The Hidden Link Between Stress and Acne

 

So many people suffer from acne that just never seems to go away. They eat a seemingly perfect diet, are meticulous with their skincare, and drink gallons of water. So what is holding them back? For many, it’s the toxicity of chronic stress.

 

What is stress?

For many, stress is simply a feeling of pressure or overwhelm. However, stress is more than this.

Stress, in relation to biology, is defined as the body’s response to a stressor of any kind. It responds to this stress by activating a branch of the nervous system known as the sympathetic nervous system.

 

Why is this specific definition important? It means that work and family are not the only things that add to your stress. Noise, pollution, chemicals and more can add up to a chronic stress load that the body is unable to deal with.

 

How does stress impact the body?

When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it has a number of short term impacts, including rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing and a change in how blood is distributed throughout the body.

 

However, it’s the long term stress impacts that become a real issue. Chronic stress can lead to an impaired immune system, an imbalance of stress hormones, and resulting sex hormone issues.

 

It also has the potential to drain many essential nutrients, including B vitamins, sodium and zinc, and cause low-grade inflammation.

 

How does stress impact the skin?

All of the impacts of stress on the body can in turn lead to skin issues, particularly acne:

  • The reduction of immune function can leave you more prone to infections, and encourages the bacteria associated with acne flare-ups.
  • The imbalance of stress hormones will throw out the delicate balance of the sex hormones, affecting the production of sebum and inflammation levels.
  • The deficiency of vital skin nutrients means that the skin is unable to heal itself efficiently, leaving it prone to injury and infection.
  • Ongoing inflammation will cause further flare-ups, as well as using up even more of the essential nutrients and antioxidants needed for healthy skin.

Stress, in all its forms, can play a big role in acne. This is why many people struggle to control their acne flare-ups and heal their skin effectively.

How to manage the effects of stress

Although stress can be toxic for the body and the skin, there are ways to manage it. Research supports several interventions for reducing the impact of stress on the body.

 

Meditation

Dozens of research papers have shown the benefits of meditation for calming the nervous system. It can also be a great addition if you’re managing anxiety, depression or pain.

 

Meditation doesn’t have to be hard – simply start by downloading a guided meditation app, and practice a few times a week. It might feel difficult at first, but the more you practice, the greater the benefits.

 

Yoga

Yoga isn’t just for health nuts and hard-core yogis. In fact, pretty much everyone can practice some form of yoga! And everyone should – it can greatly reduce your stress levels, thanks to a combination of breathing, gentle movement and awareness.

 

You can practice at home with some YouTube videos, or attend a class at your local gym. Try to add it in 2-3 times per week as a minimum. You’ll feel more relaxed in no time.

 

Gratitude

Sometimes, stress relief is as easy as focusing on what we do have and being grateful for it. Research shows that practicing gratitude can be an excellent way to relieve stress and offer a new perspective.

 

How you choose to practice gratitude is less important than consistently practicing it. Some people choose to journal, others use apps on their phones, and some simply speak it out loud. You can do it as a list, or simply offer up a silent thanks when something good happens. Try to incorporate some sort of daily practice for best results.

 

Music

Music can have a big impact on how we feel. An upbeat song can energize, and a sad song can help us cope with grief. But did you know music can relieve stress?

 

Research shows that music can play a big role in relieving stress naturally. Want to give it a go? Check out the song that was designed for optimal relaxation – but make sure you’re not driving while listening!

 

Remember, a happy hormonal system is the key to happier skin. Why not try to incorporate some of these tips today?

 

References

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/140/1/256/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/development-and-psychopathology/article/div-classtitlebeyond-allostatic-load-rethinking-the-role-of-stress-in-regulating-human-developmentdiv/C70450852E890ECD7D22A6CC12D536E9

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.47.1.113

http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2004-15935-004

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754?e2token=SEN1cmNpb0BhYXJwLm9yZw==?cmp=MIV-SSMEMPG-LINK-20150316

https://bpsmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1751-0759-8-1

http://josotl.indiana.edu/article/view/19998