On a recent visit to the beautician, I was given a questionnaire to complete before my treatment. The first question didn’t ask about my skin, rather it questioned “How stressed are you on a scale to 1 to 10?”
Being a first time mum and suffering from broken sleep with my newborn, I ticked number 5.
This questionnaire got me thinking about the impact that stress can have on our skin, and it led me to read about the hormone cortisol and its affects.
How Does Stress Distress the Skin?
When we are stressed, it can cause hormonal imbalances that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. Our cortisol levels – the aptly named “stress hormone”- rise. This imbalance may trigger or aggravate existing skin disorders such as:
Prolonged stress can also make it harder for us to help our skin problems.
If your stress levels stay high for long periods of time it can cause a variety of symptoms that drastically affect your overall well-being.
How Stress can Affect Skin and Hair
Kiri Yanchenko, founder of AMPERNA®, experienced a high level of stress some years ago.
The catalyst was her parents’ divorce, which led to her father’s health deteriorating at a rapid rate. Over an 18-month period, Kiri stepped in to support her father as his health declined.
As Kiri cared for her father, her stress levels heightened which triggered underlying health issues and Kiri found herself facing unbearable skin conditions.
The stress had triggered a latex allergy, hives and a range of other skin conditions. Overnight, her skin reacted to many common irritants, including sulfates, parabens and synthetic fragrances.
The journey back to clear skin involved techniques to bring down her stress levels and in parallel she worked with a chemist to develop the AMPERNA® skincare range to help her skin conditions.
Because of this AMPERNA® believes that the best way for your skin to look and feel its best, is to take a holistic approach. A growing number of dermatologists and skin experts attest to the benefits that a holistic approach can have on skin health.
You can read more on Holistic Skin Health here.
A few years ago, a sharp rise in my stress levels triggered alopecia areata.
The cause of my stress was twofold; the breakdown of a relationship and not having a strong network close by to help support me through the break-up.
After the relationship ended, I immediately felt anxious and upset. After a few weeks, I started to notice my hairbrush was unusually full of hair. I was living in London and busy with work, so I ignored the symptoms and did not take any action. The condition got worse.
A few months later, I moved back to Sydney and my hairdresser discovered a large bald patch on the back of my head. I was in shock; it was hard to fathom that stress had triggered this underlying condition.
The path to fixing the condition was a combination of high potency vitamins prescribed by a holistic trichologist, continuing medication for my thyroid and seeking professional help to bring down my stress levels.
How to Manage Stress
Whilst we can’t avoid stress, we can certainly work on managing our stress levels.
Depending on the cause of your stress, you will need to consider a variety of approaches to help manage it.
Common techniques recommended to help reduce the effect of stress on your skin are:
- Keep up your daily skin routine, using the right products for your conditions.
- Regular exercise
- Plenty of rest and a minimum eight hours of sleep each night.
- Practice techniques such as breathing, yoga and meditation.
- Don’t say yes to everything, learn to say no.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit alcohol consumption.
- Seek help and support from a professional therapist.