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68. Lifestyle Series - The Stress Factor

Updated: Mar 21

How many of you had a stressful holiday season this year? For me it seemed to be one of the most stressful EVER! For those of you who know me well, I'm very organised. I start my Christmas shopping in June, the tree goes up Thanksgiving weekend and everything is wrapped and ready so that I am able to enjoy the festive period and be there to look after my clients during their stressful holiday season. Well, this year life through me several curve balls resulting in so many plot twists from the corona coaster amongst other things... Anyways, this isn't a 'rant about my life' blog, this is about skincare! The stress factor and how it plays a role in our skin's health.

Adrenaline is our phycological reaction to stress, it also physiologically affects our bodies by slowing down our reproductive and digestive systems in order to improve our performance under pressure. Our breathing and heart rate increase oxygen flow to our brains and throughout our body to increase alertness and energise. So during times of stress we are able to achieve and produce extra results that are needed in our daily lives. But with the adrenaline production comes other things...

When we are stressed the cortisol and melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) which interfere with pigmentation in the skin, triggering pigmentation in the body. Cortisol is regularly administered in the body and increases metabolism, maintains blood sugar levels and nutrients convert to fuel. Cortisol also slows the skins natural healing ability by 40% so breakouts linger longer on the skin and then can cause post inflammatory hyper pigmentation. Dermalogica have a great little helper for this - I've dubbed it the zit zapper, but it's actually called Age Bright Spot Fader It helps to fight spots that are brewing and also to treat the pigmentation after the spots are gone to help heal the little pink spots that are left behind aka post inflammatory pigmentation.

Neuropeptides are an inflammatory response in the skin that tightens the nervous response increasing heat, flushing, redness and irritation. Cortisol acts as a thief, steals what the body and skin needs to use to maintain a healthy glow on the outside in order to feed what is needed for our body on the inside. When we're stressed for long periods of time, it causes women to have late or missed periods and over long periods of time this increases ageing because the body isn't producing enough oestrogen which is involved in the production of collagen - the part of the skin that keeps our lines away and cheeks plump. During stressful chapters in our lives, our skin can look older, more lined and have a dull appearance. Signal the need for a facial please!

Stress also affects our skin in other ways such as breakouts, roseacea, dullness, redness, pigmentation such as melasma flare ups along with sensitivity and inflammation. Oh the list of nasties goes on. So how can we flip the switch on the stress factor and bring back the youthful glow that we all crave?

Some of these things that help me during times of high stress:

  • Take a Bath - I love the Aurum D bath salts, light a candle, shut the door and just switch off for a few minutes. The destress blend of essential oils feels like a big hug and a weight is lifted off my shoulders, then afterwards I use the Aurum D body butter to nourish my skin and further the benefits of the deeply relaxing essential oils.

  • Have a Massage - The benefits of massage work on many levels to refresh, relax and restore the mind, body and spirit. I would recommend regular monthly massages to help with muscular tension and if your therapist uses essential oils it can further the relaxation benefits. We've got a great team at Orchids Retreat if you'd like to book, it's an online booking system so can be done when you have a moment to check your busy schedule

  • Meditate - if you've not done this before there are some great apps out there, and if you have but need help clearing the mind try the Calm app - I find Tamara Levitt's voice quite soothing. I've just looked it up to share the link and it's now the number one app for medication and sleep...see its worth checking out!

  • Journal - thoughts and frustrations are much better out of your mind and off your chest... but the old adages of 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all' or 'don't air your dirty laundry' still ring true. Its extremely helpful for your own wellbeing to share concerns, frustrations, worries etc so rather than bend someone's ear about something that probably won't matter a year from now. Write it down instead, then you can release the stress and move forward. A journal is also a way of documenting your life chapters and journeys and can be a personal reflection of how far you've come and how much you've grown. I buy a little Smythson book each year as my journal, it's my little treat to myself to remind me to journal, which actually started as a Christmas gift from my brother.

  • Selfcare - Looking after yourself is so important during times of high stress. Try to go to bed early to get as much sleep as you can. Eat a healthy diet to feed your body the extra nutrients that are being depleted by the stress hormones. Maintain your fitness, exercise is great for the mind and body - find something you enjoy and that helps you to de-stress. My go to is running as I can do it alone outside and with a podcast, some people love swimming and others cycling - it's individual but try to find something that interests you.

This Clear and Bright Skin kit is a great little SOS for the skin if you don't regularly suffer with breakouts but need a little TLC for your skin. It contains a gentle exfoliant to use daily to help slough off the dead skin cells and brighten the skin. A serum to use under your moisturiser at night and a zit zapper for the spots that are brewing, currently gracing your appearance or are lingering. If you suffer more regularly then I would recommend larger sizes as they are more economical for long term use.

Looking after your wellbeing is essential. Life throws us lots of challenges and they make us stronger. Just remember this too shall pass and every day is a new day to achieve our goals and create new memories. Along the waves of life, we need to look after ourselves and our skin so that we can always put our best face forward.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy year ahead - Diana x

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