Connection Between Stress & Your Skin
Stress shows up on our skin in many ways – acne, eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, rosacea, dullness or dryness, oiliness, sensitivities, and irritations — even premature aging. Your mind and skin are closely interconnected. If you are suffering from any of the skin conditions above, you are well aware they can cause you stress. But did you know your skin condition can be triggered by stress? It’s true — stress is NOT solely a mental state!
Stress and your skin condition flare-ups are linked. Your body has a physiological response to the emotional changes you experience in your psychological state. This includes its response to stress, depression, and anxiety. In other words, stress has a real effect on your entire body, including the health of your hair, skin, and nails. When you are stressed, new skin issues can develop, or existing skin issues may flare-up.
The great news is there are many practical and straightforward steps you can take to ease the effects of stress on your skin.
First, let’s discuss the impact stress has on different skin conditions. Then, I’ll share my top tips on decreasing stress — so you can keep your mind, body, and skin clear and radiantly healthy.
Effects Of Stress On Skin Conditions
Acne – Stress and skin conditions like acne go hand-in-hand. Stress may not be the main cause of acne, but it is a big player. When you are stressed out, your adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol. A surge in cortisol causes increased sebum production, which triggers acne. Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to sugar cravings, and eating sugar also increases acne breakouts. The presence of pimples is already stressful enough!
Eczema – Anxiety and stress about work, school, and home can cause an eczema flare-up. In part due to high cortisol levels triggered by stress, inflammation in the body can worsen existing skinflammation issues, like eczema.
The itching and discomfort of your eczema are stressful and may disrupt your sleep. But added stress can aggravate this further by unsettling your peace of mind and preventing any restful sleep. Studies have shown that sleep plays a role by impacting our skin’s ability to heal eczema. The combination of stress and eczema can provoke symptoms and make things worse.
Rosacea – Those of you with rosacea know that dealing with its visible symptoms may trigger more flushing, which can lead to even more stress. In a National Rosacea Society survey, people living with rosacea reported feeling anxious, depressed, and worried. Many reported having problems at work, in their marriage, and with meeting new people.
If you have rosacea, you already know it impacts your life on more than just a physical level, and I know how frustrating that can be. Women can sometimes cover it up with makeup, but that doesn’t address the underlying problem.
Vitiligo – This autoimmune skin disorder is characterized by white spots or patches appearing on the skin. Vitiligo spots lack pigmentation caused by the destruction or weakening of the pigment cells in those areas. Stress is not the direct cause of vitiligo, but it can make it worse. We know that stress negatively impacts our immune system, and being anxious or stressed can aggravate autoimmune conditions (including vitiligo and psoriasis).
Premature Aging – When we’re having a bad day, we usually frown more. While I’m a big fan of smile lines, I don’t think anyone likes the look of excessive frown lines, which are likely to occur with chronic stress. High levels of cortisol are likely to cause insomnia, belly fat, and an inability to roll with what life brings our way.
Top 10 Tips To Lower Stress
1. Laugh! – When we laugh, our cortisol levels drop, and serotonin (our mood-boosting neurotransmitter) increases. It’s the easiest way to stop stress fast. And, remember, smile lines are so much sexier than frown lines!
2. Breathwork – This might seem like a simple task, but most people don’t know how to breathe to relieve stress. The first step is to be aware of your breathing. Next, take deep breaths that expand your chest and belly while relaxing your muscles in your neck and shoulders. (Tip: try counting to 10 while breathing in and then another 10 count while breathing out.)
3. Positive Support Group – We can’t always choose who is around us at work and school, but we can choose with whom we spend our free time. Look for people who radiate positivity. You know who they are, and you’ll be happier for it! When we’re positive, too, our skin is more likely to heal and have a healthy glow.
4. Visualization – It only takes a few minutes and can reduce stress quickly. Close your eyes and picture a scene you love, such as a beach, mountaintop, or picnic spot, and sit quietly to fully experience the beauty, serenity, and joy it brings. If you have skin issues, you can also visualize your tissues’ healing and healthy, glowing skin taking over.
