Is stress skin deep? Finding balance to heal your skin

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Have you heard of psychodermatology? I heard the term for the first time yesterday. Psychodermatology is the treatment of skin issues or disorders through the mind - psychiatry and psychology. It examines the link between the brain and the skin - our largest organ. 

Stress and the skin

Of course, I knew that stress can cause skin issues. I remember being in a pretty stressful job and getting rashes every so often. The same was true for some of my colleagues. It makes total sense though - our entire body reacts to our emotions, so why wouldn’t our skin?!

Research shows that skin conditions such as acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis and hives are much higher for those who suffer from depression or anxiety. Chronic stress and mental turmoil elevate cortisol levels and trigger a hormonal response. This can induce a histamine reaction in the skin.

Major life events and your skin

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I was trying to figure out what was causing rashes that I had. I was getting random hives and have had pretty bad localized eczema for quite a while. I thought it was a food sensitivity (gluten and wine definitely makes it worse), but I couldn't pinpoint one thing. Then I thought that I was perhaps exposed to mould. It wasn’t that either.

In the last couple of weeks my skin has totally cleared up. - directly coinciding with the end of my marriage. Coincidence? I don't think so. When I look back, I was living for months (years?) in a state of anxiety. So much so that I came to believe that I was an anxious person, turns out I'm not really that anxious at all. I was just responding to living in a negative and unhappy home. Because I couldn’t control what was happening with my spouse, I tried to control everything else. News flash - you can’t. This led me to be in a state of almost constant anxiety. 

While I do take care of my skin, I didn’t think to look at how my emotions were playing a role in my skin. Several people have commented on my appearance in the last couple of weeks and have said I look 10 years younger. It’s so hard to believe knowing what I have been through in the last two months, but it’s true (maybe not 10 years, but 5?). My skin is glowing. I am glowing from the inside out. 

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Coming back into balance

When you are out of balance, and you are working so hard to put things back in balance, it takes a toll. For me in was being in an unhealthy relationship, for others it could be work demands, caring for an ageing parent, or a health crisis. I completely believe that stress ages you - not only on a cellular level but on every level. 

All of the elements of self care for your mental health, also apply to having great skin. Healthy food, meditation and mindfulness, exercise, finding community - all of these things help maintain and improve your skin.

Have you noticed a link between your skin and your mental health?