Learn 5 Effective Ways to Reduce Stress & Keep Skin Clear
Life can be demanding. Our normal day is filled with lots of potential stressors – work, finances, personal relationships. To make matters worse, you’re never really “unplugged,” because technological advancements ensure that you’re constantly connected, robbing you of the precious “downtime” you need to rejuvenate.
Stress affects our lives in a lot of different ways, physically and mentally. While many of those negative effects are well-known – weight gain, sleep problems, heart disease, depression, etc. – you may not realize that it’s also wreaking havoc on your skin.
When you’re stressed, your body reacts by going into fight-or-flight mode and it releases hormones, such as cortisol. These hormones were meant to temporarily protect you in a life-or-death situation, and then dissipate through the physical energy you exerted in response (fighting your opponent or running away to safety). But, in modern times, chronic stress and a sedentary lifestyle has led to elevated cortisol levels, which cause inflammation, compromise our immune system and interfere with proper body function.
As a result, stress manifests itself as blemishes, hives, rashes, fever blisters and premature aging.
The good news is that you can control stress by managing your response to it.
Here are five simple things you can do to reduce stress for clearer skin:
Take a Hike
Hitting the trails combines three stress-reduction methods in one event: exercise, nature and serenity.
Regular physical activity reduces cortisol levels because exercise replicates the physical exertion your body needs to process cortisol properly. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, a brain chemical which enhance mood and a sense of well-being.
Instead of hitting the gym, opt to get outside and take a hike. It’s easy. It’s inexpensive. And multiple studies have shown that getting out of town and hiking in nature can reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and improve your overall health.
Hiking allows you to escape from the sensory overload of urban living and immerse yourself in a naturally calming environment. You’re less distracted by external chaos and your own thought patterns, and you’re more likely to disconnect, giving your brain an opportunity to take a break and reboot.
So, lace of your hiking boots and get moving!
If you need more inspiration, here are 5 Outdoor Workouts For Great Looking Skin!
Create Your Own Spa at Home
Everyone needs down time to relax and recharge, but when you’re juggling work and family, you may not think you have time or worse yet, you may feel selfish for making yourself a priority. But, the truth is – if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others effectively.
When you nurture yourself first, you’ll perform every day tasks better and be happier. So, treat yourself to yourself to a relaxing bath and at-home facial. It’s a great way to have a little “me” time without spending a fortune at the spa.
Start by creating a little oasis in your bathroom. Turn on relaxing music, light some aromatherapy candles, and sip on a fruit-infused water or glass of wine.
Draw a warm bath, and add equal parts Epsom salt and baking soda to the water. Epsom salt detoxifies the body and reduces inflammation while the baking soda helps neutralize skin acidity and soothes irritated skin.
Next, add a couple drops of mood-boosting essential oil. Try lavender or a citrus scent, like bergamot.
Before you get in to soak, start your facial by cleansing your face and applying the mask of your choice. Then get comfortable and unwind. Read a good book or just take some deep breaths.
If you’ve never done a facial before? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Jump over to How to Do a Facial in 5 Easy Steps for everything you need to know.
Remove your mask with a washcloth before you get out of the tub and gently pat your face dry with a clean towel. Apply moisturizer to your skin and complete your normal skincare regimen. Voila!
Find Something To Laugh About
They say laughter is the best medicine. And according to Mayo Clinic, it’s no joke. Laughter relaxes your entire body. It causes the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and increases your intake of oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your major organs and muscles. It also activates and relieves your stress response, which results in a calming effect.
Laughter can connect you to others and brighten your spirits. It can also help reduce stress by diffusing negative emotions, like anger or frustration. When you change your perspective, and try to see the humor in a situation, it reframes your thinking and you’ll be less likely to get upset.
Start laughing right now by tuning into a comedic TV show or making plans with your friends for a fun-filled night of belly laughs!
Meditate (Even If It’s Only 5 Minutes a Day)
The mental chatter in our heads – filled with worry, doubt, and inadequacy – can create a significant amount of stress. And at times, it can become overwhelming.
Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety by quieting your thoughts and clearing your mind.
You may be resistant to trying meditation because you think it’ll be boring, it’s too woo-woo, or you just don’t have the time. But, starting a meditation practice is easy and doesn’t require a significant time commitment.
Just remember that meditation is a process, not an end goal. You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to be successful at it. All you have to do is focus on your breath.
Deep breathing is the body’s natural relaxation response. It increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the part of your nervous system that makes you calm.
If you’re new to meditation, here’s how you get started! Sit somewhere that’s quiet and comfortable. Softly focus your eyes on the floor just in front of you. Breathe naturally from your diaphragm and pay attention to your breath. If your mind wanders, just let the thought go and return your focus back to your breath. Some beginners find it easier to focus by counting up to 10 on the exhale. If you lose track of your count or get distracted by a thought, start over at one.
Like any other exercise, meditation takes time to build endurance. Start with five minutes a day and add time as you become more confident in your practice.
Need help staying focused? Try a mediation timer or guided meditation app, such as Insight Timer.
Cue Up Your Favorite Feel-Good Tunes
Next time you need to reduce stress, listen to your favorite songs. Music can relax you, it can distract you and it can make you feel good.
Researchers at Stanford found that listening to music can directly impact our mood and even improve brain function. They found that different types of music affect your brain differently. Slower beats are more mesmerizing and meditative, while faster beats make us more attentive and allow us to concentrate better.
In other words, listening to naturescapes or classical music may help you relax, while belting out your favorite pop tune at the top of your lungs can help you blow off some steam and feel more optimistic.
Music can also distract us. When you’re absorbed in the music, dancing or singing along, you aren’t as focused on what’s stressing you out. For that very reason, listening to music can ramp up your workout or it can be a great addition to your meditation practice.