How Do Stress & Tension Affect Your Skin?

Zalina Wälchli

Stress could happen to everyone, but since we can't avoid our jobs, bills, or life, the best thing to do is learn how to manage our stress.

Stress, in addition to being bad for your health, did you know that stress is also bad for your skin? Experts report that almost 50 percent of the patients they treat have skin issues directly related to stress. In addition to making you feel overwhelmed and frantic, the neurological and hormonal effects of stress wreak havoc on your skin.

Let's explain it more: Stress would trigger a surge of adrenaline, leading to a "fight-or-flight response." Inducing adrenaline surges that can cause acne, dullness, and wrinkles.

Let's break it down here for you:

Sustained stress causes excess adrenaline, leading to abnormal cortisol elevations, which are produced by the adrenal glands. Adrenaline is both a hormone called norepinephrine and a neurotransmitter.

As a neurotransmitter, adrenaline creates hyperactivity in the brain. At the same time, as a hormone, it goes into our bloodstream and affects all organs—including our skin. Also, cortisol, which is referred to as the "stress hormone," causes damage to many systems and organs, including your immune system, and can cause high blood pressure and ulcers. 

So, stress is a full-body physiological phenomenon. Our skin is an innocent bystander that gets cleaned up into the conflict!

6 Things That Happen To Your Skin Because Of Stress

1. Acne

Both adrenaline and cortisol affect our skin's oil production. When those levels are raised, our glands start to produce more oil, and stress changes the chemistry of that oil—it becomes heavier and thicker. Instead of flowing like it should be, with the consistency of the regular oil, stress transforms the skin's oil to a texture closer to Crisco oil thickness. 

As a result, our skin pores get clogged, blocked and blackheads form; from there, pimples, cysts and even back acne arise.

2. Dullness

It starts when stress triggers the fight or the flight response when the body immediately reroutes more circulation to the essential organs like the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. It makes sure the essential organs are equipped to resist stress. Unfortunately, that new rationing of blood flow comes at the expense of your skin, including your face, which gets less circulation, resulting in less oxygen supply. 

When your skin is deprived of nourishment, it looks tired and dull, losing moisture, softness and luminosity. It stops producing regenerating cells, which could lead to pigmentation and uneven skin tone.

3. Wrinkles

Stress causes your muscles to tense, making sense if you had to run or fight for your life. Cortisol triggers an increase in blood sugar, which—via a process called glycation—damages elastin and collagen, the protein fibers that fill, plump your skin and keep it smooth. Sustained muscle tension also leads to permanent wrinkling.

Back to the muscle tense, stress causes those muscles in your face to tense and stiff, causing your facial skin attached to those muscles to be pulled and wrinkled. This persistent movement causes wear-and-tear-producing lines, wrinkles and creases on the face over time.
4. Redness

The elevation in blood flow that occurs when you're under stress may cause capillaries to expand. Stress also stimulates and triggers flushing, known as rosacea, according to the National Rosacea Society. And because stress exhaust and weakens your immune system, flare-ups may last longer.

5. Dryness

Sustained stress increases the hormone cortisol, which damages the skin's ability to hold on to water, which results in moisture loss that diminishes luminosity.

We often drink less water when stressed. Did you notice this before? We also end up having endless cups of tea or coffee. All of this dehydrates your body, and our skin becomes dry and flaky.

Fortunately, we have access to all kinds of remedies. When it comes to managing your stress, anything you do for your skin—from daily moisturizing to exfoliating—is going to help prevent these effects of stress. 

Top Tips to Keep Your Skin (&Your Mind) Stress-Free

There are some steps you can take to ease the effects of stress on your skin:

1. Maintain a good skincare routine every day, even on days when you feel too tired. Ingredients like the ones derived from frangipani, orchid and calendula contain skin soothing properties.

Powerful anti-oxidants which can stimulate and activate skin metabolism, reduce acne inflammation, eliminate dead cells, elevate your mood, minimize the appearance of fine lines, improve elasticity, and bounce. 

2. Exercise regularly: Exercise releases feel-good hormones that will improve your mood, energy, and outlook.
3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with whole foods and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Sugar-laden and processed foods trigger more inflammation inside your body.

4. Get enough sleep: Good sleep gives your body the time it needs to recover, rest and heal, and good sleep enhances your mood, energy levels, and cognition. Since stress can decrease your ability to get restful and abundant rapid eye movement sleep, cut off caffeine after 4 pm. Please do not view any electronic devices before bed. It is a bad habit, and you certainly need to get rid of it!

5. Take time for yourself: Find the time to engage in a relaxing, re-energizing activity that makes you happy – take a warm bath, read a book, get a massage, listen to music, meditate, practice yoga or deep breathing exercises technique.

Most importantly, we encourage you to talk to someone if stress negatively impacts your health and well-being. Confide with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or spiritual counsellor. When you just know you have someone by your side can help you feel stronger in your capability to handle and manage stress.

Final Thought

Next time you feel anxious and stressed, slow down and center yourself. By controlling your fight or flight response—and using a high-quality product to treat your complexion—your overall health will boost, and your skin will look as healthy, fresh, and relaxed as you feel!

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Yours in health and happiness,
Zalina Wälchli
Founder & CEO
Award-Winner Health Beauty & Wellness Expert

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