stress of surgery was by keeping checklists handy in the case of extremely rare complications. Fortunately, I never had to deal with these complications—but I was prepared for them, and in being so, I minimized my worries and was able to stay calm, cool, and collected.
Now that I have decades of experience as a plastic surgeon, I don’t need my emergency complications checklists anymore. I know the material inside and out. But I still prepare for each procedure by going over it in my head, every step of the way, before I start. These mental checklists and preparations are similar to what pilots do. They go through a prescribed set of tasks prior to takeoff. They’ve done these tasks countless times, and know them instinctively, but they still do them to ensure that nothing has been left out. There’s never going to be any room for human error in the operating room or in the cockpit.
To help you deal with your stress, write down a list of what you’re most worried about before any event or what chronically causes worry in your life. Identifying your stressors is the first step in managing them. Sit down and think about your stress. If you’re chronically late or find 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 might drive you and your loved ones into the stressed-out stratosphere.
Are your keys always misplaced? Decide to always put them in a special designated place when you get home. Do you often forget your wallet or your prescription sunglasses? Remember to pack your purse or bag the night before. Do you make a date to meet a friend and then forget about it? Be sure to write it down immediately on your calendar. Are you always the last person to board your flight because you got to the airport late? Force yourself to leave an hour earlier than you usually do!
Over time, you’ll find that a small amount of preparation can prevent larger problems from forming in the first place.
Another trick in dealing with stress is plain old reasoning and the realization that you cannot control everything, which my wonderful father helped me realize. One night, before a hugely important exam while I was in medical school, I was stressed and anxious, and I told my dad how I was feeling.
He looked at me and asked, “Did you study hard?”
“Yes, as hard as I could,” I replied.
“Did you prepare as best you could?” he asked.
“Then stop worrying. You did everything you could, and what will be will be. Now get some sleep.”
His reasoning was simple and straightforward—and highly effective. Sometimes we trip ourselves into worrying about things that we have no control over, and recognition of that fact can reduce stress immeasurably.
Another great technique for managing stress is to find a hobby you love and incorporate it into your life regularly. My favorite stress buster is exercise. It took me quite a while to realize that I needed to do something intense to help manage my stress, and I started running while in medical school once I realized that it always helped clear my head before a big exam. Find a way to manage your stress by doing something you truly love to do. This will help you not only get additional pleasure from doing it but also help you keep on doing it.
Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery.