How to relax when you can’t relax

Acne Medication

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It’s August, which means vacation and relaxation for many people.  But what happens when you can’t relax?  And I am not talking about the type of relaxation which includes a Netflix binge and a few glasses of wine.  I am talking about the type of relaxation where you can sit still and actually let your body release stress.  Think sitting quietly in nature, totally chilling while your children are playing, and allowing your entire body to let go.

The ability to let go and truly relax is essential if you want to heal your acne or any other health condition.  When you truly release stress, your body is transitioning from the fight-or-flight nervous system to the rest-and-digest nervous system.  Unfortunately many of us spend way too much time in our fight-or-flight nervous system, which was designed to handle only short-term life-threatening situations.  Our natural state is actually to be relaxed, because that is when our body heals and functions optimally. 

So how do you relax when you can’t relax?  Personally, this is something that I have always struggled with, but something that I am also getting much better at doing.  After suffering from a stress-induced heart attack two years ago, I had to learn some relaxation strategies fast.  I simply had no choice.  Meditation is my saving grace, but there are other well-researched methods of helping your body transition from the fight-or-flight nervous system to the rest-and-digest nervous system.

So, when you feel as though you can’t relax, try one of the following strategies.  These strategies work by toning the vagus nerve, which regulates the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous system, and shifting the brain’s activity from high functioning beta waves to either alpha or theta waves, which are more conducive to relaxation.

  1. Have a cold shower
  2. Meditate or practice deep breathing
  3. Sing
  4. Connect with someone who makes you feel wonderful
  5. Reflexology
  6. Cranio-sacral therapy
  7. Ear acupuncture

Relaxation is essential to healing acne, because so often acne causes stress, and then stress leads to more acne, and a viscous cycle is created.  And there are four (I repeat, four) biochemical pathways that connect stress and acne.  So make it your mission this month to break the viscous stress-acne cycle!

xo, Dr. Stacey  

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