We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Melanie Coerver, Skincare Coach, about how taking care of our skin can help our nervous system, especially in times of stress and trauma. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and its health and happiness is as important to our overall well-being as any other organ.
I know for me—outside of making sure my skin was clear, hydrated and smothered in SPF—I never really thought about its overall health. I’ve personally been more concerned with it for vanity purposes than my overall well-being.
But Melanie pointed out that supporting your skin can actually help support your nervous system. So the good news is that skin health and overall well-being go hand in hand because of how our nervous system works.
The nervous system, briefly explained
Our nervous system guides almost everything we do, think, say or feel. It controls complicated processes like movement, thought and memory. It also plays a critical role in the things your body does without thinking, such as breathing, blushing and blinking.
When we feel stress or trauma, the sympathetic branch of the nervous system (SNS) activates our “fight or flight” response which functions like the gas pedal in a car. To counterbalance the survival energy flowing from the SNS, we have the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS acts like a brake and promotes the body’s “rest and digest” response which is critical for healing and supporting recovery.
How does skincare activate the parasympathetic nervous system?
According to Melanie, “Skin cells send information from the body up to the brain all day long. When those skin cells are stressed, it means that those signals to the brain are communicated as fight-or-flight information. That’s not great for an already stressed nervous system. It’s like how a super-stressed Mom might yell frantically to get her kid to pick up that one sock on the floor. Getting that one sock into the laundry hamper isn’t really an emergency. But for the Mom, it feels like an emergency, and that’s why she’s shouting. Our skin cells can do the same thing to our brain, which just increases the amount of emergencies our nervous system is trying to process.”
But, in taking care of our skin with the attention it deserves, and needs, we are helping to calm the entire body. “Alternatively, if our skin cells are fortified, moisturized, and calm, the tenor of those signals to the brain won’t be so frantic.”
Further, through the ritualization of a skincare routine, one can take that all-important moment to pause and be present.. That moment of pause enables our PSNS (the “rest and digest” system!) to kick into gear, which enables healing and recovery.
- Many of us say, “I don’t have time for a skincare routine”. I had the same concern. The truth is, it takes just 2 minutes out of my day. And not only has my skin dramatically improved by this increased attention and care, but it has become a daily ritual I genuinely look forward to. The sensory experience of taking care of my skin with beautiful products that feel and smell like a treat, is a magical part of my day.
- To get an additional PSNS benefit out of your skincare routine, take a couple very deep breaths before you start your routine. Those deep breaths help activate the PSNS and allow for your skin cells to optimally receive all the care and attention you are about to bestow upon them. Plus, it feels good.
- And finally, while most of us focus on our face and neck for skincare (hello, vanity!), please do not forget your body. Full body care is essential to reap the full PSNS benefits of a skincare routine.
Curious to learn more? Check out our IG LIVE with Melanie here.
And if you are looking to change/start/update your skincare routine, there is no better place to start than a session with Melanie herself. Simply send her a message on IG or on her site to get started.