Show me your skin, and I'll tell you how you are.

It’s a vicious cycle: Stress aggravates skin conditions, but once they are apparent, these skin conditions in return cause stress.  The more stress, the harder it is to cover eczema, rashes, psoriasis, acne or even just unattractive bumps and pimples.

From a personal point of view, a very powerful lesson on my own skin was my month-long ashram stay a while back.  I arrived with irritable, itchy skin, which was both dry but also full of pimples.  At the ashram – and with no mirrors in sight – I completely let go of my previous tightly structured routine, which I had become somewhat addicted to (something I realized in hindsight). I washed with water, and applied a simple moisturizer.  No makeup, nothing.  I let the skin breathe, did my daily yoga practice, including meditation, and left with beautifully glowing skin after one month.  So what had happened?  Proof that our skin and our emotional states are closely connected!

"There is clinical evidence that stress affects skin integrity – furthermore, chronic psychological stress can cause DNA damage, and therefore contribute to skin aging and a decline in epidermal permeability; all skin disorders can be exacerbated by stress."*

A multitude of factors are at work at any given time, and the following are a few examples of the stress/skin connection.

  • Stress hormones affect the flow of blood to your skin
  • Severe, sudden stress can lead to hair loss and an irritable scalp
  • Stress has a negative impact on the immune system, making you more susceptible to conditions such as hives
  • Stress can aggravate inflammation and therefore rosacea, an inflammatory condition
  • Dormant conditions, such as herpes, can flare up during stressful periods because the body is too run down to keep it at bay
  • Stress can cause “skin picking” in some people, which can lead to infections and bacteria transferred to the face from the hands – often causing pimples or other impurities to appear

While it is impossible to avoid stress, how can we help manage our reaction to the stressors in our lives, and in turn impact our body's largest organ? 

1. Get out of the house.

2. Catch some fresh air and some exercise.

3. Get enough sleep at night and find some work-life balance.

4. Draw awareness to the places in your body that you hold stress - particularly in your face. Unfurl your brow and relax the tightness in your jaw.  Be sure to check out our previous blog: 5 Yoga Tricks to Soften Facial Lines.

5. It's easy to grab fast, sugary food that might not be very healthy. Be sure to bulk up on your leafy greens and fruits, and drink. For more on how sugar can impact your skin go HERE.  

5. Be selective about what you put on your skin – clean products without any nasties (which can aggravate conditions) are the way to go!

So go on now, take three long deep breaths and let it go!

 

*Source: Journal of Dermatological Science, Vol 85, Issue 3, March 2017, Jean Krutmann M.D. et al., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdermsci.2016.09.015
Photo courtesy: Burst - Matthew Henry

 

By: Andrea Leber

Andrea is a travel & wellness journalist and yoga guide publisher with 15+ years experience in the publishing industry.  Having lived in 6 countries on 3 continents, she currently enjoys life in Australia and soaks up inspiring ideas in India.  On her website andrealeber.com you’ll find stories that inspire and empower you to live, not just exist.  Follow Andrea on Google+, send her a Tweet @AndreaLeber or download your free 50+ page ‘Best of Yoga’ guide to Melbourne here: http://andrealeber.com/bestofyoga