In my last post, I talked about how I am braving the world sans makeup. It’s not an ultimadum or some fad — it’s about breaking the cycle of chronic acne.
Instead of turning to pharmaceuticals and chemical products, I’m trying to find a more natural path to healthy, happy skin. Since this isn’t my first ride on the DIY skincare train, I already know a bit, but this time around is proving much more intense as I combat the side effects of coming off hormonal birth control. So in addition to my usual crunchy recipes, which I’ll get to in an upcoming post, I’m forming a much broader view of how I can change my lifestyle to help my skin find balance and heal.
I’m no doctor, but I think it’s safe to say that you’re more likely to make better decisions if you understand your condition and how it works. The more I read about acne, the more I realize that what I put in my brain — information as well as messaging — is very important.
Does that sound silly to you? I wouldn’t blame you if it did. But acne can have very real psychological effects, which in turn can have very real effects on the body.
My first line of mental defense against acne was getting educated about my diet and habits. I figured I was probably doing some things to exacerbate the problem, but the Internet is a big place with plenty of conflicting advice from people that aren’t worth trusting. I know I don’t want anyone to read my blog thinking I’m the final word on curing acne! But if you’re going through a similar struggle (or know someone who is), I want you to read my blog knowing you’ll be pointed to some high quality resources that have truly helped me.
If you’re looking to get educated about acne and what you can do to help it get out of your life, I strongly suggest reading “The Clear Skin Diet” by Alan C. Logan and Valori Treloar. I’ll warn you, this isn’t a puffball beauty read — it’s full of scientific studies and medical research. The authors do an amazing job of connecting the dots between the human body’s many fragile systems and conditions. Before reading it, I would have laughed if you told me that cow milk was evil and that acne had anything to do with diabetes. Logan and Treloar also make the material feel very accessible.
“The Clear Skin Diet” is not an outline of some fad diet that makes any promises, and the authors are very upfront about that, but it is a very thorough look at lifestyle choices you make that could be affecting your skin and your life. Reading it made me feel empowered to live my life in a way that is both enjoyable and good for me.
One of the most astonishing things I have read in the book discussed how some acne sufferers have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety more intense than those suffering from diabetes and even epilepsy. I know from my experiences that acne is more than some pithy, temporary surface affliction. It can have the power of a wrecking ball, tearing down your self image, relationships, and general social functioning.
That’s why I needed a second line of mental defense against acne: Stress elimination. Negative self-talk is like junk food. It’s easy to diminish ourselves, and it continues to be easier the more we do it. If I was going to make the commitment of cutting the junk out of my diet, I knew I had to cut the junk out of my inner monologue, too.
The enemy of negative self-talk is being present. All of those depreciating thoughts are in my head, so the solution is knowing how to get out of my head, right? My goal: More being, less thinking.
Meditation isn’t a simple solution, but it is an excellent one once you have the hang of it. I love using calm.com for my beginner-level meditative needs. With gorgeous backgrounds, relaxing music and refreshing nature sounds — all available for free — it’s an easy way to get started or form a routine. Try their guided meditations or just use their timer function while you realign your mind.
If you do feel the need to get in your head again, think happy thoughts! Write yourself encouraging notes, talk to yourself in the mirror, or do whatever you have to do to climb out of that self-pitying hole you’re digging! The change doesn’t happen overnight, but if you can manage to sprinkle a little positivity here and release a little stress there, you’ll find that your self-esteem doesn’t need to rely solely on the perfection of your skin. In fact, it mightn’t need to have anything to do with that at all. What a thought.
For the next 30 days, I’m challenging myself to meditate for at least 5 minutes in the morning. After day one, I can already feel the benefits, but I’ll be sure to report back on that soon.
What are your go-to methods for stress relief or positive messaging? How has adjusting your mindset helped you overcome something physical?