Sometimes, it can be hard to know for sure if you’re feeling anxious or stressed - people experience these differently. Anxiety is generally recognised as the response we have to environments that make us feel uneasy, worried or fearful, while stress is generally how we react to pressure or threatening situations. What you might not know is that our responses to stress and anxiety can also affect our skin.
How Does Anxiety Affect Our Skin?
Your skin does not directly respond to anxiety and stress, though there are a number of ways that our bodies can respond, which has a knock-on effect on the appearance and overall health of our skin. One of the most common responses to anxiety and stress is an increase in cortisol levels.
An Increase in Cortisol Levels
Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is produced at higher levels when we are experiencing feelings of anxiety or stress, with low levels of cortisol produced when we are feeling relaxed and calm. An increase in cortisol levels can increase the skin’s oil production, which results in clogged pores, bacteria build-up and skin concerns such as:
- Acne breakouts.
- Red, dry and itchy skin.
Stress and anxiety have also been linked to other skin concerns, including:
The Link Between Skin Concerns and Anxiety
We’ve shown you how anxiety and stress can contribute to and even cause skin concerns, but it can actually go both ways. There’s no denying that there is a connection between the brain and the skin, which was highlighted in a 2006 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. So, it’s no surprise that the appearance of skin concerns, no matter what has caused them, can result in higher levels of psychological stress.
This one is a little easier to explain though, because it’s normal for people to feel self-conscious as a result of skin concerns, conditions or flare-ups.
When you’re self-conscious about your appearance, your confidence, self-image and self-esteem can all take a hit. These things can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can then lead to poor mental health. While poor mental health can exacerbate skin concerns and conditions, we don’t just want to focus on the negatives.
Thankfully, there are ways you can be proactive about addressing skin concerns and conditions. When you suspect a flare-up may be caused by feeling more anxious or stressed than usual, you can start there.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
There are so many contributors to increased levels of stress and anxiety, even in our common environments such as home and work (not to mention the entire world being subject to a global pandemic). While these might not work for everybody, some of the most common ways people can reduce the feelings associated with stress and anxiety include:
- Join a gym or get active at home to increase your level of physical activity.
- Focusing on your breathing (this could even include trying meditation methods).
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet.
- Give yourself time for some self-care (we’ll talk more about this later).
- Do more of the things you love and try increasing the time you spend on your hobbies.
- See a psychologist or catch-up with friends and family more often to talk through any problems.
Many situations can cause stress and anxiety. While one isolated incident or a bad day at work is not likely to cause a breakout that may take some time to clear up, not removing yourself from environments that consistently stress you out or make you anxious can be hard on your mental health and your skin. That’s why it’s important to do the things that make you feel good and help you look after yourself - and that’s where we get into self-care.
Give Yourself Time to Focus on Self-Care
We all have different ways of ensuring we feel our best before tackling a day or week ahead, which is why our final suggestion is to give yourself time to focus on self-care. Do things that help you to nurture your mental, emotional and physical health.
Giving yourself time to do the things that help you feel your best, or even just calm and relaxed, will give your body (and therefore, skin) the boost it needs to look and feel its best! Some might like to watch their comfort shows, some might like to venture out into nature and some might like to dive into their skincare routine. We know we didn’t cover all bases when it comes to self-care, but we just love talking all things skincare and couldn’t resist.
Why Skincare is for Self-Care
If spending a night pampering your skin is your idea of self-care, we’re in the same boat. Whether you’re applying creams to treat acne (or another specific skin concern) after a stressful couple of weeks, or you’re sticking to the usual routine, skincare is a great way to nurture your mental, emotional and physical health - all at the same time!
Even if you haven’t thought of skincare as one with self-care, you’re looking to target a specific concern, or you’re just looking to change up your routine, add The Secret to your skincare journey. If you have any questions or you’d like to find out more, feel free to contact us online.