Is stress ruining your skin?

Is stress ruining your skin?

Three tools to save your skin and combat stress

Three tools to save your skin and combat stress

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just turn stress and anxiety off? If you could just set your cortisol levels to ‘optimal’ and leave them there? Think of how much better you would sleep without all those thoughts and fears keeping you up at night. Think of all the tension you hold in your body; your neck, your jaw, your stomach, and how great it would feel to just let all that go.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the way life works. We have stress responses, and anxiety for a reason: to protect us from potential harm. Our cortisol levels rise in response to stressful thoughts or situations in an attempt to provide us with the fuel to act and cope.

A woman looking at a city on a hill at dusk

These tools and reactions were vital in the past when we had to outrun sabre tooth tigers, but today when waves of 10 out of 10 anxiety hit just because of a thought we had or a social media post we saw, those things have gotten out of hand. Worse yet, those emotions and physical reactions not only take a toll on our mindset, but they also wreak havoc on our gut health, immune system, and the largest organ in our bodies; our skin.

“Stress is not our friend, neither for our mind nor for our skin,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Prolonged and consistent stress leads to hyper physiological levels of cortisol. One of the most important roles of cortisol is to regulate both your body’s inflammation and immune response. When you’re in a constant state of stress, or experience stress regularly, it alters your cortisol’s effectiveness and your body’s sensitivity to cortisol, which can lead to chronic inflammation and immune deficiencies. 

A man with a bunch of post-its on his face

You more than likely understand how a compromised immune system creates inflammation and affects your skin; from depleting collagen, to dehydrating, to creating redness, to causing breakouts. So while you pack on all your top notch serums and creams, and slather on concealer to hide your undereye bags and blemishes, your daily stress and anxiety is quietly destroying all your topical efforts – which, when you see what is happening to your skin, then causes more stress and anxiety and gives rise to a vicious cycle.

“It’s all interconnected in that stress and anxiety can impact skin conditions, and having skin issues can lead to anxiety and negatively affect someone.” says Abigail Waldman, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Now that we’ve got your cortisol levels tingling – sorry about that – let’s take a look at three tips to reduce stress and anxiety in the moment, and save your skin (and hair and nails) while you’re at it.

A concrete ground with the words 'you got this' on it

Three foolproof practices to reduce stress right now

1. The Breath Method

Breath is our life force, and is the most powerful tool in our mental wellness tool kits. When we focus on regulating our breath by taking slow, deep, conscious breaths, it sends a message to our brains to relax. It can also increase oxygen flow and allow your body to release toxins as well as tension.

HOW TO: When you are in the throws of panic or anxiety, find a place to sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes and start by taking a slow deep breath in to the count of 6, hold that breath for four to six seconds, and slowly release your breath for the count of eight. Repeat this process six times or until you feel your anxiety subside. 

2. The Root Method

Have you ever noticed how when you feel anxious or stressed out, you feel untethered, like you are floating around without anything to hold on to? This detached feeling is part of a normal stress response, but can play a role in increasing your anxiety. So, by connecting to the present moment, and focusing on the ground beneath your feet, you are able to anchor yourself to the here and now, and decrease the severity of your emotions.

HOW TO: Sit on the ground with your legs crossed in front of you, or find a chair and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Sit with your back as straight as possible and close your eyes. Focus on the ground beneath you and visualize yourself rooting into the earth. Imagine those roots growing deep into the earth, and the earth lovingly cheering those roots on. Then imagine a loving, bright light shining down on you, filling you with peace and tranquility from your head all the way down to your roots.

A white pigeon flying in a city

3. The Talk Method

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we have an ongoing narrative in our minds. That little voice can be our best friend or our worst enemy, but what you may not be aware of is that what category that voice falls into, is completely within our control. When you take control of your inner dialogue, you have the power to radically transform not only your thoughts but your mood as well. 

HOW TO: Set aside a few minutes, and seek a comfortable and quiet place to be still with yourself. You can sit, lie down, or stand facing a mirror. If you’re sitting or lying down, close your eyes. If you’re facing a mirror, lock eyes with yourself, then focus on your breath. Start with two to three deep breaths to stabilize your heart rate. Once you’re ready, state the following mantra (in your head or out loud) “I am safe, I am strong, I am loved, and I am whole”, which each exhale. Repeat this exercise until you feel your stress dissipate. 

These exercises are designed to help you in the moment, but can help you in building resilience if practiced daily. The overarching goal is to reach a place where you’re able to radically improve your stress response, and better handle stress and anxiety on a daily basis. So incorporating tools like these into your daily routines will vastly improve your ability to cope. You can amplify the benefits of these daily routines by combining them with supplements that bridge that skin and mind barrier, like STUNN AM+PM, and aid in supporting you on the cellular level from increasing serotonin to supporting healthy stress response daily. 

Life isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. Remember to breathe, stay grounded, and be kind to yourself, because you are doing great! You’ve got this and we’ve got you!

Written by the STUNN Collective team.

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