Cortisol is a natural hormone that helps the body deal with stress. In small amounts, cortisol is a normal and healthy hormone, however, it if there is an excess amount over a long period of time, it can turn into an enemy of the skin.
A surplus of cortisol in your body throws off your gut health which can alter your hormone balance. This imbalance can lead to spots or pigmentation as well as acne breakouts on your face, chest and back. Cortisol production increases blood pressure, sugar levels and fat storage and it is believed to weaken the immune system, and contribute to collagen loss and the deterioration of cells, which all contribute to aging skin.
For some, tackling skin troubles can become the cause of the stress, which unfortunately, can then trigger more skin problems, putting your body in a vicious cycle.
Sometimes our bodies can be under stress when we don’t necessarily feel stressed and that is why I emphasize a holistic approach to all aspects of your life. It is important to actively seek to reduce any prominent stress or anxiety. Try a combination of the following, which can all help moderate cortisol levels and result in healthier, glowing skin.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep. When we are asleep, our bodies naturally regulate our cortisol levels, which is why a regular sleep routine and quality sleep is so important. When these routines are disrupted, or we don’t get enough sleep, cortisol levels elevate.
Meditation creates mindfulness, the practice of paying more attention to the present moment which helps lower stress hormones and decreases inflammation in the body.
High cortisol levels cause inflammation in the body, so it is important to eat a diet with the below nutrients:
- Foods with Omega 3 such as salmon, helps counter inflammation caused by stress
- Complex carbs like whole grains and lentils will stabilize blood sugar
- Citrus fruits like kiwis and oranges are packed with vitamin C, which helps support the immune system
- Potassium helps balance blood pressure - avocados are a good option here
Regular exercise triggers, stimulates and aids the production of endorphins, which are your body’s natural way of helping to elevate your mood.
Having hobbies allows you to take a step back from your daily routine, and devote time to things you like to do (shoe shopping in my case…). Participating in things that make you happy will trigger endorphins and lower cortisol levels.