Did you know stress can lower collagen production? 4 things you can do about it.
Collagen is a vital protein that plays an important role in the structure and texture of your skin, bones, muscles, and tendons. Healthy collagen levels make your skin look youthful and resplendent and protect it from sagging and premature aging. But recent research shows, there is a new chink in the collagen’s armor and that is chronic stress.
Stress can lead to many skin problems like acne, dullness, blemishes, etc. But new research shows, stress can also lower the body’s collagen production only to speed up skin aging, and make your skin look a few years older, at the end of even a single long stressful month.
How does stress cause a decrease in collagen?
Usually, our body produces cortisol when we are stressed. The purpose of cortisol is to activate flight or fight response when there is a stressful situation. But the cortisol was meant to be triggered when faced with a real danger like when faced with a lion or a wild bear so that the adrenaline rush from the heightened cortisol could help you run faster and save yourself. But today, unfortunately, we are unable to differentiate between running away from a lion and from the stress we undergo every day at work or home or school, and this keeps cortisol at elevated levels, triggering a cascade of negative outcomes including lower lactate levels, collagen, and hyaluronic acid, because your body is constantly trying to save up energy to counter the stressful situation. Apart from affecting your mental health, this directly affects the quality of your skin, its tightness and smooth texture.
So what can you do about it?
The good answer is to consciously reduce stress in life by taking small gentle steps each day, to relax your body and mind, spend some time to unwind, and engage in healthy self-care. (But make sure trying to reduce stress, does not become another source of stress.)
1. Are you sleeping well enough?
Research shows, the quality of your sleep (time spent in the REM cycle) has a role to play in keeping cortisol levels under control. Lack of deep rest can also trigger stress in the slightest conflicting or acrimonious situations. But also, if you are chronically stressed, it is unlikely that you are getting a very good sleep due to it. So how can you get out of this vicious draining cycle of poor sleeping habits? When should you sleep and how to manage sleep if you have irregular working hours? What can you do to sleep off right as you hit the pillow? Find all about it here.
Abhyanga or self-massage with calming oils trigger release of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Research shows, massage therapy had positive results in bringing down stress levels among those undergoing depression, autoimmune disorders, job issues or expecting mothers.
Ayurveda recommends use of herbal oils for massages that offer cumulative benefits of its ingredients deep into the epidermal and dermal tissues. For example, Shankara’s Harmonizing Body Oil is formulated with the goodness of deeply relaxing and de-stressing herbs like the raspberry seed, black cohosh, clary sage, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, borage, aloe vera, and castor oil, and other herbs.
It uplifts, rebalances, and centers you. It has an essence that soothes your senses and relaxes them. The raspberry has an anti-aging quality to it, fights inflammations, acne, and blemishes, and boosts collagen production too. Clary sage present in it is a natural mood lifter, mitigates stress and also soothes menstrual cramps.
Here are five calming Ayurveda inspired body oils to cool you down, soften your skin, reduce dryness, chronic pain and heal anxiety and stress.
3. Using Anti-Aging Serums
Serums further boost the nourishment your skin receives from using a good moisturizer and cleanser. But a great anti-aging serum can additionally improve the collagen availability to keep your skin tightness and youthfulness intact.
Shankara’s Anti-aging Serum is an active serum that blends beautifully the richness, relaxing and nourishing attributes of herbs, actives, natural proteins and essential oils including squalene, glycerin, microalgae extract, hydrolyzed milk protein, rose absolute, mandarin, sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, which reduces when cortisol levels go up, and can weaken the joints too), hibiscus, amla, ashwagandha, wheat protein, gotu kola, among others.
This 100% active serum combines gotu kola and chamae rose to deeply moisturize and rejuvenate your skin making it visibly brighter and healthier. Liposome ATP extract is derived from milk protein and is able to energize and hydrate the skin while supporting healthy aging and boosting collagen production.
The presence of Vitamin C ester, gotu kola, kelp, amla, and ashwagandha, hydrolyzed milk protein-they are all important for synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which helps in speedy recovery of the skin from the effects of stress, while also boosting collagen production. Our body naturally produces hyaluronic acid but the production slows down as our bodies gradually age.
4. Breathing and Meditation
An Italian study has showed that deep diaphragmatic breathing helps improve moods and reduce stress, as shown by lower cortisol levels.
In fact, Sudarshan Kriya, a rhythmic breathing practice, regularly has been found to reduce cortisol levels by 56.6% within two weeks of practice. It also increases mental focus, improves present moment awareness, reduces biochemical markers of stress like blood lactate, ACTH, cortisol, corticotrophin and plasma malandialdehyde.