Crazy week at work? Planning for the holidays driving your mad? Whatever the cause, our lives are filled with stressors, big and small, and unfortunately our skin has it’s own set of coping mechanisms.
Research shows that stress and breakouts are directly linked. When the brain recognizes anxiety, it involuntarily releases the stress hormone cortisol to help thicken the hair follicle’s lining, thereby causing blackheads/whiteheads. If bacteria gets trapped, a blemish develops.
Lisa A. Garner, MD, FAAD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center notes that when people are already prone to acne, stress is bound to exaggerate the problem, or create a whole new cycle of harm.
"Some people pick their skin when they’re stressed,” Garner says.“If they have a pimple to pick, that’s where they’re going."
Unfortunately, simply treating your flare up like other forms of acne won’t eliminate the problem. And conversely taking Valium won’t clear your complexion either. However there are simple solutions that can help calm your skin and your nerves.
Target the source of your stress and set aside some legitimate time for meditation. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of every day to do something relaxing and enjoyable: reading, listening to records, drawing. Reducing your overall stress levels will send some tranquil, clearing vibes to your pores.
When the going gets tough, the sleep can get rough. Having a full night’s rest will help curb your stressors and give your body a chance to rebalance. Everyone’s needs vary, but most adults should aim between seven and nine hours of sleep.
Run. Climb. Stretch. Swim. Regular exercise is a natural, all-around healthy way to combat stress. Sweat out that aggression and anxiety however you please, but don’t forget to follow-up your session with a thorough face washing—increased sweat and oil can further pore clogging when left unattended.
Dish up on dark green, leafy vegetables (kale or spinach) rich in fiber (for clear skin) and vitamins A and C (to fight wrinkles and discoloration). Avoid sugary or highly caffeinated foods that spike your energy, then let you crash. Steady energy levels will help even your mood and stress levels.
Don’t skip on self-care when you’re feeling low. Wash your face as usual to clear out the additional oil your body is producing and be consistent with any other products in your regimen.
Apply treatment products before a breakout occurs. If you can feel the stress coming on, pay added attention to how you’re treating your skin and have your treatments on hand for battle.
While it may seem contradictory, adding moisture to your skin is an important step to controlling oil buildup. Dry skin does not equal clear skin. Maintaining a balanced moisture level will keep the skin healthy, instead of prompting oil glands to unnecessarily increase production.