Stress is a simple fact of life for most people. Whether you’re agonizing over an upcoming presentation at work or struggling to balance your professional and family life, stress often seems like a constant unwanted companion.
It’s no secret that stress is bad for your health, but what about your skin? And just how bad is it, really? The main problem with stress is that it can become chronic and contribute to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to irritants and injury – it’s a defense mechanism – but long-term inflammation can damage your cells, tissues, and organs.
You may not realize it, but chronic stress and inflammation could be doing serious damage to both your internal and external health. On the inside, you may notice symptoms like digestive issues, fatigue, and insomnia. On the outside, however, you’re more likely to see signs showing up in your skin.
Read on to learn about the connection between stress, inflammation, and your skin.
The Stress Connection
When your immune system becomes aware of damage to your cells or the presence of a potentially harmful pathogen, it initiates an inflammatory response that involves a hormone called cortisol.
In the short-term, inflammation helps speed the healing process by flooding the area with white blood cells and swelling to protect against further damage. Once the stressful incident has passed, cortisol levels normalize and inflammation goes away. If cortisol levels remain elevated after the threat has passed, it causes chronic inflammation which can lead to a number of harmful effects.
The problem is that your body has a hard time telling the difference between physical and mental stress. Physical stress (caused by an injury or infection) triggers short-term inflammation that goes away once you heal. Emotional and mental stress, on the other hand, can cause your cortisol levels to rise and to remain elevated which wreaks havoc on your health.
What are the signs of chronic stress and inflammation? Here are some to look out for:
- Headaches or migraines
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Rapid, disorganized thoughts
- Digestive issues
- Frequent colds or infections
- Rapid heart rate
- Aches, pains, and stiffness
Chronic stress and inflammation can increase your risk for numerous health problems including depression, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer. It can even affect your skin. In addition to making existing skin problems worse, stress can increase your skin’s sensitivity, making you more prone to skin issues like breakouts and rashes.
How Do Stress and Inflammation Affect Your Skin?
When you’re feeling stressed, even the simplest of tasks can seem like too much. Chronic stress may cause you to skimp on your skin care routine, but it can also trigger physiological changes in your skin to make existing skin problems worse.
In addition to an increase in cortisol, stress triggers a spike in adrenaline which can cause your sweat glands to become more active. The more you sweat, the more dehydrated your skin becomes which can leave it looking dull and dry. Excess stress hormones can also shift your skin’s balance, causing it to produce too much oil which can lead to frequent acne breakouts. Chronic inflammation related to stress can also lead to flare-ups of eczema and psoriasis.
Not only do stress and inflammation affect how your skin looks from day to day, but it can also affect the rate at which your skin ages. Stress triggers a reaction in the brain, causing it to produce more cortisol. This hormone has been known to break down collagen in the skin, making you more prone to wrinkles. Chronic stress can also make existing fine lines and wrinkles more apparent by leaving your skin looking dull, dry, and tired.
Making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle can help you combat the internal and external signs of stress and inflammation. Read on to learn some simple steps to help you fight back.
Simple Tips to Reduce Stress and Fight Inflammation
Chronic stress and inflammation go hand-in-hand – you can’t combat one without combating the other. If you’re always feeling stressed, your body will constantly be in self-defense mode which will increase inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the more stressed your body will become. So, what can you do to protect your body against both?
Here are some simple tips to reduce stress:
- Set aside 7 to 8 hours a night for sleep and establish a relaxing nighttime routine to ensure a good night’s sleep every night.
- Make an effort to exercise regularly (ideally 5 days a week), even if it’s just a 15-minute walk twice a day.
- Try out different relaxation techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga.
- Learn how to say no when you’re already stretched to your limit or delegate a few tasks to lighten your workload.
- Set aside 30 minutes a day to engage in a relaxing activity you enjoy such as a hobby or spending time with friends.
- Adjust your attitude and try to see the positive side of things instead of always focusing on and worrying about the negatives.
- Tone down your caffeine intake, especially if it makes you jittery – try not to drink caffeine after 2 or 3 pm because it might affect your sleep.
When you reduce your stress level, you’ll also be fighting back against inflammation. To compound the benefits of your stress reduction techniques, try these tips to fight inflammation:
- Fill your diet with anti-inflammatory foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, cold-water fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), and whole grains.
- Reduce your intake of foods that promote inflammation like red meat, trans fats, processed foods, refined sugar, and fried foods.
- Switch from processed or simple carbohydrates (like white bread and refined sugar) to complex carbs (like whole grains and natural sweeteners).
- Consider taking a break from alcohol or try reducing your intake.
Taking steps to reduce your stress level is great for your body and your skin. That being said, using the right skin care products can help your skin recover a little more quickly and may even protect your skin against the harmful effects of stress and inflammation in the future.
Bust Stress with These Yon-Ka Paris Products
Proper skin care is the key to keeping your skin healthy and strong. Hydrated and nourished skin is better equipped to fight back against the damaging effects of stress and inflammation, so take the time to find the right products for your skin type and incorporate them into a daily skin care routine. Not sure which products are best to help restore the healthy balance in your skin? Check out some of our top recommendations from professional skincare brand Yon-Ka Paris.
Here are the best products from Yon-Ka Paris to fight the signs of stress and inflammation in your skin:
- Phyto-Bain – Formulated with a high concentration of botanical extracts and essential oils, this invigorating multi-action bath oil relaxes the body and mind. Made with premium natural ingredients like horse chestnut extract, cypress, and rosemary essential oils, this formula promotes healthy circulation and invigorates the entire body. Simply add one tablespoon to warm bathwater to enjoy the soothing, therapeutic effects.
- Elixir Vital – This corrective elixir revitalizes and remineralizes the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Formulated with intensely moisturizing ingredients and a restructuring blend of beech bud and soy peptides, this concentrate helps heal skin damaged by stress, fatigue, hormonal changes, and inflammation. Use morning and evening after cleansing and toning.
- Sensitive Masque – Chronic stress and inflammation can increase your skin’s sensitivity, making you more prone to breakouts. This soothing masque is rich in natural plant extracts, formulated to deliver immediate relief to sensitized and inflamed skin. In addition to alleviating inflammation, this formula reduces skin’s reactivity, leaving your skin feeling calmed and comforted. Use 1 to 3 times per week for smooth, soothed skin and increased resilience.
- Booster Hydra+ – If stress is dehydrating your skin, try adding this hydrating concentrate booster to your daily moisturizer. Enhanced with blackcurrant, raspberry, and horse chestnut extracts, this water-based formula helps restore your skin’s natural glow. It is dermatologist-recommended for all skin types and it won’t clog your pores.
Stress affects everyone in different ways. Maybe you combat stress by overindulging in unhealthy foods or you skip your daily workout to veg out on the couch. Every decision you make affects your skin but the right skin care products from Yon-Ka Paris can help you combat the signs of stress and inflammation. Use the Yon-Ka Paris Spa Finder to find a spa near you and receive a free skin analysis with customized product recommendations to help you restore your skin’s healthy, stress-free glow.