Stress is my number one rosacea trigger. Over the years I have learned my triggers and changed almost every aspect of my life in order to work around my skin. I’ve altered my diet, I plan entire days around the temperature (inside and outside), but because stress is often outside of my control I’ve also learned how to relax and switch off my mind, look after my body, and listen to my skin. Every person’s triggers are different, but I wanted to share my ultimate ways to reduce stress.
This blog post is in proud collaboration with Murad.
HOW DOES STRESS IMPACT THE SKIN?
The effect of stress on the skin can be huge: for me it shows up as increased redness and sensitivity, dull, tight, flakey skin with an increase in fine lines. In times of stress, the last thing you want to be thinking about is your skin so it’s important to understand what’s going on in both your brain and your skin so that you can tackle the cause as well as the symptoms.
For some people stress means a new clump of spots (stress = more cortisol = a shift in your hormones = spots), some people develop hives or a rash (this is due to dysbiosis – an imbalance in the good and bad gut bacteria), while others may find they can’t stop itching, rubbing, or nibbling the skin (otherwise known as ‘tick behaviours’ or ‘skin picking behaviours’).
But not only that – stress slows down your skin barrier recovery by reducing barrier lipids, breaking down collagen and increasing the inflammation in your skin. So now your skin is damaged and unhappy AND it takes longer to heal. Plus, when you have a skin condition like rosacea, the stress can cause a flare up… which in turn causes more stress… which worsens the flare up… and on and on it goes. Your brain and your body are essentially feeding off each other’s stress signals.
Which is why it’s so important to take a multi-pronged approach to relieving stress: the more tools you have to rely on, the more likely you are to regain control of your emotions and skin.
HOW TO REDUCE STRESS AND MINIMISE ITS IMPACT ON THE SKIN?
These aren’t ground-breaking or surprising stress reduction tips, but sometimes people need reminders of the small things to help them through the day. Personally, I find it comforting to remember that I have control over my stress levels and that often they can be helped with a few minutes of focus. I hope these tips help you too.
- SKINCARE – Although, for me, the common causes of stress are internal (emotions, exhaustion, illness, pain) the reaction it provokes in my skin is obviously very much external. So when my skin is feeling the repercussions of stress, I tend to reach for skincare as a soothing and comforting measure. The Murad Intense Recovery Cream was designed to offset symptoms of skin stress, whether that’s caused by psychological stress, lifestyle, environment, aggressive beauty routines, hormones, or fatigue. As I covered above, stressed skin results in dryness, irritation, redness, and sensitivity so you need a cream that not only comforts the skin in the short-term, but also helps to protect and strengthen it in the long-term.
The Murad Intense Recovery Cream contains shea butter and macadamia oil to moisturise and comfort dehydrated skin while supporting the skin’s barrier function; Mirabilis Jalapa plant extract to soothe hypersensitivity, calm irritation and reduces visible redness; as well as microalgae extract to help calm the visible signs of stress by calming the skin, smoothing stress-induced fine lines, and increasing radiance.
This cream has a beautiful texture: thick enough to feel like it’s truly protecting and soothing my skin, but without any hint of a heavy or greasy feeling. I’ve been applying it daily, after my morning dog walk, and occasionally I’ll reapply in the afternoon if my skin feels tight or a bit sensitive. You don’t need much product as it melts into a balmy texture upon application and a little goes a really long way.
If you’re new to the Murad brand, you can read more about them here. They were the first modern ‘doctor brand’ and everything they do is science-led so there’s no dubious skincare trends or bandwagon-jumping here. Their business motto is ‘skincare is healthcare’ which resonates so much with me, and is why I was so pleased to work with Murad on this campaign. When I said I wanted to include the Intense Recovery Cream as part of a post about a wider, multi-pronged approach to stress management they were so on board. For years I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that rosacea (and skin in general) needs to be looked at as a whole: you can’t just change your skincare, or change your diet, in isolation and expect everything to change. You need a well-rounded and informed plan of action that takes into consideration every part of your life.
- STRETCH – This tip may sound too simple to have any kind of impact but I promise you it really helps. Hunching over a laptop, staring down at my phone, spending less time outside – over the past year, I have definitely noticed an increase in the amount of stress I hold in my body. Set aside some time every day to stretch and check in with yourself. Below are some simple stress-relieving stretches you can do pretty much anywhere and with no equipment:
- Child’s pose – One of the most famous yoga poses and one that even the most unflexible person ever (yes, that’s a direct quote from my physio!) can do.
- Neck rotation – Quick and easy to do at your desk – great for those days when you feel like you can’t take a proper break.
- Cat Camel – This is one of my favourite stretches (is that a weird thing to say…?) It really helps with the stiff back and neck from desk-working.
- Full body stretch – The classic! Stand up straight, reach your hands as far into the air as you can, stand on your tip toes, wiggle your fingers, look up and breathe deeply. Try to be aware of each part of your body stretching in turn.
- MEDITATION – I know that meditation isn’t for everyone but if you’ve been avoiding it because you think that meditation has to be cross-legged-chanting-over-panpipes I’m here to set your mind at rest. I really like both the Headspace app or the Calm app. Taking a few minutes each day to truly focus on yourself can be transformative, and I’m saying that as someone who used to roll her eyes at the very mention of meditation!
- MUSIC – You’ve got a really busy day. There’s no time for meditation, or stretching, or even skincare (the horror!) When I have those kinds of days, I try to still give the smallest nod to stress-relief in the form of music. THIS PLAYLIST is my go-to when I just need something calming and soothing in the background: no distractions, no added excitement or invigoration, just lovely background noise to calm my brain.
What are your top tips for easily reducing stress? I hope you found the above tips useful and have now added them into your stress-fighting arsenal. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know your quick and easy ways to reduce stress.