Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed, you break out more?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the feelings we have on the inside can affect how we look on the outside. The key to healthy skin lies far beyond the type of skincare products we use. Feelings of stress can affect how the skin ages by influencing certain processes in the body that lead to oxidation and inflammation.
Here’s the gist: Chemical processes in the body produce molecules called free radicals. These enemies of the skin can damage healthy cells in a process called oxidation. Factors such as sun exposure, smoking, air pollution, poor diet and excess stress can speed up the production of free radicals.
The body also produces antioxidants that remove free radicals from the body before they can do any damage. By taking care of yourself and reducing your stress, you can increase the production of these molecules to save the look of your skin.
Skin and Stress Connection
Stress can have the following effects on the skin:
- Adrenaline produced from anxiety redirects blood away from the skin to the muscles so that it becomes pale and washed out.
- Anger, excitement, irritability and frustration releases chemicals that stimulate the sebaceous glands which produce oil. This blocks pores and can cause acne to form.
- Stress makes muscles tense and prevents blood from bringing oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Tension can also slow the removal of waste from underlying tissue.
- Excess strain slows down the cell turnover rate so new cells take longer to reach the skin. Consequently, a lot of their moisture is lost, making the skin look dull.
- Constant stress increases cortisone secretion, which suppresses immunity. As a result, the skin is not as resilient, and can become more irritated by outside chemicals and pollutants.
- Excess stress can make psoriasis and rosacea conditions worse and acne lesions more inflamed. It can also worsen fever blisters and dermatitis.
Stress-Free Skin Solutions
- Practice stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or visual imagery to relax your mind and body.
- Seek out professional assistance through a psychologist (therapist) or psychiatrist to identify what triggers in your life are causing anxiety and stress.
- Don’t neglect your skin. Take care of your skin, even if you’re tired or stressed.
- Get regular exercise. It’s good for your skin and the rest of your body.
- Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy, even if you only have ten minutes. Take a bath or listen to some relaxing music.
- Get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours each night is ideal.
- Say no. It’s OK to set limits and boundaries to lower your stress.
- Visit a dermatologist to treat your specific skin problems. Clearer skin may start diminishing your stress, as you’ll have more confidence and will look better.
What is your skin saying?