Stress is something that is pretty much impossible to avoid in the hustle and bustle of the world today. When we are stressed, our body experiences physical and emotional pressure, which generally exceeds the brain and body’s ability to cope or adapt to these stressful situations. Now, you may think ‘stress’ and automatically think of total stress heads or people running around like a maniac, but these aren’t the only people whose bodies are dealing with stress. Factors that contribute to stress can include:
- Environmental factors: pollution, workplace, home, city life
- Bad diet: overfed but undernourished
- Gut issues
- Sleep deprivation: hello, new mums!
- High intensive exercise training
And did you know that stress can affect the skin? It sure does! But first, let’s tell you a little more about stress… Being under stress for extended periods of time not only affects the skin but can have serious health effects. Stress can lead to the increased release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which controls the way our body processes insulin. Too much cortisol can interfere with learning and memory function, it can lead to inflammation in the body, lowering the body’s immune function, weight gain and increased blood pressure, and a disruption to sleep patterns. Too much cortisol in the body will accelerate the aging process and prematurely age the skin. Argh! Stress can also increase estrogen levels and decrease progesterone levels in women, which causes an imbalance in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Stress can also reduce blood flow to the digestive system, leading to sluggish digestion and poor gut health.
So How Does Stress Affect the Skin?
Stress can trigger our fight or flight response. When this happens, the body requires more energy, which confuses the body into releasing more energy. This, in turn, makes us crave foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, foods that have no nutritional benefit to our bodies, and these are contributing factors to insulin resistance; which we now know have a significant link to acne and associated inflammation. All of these changes to our body affect not only our health but also our sleep patterns. An increase of cortisol in the body can disrupt our normal sleeping patterns, leading to further stress with a revolving door situation. Stress and the way the body responds to it can affect reactive skin, exacerbating and inflaming existing skin diseases such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, skin rashes, and acne. It can increase pigmentation through the production of cortisol, due to the imbalance of the female hormone estrogen which strongly influences melasma (a hormonal type of pigmentation).
So, What Is the Solution and How Can We Manage Stress?
Here are a few starting points for you:
Aim to go to bed at the same time each night and, ideally, we should be asleep by 10pm. This enables the body to reset its circadian rhythm. Always try and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep, as this will assist in the body’s ability to rest and repair.
Exercise, even if it’s for 5 minutes, has been shown to reduce adrenaline and cortisol whilst stimulating our endorphins (the happy chemicals) in our brain, improving our mood and also our sleep.
10 minutes of meditation and deep breathing exercise daily can restore the body to a calm state triggering the body’s relaxation response. Your ‘good’ nervous system is activated during meditation, slowing and soothing fight and flight functions. There are so many amazing apps for guided meditations. Our favourite is the CALM app!
Diet and Nutrition
Limit the consumption of saturated fats and processed foods, try to include fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts in your diet every day, and drink 2- 3 litres of water daily to hydrate the body. We keep a big water bottle on hand all day and try to take regular sips. It is also recommended to limit alcohol consumption, which further assists in reducing inflammation in the body.
RELAX Stress Relief
To combat stress and to support your skin revision program from the inside out, we recommend the supplement Relax (Regul8). Relax is the perfect supplement for reducing the effects of cortisol, supporting the body’s immune system, balancing hormones, regulating sleep, and helping to increase mood; all of which will help to eliminate stress and speed up the repair and recovery of the skin and body. Relax contains the active ingredients of lemon balm and passionflower, both known for their ability to help relieve nervousness and restlessness. Rhodiola, another active ingredient, also assists in temporarily relieving symptoms of mental fatigue and feelings of weakness. Adding this supplement to your daily routine will enable you to re-establish alertness and clarity, especially at times of mental fatigue or excessive strain. straight to your door.
For some more info on skin and sleep head over to our Beauty Sleep isnt just an Old Cliché blog.