Not all skin concerns are a result of questionable skincare formulas or environmental hazards. If you look close enough, you’ll realise that a new pimple pops up or your dark circles look worse each time you face a professional setback, or your personal life is in shambles. A lot has been said about the complex interlinking system of the mind and skin, so it’s high time we take note of the evil effects of stress on the skin.
When the mind is stressed, it slows down the rate of digestion, thereby affecting the bacteria in your gut. Your body thinks you’re under attack and that’s how internal inflammation begins. Goes without saying, not long before your skin becomes hypersensitive, resulting in reddened, irritated facial skin.
Stress induces an instant spike in adrenaline and cortisol (the hormone that helps our body regulate metabolism and stress), which causes you to sweat more. Your body loses more water than usual and if you’re not replenishing it at the same rate, your skin soon feels flaky to the touch. We’ll also take a wild guess here and say that you happen to drink more coffee/soda/alcohol when stressed, which rampantly adds to the dehydration.
Increase in breakouts
That terrible bout of acne during your performance review last month was because cortisol revved up the activity of your sebaceous glands (the glands that produce oil) in your skin. Greater oil production, more clogged pores, frequent breakouts — you know the gist. Plus, the fact that you tend to pick at your skin or pop your pimples when stressed doesn’t help.
More under-eye bags
Your shut-eye time is when neurons recharge and your brain engages in repair work. So if you’re busy stressing about tomorrow’s to-do list in bed, it’s bad news. Lack of sleep or not clocking in a solid 8 hours of zzz’s causes fluid to pool below your lower eyelid. So, don’t be surprised if the a.m. brings in swollen, puffy eyes and dark circles.
How to keep stress at bay
- Regular exercise is one of the biggest ways to relieve stress and we’re not even putting that up for debate. This is because exercise has the power to reduce the levels of stress hormones. So, whether you practise deep breathing or lift weights at the gym, the idea is to get those endorphins going.
- Learn to prioritise quality sleep over work timelines. Make a sleep calendar and stick to it. Avoid mindless scrolling on Instagram by not taking your phone to bed. Treat yourself to a cup of chamomile tea right before you crash.
- Until we find a skin concern that water cannot fix, you better drink up 8 or more glasses of H2O every day. Top that up with foods that are high in water content — cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, watermelon, broccoli, oranges, and apples.
- Sadly, stress also makes you skimp on your usual healthy habits. You swap your green smoothies with a shot of caffeine, disturb an almost-consistent sleep schedule with a late night of mindless drinking, trade home-cooked food for a large pizza with extra toppings. We understand that you’re looking for instant gratification… for momentary relief, but not taking care of yourself comes with side effects to your skin.