Stress and your skin
During each and every appointment with my patients (regardless of why they’ve come to see me), I ask about their stress level and lifestyle habits. Most don’t realize that managing all the daily ins-and-outs of work and family, grabbing unhealthy meals on the go, over-drinking to unwind at the end of the day and many other aspects of our modern lives can take a toll on their skin (in addition to their sanity). Skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis and persistent itching can all become worse during times of stress—which is why I always prescribe self-care in addition to any necessary skincare products and medications.
I’m emphasizing the importance of self-care now because the most common response I get from patients when I explain the importance of managing stress and living a healthy lifestyle is, “I’ll start next week.” However, the time to start is NOW. A few small tweaks can add up to make a big difference in how you feel, as well as how your skin looks.
Here are my main tips for helping you and your skin stand up to the effects of stress, and if you adopt even just one now, you just might find you want to stick with it (and perhaps try more) for the long-term.
- If you’re not already on a mostly clean, lean diet, I promise you’ll be surprised at how big of a difference this one change can make in how you feel every single day. It may not be as easy as driving through a fast-food restaurant, but a little extra planning when it comes to food preparation and your menu for the day can have a profound impact on your entire body. At first, strive to do your best Monday through Friday. (I love sweets and carbs, and you better believe I indulge on the weekends—without overdoing it!)
- Up your intake of fruits and vegetables. Instead of filling half your plate with your meat-based entrée, fill half of your plate with plant-based foods. If you’re still hungry and want a second helping of whatever you may be eating, have more vegetables rather than more chicken parmesan (for example).
- Try to exercise four times a week. If you don’t have time for a workout at the gym, plan a walking date with a friend to catch up (another example of self-care), take a stroll with your partner after dinner or try a new fitness class (even if you discover it’s not for you). The online options are endless!
- Small changes like using the stairs at work instead of the elevator or parking a little further from your destination can help you get more steps in.
- Have a glass of red wine every night! Yes, you read that correctly. Red wine is rich in antioxidants—and so is dark chocolate. (But limiting yourself to one square instead of an entire bar is key.)
- Stay strong! The better you care for yourself, the better your body will care for you both physically and mentally.