The Link Between Your Mental Health and Your Skin, and How To Look After Both
National Wellness Month brought with it posters, adverts, hashtags, and more, stressing the importance of caring for our mental health and wellbeing. When this month ends, however, those of us that battle with our mental health still continue to struggle with these issues on a daily basis. Though you may not expect the topics of mental health and skincare to be mentioned in the same conversation, there is increasing evidence of a strong relationship between the two.
Firstly, it’s not at all uncommon for hang-ups about our skin’s appearance to get us down now and then. This story about a woman from Plymouth who didn’t want to leave her house because of hang-ups about her skin’s appearance unfortunately isn’t uncommon. The appearance of our skin affects our everyday mood, and determines what we choose to do with the hours in the day. Limiting our social outings because of our insecurities has a devastating impact on our mental health. Not only this are a variety of other health risks, as shown here by the Campaign to End Loneliness, that can occur as a result of isolating oneself. This is why it’s so important to look out for your mental health, and not let hang-ups about skin stop you from making the most of every day.
So, how can something so simple as using skin products improve your mental health?
Ultimately, maintaining an effective and consistent skin routine is a form of self-care – a way of looking after and celebrating the bodies that we’re in. Taking time out of the day to nourish and care for our skin provides an opportunity to be mindful, and people have long praised the feelings of comfort and calm that using skincare products can arouse, with a study published in 2018 in Frontiers in Psychology, noting “that bilateral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) were activated during anticipation for positive events relative to neutral events, and the enhanced brain activation in MPFC was associated with higher level of well-being”. In simpler terms, happy hormones are released when we take the time to perform these little tasks such as donning a face mask or simply taking a bath, which in turn can lead to an improvement in your mental state.
Caring for our skin is a simple yet effective way for us to be kind to ourselves. With wars, pandemics, and perpetual political turmoil getting us all down, these acts of kindness can go a long way, and help us to take time away from all the noise of our everyday lives, and make time for ourselves. What is more, when incorporated into your daily routine, these practices can add an element of stability to your daily life. Organising your day in this way, even if it just means having this one constant in your morning and evening activities, can make a massive difference - a study published in June 2018 in the Lancet Psychiatry proclaimed that people with a less consistent routine throughout their day were more likely to suffer from major depressive and bipolar disorders, mood problems, loneliness, and less happiness.
We know however that, though self-care can make a lot of difference in the short term, mental illness is a very complex issue and that anyone struggling deserves help, compassion and understanding. Please, just because it is no longer International Wellness Month, just because the hashtags are no longer trending and the panel talk shows are no longer discussing it, that doesn’t mean your mental health still isn’t important. If you or anyone you know is struggling, below are some numbers that you may find helpful.
Samaritans – Call 116 123.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) (For men) – Call 0800 58 58 58.
Childline (for children and young people under 19)– Call 0800 1111.
Mind – Call 0300 123 3393.
Papyrus (for under 35s) – Call 0800 068 4141.
Anyone struggling or going through a hard time should get the help and support they need. Together, we can work to build a future where mental health is prioritised regardless of month or social media trends.