We all experience stress in one way or another but did you know that chronic stress is a major hazard when it comes to your skin?
Whilst your skincare routine might be tried-and-tested, there are times when life is hectic and feeling overwhelmed leads to anxiety and insomnia - and invariably your skin will suffer. Breakouts, redness and dark circles are all concerns that are exacerbated by stress and lack of sleep.
Having an inside-out approach is the key to maintaining great skin whilst handling stress effectively. Here are four of my favourite wellness habits to integrate into your lifestyle anytime you’ve fallen off track and need a little boost.
1. Eat to calm inflammation
Your diet can play a huge role in the overall health of your skin. Eating the right food can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, helping us fight premature ageing and a number of skin issues, like acne and rosacea.
Optimise your nutrition by eating antioxidant-rich, colourful fruit and vegetables, healthy fats from oily fish and nuts, and a varied and balanced diet. This should deliver optimal levels of nutrients that are crucial for radiant skin, including beta carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc and selenium.
I like to stock my fridge with personal favourites such as sweet potatoes, blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, leafy greens, olive oil, oily fish; and then I take a Vitamin D supplement (3000iu) with some good fat (like avocado) to aid absorption.
2. Manage stress in the mind
Several studies have shown how meditation is an effective stress-management tool. It’s all about focusing on the present moment rather than letting your thoughts get lost in worrying about the future. Meditation is a powerful and also FREE tool which helps calm your mind.
Guided meditation is a great place to start as the teacher or narrator will ask questions to make you think or visualise about certain things. I really enjoy doing world-renowned researcher Dr Joe Dispenza’s meditations but others can easily be found online - check out Insight Timer for a host of different meditations. I’ll often use it to do a quick 10 minutes sitting at my desk in clinic during my lunch break.
Journalling is a great tool to get all of your thoughts, ideas and concerns out of your head and onto paper. Think of it like a huge brain dump where you can get everything out. I love to use the High Performance Planner by Brendon Burchard in the morning and evening.
3. Manage stress in the body
When it comes to stress, the body keeps score. So it’s vital to move as part of a multi-faceted strategy for staying healthy in the current climate. Moving your body reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones.
I’ve come to rely on yin yoga to combat the tightness that comes from sitting in front of a computer screen. In this style of yoga, positions are held for several minutes and enable myofascial release which helps to ease lower backache and tight shoulders beautifully. I also use Franklin balls which are self-massage tools that are great for releasing trigger points in the muscles.
4. Get to sleep effectively
Quality sleep is a cornerstone of good health and glowing skin is just one of the benefits. . Creating a sleep strategy is so important for your overall health and it helps to create a bedtime ritual. . Practicing the 3-2-1 rule is my tried and tested method to ensure I drift off into the land of nod.
The rule suggests eating no less than 3 hrs before bed, stopping work 2 hours before bed and putting away all devices an hour before bed.
I also practice Yoga Nidra which is a meditative yoga that you do in bed which encourages the brain to slow down and relax.