Did you know psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five visits to a GP?
April is #StressAwarenessMonth so we asked Helen, Salon Manager at Aviemore to explain how stress affects our skin and health, and suggest ways to relax, take back control and cope better with life's ups and downs.
Skin reacts to stress
“Stress develops when people can no longer cope with the pressures placed upon them and become overwhelmed. Symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, headaches, palpitations and skin problems,” says Helen.
“Stress and anxiety cause a chemical response in your body which makes skin sensitive and more likely to react or flare up. It can also make it harder for any skin problems to heal, while common skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and acne can be caused, or worsened, by stress.”
Plan some me-time in
Professor Cary Cooper from the University of Lancaster is a stress advisor to NHS Scotland. He cites quality ‘me-time’ as one of his top 10 stress-busting tips:
“Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy. We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise," says Professor Cooper.
He recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality ‘me time’ away from work. "By earmarking those two days, it means you won’t be tempted to work overtime," he says.
Kick-back and relax with reflexology
Looking for some relaxing ‘me-time’? Unwind with the ancient healing art of reflexology.
Our gentle therapeutic foot treatment uses massage and pressure points which mirror the body’s key systems. You’ll leave walking on air… we promise!
Interested to learn more about the history of reflexology and how it works? Read our blog here.
Professor Cooper’s top stress-busting tips
As well as planning in quality ‘me-time’ Professor Cooper recommends:
There’s a solution to any problem. "If you remain passive, thinking, 'I can’t do anything about my problem', your stress will get worse," says Professor Cooper. "That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing."
Avoid unhealthy habits
“Don't rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping," says Professor Cooper. Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones.
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will help reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you to deal with your problems more calmly.
“When I’m feeling tense I reach for Elemis’ Quiet Mind Temple Balm, a soothing temple balm containing a powerful blend of essential oils to help promote harmony, tranquillity and relaxation,” says Helen.
It smells divine with Patchouli, an aromatic essential oil reputed to have uplifting and grounding benefits and Eucalyptus, used for centuries for its medicinal, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. “Just rub onto fingertips and massage into the back of the neck, ear lobes and temples - breathe deeply and unwind.”
A good night’s sleep
Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep increases feelings of stress and anxiety explains Helen. If you’re having trouble relaxing before bedtime try our Spacemasks – they’re a super-relaxing home treat for eyes and brilliant for winding down in the evening. Spacemasks are available in all Sleeping Beauty Salons.
Or try this deeply soothing and calming audio from NHS Scotland designed to relax and de-stress you.
Breathing exercise to relieve stress
This calming breathing technique is recommended by NHS Scotland for stress, anxiety and panic. It takes just a few minutes, can be done anywhere. They suggest incorporating it into your daily routine, for most benefit.
Make yourself comfortable and loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
Stand or sit with both feet flat on the ground and roughly hip-width apart. If sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
Keep doing this for three to five minutes.
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