How Stress Affects the Skin

In today’s society, it often feels like it’s impossible to avoid stress. Between working nine to five, hurrying to that morning meeting, taking care of our kids, remembering to pay the bills and trying to catch some sleep, it’s no wonder we end up spending most of our days trying to outrun our stress.

Besides the effect that stress has on your mental well being, stress also shows up on your face.

1. Premature Aging

Here’s a little more stressful news for you: stress can make you look older. An ample amount of research confirms that stress will quicken your skin’s aging process.

Your eyes are usually the first to show signs of distress as they’re surrounded with very delicate tissue. Stress can give you dark circles, which turn into heavy bags under your eyes. If your stress issues aren’t addressed early enough, your eyes will also become more susceptible to wrinkles.

If ditching the source of your stress is simply impossible at the moment, there are lots of topical products, like Retin-A, which has been shown to help get rid of wrinkles.

You can also take a couple of cucumber slices or tea bags and place them under your eyes for 30-45 minutes. You are certain to reap the benefits of this time-tested spa technique. Just lay back and relax.

2. Stress Rash

Having heightened levels of stress can also give you a stress rash.

Stress rashes usually take the form of hives or welts. In fact, they’re so uncomfortable that it’s often impossible not to scratch. As then, as a result, you’ll probably experience a burning sensation and an even bigger rash. They’re very blotchy and usually spread to other nearby areas.

The hives typically go away on their own in less than 48 hours, but most people simply can’t withstand the misery they bring with them. One quick, common treatment for stress rashes are antihistamines, like Benadryl or Zyrtec. You can also experience a bit of relief by soaking in a cold bath or shower. Just avoid hot water at all costs as it will likely amplify your symptoms.

3. Acne

This may not come as news to you, but acne isn’t something that disappears with the woes of adolescence. Stress releases high amounts of cortisol, causing an imbalance with the other hormones within the body that often leads to adult acne and other skin flare-ups. These flare-ups also exacerbate rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis-prone skin.

4. Dull Skin

As weird as it may sound, stress will suck the moisture out of your skin. It reduces the skin’s lipid barrier, allowing its fluids to evaporate. The end result is super dry skin. Chronic stress also causes skin cells to take longer to reach the surface and flake off, leading to a build-up of dead skin. This makes the skin appear rather dull.

5. Scarring

Feeling stressed out can lead to the development or resurfacing of tic behaviors. Tic behaviors, such as picking or scratching skin subconsciously which can lead to scarring. These behaviours can occur without being stressed but stress often exacerbates these conditions. If you find yourself unable to stop these habits talk to your doctor, as there can often be underlying issues.

So How Do I Combat Stress?

Unfortunately, no part of the body is immune from stress. With the skin being our bodies largest organ, it’s just one more reason why we definitely want to take better care of ourselves. This includes taking control of our emotions as well as our physical health.

Consuming plenty of water is vital to overall health, as is a well-balanced diet. Try to consume as many fruits and vegetables as you can stand, your body simply will not thrive without proper nourishment.

Zen session anyone? As obvious as it sounds, people sometimes forget that we can actually reduce stress by just taking the time to calm down. It may sound too simple to make enough difference, but it isn’t. Start by monitoring your breath. This can be done at any time in any setting. All you need to do is deeply inhale… and then slowly exhale. Try this a few times to combat stress in the act.

Meditating for only 10 minutes a day can and will drastically improve the way your body responds to stressors. Incorporate some essential oils to ramp up it’s effects.

Remembering to stay active is key. Taking a 15 minute walk every day or dropping in on the local yoga class will do the trick. We often forget that our bodies weren’t designed to live a sedentary life. Exercise will pump up your endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters), causing you to instantly feel less stressed. So remember, in order to keep your skin looking radiant, you need to adopt as many methods as you can to keep your stress levels at bay. Once you can do that, not only will your skin look and feel that much better, but so will your entire being.

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