My Skin Showed Me The Stress I Didn't Know I Was Feeling: This Is My New Soothing Routine
Stress manifests itself in all kinds of complex ways, and more often than not, it shows up in the largest organ of the body: the skin. I learned that the hard way over the past few months, via unexpected flare-ups and super sensitivity to temperature and environment changes.
I thought I was adapting pretty well to "the new normal," working from home, spending more time outside, and taking my social distancing seriously. My stress level could most accurately be described as occasionally irritated and socially frustrated, but my skin was telling a more dramatic story. I started to react to my products, burn easily in the sun, and overheat and flush quickly outside. After a few weeks of this heightened sensitivity, I resolved to slow down and treat my skin, and myself, a little more delicately.
The routine revamp.
I am a big believer that, when it comes to wellness, nothing exists in a silo. There's evidence that negative thoughts can make your food less nutritious, and my strengthening workouts changed the day I stopped thinking about my to-do list and started thinking about the muscles I was activating.
As a first step, I decided to apply this thinking to my skin care routine. I realized I was rushing through my regimen in the morning—often while in the shower—and not really thinking about what I was doing. How can I expect stressed-out skin to thrive in that environment?
So, I took advantage of these work-from-home days and carved out a few extra minutes to step out of the shower and do my morning cleanse, serum, moisturize at the sink. I also took the time to focus.
I really believe this step was key—it offered a moment of calm between my workout-shower-work routine that soothed my internal stress and ensured I was actually rinsing off that cleanser and letting my skin soak up my serums and moisturizers.
The product overhaul.
In the past, my need to feel clean has led to one too many face washings a day and a similar number of absent-minded product purchases. After a much-needed product overhaul, I leaned out my supply to the stressed-skin essentials I need.
I start my morning (and evening) wash with Burt's Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser, followed by Avene Thermal Water facial mist to wake me up and calm my occasional pillow face. I follow it with a complementary Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream...which I apply 100% of the time with my eyes closed 1) because I'm usually a little bit groggy and 2) so I can focus on the three cleansing breaths I take every morning. Yes, I deep cleanse my face and my mind at the same time—skin care + breathwork is an unbeatable self-care combo. After I crack my eyes open, I treat them to a little TLC with Youth to the People's Superfood Peptide Eye Cream. A few delicate dabs and I'm ready to face the day.
When it comes to EOD, I rely on Dr. Jart's Cicapair Cream, which hydrates and relaxes me after particularly stressful days. It helps prep my face for the AC blast my body requires for the ideal slumber. But first, I light a candle, put my legs up the wall, and calm my racing mind hoping the rest of me, skin included, will follow suit.
The bigger picture.
Finally, I decided to fully acknowledge and accept that skin stress is real. These are extremely tense times, and we're just beginning to realize the toll it's taking on our minds and bodies.
Taking inventory of my approach to my skin care routine helped me take inventory of myself and sense of well-being. It's important to acknowledge stresses and sensitivities, outside in and inside out. Take a breath, take care of yourself, and make the changes that will help you feel relaxed and collected. Our recommendation? Start with something you can control: a skin care detox. You'll breathe easier, shine brighter, and most importantly: find peace of mind.
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Meg Phillips is a Brand Strategist at mindbodygreen. She received her degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Vogue, Milk Studios, Allure and Bon Appétit. She lives in Manhattan, NY.