You know that stress = acne. Or at least it heavily contributes to it in a myriad of ways.
It affects your hormones, it affects your digestion, it eats up your nutrients, and it redirects blood flow away from your skin to deal with whatever’s stressing you out.
Hands down one of the best ways to reduce acne is to reduce stress. But it can also be the hardest!
How do you stop stressing?? It often feels like it’s not in your control. Or like you’re not even consciously aware of it for the most part.
Well one thing I learned this year from dealing with general anxiety is a quick, effective, and practical tip.
Breathe and Relax
Here’s all it takes:
Spend one second and mentally scan your body from head to toe and notice your muscles.
Are any of them clenched up? Tightened? Not-so-relaxed? Whenever I personally do this, I often find that my stomach and jaw are clenched.
Okay… found some tense muscles?
Go on and relax them. Release them. Let them have a big proverbial “sigh”.
If you’re not sure how to do this, a trick is to first tense up ALL your muscles super tight. All of them. Even your face and eye balls. Hold this for a few seconds.
Then release it all completely. You see now?
Next, notice your breathing. Is it long and slow, or is more on the quick and shallow side?
Not really sure?
It doesn’t matter, but regardless, go on and make an effort to make it longer and deeper.
Important though, because most people don’t know how to breathe properly, is that you breathe deeply first into your belly. Then your chest. Then right up into your neck and shoulders.
Most people just jump straight to the chest! Fill the belly first.
Take your time with this. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, place your one hand on your belly, and one on your chest so you can feel it go into each area fully before moving onto the next.
Once you’ve fully inhaled, hold for a count at the top, and then exhale for just as long as it took you to breathe in. Breathe out in reverse order… let the air out of your neck and shoulders, then your chest, and finally your belly.
Rinse and repeat.
Here’s a suuuper old video of mine – ala my dreadlock days – where I show you how to breathe properly:
Be aware that REALLY deep breathing is a bit weird… like people would notice if you did it at your desk at work.
But practice this in private, and then transfer what you’ve learned so that your regular, “daily basis” breathing becomes naturally deeper and longer (without making you look like a weirdo).
How Often To Do This
Do this as often as you can throughout the day. Do a quick body scan, and if things are a little tense or you feel a bit anxious, then breathe deeply and relax all your muscles and try to keep them that way as you go about your business.
You might be surprised to find that even if you think you’re not stressed, that you are actually holding a lot of tension in your body. All that unconscious stress is manifesting itself physically.
And you’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you do this for a few minutes.
If I start to feel myself get anxious, I now do a quick “breathe and relax” and I can usually either stop myself from going down that hole, or bring myself right out of it if I’m already there.
Why This Works
Here’s the thing… when you’re stressed, your body activates your sympathetic nervous system.
This part of your nervous system is what tenses your muscles, makes your breathing shallow, gets your heart pumping, and prepares you to fight bears and flee dangers. It takes away blood from your skin and extremities, and slows digestion.
This is great. When a bear is attacking you.
However, what we are stressed about these days is rarely anything actually physically dangerous, so this response is not so helpful. It causes us more harm than good when we’re perpetually stuck there.
So the trick to combatting this is to consciously breathe, and release and relax any muscle tension.
Since the whole point of the sympathetic system is to get you ready to fight or flee, breathing deeply and relaxing are completely incompatible with it.
Which means that doing the above forces your body to take you out of that system, and instead activates what they call the “parasympathetic nervous system”. This is the “supa chilla” system that helps you digest and rejuvenate the body (and the skin!)
So… if you want better skin, and you know stress is a factor, but having a hard time really dealing with it…. take this tip and do it often!
Well, what’s the verdict? While reading this, were you clenching your muscles and breathing shallow(ly?) without really realizing it?