Stress, we all feel it in some form or other. A little stress can be good, think of that last sweaty run, felt good afterwards, right? That’s because our body’s response to threat with a release of adrenaline and cortisol, it doesn’t know if we’re running from a lion or running off that choc-chip-muffin but gives us an energising, mood boost either way. Problems arise when a little stress turns into chronic, all day long stress.
Struggling with skin issues?
Here are just a few of the ways chronic stress and anxiety affect you and your skin:
- When stress hormone levels are high for too long, they throw you out of balance and will make your skin overly oily or leave you dried out.
- Circulation suffers and with it, your glow disappears.
- Inflammation sky rockets – acne, fever blisters, hives and psoriasis flare-ups are right around the corner.
- Sleep quality and digestion suffer – both major players in the health of your skin.
- Routine and habits slip – often, when we’re feeling under it, exercise, healthy eating and an unmissable skincare routine go out the window.
With stress and anxiety being linked to just about every skin issue under the sun (for good reason), and without the option to pack it all in for a hunter-gather lifestyle - what can we do to feel calmer, more focused, centred and happy? Meditation. The eye rolls and groans are coming through loud and clear from here, but hold on sec or rather, take a deep breath. Meditation and mindfulness aren’t just the latest fad or internet buzz words.
Both have been around for thousands of years and making meditation a daily habit will see benefits seep through to all areas of your life. You’ll become smarter, more focused, more fun to be around, sleep better, have a revved-up metabolism, and feel more connected to your surroundings.
How will meditation affect my skin?
- Improved circulation will have your skin glowing.
- A happier digestive system means you’ll be absorbing all the healthy building blocks from your food.
- Beauty sleep is real, and you’ll be giving Sleeping Beauty a run for her money.
- Inflammation levels plummet and with them so do unwanted skin flare-ups.
- Plus, you’ll live longer while ageing slower.
The benefits of meditation run wide and deep, many start for one reason or other but stick with it after noticing big improvements in unexpected areas.
Sign me up, how do I get started?
Don’t go too big, too soon. Building a habit means making the task repeatable every day. Sitting down for 30 minutes of meditation on day 1 with motivation running high may be achievable but can you come back day after day? Just like one run won’t have you winning marathons, one meditation practice won’t make you Buddha. Short daily practice trumps intensity every time.
Ironically, it’s technology that offers some great ways to get going with meditation and mindfulness. Apps such as Headspace and Calm will guide you through your meditation journey. Both make building a meditation-habit a cinch and are excellent starting points if you’re feeling unsure about how to get started. Having been a Headspace subscriber for the last year I can easily recommend their app, and with a huge variety of courses, there’s something for everyone, with my personal favourites being the courses on Productivity and Creativity.
Can I get going without an app?
Of course, shiny apps are a fantastic tool, but you don’t need a thing to get the benefits of meditation (except maybe a timer). Here’s a super easy way to build meditation into a daily habit:
- Routine, routine, routine – meditate at the same time and place each day (meditating first thing in the morning works best for me)
- Find a quiet, distraction-free place, take a seat and get comfortable (the end of your bed, a chair or the floor are all fine).
- Set a countdown timer, start light and easy – aim for 5 minutes to begin with.
- With eyes closed, aim to keep your focus on your breath, don’t try to control your breathing, just observe the rhythm.
- If your thoughts wander (and boy will they), just lightly bring your attention back onto your breathing.
- Remember that losing yourself in thought is part of the process, each time you stray simply refocus on the breath.
- Counting on the inhale-1, exhale-2, inhale-3, exhale-4, all the way to ten before restarting is a great way to spot when your mind wonders – if you lose count, don’t beat yourself up, just start back up at 1.
- When 5 minutes feels easy, push the timer up to 10 minutes, if that feels good feel free to keep upping your meditation time.