When you really want to slap someone, do it and say, “Mosquito!”
– Unknown

This quote makes me laugh, because it makes such simple work of anger. In reality, anger is probably the most difficult emotion to handle. It’s charged with nearly nuclear energy. Though good when it propels you toward healthy actions, like standing up for yourself or changing an injustice, it’s rotten when it propels you into stress. Stress is what most of us experience after an angry outburst or when we stifle our feelings—the two most common reactions to anger. Stress is not only bad for your mental health but also your body, including your skin.
Want your face forever etched with the expressions of stress? I’m talking about wrinkles. As we age, wrinkles settle in not only where we’ve had sun damage but also where we’ve repeatedly creased our skin. Do you want laugh lines or forehead furrows? Think about the ways you handle stress and anger. It’s your job to choose the map that will appear on your face, because there’s no avoiding its creation.
Forever frowns and pinched up vertical lines between brows are hardly the only way stress affects skin. Stress can also flare up psoriasis and rosacea. It can churn up acne. It’s a strong trigger for shingles and can lead to fever blisters. Simply put, stress seriously bums out your skin. If stress is chipping away at you, you owe it to your health to create ways to keep calm and carry on. Here are just a few ways:
• Make a conscious effort to give yourself ample time to get things done, because rushing is a major stress-maker for you and those around you. Really. Stop doing it.
• Practice saying NO in situations when you’re feeling overtaxed. People who are bottomless pits of yesses are asked again and again and again to do more. Don’t feed the monster.
• Practice saying YES to new adventures if they hold even the tiniest prospect of joy. That hang-glider isn’t going to come to your house and make you climb on it. Why not try yoga on a stand-up paddleboard? Who says you can’t date a younger man?
• If you can’t control it, cope with it. Rush-hour traffic? A gossipy co-worker? An ex who manipulates? Get a good book-on-CD to while away the minutes on the road. Avoid after-hours social function with that co-worker. Find someone to mediate your interactions with your ex.
• If you can control it, start today. Stop spending time with that “friend” that makes you feel bad. Quit the book club that reads garbage that bores you. Get the degree you regret not getting.
• Pamper yourself. Make an appointment for a facial or massage. Get that Botox you’ve been secretly wanting. Diminish the signs of stress with a skin-brightening facial. If you can’t get to a skincare specialist or spa, find some quality products that smell good, feel good, and noticeably refresh your skin.
• Kiss yourself in the mirror now and again. Really. You deserve it. Oh, and of course slap only when there really are mosquitoes.