Our article for Sporty and Rich Wellness Club is here
'How Mindfulness Affects our Skin'
Mindfulness and Mental Wellbeing are topics often spoken about in the wellness community.
However, from my own journey with skin issues, a thing that always bothered me about mindfulness is how easy it is to advise to think ‘positive’ and how hard it is to actually implement consistently in daily life.
A habit is a set of thoughts, behaviours and emotions that are done so many times that your body now knows how to do it better than your mind. Thinking about yourself in a certain way essentially becomes a habit over time.
According to Dr Joe Dispenza, 95% of who we are by the time we are 35 years old is a memorised set of behaviours, emotional reactions, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that act like a computer programme in our minds and thoughts. (Dispenza, 2017)
Even if you try to intentionally set your mind to think differently, your body is on a different programme and will always try to revert back to your old thinking and doing habits. (Dispenza, 2017)
How Adult Acne altered my Mental Health
When I would wake up in the mornings I would start by touching my face before I even opened my eyes to check if there were new cysts that came up overnight.
I changed how I interacted at work and lost confidence in my professional ability over time because I was so conscious of how I came across to others, even though people did not perceive me the way I saw myself at all.
It sounds frivolous and is often embarrassing to admit, but the changes to my skin ultimately affected how I socialized, my relationship, my actions and daily routine. I would wake up an hour earlier to make sure my make-up was covering everything I thought was wrong with my skin and would spend 30-45 minutes at the end of each day cleansing, exfoliating, extracting, and applying products to my skin in the hope that it would help. My acne consumed my thoughts and my confidence which led to a downward spiral of thinking and acting like it would never get better and nothing could possibly help.
Changing my thoughts to change my skin
The hardest part about change is not making the same choices you did in the past. And guess what: it's uncomfortable, because thinking a new thought will lead the body to feel differently which is unfamiliar and scary.
But recognizing this response actually helped me reprogram my thought process. The unknown is uncertain, but I learnt that the best way to predict your future is to actually create it by mentally rehearsing an action you want. This will install the neurological hardware in your brain to install a new image to concentrate on.
The hardest part for me was teaching my body emotionally what the future will feel like ahead of the actual experience. In my case I started believing my skin would eventually clear up, I would regain my confidence, and not spend so much time thinking of what others thought of me.
This meant thinking positively today, before a good thing actually happens, as if you are already living in positivity and as if what you want has already happened. The moment you start feeling good you start the journey of stepping towards that.
Personally, I used a wellness journalto recognise my negative thinking habits and wrote them down to reflect on my thoughts at the end of each day. I highlighted my favourite part of the day as a gratitude exercise and tracked my skin’s progress after making small but consistent, healthy and positive changes.
Over time you will recognise a pattern and start to untangle negative thoughts and see them as what they actually are: negative past experiences that you are consciously re-living.
Instead of replaying them in your mind, replace them with positive emotions by highlighting areas of triumph and gratitude in your life.
As humans we tend to highlight negative aspects in our lives and identify positive ones as ‘neutral’ events. It is harder to look out the positive window rather than the negative one, but by choosing to do this over time you can create new habits that are ones of gratitude, eventually attracting further positivity your way as this is what you are shifting your primary focus to.
For me, realising that the body cannot be compartmentalised and the mind, body, skin connection is real helped me invest in looking after and working on my thoughts and mind as much as I was looking after my body and skin.