5. Nature – Step away from your computer, phone, or energy-zapping situation and into nature. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block or park, a few moments in the sun and fresh air can boost your mood and give you a little extra Vitamin D to brighten your day. Not to mention, it’s a great time to take a break from a stressful situation and breathe.
6. Move Your Body – Studies show that moderate exercise improves our energy, mood, and sleep. If we exercise every morning (without overdoing it), it can help balance our adrenal function to better cope with stress.
7. Sleep Soundly – Sleep is essential to help us energize, manage stress, and stay focused and positive. Optimally, we should all get about 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. (Tip: Try taking a warm bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil and some Epsom salt before bedtime.)
8. Healthy Diet – A healthy diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables and high-quality protein to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to keep your hormones balanced and your skin healthy. (Tip: Start your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie and skip the grains and sugar.)
9. Gratitude – Research shows gratitude helps us feel happier, improve our health, be better at dealing with problems that arise, and build solid relationships. (Tip: Start a gratitude journal and write down one thing every day that you’re grateful for.)
10. Meditation – research shows that meditation helps you lower stress, be more compassionate, improve sleep, boost mood, decrease inflammation, and even lower yearly doctor costs! The goal of mindfulness meditation is to focus and quiet your mind to have greater clarity and inner calm. (Tip: close your eyes and focus on a word that brings you a sense of peace. Let go of all other thoughts.)
6 Quick Fix Remedies For Signs Of Stress
1. Puffiness Under Eyes – Try arnica gel, a plant extract useful for bruises, pain relief, and swelling. The active chemicals in arnica may reduce swelling, decrease pain, and act as antibiotics, which can be helpful for puffy eyes. .You can also dab an antioxidant serum under your eyes to reduce swelling.
2. Breakouts – Use a purifying mud mask or try this DIY turmeric + honey paste: Mix 1 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1 Tbsp raw honey, and 1 tsp turmeric powder into a paste. Apply to face and neck and leave for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then wash with cool water, pat your skin dry, and apply your favorite serum and moisturizer.
3. Dullness – Use an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and leave your skin feeling smoother and more radiant looking. A plant-based oil blend will also hydrate the skin and reduce the dullness that many Sage skin types have.
4. Extra Oily – Don’t over-cleanse — that is the biggest mistake! Use a gentle cleanser twice a day, and softly pat the skin dry. Use a plant-based oil blend with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties to provide hydration without breakouts. Try using blotting papers. The papers won’t treat the sebum production, but they’ll lift excess oil from your skin to reduce shininess.
5. Sensitive Skin – On your face, use The Spa Dr. Clear: Gentle Cleanser and leave it on for a minute. For your body, try an oatmeal bath.
6. Dry Skin – Glow Boost, or another plant-based oil, like argan oil are great for hydrating dry skin. AVOID synthetic mineral oil, or petroleum-based oil. The concern is that these oils may have impurities and they don’t provide nourishment for your skin.
Stress Can Effect Anyone’s Skin
Even if you don’t live with a skin condition, you may not treat your skin well when dealing with stress. Stress for many people often leads to bad habits, for instance by neglecting there skin care regimen or picking and rubbing bumps and blemishes. Bad habits, such as picking and rubbing, are dangerous because they can cause permanent scarring. While neglecting proper skin care can lead to new skin issues, breakouts or flare-ups.
You can have healthy glowing skin by nourishing your body on the inside with healthy foods and nutrients. Then, nourish your skin from the outside by selecting skin care products that are pure, natural, safe, and properly pH-balanced to gently care for your skin.
The Spa Dr.® Approach
At The Spa Dr.®, our approach is to help shine the light on skin care information and offer guidance to nurture your skin care journey. We believe the information we provide will help support your self-care and healing, and we want you to feel safe and cared for within our community!
The Spa Dr.® offers natural skin care products that are safe and free from chemicals and toxins, which disrupt hormones. Our products are specially formulated to contain key nutrients in their pure and active form to provide optimal results. In addition, our products are pH balanced towards mild acidity to promote healthy skin microbiome.
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Do you have any stress-relieving or natural beauty tips you’d like to share?
Great article, love all the tips!!
Thank you for the feedback Carmen.