Physical, emotional and mental stress directly and indirectly affect acne. Relationships, family, money, finances, health,
poor sleep, work and other responsibilities, poor nutrition, and/or how we look and feel all affect our levels of stress. Stress produces cortisol which is our main stress hormone. Chronic stress creates blood sugar imbalances, reduces digestive and detoxification capabilities, increases inflammation and androgen levels, which all contribute to acne. Stress can affect many hormones negatively and can trigger androgen production, which in turn increases the amount of oil skin secretes. More oil means a greater likelihood of acne flare ups. It’s a vicious cycle. Also, stress affects the digestive system by shutting down blood
flow to our gut, decreases secretions needed to break down nutrients, increases acid in the stomach and causes inflammation
of the gastrointestinal system. This leaves us more susceptible to infection because it blocks absorption of vital nutrients and
can lead to leaky gut. Some stress is unavoidable, but chronic stress contributes to many serious health problems and aging just as fast as eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer every day.

STRESS-REDUCTION STRATEGIES

I have created a list of suggestions for reducing stress levels. Start first with whichever ones will be the easiest. If you are following an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan, you are already reducing all forms of stress, so you can check that one off the list and move your focus to the next item on the list:

1.  Follow an anti-inflammatory diet.

2. Take suggested supplements.

3. Detox your body and your home.

4. Get quality sleep. Sleep allows your body to repair itself and normalize cortisol levels (more on this in the next section).

5. Get plenty of exercise. Physical exercise produces endorphins that naturally elevate mood and reduces cortisol.

6. Get regular massages. Massage produces endorphins, relaxes muscle tension, and increases circulation. If this is cost prohibitive, enlist a good friend or partner to trade massages.

7. Breathe deeply and learn to meditate. You may not realize it, but it’s likely you are not breathing properly; shallow breathing is a habit. Deep breathing and meditation (which requires deep breathing) reduces sleep problems, gastrointestinal problems, stress and anxiety. Take time to focus on your breath and learn to meditate.

8. Maintain positive social connections and spend time with friends and loved ones for cultivating good endorphins.
By the same token, step away from negativity, gossip, and people who drain your energy. The effects of cortisol are dramatic and long-lasting in the body. Positive comments and connections spur oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates trust, collaboration, communication and reduces stress levels.

9. Engage in human touch. Similar to getting massages, the value of human touch cannot be overstated. Physical contact and affection elevates oxytocin, “The Love Hormone,” triggers the increase of serotonin, the happy hormone.

10. Engage in a spiritual practice of your choice, which helps the immune system, regulates negative emotions and reduces stress. Spiritual practice does not have to be some form of organized religion. It can be as simple as regularly playing music, meditating, dancing, gardening, golfing, hiking or painting. Spiritual practice helps to keep you in the moment or the now – not stuck
in your past or in fear of the future.

11. Seek professional coaching, counseling or a mentor, whether it is a professional fitness trainer, life coach, business coach or therapeutic counselor to help control and deal with negative emotions or stressful life events.

12. Do more of what you love and less of what you don’t love. Take time to be creative and have fun.

13. Express gratitude by shifting your focus away from what you perceive as wrong or not working in life. Keep
in mind that what you focus your attention on expands. Choose wisely.

14. Practice effective time management. Create and schedule blocks of time to complete specific tasks. For example, designate certain times of day to return all calls and emails, and banish technology interruptions in between. Leverage your time by delegating and paying for assistance when it makes sense. Simplifying your life creates more time and less need to multi-task.

15. Declutter your living and work space. The more space you have the more you have to manage, which becomes a time vampire and creates stress. Less is more. Donate, sell, toss, and shred anything you do not love, never use, or don’t need. Organize what you have left.