Reducing Stress

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The medical community has released tons of studies on how stress negatively affects our health.  We know from years of newspaper and magazine articles that long-term stress is a contributing factor in heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and cancer.  But even the minor stresses of deadlines and schedules, the little things that we simply don’t pay attention to, can show up in our outward appearance and effect how we deal with more intense periods of stress.

Think about it.  How often have you been told you look tired or stressed?  It’s not just facial expressions and body language that the people around you are reading.  Stress can impact how your skin functions.

  • Stress hormones can cause flare-ups in existing skin conditions.  Whether you have to deal with acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or occasional cold sores, these conditions tend to get worse during times of stress or anxiety.
  • Stress can keep your skin from protecting you as it should.  Have you ever noticed that cuts and scrapes take longer to heal when you’re stressed, or that your skin allergies flare up more than usual?
  • Stress can make you look older.  If your skin isn’t able to rejuvenate at a normal rate during times of stress, those dark circles, wrinkles, and frown lines are going to start to show much sooner.

It’s not just your skin either.  Check out these articles to see how stress can affect your hair and nails, too.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109194053.htm

http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/stress-and-skin

So what can you do?

Knowing that how stress is affecting you is the first step.  Managing how you deal with it is the next.

  • Pray, meditate, relax.  Do what works for you to have a period of quiet and calm during your day.  Taking the time to sit quietly, breathe deeply will help you reclaim the right frame of mind to deal with the stress.
  • Take a walk.  Our bodies weren’t designed to sit in an office chair, tying our back muscles in knots all day.  Just getting up to walk down the hall every once in a while can make a difference.  If you can get yourself out into the fresh air and sunshine, that’s even better.
  • Watch what you’re eating.  When we get stressed, we reach for the comfort food.  In times of stress our bodies are already depleted.  Avoiding the junk food and taking on the nutrients needed to rebuild and heal will go a long way toward making you feel strong and energetic enough to handle stress.
  • Treat yourself.  Do something special just for you.  Maybe it’s an afternoon shopping, a morning at the beach or park, or a little pamper time at the spa.  The point is that you need to take some time to take care of yourself.

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