Self-Care Rx: Stress Management

Today, I’m excited to bring you the first in this month’s self-care prescription series. This series is about improving your skin from the inside and out, helping you look and feel your best. Self-care is often the last thing women prioritize, but it is one of the most important aspects of a woman’s well-being. If you’re someone who has viewed self-care as something selfish or that you don’t have time for, it’s time to look at it differently. 

As women, we often put other people’s needs first – our children, spouses, parents, clients, pets, and others. But, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to fully show up for others. Remember that you deserve nurturing, too. After all, not only will it put you in a more positive mood today, it will help protect your health and skin for years to come. That’s why this self-care prescription is about stress management and maintaining a positive mindset.

Why is this so important?

Negative self-talk is something we all do, but it’s simply unproductive and unhealthy. It adds more stress to our already hectic lives. Unmanaged chronic stress makes us more susceptible to depression, weight gain, sleep problems, colds, and other health issues we just don’t have time for!

In addition, stress shows up on our skin. Many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and even premature aging, can both cause AND be triggered by stress!

Acne

When we’re stressed, the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol. A surge in cortisol causes increased sebum production, which triggers acne. Chronically high levels of cortisol can also lead to sugar cravings, and eating sugar increases acne breakouts.

Eczema

Because stress triggers inflammation, it worsens skinflammation issues, including itchy, irritated skin conditions like eczema. Studies have shown that lack of sleep due to stress plays a role, affecting our skin’s ability to heal eczema. The itching and discomfort eczema causes is stressful and may even keep you awake at night.

Rosacea

In a National Rosacea Society survey, 70 percent of people with severe rosacea symptoms reported the condition negatively affected their professional interactions, and 41 percent said rosacea compelled them to avoid public contact or cancel social plans.

Stress worsens the root causes that trigger skin and other health issues that I talk about in my book, Clean Skin From Within, such as – inflammation, microbiome disturbances, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.

The solution to stress is taking time for self-care. Self-care practices such as positive affirmations, breathwork, and meditation can effectively manage stress and shift your outlook on life (and your skin), especially when you make them a daily practice.

3 Tips for Your First Self-Care Prescription

Before you start your skincare and beauty routine, take a look at your skin in the mirror. What do you notice? Is it dry? Oily? Red and inflamed? Splotchy? Dull? Breaking out?

Here’s the key here: avoid the temptation to criticize your skin! Instead, realize it’s giving you valuable information. Did you have these issues yesterday or last week? If not, what have you been doing differently that may have contributed to this change? Think about your sleep, eating, and skincare habits, and whether or not you are stressed. Now, try these three tips.

  1. Use your skin as a positive magic mirror. While we often beat ourselves up over skin issues, I encourage you to look at your skin differently today. What secret messages is your skin trying to tell you about your health and lifestyle?
  2. Next, while you’re looking in the mirror, give yourself a heartfelt compliment. Do your best. Maybe it’s, “you’re beautiful!” Or, “thank you for giving me messages. I appreciate you.”
  3. Then, tell your skin one thing you’ll do today as a self-honoring choice. This includes saying something like, “I see you’re telling me I need more sleep, so I promise to set us up for a restorative night’s sleep tonight.” Or, “I know I’ve been hard on you, so I promise to make healthier choices starting today.”

And don’t forget to take at least 5-10 minutes for one of the following activities today:

  • breathwork
  • gratitude
  • meditation
  • relaxing bedtime ritual
  • step into nature


Breathwork

Sit in a relaxing position with your eyes closed.

  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower abdomen.
  • For five to ten minutes, just focus on your breath, noticing your inhalation and your exhalation. As you inhale, allow your lower abdomen to swell like a balloon.
  • With each breath out, practice relaxing your face, jaw, and shoulders. If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath.


Gratitude

Gratitude is about appreciating what you have around you. Research shows that gratitude helps us feel happier, deal better with problems that arise, and build solid relationships, and it improves our health. My favorite way to anchor in and reap the rewards of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down at least one thing today that you are grateful for.

Meditation

Research suggests that meditation helps lower stress, increases our compassion, improves sleep, boosts mood, decreases inflammation, and even helps lowers yearly medical costs. The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind to achieve greater clarity and inner calm. Try this simple meditation.

  • Choose a quiet place, and turn off any electronics
  • Sit in a relaxing position  
  • Focus on a word, such as “gratitude”
  • When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your focal point
  • Let go of expectations


Relaxing bedtime ritual

Ideally, we all should get about eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Create your own relaxing bedtime ritual with any of the following:

  • Listen to soothing music
  • Take a warm bath
  • Perform breathing or other relaxation exercises
  • Journal about your wins for the day

Don’t forget to turn off electronics, turn down the lights, and avoid caffeine and sugar before bedtime to help set yourself up for these rituals and a restorative night’s sleep.

Nature

Step away from your computer, phone, or any energy-zapping scenario, and escape into nature. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, a few moments in the sun and fresh air can boost your mood and give you a little extra Vitamin D to brighten your day.

When you choose daily self-care, you’re choosing a self-honoring routine that helps you shift your mood and show up more fully in your life. This helps today and it supports a healthy, fulfilling road ahead!

Coming up over the next few weeks, I will share more self-care prescriptions that I found to be most important in my 20 years of seeing patients. The goal is to help you be your healthiest, most vibrant self. Stay tuned for more and don’t miss the video, too!

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