Stay Home, Stay Strong: Taking Care of Your Skin in Times of Stress, Anxiety and a Quarantine

The current lockdown has resulted in stress amongst all of us – the stress of being restricted to the confines of our own homes, the stress of the uncertainty and most importantly the stress of the safety of our loves ones. No doubt, these stressors are naturally weighing heavily on people’s mental and physical well-being. In addition, because of the lockdown you're eating different foods, not exercising as much, your sleep cycle is out of whack, and the results are all too evident on your skin. To that end, we asked Dr Geetanjali Shetty, consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, what can stress do to our skin and why proper skincare is necessary during this lockdown which is increasing our stress levels. So here's how you can take the best care of your skin, when your regular routine has been upended.   


Short and long-term repercussions of stress on skin

When our body is stressed, it releases an increased amount of cortisol, which is our fight or flight hormone. Cortisol is a stress hormone and weakens the body’s  immune system, leading to oxidative (free radicals) stress, which manifests itself in wrinkles, lines and lack lustre skin. Oily skin and acne are the most common side effects of stress related cortisol over-secretion. Prolonged stress causes flaring up of underlying skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.


How best to deal with anxious, stressed out skin

Feeling anxious or worried makes your skin more prone to sensitivity, irritation and inflammation. With the extra time on your hands, set in place a healthy skincare routine, which can help  balance out your skin while giving it the nourishment and protection it needs.

We often feel, that if we're not wearing makeup, our skin is relatively clean. However, regardless of makeup use, our face gathers sweat, sebum and dirt build-up throughout the day. Coupled with elevated levels of stress, this could cause a host of skin eruptions. So, it's important to keep skin calm, cleansed and relaxed during these trying times.

If you are experiencing breakouts and eruptions, avoid exfoliation as it causes further stress to your skin. Stick to gently cleansing skin, twice a day. On the other hand, if you have a dry skin type, gently cleanse skin twice a day with a foaming cleanser. To give your skin a nutritional boost, include Vitamin C in your diet, which will not only restore lustre to the skin, but also provides a boost to overall health and immunity. At the end of the day, your skin is a reflection of your overall health.

As a general rule of thumb, during this time—tone down your use of topical products. Eliminate any product in your skincare routine which contains an excess of chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and any irritants that have a tendency to cause discomfort and abrasions on your skin and most importantly, keep yourself sufficiently hydrated.


A healthy, balanced diet is the key to good skin

The lockdown can result in a sedentary lifestyle, as you are limited in your movement and exercise. This can cause your digestive system to slow down leading to poor metabolism, the effects of which are all too visible on your face: oily complexion, acne and inflammation.

To combat this, you have to supplement your body with wholesome, nutritious foods. Avoid fried spicy foods, boxed cereals, white breads, biscuits and crackers and instead opt for foods rich in proteins, vitamins and antioxidants, like fruits, leafy greens, nuts and fish. These are good, healthy choices to support overall health.  


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