I woke up one morning a few months ago and as I looked in the mirror, I was shocked. I looked awful. Not the usual “I just woke up and I certainly don’t look like Sleeping Beauty EVER” but a real, deep, exhausted, puffy, drained, dull awful. Not a great way to start the day..... A shower, a bunch of make-up and a couple of double-shots later and I was ready to go. Kids, meetings, budgets, pressure. Just another day at the office. This is as good as it’s going to get, right? Just keep swimming.......
Over the course of the next few months I decided enough was enough. I was sick of living stressed out. To be honest, I came really close to a breakdown. But I got to the point where I didn't want to spend the rest of my life looking and feeling like this. The reality is, we all have the power to take control of our lives, but how many of us really do?
6 months on, and I feel great! To be fair, I've had to make some pretty huge adjustments in my life, but I'm really glad that I did. Every day I am trying to live my life to the fullest and to embrace each moment as a gift. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm learning.
It’s amazing when I run into people who I haven’t seen in months, every single one of them say the same thing: “You look GREAT!” Well, thank you! I feel great! But the reality is, externally, I haven’t changed a thing. (Except for my Oil Cleansing Company products… which I LOVE). Internally however, is a completely different story.
So what’s different? The difference is, I’m not stressed out, over-scheduled, over-worked or anxious. And I have noticed a HUGE difference. Especially in my skin.
You see, when you are stressed, your body produces a bunch of hormones – which is what it is designed to do. The main hormones are Adrenaline, Cortisol and Norepinephrine.
Adrenaline we all know is the fight or flight hormone that releases into our bodies and gives us immediate reactions to danger or fear and a surge of energy to boost our reactions. Norepinephrine is similar, and when released heightens our awareness and directs blood flow to our essential body parts, including our muscles to help us escape. Then comes Cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is a bit more complicated – but basically it regulates the rest of our body and supresses it’s activity as it responds to stress.
In a moment of danger – all of these hormones are designed to keep us alive. So they aren’t bad in themselves. However, research shows that we (humans, especially in the Western World) are more stressed than ever. It’s like we live our lives in fight or flight ALL the time, and so our bodies are producing these hormones constantly. You can see where this is going....
Adrenal fatigue, anxiety and burn-out are all symptoms of us pushing our bodies beyond their natural limits. It’s like revving your engine at 100 km/hr for too long. Eventually, it will give out!
Because our stress hormones cause our body to go into survival mode – the rest of our bodies are affected: like our immune system, our sex organs and our SKIN! It might look different for us all but to be sure, it’s affecting us somehow.
Here are a few ways that stress affects our skin:
Acne – the overproduction of stress hormones contributes to more breakouts and can be a big factor in adult acne.
Redness – Because stress has an inflammatory effect on our bodies, our skin can appear flushed and red. Conditions such as rosacea can also develop when alcohol intake is increased and combined with stress.
Sagging, Swelling and Bags – We've all experienced this. A lot of the time this is because we don’t get enough sleep, another side effect of stress! Also, because our stress hormones are directing our body’s resources to more urgent places, our skin suffers because it is being dehydrated and deprived of nutrients and vitamins.
Dullness – Because there isn’t as much blood being pumped to our skin, we lose our radiance. Of course we cover this up using a thousand beauty products, but imagine if we didn’t have to!
Accelerated Aging – Studies are proving that the effects of stress are accelerating our aging process and fine lines and wrinkles can appear at an alarmingly quicker rate.
We weren't designed to live stressed out. We often think that this is just the way that we have to live and we have little choice in the matter, but I want you to know that there is a better way. Wouldn't it be nice to not have any responsibility and just be on a constant holiday? Ha! That’s not reality though. ;)
We can all have awareness of how our bodies are responding to stress. And we can all make adjustments to counteract it. Maybe there’s a few things on your schedule that you can say no to, and enjoy a night at home. Maybe you need to give yourself a break and leave the washing to go and relax on the beach with your family. Mt Washmore will still be there when you get back – but you will be glad you took the time.
Whatever you decide, be brave. You don’t have to live stressed out. YOU can make the change. Your mind, your body AND your skin will thank you for it!