Everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives – some of us on a daily basis. It’s that feeling of overwhelm, or being “unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure,” says the UK’s Mental Health Foundation.
WHAT CAUSES STRESS?
Stress is the body’s response to perceived threats, whether they’re physical, emotional or psychological. No matter what the nature of that stress is, it all feels the same to the body: like a threat to our survival.
Situations and life events that can give rise to stress include job loss, falling into debt, moving countries, family tragedy, deadlines at work, parenting or day-to-day inconveniences.
HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE’RE STRESSED?
Stress can feel like…
Alongside feelings, physical symptoms can appear:
• Heart palpitations
• Muscle spasms
• Pins and needles
• Nervous twitches
A degree of short-term stress – often referred to as acute stress – can arise if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, if you fight with our partner, or have to react quickly to a challenging situation at work.
Acute stress can be helpful; especially if, say, if you’re wrapping up a big project at work, or if you’re running a marathon.
Whatever the cause, your body will respond automatically by releasing stress hormones, primarily cortisol, which can give you laser-focus on the task at hand. Non-vital functions are paused; blood moves from the extremities to the big muscles of the body; certain energy sources become available.
With acute stress, once it’s over, it’s over. The issues arise, however, when we suffer from acute stress repeatedly, or when we suffer from chronic stress.
If you suffer from stress over the longer term – whether that’s high-grade or low-grade stress – it will have an impact on your health, both mental and physical.
Effects can include:
• Interrupted sleep and insomnia
• Loss of appetite or stress eating
• Digestive issues
• Hormone changes
• High blood pressure
• Fertility issues in men and women
• Skin problems
Visible signs of chronic stress will often show up in the skin. Breakouts and acne can surface, due to an increase in stress hormones like cortisol, which tells the glands in our skin to increase oil production. Chronic stress can also impact the immune system, triggering increased sensitivity, resulting in rashes and redness. Long-term or repeated stress also can exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea or eczema. It can slow the healing process for skin problems, too.
Many people suffer from constant, low-grade stress. Urban environments, the constant stimulation of modern technology, emails, text messages and social media – not to mention environmental stressors and the pandemic – all contribute to an underlying feeling of stress that’s with many people constantly, even if they’re not aware of it.
Every mind and every body responds to stress differently, depending on a range of factors, ranging from genetics and upbringing to the environment you live and work in, and how much you slept last night.
No matter what your genes say or how you slept, however, you can manage stress by engaging in self-care practices.
Mindfulness-based meditation is one of these. It’s a simple practice that encourages you to pay attention to your thoughts, or to what’s happening in your body, without judgment. By stepping into observation rather than judgment, you can come to a place of peace, acceptance, presence and clarity.
Support mindfulness-based practices and other forms of meditation with AROMA LIGHT EMOTION from Primavera, which combines light therapy with essential oils, bringing peace to body, mind and soul. With it, use Primavera’s RELAXED ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND, which features lavender, Siamese Benzoin and ho leaves for deep serenity.
Regular exercise is another way to manage stress. Whether you like to run, do yoga, swim, walk, do HIIT… whatever you do, moving your body is beneficial, partly because it promotes the release of endorphins; neurotransmitters that make you feel good. Get yourself in the mood to work out or give yourself a post-workout boost with Primavera’s clarifying and soothing RECHARGE ROOM SPRAY.
Supplements are another useful tool to add to your stress management toolkit. Ogaenics’ ADAPTO GENIE KOMPLEX is a good one: it’s power-packed with adaptogens (plants that are known for countering the negative effects of stress).
Speaking to loved ones about your feelings, or sharing your concerns with a counsellor or therapist, can also be extremely helpful.
REDUCE THE EFFECT OF STRESS ON THE SKIN
When stress shows up in the skin, you can counter it with the help of certain organic skincare products. de Mamiel’s FIRST FIX STRESS RESPONSE SERUM repairs and protects the skin thanks to ingredients such as Ectoin, L-Arginine, Squalane, prickly pear, pomegranate and sodium hyaluronate.
Calm stressed-out, irritated skin with A.O.R’s SOOTHING MOISTURE CREAM, which contains chamomile flower extract, calendula and sunflower seed oil that rehydrate while reducing redness and inflammation.
A.O.R’s REPAIRING AND CALMING MASK is another one that’s ideal for combating inflammation. Containing oak bark to reduce redness, sensitivity and ease sunburns, and peppermint and spearmint leaf oil to give tired skin a boost.