By Nicole Teh
Our everyday lives are brimming with stress. Driving through rush-hour traffic, studying for exams, burning the midnight oil at work, struggling to meet tight deadlines, trying to nurture our relationships… just the “mundane” day-to-day activities of our lives can stress us out – not even to mention out-of-the-ordinary stressors like when we’re moving, struggling with health issues or dealing with a personal tragedy.
While a minimal amount of pressure can help push us beyond our comfort zones, unleash our creativity and challenge us to stretch our abilities, when we consistently try to do too much, our bodies boycott. Our hormones go awry, our emotions fluctuate and our skin suffers some of the consequences.
When we’re stressed, our hormones abnormally constrict or dilate our blood vessels, which results in poor circulation, leaving the skin dry, flaky, and vulnerable to skin irritation. At the same time, cortisol levels rise, causing the skin’s sebaceous glands to secrete more oil, which can cause pimples. Also, when stressed, we breathe less deeply which, believe it or not, affects the oxygenation on our skin, leading to a dulled, parched and less-supple complexion (and fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent). Bottom line: our complexions dull and breakouts, well, break out. Our stressed-out, less-than-stellar skin ultimately gnaws at our self-esteem and erodes our egos, thereby causing more stress… and so the vicious cycle continues…
Having said that, a stress-free life is probably all but impossible. That doesn’t mean, though, that your destined to a life of problematic skin.
6 Stress-Reducing & Skin-Saving Tips
Eat a balanced diet. What we eat affects not only our waistlines but also both our ability to manage stress and our skin. So, eat a balanced diet to keep your body and mind performing at optimal levels, to stabilize cortisol levels and to nourish your skin.
Sleep 7-8 hours every night. Adequate amounts of quality sleep recharge and rejuvenate the body and reduce actual as well as perceived stress levels. Plus, even the most stressed skin looks better after a good night’s rest!
Get moving. Any form of exercise from meditative yoga to an intense cardio class can relax the mind and put you in touch with your body. Also, an activity that elevates your heart rate also increases circulation, instantly oxygenating your skin too.
Stick to your skincare routine. No matter how tired or stressed you are, don’t skimp on your skincare routine. Continue to cleanse, tone and moisturize. It’s not only important for the topical health of your skin, but also an important exercise in self-care.
Take preventative measures. If you know you’re stressed out, don’t wait for that pimple to pop up or for your skin to look dull before taking action. Instead, apply a mask while finishing up that report, take the extra 30 seconds to exfoliate in the shower and lather on a bit of extra eye cream before bed.
Schedule “me time.” Set aside time, even if it’s just 30 seconds, to reflect and relax each day. Depending on how much time you have, try meditating, reading a book for fun, taking a stroll or listening to a new song. Taking time for yourself will not only relax your mind, but also will relax your facial muscles.