Stress, Mindfulness and Your Skin with Dr. Trevor Cates

Dr Cates, stress, mindfulness, and your skin on The Spa Dr. Podcast

Many of our nerve endings are connected to our skin and other organs. When we experience a heightened sense of emotion (sadness, anger, or another upset), it can play out on the skin. This relationship can become a vicious cycle: Skin problems can affect us on an emotional level, but stress can also affect our skin. A number of skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, vitiligo, and even premature aging, can both cause AND be triggered by stress. When we’re stressed, the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol. A surge in cortisol causes increased sebum production, which triggers acne.

  •       Eczema – High cortisol levels trigger inflammation and aggravate skinflammation.
  •       Rosacea – Dealing with its visible signs can trigger more flushing, which can lead to more stress.


Stress negatively affects our immune system, and being anxious or stressed can aggravate autoimmune conditions (including vitiligo and psoriasis). Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to sugar cravings, and eating sugar also increases acne breakouts. Even with healthy skin, when we’re stressed-out we often develop bad habits, such as picking and rubbing bumps and blemishes, which can lead to more inflammation, infections or permanent scarring.

6 Practices for a Clean Mind

  1. Breath work release
  2. Forgiveness writing exercise
  3. Ten-minute meditation
  4. Relaxing bedtime ritual
  5. Gratitude journal
  6. Nature excursion

Most of these take just 10 minutes or less. Do at least one of these practices daily during the two-week program. Try each practice at least once during the program to determine which works best for you.  Notice what happens to your body, as well as your mind, during each, and continue practicing your favorite(s) accordingly.

Breath Work Release

You can follow this simple breath work exercise anytime and anywhere. Sit in a relaxing position with your eyes closed. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower abdomen. For five to ten minutes, just focus on your breath, noticing your inhalation and your exhalation. As you inhale, allow your lower abdomen to swell like a balloon. With each breath out, practice relaxing your jaw and shoulders. If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath.

Forgiveness exercise

On a blank sheet of loose-leaf paper (not in a bound journal), freely write down your negative thoughts, judgments, and feelings. Use as many sheets of paper as you need. Whatever comes up, write it down. Do not read what you’ve written. When you feel there is nothing left to write, burn or shred the papers and throw them away. In your gratitude journal, or on a separate piece of paper, write down one or more sentences of forgiveness and gratitude.

10 minute meditation

  • Choose a quiet place, and turn off any electronics.
  • Sit in a relaxing position (but not one that’s too comfortable—this is not nap time).
  • Focus on a word, such as “peace” or “gratitude”—a mantra of sorts or music or an object, such as a candle.
  • When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your focal point.
  • If you have limited time, set an alarm so you don’t worry about checking the time.
  • Let go of expectations. You may or may not have an epiphany.
  • Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Create your own relaxing bedtime ritual with any of the following:

  •  Listen to soothing music.
  • Take a warm Mineral Bath (page 91 of Clean Skin From Within).
  •  Do gentle yoga or stretches.
  •  Perform breathing or other relaxation exercises

Gratitude Journal

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ~Eckhart Tolle

  •       Buy or make a new journal that feels good to you.
  •       Write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for.
  •       Best times to do this or morning when you first wake up or evening before you go to bed.
  •       Notice what happens and if it’s easier to be grateful.

Nature Excursion

Step away from your computer, phone, fluorescent lighting or any energy-zapping scenario, and escape into nature. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, a few moments in the sun and fresh air can boost your mood and give you a little extra vitamin D to brighten your day. It also involves movement, and studies show that moderate exercise improves energy, mood, and sleep.

I invite you to Join TSD community – on the website and on SM – FB, twitter, intagram, Youtube and join the conversation and holistic skincare movement. Also, I invite you to find out your skin type by taking The Skin Quiz.

And I’ll see you next time…


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