April marks the annual stress awareness month. It’s been held since 1992 to increase public awareness about the causes and cures of the modern stress epidemic. We all experience stress in our daily lives. Could skincare - and self-care - help you reduce stress and find more alignment in your daily life?
I’ll share my favourite tips, daily quotes and affirmations and an easy self-care plan with a daily checklist that you can use as your guide to more mindful, less stressed-out lives.
Stress is one of the factors that affect your skin. It can make your skin show signs of premature ageing, deepen the fine lines and dull the skin. Stress can also weaken the skin barrier from within, and be the cause of breakouts, acne, and other skin conditions.
How can I recognise stress?
Some signs of stress
- Being more emotional than usual
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Trouble remembering or keeping track of things
- Difficulty making decisions or getting things done
If you recognise yourself in these, please read forward. Skincare is not just vanity, it can be the key to your increased well-being.
Stress and skin
The mind-body connection
The human mind and body are connected. When you feel stressed, your sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline into your body. They can affect different functions, like blood flow to your skin. Some symptoms are irritation, rash and acne breakouts.
Can stress cause wrinkles?
Can stress accelerate skin ageing? As stress affects the skin by causing changes to the proteins in your skin and reducing its elasticity, it can have an effect on the skin's ageing process. The loss of elasticity can contribute to wrinkling formation. Lack of sleep you experience at the same time with increased stress levels can also have an effect on the skin.
5 ways to manage stress in daily life
Pausing for micro-moments
Let’s face it. Life can be hectic. When our lives are the busiest, that's when we need to remember to pause. I call them micro-moments. We don’t need to add something to our already-packed days, just maybe paying more attention to what we do as we move through our daily routines.
Whilst doing your skincare in the mornings or evenings, rather than just slapping the products on your face, start moving with mindfulness. What does the product smell like? How does it feel on the skin while you apply the product? How do you feel afterwards? How does your skin feel?
Incorporate a quick massage into your skincare ritual. You don’t need to follow any protocol if you don’t want to. Just use light pressure and move your fingertips slowly on the surface of the skin. Feel any tightness or tenderness on the facial muscles and connective tissue. Move your hands intuitively across the face, neck, chest and scalp to release any tension and to connect and rewind.
Finding what matters and concentrating on that
Multitasking is the worst. We live in a world that tells us that being able to multitask is a good, preferable feature to have. This couldn’t be further away from the truth! If you are a multi-tasker like I am, stop it now!
Start prioritizing, finding things that really matter and concentrating on that. Book The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan helped me tremendously to shift my focus from all possible things to just one. The book advises you to concentrate on one thing, one thing only, that will make everything else easier and more pleasant at a given moment. Finding that one thing in each moment can offer so much help and mute the multitasker in you.
Saying no is one of the most important lessons to learn when it comes to reducing and managing stress. Remember the one thing that matters at that moment and say no to everything else. Setting boundaries and prioritizing yourself can feel very uncomfortable at first, but people will start respecting you more when you set clear boundaries. Trying to please everyone will just increase your stress and won’t benefit your mental health.
New research has found some amazing benefits of meditation and relaxation for your skin and health. They reduce body stress, improve sleep quality, and help us model the daily stress we feel. Meditating can also improve the quality of your skin barrier, smooth and plump the skin, and reduce things like rosacea and acne that are caused by increased stress hormones in your body. If you are new to meditation, many apps are available to help you start the journey. My personal favourite is Headspace.
Read more on how meditation can improve the skin here.
Mindful face massage with gua sha to reduce stress
Gua Sha is an ancient Chinese holistic practice. It has immense benefits for our well-being. Some of the benefits include relaxing the muscles, reducing inflammation, stimulating collagen production on the skin and brightening the complexion. The massage can also help minimise fine lines, soften wrinkles, and lift sagging skin. You can join me in a wonderful workshop that combines gua sha, yin yoga and sound bath for ultimate relaxation.
You can also do a quick self-massage of your face with your hands only to help connect with yourself and relax the facial muscles. This face massage will help increase the blood flow to the skin - just what we need to reverse the effects of those pesky stress hormones!
Daily mindfulness checklist to reduce stress
It can feel hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Slowing down and paying attention is something that we all need more practice. Start with finding the moments in the day when you find it the easiest to focus on the moment. It can be a dog walk in the morning, your skincare routine, how you prepare your tee, or anything you feel like.
Here's what I've found to be the most powerful things to stay more mindful throughout the day - and to reduce daily stress.
*These resources shared shouldn’t replace professional care. If you are feeling anxious or struggling with depression or other painful or distressing emotions, these free helplines can provide confidential support.
Consider speaking with a healthcare professional for assistance with any medical conditions or concerns.