Let's face it life can get a little stressful between work, school, and social stress. And stress is not your skin's BFF. It can be a vicious cycle because stress triggers acne, and acne can trigger more stress.
So let's dive into what's causing these stress-related breakouts and some helpful tips you can implement to reduce stress.
Our neurological system (brain) and endocrine system (skin) are directly connected, and your skin acts as a stress response system. Remember a time when you may have gotten embraced, and all of a sudden, and your cheeks started to blush? That's how close they are linked.
So what's going on inside of the skin?
When you're under stress, your adrenal glands overproduce hormones such as cortisol, androgen, and DHEA.
The overproduction of these hormones triggers your oil glands to make more sebum, which can clog your pores and result in more acne. Stress is also an inflammatory response in your body. Stress increases blood flow and expands blood vessels, causing your skin to become inflamed.
On the other hand, when you're under prolonged stress, your skin barrier can weaken as the lipids and proteins decrease from overwhelming stress. When your barrier is compromised, it suffers from transepidermal water loss, leading to dry or sensitized skin.
Although stress-related breakouts affect many of us, this doesn't mean that having one stressful day or a hectic few hours will cause a sudden flare-up. It explains when stubborn blemishes appear when we're going through a difficult time.
How does mental health affect our skin?
Not only does cortisol play a significant role in the skin, but other hormones and chemical imbalances are associated with mental health conditions that may also affect the skin's ability to repair itself. Research shows that people with mental health conditions, such as clinical depression, and generalized anxiety disorder, may be more prone to skin problems. This inability to heal means that breakouts and flare-ups in psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea will likely linger for longer periods.
How to care for your stress breakouts:
Once that stress breakout starts to appear, the first step to recovery is to calm your breakout and keep the inflammation down.
Rub an ice cube over any affected area for 2-3 minutes. The ice helps reduce redness and inflammation while encouraging cell renewal and healing.
Use a Sulfur Spot Treatment. It was made for acne emergencies. Sulfur Spot Treatment is gentle yet potent, providing an instant fix for red and inflamed acne lesions. Sulfur Spot Treatment is effective without harsh ingredients and calms and soothes irritated skin.
Try Soothing Clay Mask This detoxifying mask helps absorb excess sebum, reduces shine, and draws out impurities from the skin.
Never pick your Blemishes. Picking creates further inflammation and can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation.
I do not claim to be a mental health professional and will never give advice on treating mental illness or associated conditions. However, I am a huge advocate for mental health, and I believe in the healing power of self-care practices and how they can help you feel more in control of your life, even on a stressful day. I understand that managing your mental health is way easier said than done. It takes time, practice, and mindfulness.
If you need a boost in starting your self-care journey, here are a few of my favorite ways to practice self-love and care that you can start implementing today:
Self-care practices to help relieve stress:
Meditation: If you have never meditated, it can seem intimidating, but I promise it's not. It's a practice in training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. It also helps relieve stress and anxiety by putting you in deep relaxation and peace.
If you're new to meditation, I recommend starting with a beginner-guided meditation. You can guide your own meditation or find one on a meditation app like Insight Timer or Headspace. Youtube also has endless meditation options.
Talk to someone: Whether it's a friend, family member, or a health professional, I encourage you to seek help in any way that feels best for you. Talking to a great listener can improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, depression, and stress.
Move your body: Even if you're not working towards a fitness goal, adding a little extra movement to your day can go a long way. Yoga is a great practice to implement into your daily life. Yoga is not only great for your overall fitness but also for reducing stress.
Get your beauty sleep: Like your phone, your body needs downtime to restore and recharge. Did you know the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night? A lack of sleep causes stress on your body, which you know by now increases cortisol and sebum, leading to more breakouts. Too little sleep also decreases your moisture levels, leading to acne, dryness, and redness. So do your nighttime skincare routine and head to bed by 10pm.
Journaling: So many studies show the therapeutic benefits of regular journaling. When you sit down and write, you can get out your thoughts, understand what's stressing you out, and prioritize your problems and concerns. It's great to use as a time to reflect and better cope with your feelings.
Daily Skincare Routine: Having some routine in your day can help you feel like you have more control in your life, which can improve your mindset. Since a skincare routine should be done twice a day, every day, it's a great way to incorporate some extra TLC and pampering you deserve.
These self-care practices are not a cure-all, but it's important to practice ways to reduce stress to lessen those angry breakouts. But remember, the point isn't to add more to your plate when you're already stressed. Instead, do what feels good and brings you peace. So give yourself some grace and do the best you can.