If you’re like everyone else then you’ve experienced stress at some point in your life. Some people learn early on how to cope with stress and tend to be more laid back, also known as the “Type B” crowd. I am not “Type B”. In fact, I have been a self-proclaimed “Type A, high-strung kind of gal” since childhood. Always setting high standards for myself and those around me, I mastered the talent of personalizing my stressors and the stressors of others early on.
My father would always say “Stress will kill you. Learn to relax.” I never really believed that stress could impact the human body that much. That all changed when I started to research the side effects it can cause, specifically when it comes to skincare. Data shows there is a link between chronic stress and acne, which I find intriguing considering I have the tendency to stress out and I suffer from breakouts.
While stress is not always the cause of acne, it is definitely a top contributing factor. Research shows that stress increases levels of cortisol, also known as a stress-related hormone, which sends sebaceous glands into overdrive and ultimately produces breakout-causing bacteria and acne. But stress doesn’t just cause breakouts; it can also lead to damaged collagen, inflammation and premature signs of aging (who else is guilty of plucking a grey hair or two?!).
When people talk about acne, they tend to focus on the breakouts themselves. What doesn’t get mentioned is the emotional toll people suffer from. For a long time, I believed horrible things about the way I looked (see what lead to my breakup with makeup) and would stress about not having flawless skin. Not only was chronic stress breaking me down emotionally, it was causing my skin to breakout. I was stuck in this vicious loop of stressing out, breaking out, stressing out about breaking out and then experiencing more break outs.
In a day and age where we are always on the go and feel various pressures from society, it’s easy to fall victim to stress. However, there are several small things I’ve incorporated into my daily practice to help lower stress levels, which has ultimately led to less breakouts and a healthier state of mind.
- Gratitude: Making a list comprised of all the good things that happen each day helps me see the positive rather than the negative in most situations, which in turn keeps my stress levels low.
- Meditate: Taking a few minutes to take a deep breath calms the body which helps it to repair itself and prevents new physical damage that can be caused from stress.
- Workout: Exercise is good for both physical and mental health. Physical activity pumps up endorphins (the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters) which can put you in a better mood!
- Healthy Foods: Eating a diet full of healthy and nutritious food helps balance your mood and decreases stress by increasing serotonin (the feel-good chemical) levels.
Whether it be a stressful day at work or a stressful breakout, know that those circumstances do not define you and you have the ultimate control over your mental health and well-being. Next time you find yourself stressing out, take a moment for a few deep breaths, calm your thoughts, and focus on all the good happening around you.