Stress can really take its toll on your skin. It’s all due to the cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone, that your body releases during times of stress.
This causes a number of changes in your body, including several in your skin, such as:
- Dry or oily skin, due to cortisol interfering with your body’s production of hyaluronic acid
- Premature aging in the form of wrinkles, fine lines and loose skin, due to cortisol damaging collagen and elastin
- A dull and sallow complexion, due to a decrease in blood flow to the skin
- Puffy eyes and dark circles, due to stress and cortisol interfering with sleep quality
- An exacerbation in chronic skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea
As you can see, stress is something that you really need to limit if you are trying to achieve a flawless and youthful complexion.
Wondering how you can manage your stress?
Here are a few tips on how to stay centered and calm, not only for the sake of your skin, but also the rest of your body.
While many may doubt the power that meditation can have, meditating really does calm the brain and the body, to the extent where the brain’s EEG activity decreases during meditation.
Here are just a few of the other benefits that regular meditation can bring:
- Increases blood flow to the brain
- Less sleep is needed in order for your body to thrive
- Boosts focus, concentration and energy
- Increases the amount of gray matter in the brain, which is responsible for everything from muscle control to memory to speech
When it comes to all the cortisol in your body from stress, meditation lowers these levels too, meaning that it can really help you to be centered.
Never meditated before?
The prospect of starting can be daunting, but meditation is something that is so easy to do, and only requires a few minutes of your time each day.
Begin by finding a comfortable place to sit. A chair will work fine, although if you find yourself slumping, which would then cause you to lose some focus, a meditation cushion or bench may be a worthwhile investment.
Make sure that you sit with your back straight, keeping your eyes either open or closed.
It can help to set a timer on your phone before starting, especially when you are new to meditating, as this will help with the temptation to keep checking the time to see how long you have been meditating for.
Wondering how long to set your timer for?
Five minutes is a good place to start. It is far better to meditate for five minutes each day than for a longer period of time once a week. As you become more accustomed to meditation, you can then increase the time you spend doing this each day.
Meditation is all about concentrating on your breath, and you should be using your nose rather than your mouth to breathe as naturally as possible. Focus on how the air feels as it enters and exits your nose, as well as the sensation of it filling up your lungs.
Does your mind keep wandering?
This is extremely common, especially when you are first starting out. Each time you find yourself thinking about something else, gently bring your attention back to your breath, and keep doing this until your timer has gone off.
Set Aside Some “Me Time”
Do you set aside some time each day just for yourself?
For many of you, the answer will be no.
You are probably thinking…
I’m pretty much busy every minute of every day, how am I meant to set aside some extra time?
Well, chances are that, if you really tried, you would be able to squeeze out ten minutes for yourself each day.
Wondering why “me time” is so important?
Because taking this time for yourself will help you to feel happier, more energized, less stressed and generally healthier. People who don’t do this will find themselves feeling rushed, exhausted and depleted much more often than those who have regular “me time” each day.
Now that you have decided to set aside some time for yourself each day, you are probably wondering what you should actually spend this time doing.
The answer is…
Anything that makes you genuinely happy, and that takes you away from the stresses of the day.
Here are a few ideas:
- Go for a walk
- Treat yourself to a restaurant meal
- Explore somewhere new
- Treat yourself to a shopping trip
- Sign up for a class, whether this may sports, arts or anything else
- Enjoy a warm bubble bath
- Read a good book
- Cook up some new recipes
If any of those ideas on that list particularly appeals to you, then that would be a great place to start.
Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance
These days, people are experiencing quite the increase in working hours. The fact that technology enables them to stay constantly connected also does not help.
Research has shown that working these longer hours not only leads to stress, but also to depression, anxiety, irritability and unhappiness. In addition to all of this, longer working hours really takes its toll on a person’s home life, and can often be a catalyst when it comes to relationship problems, whether this may be with family or friends.
The best way to counter all of this is to establish a healthy work-life balance.
Of course, this is far easier said than done, and will really require some dedication on your part in order to achieve.
Need some help getting started?
