Regardless of our intentions, stress manifests itself on our largest organ, our skin. Our skin is bearer of all news, good, bad and everything in between.

Regardless of our intentions, stress manifests itself on our largest organ, our skin. Our skin is bearer of all news, good, bad and everything in between.

It may come as no surprise that a connection between skin, gut and brain exists. Some people break out into hives when stressed, while others flush red if embarrassed. But in recent years, studies have shown that a person’s mental and emotional state can have a profound effect on the body’s largest organ. Stress, depression, anxiety and other psychological problems can contribute to a host of skin conditions. Those with skin conditions will have experienced, that when life presents difficult times their skin conditions have worsened. Could harnessing the power of breath control the flare up? Breathwork Practitioners such as Ashley Neese, Michelle D’Avella, and Dermatologists and authors Dr Bowe and Dr. Amy Weschler all agree that breathwork is a contributing factor to glowing skin.

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Although breath work alone cannot “cure” physical issues, it can however highlight everything that shows up in our physical bodies as a symptom of a deeper spiritual and emotional area that needs attention. So, maybe your skin is desperately trying to get you to deal with your internal health!

Dr. Bowe, dermatologist and author advises that the ongoing stress from life is a major contributor to unsettled skin. Deep breathing benefits the skin because it benefits the body’s stress response. Chronic stress (which can manifest as anxiety, depression, burnout, etc.), activates the sympathetic nervous system, this sets off a chain of unpleasant events, including, surges in stress hormones such as cortisol and the subsequent breakdown of tissues such as collagen, as well as a variety of inflammation.

Mindfully inhaling and exhaling won’t keep your life’s stresses away, but it will activate the parasympathetic nervous system to make you feel and look less stressed, regardless of what’s going on around you. Deep breathing flushes excess carbon dioxide from our body and replaces it with a rich supply of cell-energising oxygen. This inner pick-me-up improves circulation, invigorates the cells and minimises the impact of stress on the skin.

In comparison, taking short and shallow breaths, (a tell-tale symptom of stress), will only starve your body of this vital nutrient. The sudden halt of oxygen sets our body’s alarm bells ringing, unleashing a flood of unwanted cortisol, (the primary stress hormone), throughout our body.

We can adjust our state of mind by breathing more consciously, with more awareness. When you take a deep breath, your heart rate quickens slightly. As you exhale, your heart rate slows. Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect. But if you’re stuck in the pattern of shallow breathing, that endorphin release doesn’t happen.

It’s no coincidence that deep breathing is the groundwork in so many types of meditation. This calming effect can be so significant that there’s research linking meditation to a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression symptoms as well as improved sleep and focus (and we all know that a good nights sleep is so beneficial on so many levels, not just great for our skin). So, it all comes back to the BREATH.

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When we practice breathing daily, we start to alter the stress level in our body, as a result our skin benefits. In addition, the lymphatic system gets a serious boost from deep breathing. Lymph fluid gathers and disposes of toxins, including those that can downgrade your skin health and leave nutrients and infection-fighting white blood cells in its wake. A stagnant lymphatic system can lead to swelling, infection and lowered immunity, it’s even said to cause dull skin and breakouts. Deep breathing gives it a kick-start into action.

Try a daily deep breathing exercise:

While standing or sitting, draw your elbows back slightly to allow your chest to expand.

Take a deep inhalation through your nose.

Retain your breath for a count of 5.

Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose, again for a count of 5.

During a breath session, you may uncover a deep-seated insecurity, or buried memory, or negative thought pattern. Learn to explore it, accept it, and let go of it. It is through such practices that you can start to live a more stress-free inner health.

“Remember it’s the prolonged stress, especially the kind rooted in our psyche, that’s the most damaging to our skin.”— DR BOWE, DERMATOLOGIST AND AUTHOR

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