Tanning and Anxiety- UV rays and OCPD
From Medical News Today:
"A new study from the US suggests that some people who frequently use indoor tanning beds may become addicted to the habit and are also more likely to be prone to anxiety, use alcohol and other substances, suggesting that exposure to UV light may lead to behavior patterns typical of substance-related disorders."
Confession time - I used to be a tanner. I wouldn't say I was addicted, but certainly I loved the skin tingling glow that left my skin brown. When I moved to New York, I realized orange skin is not a good look.
So was I unwittingly feeding my obessive tendencies, causing myself anxiety by soaking in some UV rays? I remember feeling totally worried/anxious/insecure if I couldnt get my tanning fix, but that was the same with a lot of things. Maybe tanning was just another way to play out my implus for control. Control my hair, my make up and - my skin tone?
Vanity is a easy way to feel in control, and for OCPD women this can be a problem. Tanning is very vain, and also at some level self destructive. OCPD people tend to think they are "superhuman". Perfectionisim lets us think "Radiation? Won't hurt me! And I'll look like the most sun kissed one in the room!"
So is tanning a symptom of destructive and obsessive vanity, or the cause? Do people who think they are immune to cancer also more likely to drink and smoke, even to the point of excess?
Are self obessed, perfectionist and insecure people more likely to spend more money and time of looks through tanning?
I think yes. I don't think UV rays cause anxiety or substance problems. Both tanning and drinking are about a desire to focus on the external- to escape the self, to distance from others. And also to proclaim "See these toxic behaviors dont hurt me! I laugh at skin cancer and liver cirrosis!"
When I was thinking about the hue of my skin, about a party or about the buzz, about the external- I avoided looking within myself.
And yes, anxiety swirls around when you build up behaviors like walls around part of yourself. Because what happens when those behaviors are taken away? When you have to stop tanning, when you stop drinking. You stop getting your fix of control, your neat little habit with visible results.
So I wouldn't go around thinking UV rays are cooking your grey matter to create a OCPD mind. But if you are a anxious perfectionist like me, its worth taking a look at patterns of behavior, like tanning, that serve an emotional purpose.
Maybe its time for some suncreen instead!