Reduce Stress for Healthier Skin

Reduce Stress for Healthier Skin

Stress is no joke. Maintaining increased levels of stress can wreak havoc on the body and unfortunately your skin is not immune. Breakouts, redness, inflammation, and even premature aging are just a few ways that stress can affect your glow. Basically, in the wise words of Queen Taylor, “you need to calm down!” Read on as we outline some simple ways to relieve stress for healthier skin.

IN A NUTSHELL

Main Takeaways: Stress is famous for showing up on our face. For truly healthy skin, one must look beyond their regimen and also develop healthy strategies for managing and ultimately relieving stress.

Good to Know: In times of stress, one cannot underestimate the importance of self-care. Make time to prioritize yourself. In doing so, you will be better equipped to manage stress when it comes up.

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Effects of Stress on Skin

Stress can bring on a host of skin issues, many of which are caused by the infamous stress hormone, cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can lead to an overproduction of sebum, causing oily skin and pesky breakouts. But cortisol is also responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin which can lead to premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Stress can also trigger bouts of hypersensitivity and exacerbate a number of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. But despite how we may sometimes feel, we are not powerless to our stress, and finding ways to best reduce stress levels can help you preserve the beautiful complexion that you work so hard to maintain.

Ways to Reduce Stress for Healthier Skin

Prioritize Yourself

We honestly can’t say enough about the importance of self-care. Life can be a whirlwind, especially during times of stress. So much so that it can feel borderline irresponsible to set time aside to focus on you. But failing to do so eats into our capacity to manage our responsibilities and the associated stress. Alternatively, when we give ourselves time and permission to serve ourselves, we fill our cups so that we can graciously pour from them.

Maybe it’s enrolling in that pottery class that’s been tugging at you, setting aside time to read a new book, or simply taking a bath infused with some chamomile oil or lavender salts. Since beautiful skin is the goal, try playing home-spa with a beautifully scented detox mask, or reframe your facial cleanse as a relaxing, mindful experience rather than just whizzing through it. Whatever self-care means to you, be sure to let it take center stage regularly.

Get Enough Sleep

Ok, can we just get real for a second? Sleep is so not overrated. Remember when we were kids and it felt like we’d do anything to extinguish a nap or evade bedtime? What were we thinking?! Getting enough sleep is critical for stress management and overall well being. Sleep recharges the body, sharpens the mind, and has a profound impact on your mood, consciousness, and perspective. Studies show that when people don’t get enough sleep, they become more reactive, impulsive, and sensitive. Consequently, not getting enough quality sleep can not only cause physical and mental stress but also render you virtually incapable of effectively managing stress when it occurs.

So, get your sleep, preferably 8 hours a night. Limit distractions by keeping your phone and other devices away from your bedside. Establish a routine by trying to hit the hay at about the same time each night and consider adding in a pre-bed ritual like reading or journaling for ten minutes to help your body settle in. Get your z’s and it will be lights out for stress!

Exercise

Exercise is awesome for stress management, and it’s interesting why. Exercise, especially high intensity work, activates the fight or flight response. It’s kind of like a dry run for encountering that bear that you’ll never actually have to outrun… well, hopefully :). As you push through a challenging workout, you not only train your body, but also your mind, to keep going - to encounter the stress, recognize it, and work through it. Individuals then carry that ability with them and inadvertently apply it elsewhere.

But there is a physical component as well. Exercise releases endorphins, the hormones that give you all the good feels and reduce the negative emotions associated with stress. It can also give your immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems a boost, helping you feel great, which gives rise to our ability to manage stress well. Lastly, exercise is often said to be meditation in motion. That repetitive behavior that requires intense focus and presence helps us build up our capacity for mindfulness, which is directly correlated to healthy stress management.

Feeling allergic to the idea of exercise? You aren’t alone. But luckily, there are so many different ways to incorporate exercise into your life, so focus less on how you should move and more on what moves YOU! But be sure to consult with your doctor before trying out any new exercise plan to make sure it is a good fit.

Meditate

Speaking of meditation, meditate! Meditation is the answer to your raging, roller coaster of an existence, backed by thousands of years of history and science. Studies show that meditating, even for less than 15 minutes a day can actually change our neurological patterns. It calms the nervous system, disciplines the mind, and ultimately makes us more available to our lives, so we can consciously live them. Through meditation, we train our minds to stay present, let things come and go, and focus our “control” only on our thoughts and behaviors. Then, similar to what happens from adopting an exercise regimen, we learn to recognize stress when it pops up, and rather than letting it throw us, we control and mindfully choose our thoughts in response, letting the rest just happen – letting it go. If you want to be peace personified, give meditation a whirl!

Get Outdoors

It may seem too easy but immersing yourself in nature has been clinically proven to actively reduce stress hormone levels. Further, studies suggest that even viewing art featuring scenes of nature can decrease stress-related emotions and encourage sensations of peace and calm. Try finally hiking that hidden trail all your friends have been raving about or simply take a walk around the block. In a time when many people can work from pretty much anywhere, why not take your laptop on the go and spend your workday in the great outdoors. Need internet access? No problem! You can set up your phone as a mobile hotspot. With lush green foliage and crashing ocean waves as your backdrop, you’ll have the most coveted office on all of zoom!

There are lots of other ways to destress, like mindfully eating a healthy meal or using your hands to do things like garden or create beautiful art. And don’t discount reaching out. Ask for help. Talk to someone like a trusted friend or a therapist. If you’d prefer an impartial ear but your schedule is jammed, virtual options exist.

Stress is no one’s friend. But with a few simple tools in your kit, you can navigate it like a boss and pave the way for healthier skin… and a healthier you.