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Most of us haven’t been raised with the tools for managing stress, but that doesn’t mean we can’t acquire those tools. Feeling anxious, being under constant pressure and experiencing daily stress will directly impact one’s hair and skin, but also our overall sense of well being and health. In this article we’ll explore the ways in which stress directly impacts skin and hair, and methods for managing our stress levels, so we can each live with a little more balance, tranquility and, yup, beauty.
How Stress Affects Skin
Stress is not only an emotional and cerebral experience, but it is also a very physical sensation. Stress releases hormones, specifically adrenaline and cortisol, whose activities will show up on your skin. The longer we feel stressed, the worse off our skin will be. That’s because cortisol will cause the skin to produce excess oil, which clogs pores. And, as we all know, clogged pores lead to breakouts.
Not only that, but the immune system and therefore the skin will experience inflammation. This inflammation makes it harder for the skin to heal, and can create flare ups for those who have skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.
Stress will also reduce the production of collagen, and other skin proteins responsible for the skin’s elasticity. That means we may end up with more dull looking skin and wrinkles.
While this may seem like a cause for concern, we want you to have the facts as a source of encouragement for shedding stressful situations from your life where possible.
How Skin Affects hair
A weakened immune system, or an inflamed immune system prevents necessary nutrients from making their way up to your scalp, roots and hair. This can leave you hair feeling dry and appearing lackluster. It can also lead to other scalp conditions like dandruff or dry scalp, because the scalp is missing those essential nutrients.
Furthermore, the lack of nutrients will cause the hair to break more easily, which can lead to hair loss, frizz and split ends. If only it ended there. Apparently cortisol can trigger hair loss too. We wish it didn’t have to go there, but it’s unfortunately the truth.
Methods for Managing that Stress
Before you get all nervous and worked up, let’s figure out ways where we can reduce stress in our lives.
Tips for Managing Stress:
Think about how your body reacts to stress. We all react to stress differently. Imagine yourself under stress, and think about all those sensations. This way, the next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious you can be aware and know it’s time to dip into the tools you have for managing that stress.
There may be certain people, situations, apps, obligations which make you feel stressed. In some cases you can reduce your exposure to those triggers. In other cases you can prepare yourself in advance, knowing meeting that person, or starting a new project is something that usually makes you feel stressed, but you can prepare yourself.
Know that you will not eliminate stress from your life through awareness alone. But what you can do is slowly teach yourself how to identify and manage your stress, and recognize and celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Unlearning is a slow process, but you can do this.
First and foremost we should all be taking the time to breathe deeply. Deep breathing has incredible benefits for our mental and physical health. Ground yourself and take a few deep breaths before, during and after a stressful situation. You're signaling to your brain that you are not in danger, plus, let’s not forget about all that delicious oxygen you're providing to your entire system.
As silly as it might seem to you, there’s nothing more therapeutic than writing. Write out what makes you feel stressed, why it makes you feel stressed and how you would ideally like to handle the situation. Releasing all that worry will help you see things more clearly, outside of your own mind. You can write on your phone, computer, or with a pen and paper, but please do write it out.
Let’s not underestimate the power of community. There is someone who loves and cares about you and wants to help you. Talk it out with a friend, family member or professional. And if you don’t have a therapist, but intuitively feel you should seek one out, then please, do yourself a favor and find yourself a therapist who you feel you can connect with. You’d be surprised at the wisdom others may have and even the wisdom that exists within you!