Difficult times play havoc with our mental state, but grief, stress, anxiety and depression can also affect our physical appearance. The skin often looks lacklustre and sallow, as less oxygen reaches the face, muscles become tighter and the jaw gets tense.
These negative emotions impact on the immune system, lowering the body’s white blood cell count, making it susceptible to disease and hampering its ability to heal itself. They also set off skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema, which can bring further stress.
Tackling skin’s emotional reaction needs a holistic approach:
• Diet. Don’t skip meals and minimise your caffeine intake, as both stimulate adrenal production. Choose anti-oxidant rich food to scavenge damaging free radicals. Eat more fish to boost your intake of essential fatty acids. Dehydration exacerbates skin disorders, so drink two litres of water per day.
• Sleep. At least eight hours a day are essential to allow your body to recharge and rejuvenate itself.
• Exercise. Force yourself to run or walk for at least 20 minutes a day. It will work wonders, especially if you can reconnect with nature in a park or the countryside.
• Relaxation. Try to actively de-stress by taking a meditation or yoga class – it’s sure to pay dividends.
• Professional help. Seeking guidance from a mental health expert can help you to address many skin disorders by tackling the emotional issues that underlie them.
Finally, be kind to yourself and remember that time can be the greatest healer of all.