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Impact of stress on your skin and how to manage it

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HOW STRESS IMPACTS SKIN 

Increased production of cortisol during stressed times results in increased availability of glucose to facilitate the fight-or-flight response. More glucose means more insulin is released, and eventually, the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) gets out of sync. This causes us to develop abnormalities in our natural cortisol daily rhythm and an insensitivity to insulin, which leads to elevated glucose wreaking havoc on the body. There is also evidence showing that the HPA axis hormones can be linked to certain stress-related skin diseases and skin tumours. This happens when HPA axis hormones become hyperactive in the brain, because of stress.  

THE BEST WAY CLIENTS CAN MANAGE STRESS AND KEEP THEIR SKIN IN CHECK 

  • DIET: The body needs good fresh food, plenty of healthy fats, lean protein, green, red, and yellow vegetables, and probiotics to function optimally. Avoid salt, sugar, processed foods, and bad fats – these increase inflammation and the risk of disease in the body and the skin. 
  • EXERCISE: Get that heart rate up. Exercise every day with one day of rest a week. It's hard to keep a consistent exercise routine, especially during the pandemic, but encourage clients to pick a time they normally feel energised during the day, and schedule it. 
  • REGULAR SLEEP PATTERNS: Seriously, get those eight hours every night. Recommend avoiding daytime activities (like reading, watching TV, and working) in the bedroom because the body will associate wakefulness with the bedroom. 
  • STRESS MANAGEMENT: Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, calm music, whatever gets their heart rate down. Clients could also try something that might be new for them, like guided meditation tracks or binaural beats. 
  • MAKE TIME FOR YOU: The world demands a lot from us. Suggest clients set aside time to unwind with their favourite hobbies, whether it's reading, painting, fishing, or even basket weaving. 
  • SCREEN-FREE TIME: While our devices are the primary way to stay social these days, it's always important to make a concerted effort to take a time-out from screens every day. A constant stream of attention-grabbing, and often emotional data can really keep us keyed up. 
  • SKINCARE SELF CARE: Not only is proper skincare good for skin, but the pampering can be soothing for your client’s soul if they allow it. Advise clients to treat their skin right with calibrated cleansing, essential exfoliation, vital vitamins, and proper protection. 

These are the fundamentals to good health and a positive mental attitude, which helps keep the HPA Axis in check and the skin looking its best.  

Author: Dr Janine Ellenberger: GR8SKN Skincare 

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