“Why am I breaking out….again?!”
“I followed and did all my skincare routine religiously and yet…”
Stressed and stress.
Whenever stress knocks on our doors, it almost always triggers a breakout.
Stress causes our bodies to make Cortisol, a hormone that will tell the glands in our skin to make more oil. An oilier skin then increases the probability of clogging and acne.
We might think that Cortisol is the bad guy.
But he isn’t.
Cortisol - The Soldier on 20 cans of red bull
Cortisol is like our bodies’ ministry of defense, whose job is to get our bodies ready for battle, when it senses that we are under attack. If you are in a life-threatening situation, Cortisol is your best chance at survival.
Cortisol springs into action, (like a soldier on 20 cans of Red Bull) readying our bodies to fight or flight:
- It increases our blood sugar
- It boosts energy so that we can handle the situation.
- It controls our sleep/ wake cycle keeping us on high alert (not relaxed and chilled, because no one should be relaxed in war).
- It also tries to protect our bodies, by keeping inflammation down.
Stress creates a hostile atmosphere, resembling an attack or a dangerous situation. Our brains might not intuitively discern, this is daily-stress versus this is life-and-death. Because stress isn’t natural. It has become very common, yes but that doesn’t make it natural. It isn’t “that’s just the way life is”.
Our minds and bodies respond to it as if we are under attack. A dangerous situation. And Cortisol jumps up and gears our bodies for battle, so that we have the best chances of “survival”.
So really, Cortisol isn’t the bad guy.
It is actually nature’s gift to us, at giving our species the best chances at survival.
The collateral damage - Our skin conditions
But of course, there are consequences on our health and our skin that we do not like.
When our bodies are in high alert situations, it includes Cortisol messaging the glands on our skin, to produce more oil.
- Which leads to acne
- It can also cause other skin issues as it becomes increasingly difficult for the skin to heal itself normally.
- The wound healing process for the skin is being disrupted and the skin’s antibacterial properties weaken.
So what do we do?
If we could prevent stress from happening, we would. But clearly it’s hard to. Nobody wants to be stressed but somehow, stress happens to all of us.
WE JUST MIGHT HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER THIS...
In our quest to uncover a better way of life for ourselves, we found one method which has been working for us. There are a few other methods of course, and we will be talking and sharing about them in the next few weeks. But for today, we are going to talk about one - Pause.
The Value of A Pause
1. Pause and Become aware
2. Mindfully, slow down
If you are walking, slow down your pace deliberately. Walk slowly, almost leisurely. If you prefer to sit, find a quiet place or a cool shady place and sit down.
When you slow down mindfully, you are sending the first signal to your brain that you aren’t in a situation that requires you to run or combat physically. You are stressed, but you are actually safe.
3. See, hear, smell, touch.
When you are engaging your senses, and feeding your brain with visual images or sounds or smells - you are reaffirming to your brain that you are actually safe, there are things of colors around you, scenes of daily life happening, you are present in a place here and not “there, on the imaginary battlefield”.
4. And then, start breathing.
Deep breath in, hold for 3 seconds
Breath breathe out through your mouth.
Then close your eyes
And start counting your breath. One, Two, three...till 10.
Our Control lies in sending the right messages to our Cortisol.
This is one of the most effective “proof” to your brain that you are managing this and it is ok. When you slow down and start to breathe gently and slowly, your brain receives the signal that you are not in a life-threatening situation. And when Cortisol gets the message, it will ease up and stand down. Hormonal levels start to normalize.
When we discovered this beautiful connection between our minds and bodies, it actually made us feel better. In a way, it made us feel relieved that we actually have more control than we thought we had.
Setting out from a Calm center
Taking a Pause doesn't eliminate the stressful situation that you are facing. The stress is still there, we are not living in some magic wonderland.
But we are now in a much more advantageous position to deal with it. Dealing with stress in a worried, frenzied and full-on combat mode, often made the whole cycle worse, and a lot more tedious and probably longer-drawn than it needs to be.
Through a Pause, a mindful slowing down, and gentle breathing, we return ourselves to a more balanced center and it is from that center that we now stand, to deal with the stressful situation that we were given.
Glowing from the inside out
And the skin benefits?
Well my friends, this is our definition of “Glowing from the inside out”.
When the body-mind connection is harnessed, it shows through our appearances.
Even when we are not in stress, the perks of just merely sitting and focusing on our breath for 5 minutes a day are substantial for our minds and skin. It helps to rejuvenate our skin by delivering oxygen to it.
And this practice of “The Pause” can happen, anywhere and fit easily in your day.
No matter who you are. Whether you are a student on a bus, a busy executive at your desk or a hassled parent taking a 5 mins toilet-hideout.
one pause at a time,
we find ourselves strengthening our balanced and calm center,
and from that position, we face life.