We all can get overwhelmed and emotionally stressed every now and then and it isn’t always easy to disconnect & develop coping mechanisms as (actually lasting) habits. We know we should, but we don't always. Subconsciously we're not even really sure if those mindful practices will really make the difference. But oh yes they can and I'll explain below how and why they can make a huge difference not only on our brain but very much so, on our skin too.
Mental stress comes about when we’re faced with a larger amount of psychological burdens than our body or than our mind can actually adapt to. Keywords: “larger than our body can adapt to”. This means if we can adapt better, the amount of stress we can handle without negative side-effects is greater. In other words, that ceiling is completely relative to each person's ability to cope with situations, people or situations that trigger stressful emotions and if we can learn to improve our endurance to them we can minimize the chances of our skin & body having issues when they show up.
To break it down simply, in an ideal world, improving stress endurance would start something like this:
(1) Learn to recognize inflammation or other symptoms of mental stress
(2) Determine a positive habit that helps you cope better with that situation or person
(3) Conditional repetition: repeating this cycle every time that trigger shows up and focusing on building a habit of instantly practicing stress-relieving activities every time it does.
(4) Result: over time, that trigger has less impact, our stress endurance to that specific event is greater, and in return, we have a more balanced skin less sensitized to external situations that are out of our control.
With this cycle, we can actually limit the amount of damaging aging effects stress causes to our cells, our body, our skin, and overall wellness simply by practicing mindfulness and making those practices a habit.
By now, you probably know that our skin is one of the first places we can see signs through which our body is trying to communicate to us that it's stressed and in that zone of “overdrive”. Usually, this comes as a form of inflammation which depending on our coping mechanism can either be short-term (relatively normal with low side-effects to the skin) or long-term (causes most stress-related skin concerns). By recognizing inflammation right when it appears, we can prevent it from becoming chronic inflammation and having any serious side-effects. By bringing in stress-coping habits we can cut it in its tracks and over time increase our overall ability to manage our stress/minimize the negative effects it has on our skin, mind, body & overall wellness.
If there was a sequence to the course of action in improving our stress management it would as below:
(Stress trigger ---> mind perceives stress or physical signs of inflammation in the skin (i.e excessive dryness, flair ups, etc)
---> mindful awareness allows for bringing in mindful practices of stress-relief in that moment + repetition every time that trigger shows up = reduced impact of stress on body over time and minimized chances of aging & damage caused by it as well)
Basically, if we can learn to pick on signs that our body is inflamed we can pick up on signs that our body is stressed either physically or mentally. Once we can pick up on these, we can build a habit of introducing mindful practices which in return will allow us to minimize the impact that stress can even have in the first place.
A few examples of stress triggers & stress-relieving practices that you can associate them to eventually neutralize them to a certain extent & increase your stress endurance:
Trigger: a big deadline is coming up and your anxiety is appearing in different areas
Skin: hormonal breakout
Mind: you're procrastinating
Body: you're unable to fall asleep and/or less hungry/hungrier
Counter-acting mindful practice:
1. Divert attention to something completely light and different like playing music until your energy feels more positive.
2. Visualize the rewarding positive outcome
3. Start by starting: and pretend there’s no rush to it to fight the procrastination & the rest will follow
Over time, these would be repeated every time that trigger comes back and you would then become more tolerant to big deadlines. Get the picture? The same as you would for a child, you bring in something distracting & positive to combine to something stressful which repeated over time becomes more neutral.
Chances are there is 1-2 recurrent psychological stress sources that either is or could be in the future causing acute stress to become chronic (lasting), and chronic stress is what really has an impact on our skin & body. So if we can identify & either eliminate or grow our endurance to those triggers we are immediately reducing our chances of stress even causing damage or aging to either.
Hope this helps and can be of use to you in those inevitable moments of stress,