Stress: the number one killer. As a major contributor to the six leading causes of death in the United States it’s safe to say that it’s a big deal. We know that stress causes a lot of issues that go beyond just our day-to-day lives. It’s an issue that we should want to tend to. It’s easy to not think about the long term effects of living a highly stressful life when we’re young, but it still damages our health in ways we can see immediately. So if not for wanting to prioritize your heart health just yet, then perhaps it would be easier to talk about how your stress is damaging your skin.
The Mind-Skin Connection
Your body responds to many changes in your psychological state. When you feel stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol increases your skin gland’s oil production. As we know, more oil can lead to clogged pores which leads to acne breakouts. So if you are stressing often you’re also creating more oil and thus not giving your pores a chance to breathe.
Stress also leads to internal inflammation. This can cause many issues but since we’re just talking about the skin we can focus on inflammation in the gut and what that means for our overall skin health. Due to the balance of the bacteria in your gut being thrown off, the gut becomes inflamed. This can lead to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or even psoriasis. You may even experience a breakout of hives.
Basically, stress affects your skin! Fortunately, this is a culprit that we have a little more control over. We just have to learn how to manage and counteract it.
Avoiding Stress: Is That Even Possible?
Stress? Who has time to deal with it? These days our lives seem so busy that stress is just an inevitable thing. Eventually we can get so used to it that we don’t know how to not live in a state of adrenaline. Trust me, I’ve been there – heck, I am there! As a college student, what isn’t there to stress about?
It’s unfortunate that we feel the need to fill our days with so much work that we lose focus on what’s really important: our health. It’s hard to see how this world is fit for a life of relaxation. While it may seem like an impossible feat to achieve, we have to understand the importance of prioritizing ourselves. Stress may seem like your best frenemy now, but it doesn’t have to be. Stress is a reaction, a response, so if we learn how to better react in situations that seem overwhelming we can help reduce the intensity at which we let it affect us.
Breathe. Be mindful of your breaths. Before you get too worked up, mentally stop. Close your eyes and force your body to reset with a few deep breaths. It’s likely whatever has happened isn’t as big of a deal as it feels. Little things add up making each little thing that happens even more frustrating. At the end of the day, it is what it is. All you can do is solve the issue at hand. These things will happen. After all, that’s life.
If stressful things are guaranteed to happen then we can’t always be expected to handle it with serenity and ease. This is where it’s key to prioritize a little self care time. Take some time out of your day to practice something you enjoy. Read a book, take a bath, get a massage, go for walk…Whatever it is at the time that will help you unwind. Prioritize at least a half hour by the end of the day. Give yourself a moment to relax before you’re thrown back into it.
Exercise is an excellent way to counteract those overworked stress hormones as well. Give yourself a release of those good hormones that help you feel energized and powerful. Make time to hit the gym or take your dog for a walk. Even that little bit will go a long way. On that note, focus on a healthier diet as well. Healthy foods make you feel good! More over, junk food will only cause more inflammation in the body which will lead to more discomfort, less energy, and what we’re focused on in this blog: more breakouts.
So with that being said, even on the days it’s hard, try to keep up with your skincare routine. Don’t go to bed with makeup on, try to keep your bedding clean, wash your face to help clean out those pores…Keep up with your routine and don’t let the stress of all these outside things get to you. At the end of the day, you are your worst enemy as well as your best ally. You are who is most important and when it comes to that, all of these little stressors are so minuscule. You are functioning, your are breathing, you are living just where you are at right now. Anything you’re pushing for now is just to make it farther. It doesn’t mean that where you’re at now isn’t doable. It’s good to have goals and ambitions. Just make sure they don’t run the entirety of your life.
Take a deep breath. Live a little. Life is short. Stress will push you further, but don’t let it run you into the ground.
To see more about how stress can affect your skin and what you can do to lower your stress levels check out this blog: How Stress Affects Your Skin.