067: Best Stress Relief Tips For Skin Rashes

If you feel like stress is one of the biggest factors driving flares, itching, and just generally making your skin worse, you aren’t alone.

Stress is one of the 16 root causes I’ve talked about before that can drive and worsen skin rash conditions.

You might not be able to cut everything that stresses you out from your life. But you can do something about the stresses that you can’t necessarily control.

And the way that you can do that means paying attention to and tapping into the power of your breath (believe it or not). All in the name of some of the fastest, cheapest, and best stress relief out there.

I share this with my private clients and so I thought in today’s episode, I’d share this with you!

In this episode:

  • What to do if you can’t eliminate stress in your life
  • Connection between stress levels and how you breath
  • Jennifer’s top 3 breathing exercises that can drop stress levels in 2 minutes or less
  • Tips for practicing breathing exercises (especially if you’re a newbie)
  • Best way to integrate a breathing exercise into your daily routine

Quotes:

A shallow breath is equated with an increase in anxiety and stress. So when you’re all stressed out and panicked or feeling really upset or distressed, someone will say, take a deep breath.

The reason is that as your stress levels rise, your body will respond by taking shorter and shallower breaths that only fill the upper portion of the lungs. But when you take long, deep breaths, it signals to your mind that you are safe and that everything is okay.

Here’s the thing about stressors…Part of the process to decreasing your stress exposure is to untether yourself from people and experiences that pile on the stress. But it might not be possible to eliminate everything that creates anxiety and overwhelm. Think of it like those thunderstorms that pop up in the middle of the afternoon that you can't control. You just have to run for cover and wait it out. My point is that while you can’t stop a thunderstorm from rolling in, you do have the power to control how you react to it.

Woman meditating near water

Best Stress Relief Tips For Skin Rashes (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #67 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today's episode, I want to share with you a very powerful way to help you better manage and ultimately master stress.

It's pretty commonly stated by most people in our community, regardless of what type of skin rash condition they have, that stress is a huge trigger.

It's not like you can just go live in a cave or a bubble somewhere no stress exists. And in fact, we actually need stress in order to be healthy and develop a sense of resiliency.

If you can't control or get rid of stress in your life, then the only thing left to do is adjust how you react to and deal with it.

Think about this…

When something really awful happens or you're panicked over something that pops up, what's the first thing that someone says to you when you're very stressed or upset?

Take a deep breath, right?

That's the key to today's conversation!

I want to talk about the connection between your breath and how you can tap into it to better master your stress (and why this is such a big deal).

It is worth repeating that many of us “skin rash warriors” find that stress exacerbates or triggers flares. And while it’s easier to “take a pill” to deal with the stress, it’s not a good long-term solution.

Doing so can mask symptoms of stress instead of drawing your awareness toward something that actually needs your attention.

And as I've shared many times on the Healthy Skin Show, your skin rashes are a sign from deeper within saying, “Hey, pay attention. You need to tune in!” 

Woman meditating near big windows

What Can You Control About Stress?

You might not realize it yet, but the connections between how stressed you are and HOW you breathe are fascinating!

And the connections give us insight into what you CAN control and do.

But if you’ve never tried breathing exercises on a consistent basis, you might not know all their amazing benefits!

I love breathing practices because they're very effective.

They take only a matter of minutes and they're also free.

But that said, they aren’t magic. They're certainly not going to fill up nutritional wells.

They're not going to kill bacteria or rebalance your skin microbiome, but they are going to address an ongoing issue that you need support with.

They are non-dogmatic and you can do them almost anywhere.

Here’s the thing about stressors…

Part of the process to decreasing your stress exposure is to untether yourself from people and experiences that pile on the stress.

But it might not be possible to eliminate everything that creates anxiety and overwhelm. Think of it like those thunderstorms that pop up in the middle of the afternoon that you can't control.

You just have to run for cover and wait it out.

My point is that while you can’t stop a thunderstorm from rolling in, you do have the power to control how you react to it.

And this includes the shame you feel due to your skin rashes, previous traumas (or even current ones), and experiences that you have with people around you.

Woman meditating on beach

How Breathing Is Connected To Your Stress Response

If you're going to better control your stress and use breathing practices to do so, you need to know a couple of things.

A shallow breath is equated with an increase in anxiety and stress. 

So if we go back to that question that I asked earlier, what happens when you are in this state of distress?

Someone will say, take a deep breath.

The reason is that as your stress levels rise, you take shorter and shallower breaths that only fill the upper portion of the lungs.

When you take long, deep breaths, it actually signals to your mind that you are safe and that everything is okay. 

It might also be helpful to take an inventory of all the moments that you experience stress throughout the day… and notice what happens to your breath.

Many of my clients notice that they spend a long periods of time in a shallow state of breath or even holding their breath at times without even realizing they're doing this.

