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Image / Style / Beauty

I’m so stressed, and now my skin is turning against me


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The way your body is feeling is intricately linked to how your mind is tipping along, so if you come to a particularly stressful bump (or series of unending potholes thanks to, say, a global pandemic), your skin can bear the brunt. Here's how to tackle it.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty, because who wants to hear about my many woes, I’m stressed at the moment. More so than the average levels of stress, probably one of the most challenging few months I’ve had thus far.

Trust me when I say that many things are bothering me right now, and you might think that worrying about how my skin is feeling is a bit superficial.

Take care, no matter what

But for me, my skin is a reliable and trustworthy friend, one that’s always doing what I need it to do no matter how much dairy I eat, how much sugar I put away, how many nights I “forget” to cleanse my make-up off.

It’s just always been good to me, where my body/hair/nails might not have been. So I’m telling you now – if something ‘superficial’ makes you feel like you, when all else is in turmoil, embrace and take care of it.

It’s a fact

When you’re stressed, your body releases chemicals to essentially prepare you to do battle with whatever ails you or to get ready to protect your body from a potential threat to its safety or health.

The trouble is, your body doesn’t really know the difference between the supremely stressful aggressors of our past, say, being pursued by a wild animal while searching for food, and the prolonged, recurring stresses we face in 2021 – from dwelling on our own mortality to wondering if sending your children back to school is the best idea.

Our body feels these stresses the same way and sends out inflammatory chemicals. Meanwhile, we’re out here getting pimples, whiteheads, redness, dryness, flakiness and the rest, not really understanding why.

My body bears the load

In general, if you were to talk to me or look at me, I wouldn’t obviously come off as stressed. I try to keep positive, putting a silver-lining slant on everything I can, and it’s rare enough that I’d succumb to stress and openly express it. But the stress has to go somewhere, doesn’t it?

Which is why my body takes on most of the effects. My hair thins (because of something called telogen effluvium, essentially the hair’s “falling out” phase, which can be sped up by stress), my nails are brittle, my gut goes into knots, my motivation to exercise takes a dip and yes, my skin erupts.

I get spots where I never usually do, my oil production goes into overdrive and my dehydration goes way up – and yes, being oily and dehydrated at once is about as fun as it sounds.

What I’m doing

In order to calm my skin, I’m coming at the root cause as well as changing up my skincare routine. I’m not blaming my products, because they were working for me thus far. I’m looking at the problem as a whole, rather than just tackling one angle.

I’m trying (as hard as it is) to get back to more regular exercise because I know from past experiences, that makes my stresses infinitely better. I’m making a concerted effort to eat the foods I know will help my gut, and hence, my stress-belly. I’m making lists, sleeping longer and just generally looking after myself so that the anxiety-induced chemicals will take a day off.

Finding balance

I am also looking at balance, in skin terms. I’m going back to products I trust. Ones I know do the job. But I’m focusing on just balancing my skin – not getting a glow, not plumping out fine lines. Just balance. Image Skincare have a really good balancing range called Ormedic, so I’m making use of that. And I’m using an Origins balancing tonic treatment too that I know will do wonders.

Balanced life + balanced products (hopefully) = balanced skin.

This article was originally published in May 2019

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