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5 ways stress affects your skin.

30th March 2023

Stress is a natural part of life, and we all experience it at some point. Stress can affect us in various ways, whether work-related pressure, relationship issues, financial worries, or health concerns. One of the most commonly overlooked impacts of stress is its effect on our skin. 

When we're stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol, a hormone that triggers the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to a range of skin problems. 

Let's look at how the skin can respond to stress and keep scrolling for five easy lifestyle tips often overlooked daily to manage stress.

  1. Breakouts: Stress can trigger the production of the hormone cortisol, which in turn can stimulate the skin's sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This excess oil can clog pores and lead to breakouts, making stress a common culprit for acne-prone skin.
  2. Dullness: Chronic stress can affect the skin's ability to regenerate and repair itself, resulting in a dull, lacklustre complexion. This can be caused by decreased blood flow to the skin and a buildup of dead skin cells.
  3. Fine lines and wrinkles: Cortisol can also break down collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep skin firm and elastic. Over time, this can lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, which can be exacerbated by stress.
  4. Sensitivity: Stress can weaken the skin's barrier function, making it more susceptible to environmental irritants and allergens. This can result in redness, itching, and inflammation, particularly for those with sensitive skin.
  5. Delayed healing: Stress can also slow down the skin's healing process, making it more difficult for wounds, scars, and other blemishes to heal properly. This can be due to decreased blood flow to the affected area and a weakened immune system response.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands involved in the body's stress response. When cortisol levels are elevated over a prolonged period, it can negatively affect your health and well-being. Here are five lifestyle changes you can make to help lower cortisol levels:

  1. Practice stress-reducing techniques: Stress is a major factor in elevating cortisol levels. Stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or tai chi can help lower cortisol levels and promote a sense of calm.
  2. Exercise regularly: Exercise is an effective way to lower cortisol levels, as it helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
  3. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels, so getting enough restful sleep each night is essential. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and establish a regular sleep schedule to help regulate your body's cortisol levels.
  4. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help to lower cortisol levels. Avoid processed and sugary foods, which can increase cortisol levels and contribute to inflammation.
  5. Spend time outdoors: Spending time outdoors and getting natural sunlight can help to lower cortisol levels and promote relaxation. Try to spend at least 15-20 minutes outside each day, and consider taking a walk in nature to help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels.

Onwards and upwards with lower stress levels and healthier skin!