Over the last year, the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic have taken a toll on everyone on the planet, in one way or another. Some people’s lives have been devastated by illness, loss, total upheaval to routines, isolation, uncertainty on multiple levels.
In my skincare practice, I’ve received calls and visits from lots of clients struggling with skincare issues and concerns, such as acne, breakouts, inflammation, lines, and wrinkles. As I work on these clients’ complexions and listen to them talk about their lives, I can see the clear connection between their stress and their skin.
We know stress is the culprit causing many of our ailments, so much so that we can chalk just about everything from digestive issues to sleep issues to skin issues up to stress, but what can we do about it?
Life has so many transition periods that are supposed to be epic and meaningful, like senior year in high school and planning for college, like finishing school and landing a dream job, like getting married surrounded by friends & family, like showing off a brand new baby, like traveling, like celebrating all of life’s most important milestones. These events help us to feel a sense of accomplishment, connection, support. Without them, did the event mean as much? This physical distancing is really messing with our minds, hearts, and bodies.
We’ve been faced with pandemic-related disappointments and inconveniences, big and small, and long-term uncertainty is creating an unprecedented level of stress for a lot of people trying to navigate.
We know that when there is a perceived threat to our safety, our bodies respond by triggering a hormonal response, a flood of hormones like adrenaline are secreted into our system so that we may either fight the threat, take flight and run away from the threat.
However, many of the stressors we are dealing with now are more of a slow grinding wheel that we can neither fight or run from in a significant enough way.
Thoughts create emotions, and when we are wondering about things like “will I lose my job?” “what’s happening with school” “will I get sick” “what if my loved ones get sick” and we start to worry, feel anxious, have to accept loss, we can find ourselves stuck in a thought/feeling loop that perpetuates more stress hormones. This can even happen on an unconscious level.
These stress hormones can disrupt our cellular health, and can certainly cause physical manifestations of the stress response – inflammation, acne, digestive trouble, inability to sleep, which are all things that can also perpetuate more of the issues.
Getting a grip on YOUR REACTION to the stressful triggers can go a long way in the healing journey.
In fact, it’s everything.
When we can understand that our thinking brain can’t actually think our way out of the body’s response to stress, we can give ourselves permission to practice detachment to our thoughts and feelings, as a way to calm down our crazy thoughts & feelings, to make a choice whether or not to believe everything we think, to develop the skill of self-mastery.
Our breath is our natural tranquilizer. The simple act of stopping to breathe deeply for a few moments, taking a bit of space from the situation so that we can increase our sense of calm, and imagining that things may not be unfolding the way we thought or wanted, but just maybe, life is going to organize things in a way that works out for us, after all….this is the key to going with the flow.
SKINCARE = SELF-CARE
Self-care looks and feels a little different to everyone ~ some love to run, some prefer to walk. Some love Yoga, some prefer Pilates. Some like structured movement, some like trance dance. Some can sit still and meditate, some find that really challenging.
We’re in a time when more and more people are tuning in to care more deeply for themselves, and we are learning that this is necessary, not luxury. We cannot wait until we have done everything on our list because that will never happen!
We have to prioritize a few key things for sustainable self-care so we can keep calm and carry on, as they say.
My personal and professional philosophy is Skincare = Self-care.
This is because our daily skincare rituals can absolutely be a way that we disconnect from the world, connect to our physical self by cleansing the skin of our face, which is our billboard to the world. It is the part of ourselves that represents us and reveals our energy to those we see, out there, or over ZOOM.
By applying products & ingredients so our skin is clean, exfoliated, balanced, hydrated & nourished, we also increase our circulation, offer protection from the elements, maintain and support our skin’s health.
This can also signal a time of day when we are winding down, disconnecting, and going within – spending time with family or carving out time to breathe, read something uplifting, watch something funny, write in a journal, listen to music and do what’s needed to sleep well. Sleep is the best way to reduce inflammation in the body and supports the body in working to process stress hormones.
Eating for Skincare and Stress Reduction
During stressful times, our relationship with food can take a turn. Suddenly snacks & comfort food are our go-to’s, and eating intuitively and healthfully goes out the window. A few things to have on hand can make it easier to eat with your skin & stress levels in mind: Hard-boiled eggs; Avocado toast; Greek Yogurt parfait with berries + granola; Olives, cheese & whole-grain crackers; apples + peanut butter. These simple snacks combine whole foods with whole grains, healthy fats & proteins, antioxidants & nutrients to keep blood sugar stable and hunger satisfied, and are on the list of best foods for the complexion.
A Morning Meditation practice can help set the tone for the day, is a great way to protect your own energy, and can significantly improve your ability to handle the situations and personalities you’ll encounter.
Meditating before sleep helps let go of the day and offer a chance to gather yourself and recharge the physical, mental & emotional energy spent during the day, improving the quality of your sleep & dreams.
Want to learn more about how to treat your skin holistically? Check out my new book The Complexion Companion, and my comprehensive skincare course: The Clear Complexion Course!