Family issues, pressure at work, anticipatory anxieties are all routine stressors that can become visible on your face over time. Understanding the effect of these stressors on your skin, body, and overall emotional health is essential to manage stress and alleviate its symptoms.
Stress And Its Types
To put it simply, stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. Stress can be positive by keeping us alert and motivated, and at the same time, it can become negative when continuing too long without relief or relaxation between stressors.
When stress occurs to your body, the nervous system responds to it by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, prolactin, and others. These hormones prepare the body for emergencies and launch physiological changes in the body: blood pressure rises, breath speeds up, muscles tighten, heart rate increases and your senses become sharper.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes the three types of stress:
- Acute Stress
- Episodic Acute Stress
- Chronic Stress
Acute stress can be defined as short-term stress and is the least damaging kind. It is experienced as an immediate threat, either physical or emotional. These threats don’t necessarily pose a health risk — they can be moderate stressors like an expected conversation with your boss, a new assignment at work, or even a phone call. Signs of acute stress can be strong emotions, increased heart rate, tense muscles, a quickening of your breath.
Episodic acute stress happens as a result of frequently recurring stressful events. People who experience this kind of stress are usually pessimistic and tend to see the negative side of everything. They live in a permanent state of tension which takes a persistent toll on the body.
Chronic stress is the type of stress that wears us down over the years. It arises from long-term stressors, like abusive relationships, worries over money, unhappy marriages, and trauma. It’s the most harmful kind of stress, as it can lead to sleep disorders, reduced immune function, problems with cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, and depression.
The Stress-Acne Connection
When we experience stress, our adrenal glands are releasing cortisol into the bloodstream that helps the body gather energy to deal with threats. In the case of prolonged stress, too much cortisol in high levels triggers a chain of reactions in the body. In particular, it activates sebocytes — the cells that produce sebum that’s designed to protect the skin. Overactive sebum production means excess oil and dead skin cells in the pores which becomes an ideal environment for bacteria spreading. The result is skin inflammation and painful pimples. Too much sebum may be linked to acne breakouts. Since stress can slow down healing, your body may also be less able to deal with existing acne when you’re stressed.
The Stress-Faded Skin Connection
Among many negative effects of stress is that it can cause sleep deprivation. Feeling stressed out during the day may delay the onset of sleep, cause anxious thoughts and, ultimately, lead to sleeping difficulties. In its turn, insufficient sleep can then cause further stress. It seems like a vicious circle…
We know how badly stress affects our skin in terms of acne, skin disorders, and inflammation. What about sleep? In fact, a good night’s sleep contributes to your glowing skin more than a 5-steps skincare routine does. It has to do with collagen that repairs itself while we sleep. Collagen, our most abundant protein, ensures elasticity and strength of our skin as well as gives our skin that firm youthful glow.
So, lack of sleep can decrease the moisture levels of your skin and reduce collagen production, which in turn causes the skin to look faded and dull.
How To Improve Skin’s Health
The condition of your skin is a kind of test to your physical and emotional wellbeing. If waking up in the morning you see a skin that’s glowing and sufficiently hydrated, most likely you’ve had enough sleep, and your mental condition is okay. If you encounter a tired, dull skin right at the beginning of the day, then you should start improving immediately.
Along with topical skincare, you can support your skin health by getting a good night’s sleep and eliminating stressors. If you haven’t prioritized your emotional condition yet, consider introducing some new habits that may help you improve your mental and emotional health.
Give Yourself A Chance To Calm Down
Some people need just a few minutes of deep breathing to deal with the situation and calm down while others may need much more time to cope with the trigger. So, to soothe yourself and regain control of your emotions, do whatever it takes. Sometimes a walk, a couple of physical exercises, or a phone call with a friend or your therapist can help you regain perspective.
Identify Triggers & Share Them With Your Mental Health Specialist
Before managing your triggers, you need to identify them. One way to identify your triggers is to keep a personal diary or trigger journal. This can be a notebook you carry with you, some notes in your smartphone, or a spreadsheet on your computer. Be observant and mindful when your reaction gets out of hand as this usually indicates a trigger. Once you notice a pattern, write down as many details as possible about the people involved, the environment, and emotions. It’s a good idea to share your triggers with mental health professionals.
Find Ways To Comfort Yourself
Caring for yourself regularly can help you deal with threats and triggers when they occur. Having enough sleep, hanging out with close friends and family members, snuggling with a beloved pet, listening to your favorite playlist, or having a nightly cup of hot tea — find your own ways to handle stress and daily challenges to improve not only your skin’s condition but the quality of life in general.