Stress affects every system in our bodies, including our skin. Living a fast-paced, fill-up-our-time lifestyle causes damage at the cellular level. This can lead to long and short-term damage such as heart disease, premature aging, slow wound healing and more.
"Psychological stress arises when people are under mental, physical, or emotional pressure. It arises when the individual perceives that the pressure exceeds his adaptive power." (source)(emphasis is mine)
To change our stress response, we must actively work at changing our perception of and reaction to it. Just as we think ourselves stressed, we must think ourselves relaxed. Period.
Try some of the following simple strategies to reduce stress in your life, thereby promoting healthy, youthful looking skin.
I went many years believing that “relaxing” was sitting back, watching a movie, while chomping away at my comfort food. Wrong!
Relaxing can take on a whole new dimension when we actually put it into practice.
Yoga or gentle stretching is a great way to increase blood circulation and loosen our limbs. This flexibility in our bodies translates to a flexibility in our minds.
Meditation, or quiet time, can clear your mind, allowing new perspectives to enter freely. It’s also a time to reflect on whether or not you are living life with integrity and purpose. Quiet time in a healing salts bath can take reflection and self-love to a whole new level.
Deep breathing actually activates the parasympathetic response in our brain telling our hormones that it is time to relax whereas short or rapid breathing signals the flight or fight response. (source) This simple breathing trick is a powerful tool to reduce stress, especially in the moment.
2. TURN OFF ALL SCREENS BY 9PM
A study done by the University of Haifa explains that melatonin (the hormone secreted by the pineal gland which promotes restful sleep) production begins around 9pm. Exposure to the blue light emitted by our screens after this time signals our bodies to stay alert and awake. This causes our sleep to suffer by both reducing the time we actually sleep and reducing the quality of our sleep.
“On average, exposure to blue light reduced the duration of sleep by approximately 16 minutes. In addition, exposure to blue light significantly reduced the production of melatonin… the impaired production of melatonin reflects substantial disruption of the natural mechanisms and the body's biological clock.” (source)
3. BREW AND ENJOY HERBS OFTEN
A cup of herbal tea can aide in our body’s ability to reduce oxidative stress due to their antioxidant activity. While disregarded as having “no nutritional value” by modern medicine, studies repeatedly prove that “herbs and spices have been identified as sources of various phytochemicals, many of which possess powerful antioxidant activity.” ( source)
True cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant amounts of all herbs and is widely available. Brew a cup of cinnamon, ginkgo biloba and holy basil and tell me you don’t feel the stress melting away!
4. USE ESSENTIAL OILS DAILY
Essential oils have been proven time and again to have powerful, yet subtle effects on our mind/body/spirit connection. “Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety.” ( source)
Self-massage and the application of essential oils have a ten-fold list of benefits ranging from increased circulation, promotion of self-love and the reduction of stress. Couple this with an incredible blend of essential oils designed for a specific purpose (such as our Beautiful Spirit Body Butter) and you have a wonderful addition to your ‘living-life-stress-free’ routine.
5. CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TIME
Time is not something to be conquered, hoarded or issued out like money. Time management can be a huge stressor for many people. The book, “First Things First” by Stephen Covey has introduced me to a new way of thinking about my time. I encourage you to read it.
A quick tip from the book is to change your to-do list to a “perhaps” list. This simple trick takes the stress off of having to get it done by viewing it differently. “Perhaps you will get to it and perhaps you will not.” (pg 148-149, "First Things First, Covey)
I personally enjoy my modified time management method: 3 goals per day. Determine the 3 most important things to accomplish per day. Visualize yourself getting them done, then get them done before anything else. When you're done, you're done. This method tends to free up time to spend with loved ones or doing the above relaxation activities.
Stress is a powerful emotion generated by the mind. But just as powerful is the ability to change. The tips above are designed to give you an idea on stress management, but only you can create a system that works for you. Play with it. Create a lifestyle that nurtures your connection to spirit. Incorporate tools to help you on your journey.
Relax often. You only get this one shot in life. You do not want to waste it by feeling stressed all the time.
Sending good vibes your way…..