Stressed Skin is Unhappy Skin. Take this Test to Fix it.
You may have a go-to dermatologist and a go-to aesthetician, but do you have a go-to skin psychiatrist? As those stress breakouts indicate, your skin is just as affected by your emotional well-being as it is by genetics, the products you use and what you eat. Simple Skincare (makers of one of our favorite face wipes) knows that your skin health is affected by a wide variety of factors, so they put together a well-rounded team of experts: a dermatologist, a nutritionist, a makeup artist, a fitness expert and a psychiatrist. Her name is Josie Howard, MD, and she specializes in the relationship between stress, emotional well-being and skin health.
So how is your skin’s well-being? Dr. Howard put together a survey to tell you what your type is and what you can do to cope. Go through each scenario and choose which letter best describes your reaction. Then, whatever letter you choose the most is your skin type. Read the descriptions below to see.
SCENARIO 1: It’s Friday night and you invited your significant other’s parents over for dinner. You are running late following a busy day at work and while driving home, someone cuts you off at the traffic light, causing you to slam on the breaks. All of the groceries you just purchased are now all over the floor.
A: I shout, “You stupid $&#@.” I feel my heart rate rise and I panic about the juice spilling all over the floor. I make a rude gesture and curse at the other driver behind the window. When I get home, I don’t mention it to my partner, but I’m actually quite resentful for having to cook this dinner in the first place, especially following my ordeal on the drive home. I’m not my usual self at dinner.
B: I take a deep breath, pull over and put all of the groceries back in their bags. There are more important things to worry about than this passing inconvenience.
C: I yell at the other driver and as soon as the lights change, I pull up right behind the car, flash my lights furiously and let him know that I AM NOT HAPPY. I end up feeling guilty and embarrassed for overreacting and I stay awake that night thinking about it.
D. I break down into tears, pull over and re-bag the groceries. I don’t say anything to the other driver or make an inappropriate gesture, but I am left fuming and my heart is pounding. Later, upon reflection, I’m able to let it go after I realize that no one was hurt and it really wasn’t a big deal because there are no lasting consequences.
SCENARIO 2: Think about three good things in your life right now. How easy was it and how did it make you feel?
C. It stressed me out! I kept thinking about all the things I need to fix in my life.
D. My first reaction was to think about all the things that aren’t working. But, as I continued to reflect, I realized that things aren’t perfect and overall, I’m pretty happy with how things are at the moment.
A. I don’t understand what you’re asking this question. It’s personal!
B. I couldn’t narrow it to just three. There are a lot of good things going on in my life right now. I’m grateful for a lot and am lucky to have such great people in my life.
SCENARIO 3: You discover your company is relocating to another city. What is your first reaction?
D. Initially, I panic and freak out. This is definitely not something I was expecting to happen! After talking it out with some friends, I decide to go for it and see what happens.
B. I feel unsettled, but I see this as an opportunity to prove myself and show my supervisors what I’m made of.
A. I’m mad. If I had wanted to move, I would have asked for a transfer. I’m tired of working hard for these people. I give up.
C. I don’t know what to think right now. I’m going to call my partner to complain and then throw in the towel on doing any more work today.
SCENARIO 4: The day before your big date/presentation/etc., you break out with a huge zit in the middle of your face that no one will miss. What do you do?
A. You blame your spouse/partner/boss for stressing you out and causing this to happen at such a critical time.
B. Dab on some concealer and go. It’s a bummer, but everybody has breakouts sometimes!
C. Angrily squeeze and pick at your zit until it looks far worse than before you started.
D. Stay home and hide. I’d rather miss out than have people see me like this.
You tend to react to stressful situations with anger (and aggression). Start by increasing your awareness of these reactions. You stress will almost affect your well being and could very well be showing up in your skin. The constant disruption of stress hormones is likely to negatively affecting how you feel and look.
Whenever you notice that you are reacting in this way, take three deep breaths. This time out gives you a chance to name the emotional response you are having (“I feel angry and resentful.”) and acknowledge what you are feeling. In doing so, this can break the cycle of automatic reactions that can be so harmful. When you follow your skincare routine, use this as an opportunity to cultivate forgiveness and compassion.
You have good coping skills. Although you have stresfful days, you have a balanced way of dealing with them. You connect well with people and can focus on the positives in life and don’t let the negatives get you down. You may have the occasional irritation or dry patch, but it doesn’t get you down. Chances are your reations to life likely minimize your stress related skin problems. Of course, this doesn’t make you immune to skin irritations so a regular skincare routine is essential.
Keep going. You are doing really well on the whole and nobody is perfect. Give yourself time to appreciated just being you rather than striving to stick to the everyday grind. Make time to a skincare routine (morning and especially night) so you continue to look after yourself.
You tend to react to stress with anger followed by guilt and remorse for your anger. Your emotional reactions most certainly affect your well-being and likely show up in your skin.
Refer to type A, but for you, learning to forgive yourself is also essential. In the moment, it can be helpful to remind yourself how you will feel after you react. Use your skincare routine as an opportunity to focus your mind on forgiveness of yourself and other and acceptance of their and your imperfections.
You tend to have strong emotional reaction to stressors, but you are able to calm yourself down and rationalize. On the whole, you are on top of things and doing quite well mostly, but things can get the better of you at times. It’s likely you know your stressful times and these are likely to coincide with breakouts and skin sensitivities. If so, you are what psychodermatologists call a “stress responder” and you can use these signs as an indicator to slow down and re-focus on you.
You need to plan time out to take care of yourself. You may take on too much, plan time to take care of yourself and be kinder to yourself. Your task is to plan into your day time to focus on you and set aside time for de-stressing, just 15 minutes each day. Use this time to focus on your skincare routine, anything to draw attention to yourself for a short time will help to make you feel better.