It is no secret that stress and skin conditions are related. The first signs of stress are noticed in the condition of our mind, so it is crucial to develop strategies on how to recognize the first signs of stress, avoid stress triggers, and effectively combat stress in general. The first sign of stress would be the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Stress negatively affects our body and mind and inevitably influences how we feel and all that we do. Through secretion of stress hormones and functions of the neuroendocrine system, our body adapts to stress, and our mood, digestion, energy, and immune system all change under the influence of various stressors.
Stress and Your Skin: The main effects of stress on the skin are the disturbance of the lipid layer on the surface of the skin and the build up of the dead skin. Lipids fill the spaces between the cells, like mortar or cement, and once the lipid barrier is impaired, the skin becomes vulnerable to allergies, pathogens and irritation. When the dead cells build up, the skin takes on a dehydrated, ruddy, dull appearance that also feels tight and uncomfortable. Sometimes, we can notice stress has 'aged' us overnight!
Stress and Skin Diseases: Skin diseases that are commonly caused by stress are psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, rashes, herpes, sebhorreic dermatitis and rosacea. Because I am not a doctor, I can't expand on the diseases themselves, but I can share how to identify signs of stress related skin diseases: Dehydration (skin tightness), extreme oiliness, redness, hot skin, itchiness and paleness to name just a few. Be sure to address your subjective skin sensation during any facial. I can notice many, but not all when I am treating clients. Treating stressed skin is a process we need to work on together.
Communicate any stressors with your aesthetician before any facial or treatments
Stress and Mental Health: Stress can also cause some psychiatric diseases such as OCD, body dysmorphia, fear of ugliness/aging and neurotic conditions, which should be treated by a professional specializing in psychology/psychiatry. If possible, it is important to identify that we feel under pressure and that things are sliding down and eroding our confidence, sense of safety, overall health and well-being. We must remember our thoughts and actions are influenced by stress.
Stress Management: To combat stress, we first need to adopt strategies that we will implement for life. Everyone must always be prepared for stressful times: Maintain a strong immune system, exercise regularly, practice proper nourishment (well-balanced diet and supplements), positive social connections and stress management.
Courtesy of Ambi Sitham, certified Reiki Master
Stress management is tricky. Once we are in stress mode (fight or flight), it is very hard to stop the inflammatory response cascade in our body. Avoiding stress altogether is not possible in our daily lives, but we can at least take steps to minimize it. For example, if the morning traffic is an issue because you could be late to an important meeting, simply avoid that stress by leaving early. Early arrival to your destination can buy you several minutes to answer emails, grab a cup of coffee, fix your makeup, or simply relax. Refrain from reading the news every day if that is extremely upsetting to you. Reduce reading to when you feel strong, prepared, and balanced. Avoiding toxic relationships and situations will prolong your life and give it a great quality too. Gravitate to people who expand your energy, not shrink it.
Fear is our Nemesis Number One. The definition of fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Meditate on the concept of "Belief", and let go of that belief of danger. I also recommend Reiki, a hands-on healing method through which a 'universal energy' is transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the person in order to promote emotional or physical well-being.
Reiki uses has many advantages to healing and stress relief
More complex than Reiki is 'EFT' (Emotional Freedom Technique) which uses acupressure to attain emotional health - our recommendation for EFT is Patti Pen, founder of Pause in Joy: www.pauseinjoy.com. Patti will help you identify and shift feelings that are hindering your daily existence and encourages people to 'stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison steals your joy.' This is especially true in regards to social media where we feel pangs of envy and jealousy of someone's seemingly perfect and happy life.
Meditation is the best way to learn how to push aside and harness your thoughts and quiet your chattering mind. Learn how to prioritize your thoughts! The mind was given to us so that we can go forward in life. There are meditation classes offered everywhere, find the best one suited for you.
Prioritizing greatly helps stress management. Prioritize your time by dividing everything you do into three categories: Important Urgent (Now), Important Non-Urgent (Later) and Non Urgent, Non-Important (Some Day). Leave it that way while you are calmly addressing critical matters. After calming your mind this way, you will be able to calm your body too, and you will be ready to tackle non-critical tasks.
Delegating is a way of letting go. There are things that someone can do instead of you, and not only that the job will be done, you will feel good about accomplishing task and not being stressed out about meeting deadlines and logistic challenges.
Downsizing is also a great way to unburden your daily life. The more things you have and do, the more maintenance and work you would have around it. Being realistic about what you can actually do without overexerting and overtasking yourself, helps the quality of life.
Breathing fresh air is like floss for the mind. Just several deep breaths that you hold for few seconds will release so much tension.
Proper hydration is incredibly important. Our bodies are 70% water and many key processes are enzyme dependent, and enzyme production is water dependent! Skin is the last organ to receive water: Water is first delivered to major organs such as the brain, heart and stomach first. Hydration will lessen the nervousness, hunger, and fatigue, whereas dehydration will negatively affect your state of mind.
Eating properly for your body type is crucial. Vegetables are the most intelligent foods, and they will not burden digestion while instantly boosting your metabolism. Allowing the body a proper rest and sleep period is a must. Prioritize your diet and health over social functions!
Foods high in EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) are essential for combating stress
There is also so much you can do for your skin, once you feel that you are under stress:
- Dry brushing is the best way to stimulate lymphatic drainage and start the process of detoxification. Use soft hog bristle and starting with the left foot, gently brush your body in small circular and upward movements until you reach the top of the body. Do not brush your face, just the neck. The belly and chest should be brushed in larger counterclockwise circles. Repeat the same moving up from the right foot.
- Body scrubs are a great way to remove the buildup of dead skin cells caused by stress. Many spas provide this service and if it is followed by Shea Butter lotion, the skin will again feel vital, hydrated and elastic.
- Long showers and therapeutic baths are a wonderful way to relax anywhere and at anytime. You might add essential oils or bath salts to facilitate aromatherapy and detoxification.
- Face and body massage will stimulate circulation, relax tense muscles and let body the secrete the hormone Oxytocin, also known as the "love" hormone, which promotes empathy and communication between people. You will feel more connected to your environment, and more 'in your body'.
Facials! Facials! Facials by me! For many years I have practiced and studied the ways to alleviate the effects of stress on my clients' skin and body: Detoxifying facials by use of Microcurrent or galvanic modalities, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Gua-Sha - scraping of the face and neck (scalp scraping is coming soon!), Reiki healing, Activated Charcoal Mask, Mud Mask, Infusion of minerals and vitamins into dehydrated and thickened layers of the skin, application of Ceramides, and cholesterol and EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) to the surface of the skin to promote healing, hydration and elasticity.
- Supplements such as antioxidants, essential minerals, EFA's, St. John's Wort (careful with UVA sensitivity!), and adrenal support supplements are recommended for anyone who is going through stressful time.
Besides these remedies, body wraps, saunas, colonic therapy and use of the grounding mats or sitting by the Ocean are all effective ways to combat the effects of stress.
Another damaging side effect of stress is hair loss, which I shall cover in another blog in the near future.
Feel free to comment or ask me any questions about Microcurrent technology and treatments, I'm always happy to answer!