When we are stressed Cortisol is released by the body. We have discussed Cortisol before as it can have very negative effects on skin causing skin sensitivities, break outs, and irritations. Cortisol is released as part of our fight or flight defence mechanism. It is not all bad as in small doses it prepares us for action. However, large or prolonged doses can have a number of negative effects on our health. Unfortunately, as we age, the amount of Cortisol we release increases, and it takes longer for this potentially damaging hormone to return to normal levels, meaning we are exposed to it for longer, and negative side effects may be seen.
The first step to managing stress, and reducing cortisol, is to acknowledge it. We can not adopt coping mechanisms unless we acknowledge what is adversely affecting us. There are a number of signs which can help us identify if we are chronically stressed. Poor memory, lack of concentration, only seeing negatives, as well as irritability, anxiety or a change in eating patterns can all be symptoms. Take the time this month to assess situations which may be affecting you and then find ways to cope with them.
Coping mechanisms can help us overcome chronic stress. Coping can be achieved by changing the situation you find yourself in, or by changing your reaction to the situation. There are a lot of well documented ways to cope. The key is to find what is right for you.
Top tips which have helped some of the ARK Skincare team:
Laugh - studies have shown laughter can reduce the stress hormone Cortisol. Find something which makes you laugh and do it more!
Exercise - symptoms of stress can be reduced by including physical exercise in your weekly routine. Just twenty minutes a week can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing according to this study
Unplug - modern technology can seriously increase the amount of demands placed upon us. Take time to "unplug", turn off devices, and slow down.
Be mindful - take time to bring your complete attention to the present moment. There are plenty of techniques, find out more here
Massage - Studies have found that regular massage can reduce stress and improve sleep patterns. There are many different kinds. Find a therapist here
In summary it is key to remember to accept that stress is unavoidable. You can take steps to reduce your stress and learn how to cope with it, but you will never be completely rid of stress. Stress serves a purpose as a healthy response to overwhelming situations or perceived threats, and it can be dealt with in an equally healthy fashion. Remembering this is, in itself, a good coping strategy.