Stress is an inevitable, and even vital, part of being alive. It’s the physical reaction to perceived dangers, a surge of hormones and physical changes that readies your body for “flight or fight” which over the course of our evolution has helped us survive. Once the danger has passed, our bodies return to normal and stress hormones dissipate, giving you the chance to relax again.
Unfortunately, in modern life we now have little time for relaxation. The stress response, designed for times of life-threatening emergency, is now being triggered several times a day by even prosaic events such as the morning commute. Without times in the day where you are sufficiently stress-free, your body continually reacts in such a way that it was only designed to cope with occasionally, so stress related tension builds.
The consequences of this can be startling, and here’s just some of the adverse reactions your body can have to persistent stress.
Cortisol, the hormone that floods our systems when we are stressed, is not your skin’s friend. By breaking down skin collagen it causes wrinkles to form and contributes to premature aging.
Lack of Sleep and Low Energy
Everyone knows the difference a good night’s sleep can make to their state of mind, but unfortunately that can seem like an impossibility when your thoughts are racing with worry. Having no energy makes everyday tasks feel like you are wading through treacle, and as stress also compromises your immune system you can find yourself coming down with infections and colds with draining regularity.
Along with making you looking washed out for the reasons detailed above, stress can cause flare ups and worsen adult acne, as well as irritating existing skin conditions such as dermatitis.
In order to cope with stress, with can find themselves picking up bad habits in order to relax, but in fact it just exacerbates the situation. Grinding your teeth when you are stressed is a common habit that your dentist won’t thank you for, and when you are under pressure overindulgence can become an issue. Smoking, alcohol and bad food are all things people use as a crutch, and they all negatively affect your health and appearance.
This can all seem a bit overwhelming, particularly if you lead a busy life with responsibilities and commitments and have no idea where to start in reducing stress. However there are simple ways to cope with worry and pressure, and you can begin straight away.
Keep a Stress Diary
Keeping a stress diary can be a great way to start dealing with the issue. By writing a few lines about where, when and how you feel stressed you can identify your stress triggers and understand exactly what the cause is. This could be something you were aware of already, such as a high-pressure job, but it may be that some of these triggers are things that can be changed or avoided without too much disruption to your life.
Meditation is one of the best ways to deal with stress. Having been shown to reduce stress hormones by up to a third, meditation resolves stress by allowing your body to relax profoundly, to the point of unwinding your mind from its hyper-alert state. Just twenty minutes of meditation a day can relax the area of the brain that is responsible for the stress response, so it no longer reacts so dramatically and frequently to small challenges and allows you to become calmer even in pressured situations.
Accept the Things you can’t Change
Stress can make you feel out of control just at the point that you feel like you need to control everything. There is lots of unnecessary worry in agonising over things that are out of your hands, and by letting go of this worry and accepting that you can only do your best with the things that are in your power, you can avoid this anxiety.
Stress is something that you can never eliminate from your life completely, and in fact you probably wouldn’t want to, as in small doses it can help you perform at your best. However, by becoming aware of tension that before you simply accepted as inevitable and taking steps to resolves it, you can become a healthier and happier you.
About the Author- Holly Ashby is a writer and illustrator who works for Will Williams Meditation in London, a meditation centre that aims to improve people’s lives by providing courses on Vedic Meditation.