How Stress Affects The Skin: 5 Tips To Lower Stress, Balance Hormones + Boost Skin Health
Reality is, stress is always going to happen — it’s just a fact of life. There’s no magic wand to wave the stress away! But the better reality is that you can absolutely guard yourself and navigate those stressful seasons with grace and vibrance.
If you are anything like me, you have experienced the effects of stress… and wow aren’t they fun? Frazzled, overwhelmed, exhausted and skin breakouts you just want to hide from.
The difficult part of how our skin reacts to stress is that it affects us both physically and emotionally. When our skin flares up or breaks out, we can get down and negative on ourselves, and that negativity just adds to the stress load. The cycle continues.
How Stress Affects The Skin
Hang with me on the science for a moment! I want you to understand how your body works so that you can best serve your body.
Meet the adrenal system.
Your adrenals are two little walnut-sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys and the definition of ‘small but mighty.’ Your adrenals are your body’s stress response team, think of firefighters rushing to the scene.
The job of your adrenals is to cope with incoming stress, handle it and survive.
Your body is beautifully designed to handle stress, but NOT the chronic stress we are seeing in modern times!
^^ See the problem right there? Chronic stress!
Stress isn’t always a negative thing — stress is simply any change in the status quo. So yes, checking the news too much can be just as stressful on the body as going on a tropical vacation. Or… having our regular routines and rituals interrupted by current events is also greatly stressful, whether or not you realize that in the moment.
Enter adrenal fatigue.
Have you ever gone too long without charging your phone? What happens? It shuts off, right. Just like your phone signals you when it needs to be plugged into the charger, your body does the same thing. Those symptoms? Your body’s brilliant way of asking for help.
When the body’s stress activation response is constantly triggered, our adrenal system eventually says, “Hey! I’ve had enough.” Your adrenal system is simply unable to meet the perpetual demands of stress. You might experience fatigue, weight gain, lightheadedness, hair loss and/or skin issues.
Stress + your skin.
When the adrenal response is activated and the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ (stress) mode, cortisol and insulin spikes! This, in turn, tells the sebaceous glands (skin glands that create oils) to produce more oil, typically an overproduction that leads to an increase in oils, an increase in bacteria in your pores, breakouts, deep and painful acne spots and blemishes.
Many conventional acne solutions don’t actually address the root cause which is a hormone imbalance – and often, conventional acne solutions even make the issue worse. Using harsh topical solutions that strip your skin of its natural oils, only causes the skin to produce more oils and again the acne cycle continues.
This is why we always want to get to the root cause first and focus on healing the underlying factors, not just the symptoms!
5 Ways to Stress Less and Support Healthy Skin
Cultivate an evening wind-down ritual: With adrenal fatigue, your cortisol (“I’m awake hormone”) and melatonin (“I’m sleepy hormone”) get confused. Often you can be exhausted in the morning and wired at night. Not so fun, right? Cultivating an evening wind-down ritual signals your body that it is getting ready to sleep. Even if you aren’t tired, you want to send your body this message!
Pro tip: Just get into bed early – even if you don’t fall asleep, this helps your wind-down… and even better, leave your phone in the bathroom away from reach!
Increase your intake of healthy fats: Many of the hormones the adrenal glands produce are steroid hormones which are fat-soluble hormones made from cholesterol. When the body is in a weakened state, increasing healthy dietary fats provides our steroid hormones with the building blocks they need.
My favorite healthy fats: grass-fed butter and ghee, coconut oil and coconut butter, avocados, tahini, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and fresh fish.
Set aside intentional time for self-care: Taking care of your self is never a selfish act, in fact, it allows you to love and serve others to the best of your ability. Taking care of yourself is also your safety net of health, vibrance and longevity. Self-care rituals intentionally take your body out of “hustle and go stress mode” and into “rest and relax” mode. This allows your adrenal hormones to rejuvenate and heal – sort of like plugging your phone into the charger. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, make self-care a priority. You will gain this time back and more as your energy, productivity and patience increase!
My favorite self-care hack for busy days: Getting into my PJs early, even before helping my sweet daughter into hers.
Find a skincare routine that helps you in this season: There is nothing worse than being frustrated with your own skin right? Frustration, negativity and self-doubt are all forms of stress which will only weaken your energy and stress out your skin even more.
I adore the Clarifying Serum and Clarifying Mask! These have saved my skin during stressful seasons and breakouts. Anti-inflammatory ingredients like colloidal silver and turmeric help your skin and, in turn, your body decrease inflammation and calm the stress response!
Stop Multi-Tasking: Unless you are multi-tasking while masking like I always do (yes I’ve been known to make dinner while wearing my Clarifying Mask!), multi-tasking increases stress in your brain and body. Multi-tasking should really be called task switching and it can create confusion and feelings of overwhelm and even panic. And it also greatly decreases productivity because your brain is constantly having to play catch up.
Instead, make a simple and attainable to-do list. Complete one project in entirety before tackling the next. I promise you’ll thank me later!
To learn more about how to support your adrenal system, I’m teaching a free Adrenal Master Class — 45 action-packed minutes to help you stay energized and focused. I can’t wait to connect with you more! And be sure say hello + connect over on Flourish and Instagram!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not medical advice or to offer a diagnosis. You should always consult with your medical professional for any health concerns.