|We have all kinds of it
in our lives, and it can play havoc with our skin.
- family & relationships
- school & work
- life events ~ a death in the
family; marriage; the birth of a child; breakup or divorce
- environmental/physical ~ diet,
sun exposure, over-exercise, heat & cold
- external events like weather,
earthquakes ~ factors that we feel we have no control over
|We've all experienced it
from many, if not all of these sources. Unfortunately, it's also a
"sign of the times." The human body is designed to handle normal levels
of stress as part of our survival mechanism. In fact, studies have shown
short bursts of stress are actually beneficial. It heightens our senses
and makes us more alert; it makes us think about our circumstances and
helps us make better decisions to resolve it. But stress can be harmful
to the mind and body if it goes unchecked or if it isn't dealt with. If
it's chronic, as many modern-life stresses are, it can be particularly
harmful, affecting every part of the body, and the rate at which we age.
Stress Affects the Skin
Some skin conditions are particularly sensitive to stress, including acne,
eczema, psoriasis and cold sores. For example, you may have noticed that
breakouts tend to occur just before an important event. Then, when you go on
a relaxing vacation your skin condition magically improves.
Several factors may cause this apparent
mind-skin connection. Stress causes the formation of the "stress hormones" ~
adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA ~ chemicals that induce a range of
physiological responses intended to help you survive the event by making you
(perhaps) temporarily think and run faster. As they course through your
body, for better or for worse, they carry with them the "side-effects" of
increased sebacious gland activity, reduced immune system response and
increased inflammation. Since your skin reflects the general health of your
body and mind, the inner turmoil is displayed outwardly, much like a
chamelion changes the color of its skin. Reactions range from flushing
(redness) of the skin to breakouts or scaly skin. Even the skin condition,
itself, may cause increased stress!
Stress = Healthier You = Healthier Skin
Here are some techniques to
lower your stress levels:
- Exercise moderately and regularly.
Exercise improves blood flow, and muscle tone throughout your body. Plus,
it helps normalize blood sugar and hormone levels. Overexertion can be
stressful, too, so don't overdo it;
- Get adequate sleep - lack of it can
exaggerate life's stresses. Adequate supply of quality sleep increases our
tolerance to stress and illness;
- Eat properly, and avoid excessive levels
of sugar, caffeine and junk foods;
- Proper nourishment is very important to
keep stress hormones in check and to maintain a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C has been shown to be especially important, as has an herb,
Siberian Ginseng. Studies have also indicated the following to be
- Phosphostidyl Serine, prior to
- plant sterol supplements to normalize
stress hormone levels.
- Practice stress-relieving techniques,
like meditation or aromatherapy. Form positive mental images of the
situation for a calming effect - it will alleviate the stress and help you
deal with it;
- Take up a hobby you enjoy. It will
take your mind off your worries and help you relax;
- Is anger a factor in your stress?
Practice anger-management techniques. Some psychological experts say that
unresolved anger is at the root of all our problems, and we all know that
anger leads to stress;
- Keep expectations reasonable. Don't
overschedule or overextend yourself.
- Deal with any emotional issues you may
have. If you deny and bury them, they tend to fester and grow even bigger.
Often, the effort to avoid a situation is more stressful than the
- Do something nice for yourself, like get
a massage or a facial. They can have a very positive effect on our
- Reach out to a family member or friend,
or seek professional help if the stress in your life seems overwhelming. A
feeling of being connected with family, friends, even strangers
contributes to a sense of well-being, and talking about the situation can
help relieve stress;
- Last, but not least ~ smile!
It's been proven to have a positive effect on your attitude and those
around you. And if it puts a few wrinkles around your eyes... don't
worry, we can help you with that.
It's all in your mind, ultimately, and you
do have control over the stress in your life. Your skin is directly
connected to your emotions and stress level. Avoiding and resolving stress
may be some of the best and most effective skin care available.