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How Stress Impacts Your Skin and What You Can Do About It

Posted on: June 29th, 2020 by Kristen Chang

Stress even during normal times can take a toll on your skin. But during extraordinary times such as these, it is even more likely that the stress you are feeling can cause flare-ups of skin conditions and accelerate wear and tear on your skin’s appearance. Chronic stress can be described as an imbalance between your internal resources and demands placed upon them by external situations. The long-term results can be premature aging and flare-ups of inflammatory diseases.

How Stress Can Harm Your Skin

Today, our stress seems constant.  The body’s system now goes into overdrive, steadily spewing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream. Over time, continued stress can have adverse impacts on your skin and other body systems. For example, excess cortisol can accelerate loss of collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for youthful skin texture. This can lead to premature wrinkling and sagging skin.

Stress, Skin Conditions and the Inflammation Response

Stress can also cause an over-active inflammatory response. For those coping with acne, eczema, hives, psoriasis and rosacea, stress can increase symptoms and cause flare-ups. For these skin conditions, as well as allergic and autoimmune conditions, the release of stress-related biochemicals can push the immune system into overdrive. This doesn’t mean stress will cause these conditions if you don’t have them, but it might make them harder to manage if you do.

If stress is triggering outbreaks of eczema, rosacea, acne or other skin conditions, start by seeing your California Skin Institute board-certified dermatologist to get things under control. In some cases, it may also make sense to see a therapist for help managing anxiety, which can amplify your stress response levels.

Best Bets for Beating Stress and Boosting Your Skin

Try to manage stress with some easy options. The inner and outer body are connected, and taking time to work on its internal functions can help restore your skin’s glow.

1. Be kind to yourself and set self-care goals.

If it helps, write them down. Setting goals and establishing simple, achievable steps to reach them helps you stay on track and prioritize self-care activities. Include things you enjoy and/or new things you want to try, such as catching up with a friend (while social distancing!) or trying a new recipe.

2. Focus on awareness of your body and how well it functions.

Engage in moving your body to boost endorphins and strengthen your muscles. This will lower stress as it revs up your skin health.

3. Practice mindful eating.

Feed your face—literally. Focus on fresh, healthy foods that offer the nutrients your skin needs. Take time to enjoy what you eat—the taste, the aroma, the textures—without the distraction of screens.

4. Drink.

Not alcohol or caffeine—they dehydrate your skin. Even mild dehydration can make you look and feel tired. Water is the best option. Water helps keep your blood vessels open, allowing blood to travel freely to all your cells to deliver essential nutrients. If water on its own gets boring, add a squeeze of lemon or sip herbal teas.

5. Maintain sound sleep habits.

Sleep is your skin’s repair and maintenance time. See our tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

6. Schedule a facial treatment for yourself.

Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and lasers can quickly give you brighter and tighter skin. A study from Japan found that even getting a professional facial can significantly reduce anxiety and negative moods.

California Skin Institute is open for scheduled appointments and taking all recommended safety precautions. Call to make an appointment today.

If your stress is has reached a level of anxiety where you’re worried for your safety, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255).