It’s the season of resolutions and for many reducing stress tops the list. From finding gratitude to making time for relaxation and self care, 2022 is all about stressing less. In doing so you may even find a few added health benefits beyond just feeling relaxed. Studies show that reducing your long term stress can have positive impacts on your weight, sleep, relationships, lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, improve your digestion—and yes, even benefit your skin. Read on for some ways your skin will improve by stressing less, along with some simple ways to bring some Zen back into your daily routine.
It’s Written All Over Your Face
If your body and mind are feeling the impact of chronic stress, you can bet your skin is too. The “brain-skin” connection has long been documented with substantial empirical evidence; since the skin is the largest organ of the body it plays an important role in immune functions. Stress causes our body to release hormones like cortisol, which affect all systems, but in terms of skin, it affects the skin barrier and homeostasis, making you more susceptible to conditions like redness, dryness, or breakouts. It can also worsen skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, or rosacea. Here’s just a few ways your skin can react to stress:
- Acne: When stressed, your body produces more cortisol which causes increased production of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH is thought to stimulate oil release from sebaceous glands which can lead to acne. While there is widespread acceptance that stress can contribute to acne, there are few studies making the connection.
- Rosacea: Excessive stress or anxiety can increase inflammation, which can then contribute to rosacea flare-ups. More severe flares can sometimes be attributed to long-term stress or an extremely stressful life event.
- Under Eye Bags and Dark Circles: Stress often leads to insomnia which can cause bags or dark circles under your eyes. This mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes can be treated by adding an eye product designed to help soothe and de-puff and of course looking for ways to increase the amount of sleep you are getting each night.
- Dry Skin & Wrinkles: Some studies show that stress can impair the skin barrier’s ability to heal itself and negatively affects skin water retention, leading to dry, itchy skin. Studies also show that cortisol, which is produced when we are stressed, can also increase DNA damage and interfere with DNA repair, potentially causing fine lines and wrinkles. Consider a consistent skincare routine which will improve your skin both while you are battling signs of stress and for the long term.
Stress Less With These Tips
If you are serious about managing your stress, it’s time to build healthy habits into your daily routine. Try these simple ideas to stress less and enjoy life more.
- Make it routine: Start by being mindful about doing something every day—even if just for 15 to 20 minutes—that will help you clear your mind and take care of yourself. An easy way to do this is by building relaxation activities (positive self-talk, meditation podcasts, or a self-check in) into a routine you already have established, such as your morning or even nighttime skincare routine.
- Practice Gratitude: How often do we rush through the mornings (and our whole days) without stopping to think about the beautiful things in our lives? Starting your morning full of gratitude and joy can surely make a difference in the way you approach the day. Keep a notebook by your bed to jot these things down—maybe while enjoying your morning coffee.
- Make Time for Self Care: The art of self care— can have a positive effect on your physical, mental, and emotional health. It helps you manage stress, can change your perspective on challenges, boost your self-esteem, and put your mindset in a positive place. Practicing true self care sounds great in theory, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice. Give yourself permission to care for you and soon you’ll be reaping the rewards.
- Rely on Friends and Family: Spending time with those you care about can reduce stress and enhance your well being. In fact, research says people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose. Plus, being social has other health benefits as well, from reducing blood pressure to improving your cardiovascular health.
- Exercise: You can exercise your way to healthy skin. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. Think of exercise as cleansing your skin from the inside out—remember it can even be a simple walk in the evening—good for your skin and good for your soul.