Five minutes of "me time" not only relieves stress but also does wonders for your skin. Try some of these mindfulness rituals to maintain healthy and radiant skin.
Contributor: Dr. Kristen Race
Whether chronic or not, skin issues worsen with stress. The past 30 years have seen exponential growth in research examining mindfulness and meditation practices. It scientifically validates numerous health benefits including reduced stress, fear, worry and anxiety – conditions that are often the root causes of skin problems.
Reduced Stress = Better Skin
Simple mindfulness practices can address the underlying issues that create skin problems in the first place. Emerging research in the field of psychodermatology examines the interaction between mind, emotions and skin.
When we're stressed out, our brain signals our body to direct oxygen and nutrients away from the skin and towards organs like the heart, lungs and brain that are more essential to our survival. Stress also signals our brain to release all sorts of stress hormones that can exacerbate pre-existing issues, like acne and eczema. Our skin also loses that rosy glow and fine lines and wrinkles begin to form.
Plus, being under stress usually means things we need to do to keep our skin healthy tend to fall to the bottom of our list. We sleep less, drink less water, exercise less and forego parts of our skin care routine.
While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, incorporating a bit of mindfulness into our daily routine can combat the negative effects. Here are three ways to get started.
#1: Start Every Day with 5 Minutes of Mindful Breathing
In addition to building resilience to stress in our brains, mindful breathing adds oxygen to the skin, which is key in boosting cellular health. This mindfulness practice balances your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which in turn signals the brain that it's okay to direct nutrients and oxygen to ALL the body’s organs -- including the skin.
This increased oxygen rejuvenates your skin, balancing your body and your mind while transforming your body’s cells and tissues. It brightens your complexion, reduces wrinkles and slows down the aging process from the inside out. Meditation also lowers blood pressure and tension-related pain such as headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle aches and joint problems, making you look and feel younger.
#2: Turn Your Daily Skincare Routine Into a Mindful Ritual
Light a scented candle and leave your phone in the other room when you begin your beauty routine. Play some relaxing music to help create a more spa-like environment that allows you to keep your focus on your beauty intentions while offering peace of mind.
Take a moment to give yourself a facial massage. Use your fingers to soothe tense muscles with your favorite facial oil or use a sonic wand to massage serums and moisturizer into your skin. As we massage, we heighten the blood flow which increases collagen production. The more collagen produced, the healthier and brighter your complexion will look.
#3: End Your Day with a Mindful Bath
A relaxing bath surrounded by candles can provide the perfect crossover between beauty, meditation and relaxation. Note the sensation of the water temperature on your skin. Smell the scent of your bath oils or soaps. Relax tension by placing a warm washcloth on your forehead. You can even add a diffuser with essential oils that you find relaxing. Some particularly relaxing scents include eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and lemon. Not a bath taker? Enjoy some relaxation in the shower. Bring thoughts to the sound that the water makes as it hits your body, the scents of the soap as they envelop within the shower.
Something I try to do when I work with groups is make it profoundly clear that taking care of ourselves first is not a selfish notion. As parents, care-givers, partners, leaders we often think we have to take care of everyone else first. The reality is, the only way to do that, to be of service to others, is to look after ourselves. Incorporating a little mindfulness into our beauty self-care is a huge step in the right direction.
Have you tried any of these mindfulness rituals? Share your experience or ideas below!