The connections between your breath and the nervous system are pretty well known at this point. In a state of fight or flight where you are confronted with a stressor, your body perceives that incident or experience as a tiger that could potentially chase you.

In that moment, everything that's not essential to your survival is deprioritized.

Things like digestion, for example, are deprioritized. When you eat in a very high state of stress, your body has a much more difficult time digesting and absorbing the food because it wants to run away.

The tiger could be the nightly TV news, a stressful phone call, or even thinking about something that hasn't happened yet.

That's why it's critical that you identify and start working on your proverbial tigers. No matter what they are… a difficult boss, your morning commute to work, your marriage, your kids, other relationships, money, your rashes, whatever it may be.

Breathing practices can be incredibly helpful to deal with all of it because how you react to those stressors can either make or ruin your day.

Woman meditating on beach

Breathing Exercises That Stop Stress Triggers In Their Tracks

I want to share with you three breathing exercises that are incredibly helpful, not just for myself personally but also for my clients.

The first one is called the Five Count Breath.

Essentially, you slowly inhale for a count of five and then exhale for a count of five.

The next step up would be to inhale for a count of five, hold the breath for a count of five, and then exhale for a count of five.

The second is called the 4-7-8 Breath which I learned from Dr Andrew Weil about 12 years ago and it's very effective.

All you need to do is inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven, and then exhale for a count of eight!

The third breathing exercise is called Belly Breathing.

The beauty of this exercise is that is really gets you out of your head and into your body.

To do this, you use your hands to focus your awareness elsewhere.

There's two hand placements that I’ve found to be really helpful!

  1. Put your hands on either side of your belly.
  2. Place one hand on your belly and the other hand over your heart.

As you take long deep breaths, you breathe into the hands.

Use your breath to press internally into the palms of your hands.

This powerful exercise can help you feel a lot more grounded, focused, and calm.

Woman sitting on mat on beach

Tips To Start Using Breathing Exercises To Reduce Stress

All of this might sound great, but you may have some lingering concerns, worries, or fears about how to do this.

I totally understand so I'd like to share a couple of tips that will make doing breathing exercises easy.

The first thing is if you can sit down on a firm chair, place both feet upon the floor and feel your sits bones press into the seat. If you don't have the option to sit down, you can also lie down on your back. You can also stand with both feet grounded underneath your hips with the weight evenly distributed between both feet.

Ideally you want to be in a quiet place. That might not always happen, but trying to do breathing exercises in the midst of a large crowd may be quite difficult if you're not used to doing them.

Close your eyes to deeply tune in.

So you don’t get disturbed and have some privacy, close your door, turn your phone ringer off, shut off the TV, and turn off the computer screen.

The goal is for these breathing exercises to become second nature so that when you start to feel that sense of stress, panic or anxiety, you reach for these tools. And you can do them no matter where you are and no matter what's happening around you.

Now here's the thing… you only need two minutes a day. That's it!

If you want to extend the amount of time, go for it!

Do these breathing exercises for two or three or four minutes… however long you want it to be. And you can do them multiple times a day.

One of the easiest ways to get out of your head is to set an alarm for the amount of time that you want to do an exercise. That way, you don’t have to think about it and can be fully present to yourself for those few minutes.

Do them anywhere... in your office, in your car, in the bathroom at a restaurant or a friend's house, at the gym, on an airplane.

It doesn't really matter where you do them, just that you do them at the same time every single day so that it becomes a habit.

It's all about tuning into your body and prioritizing yourself.

And if you struggle to commit to doing this daily, you know yourself so well that you're like, “I might do it for two days and then fall off the wagon.”

Calendar and phone

The best suggestion that I can make to you is to set a daily reminder for yourself in your calendar just as you would an appointment to go to the doctor or to pick up your daughter from soccer practice.

In those moments where you feel incredibly stressed, breathing exercises are something that you automatically go to.

You know how to do them. 

You don't need to watch a tutorial in the middle of feeling stressed.

You just start breathing because you've created this muscle memory of how to do them to help ground yourself and signal to your mind that you are safe.

Even though we talk a lot about skin here, I want to share this with you because lifestyle shifts are equally as important as what supplements to take, what diet tweaks to make, and which labs to request for your skin.

It's practices like these that help you no matter what type of symptoms, diagnoses, or conditions you are struggling with.

Got any questions about these breathing practices (or others you’ve heard of or tried)?

Leave a comment below so that we can continue the conversation.

Remember to subscribe to the show if you haven't done so yet!

And rate and review the Healthy Skin Show on your podcast platform of choice. It means a lot to me that you share feedback about what you love so that people looking for something new give the Healthy Skin Show a chance!

And as always, make sure to share this episode with someone you know who could use these simple tools so that they can better navigate those thunderstorms of stress that pop up unexpectedly.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I'll see you in the next episode!

A shallow breath is equated with an increase in anxiety and stress. So when you’re all stressed out and panicked or feeling really upset or distressed, someone will say, take a deep breath.


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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