Say goodbye to stress acne Tips for reducing spots caused by stress

Acne and stress: tips to help you avoid or reduce stress
Stress may cause or trigger pimples and acne

Our skin reflects our physical and mental wellbeing. When we get stressed so does our skin and this stress may trigger pimples and acne. Expert opinions differ slightly on what causes stress to trigger acne and you can find out more about that in acne and stress.

One thing that everyone is agreed on is that less stress is a good thing for body, mind and skin.
This article outlines 10 steps you might like to try to reduce stress and support your acne-prone skin.

Stress and acne: relaxation soothes skin
Relaxation can help to soothe acne-prone skin

When stress goes down quality of life goes up

A more relaxed life has many possible benefits. For example, did you know that approximately 20 minutes of relaxation can help to accelerate the healing of small wounds.1 Relaxation promotes regeneration and helps to reduce pain.

But what do we mean when we talk about `relaxation`? It’s a personal thing and one person’s idea of relaxation differs from another’s. Some of us find listening to music calming, others need complete silence to switch off.

Relaxation can help reduce stress pimples
Tea and a good book: the epitome of relaxation for many people

It’s perhaps helpful to differentiate between physical, emotional and cognitive relaxation:

  • Physical relaxation means that tension in the muscles reduces, blood pressure and heart rate decrease and breathing slows down.
  • Emotional relaxation is a soothing feeling of wellbeing, inner peace and serenity
  • Cognitive relaxation occurs when you get to grips with the thought processes that are fueling anxiety so you feel less stressed and more grounded.

Stress occurs when any one of these is off balance. Clearly, stress isn’t always a bad thing.  It’s part of life. An athlete, for example, won’t achieve his or her goal in a state of physical relaxation and cognitive stress can also be a stimulant for some people and in some situations. But constant, daily stress is not healthy. It’s important to work out what combination of physical, emotional and cognitive relaxation works for you personally and to try and achieve that state more often.

Relaxation techniques

Get the balance right: 10 stress-busting tips

Our tips for reducing stress and acne
Stress reduces when body, mind and soul are in harmony

1. Are you being hard on yourself?

How do you see yourself? Do you have unrealistic expectations of how others see you? These can be good questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re not being too hard on yourself. Many blame the media for setting unrealistic beauty goals. It’s stressful to constantly feel like you’re failing to live up to these goals − especially if your skin is prone to acne. You can find out more about the psychological impact of acne here.

Try to remind yourself, regularly, that nobody’s perfect. Focus on your strengths, celebrate the positives and try not to dwell on the negatives.  This important step can make you happier in yourself, more comfortable with others and reduce your chances of getting stress acne.

2. Meditation

Many people find that meditation is the answer for cognitive stress in everyday life. The word ‘medication’ comes from the Latin ‘meditatio’ meaning ‘to think’ or ‘to be deep in thought’. Meditation is about switching off, listening to yourself and focusing on your body and especially your breathing. It’s important to meditate in a place where you’re really comfortable and to do so in peace and quiet.

The ‘Headspace: Guided Meditation’ app can help you to forget the stresses and strains of your everyday life for a few minutes each day and reduce acne caused by stress.

3. Autogenic training

Autogenic training is a technique that enables you to control your breathing and heartbeat and relax your body with verbal commands. Sometimes compared to hypnosis, it involves a series of six exercises that take time, practice and commitment to master but, once learnt, can be an effective way of achieving deep relaxation, managing chronic stress and avoiding stress spots.

4. Yoga

Yoga is a healthy mixture of rest and movement which can have a positive and calming effect on physical and mental wellbeing. It can also be beneficial for your skin. Just a few daily yoga exercises can deliver amazing results, and many remain loyal to this technique for the rest of their lives.
Here are 48 yoga exercises to combat stress.

5. Get your beauty sleep

Anyone who’s felt moody and irritable after a restless night knows how important a good night’s sleep is for relaxation and balance. Your skin also needs sleep to recover and regenerate. Studies have found that too little sleep can favour inflammation − one of the causes of acne.(1)

Just how much sleep you need depends on the individual but between six and eight hours are normally considered optimal. Here are a few suggestions to help you get off to sleep quickly and deeply:
- Make sure your bedroom is completely dark
- Somewhere between 15°C and 18°C is the ideal temperature
- Only use your bedroom for sleeping: don’t work, watch TV or play computer games in the same room.

6. Try to be more relaxed about work

The world we work in becoming faster and more complex. We’re expected to complete more tasks in less time and the pressure to be `always on` can be considerable. This makes some people miserable, frustrated and stressed and can cause stress spots. Try to excel at your role without letting stress get you down. The key to maximum productivity and minimum stress is to plan your day so you have a structure to follow and know what you’re going to work on when. Try to take short breaks throughout the day.

7. Treat yourself to a wellness day

Find a comforting ritual that helps you to reduce your stress and treat yourself to it whenever the pressure is getting too much. It could be a relaxing bath with a face mask followed by a pampering session, a monthly trip to a spa, sauna or thermal baths or regular massages. Whatever it is, take time for your body and mind to be in the moment. This will help to relieve tension, reinvigorate your spirits and avoid stress acne. 

8. Keep fit

We all know how good we feel after a long walk or run in the fresh air: our minds are alert, our bodies feel alive and our skin looks fresh and glowing. But exercise isn’t just for the body, is improves our mood too by releasing happiness hormones that promote calmness and boost self-esteem. You can read more about this in acne and sport.

Designed by sports scientists from the Human Performance Institute of Orlando in Florida, the `7 minute workout` consists of 12 fitness exercises for the entire body. It’s highly intensive and you can easily do it at home. You’ll find more about it and different apps that take you through the routine online.

9. A healthy diet

A healthy diet can help your body to cope better with stress. So what should be on the menu? Nutrient-rich, balanced and natural foods and plenty of fresh and raw produce. They supply the vitamins and minerals that are so important in stressful periods. Coffee, tea, sugar and energy drinks are counterproductive because they tend to stimulate the body rather than help to relax it.

Healthy eating is particularly important for those with acne. You can find out more in Acne and diet: the background and What changes can I make to what I eat to help my skin?

10. Work life balance

Your work-life balance is the relationship between your professional and private life, which should be balanced as much as possible. It may not be problem to neglect one or the other in the short term, but a long term imbalance leads to dissatisfaction and stress. The way you manage time is often a critical factor, so try not to get caught up in time-wasting activities: monitoring social media, updating posts and browsing the internet all take longer than you might think. Try setting yourself clear priorities. This will help to sort what’s important from what is less so.

Can we help? Your personal skin coach is ready when you are. Simply download, register and join the app.

*The Effects of Relaxation Before or After Skin Damage on Skin Barrier Recovery: A Preliminary Study, Robinson, Hayley MSc; Jarrett, Paul FRCP, FRACP; Broadbent, Elizabeth PhD, Psychosomatic Medicine: October 2015 - Volume 77 - Issue 8 - p 844–852