Stress and Your Skin: How stress could be contributing to your complexion concerns (and what to do about it).

Stress and Your Skin

Is your skincare routine just not working for you anymore? Are your skincare products not doing what they should? Are you struggling to cope or feeling stressed more often? Could it be time to evaluate your stress levels for the sake of your skin? Experts say yes! The ageing effects of stress on your skin are well documented and may be responsible for many complexion concerns. 

By now you’re probably familiar with the concept of the mind-body connection, meaning that your emotional wellness is directly linked to your levels of physical wellness. When we are more anxious, worried, or unable to cope with our circumstances in a healthy manner, the body begins to produce spikes of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which can have a negative impact on everything from our immune system to inflammation, the nervous system, even blood flow and circulation.

Therefore, it only makes sense that over time chronic stress can also take a toll, not only on your health but on your skin too. The inflammatory response caused by stress has been shown to speed up the body’s ageing processes, causing the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and the formation of more fine lines or wrinkles. Additionally, it can also worsen skin issues such as acne, excess oil production, dark undereye circles, irritation or increased sensitivity, dry skin, dullness, dehydration, and more.

However, in case all of this information has you feeling even more stressed, try not to fret. It’s time to help stress and your skin. To help you out, we’re sharing ten of our favourite tips for lowering those stress levels and regaining healthy skin with a healthy glow.

Stress Reducing Techniques

Our Top 10 Tips to Try

1.Incorporate more movement into your lifestyle

Exercise is wonderful for so many reasons, among which is the release of pent-up tension or stress that is stored in the body. As well as increasing blood flow and delivering oxygen to every cell in our body, exercise boosts the release of endorphins in our brain. These are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that improve our sense of well-being and make us feel happy. To make it a consistent habit, we recommend choosing a form of movement that feels fun and joyful, rather than worrying about the latest fitness trend or whether or not you’re burning enough calories. The point is to worry less, not more, so consider this permission to skip those marathon runs (unless of course you enjoy them).

2. Practice mindfulness

Another helpful habit with many science-backed benefits is mindfulness, which can take many forms. For example, meditation can be very helpful for developing a strong mind and combating negative emotions. Or you might prefer to journal each morning to reduce brain chatter and find your focus. You could even try yoga as a way to get moving and be mindful all at once.

3. Get more sleep

When you’re struggling with a high-stress lifestyle or environment, not getting enough sleep is like adding insult to injury. Without adequate rest, it becomes harder for the brain to recharge and react appropriately to stressful situations. In order to prevent related concerns such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue, experts recommend getting at least 7- 9 hours of sleep and going to bed at roughly around the same time every night.

4. Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Understanding that what you put into your body can affect your mood, one way to better support all of your internal systems, is with a nutrient-dense diet. For this, foods like vegetables, fruits, supplemented with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein are your best bet. That said, it’s also worth noting that undereating or strict dieting can cause the body additional stress, so don’t sweat the occasional treat or indulgence. It’s all about balance!

5. Press pause when you need to

A common trap that many of us fall into is feeling like we must be productive at all times, in order to be successful. However, this is a bit of a misconception and can actually ramp up stress levels to the point that they become unmanageable. Instead, a better approach would be to listen to cues that your mind or body needs a break, and slow down. This could look like taking a mental health day, a long walk, sitting enjoying nature, or just going about your day at a slower pace. These things can all make a big difference in preventing burnout.

6. Make time for the things you love the most

In addition to just taking breaks as needed, it’s also important to carve out time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy. Whether it’s by listening to music, spending time with friends and family, or traveling somewhere new and exciting, staying connected to the things that inspire you is an essential part of holistic wellness.

7. Talk it through

We’re all in this together, so when feeling super stressed, sometimes the best thing is to voice your frustrations out loud. If you have access and feel comfortable talking to a professional, doing so is a great way to ease your burden and receive helpful feedback. You could also touch base with someone in your life like a friend or partner that you trust, for a quick reminder that you’re never in it alone.

8. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Studies have shown that practising gratitude, such as with a gratitude journal or even just a quick daily list of the things you appreciate in your life, can tangibly lower cortisol levels in the body. In turn, this can help improve not only your mood but also chronic stress symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, and muscle tension.

9. Create self-care rituals you love

We talk a lot about self-care here, and with good reason. Even the smallest gestures – such as drawing yourself a hot bath, applying skincare, or just buying yourself a cup of your favourite coffee – can be very centering and grounding in the midst of a stressful time. Although they may seem simple, these acts of self-love can be a perfect way to boost confidence and a sense of perseverance.

10. Don’t forget to breathe

Lastly, one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to keep yourself calm is to practice breathing control. Taking just a few minutes per day to focus on your breathing can work wonders for helping you to relax your mind and body. Once you’ve mastered a minute or so of this at a time, you might even consider seeking out some guided breathing exercises, which are shown to help instantly soothe the nervous system and restore inner peace.

Breathing Control 

This technique will help you to relax and control your breathing.

  • Sit in a comfortable and supported position.
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • If it helps you to relax, close your eyes (otherwise leave them open) and focus on your breathing.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose (or mouth if you’re unable to do this) and then out through your mouth.
  • As you breathe, you’ll feel the hand on your stomach rise more than the hand on your chest.
  • Try to use as little effort as possible and make your breaths slow, relaxed and smooth. 

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Remember:

“Life is not the way it is supposed to be, it is the way it is.

The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

Virginia Satir

References & Resources

10 Tips to Manage Stress, by WebMD, Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS

https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/tips-to-control-stress

What Are the Effects of Stress on Your Face? by Daniel Yetman, Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress-on-face#effects

Stress and Sleep by The American Psychological Association

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep

Gratitude Helps Minimize Feelings of Stress by Najma Khorrami M.P.H. for Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/comfort-gratitude/202007/gratitude-helps-minimize-feelings-stress

healthnavigator.org.nz

https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/s/stress/

depression.org.nz

https://depression.org.nz/

smallsteps.org.nz

https://www.smallsteps.org.nz/stress

Member of Cosmetics New Zealand

www.scenturie.co.nz

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