Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. We all experience varying levels at different times and in many situations. Under these circumstances the brain’s hard-wiring system kicks in. When it perceives a threat, the brain signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response and is a normal bodily reaction that is meant to protect us. However, because we now live in a world of nonstop stress most of the time, our alarm systems rarely shuts off!
Without stress management and over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems including a myriad of skin issues.
Hormones, neuropeptides and other signaling molecules released during stressful times may be second only to sunlight in aging the skin. And the really bad news? Women are more prone than men. That means wrinkling, loss of tone and increased levels of sensitivity, particularly as we age.
Additionally, proteins and DNA in the epidermis and dermis are broken down by prolonged periods of stress and this in turn can cause acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and hives.
Feeling bad about the way we look makes us less social and more isolated. This aloneness diminishes the production of Oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
What to do?
It is unrealistic to imagine we can ever live a stress free life but we can commit to developing coping skills that maintain balance, even at the worst of life’s moments.
Here are some of my favorites:
Getting outdoors and in touch with nature. Hiking, gardening, sitting on a park bench all reconnect us with our natural surroundings.
Breathing deeply and meditating. Not just when we are really stressed but at regular times throughout the day.
Disconnecting from social media for a day or if that sounds unimaginable, half a day!
Changing your mindset. When a challenge presents itself, think of it as an opportunity for personal growth.
Have a supportive tribe so you don’t waste time with negative or toxic people.
Sweat out tension with a workout.
Curl up with a good book.
Watch a comedy.
Play with a pet.
And of course, my favorite, get a massage and a regular facial at SkinSense.
Confucius once claimed: “True quality of life comes from lasting harmony between body and mind.” This is a goal worth aiming for.