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How stress affects us – Part 2 – stress affects skin biochemistry

Hello readers, so as promised, this post is about how stress can affect the appearance of the skin. As outlined in a previous post, stress helps us to handle pressing situations and is not bad or harmful in itself. The detrimental effects of stress comes from the prolonged exposure to stressful conditions.

The effect of stress hormones on the skin
Image from Chen and Lyga, 2014

 

Image from Chen and Lyga, 2014
The effect of stress hormones on the skin

The diagram above, shows the biochemical pathway within the body in response to stress. The pituitary and hypothalamus (structures within the brain), release hormones that exert their effects on the skin cells (amongst cells of other organs and tissues).

Prolonged stress can manifest in the appearance of the skin in ways listed below:

Wrinkles: When cortisol is released, sugar levels in the blood can increase, which, in a continual flow, can cause such things as diabetes. On the skin, it encourages a process called glycation, a stress effect on the skin that damages collagen, hardening it, increasing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Stress can also induce overeating, which can cause similar effects due to the elevation of blood sugar levels. This can be seen in cases of acanthosis nigricans, in which areas of thickened skin with hyperpigmentation are prominent. Acanthosis nigricans are often seen in the neck, groin, knees, elbows, knuckles, etc.

Dryness: Another stress effect on the skin is dry skin, which has to do with cortisol yet again. In this case, cortisol decreases the skin’s natural production of compounds like hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer found in young,  healthy skin tissue. It can also damage the skin’s protective qualities that allow it to keep hydration levels up. When these things are compromised, the skin, as an effect of stress, becomes dry, damaged and susceptible to the elements.

Dullness: Another major way that stress effects the skin is by affecting the complexion. When stressed, our bodies also produce adrenaline, which is helpful if you’re out in the woods running from a predator, but, in daily life, it only can hurt. When adrenaline is present, blood flow to the skin is decreased, taking important nutrients (most importantly, oxygen) away from the skin. This allows for toxins to build up, a step that leads many types of skin to develop cellulite as well. Reduced vascular perfusion can lead to poor proliferation of skin cells and reduced production of intrinsic skin moisturising factors.

Acne: Stress hormones can upregulate sebum production in the skin, which can lead to clogged pores and acne. Although it was mentioned earlier that stress can cause dry skin; you would probably doubt this, but oily skin can also be dry. Dryness is as a result of reduced moisture levels and not oil. Trapped dirt and excess oils can turn to those pesky raised bumps full of the nasties!

Inflammation: Stress hormones can exacerbate and prolong inflammatory diseases like eczema, psoriasis, rashes, itching, etc.

In the next post in the series, I will outline a few ways to handle stress. So stay tuned!

How does stress show up on your skin?

References
1. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2014 Jun; 13(3): 177–190. Published online 2014 Jun.
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109194053.htm
3. WebMD

 

 

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When emotions can cause physical pain – my journey with pain.

Hello my readers, I thought I should write this post and bare my thoughts to you all. This isn’t my typical natural or herbal cosmetics blog. You can say it fits into the wellness category. From the title, you can guess I am about to talk about my journey with pain.
Those who know me offline know this about me. I have been friends with pain for most of my life. I’m always shifting, adjusting, stretching and what not (so restless sometimes). I started physiotherapy from around age 14. Name it, I have tried it. Infrared, physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, hydrotherapy, hypnotherapy, massage (every possible kind). The pain always returns maybe because the root cause has not been addressed. At age 16 I was prescribed some strong pain killers and became dependent on them, so I had to stop. I have also had a podiatrist, acupuncturist (this was just one session and I had to move back to Nigeria shortly after) and many many massage therapists. I have had X-rays and visited many medical professionals about this (especially) and they have done what they can. I currently manage the pain with yoga, daily stretching, massages – self and otherwise.
Let me just state here that I live a normal life but I cannot remember when I have not felt this pain/discomfort. I am not bedridden or disabled or anything like that. It’s more like the background music to my life but I usually do not let it affect much. I just look forward to a day that I would go about my day and not be in pain. It has been over a decade and I am tired of it! Some days I wonder if this is how my life will be forever but other days I am hopeful.
I joined a biomedical research team so I could learn more about the role of ion channels in pain (my area of research was Sodium channels Nav 1.7) and how to inhibit these channels. The research is probably still ongoing but I needed something immediate as it takes years to develop and approve pharmaceuticals. Around that time, I began a journey (this has not been a straightforward one) to understand myself and many other things about life, emotions, etc.
In this research, I learned that most pain comes as a result of stress and tension which can be brought on by unresolved emotions. I started to notice situations that aggravate pain and do my best to stay away from them but this is life and sometimes I just deal. Sadly this is something I have not yet found a ‘cure’ for but I will keep searching until I do so.
So I’ll just post this photo that summarizes everything and hope you get the picture. It supports a more holistic approach to pain resolution and is good to have this in mind while undergoing any physical pain therapies.
Naija formulator, physical pain, emotional blockage, physical therapy
How different negative emotion and emotional                         blockage cause pain.
It is also worth it to be consistent with whichever therapy you choose while making sure that it addresses all aspects and facilitates release (emotional and physical). I would admit that I have only been consistent with self massages, yoga and stretching. So far I have only one massage therapist that did the job well enough and absolutely understood the condition (he also had some pain which helped him understand the principles of pressure points and realignment). I always left therapy in a state of freedom (for a few days too). Sadly I can’t always run to 18, Widegate Street, Aldgate, near Spitafields market and opposite Liverpool tube station in East London. His outfit is called Brock Body Balance but I’m not sure if he still operates there (it has been over two years). I am currently on a search for a Nigerian therapist that can understand the condition and not just massage on whatever way they have been taught in beauty school (so hook me up if you know someone I could try!). On the bright side, because of this, I have become quite good at self massage and giving massages to other people (those who know me know this and take advantage of it lol).
Do you have persistent pain? What about random aches and discomfort? What do you do to take care of yourself? Until next time, try to take care of your emotional body.
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How stress affects us – Part I

