All of us have felt stressed in our lives, whether it’s from taking exams, public speaking, or going to an interview, there are plenty of things that can cause a natural stress reaction. However, putting yourself under pressure and feeling stressed all the time can negatively affect you in a number of ways, which is why taking care of yourself and making time to relax is very important.
Here, we take a look at some causes of stress and explore some ways that you can combat these in order to stay happy and healthy.
Stress and skin conditions
Although getting stressed out about your skin might sound vain, it’s actually a perfectly natural thing to worry about, and the relationship between your skin and your stress levels are more intertwined than you may think. How your skin looks and feels isn’t only a source of stress, but being stressed can cause flare-ups of conditions like acne and eczema too, creating a vicious circle.
There are a couple of reasons why being stressed can cause breakouts. Firstly, stress can create a hormonal imbalance and trigger secretions, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which cause inflammation and lead to flare-ups. Secondly, if you find yourself to be chronically stressed, this can have a negative impact on your immune system which can affect the permeability of your skin. When this happens, harmful substances can enter and this, once again, leads to stress-induced skin conditions.
Stress and early signs of aging
Like skin conditions, early signs of aging can cause stress too, but this will cause them to accelerate which is why it’s important to stay relaxed and stress-free. As mentioned previously, stress causes a rise in cortisol, and this hormone can break down your skin’s collagen and elastin which causes it to lose its firmness and results in the appearance of wrinkles. The inflammation that can be caused by chronic stress also has an impact on aging, and has been found to accelerate the formation of wrinkles and make people appear older prematurely.
Increased cortisol and disease
Cortisol is a really important hormone when it comes to fight or flight responses, something which can help you to survive when you perceive a threat, but if you don’t allow yourself to relax and unwind it can cause havoc with your health. As cortisol works to suppress the processes in your body which aren’t required for a fight or flight response, such as the digestive system, it’s not surprising that having high levels of this hormone due to constant stress can be very damaging.
Some of the health issues and diseases that increased cortisol levels can cause are anxiety, headaches, heart disease, and digestive problems. This can also lead to weight gain and sleep issues, both of which are stressors themselves and can make the problem worse.
Stress and sleeping problems
Sleep is super important when it comes to staying healthy, and not getting enough sleep can have plenty of negative effects on both your mental and physical wellbeing. However, dealing with stress can cause a loss of sleep which only adds to the problem. Being in constant fight or flight mode means that switching off when it comes to bedtime is really difficult, which is why you’ll often find that you start worrying or having anxious thoughts when it’s time to turn off the lights.
This lack of sleep will lead to you feeling tired, unable to concentrate, and unmotivated, which can make you feel even more stressed. Plus, stress itself can make you fatigued as it drains your energy through making you feel like you’re on high alert at all times. It can also deplete the vitamins you need in order to feel energised, such as magnesium, which is especially worrying if you’ve been too stressed to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Top ways to combat stress
- Yoga and breathwork - It’s amazing how simply concentrating on your breathing can help you to lower your stress and anxiety levels. Start off by sitting in a comfortable position and taking a few really deep breaths, then return to your normal breathing rate and focus on the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Do this for around five minutes and you’ll feel far more relaxed than when you started. In addition to this, you’ll find that you have more energy too. Taking the time to try yoga also has plenty of benefits. Through connecting your body and mind, you’ll be able to reduce your stress levels and create an overall sense of wellbeing that will have a positive impact on all parts of your life.
- Take relevant stress-busting herbs - There are some herbs available which have been found to reduce stress. Ashwagandha is one example, and as an adaptogen it is recognised as being able to help the body to deal with stress. Used in medicine for over 3000 years, this herb lowers cortisol levels and can combat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Other herbs that help to relieve stress include chamomile, which can be taken as a tea, and lavender, which is great when added to herbal baths.
- Eat a balanced diet - Eating a balanced diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle, and this can help with your stress levels too. One impact of stress is an increase in blood sugar, so avoiding too many sweet treats is certainly advisable. Regulating your blood sugar levels during times of stress is important, so steer clear of starchy cereals and carbs and ensure that you’re enjoying five portions of fruit and veg a day - preferably in a range of colours. You should also try to limit your caffeine intake and opt for herbal teas or decaf drinks instead.
- Spend time in nature - Getting outside can do absolute wonders for your stress levels, and it’s really enjoyable too! As humans, we have a connection with nature that goes back thousands of years, so although our lifestyles have changed, the positive impact that being outdoors can have on us hasn’t. In addition to this, getting out into nature removes you from typical stressors, such as technology or a build-up of housework, and allows you to free your mind of anything that’s been bothering you.
- Talk to people you trust - A problem shared really is a problem halved, and no matter how small something might seem, it’s worth getting it off your chest if it’s causing you stress. Talking to a friend or family member that you trust will take away any anxiety that they will judge you, and you’re sure to start feeling better about things once they’re out in the open rather than racing around in your head.
- Get a good night’s sleep - If you’re used to interrupted sleep it can be difficult to get into a new routine, but it’s really important that you do this in order to reduce your stress levels. Try avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed, don’t drink caffeinated beverages within six hours of your bedtime, and try going to bed a bit earlier to give yourself time to relax. Those who feel fatigued during the day should avoid taking naps as this can disrupt sleep too. Try heading outside or doing some light exercise in the home to wake you up and boost your endorphins instead.
- Eliminate stress linked to skin conditions - Feeling stressed out about your skin can be eased with the help of some natural facial products. Through using masks and cleansers that have been made to target and remedy your specific skin condition, you can break the cycle of stress that’s so easy to get drawn into. To find products that will give you renewed confidence in your skin, take a look at our acne derma soap and eczema
Now that you know how to reduce stress in your life, you can make some positive changes to ensure that you’re as relaxed as can be. Why not start by reducing stress with a fabulous wellbeing package? To be in with a chance of winning a yoga bolster and some skin boosting facial creams, enter our competition today.