The Link Between Stress and Skin: 6 Ways Your Emotions Can Affect Your Complexion

Posted by Victoria Sorrell on

The Link Between Stress and Skin: 6 Ways Your Emotions Can Affect Your Complexion

You know that stress is bad for your health and wellbeing, but did you know that it’s also one of the main causes of breakouts and even wrinkles? Although our skin doesn’t have any blood vessels or nerves, it’s still connected to the rest of our body via the sympathetic nervous system, which responds to stress and anxiety by releasing hormones like cortisol that can clog pores, make you break out and cause premature aging of the skin. These six tips will help you know more about stress affects your skin so you can improve your skin health and prevent wrinkles from prematurely forming.

1) Stress inhibits sleep

When you’re stressed, your body is flooded with adrenaline, which helps keep you awake. But over time, sleep becomes a casualty—and staying up too late at night disrupts your body’s natural production of melatonin, an essential hormone that has been linked to skin cell regeneration. So when you don’t get enough rest (which is inevitable when you're stressed out), your skin starts producing more melanin in an effort to protect itself from UV rays. That added pigment gives your skin a darker appearance—especially if you have light-coloured hair or eyes—which can lead to dark circles under your eyes and blotchy complexions.

2) Unexpressed emotions are carried through the body

It’s an old-school theory that you should let it all out, not keep it 'bottled up.' It turns out that our physical bodies carry unexpressed emotions that cause us to hold tension in certain places. You know you crinkle your eyebrows when you're stressed. And here’s where things get interesting: When we remain stressed (angry, sad or anxious) for long periods of time, negative feelings are stored in our cells and our muscles stay in the tensed state. 

3) A healthy diet supports anti-aging

Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel or sardines) is rich in Omega-3 acids, a type of fatty acid that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. This could help reduce skin inflammation and redness, which contributes to acne, eczema and other skin conditions. Leafy greens are also known for their antioxidant properties which can help improve your skin’s elasticity—which may mean less wrinkles!

4) It takes time to heal

When you’re stressed, your body goes into a state of alert. Cortisol (the stress hormone) is released, and that prompts your immune system to boost production of white blood cells. So far, so good—but too much cortisol leads to inflammation. And when inflammation is prolonged or ongoing, it affects all of your organs—including your skin. The result? Acne breakouts that don’t clear up as quickly as they normally would (meaning weeks instead of days).

5) Digestive issues can be affected

When we’re under a lot of stress, our bodies don’t digest food as well as it should. This can sometimes lead to an upset stomach or indigestion. Luckily, simple changes can help keep your digestive system healthy so that you look and feel great.

6) To reduce face wrinkles, learn to manage stress

It’s been proven that as you get older, your skin loses elasticity. But new research reveals that something else may be causing those wrinkles—and it has nothing to do with gravity. According to a study conducted by psychologists at Ohio State University, women who experienced greater amounts of stress had more wrinkles on their faces (including around their eyes) than women who reported less stress in their lives. The findings are likely due to increased production of cortisol during times of high stress, says lead author Sarah Moore.

Here is a great, quick meditation to listen to and hopefully it will help you relax.


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