Meditation has become increasingly popular as a way to reduce stress and increase happiness, especially in the last year and a half, as people seek small daily habits to improve their well-being and reduce stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. But mindfulness is good for more than just stress relief; it may also help your skin.
The daily stress our minds endure is the greatest beauty thief and aging factor of all time, says Amy Wechsler, MD, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection. “Wound healing slows, oil glands overwork, and inflammation rises,” she explains.
This can cause skin problems. “Stress hormones cause acne in many adults. But most people don’t get it. If [patients’] lives are too hectic, they may develop stress acne, “he explains. The common denominator is corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a stress hormone linked to inflammation and previously linked to acne development.
Stress can also speed up the appearance of wrinkles and lines. “Chronic stress and cortisol exposure make it difficult for the skin to naturally repair itself, form healthy collagen and elastin, and repair damaged areas,” Wechsler says.
Stress can also exacerbate symptoms of skin conditions. The stress hormone cortisol increases the production of sebum, which irritates the skin and causes psoriasis and eczema.
Mindfulness Has Proven Skin Health Benefits
You may be wondering what you can do now that you know how stress affects skin conditions and aging. That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment,” according to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. The other is doing so without judgment. No “you’re doing it wrong.”
Mindfulness has been shown to benefit the skin. A June 2018 Journal of Behavioral Medicine study found that mindfulness can help speed up wound healing. It has also been shown to help with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition characterized by painful, red, scaly patches. A 2019 American Journal of Clinical Dermatology review found mindfulness to be effective in reducing psoriasis symptoms in over 1500 people.
Anxiety and depression are linked to chronic skin conditions. Mindfulness is a stress-reduction technique that has been shown to reduce distress and improve the quality of life, according to a November 2016 British Journal of Dermatology study.
How to Use Mindfulness to Benefit Your Skin
In this case, mindfulness techniques can help you deal with stress more effectively. “I talk to my patients a lot about stress management because it’s linked to overall inflammation and can cause symptom flares,” Dr. Bodemer explains.
According to research published in April 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness strategies can also help you stick to a healthy diet and sleep better, both of which contribute to a clear, healthy complexion.
1. Begin With Your Breath
This is where Bodemer started working with patients, as it is a great way to introduce mindfulness. Inhale for four counts, hold for seven counts, and exhale slowly for eight counts. Whether at a grocery store, a red light, or during a heated argument, she explains.
2. Take a Break
A minute is sometimes needed. Pause and take ten deep breaths. Compile. change your perspective, the energy in a room, or your current experience, Bodemer says. If time is short, try three breaths.
3. Body Scan Before Bedtime
This method involves focusing on various body parts as you move from head to toe. According to Bodemer, it’s a great one to do before bed. These guided meditations are available on many meditation apps, or you can try them out with the UCLA Mindful App’s two body scans.
4. Pay Attention to the Present
Bodemer advises people to “bring awareness to what they’re doing and be present in the experience” when they’re enjoying themselves.
5. Mindful Exercise
You may have noticed how meditative walking or jogging can be. Mindfulness and movement may help reduce negative emotions during activity, according to a July 2018 Psychology of Sport and Exercise study. When you go for a walk or a run, be fully present and aware of your emotions and feelings.
6. Deduct ten
We need solitude. Put an end to all your hustling and bustling for 10–15 minutes each day, and just be alone and still, “Wechsler advises. This daily practice creates a sense of spaciousness in one’s life, a break from routine that can lead to new perceptions, new solutions, and new possibilities.
7. Stop multitasking
Ticking off tasks one after the other, never finishing one, is appealing. According to the Center for Resilience, starting and finishing each task independently requires complete focus on a single task. Move your phone to the other side of the room, turn off notifications on web apps like Slack, or minimize your email screen so you don’t respond immediately. Another benefit of this habit? Productivity increases, allowing you to finish work faster and spend more time doing things you enjoy.