Seasonal stress – we know it well. As the days get colder and shorter, our workdays feel longer, the pressure to hang out with family members and friends gets more intense, and the number of events popping up for various celebrations increases. While you might have time off from work, it might not be relaxing and might include traveling, shopping for others, preparing extra food, and maybe less sleep and/or more alcohol. Some feel more joy around this time of year, some less. But most, admittedly, feel a little more anxious and stressed. And this can affect both our health and skin.
I know how it feels, but what IS stress, exactly?
Stress is a normal human reaction. The human body is designed to experience and react when you experience new changes or challenges, producing physical and mental responses. Stress responses help your body adjust to new situations. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. However, stress becomes a problem when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation (*) and can potentially cause someone to go into a state of fight or flight.
Adrenaline is a hormone that prepares your body for fight or flight and is often released in response to stress, fear, anger, or surprise. An influx of adrenaline can be helpful for your reflexes and reaction time, but not so helpful for your skin, contributing to wrinkles and dull skin. And much like the effects of the stress hormones, constant adrenaline surges can result in acne breakouts.
Tell me more - how does stress relate to skincare and acne?
Stress causes the release of acne-triggering hormones called cortisol and CRH. Cortisol can increase oil production, and CRH activates inflammation, two factors that can lead to acne flare-ups.
Studies have shown that a person under a lot of stress can experience hormonal cystic acne at a higher rate. This is because your stress hormone, cortisol, spikes when you're overwhelmed, and hormone spikes increase your sebum (or oil production) levels.
Also, when you don't get enough rest, especially when you’re attending extra events or situations around certain times of the year, your body starts releasing those acne-triggering hormones and impact your immune system, making it tougher for you to fight off or heal breakouts.
Stress has also been linked to itchiness and skin picking, which is an acne taboo! (Stop messing with your blemishes. It’ll only end in tears.)
We've written more articles about stress and acne, check them out at the links in the paragraph above!
Tell me more about these hormones.
Cortisol can do some good things, like regulating your metabolism and blood sugar. But over time (say, due to chronic stress), it can also do a lot of damage. Besides breaking down muscle, slowing healing, and screwing up your digestion, it can wreak havoc on your acne-prone skin.
Cortisol can prompt increased production of sebum (skin oil) and skin cells, two major components in the formation of acne. So the more cortisol in your system, the more breakouts can pop up to spoil your week! Stress also triggers CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone). CRH can dysregulate your sebaceous glands, which hang out beneath your skin and produce sebum. The CRH also activates inflammation, which plays a starring role in the swelling, redness, and irritation of acne breakouts. (*)
The Brain-Skin Connection
Experts suggest there is a brain-skin connection, with intense or chronic stress causing premature skin aging, inflammation, and increased acne. "Your skin reflects your internal health, as it is the largest organ and very metabolically active," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung.
Dr. Cheung says that stressed-out skin is less resilient, so skin has more difficulty defending itself from the environment and staying hydrated. This can cause skin to get dried out and irritated more easily, which is why the function of many anti-stress skincare products is to hydrate and calm skin. (*)
How to ward off seasonal stress
1. Acknowledge your stress level. Trying to suppress your stress is like trying to hold a lid on a boiling pot; the pressure just continues to mount. By acknowledging and expressing how you feel, you can transform it.
2. Smell Citrus – Yes, Citrus fruits are nature’s little bundles of zen, providing ideal aromatherapy for anxiety, for several reasons!
3. Unplug – Take a break from the cell phone and reconnect with what’s right in front of you. Even if that’s just a pillow and a nap. 😉
4. Ask for Help – If you’re overwhelmed, don’t ever hesitate to ask for help.
5. Quality – not quantity – Set a time limit (boundaries) with family and friends
6. Snuggles with furbabies – Need we explain? 🦮
7. Less Caffeine – Caffeine can cause anxiety and jitters, which can add to stress. Plus, you’ll sleep better without it.
8. Self-Care Spa Night – You deserve it. Read further to find out which of our products are perfect for a solo pampering sesh.
9. Plan Ahead – Between co-workers, friends, and family, some commitments will inevitably end up on the same day, so make sure you look at the months ahead and make sure you don’t overschedule.
10. Say No - It’s OK to say no to a few or all events. Depending on your energy level, don’t push yourself too hard. You deserve a break.
11. Plan spending - Make a budget and stick to it. Spending money on your loved ones is important, but it's also important to pay your energy bill.
12. Maintain healthy habits - A short workout each morning will help your decision-making throughout the day. And check out our blog for maintaining healthy seasonal eating to maintain your skincare routine.
13. Be realistic - You are only one person, and you can only do so much. Be realistic about how much you can handle this season.
14. Take a break - Don't forget about your own needs. Take a nap, go for a short walk, read a book, or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body, and can relieve physical tension and stress.
15. Create relaxing surroundings - Turn on some music, light some candles, or open the windows on a sunny day.
And of course, don’t forget to pamper yourself with your skincare routine!
Which Averr Aglow products help with Stress-induced issues?
For quick relief from inflammation and itchy, irritated skin, try a spritz of our calming Clarifying Hydration Dew. Natural ingredients like rosewater and cucumber help soothe, hydrate, and reduce inflammation. This delicate mist is also perfect for an afternoon refresh!
Relaxing your body can also help relax your mind, lower your stress, and ease you into a peaceful sleep. For an extra luxurious experience, unwind with Averr Aglow’s Illuminating Essence Exfoliating Mask. You can apply the mask while you soak in the tub, helping you fight your stress breakouts and leave your skin velvety soft. Read more here!
Another luxurious experience in which to indulge this season is a long shower with our Body Glow Duo. The Rejuvenating Essence Body Polish gently exfoliates your skin as you close your eyes and let the water rush over you, washing your stress away. It looks like creamy black lava and is saturated with the most natural of ingredients: volcanic ash, volcanic sand, hemp seed oil, cranberry seed oil, rice starch, honeysuckle flower extract, and peppermint oil, just to name a few. After rinsing off and gently toweling off, leave your body damp and apply the Simply Puree Whipped Body Butter, which moisturizes, softens, and boosts elasticity, battles breakouts, and is packed with fig seed oil, candelilla wax, Boise de rose, cypress oil, and shea butter. Your stress will be gone as you detox and deep-bathe your skin.
Remember, seasonal stress is normal. But there are ways to treat yourself that can melt it (and your skin issues), away!