How I Keep My Skin Clear Part I — Low Stress

How I Keep My Skin Clear Part I — Low Stress

This is Part 1 from How I Keep My Skin Clear. If you haven’t seen the overview, check it out here. It will give you a taste of what’s to come.

I Keep My Stress Low

This. Is. Key.

It can­not be empha­sized enough. I used to think diet was #1, but you know what? You could have your diet totally nailed, but if you are con­stantly sub­ject­ing your body to stress (i.e. always run­ning late, to do list pil­ing up, too much exer­cise, too lit­tle sleep, prob­lem­atic envi­ron­ment, etc.) then you will not reap the ben­e­fits of that good diet and you will be in a self-perpetuating bad skin cycle. Thus, keep­ing stress low is #1.

I am not going to go into the mech­a­nisms by which stress com­pletely screws up your body because the goal of this post is not to stress you out. If you’re any­thing like me, think­ing about the con­se­quences of stress can add to stress, which cer­tainly does not help in the slightest.

Here are a few ways I take care of stress so that I can enjoy clear skin. (There are more stress solu­tions in “The Book”…and here, my friends, is where I walk the line of dump­ing all sorts of infor­ma­tion on you for free, while also pre­vent­ing every­one who bought the book from feel­ing fleeced). Read on!

Quick Note: these tips will be espe­cially use­ful if you are prone to hor­monal acne (the blem­ishes and cysts that tend to pop up on the jaw­line and chin).

1. I triv­i­al­ize. I have heard some peo­ple give stress a nick­name: “mon­key mind.” That sounds play­ful and treat­able. So that’s what I call it. It does not sound so destruc­tive when you call it out for what it is – too much mind yammering.

2. I step out into nature, and when I can­not do that, I look at beau­ti­ful and awe-inspiring nature pho­tographs. Stud­ies have shown marked decrease in blood pres­sure and stress mark­ers when peo­ple take short walks in nature or sim­ply sit in a nat­ural set­ting, or even look at pic­tures of nat­ural won­ders. At the risk of sound­ing like a total hippy, it helps to take a moment to really con­nect with our planet. There is some deep seated need for it in every human being.

3. I take deep breaths. First, we often for­get to breathe prop­erly, as stress forces us to take short, shal­low, silly lit­tle breaths. Stop and BREATHE. Like really grab all the air and pull it into your belly. There’s a big dif­fer­ence between that breath­ing and our stressy breath­ing, and it brings more oxy­gen to our brain and calms us down.

4. I prac­tice yoga almost daily. Whether it’s a DVD (this one and any of these Ash­tanga options are my favorites), a class with my instruc­tor, or a self-guided “make-it-up-as-I-go” prac­tice, I just enjoy doing yoga. Yoga serves as a long-term solu­tion, help­ing to “rewire” the brain to a calmer base­line (the more sci­en­tific term is neu­ro­plas­tic­ity). The brain is extremely flex­i­ble and adapt­able, not a sta­tic organ like once thought, and will build dif­fer­ent neural path­ways based on what you keep teach­ing it. This is a deep and fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject, but it goes beyond the scope of this arti­cle, so if you are inter­ested to know the tech­ni­cal­i­ties, check out one of these books: Rewire Your Brain and/or The Brain That Changes Itself: Sto­ries of Per­sonal Tri­umph from the Fron­tiers of Brain Sci­ence.

5. I take mag­ne­sium. In addi­tion to eat­ing (or drink­ing) lots of greens, which have lots of mag­ne­sium, I also take Nat­ural Calm mag­ne­sium pow­der (Lemon and Raspberry-Lemon are my favorites) at night. This is some­thing I have been doing off-and-on for about 5 years now. While I had to get used to the semi-sour taste, it is a won­der­ful sup­ple­ment and a nat­ural, non-addictive way to help you calm down and get rest­ful sleep. I mix 1 or 2 tsp. in 8+ oz. warm fil­tered water and drink it all down about an hour before bed. If you have never taken mag­ne­sium and want to try it out, start with 1/2 tsp. in 8 oz. of warm fil­tered water. Too much mag­ne­sium for the unac­quainted can result in fre­quent trips to the toi­let. ;)

6. Stress is always self-induced. That is both a scary and empow­er­ing con­cept. We all have full con­trol over the stress we feel. Four peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing a sin­gle iden­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion will have four dis­tinct reac­tions. It’s all in how you want to react and behave. For instance, if some­one behaves rudely toward me, instead of bemoan­ing a per­ceived mis­treat­ment or hold­ing a grudge, I’ll bring it up to that per­son right then and there. Air­ing things out in the open straight off the bat often has excel­lent results. Often it’s just that per­son hav­ing a bad day, and has noth­ing to do with who they are tak­ing it out on.

Those are just exam­ples of ways I have cut my stress way down.

To con­clude, I wanted to share this funny (but accu­rate) por­trayal of how a lot of peo­ple tend to think. If you are think­ing like this woman, you are doing your­self a great dis­ser­vice. Wor­ry­ing too much about other people’s actions and thoughts is a big stress trig­ger, and it’s not even real – it’s all in your head. Life is for enjoy­ing, not wast­ing our time on imag­in­ing the inner work­ings of oth­ers’ brains.

In what ways do you take care of your stress or knee-jerk reac­tions?
~Steph  x

P.S. That awe­some “Keep Calm” poster is by Schuhle Lewis.

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