I don’t think I can avoid stress, it is a part of life and in itself is not the enemy. Stress keeps us on our toes, our fight-or-flight response serves us when we have to avoid or escape from dangerous situations and achieve goals. It polishes and sharpens us mentally, physically and emotionally. I find that some of my best work were done under stress and can even go as far as likening it to exercise.

With all these said, I can bet you are wondering if the doctors were wrong about it this whole time. Of course not! In my opinion, what happens after our stressful times is what we should be more concerned about. Do we allow our bodies to return to equilibrium or do we just jump on the next task that requires our attention?

Physiologically, prolonged stress tasks and depletes the body. Our muscles stay tense, our minds stay racing, and we lose touch of our emotions. This can be more appropriately termed distress. At this stage, it has become harmful to health and painful to the body and mind. Physical symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, insomnia, increased blood pressure, anxiety and digestive issues may arise.
It can be argued that the starting point of all ailments is uncontrolled stress on the body and mind. On the emotional level, feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and low self esteem are experienced. In fact, depression may even tag along.  The physical manifestation of stress can be seen in all organs like the skin and heart. While the heart works harder and faster, in times of stress, the skin can get reduced blood supply. A high and prolonged level of stress hormones in the blood can also cause increased blood sugar which can contribute to the production of acne.
For the sake of brevity, I will continue this topic in the next post. This post was about the effects of stress on the body in general. In the next posts, I will list out the effects of stress on the skin and ways to alleviate stress the effects.
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Spa review – Tee Planet Beauty and Spa. 

​My friend and I decided to chill out at a spa so we found a Dealdey deal at TeePlanet, Yaba. This was Fola’s first spa experience though she has been curious to try it but hasn’t had the chance. We booked for the next day and got there on time. I should add here that the spa is on the second floor but it is easy to find due to the visible sign on the building. Going up to the spa, I wondered what the spa would look like and was pleasantly surprised that it looked quite nice. 

The waiting area

We were received warmly by one of the attendants who scheduled our visit and redeemed our coupons. We sat in the airy waiting room for sometime before we were shown to a twin therapy room and left alone to get ready. Our session started with the cleansing facials which consisted of a brief facial cleanse and exfoliation. We had different therapists I should add. The facials lasted two minutes before we went for the next step, the body scrub, in which their scrub (made in house) was applied to our skin in about 2 minutes. 


Although we found a way to follow through with the steam session, we found it too small for two people as it was made for one. We both had to stand in it as we had no towels to sit on (the steam room is built for one and therefore had only one seat).  I think they should work on getting another steam room or permit individual steaming sessions. We had a 14-minute steaming session before the scrub was rinsed off. The water was shockingly cold and so was the room so I started shivering after leaving the warmth of the steam room whhooo! As soon as the massage started, I felt nice and warm. 


The steam bath

Very dark and relaxing blue lighting

The full body massage was done using a herb infused oil, I should note here that the spa therapist asked if I had any aches before she started. I felt more relaxed at the end when she used a body massager on my limbs and belly. After the massage session, we went to the waiting room and took turns using the foot reflexology massager for about 5 min each. 

The foot reflexology equipment

The spa experience at Tee Planet was nice and will consider visiting the spa again for a quick session if I’m in the area. One downside to the session is that we were a bit rushed through compared to the time frame given on the deal but my skin felt smooth and I felt quite relaxed after the session regardless of time spent (the whole session lasted almost 50 minutes). There was no background music and it felt more like a salon with a therapy room included. Fola was relaxed after the session so I’m sure she would be tagging along in the next one. 

Until then, 

Ciao!