How stress affects your skin and how to keep it clear and balanced
Stress Can and will affect your skin. Stress is a human condition, and everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. While you may think of being stressed as just a mental state, you are mistaken – stress can affect your entire body, impacts your immune system, and causes your skin to be more reactive, including the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Stress triggers rashes, hives, and redness. Stress can also exasperate existing inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, leading to flare-ups. Stress may cause you to feel nervous or anxious, pick at scabs or acne, or scratch your skin until it becomes red or the skin breaks. Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.
Today, I’m here to explain the impact that stress has on the health and appearance of your skin.
Your skin and mind are interconnected
Kristina G. Gorbatenko-Roth, PhD a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin said:
“The skin is the most noticeable part of our body that could be impacted by psychological factors, yet very few psychologists are studying it,” she also said. “It’s classic health psychology, just in a different area.”
Dermatologists are much more accepting of the field now known as psychodermatology, and psychologists are getting more involved in helping dermatology patients. They’re investigating the role that stress and other psychological issues play in acne, psoriasis, eczema, itching, hives, and other skin problems. Psychological conditions also cause increased internal inflammation. Stress causes the immune system to overreact and send out an inflammatory response. Doctors are treating social anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues that can arise when people have skin conditions. They’re also developing interventions, whether to help dermatology patients deal with psychological issues or to help people avoid melanoma and other skin problems in the first place.
My skin is breaking out
Stress can affect your skin in many ways including your hormones. The stress hormone cortisol leads to an overproduction of sebum (oil) in your skin glands, which causes acne breakouts. Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.
Your adrenal glands
Triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys make cortisol. Cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does.
For example, it:
- Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- Keeps inflammation down
- Regulates your blood pressure
- Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
- Controls your sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward
But what if you’re under constant stress and the cortisol alarm keeps sounding? It can derail your body’s most important functions. It can also lead to a number of health problems, including:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Heart disease
- Memory and concentration problems
- Problems with digestion
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
Ease the effect of stress on your skin
Maintain a good skincare routine every day, even when you feel too tired or anxious. If being stressed makes you feel tired you, might not want to take off your makeup or wash your face before bed. Try to stick with your routine, neglect could worsen your skin issues. Regular exercise and getting enough sleep release feel-good hormones, and improves mood, outlook, energy levels, and cognition.
Start a journal
Journaling can reduce stress by serving as an escape or emotional release of negative thoughts and feelings. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don’t think about what to write — just let it happen. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don’t strive for perfection in grammar or spelling.
Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.
Get musical and be creative
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can provide a mental distraction, reduce muscle tension and decrease stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.
If music isn’t one of your interests, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching, painting – anything that requires you to focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
Try to eat a healthy balanced diet with whole foods and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sugar-heavy foods trigger more inflammation inside your body.
Take time for yourself. It’s time to relax or engage in a re-energizing activity that makes you happy.
Seek counseling if new stressors are challenging your ability to cope, feel overwhelmed or trapped. If you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school.
If self-care measures just aren’t relieving your stress. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
We encourage you to talk to someone. Not everyone feels the same about counseling/therapy or can afford it, so at least confide with a trusted friend, family member, or spiritual counselor. Even just knowing you have someone by your side can help you feel stronger in your capability to handle stress.