June 1, 2018Stress and Your Skin

Stressing 24/7 is B-B-Bad to the Biome

If you read my blog and social media posts, you already know that I often describe the skin’s microbiome as a rainforest of diverse organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) which live on your skin’s various layers, from the deep-down fat cushion all the way up to your epidermal cells. Incredibly, there are more than one trillion bacteria in the skin, originating from approximately one thousand different species! When your skin’s healthy microbiome is disrupted by harsh cleansers and other abrasive skincare products or by your diet and lifestyle choices, this discontent can manifest as breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and even skin sensitivity. Healthy biome, healthy skin.

Stressing 24/7 is a habit you want to kick for healthy skin. Here’s why —

Something triggers stress in your body. Let’s start here. Your brain perceives something as stressful and your fight or flight response is activated. Once that happens, the digestion in your belly slows as your blood is shunted away from your intestines toward your extremities (just in case you need to fight or flee). Given that you most likely don’t need to do either, this is just disruptive to your body’s healthy functioning. There’s more.

Stress hormones also restrict the contractions of your digestive muscles, and diminish your digestive juices—all of which forces food to sit idly in the GI tract, inviting an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. These unsavory characters cause your intestinal lining to grow weak and leaky, allowing toxins to spill into the bloodstream, and triggering body-wide inflammation and a host of potential diseases. You’ve heard me talk about Leaky Gut and Leaky Skin, so this is what we are talking about.

The best medicine? Decompression. As I note in The Beauty of Dirty Skin, meditation is a shortcut to calm. It sparks what’s known as the relaxation response, during which the body slows down muscles and organs while boosting blood flow to the brain, thereby easing anxiety—and the skin conditions that come along with it. Meditation can even turn on genes that are anti-inflammatory in nature. If traditional Om-style meditation isn’t your thing, try yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, repetitive prayer—whatever you find most grounding. Dedicate a few moments twice a day to your practice. You can try an app like headspace or breathe. Just a few minutes a day is a great start.

You’ve got this. This is a small change which will have a big impact not only on the health of your skin, but on your overall health! So, take a deep breath, and give it a try.