April is National Stress Awareness Month. Perhaps it seems silly to have an entire month dedicated to stress awareness—who needs to be more aware of stress?
But the fact is that while people are likely very aware that they feel stressed, even aware of what may be causing stress, most people aren’t always aware of the ill effects chronic stress can have on their health—their physical health, emotional well-being and interpersonal relationships.
For instance, stress can significantly impact your skin’s health and appearance, and that can have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself.
Stress of any kind triggers the “fight or flight” reaction—a chemical reaction involving adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is primarily responsible for “amping up” your cardiovascular and respiratory systems in preparation for a fight or a flight. Cortisol contributes to your body’s fight or flight response by temporarily allowing for an increase in energy, memory function and immunity and a decrease in pain sensitivity.
The stress reaction by itself is a good thing—it allows for our survival. The problem is that when stressors are prolonged, the stress reaction takes its toll on the mind and body.
When it comes to the skin, in particular, heighted cortisol levels trigger oil production in the sebaceous glands, often causing acne breakouts. Chronic stress has also been linked to flare ups of other skin conditions, including:
The fact that stress can often result in a haphazard skin care regimen may further exacerbate skin conditions.
Acne breakouts and rashes are bad enough during times of stress. But the blow to one’s self-confidence when these breakouts and flare ups occur is even worse.
When you wear your stress all over your face, it can make you feel self-conscious and make you want to avoid being seen—that takes a toll on your social life and your relationships, even the relationship with yourself. And this skin-self dynamic can be a vicious cycle:
Getting effective treatment for stressed-out skin is important because of the potential to drastically improve your emotional well-being. A 2008 study by Richard G. Fried, MD, PhD, FAA proved it. Dr. Fried found that patients who received cosmetic interventions (this study focused on Botox) for skin issues that made patients negatively perceive themselves experienced significant emotional benefits—they felt less anxious, more relaxed and more optimistic. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/stress-and-skin
Many factors influence what will work to treat your stressed out skin, and you may need to consult with your doctor or dermatologist to get thetreatments that are right for you.
However, topical, and even some medicinal, treatments aimed at only working on the skin will be limited in their effectiveness. To really treat stressed-out skin, you need to get to the real cause—the stress.
Learning stress management techniques that are effective for you are vitally important to maintaining your skin and your overall health. You will need to find what fits into your lifestyle and what works for you, but everyone can help minimize the effects of stress on their skin and bodies by:
Your stress management can also be enhanced by pampering yourself every once in a while…and Hale Cosmeceuticals’ spa-quality skin care products can help!