We are currently over two months into lockdown and – though the stress is affecting us in different ways – it is undoubtedly affecting all of us. Parents with children and a full-time job; those who have lost their jobs; those on their own and of course, and the universal worry for the health of our loved ones.
However, let’s not pretend that life was an ocean of serenity before all of this. Not only was work full-on, but the commute on top of all of that. The worry of balancing a social life, self-care and romantic relationships is something that plagued many of us. Then there were wider fears about the environment, our future and our health. Modern life is stressful!
Psychological stress is defined as:
“When an individual perceives that mental, physical and/or emotional pressure exceeds their adaptive power.”
Yes to all three! Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and it can often feel as though we are running purely on cortisol and adrenaline to power us through a standard day. Cortisol regulates a wide range of stress hormones…Which have a direct effect on the health of our skin.
What does Cortisol do?
Cortisol activates that familiar ‘fight or flight’ response, which many of us are in a constant state of in modern life thanks to the increased workloads we are experiencing, on top of our increased use of mobile phones with their blue lights that disrupt our Circadian rhythms.
Think accelerated heart rates and breathing – that sensation of jumpiness, of being on high alert at any given moment.
Why is this Bad?
The heightened cortisol alters our immune system and increases inflammation, as well as decreasing collagen production. This upsets the skin’s barrier function and all-round ‘happy medium’ state, which can result in psoriasis, acne and dermatitis.
Annyoingly, these then make the sufferer stressed…Which can worsen the conditions even more. Long-term, we are looking at accelerated ageing with the skin being more prone to pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity & firmness and dull skin.
Annalouise Kenny, founder of Skin Philosophy
The owner of Skin Philosophy is no stranger to the effects of cortisol. “At 24, I was running four clinics offering cutting-edge treatments, I had to travel a lot and I was smoking and living quite a boozy lifestyle. This immediately took its toll on my skin, and though I started using botox and had access to brilliant treatments, I could see my face ageing at an accelerated rate. Flying could add half a stone as my lymphatic system was so sluggish, which in turn affected my confidence.
Of course, life is not exactly slow-paced when you own a clinic, numerous training school and work as both an aesthetician and a teacher all over the UK. But I have found better ways to achieve balance and relaxation, which I share on our Bodhi Retreat.
Firstly, I’m good at looking at the bigger picture: when a problem comes up: I have enough experience to know that it can be solved. I also surround myself with a team of people who are not just good at their jobs, but bring a positive energy, for example Colette who I can always lean on! At the end of the day I do my job because I am passionate about beauty, and I am my own boss. I’ve also found the lymphatic suit at the clinic to be an excellent treatment because not only does it cure my tendency to swell when I fly, it forces me to lie still for at least 20 minutes!
I have always been quite an anxious person, but there was one year of my life when everything hit at once. I was 31 but people had always guessed my age at early 20s, and in just one year I aged about a decade. In a few weeks, I had a big break up, a family death and a new, very stressful relationship, on top of which I started booking non-stop modelling work! This last part was great because at least I didn’t have my usual freelancer money worries, but the thing about modelling is that it’s vital that I turn up for work positive, energetic and ready to work hard, no matter how tired or stressed I may be.
I had been through quite a lot of shock that I hadn’t processed, and underneath the smile on shoots, I had a constantly racing heart, nausea that meant I never wanted to eat and a pounding in my head. I was running on empty, and always imagining a quiet week ahead (that never happened, as we all know).
I think that when someone hits this ‘running on empty’ stage they either have to stop and recalibrate, or their body will force them and mine forced me to stop. I got very ill and had to slowly recover, gradually building up my appetite and weight.
I am a lot better at managing my stress-levels now, because I don’t want to risk losing work and, vainly, I certainly do not want to accelerate ageing any more than I already did!
I think that yin yoga is a brilliant exercise as it makes you breathe slowly and release tension in the body. I find getting out in nature (even if it’s the local park) really relaxing and I love going to dance classes to express myself. Dealing with stress doesn’t have to mean detracting from your usual productivity, just dialling down the ‘rushing around’ and adding in more nourishing practises to your timetable.
What Do We Offer at the Clinic to Help?
Simply coming to the clinic is a step in the right direction, as you’re going to have to lie on our heated beds and close your eyes, allowing that racing heart to slow and breath to deepen. But of course, microneedling and peels will not give the same meditative experience in comparison to other treatments we prodive.
We think that our Prescriptives Programme is great, because though there may be a peel or some IPL in there, you know you’re getting a treatment that will improve your skin, boosting your confidence – and it will include lying under our LED canopy with goggles on, letting you relax while your collagen is boosted.
As Annalouise mentioned, adding the lymphatic drainage suit is warming and relaxing – a bit like floating on gentle waves – and helped beat puffiness that may be making you feel self-conscious
We also offer lymphatic drainage facial massage, which often sends clients to sleep – only to wake up to sculpted and glowing faces.
It may not be the most relaxing treatment, but Dr Harriet is an absolute whizz with botox and filler, meaning that the face looks softened, brightened and very subtly tightened, without anyone ever guessing that you’ve ‘had work’.
And of course our comprehensive knowledge of skincare ingredients and the products we offer mean that we can send you home with a skincare regime that will help with pigmentation, ageing skin and breakouts.
Contact us if you want any information on our homecare kits, or treatments you’re considering for after lockdown.