The Most Natural Approach Your Skincare Routine Needs to Combat Signs of Stress.
The Most Natural Approach to Skincare in Combating Signs of Stress.
— Ricky explores an easy and effective self-care tool to reduce stress in our lives.
✎ Ricky van den Ende
Balance is achieved through many avenues; one way we feel we can attain it is through self-care. The way we strive for this balance is unique to each individual. Self-care practices can be done in the comfort of our homes, while others happen in the wide-open spaces of the outdoors. Through traditional marketing, women have been infiltrated with tangible products to achieve what they’ve been told they need – while men, without the pressure of the cosmetics industry, have looked to alternative avenues to feel balanced, satisfying their needs through a human innate need to connect with nature.
Being outdoors is one of our great self-care tools. We head out, take the dog for a walk to our local beaches, green spaces, urban gardens and wild forests. Studies have shown that green spaces and green laneways contributes to better health outcomes. Better yet if we can escape out of the city beyond the greened foot paths we find even greater benefits. A review found when we are walking in the wild open spaces of a forest that health indicators such as blood pressure and certain stress hormones are reduced.
The Gender Gap
A Swedish study showed that outdoor recreation favours a more masculine model of engaging with nature. In their study they found that the top five mountain resorts displayed inequality in the way they marketed their activities… The mountain biking adverts depicted mostly men, whereas the spas they offered predominately depicted women. They found that “women fit into fewer role models in outdoor recreation, and, therefore, are more likely to feel limited and avoid participation.” Women on these ads have been seen to be passive participants, seen in ads to be in the background of a man enjoying “his” sport.
Equalising the gender spectrum is happening thanks to women who are pressing outdoors companies to produce products based more on body features, and less on gender. As it stands a lot of company’s products have a male standard model with the female model being a simplification of the former.
The value of being outdoors is not new information, rather, challenging this gap paves the way for many more to get out there and enjoy what nature has to offer.
The Benefits of Being Outdoors
Research has shown us that being outdoors or even imagining being out-doors raises our energy levels. Along with that cup of coffee for productivity consider greening your work space. It helps with recovery too. A timeless 1980s study found that patients in hospital required shorter hospital stays when their room had a view of a grove of trees compared to a bleak brick wall.
Architects know this and have been taking note for decades. When we walk into a building and feel the weight of stress and anxiety leave our bodies, it is likely that environment has been designed with our biophilic nature in mind- that is, our tendency to seek thoughtful connections with nature.
How Much Outdoor Time Do I Need?
The main theory suggest that it is a part of our genetic coding, as we evolved through nature it became so instinctual for us to be drawn to be in it. And when we are not we feel the difference, we feel the negative force of the four walls caving in on us. It’s as if we have an intrinsic barometer that measures when the pressure of civilisation becomes too much, and we answer the call. Outdoor recreation such as hiking, hunting, and fishing are inherent to our hunter gatherer days… and so a question arises “Whether or not our present-day life is in accordance with our basic desires or demands”. Are we experiencing a nature deficit? Finlands National Resources Institute recommends a prescription-like minimum of five hours spent in nature per month to experience its restorative affects.
The great outdoors offers many benefits:
Nature itself can be a motivator for outdoor exercise
Perceptual and action variability - people become embedded in the natural environment, allowing them to get “lost” in their workout and causing greater use of external thinking
Better cell ageing profiles, in other words, an increase in the bodies resistance to stress and improved cell functions.
Decreases in anxiety, and increases in psychological well-being
Increased vitamin D levels, the sunshine vitamin.
Stress & Our Skin
Stress can negatively affect the skin in a myriad of ways. The skin acts as a permeable barrier to the outside world and stress decreases this protective mechanism, exposing us to further damage from allergens, environmental toxins and pollutants.
Stress is both a consequence of living with certain skin diseases and a cause for exacerbation. Scientists found in psoriasis patients that stress exacerbated symptoms, increasing acne severity.
Though skin care has moved away from being something that we do to look good for someone else, and becoming something we do for ourselves there is intense pressure predominately on women to keep perfection in their skin. A 2011 Australian study found that people are influenced by; themes of perfect skin, societal ideals and media influence of perfection. Failing to meet these ideals resulted in further psychological hurt. Male respondents were immune from these effects. Men experienced psychological effects from skin diseases themselves but did not link it to societal ideals of beauty or the medias influence. The above is changing in the market and Coty a global cosmetics company reported that “shoppers now demand a value proposition that resonates not with an unobtainable vision of beauty, but rather with their best selves.”.
Easy Tips for the Urban Individual
Use Airplane Mode
Map out green spaces nearby
Swap out a lunch break indoors for a promenade around the street block.
Green your exercise
Green your home and workplace
Indoor plants have indirect unconscious psychological effects - reducing stress, and increasing task performance. They also help to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and clean the air.
Whether we feel called to the wild outdoors or not, there are little steps we can take that can emulate pieces of the experience that will have long lasting positive effects on our psychology, skin, and overall wellbeing.