Too much stress is the enemy of good health and beautiful, youthful skin.
Stress raises cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in order to create the “fight or flight” response your body thinks it needs. The body automatically responds in this manner to physical, mental and emotional stress. If you happen to be running from a large animal or fighting an intruder, stress can be very helpful. It can give you the boost of adrenaline and energy you need to make a quicker getaway. Mental and emotional stress is a bit different. If you are constantly worrying over work or money matters, a cortisol surge may not be as helpful. In fact, chronic emotional or mental stress can tire your body, push hormones off balance and impede healthy digestion.
Chronic Stress kills brain cells, shuts down digestion, increases fat deposits in the abdomen, and damages chromosomes which leads to premature aging. To put it simply, stress breaks the body down.
National Geographic highlighted a documentary on stress and its effects on the human body. You can view it in its entirety here: National geographic documentary – stress: portrait of a killer
While its impossible to eliminate stress completely, it is possible to manage so that it works for you and not against you. Taking time daily to manage stress is crucial to maintaining your health and preventing premature aging.
Spend time in nature: take a walk outside, eat your lunch outdoors in the sunshine, open the windows to let in fresh air, place air-purifying green plants in your office and home.
Meditate: spend some quality time quieting your mind. To meditate means to focus your mind on one thing. If you find it difficult to do, try a yoga class or relaxation cd with guided meditation.
Take care of yourself with regular facials or massage. These treatments not only relax your mind, they improve the quality of your skin, muscle tone, circulation and more.
Exercise: whether its a game of basketball, a pilates class or a 2-mile run in the neighborhood, working out helps use the extra adrenaline created and stored by stress. Exercise also releases endorphines which help brighten your mood, clear your mind and increase oevrall well-being. Just be sure to drink lots of water!
breathe deeper: take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe deeply, inhale through your nose, floowing your breath as it fills your belly then your chest, exhale completely and slowly through your mouth, expelling stale air. This process alone can do a lot to lower stress levels.
use aromatherapy: inhaling vanilla, peppermint*, lavender or green apple can lower stress levels almost immediately. Place a few drops of essential oil into a tissue and inhale deeply and slowly for best results. *Peppermint is not recommended during pregnancy.
drink up: slowly drinking a tall glass or water (or better yet, coconut water) can calm the body and provide essential hydration during times of stress.