The holidays are a wonderful time of the year; however, for many the season can significantly impact the amount of stress we experience. Rest assured, there are several methods to manage stress and dodge the negative effects it can have on hair, skin and our overall well being. I often remind clients that stress is not the cause of these consequences; it is how we deal (or don’t deal) with our stress that can potentially wreak havoc. We may not be able to omit the cause of stress, but we can definitely choose how we react to it. The good news is, when the stress goes away, our physiology returns to our normal state.
Stress has been described as an imbalance between demands and resources. Sound like something we can all relate to? Emotional stress creates physiological stress. For those that love to understand the science, look up “physiological stress” in Wikipedia for details on what chemical changes occur in the body.
Have you ever noticed a President at the end of term has far more gray in their hair than at the beginning? Can stress really turn your hair gray? There are (as far as I know) no scientific studies to prove this, but seeing is believing. In my years as a stylist I have seen many clients display the negative results of stress such as graying of the hair as well as increased hair loss. Significant stress may spark a change in your body's routine physiological functions and cause a number of hairs to go into the resting phase simultaneously. We see this as excess shedding. The chemical changes stress creates in our body can causeeczema and skin flair ups as well as digestion problems. Stress will inevitably take a toll on one’s physical and mental health. Emotional stress is the most common association we have to our daily experience.
Some people have conditioned themselves to drink or smoke to combat stress; however, those choices make stress harder on the body. There are much healthier things to do! Choosing habits that contribute to greater emotional and physical health will better help the body cope with stress and the physiological damage it causes. Avoiding the tendencies that create increased stress is a very good start.
Below are some pointers that may help with stress management:
- Identify what causes you to feel stress. Time constraints, certain people, responsibilities, environment, and money shortages are legitimate triggers. One suggestion is avoid the things that cause the most discomfort. We can't avoid everything, but we can limit the exposure. We can work towards improving time management. It’s OK to say “no” if a stressful event presents itself. We can make a budget and stick to it with creative (more affordable) giving and entertaining ideas. Most of all, we can spend time in places that help us feel good about ourselves with the people we love. Time is the one thing that can't be purchased anywhere at any price. It's a gift that keeps on giving.
- Diet, exercise, and adequate rest are the keys to maintaining optimum health. They are also the first things to go when we are strapped for time. Shaping our schedules around these important elements will help us to deal with stress in a healthful way. Skipping meals, diets rich in sugar, caffeine or alcohol create a great imbalance. Drinking water and eating a balanced diet will keep the body in its best shape and aid in coping with stress. Exercise creates good endorphins and sleep is our best recharger. Not that we shouldn't indulge in the holiday cheer; however, moderation is everything.
- Become self-aware. We all know when we are feeling stressed. Sometimes just acknowledging it is helpful. There are daily events we cannot control or change. We can choose to be overwhelmed by those events or learn to soothe and calm ourselves. Bringing our emotions into balance is one action that can restore a sense of control and our feeling of calm. This is an important step in keeping our physiological balance. It is a skill that anyone can learn at any age. Some helpful activities include deep breaths, counting to 10, or group exercise such as a yoga or kick boxing class. Finding what calms you and helps you feel good can keep stress from taking control. A calm mind goes a long way in dealing with all types of stress.
- As far as holidays go, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to create the perfect...everything! What memories do you have of holidays past? If you even remember gifts either given or received – you are a step ahead of most. The majority of people don't remember what they wore or anything about the so-called “perfect” holiday illusion. What we tend to recall are the people we shared time with and the places we were. Keep this in mind when you begin to get wrapped up in the little details. It will help relieve a lot of the self-imposed pressure. Before you know it, this holiday will be past and spring will be here.
To summarize, don't sweat the small stuff. Keeping your balance for peace of mind and well being will be the best gift you can give to yourself, your clients and your loved ones for the past, present and future.
Wishing you happy and healthy holidays and a wonderful 2015!