Before this blog was published, it had a deadline.
Deadlines are not necessarily scary, but they can sneak up on you (often in groups, if you truly know how to procrastinate) and trying to meet them can be immensely stressful. They’re just one of life’s many stress factors. Not only that, but stress comes in many flavors. It can manifest emotionally, mentally, and, most of all, physically. While mental and emotional stress can be hidden, very few can outrun physical symptoms like headaches, shortness of breath, sweating fits, and then some. The results of stress are bountiful, and that sounds… well, stressful.
Most people associate physical stress with its main effect: exhaustion. But did you know that stress does serious damage to your skin? This is because our bodies have a hormone called “cortisol” that is released from our adrenal glands in tense situations. Cortisol then moves to several receptors in the body, including the skin. Once that interaction happens, inflammation, increased oil release, and stunted healing occur. The results are even more drastic if you have a preexisting condition, such as hives, acne, or psoriasis. On top of all of that, the unhealthy ways in which we cope with stress have bodily effects that make matters even worse. Once again, talk about stressful.
Luckily, there are some preventative measures we can take to prevent stress-induced damage to our body’s largest organ.
Invest in me time
Find a relaxing activity that makes you happy. A great one is exercise. Not only does exercise release dopamine that can offset your stress, but it also improves blood flow, leading to better circulation and faster removal of toxins that are detrimental to your skin cells. Exercise regularly and get the benefits of sweat that have anti-aging effects. Remember to shower shortly afterwards so that the sweat doesn’t stay on your skin too long, leading to blocked and irritated pores. You can also do less strenuous activities like reading a book, meditating, or taking a bath. All of these have great benefits to your mental health and that will help your skin!
Maintain a skin care routine
After a long, stressful day, it can be tempting to just hop in bed and not take the time to wash your face. Take a few minutes out of your day to at least cleanse your face in the morning and at night. A little routine goes a long way. Not only is it refreshing to clean off the toxins and pollution your skin picked up during the day, but the routine will make your skin look great the next day! Do yourself a favor for tomorrow and wash your face tonight.
Fidgeting is a common stress response and completely normal but scratching and picking can irritate wounds and acne, while also flaming up your previously undamaged skin. Fidgeting is hard to stop, but next time you’re stressed, try channeling the fidgets with targeted products, such as rings or spinners.
When we’re stressed out, we often turn to harmful coping mechanisms, one of the most common being nicotine & tobacco. Smoking in particular dries out your skin and causes uneven pigmentation. It also prematurely ages your skin, narrowing your blood vessels, depleting your vitamin A levels, and adding decades to your face. At its worst, it doubles the risk of a skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. Even nicotine alternatives (patches, gum) have been known to have similar effects on blood vessels and aging. If you’re a smoker, you’ve heard it before, but it’s never too late to quit.
Reduce your alcohol intake
If you’ve ever had one too many after a long work day, you’re fully aware of how dehydrated alcohol can make you. Drinking can wrinkle skin and cause it to sag. Consistent drinking can dilate your pores for extended periods of time, aging the skin and causing irreparable scars. And if you’ve ever been hungover, you’re no stranger to the inflammatory effects like acne, puffiness, redness.
Stress is inevitable in life. Prevention is never guaranteed, but hopefully now that you know what stress can do, you can manage it in ways that your will have your skin clean, unharmed, and relaxed.