The Effects of Stress on your Skin
Stress causes a chemical response in your body causing it to create hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which can make your skin, hair, and nails oversensitive and simultaneously make it harder for skin problems to heal. It often aggravates recurring skin issues due to the overproduction of oil in your glands from cortisol, these can include acne, skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea to name a few. This can then influence your self-esteem which in turn, creates more stress.
Many things can make you consciously or unconsciously stressed, for example, a busy work month, a lack of sleep, a sad event in your personal life, and even pandemic anxiety or fatigue. When our cortisol receptors are triggered, many things can happen. Our blood vessels can dilate resulting in skin redness, or there can be an increase in the breakdown of collagen leading to fine lines and wrinkles. Similarly, it can deplete the skin’s natural oils compromising the skin’s moisture barrier leading to dry and cracked skin, or the opposite, developing extremely oily, blemished skin.
Anxiety, depression, and other changes to your psychological state can create these kinds of skin issues. As well as hormonal changes, chronic stress can create internal inflammation and affect the balance of bacteria in your gut which can further manifest as skin conditions. Along with this, the anxiety itself may cause you to pick up bad habits like scratching at spots and chewing your lips all of which will be creating more damage to your skin.
Stress has a knock-on effect on many bodily functions and sleep is one of them. Sleep deprivation increases signs of aging and reduced elasticity of the skin. This can cause the muscles around your eyes to weaken creating eyebags. Equally, stress can change your breathing patterns, causing your face to flush. Not to mention the production of melanin caused by stress, which can be one of the leading causes of hair loss and greying hair. The takeaway of this is that stress can have a serious impact on the look of your skin and simultaneously, your wellbeing. Keeping stress to a minimum is vital for looking and feeling your best self.
How to Minimise these Effects
Some causes of stress are unavoidable such as trauma or unforeseen circumstances, however minimizing avoidable causes of stress and developing coping mechanisms to manage it can help you fight these signs that show through your skin. Here are our best tips for easing the effects of stress on your skin (and mind):
- Get enough sleep – 6-8 hours of sleep a night is vital for your functioning. Sleeping gives your skin time to heal, and your body time to rest. It can also improve your mood and cognitive functioning.
- Talk to someone – If necessary, seek support from a friend or a professional therapist. Saying things out loud stops the stress from building up internally.
- Take time out for yourself – Don’t neglect your skin, have a pamper occasionally. Have a bath or read a book to keep yourself calm.
- Get regular exercise in – Something as little as a walk down the road can help to keep cortisol levels down and happy hormones high.
- Practice mindfulness – Take part in meditation, yoga, and practice gratitude at least once a week. Staying in the present can help to reduce worries for the future.