THE SKIN-MIND CONNECTION
3 MIN READ
Remember the last time you blushed? Remember how your face felt hot, and your cheeks and ears burned a bit? What about the last time you had a really terrible sleep and you woke with red, puffy skin and dark circles under your eyes? Your emotions play a serious role in your outer appearance. Stress, anxiety, and fatigue show up on our skin whether we like it or not.
Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, an Associate Professor of Dermatology in the Department of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC describes this for an article in Practical Dermatology:
“The skin and the central nervous system are intertwined, both being derived from the same embryological source. Therefore, it is not surprising that almost any and all skin diseases can be impacted by changes in the nervous system.”
The fact of the matter is that your emotional wellbeing is integral to your skin’s health. This connection starts in the womb, when the embryo is developing. Your brain and skin are essentially developed within the same group of cells known as the ectoderm layer, which establishes a fundamental physiological connection between your skin and brain.
This connection deepens over time as our lives get more hectic and our responsibilities expand. Stress alone causes numerous issues from increasing cortisol levels, to compromising your immune system, to creating inflammation. Each of these issues directly affects our skin by depleting collagen production, speeding up the appearance of wrinkles, and amplifying breakouts. New York City-based, psychodermatologist Amy Wechsler MD emphasizes this;
“When someone is going through a stressful period, molecules like cortisol are higher and cause inflammation. This inflammation can break down collagen (causing wrinkles), cause pimples, flare eczema and psoriasis, and damage the skin’s barrier.”
On the flip side, these physical symptoms tend to create a vicious cycle. Breakouts, premature wrinkles, dark circles, rosacea – you name it – take a toll on our confidence and self-esteem, which exacerbates stress, anxiety, and depression.
The skin-mind connection is undeniable, and if you want amazing skin you need to double down on elevating your mental and emotional wellbeing. Now, this doesn’t mean ignoring your skin altogether, it means incorporating your skincare rituals into your daily wellness routines. It means bridging the gap between your inner wellness and your outer beauty, giving your meditations and facial cleansing practices equal weight.
This is where true self-care comes in, by looking at yourself as a whole being as opposed to disconnected parts. Your skin health, gut health, physical health, and mental health all need to be taken into consideration when you’re working towards any internal health goal or external beauty goal. That said, for true transformation, each of these areas require daily attention and commitment in order to achieve optimal benefits.
With this in mind, you may be eager to re-evaluate both your skincare and mind-care practices]Luckily there are some methods that you can start using today that will help heal that mind-set and give you glowing skin. We’ve outlined three simple hacks that you can incorporate into your daily routines to upgrade your skin, mind, and over life.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again; if you want to change any aspect of your life, meditation is an ideal place to start. Meditation is absolutely key in not only transforming your mindset, but in healing emotional discourse. Starting your day out with a 10-20 minute meditation can set the stage for how the rest of your day will play out. If you’re noticing stress or unease about something in particular that day, you can incorporate mantras and affirmations to empower yourself to face those challenges ahead of time.
Meditation is your direct line of communication with your deepest self, and is the time where you can safely confront and release any emotional turmoil. Whether you do a guided meditation, listen to Tibetan bowls or prefer pure silence, committing to practicing daily will have a profound effect on your whole life – and yes, that includes your skin.
2. Hot/Cold Therapy
If you’ve been reading our articles regularly you know that we are major advocates of both heat and cold therapy for the lasting mental and physical benefits they offer. Both practices have elements which stimulate your mental wellbeing. Cold therapy works to put your body through a brief and regulated period of stress, which works to build resilience and promote a feeling of accomplishment. Additionally cold therapy has been praised for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Saunas and steam rooms can also provide regulated periods of purposeful discomfort, and studies have shown that heat (no matter the source) can positively impact your mood and reduce depression.
The best part is, you can practice both of these therapies at home. We recommend starting your day off with a 30 to 120 second cold shower first thing in the morning to stimulate your mind and tighten your pores, then end the day with a hot bath to sweat out the toxins you’ve accumulated throughout the day, and release whatever tension you may be holding onto both mentally and physically. You can wrap either of these practices up with an energizing or calming oil cleansing ritual, like with Halo Brightening Oil Cleanser or Prism Restorative Oil Cleanser.
When we’re feeling sad or overwhelmed, we tend to reach for unhealthy food to comfort us. The problem is those high-sugar and processed foods actually have the reverse effect we’re after. Studies have shown how sugar consumption can wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing by causing irritability, fatigue, insomnia, and night sweats, which then intensifies whatever negative emotions we’re trying to address. Not to mention the inflammation it causes in your skin, which can lead to dehydration, collagen loss, and breakouts.
By choosing to reach for foods that truly make you feel good, like nuts, fish, and dark chocolate, you are providing your brain with the nutrients it needs to regulate your cortisol and serotonin levels without spiking your adrenals. The key is to cultivate a diet that feels exciting and empowering, as opposed to limiting. Choose healthy fats and a variety of colorful vegetables, and jazz it up with your favorite herbs and spices. Those healthy fats and antioxidants will also improve your collagen production and provide you with a natural radiance from within.
Listen to your body, and Make sure that your nutrition goals are positive as opposed to abusive. We don’t recommend focusing on losing weight or reversing aging – rather aim for optimal health of every part of your body.
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg, and require daily, long term commitment in order to make the impact you’re looking for. So, no matter your goals, remember that transformation takes time, and it’s about the journey not the destination. Keep your eyes on your own paper and celebrate the little wins, because you’ve got this!
Finally, as you’re well aware of now, your thoughts do affect both how you look and feel. So remember to make eye contact with yourself in the mirror, and tell that stunningly beautiful being just how remarkable you are every day.