Why Mental Health Is Skin Health
The connection between mental health and skin health is so profound that there is even an entire dermatological field called psychodermatology. Not only does the way our skin looks significantly impact our mental health, but our skin’s appearance is just as significantly impacted by our state of mind. So what is this intricate relationship really like?
More than skin-deep: the impact of skin conditions on mental health
As a society, we’ve been conditioned to accept certain things as “the norm.” We’ve learned to consider everything else with a bit of judgment, a shudder, a look, a negative reaction, even if it’s just internal. Sadly, many skin conditions fall into the category of “ugh, would you look at that.” People with chronic skin conditions (and even those who just happen to have the one odd temporary spot on their nose) typically suffer from lower self-esteem and a feeling of inadequacy. Many of them are plagued by insecurities and will go as far as avoiding certain situations due to sheer embarrassment. This social stigmatization can haunt those suffering from eczema, acne, hyperpigmentation, and any other temporary or chronic skin issue for life.
This lowered self-esteem opens up the door to a very vicious cycle, which can ultimately lead to anxiety and depression, panic attacks, and OCD. Even without these kinds of consequences, it’s generally anything but a walk in the park. And then there’s also the fact that skin flare-ups are often the sign of heightened stress and our worsening mental health.
Wearing your emotions on your sleeve: how mental health impacts skin conditions
As our largest organ, our skin can trace our entire past. Our scars will show where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. The wrinkles on our faces testify to the stresses we’ve overcome or are currently suffering from. Those suffering from either a mental health condition or a skin condition will tell you exactly how the two depend on each other. For instance, someone’s eczema might flare up when they are feeling particularly stressed out. For others, periods of heightened anxiety can quickly lead to a breakout. Stress is commonly listed as a cause of most skin flare-ups. At the same time, it is cited as a common trigger for mental health issues. This outburst of poor skin certainly doesn’t help our mental health either. Treating one must involve treating the other. Healing some of our blemish scars and sunspots may lead to an improvement in our mental wellbeing, but only by tackling the mental consequences of bad skin days (or years) can we round the process off.
Improving the mind/skin connection
To ensure both our mental health and our skin remain in peak condition, we need to take several different steps. Luckily, what is beneficial for one will be just as beneficial for the other:
- Drink more water. Staying hydrated is key for every process in our body, be it a mental or a physical one.
- Mind what you eat. Our diet significantly impacts the condition of our skin, and it also plays a major role in mental health. For instance, processed sugars and caffeine are known to be able to trigger anxiety symptoms.
- Sleep better. Getting enough beauty sleep is also good for our mental state. A lack of it can both exacerbate skin conditions and make us feel much less sparkly.
- Ask for help. A particular skin-related issue might be making you feel extra shy and self-conscious. Or, you might be having a really hard time with your mental health. Whatever the case, speaking to a professional (a psychologist, therapist, or dermatologist) can do a whole world of good.
- Stop comparing yourself. Whether you’re looking at Instagram stars with perfect skin or perfect lives or comparing where you are in life with a close friend’s journey, the time has come to stop killing your own joy through comparison.
The connection between our skin and our minds is not yet perfectly clear. What we do know is that our thoughts can be imprinted on our faces. And that makes mind management the perfect starting point to start living your best life today.
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