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What Anxiety Does To Your Skin …and what you can do about it right now.

by Lisa Mazzarella

Yes, It’s true – living stressed out and anxious wreaks havoc on your skin.  Here’s the simple answer why:

“Anxiety and stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. ... This is because stress causes your body to make hormones like cortisol, which tells glands in your skin to make more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems”.

This also means that any existing problems are likely to become more aggravated including inflammation, redness, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema – and potentially create new problems like hives, rashes and fever blisters. 

At Karisma we wholeheartedly believe that beauty goes beyond skin deep – that feeling beautiful and confident comes from within and that’s not easy when our skin is suffering from feeling stressed and anxious - what’s worse is when we start stressing about feeling stressed. 

So how do we stop this vicious cycle?  How do we manage anxiety and keep it from undermining our self-confidence and ruining our skin during stressful times? We’ve got a couple answers and tips you can do right now to help get you through:

  1. Understand the difference between productive anxiety that serves you and non-productive anxiety - the kind that sends your system into hormonal overdrive from expert Sandy Marsh MA, MLFT – read article below.
  1. Adapt a skin care routine that stress proofs your skin. One of our respected beauty resources Violet Grey put together a simple protocol and list of go-to products that address the side effects of stressed skin. https://www.violetgrey.com/violet-files/beauty-lessons/how-stress-affects-your-skin
  1. Use gentle yet high performance products that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients like our Karisma Ultimate Face Oil, to combat the effects of a stress induced cortisol surge and reduce redness. Ultimate Face Oil also offers a deep healing and nourishing treatment for troubled skin as well as calming and uplifting aromatherapy benefits.

Tip:  Put a few drops of Ultimate Face Oil in hands, rub together and cup over your nose.  Inhale and exhale 5 times taking in the full dose of Lavender and Frankincense. Did you knowLavender and Frankincense interact with the neurotransmitter GABA to help quiet the brain and nervous system activity, reducing agitation, anger, aggression, and restlessness.

Answers on Anxiety with Sandy Marsh MA MLFT

Friends, we are in strange, historically unprecedented times. 

I wanted to write to you to address the subject of anxiety, as it is what we ALL will be experiencing to a much higher degree than we would in “normal” times.

It's important to remember that anxiety’s job is to prepare us for every possible outcome. Anxiety is always with us.  It permanently resides in the land of possibilities. Our best defense against it is to live in the world of probabilities. To do so simply requires us to rely on the facts.

As we all take measures to protect our physical health, we also need to protect and bolster our emotional health. Everyone copes with horrible situations differently. For some, humor is a balm.   And—as the saying goes-- laughter soothes the soul.  So please allow room for it.  Whether it’s joking with people you love, or perhaps it’s someone you’ve recently re-connected with, or maybe by simply watching a comedy film or TV show, indulge, soothe yourself…

In terms of this Covid-19 pandemic and anxiety, let’s start by asking what happens when the unknown actually is unsafe?  What happens when there is a genuine threat to our survival as there is right now?  When is it time/ appropriate/okay to be anxious?  Before I address these thoughts, let’s talk about the difference between productive and unproductive anxiety.

Anxiety is fueled by adrenaline. Adrenaline keeps us awake, alert and reactive enough to make vital decisions to ward off predators and avoid danger. In the context of this pandemic, “yes,” we do need to be anxious, enough so that we can utilize Productive anxiety as it is what motivates us to wash our hands often and distance ourselves from others when there’s an important reason to do so. If we weren’t reasonably worried, none of us would be taking these measures, and the virus would spread even more.  Productive anxiety is also recognizing the need to stock up on provisions and medications and figure out how to make changes, like working from home, managing our work lives from home, or one’s childcare needs.

Anxiety is such an uncomfortable feeling. We try to avoid feeling it at all costs. We sometimes go so far as to resort to denial- a more primitive defense mechanism- to try to convince ourselves that maybe it’s not that bad. Typically, engaging in denial is only risky to the individual doing the denying. But in the face of this pandemic, it is dangerous. In fact, it can be deadly. 

We all need to rapidly evolve into our most mature adult selves.  Everyone’s lives depend on it.

Unproductive anxiety is when that same adrenaline results in not just thinking and processing, but rather in obsessing and ruminating or “spinning.” When anxiety is unproductive, our minds engage in “cognitive distortions,” unhelpful ways of thinking such as catastrophizing and fortune telling.  Rather than having an accurate “in the moment” assessment as to what is going on, the unproductively anxious mind panics and says, “Oh my god, we are all going to die.”  And unproductive anxiety— unchecked rumination—can make our mind spin in all kinds of frightening directions. Instead of helping us to stay grounded in the present—I’m safe and making dinner; I’m snuggled up with my wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner as we watch this movie—our unproductive anxiety spins stories about the future causing us to futurize and catastrophize, both of which take up a lot of emotional real estate.

It’s a vicious cycle: The more we worry, the more we try to control our worry with something tangible, such as information. But clinging to our screens for the latest update has the opposite effect because it serves as fodder for more futurizing and catastrophizing. A daily update makes sense. But bingeing on up-to-the-minute news is like stress eating—it’s bloating our minds with unhealthy food that may make us feel sick.

Once you have allowed yourself to feel the discomfort of what’s going on and invested it in preparing and protecting yourself from things you CAN control, it’s time to then work on the discomfort of letting some of it go. Unless the continued anxiety is going to alter an outcome, or fuel a different decision, it’s no longer productive to hold onto it with the same level of intensity. In other words, once your anxiety has motivated you to take precautionary measures, you can thank it for looking out for you and then kindly show it to the door.

Sandy Marsh MA MLFT

Sandymarshtherapy.com