As anyone who’s come out in spots the day before an interview or a date with the man of your dreams knows, stress – even good stress – is usually the culprit.
It’s well known that the nervous system which is involved in stress has an impact on our health and more often than not it shows up in our skin. Of course, using vegan and organic skincare is going to help with skin problems; so too will regular meditation which has been scientifically shown to change brain chemistry, help with sleep, lower blood pressure, help us to feel less stressed and gives us a profound sense of well being.
Today we are bombarded with stresses never before experienced in history:
No relaxation and/or not enough down-time
Our work ethic drives back to work before we’ve recovered from illness
Acute and Chronic Infections
Fear, anxiety, depression
Poor diet and junk food
The result of stress is increased production of adrenal hormones cortisol and adrenalin and if you’re wondering why this has an impact on skin and our ageing process, the impact occurs directly and indirectly:
• Adrenalin diverts blood away from our skin so it doesn’t receive proper nutrition
• When we’re stressed we crave carbs and sugar; sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone in women, and inflammation in general, often causing acne
• Emotional stress stimulates hormonal changes and we break out in spots
• Stress causes muscle tightness and slows down the blood flow to your skin
• Excess cortisol lowers your immune system and your skin is more prone to infection
• Your adrenals use up lots of Vitamin C to produce cortisol and if your vitamin C level is low you can’t make collagen – Vitamin C is a prerequisite for the production of collagen.
• When cortisol is raised, as it is when we’re stressed it leads to blood sugar imbalances which promote the formation of complexes known as AGE’s – advanced glycosylated end products which cause inflammation and decrease the elasticity of connective tissue. In other words your skin!
Stress leads to inflammation and it’s now recognised that inflammation is one of the key contributors to the ageing process and one of the first places we see the signs of ageing is in our skin. The accumulated effects of doing all those things we love to do, like getting a sun tan, eating chocolate and ice cream, drinking delicious wine, enjoying a long cool, fizzy drink in the summer can all add up to creating free radical damage and inflammation. Using products with anti oxidants which are often to be found in good Organic skincare and Vegan skincare will certainly help, because free radicals cause inflammation and have been found to speed up the ageing process.
The antidote to producing excess cortisol and adrenalin, to reducing inflammation that pushes us on to the path of pain and premature ageing, is to deal with the stress that causes it in the first place.
Meditation is the antidote.
Meditation is like a hoover for the brain and the body which clears away information overload and tension that so many of us live with on a day to day basis without recognising it. It enables us to drop into a deep state of relaxation and experience a feeling of inner peace that almost nothing else can replicate. It cleanses and rejuvenates at a deep cellular level.
In this state of deep relaxation achieved through meditation, we produce ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin and growth hormone which repairs our cells and tissues, allows our heart rate to go down and muscles to relax, reduces blood pressure and allows our immune system to function optimally. In this relaxed state we’re able to conserve our resources to generate repair and we generally have a deep sense of wellbeing.
So how does meditation achieve this?
When you’re relaxed, your parasympathetic nervous system switches on. You have better digestion, better memory, better immunity and much more. However, it’s not the same sort of relaxation that you experience sitting reading a book or watching television. Meditation is a state of deep relaxation where tension in the body is released and your mind completely switches off.
Here’s a beautiful video to get you in the mood to meditate:
It’s generally advised that 20 minutes a day is all it takes to reap the rewards of meditation. You can maximise the benefits of meditation for your skin with these 5 tips.
1. Follow the advice of Thich Nhat Hahn who wrote in his book ‘Being Peace’:
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” (Smiling stimulates our ‘happy’ hormones and our skin literally glows from this feeling)
2. Breathe deeply from the abdomen, not your chest. This way you inhale more oxygen and the more oxygen you breathe in the less anxious and stressed you will feel and the more oxygenated blood will reach your skin.
3. Visualise a wonderful, soothing light washing all the tension out of your body. See the light soothing and releasing all the fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Take your attention to your toes and ‘ask’ that they release any tension; continue releasing tension in this way as you take your attention to your legs, pelvis, back, chest, shoulders, neck and finally head. There is nothing to ‘do’, simply ask each part of your body to let go of the tension it holds. Continue doing this with your face, do one side of your face first and then the other. Feel the difference between one side and the other.
5. Visualise your body and your face being free of all pain and inflammation. Visualise your skin looking wonderful and feeling amazing.
The more you meditate, the more you radiate!