Here are a few tips:
- Learn how to say no – if you usually say yes without really thinking about it, take your time the next time you are asked to do something. If it does not work for you, don’t be afraid to say no
- Stop checking emails after a certain time – when work emails keep popping up on your phone through the night, it can be hard to ignore them. Whether you turn off email notifications once you get home, or simply put your phone away, try to save your emails for your actual working hours
- Know your best hours – if you’re a morning person, save the high-concentration tasks for this time of the day, as you will get them done much faster
- Learn how to prioritize – no matter how long your to-do list may be, learning how to prioritize your tasks for the day can really help with stress
At the start, you may find it difficult to switch off and leave your work at work. However, keep at it, because once you have established a healthier work-life routine, you will definitely find yourself much happier and calmer.
Force Yourself to Be Present
Living in the present is a phrase that you have likely heard quite a few times, but do you know what it actually means?
Being present means giving all of your attention to the task or moment at hand, rather than allowing your mind to wander, or trying to do multiple things at once.
How exactly do you do this?
Begin by accepting the fact that the human brain can only really concentrate on one thing at a time.
You might be thinking…
But I multitask all the time!
Well, this isn’t strictly true…
You may think that you are multitasking, but what your brain is actually doing is quickly switching from one task to the next, and then back again.
Now, have a think about the following:
- Are you waiting for something to happen in your life, whether this may be an opportunity, a specific moment or anything else?
- Are you waiting to be able to have more time in your life, or even more money?
If your answers are yes to either of those questions, then that means that you aren’t really living in the present.
Of course, it’s impossible to completely live in the present 24 hours a day, but once you start really paying attention to all that is around you, rather than thinking of other things, you will find living in the present becomes much easier each day.
Cut Out Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships can really cause so much stress, and take you away from remaining centered and happy.
How do you know if a person or a relationship is toxic?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does that person try to control you?
- Does that person disrespect your boundaries?
- Does that person take without giving?
- Is that person often dishonest?
- Does that person always insist that they are right?
- Does that person always make themselves out to be the victim?
If your answers are yes to more than one of those questions, then chances are that the person you are thinking about is someone whom you have quite a toxic relationship with.
Of course, everyone has a different threshold when it comes to dealing with toxic relationships, and it can sometimes be hard to acknowledge when a relationship has turned toxic.
However, it is important to take stock of your relationships and make sure that they are all healthy and positive, otherwise this can be quite the drain on your life.
Do you have a toxic relationship with someone that you simply cannot cut out of your life?
The solution here is to create some distance between the two of you. Once you stop spending as much time with a toxic person, you will immediately find your happiness levels rising, and your stress levels dropping.
Watch What You Eat
Did you know that the food you eat can have a huge impact on your state of mind?
If you often find yourself feeling stressed and anxious, there are quite a few foods out there that could help with this.
Sound too good to be true?
Well, certain foods help to boost your levels of serotonin, which is the chemical that keeps your brain feeling calm. Other foods can also directly reduce the levels of cortisol flowing through your body, as well as adrenaline, and therefore help to keep you calm and centered.
Want to know which foods are best for fighting stress?
Try eating more of the following:
- Complex carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates stimulate the brain into producing more serotonin, and also help you to feel centered by keeping your blood sugar levels stable
- Oranges and berries – these fruits are high in vitamin C, which reduces cortisol levels, as well as blood pressure, while boosting the immune system
- Spinach – just one cup of spinach gives you all the magnesium you need for the day, which can really help to tackle stress. Salmon or soybeans are also fantastic alternatives as a magnesium source
- Fatty fish – from mackerel to sardines, fatty fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which minimizes the amount of cortisol released while also protecting against depression, PMS and heart disease
- Black tea and green tea – both of these teas have fantastic benefits, including helping you recover from a stressful situation much quicker than you otherwise would have, thanks to the way in which it lowers cortisol levels
- Nuts – packed with vitamins and fatty acids that will help you to deal with stressful situations better. Try to consume a quarter cup of nuts a day
If you have been using a myriad of skin care products on your skin, but are still not noticing many improvements, the problem could lie with your mental state. By keeping yourself calm, focussed and centered, and taking steps to reduce the amount of stress that you experience, your skin will really thank you for this, and it will not be long before it takes on that healthy and happy glow you have been seeking.