According to Frances Cohen, a psychologist at the University of California San Francisco, stress is the body’s reaction to something that taxes or exceeds its resources. When we perceive something as harmful, our brain triggers hormones that will cause stress responses.
So, how does stress affect you?
– Lack of sleep: Your body needs at least 8 ½ hours of sleep every night. When you skimp out on sleep for a few nights, especially because of stress, takes a toll on your body. Your attention span, along with your ability of performing everyday tasks will decrease. Your body needs the energy you get from a full night’s rest to breakdown carbohydrates that then convert into energy. Without enough sleep, your body will begin to use too much of your stored up energy, leaving you fatigued This can cause those unhealthy cravings for whatever you lay your eyes on.
– Weakened immune system- Stress can weaken your body’s defenses and make you more susceptible to germs and slow down your recovery time back to being healthy. (When you add in lack of sleep, it will make your immune system even worse!) Stress can also stimulate your nervous system to the point it will raise levels of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which narrow blood vessels and therefore increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.
– Flawless skin no more! That’s right. Stress will make your skin not only breakout, but also can actually cause those unwanted wrinkles! The hormones attributed with stress will cause breakouts, no matter how old you are. Also, who wants dark circles under their eyes, early onset wrinkles, and breakouts? No one!
-Your mental health: When you become so wrapped up in trying to do more than we can handle, it becomes a major stressor in your life, even if you like what you’re doing! It becomes too much for you to handle and typically, people do not realize it until it is too late. This can make you feel overwhelmed and begin to dislike what you are involved in doing making you more irritable, unmotivated and can cause burn out.
–Last (but certainly not least) Weight gain! You might be working out everyday and eating healthy, but one thing that’s causing a major set back is the stress in your life! When you are stressed out, your brain tells your body to release stress hormones, triggering weight gain.
So what do you do now?
First thing is first, do not get more stressed! Work through it. You did not become stressed over night, it was a process that built up little by little, and therefore to de-stress you need to take the time to do it right. You do not need to spend all sorts of money at the nearest spa and get expensive treatments at all! Just add these tips into your daily and weekly routine to help keep the stress level down!
1.) Ditch the coffee, grab the green tea! Caffeine in coffee can be very addictive and can make your stress levels elevate. Instead of coffee in the mornings, try to drink green tea or other herbal teas. Green tea is very soothing because it contains theanine, an amino acid that gives flavor to green tea and also promotes and increases relaxation.
2.) Listen to music. While at work, school, on the go, studying, or doing housework, listen to soothing music. The slow tempos can create a calm state of mind. It also slows down your breathing and heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes tensed up muscles.
3.) Take a nap. Your brain is on overload and I bet you are thinking to yourself right now “There’s no way I have time for a nap!” But you do! All your brain needs is about a 20-45 minute power nap to clear your head and let your body rest. As mentioned above, when you are stressed it truly takes a toll on your body. Let yourself relax for 20-45 minutes and you will wake up with a better outlook on everything.
4.) Take a hot bath. Baths are a great way to distress, the constant pull of gravity by lying down in the bath and the warmth of the water relieves muscle ache and allows your body to circulate properly. Try using essential oils by adding a few drops to the running water of your bath. Lavender and chamomile are great oils for the bath since they are mild, relaxing, and will not irritate the skin. To make it your own relaxation time add some candles, turn off the lights, and stay in the bath of about 15 minutes and just shut your mind off to the world. After a soothing bath, it is easier to fall asleep and most of the time, the sleep after a relaxing bath is deeper which will help reboot your body after being so stressed.
5.) Exercise and eat! Exercise helps to boost endorphins and reduce stress. If you do not have time to meditate or do yoga then go for a run, walk, or a few minutes on the elliptical will even do! This not only helps you get in exercise for the day, it clears your mind, makes you more alert, and you will feel much better about yourself thanks to the endorphins that are being released. When we are stressed we tend to over eat or we tend to forget to eat because we are so caught up in the business of everyday. Make sure to maintain a healthy diet. If you tend to snack on chips, crackers, cookies, or even chocolate, think again! Unhealthy eating along with stress is not only bad for your body, but also bad for your skin. Check out our Pinterest page for healthy eating tips and recipes!