How to Prevent Holiday Stress from Getting Under Your Skin

+ Pamela Friedman

Are you feeling it?

The holidays are nearly upon us, and that means you may be feeling higher-than-normal levels of stress.

Stress can affect you anytime, but surveys show it tends to rise at this time of year. We don’t want to add to it, but here’s something you may not have known: all that stress is likely to show up on your skin.

Nothing like something else to worry about, right?

Don’t worry—we have all the quick fixes you’ll need to stay looking holiday bright.

How Holiday Stress Affects Your Skin

Stress inspires the body to produce more of the stress hormone, cortisol, which then wreaks havoc on the skin in the following ways:

  • Increases inflammation
  • Inflammation leads to more redness, acne, hives, and rashes
  • Inflammation also makes psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema worse
  • Creates dark circles under the eyes
  • Can promote hair loss
  • Diminishes the body’s ability to retain water, leading to dryness and dullness
  • Reduces skin’s ability to repair itself

The longer you experience excess stress, the more these types of symptoms are likely to increase and get worse. Long-term results include:

  • Rapid aging
  • Loss of elasticity
  • Loss of firmness—more sagging and bagging
  • Loss of radiance
  • Uneven skin texture
  • More visible fine lines and wrinkles

Considering all these bad outcomes, what can we do to avoid them?

7 Ways to Keep Stress from Getting Under Your Skin

Try these coping techniques to both reduce stress and help your skin to handle it until the holidays are over!

1. Exercise every day.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress since it releases feel-good endorphins in the body. Whatever else is going on, try not to miss your regular workout. On super hectic days, try to fit in an afternoon or evening walk, or head out to the gym for a few minutes after work.

2. Practice stress relief every day.

You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can step up your stress-relieving activities. Add more yoga and tai chi routines to your week, practice meditation every morning and insist on a relaxing warm bath every night. Go for a walk with your favorite four-legged friend, and make sure you take some “me” time every day to be alone and regroup.

3. Protect your sleep time.

Sleep is when the skin repairs itself, so you need your full 7-8 hours every night. If you don’t get it, not only will you look older (check out our post on lack of sleep and skin aging), but you’ll also want to snack on unhealthy foods that will cause more skin problems.

Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even the weekends, and keep all gadgets—including phones, TVs, and computers—out of the bedroom. If you’re feeling stressed when you go to bed, try a lavender pillow spray or diffuser. Lavender is known to help reduce stress and promote calm.

4. Limit the sugary treats.

They’re everywhere during the holidays—all those candies, cookies, and goodies that we look forward to all year. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but realize that excess intake of sugar isn’t good for your skin. Try eating more naturally sweet foods like berries and other fruits, then keep your servings small when it comes to the treats.

5. Go easy on the cocktails.

Cocktails are often part of holiday celebrations, but they can be full of sugar, and the alcohol isn’t great for your skin either. It’s dehydrating and can produce reactive free radicals that break down skin fibers and cause wrinkles.

Indulge when you like, but just don’t go overboard. You can also choose red wine spritzers, as the antioxidants in wine can help counteract the free radicals produced by alcohol.

6. Strengthen the skin’s outer barrier.

The skin has a natural outer layer that protects it, but it can be easily broken down by stress, poor diet, pollution, and harsh skincare products. The stronger this outer barrier, the better your skin will look and act.

First, avoid weakening the barrier with harsh scrubs—use fruit-based exfoliators instead.
Steer clear of products with harsh chemicals, too, like alcohols, and sulfates. Check your current products for any that may be irritating your skin or inflaming it, and set these aside for a while.

Then make sure you stick with a regular skin-care routine that includes gentle cleansing, moisturizing toning, and a restorative moisturizer that contains natural oils, butters, and fatty acids. Our Calming Moisture and Body Repair Lotion both help restore the skin’s outer barrier.

7. Use more masks.

Masks can do wonders for the skin, particularly when it’s stressed out. Exfoliating fruit and enzyme masks can help slough off dead skin cells and combat dullness, leaving skin looking refreshed. Clay masks can help absorb excess oil and stop breakouts. Moisturizing masks can drench skin in moisture and help counteract dryness. Choose the one your skin needs at the time. The best approach is often to rotate among all three throughout the holiday season.

How do you manage holiday stress?

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