De-stressing might be the answer to healthy skin
Stress and skin
The skin and the brain develop from the same layer of cells in the human embryo; they are intimately linked throughout life. Healthy skin is therefore a product of not only a skin care routine, but a stress-free state of mind.
Conscious and sub-conscious parts of the brain are both involved in the production of stress. As a consequence of the brain activity, it is scientifically shown that the endocrine systems become involved at all levels, and hormones can have profound, direct and indirect, effects on the skin.
How does stress affect the skin?
- It is shown that the blood flow through the skin of a stressed person is not at its optimal, thus can disrupt the oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin.
- Persistent stress can automate the nerve impulse pathways as our brains learn the patterns that are most often repeated.
- Increased stress hormones can reprogram the skin into ‘survival mode’ and skin focused on survival is not attuned to thrive and function optimally. Skin can become stress-damaged over prolonged periods.
Is it possible to correct the effects of stress on skin?
Fortunately, the answer is yes on two different levels. Firstly, there is a need to recognise the elements of stress in one’s life and find a means of managing it in a positive manner. Sometimes, this may be small and simple lifestyle changes to make, but at other times it may require life-altering moves to get rid of the excessive stress. For most people cultivating a simple habit of regular exercise, improved periods of rest and reflection will help to de-stress and balance the hormones responsible for the negative changes. Specific exercises where attention is focussed on breathing, stretching and toning go a long way to defuse stress-hormone storms.
When it comes to skin itself, the aim is to ensure that it is rich in the crucially important nutrients like vitamin A, C and E to help improve the skin’s ability to withstand the onslaught of stress hormones and the altered patterns of stimulation brought about by the stress.
The only possible counter-approach to this phrenetic pace we live within, is to understand the importance of relaxation and spontaneous, quiet contemplation for the body and mind. The skin should also be allowed to rest from the stress and physical environmental challenges, and we should be providing real nutrition to skin based on sound scientific principles.
It is therefore important to see the skin as an integral part of a total system which needs de-stressing on a total body level. In this new age, the mind-body balance and macro and micro nutrition will be key to optimal function of all body parts into a healthy old age. Not least of all, will be the need to do this for healthy skin.
Dr. Ernst Eiselen, MBChB, FRACGP.