Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed, you break out more? This is because your emotions have a powerful effect on your body, from our skin right down to our nails. The mind and the skin are intimately intertwined and a lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin. When we're stressed our bodies react chemically causing our bodies to produce spikes of cortisol and other hormones.
Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone” influences or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress. It can shut down the immune system so that you are more susceptible to various immune system disorders like colds, lupus and hives. When stressed your brain releases cortisol into your bloodstream, which tells your sebaceous glands to ramp up on oil production, leaving your skin vulnerable to allergens and acne. It can also make it harder for existing skin problems to heal.
So what can we do about it? While we all try to reduce our daily stress levels, it's impossible to avoid it completely. However, what matters is how we handle and repair the damage that stress has caused to our skin. Repairing requires a dual-pronged approach that incorporates internal and external fixes. Below are some ways to reduce the effect of stress on your skin.
DRY AND DULL SKIN
Stress reduces the lipid barrier on the skin, allowing fluids to evaporate and the skin dries, flakes or peels. Skin cells also take longer to reach the skin surface, allowing dead skin cells to build up causing your skin to look dull. The best way to help restore skin is to try products with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. These absorb water and surround each dead skin with lipids making the cells hang onto water longer. For redness and inflammation, try products with green tea, caffeine, glycine, chamomile and aloe. To prevent dryness one should improve circulation to the skin and this can be achieved by regular exercise and a diet with plenty of alkalising foods such as apple cider vinegar, green leafy vegetables and non-animal protein sources. Eating cold-water fish and almonds that contain Omega-3's as well as taking probiotics will improve dry skin and help rebalance out your digestive system too.
ACNE AND SKIN CONDITIONS
The key to preventing skin outbreaks is to exfoliate, drink plenty of water and go easy on processed foods. A bag of chips may help you feel better but your skin will not like it. By exfoliating at least once a week you can unclog pores, releasing the buildup of bacteria and dead skin cells. If your skin is extra sensitive use a product with lactic acid to hydrate skin while it removes dead skin cells. Then follow with an oil-absorbing kaolin clay mask. Sometimes acne can be a bit too severe to fix it completely yourself and may require a trip to a dermatologist.
Collagen is one of the most important proteins for the health of our skin because it helps our skin stay youthful and healthy. When stress becomes a factor it reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the blood vessels. This results in less collagen production, which can lead to visible signs of aging like wrinkles. Products that contain Rosehip Oil, Vitamin C or Hyaluronic Acid help maintain collagen production. Eating whole grains plus foods rich in amino acids like eggs, beans, and seeds also encourages collagen production. Yoga, meditation and facials are also a good way to keep away frown lines, winkles and crow’s feet that typically come with stress.
Dry and dehydrated skin is usually a result of lack of sleep. Just one night of tossing and turning will lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and those dreaded dark under eye circles. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep is necessary and part of our normal tissue repair cycle that patches up the wear and tear of the day. While seven to eight hours each night is ideal, it’s not always possible but getting uninterrupted sleep is achievable. To help sleep right through the night, try stretching or meditating before bed. Turn off all devices such as smartphones or tablets and avoid watching TV in your room, which over stimulates your brain so you can’t sleep.