They say that your eyes are the windows to your soul. It’s your skin, however, that is the historian of your health and well-being… 

Contributor: Lori Bush

If you don’t have your health, all the cosmeceuticals in the world won’t correct the reflection of what lies beneath.  Here’s what every woman needs to know about the role of stress in her life and ways to minimize its impact on your skin, your health, and your well being.

Understanding the Impact of Stress 

Through the years, I’ve written and spoken about the impact of stress on skin.  But I thought I was one of those lucky creatures who could thrive on stress, juggling career and family and operating on an average of 4 hours of sleep a night for weeks on end. 

Then came the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer and the requirement to immediately discontinue the bio-identical hormones that were helping me to keep my skin and hair looking years younger than my chronological age.  The icing on the cake was the prescription of endocrine therapy that would flat line my estrogen levels and accelerate the aging of my skin.

Was stress the cause of my breast cancer?  There’s no way to know for sure. But what we do know is that unmitigated stress triggers inflammatory processes throughout the body which, in turn, can wreak havoc on every organ and promote accelerated aging of the largest organ, our skin. 

My new normal in beauty is all about managing the impact of stress on my skin and the benefits are much more than skin deep.

What Is Inflammaging?

“Inflammaging” is the aging process associated with inflammation. When it comes to skin, stress from both internal and environmental sources is a major contributor to accelerated inflammaging. 

However, what’s proving to be more important than the nearly impossible strategy of avoiding the daily stressors in life is knowing how to effectively handle them.   

Stressed About Stress? 

Here are some lifestyle practices that can help keep your skin, and in many cases your whole body, more resilient to the inflammaging effects of stress. 

Practice Integrative Beauty

Modern innovations in skincare have taken us from hope in a jar to real benefits inspired by pharmaceutical discovery.  However, in beauty, we also have access to a portfolio of 2000 years of new ideas, many of which derive from eastern cultures.  Plant-based Ayurvedic ingredients that are rich in adaptogens can now  be purified and concentrated as both cosmeceutical and nutraceutical ingredients to add benefits to any beauty or wellness regimen.

Breathe and Meditate

In stressful situations many of us, especially women, tend to shorten or hold our breath. No surprise, this impacts oxygen availability to our organs and is stressful to the body.  Along with the physiological benefits of breathing properly, focusing on your breathing patterns is an anchoring component of mindfulness. 

And in case you think, as I used to, that meditation is for people who have nothing better to do with their time, think again.  In their best-selling book, The Telomere Effect, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel share extensive scientific evidence of the profound physiological benefits of meditation and other lifestyle practices to manage the impact of stress at the cellular level.  

Eat Anti-Stress Foods

Food may be our best anti-stress medicine.  However, aspects of what is deemed healthy in terms of food and diet still remain controversial and the information seems to change constantly. Don’t let that stress you out; there are things we know (almost) for certain. 

For instance, healthy fats, best sourced from plants or fish, have anti-inflammatory benefits.  Complex carbohydrates, like a comforting bowl of oatmeal, boost serotonin and thereby help to mitigate stress. Importantly, know what foods to avoid.  The more and the sooner you can banish sugar and processed meats from your diet, the better.  

Exercise

Along with the obvious benefits of endorphin release by the brain, exercise supports circulation thereby bringing nutrients to the skin.  For the best integrative beauty benefits of exercise, choose low impact options.  High impact exercises such as jogging are believed to potentially loosen the microscopic attachments that bind skin to muscle which, in turn, can lead to increased sagging.

Be Proactive and Read (or Listen)

A top strategy for longevity and wellbeing is to stay proactively involved in your wellness.  Today, the knowledge base available via books and blogs is almost limitless.  And with podcasts and audio books, opportunities to acquire new insights and tips to help daily management of stress are a productive source of entertainment.

Like integrative medicine, integrative beauty is about creating a plan filled with healthy habits drawing from the best of different disciplines and resources. Simple daily adjustments to lifestyle can make a big difference in helping to prevent accelerated inflammaging. No stress needed!

What are your thoughts on inflammaging? Share in the comments below!

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