Not too long ago, I found myself in front of the mirror feeling and looking utterly defeated. Having just washed the day’s makeup off, my face appeared red and blotchy, covered in blemishes and scars. Tears began to run down my cheeks as I looked myself in the eye for the first time in too long. In that moment, I realized I was lacking love — all I wanted was to be and feel loved, not punished, controlled and manipulated into perfection.
The struggle with acne has been an ongoing journey for me, working my way through its winding path since 2011. I’d tried everything (natural and unnatural) to heal my skin, but I was never fully released from the struggle, living in constant anxiety over my skin, always worrying about how it looked, constantly touching and prodding.
But as I looked in the mirror that night, I gave up. I was tired of the shame and guilt, of feeling ugly and dirty. And I realized that the only way to heal my skin was to first heal my relationship with myself. I’d come to realize that I’ve been dancing the tango with the pipe dream of perfection for thirteen years: The perfect body (fueled by eating disorders and anxiety around food) and the perfect skin.
Pema Chodron once said, “Nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” It wasn’t until recently that I finally learned the lesson my body had been trying to tell me all these years: you’re already perfect, you were born into this world perfect and the only way things go wrong is when we try to control our lives from a place of fear.
In my heart, I felt it. I was trying to control my body and weight with food, and ended up with autoimmune. I tried to have perfect skin and the more I obsessed, the worse my skin became. What I learned is that healing our bodies and our skin isn’t just about what we put on our face or the food we eat. It’s about bringing ourselves back into balance, back in harmony with our selves, in all three elements of our existence: body, mind, and spirit.
Here are seven steps that have helped me get back to wholeness, back to health, back to radiance.
Eat whole, real foods from the earth.
Organic vegetables. Local and seasonal fruits. Lean meats and wild salmon. Clean water, all day. Try to eat at regular meal times to keep the digestive system functioning optimally and hormones balanced. Skipping meals is a big no, as this seriously throws off the hormones and endocrine system, especially in women.
Eat ancient foods that are time-tested to help heal our bodies.
Think algae, spirulina, chlorophyll, fermented veggies, broths. Bone broth is a great remedy that heals the body from the inside out, repairing the lining of the entire digestive system, which in turn creates the foundation for clear, radiant skin.
Move your body daily.
All it takes is 20 minutes a day of movement to notice big changes in your body and mind. Go for a jog outside with your favorite music. Take a yoga class. Do high-intensity training at home. Try Pilates. Go spinning with your friends. Beat the shit out of a punching bag in kickboxing. There are so many options and no room for excuses to not move your powerful body.
Use the Emotional Freedom Technique.
EFT has been a powerful (and easy!) tool to help me deal with the uncomfortable emotions, such as shame, guilt, depression, that come from working with acne. The irony is that those emotions will cause stress in the body and throw hormones out of balance, causing more skin eruptions. Clear the emotions, soothe the body and reduce systemic inflammation.
Get cozy with affirmations.
One of my friends taught me an affirmation that I implemented into my life not too long ago: “I love my clear, beautiful skin.” Try it, all day, every day. If you want to make the affirmation work faster, do it in front of the mirror. Look into your own eyes and affirm the life you want to create.
Give up your problems to the universe.
Seriously. Just close your eyes. Feel the tension and stress that’s inside you … and just let it go. The universe wants things to go our way — it’s designed to be on our side. However, when we start to try to control our realities, things go awry.
Just give it up to a higher power, whatever that is to you, and allow the anxiety and stress to fall off your shoulders from holding all the weight of this alone. Stop obsessing in the mirror. Stop picking. Stop changing products. Use simple, all-natural, healing ingredients. Create a skin care ritual. Let the universe take care of the rest.