How Anxiety Affects Your Skin - And What Can You Do About It
“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”
- Roald Dahl
With all of the struggles that have faced us this year, many of us are naturally feeling anxious and stressed…and while we all know that these have a negative impact on our mental health, few people realize it can also affect our skin’s health.
Dr Ahmed from Vogue says, “Feelings of emotional distress lead to the release of a stress hormone (cortisol) which delays healing, disrupts the skin’s natural barrier and affects the immune system, making it less able to defend itself.”
Our appearance and how we feel are directly linked; when we look good, we feel good, and vice versa. Anxiety triggers the ‘stress response’ which in turn aggravates skin conditions including eczema, acne, psoriasis, urticaria, and rosacea, and these can in turn make us feel more anxious.
Furthermore, when we’re stressed, we tend to express our emotions facially, such as by ‘furrowing’ our brow, which makes facial lines and wrinkles more prominent.
So, how can we break the ‘anxiety cycle’?
1. Make your home somewhere where you actually enjoy spending time.
Create a positive environment by keeping favourite candles, scents, music and colours close by. You will feel more satisfied and experience improved mental health if your surrounding conditions are well managed. Having a relaxing home environment is hugely important, especially now when we’re spending so much time in it.
2. Try to get more sleep.
Set yourself some ‘downtime’ before bedtime; avoid screens during this period, and find some way of relaxing your mind, such as by getting lost in a good book or having a warm drink. You need to sleep at least eight hours a night to allow your skin the time to repair itself and to be energised the next day.
3. Banish negative influences.
This one is especially difficult to do, but sometimes you need to put yourself first, especially if it affects your mental health. Negative influences can be anything from your work environment, to toxic friends or family members; so, if you start to notice that something in your life is emotionally draining or making you feel low about yourself, begin the process of removing it.
4. Stay positive and work on self-dialogue.
Studies have shown that if you recite to yourself 10 things you are grateful every day, you will have a more positive outlook on life. So, try to keep a positive ‘mantra’ to recite to yourself each day, especially at times when you are feeling low. Think about what you’re thankful for daily and remind yourself of them periodically. Enjoy each day, because they’re too short and there’s too few of them to be filled with negativity.
5. Stay hydrated.
Stress leads to lower levels of electrolytes, which results in fatigue and headaches. Try to replenish these by drinking at least two-and-a-half litres of fluids a day to prevent more stressors and to reduce the effects of dehydration on the skin.
6. Make exercise a priority.
In simple terms, stress is a biological function that readies the body for a ‘fight or flight’ response, i.e., stress prepares our body for extraneous activity. That’s why exercise is a great stress-reliever and improves your mental wellbeing. Furthermore, spending time outdoors in nature helps to put your mind at ease, and to relax. So, figure out how you can make exercising work for you; whether that be hastily buying a bike for some outdoor cycling, going for runs in your nearest parks, or just committing to a daily walk outside to get some fresh air – it is important for your general wellbeing that you don’t stay locked up during the whole of lockdown!
7. Have something positive to look forward to.
There is no better way to have a more positive outlook on life than to make the most out of life. Try to ensure that you’ve always got something planned in the near future which excites you, or that you can work towards, whether that be something small - like the prospect of picking up a fresh cinnamon bun on a Sunday morning - or something bigger - like unwrapping your presents on a family Zoom session Christmas morning. Whatever you choose, it just needs to be something that makes you feel good, keeps up your motivation to get out of bed each morning, and give you something joyful to think about when life gets you down. We understand that with lockdown, your plans may be limited, so, for the time being, find joy in the little things and plan what you will do when this is all over.
8. Limit scrolling time.
Not only is an increase in ‘screen time’ linked with lack of sleep, it also directly affects our mental health. It’s easy to feel low when you’re constantly scrolling through social media; it’s filled with perfectly falsified photographs of seemingly perfect people, it constantly overloads us with bad news, and makes it easier for you to be targeted by negative influences. We’re not suggesting that you completely avoid internet and social media – especially as it’s a great way to pass the time during lockdown - but it is worth having a think about how you can use the internet more mindfully. Reflect on how you feel after scrolling certain sites and work out if all this time is actually bettering your life or just making you feel worse.
9. Don’t forget your diet.
The interaction between the gut, mind and skin should not be forgotten when assessing mental and skin health. The natural balance of the gut can be skewed by your lifestyle and stress, and these can in turn promote inflammation which is implicated in skin conditions. Take some time to consider if your diet is working well for your body, incorporate some healthy choices and consider a probiotic supplement. We appreciate that this may be difficult in the current situation, as many of us are guilty of finding comfort in food; so try to satisfy your cravings with healthier options or alternatives to your favourite snacks.
10. Invest in a facial tool.
Now is the time to try our Rose Quartz Facial Massage Tools and see how well it can relax you and put your mind at ease. Massage helps decrease stress by increasing the temperature of the soft tissues, increasing ‘feel good’ hormones, and reducing the production of stress hormones. Cult51 Rose Quartz Facial Roller is a great way to massage yourself, and receive all the benefits of massage, while also aiding in lymphatic drainage to reveal a fresher, more energised complexion, and to boost collagen production.
11. Take time to socialise.
Sometimes all we need is the comfort that only a loved one can provide. Maintaining relations is really important for our mental health, as feeling loved is vital for happiness, and having someone to go to when you’re down is a huge consolation. So even though socialising may seem impossible right now, try and make sure to schedule in a weekly phone call with your family or friends, and plan for when you can next see each other.
The less we can stress, the better our skin will be…and that’s just one less thing to be stressed about.