Ever wondered why pimples ALWAYS pop up before a special date or a work interview?
Or why your acne won’t clear up no matter what you throw at it?
Or your skin has gotten all dry and flaky while you were working nights and day to meet that work deadline even though you moisturised religiously?
Truth bomb: skincare products often can only cure the symptoms. If you don’t deal with the underlying cause, the problem will never go away.
So what’s the underlying cause? In our hectic modern world, the culprit is more often than not stress*:
Not All Stress Is Bad For Skin
Acute stress helped us survive for millennia. When our ancestors were running away from a tiger or heard a cracking noise in the dark, acute stress made their heart beat faster to transport more oxygen and their body produce more glucose to fuel their fight-or-flight response.
Once the danger’s over, everything’s back to normal.
Problem in, in our modern society, the stress is never over. Traffic jams, email notifications, social media comparisonitis, competitive work environments, unstable incomes, and a gazillion other aspects of modern life keep us stressed all the time.
We can’t switch off.
That’s bad for our health, our relationship and our skin, too.
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How Does Chronic Stress Affect Your Skin?
Where do I begin? Chronic stress is bad for your skin on so many levels:
- Dry skin: Dead cells are the “bricks” of your skin. Lipids the “mortar”. They create a protective barrier that holds moisture in and keeps skin flexible. Stress reduces them, drying out your skin.
- Dull skin: Stress reduces cellular turnover, the skin’s exfoliating process. Instead of leaving the building (sorry, I meant your skin, ermmm), dead skin cells stay on its surface, robbing your skin of its natural glow.
- Flareups: Stress sends hormones into overdrive, triggering the production of a truckload of excess sebum. That’s a recipe for acne. Plus, stress can trigger a psoriasis flareup too.
- Slow healing: The more you’re stressed, the longer your skin takes to heal itself. You know, get rid of pimples, heal cuts and bruises…
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
How Can You De-Stress Skin?
Have you notice how many skincare products promise to de-stress your skin these days?
But – I know you know this already, you’re smart – they DON’T work. You can’t put a cream on your skin and puff! all stress magically disappears (if only it were that simple!).
If you want to de-stress your skin, you need to de-stress your body and mind, too.
The first tip is obvious: avoid anything that stresses you out. At least some of it.
The second tip is obvious, too: do something that relaxes you. A long bubbly bath, a walk in the park or going for a massage all can help.
My fave way? Meditation.
How To Meditate Your Way To Beautiful Skin
I know, I know. The first time someone suggested I take up meditation, I was sceptical too.
Sitting with my legs crossed chanting some unintelligeable mantra for an hour isn’t my idea of fun – or relaxation. Can’t a girl get a massage, instead? No? And you wonder why I’m stressed?
I tried it. What did I have to lose? Stress?
I’m not gonna lie. My first meditation went horribly wrong. I was so frustrated that my mind kept wandering off, I got even more stressed than before. Talk about failure.
But, I persisted (I’m more stubborn than a mule and refuse to accept defeat). Once I got the hang of it, my levels of stress went way down.
My skin changed too: now it’s less prone to breakouts. The odd pimple seems to heal faster, too. And everyone comments on how glowy my skin is.
Ok, I use good skincare and am on the low glycemic diet. Good skin is an holistic job. There’s not one magic bullet that can fix all your skincare woe. A combo of good skincare products and healthy lifestyle habits is what really does the trick.
So how did I get the hang of it?
Related: I Went On The Low Glycemic Diet And It Transformed My Skin
How To Get Started With Meditation
It’s easier than you think.
FIND YOUR STYLE
You don’t have to sit crossed-legged chanting for an hour.
You can choose any position you’re comfortable in. You can just focus on your breath for a few seconds. You can eat a fruit paying attention to every little detail, from flavour to texture and smell. You can repeat a mantra over and over. You can do a body scan. You can do it at home or go to the park.
Experiment with different types of meditation and find out what works for you.
USE AN APP
If you have no idea how to even start meditating and don’t fancy splurging on meditation classes just yet, use an app. They have guided meditations that’ll make it easier to get the hang of it.
I use Insight Timer because it’s free and has literally thousands of meditations to choose from. You’re bound to find a few you like so you’ll never get bored.
The only problem? It can get overwhelming. If you’re just starting out, you may be better off with an app with fewer options.
10 minutes a day are better than an hour never. In fact, if you’re just starting out, I recommend you meditate for 10, or even just 5, minutes a day.
You can try meditating for a longer time, but you’ll only become more and more frustrated. When you meditate, it’s perfectly normal for your thoughts to wander in all direction. You just gently have to bring back the focus to the meditation.
A medi pro knows this. But a beginner feels so frustrated, she just wants to give up. Don’t give up.
Treat it like training for a marathon. Start small. Increase gradually. And if even once you’re a pro, you can only fit 10 minutes of meditation into your day, that’s cool. Do what you can, not what you think you should.
The Bottom Line
Stress don’t just kill you. It ruins your skin, too. Take 10 minutes a day to relax with a good meditation. It’ll lift your mood, ease your worries and make your skin glow.
If you found this useful, please share it with a friend who’s under a lot of stress. Let’s end this epidemic that’s ruining our lives (and skin).
*Of course there can be other causes. But, from my experience working and talking with many clients, stress is usually at the top of the list. If you’re under a lot of stress, look at your lifestyle and what you can do to keep your stress levels under control first.
So true. I meditate although I should be meditating more often and longer than what I do these days. When I meditate, I use what is called a singing bowl (staring at a candle doesn’t work for me). I also spend about 5 minutes every morning outside (even in the cold), breathe in the crisp morning air and just look around me and, before I sleep, another 5 minutes thinking about nothing (this helps me get a good night’s sleep). I consider them mini-meditation. By the way, I like the word “comparisonitis”. One problem I find these days (apart from meanness), especially on social media, is what I call “lastworditis”.
JD, I like the idea of mini meditations throughout the day. Every little bit helps. 🙂