We often live out our hectic lives carrying stress and anxiety inside us, thinking no one can see how overwhelmed we are from the outside.
But what if the stress you experience on a daily basis (that you think you’re handling just fine) is showing up on your skin?
That is exactly what research shows to be the case! From severe skin conditions, to a few pimples, to early ageing of skin cells… could stress be the cause of your skin worries?
THE MIND-SKIN CONNECTION
When you encounter a stressful event in life – too many emails, financial worries, excess weight – this causes a chemical response in your body, making skin more sensitive. The mind and skin are intimately connected and the way you feel psychologically has a direct impact on how you look.
Many skin disorders take their roots from the mind and our emotions. A lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin, so as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin.
WHAT RESEARCH SHOWS
A large number of skin diseases, including dermatitis and psoriasis, appear to flare up as a result of psychological stress. [Remember being so nervous for your school formal that you just knew pimples would rear their ugly pimple heads?]
Studies show that skin conditions in children, including redness and itching, improve as their mood improved.
Research also shows over 30% of all dermatology patients have some underlying psychological problem. If it were addressed, this could have a very profound impact in improving their skin condition.
HOW STRESS CHANGES YOUR SKIN
Stress can change your biology in various ways, causing your deepest, darkest worries to appear on your skin.
When you’re stressed and tense, your body releases stress hormones, which can increase production of oil in the skin, making you prone to pimples.
Stress impacts blood sugar levels, resulting in excess insulin. As insulin is an inflammatory hormone, this can cause inflammation of the skin.
Studies show that stress can damage the integrity and protective function of the epidermal barrier (the protective barrier that governs what can travel through the skin). This can lead to excess dryness and an increase of irritants entering your skin.
AGEING OF YOUR SKIN
When the body releases stress hormones, this causes irritation and loss of immune function in the skin. The effects of this are very similar to what happens during the natural ageing process.
Stress shortens the life span of skin cells and dehydrates the skin, causing cells to grow old before their time; leaving a dull, devitalised appearance with increased fine lines.
Blood vessels constrict, redirecting blood away from skin and hair follicles, depriving them of essential nutrients required to remain healthy.
I personally noticed this when I had chronic fatigue, with my skin becoming increasingly dry and my hair thinning. Once I began eating more nutritiously and practising regular meditation, my skin and hair became healthier!
GET MORE SHUT-EYE
We know increasing the length and quality of sleep will improve your health, so it’s no surprise it also promotes healthy skin.
Sleep is when the cells in your body rebuild and repair. So when your sleep is compromised due to excess worries, skin cells don’t have opportunity to repair and regenerate, drawing away from the freshness and colour of your face. Just one poor night’s sleep can lead to dullness, fatigue, under-eye circles and bloodshot eyes… imagine after years of poor quality sleep!
Consider how stress could be playing a role in your skin’s health. Then next month, look out for Part 2, where I share simple steps you can take to enjoy your most youthful and healthy skin.
To your health and energy,
Rose Lauria is a Yoga & Meditation Teacher, Health Coach (IIN) and Founder of recipeforhealth.com.au.
Taking back control of her health after battling chronic fatigue, Rose helps people overcome the pressures and overwhelm of their busy life, so they can achieve their goals without sacrificing their health.