Stress happens to everyone, and signs of stress can show up on your skin in ways you won’t like – Stress can be a good but equally a bad thing too, and sometimes you just can’t avoid it. The best the best thing to do is to recognize your own stress signals and to manage them.
When under significant physical of psychological stress, your body releases a stress hormone, called cortisol. Cortisol in the natural world, could help save your life in dire circumstances. It helps keep your blood pressure up, makes your kidneys work harder, pushes your liver to get rid of toxins more effectively, and changes your metabolism from storing energy to burning it.
Elevated cortisol also impairs your skin’s natural defense system andmore likely to worsen when your cortisol levels are elevated from stress.
Your skin is constantly producing specialized proteins that act as bacterialcides, killing off unwanted intruders on your skin. Stress can lead to a drop in production of these first line defense proteins, leaving your skin vulnerable and can change both the skin’s structure and function. Studies have shown that chronically elevated cortisol levels lead to a decrease in your skin’s natural lipid or fat barrier. These lipids are essential in keeping your skin protected.
If you have suddenly developed unexplained skin flare ups as eczema, acne, rashes, hives, regardless of what you’re prone to this would be the time to look at what changes you can make to improve your stress levels and improve your skin condition too.
Tips to manage stress levels:
Regular Physical Activity: – According to research published by Harvard Medical School, regular exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol. (about 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, depending on the intensity) is one of the best ways to manage stress, balance hormones, sleep better and aid normal metabolic functions (like balancing blood sugar levels). The key is to avoid overtraining and overexerting yourself, which can actually cause even more cortisol to be released.
Spending time in nature/outdoors:- Studies show that physical settings play a role in stress reduction, getting away from technology (put the phone away) to reduce anxiety. Being in nature is a well-documented way to promote relaxation i.e. gardening / pending time at the ocean / beach walks / sea swimming / walking through forests / enjoying our beautiful countryside.
Eating a healthy diet: – A study found people who followed the Mediterranean diet were happier, less stressed and reported an improved quality of life. A diet rich in omega-3 in particular, a fatty acid found in fish, plays a vital role in maintaining and improving mental health and stability. The diet consists of plant-based foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, seeds and olives, extra virgin olive oil, fish, with moderate red wine intake.
Try Essential Oils to Promote Relaxation – essential oils are also helpful for fighting stress and balancing hormones. Essential oils, including lavender, myrrh, frankincense and bergamot, contain potent, active ingredients that have been shown to naturally lower cortisol, reduce inflammation, improve immunity, and help with sleep and digestive functions. (do not use Essential Oils directly on the skin and always dilute in a carrier oil before use).
Oil Baths & Showers: – If your skin is very dry, itchy and prone to flare-ups stop using shower gels and soaps which could irritate the skin, instead try using a body oil or body cream – apply to wet skin – the water and oils mixed together will gently cleanse your skin, whilst nourishing it at the same time. Apply a moisturiser after you have cleansed to give an added protective barrier to your skin.
Sleep – Getting enough sleep helps us control cortisol production, but having high cortisol levels can make it hard to rest, feeling wired and anxious then fatigued during the day. Here are few tips for a good night’s rest:- Remove your phone or tablet from the bedroom / Try relaxing breathing exercises before going to sleep / Write down what is making you anxious this can help clear the mind / Have a warm bath before bed and massage your skin with a relaxing body oil / Don’t take part in high energetic exercises two hours before going to bed and if you have feel exhausted during the day, try a 20 minute power nap.
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For more detailed information:
- Signs of Stress: Hives, Rash and More. (2014). Healthline. Retrieved April 26, 2016, fromhttp://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/signs-of-stress
- About Psoriasis. (n.d.). National Psoriasis Foundation. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis
- Causes and Triggers of Eczema. (n.d.). National Eczema Association. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/
- All About Rosacea. (n.d.). National Rosacea Society. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://rosacea.org/patients/allaboutrosacea.php
- What is Ichthyosis? (n.d.). Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.firstskinfoundation.org/content.cfm/Ichthyosis/What-is-Ichthyosis/page_id/952
- from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/vitiligo_ff.asp
- Seborrheic Dermatitis. (n.d.). National Eczema Association. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/seborrheic-dermatitis
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