I don’t know about you…but right now I am feeling just a little bit stressed and that is despite me actively following my own advice and taking some time out!
Yes…I completely get it! Right now more than ever before in my mind, stress definitely comes with the territory. We all know how massively stressful running a house, working, running a business, home schooling children, looking after pets, looking after partners (yes I put them last – they can look after themselves to some extent lol!) can be…then you look at yourself in the mirror and think “What the heck!”
Unfortunately, your skin didn’t get the memo!?
You might like me have the equivalent of Mount Vesuvius on your chin (the joy of hormones and stress on my skin) or you might be struggling with the onset of fine lines and wrinkles, dry patches and dehydration, hormonal imbalances and breakouts or redness, inflammation and sensitivity.
As much as we need it to some extent, the pesky stress hormone ‘Cortisol’ could well be the trigger!
Cortisol and stress can literally wreak havoc on our skin!
WHAT IS CORTISOL?
Cortisol is a hormone that can be classified as a “steroid hormone” or a ‘glucocorticoid’. It is produced in the adrenal glands (the ones right above your kidneys) and released into your bloodstream, which means it is transported throughout your body and absorbed by your cells.
As humans, we are hard wired to focus on threat. We need cortisol and adrenalin to fuel the survival mechanism – fight or flight. Great when we need that burst of energy to run away from a lion – not so much when we don’t!
Indeed, cortisol and acute inflammation are part of our bodies natural immune system response and are normally controlled and regulated by your body. But with an elevated level of cortisol over a prolonged period of time, our immune systems become compromised and inflammation can spiral out of control. Excess stress hormones can affect blood sugar, metabolism, water balance and so many more processes within our body.
HOW DOES CORTISOL AFFECT YOUR SKIN?
When it comes to your skin, we can attribute excess cortisol for a prolonged period of time for so many of those annoying skin problems including breakouts, premature ageing and sensitivity. You might well be experiencing one or all of these symptoms right now.
Cortisol increases the activity of the sebaceous glands, so we produce more sebum (natural oil) which can cause infection and lead to breakouts, disrupt the natural skin barrier and the skin microbiome.
It weakens the skins natural immune system leaving the skin susceptible to free radicals and oxidative stress leading to a dull, tired looking skin, fine lines and wrinkles and an accelerated ageing process.
Cortisol can make it difficult for the body to retain water. This is what leads to dehydrated skin where your skin lacks moisture resulting in flaky skin or worse…wrinkles!
If you have skin conditions such as Rosacea or Psoriasis, you might experience flare-ups when you have high cortisol levels and general inflammation (although you’ve probably already figured out that stress causes flare-ups).
FINALLY, here’s the good news!
Your skin doesn’t have to fall victim every time you’re feeling stressed out! Like many of our skin problems, we can fight the effects of stress and cortisol with a few simple steps.
SKINCARE TO SUPPORT OUR NATURAL SKIN BARRIER
We need to have an AMAZING skincare routine using non-toxic products to support the natural function of the skin. This should ideally include pH balanced products which rejuvenate and restore whilst protecting the skin against UV and free radical damage.
DIET & NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT TO FEED THE SKIN AND SUPPORT THE ADRENAL GLANDS
We need to support our bodies with a healthy, nutritious diet low in simple carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine which will reduce the pressure on our overworked adrenal glands. We can also support the adrenal glands with a diet rich in vitamins B5, B6 and B12, vitamin C and Magnesium with probiotics to support gut health and inflammation. Targeted nutritional supplements can be introduced where required.
PRACTICE SELF CARE AND MINDFULNESS TO REDUCE STRESS
Of course, we also need to reduce our stress levels. This is much, much easier said than done — trust me, I know first hand! But it is so important to take a little time for you! How? I hear you scream!!
Well, one of my friends summed it up perfectly
“Put on your own oxygen mask first! Practice SELFCARE and then let others in your life benefit from the overflow”
This is now a complete non-negotiable in my mind – it was completely new to me too – and it should be a non-negotiable in your mind too! Your time is so precious!
So whilst YES! I am busy, I am stressed and I am tired. I am running a house and a business and homeschooling the kids…and YES! It is bloody hard work! I have accepted just how important MY time is and I have realised that by looking after ME is the best way to make my kids lives healthier!
My 7 Positive Actions to reduce Stress
- Spend 5 minutes to reflect on the positives in your day and journal them.
- Try a short 15 minute meditation – find one you like on the internet.
- Have a go at ‘Wimhof’ breathing or something else you have never tried.
- Enjoy some time outdoors in nature on a walk or a run
- Switch off your electronic equipment for a time before bed
- Spend some time with your family and friends reconnecting
- Get a good night’s sleep!