The 3 Phases of Relieving Anxious Skin
#1 Best-selling author Caroline Foran walks us through the what, why and how of anxiety – and how we can prevent it from affecting our skin.
Anxiety: one word you’re likely familiar with as it is the most common mental health issue affecting Americans. According to recent research from the World Health Organization, one in five people struggle significantly with anxiety. You can experience a myriad of physiological symptoms from anxiety before even consciously experiencing anxious thoughts in your mind. While digestive difficulty is the most common symptom, people who suffer from anxiety can experience anything from migraines to more extreme cases of hair loss or psoriasis.
One in five people struggle significantly with anxiety.
One of the biggest and most problematic symptoms of anxiety is poor sleep— an issue with the most significant effects on our skin, from breakouts to dull skin to accelerated aging. If you’re a regular reader of Beauty and Well-Being, you’ll know how essential quality rest is for optimal skin health; among its many powers, sleep helps balance PH levels, repair daytime damage, soothe inflammation, produce more collagen, and strengthen anti-aging properties. As the saying goes, “everything heals in our sleep”— but not so much when we’re anxious.
When our stress levels are in check, our circadian rhythms smoothly regulate our sleep cycles with balanced hormones. In the morning, our body naturally releases cortisol to perk us up for the day ahead. Cortisol tapers off as the afternoon unfolds, allowing melatonin to take over and prepare us for a decent night’s sleep. However, when we experience consistent levels of anxiety or stress, our circadian rhythms get thrown off balance. We produce even more cortisol as our body tries to handle the stress, and our melatonin struggles to get a word in. This means we get little to no sleep, and even fewer of its magical healing effects.
While stress and anxiety are common and likely sources for our skin troubles, there is unfortunately no magic potion for our skin woes. We must look at things from a holistic perspective and take things one step at a time:
1) Assess and Address
Stress cannot be entirely avoided, and trying to avoid it will result in more stress. The assess and address process is an approach for managing anxiety that you’ll find detailed in my book, Own It. Accept the presence of anxiety in your body; work with it rather than against it. Take time to learn how anxiety affects your own body as well as the underlying reasons for your increased anxiety. Your skin is an ecological system where everything works in tandem; for good skin, you need homeostasis from the inside out, so that’s the best place to start.
2) Master and Manage
Once you identify the roots of your anxiety, you can begin to incorporate productive responses to stress into your daily routine. This could mean regulating your caffeine intake, reducing social media usage, decreasing stimulant consumption, or prioritizing sleep. Over time, your stress levels will wane and your skin problems will follow suit.
3) Skincare and Self-care
As you gradually make the lifestyle changes to help assuage your experience of anxiety, you can also aid your skin topically. Prioritizing your skincare routine in a ritualistic manner— complete with patience, care, and deep-breathing— is an act of self-care in itself. When you are coping with anxiety, your body is in high-alert and your nervous system is in overdrive. Products that reduce inflammation, soothe, and balance hydration and PH levels are ideal. Here are some of my favorites:
- Phace Bioactive Detoxifying Cleanser
This is a balancing PH cleanser that counteracts the effects of stress by gently detoxifying and conditioning the skin. It’s a non-foaming facial wash, free of soaps, detergents and alcohol. Willow Bark extract decongests and tightens pores, while fruit enzymes activate cell turnover for a bright, healthy glow.
- This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
While this product is not applied to the skin, it is my ultimate anxiety-reducing beauty essential. With gorgeous lavender, wild chamomile, andvetivert, this is a best-selling sleep aid that helps you fall asleep and set the stage for your natural healing systems.
- IMAGE Skincare Illuma Brightening Serum
This calming, brightening serum restores the glow in anxiety-prone skin by combating redness, discoloration, and inflammation. This product is incredibly fast-drying and leaves your skin feeling soothed and supported.
- Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm
Avène’s XeraCalm collection uses innovative technology to produce products that are able to help maintain the skin’s natural microbiome. This balm in particular targets severely dry skin to calm itching sensations and sooth redness and irritation, while providing hydration for 48 hours. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free.
Caroline Foran is the author of the #1 international bestseller Own It: Make Your Anxiety Work For You.
Caroline Foran is a number 1 international bestselling wellbeing author, podcaster and journalist from Dublin, Ireland. Own It is her first book, which aims to equip those with anxiety with the tools necessary to manage it and live their best life. Her second book, The Confidence Kit, looks at the fear of failure, imposter syndrome and much more. She also works as a beauty editor with some of Ireland’s leading publications.