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Corona and Cortisol: a guide to managing your skin and body stress during the pandemic
08 April 2020
Dealing with the current state of affairs during the COVID-19 coronavirus, government health authorities have recommended social-distancing and self-isolation practices to avoid contamination and to help ‘flatten the curve’ of infections to reduce the impact on our hospitals and health care system. So how can we make the most of being at home whilst social-distancing, self-isolating or in quarantine? Let’s give ourselves a little more love and attention with some self-care time. Self-care is the perfect way to keep your immune system strong, reduce stress and, most of all, reduce the level of cortisol your body is producing.
What is Cortisol and why is too much detrimental to our overall health?
Cortisol is a hormone which can be classified as a steroid hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands and is released into the bloodstream and travels to all parts of the body – including our skin! High cortisol levels in our body can be detrimental as it can lead to rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, mood swings, increased thirst, decreased sex drive, irregular periods and fatigue. Cortisol also plays a large role in the health of your skin and can lead to conditions such as an excess production of oil and acne, inflammation, sensitivity, redness and flushed cheeks (rosacea), tired and dull looking skin and ageing.
Why does reducing Cortisol play such a big part in the ritual of self-care?
When caring for ourselves and practising self-care we naturally help to reduce levels of cortisol in our body and therefore reduce the root cause of the detrimental effects it creates on our body, mind and skin. At end of the day, if we can get through this stressful time and look good, then we’ll feel good. This simply goes hand in hand!
What types of self-care can help during this stressful time?
Calm and soothe your mind
We’re all constantly bombarded by the 24-hour news cycle around COVID19-19 and our levels of anxiety is at a high, but remember you’re not alone, we are all experiencing this. Practising meditation, mindfulness and gratefulness will help to reduce anxiety and stress and recentre you. You can do this easily in your own home by downloading apps on your phone and following the techniques. Headspace and Calm are a couple of Apps that are very good to try and there’s many more to choose from.
Have a chat and download
This may sound too simple, however when we’re stressed and busy, we may tend to not open up to people as we usually would. Simply having a good conversation with someone, enjoying a laugh or explaining how we are currently feeling can really assist in being able to deal with our concerns and lift our mood. Solutions may be found to problems knowing we’re not alone and to get other people’s opinions. Family, friends and even a therapist can be of huge benefit.
The amount of sleep you receive will affect your cortisol levels. This includes the length as well as the quality of sleep you receive. If you can’t seem to increase the amount of time you sleep, perhaps you can improve the quality of sleep that you’re getting. Some hints to improve your sleep is to eliminate screen time before bed and especially to not use screens when the lights are out as this will tell out body that it’s time to wake up. Try to place your phone on silent mode with no vibrations during the night or set up the ‘do not disturb’ function for the times that you plan to sleep. Exercise is very important during this time as well as it has been proven to improve sleep as well as help to improve your mood and stress levels, due to the release of endorphins – our body’s happy chemical. A brisk walk each day if you can will do wonders, otherwise get creative - walk up and down your stairs or hallways, use water bottles as weights or look online for online fitness classes that you can follow along from your living room.
Update your skincare
High cortisol levels lead to a weakened immune system, which will cause an inflammatory response in the skin too. Inflammation can trigger long term skin conditions such as redness and blotchiness, signs of ageing, pigmentation and menacing breakouts…. Exactly the opposite of what we want right now right?
Make sure you are using skincare that contains clinically proven ingredients like NeurophrolineTM and Niacinamide that actively reduce skin stress and cortisol production and therefore reduce the havoc inflammation can create on your skin. The Dermalist range has been developed specifically to do just that in order to holistically optimise your skin’s health and appearance, so if you’re looking for a good place to start our Radiance Essentials Kit (SHOP NOW) containing our inflammation reducing cleanser, exfoliant and revolutionary AllSerum is on sale now for just $59.
If your inflammation is under control, you could also use this time to introduce new skincare products, ingredients (like Vitamin A) or weekly treatments that may have some initial downtime. Just make sure you continue to apply sunscreen every day as you’ll still be exposed to UV light and look for skincare products containing VenuceaneTM like our all-in-one AllSerum Skin Perfector (SHOP NOW) to protect against more frequent exposure to IR / Blue light from those long days in front of the computer.
Supplement your diet
Fish oils and probiotics such as yogurt and kefir have been known to reduce cortisol levels, so you may want to look at adding these to your daily diet if you’re noticing your skin going a little haywire at the moment. Specialised companies like Beauty Chef (www.beautychef.com) and JS Health (www.jshealthvitamins.com) also offer a range of pre-formulated supplements that will provide many with the necessary vitamins to support their skin health during this time as well. Of course, it is always good to check with your health provider or pharmacist to ensure the introduction of supplements don’t interfere with medications you may be on first.
Caring for yourself and your skin during this stressful time can be as easy as incorporating some self-care practices and paying attention to what you are putting in your body and on your skin. Take time every day and start to implement these small changes to help reduce your body’s production of cortisol which will inevitably benefit your mind, body and skin to help you not only get through this stressful time, but to come out even more radiant and healthy looking at the other end.
Stay safe, stay home whenever you can & look after yourself,