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  • 6 Stress Relieving Techniques to Beat the Holiday Hustle

    Angela TaylorWhat does the holiday season mean to you? Time with family, the magic sparkle in a child’s face, indulging in too much food, giving to those you love, an opportunity to help others or just having time off… Unfortunately, although the festive season is often associated with joy, it can also be a stressful, lonely or sad time for many people. For those affected by depression or grief it can actually be the worst time of year!

    With the extra demands of the holiday season parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining to name just a few, it could be the tipping point that sends you into a stressed state. In our industry we are very well positioned to help our clients cope with the extra stress life may bring at this time.

    Here are my 6 top tips to help your clients avoid the stress overload during the holiday season:

    1. Schedule some “me” time. This may be in the form of an express treatment as clients are more time-constrained at this time of year. Be sure to create a place for them to escape during their treatment, where they can focus only on themselves for that moment. Also recommend taking a walk, reading a book or listening to some music—just simply taking a moment to distance oneself from the holiday mania will do wonders.

    2. Stop and breathe! Scientific studies have shown that controlling your breath can help manage stress-related conditions. Breath control is also used in practices such as yoga, tai chi and some forms of meditation. Many people use their breathing to help promote relaxation and reduce stress. Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion and the lowest part of the lungs don’t get a full share of oxygenated air, this can lead to feeling short of breath and anxious.

    holiday ornamentDeep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange. To make this even more effective we can combine with the inhalation of essential oils. These can directly stimulate the limbic lobe, also known as the “emotional brain” and is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. Essential oils like Lavender, Geranium and Sandalwood are great for quieting the mind and soothing. So make time to diffuse essential oils that will encourage your clients to relax and take a moment to breathe!

    3. Turn to the healing power of touch. We are so privileged to have the permission to touch our clients through the treatments that we do, for many this may have been the only human touch they’ve had for some time! Serotonin regulates behavior allowing us to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. It also impacts emotions and subdues irritability. Low serotonin levels have been linked to sleep/wake cycle disturbances, depression, pain disorders and behavior problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Massage increases the availability of serotonin in the brain; oxytocin is also increased, which affects feelings of attachment and care-taking. Studies show that empathy for others is also increased.

    4. Practice mindfulness. Life means often we are guilty of having our mind completely full and therefore we can’t truly appreciate every moment. How many of you look at your tablet or smartphone first thing in the morning and last thing at night? Sometimes we need to switch off technology and take in those little moments and appreciate the details around us. Mindfulness is the current buzz word but it is a proven technique used to help depression, anxiety and stress, but it takes practice. So start with just pausing for a moment and really seeing the detail of what you do or appreciate the moment you are in.

    5. Connection with your surroundings. Connect fully with right now, when we practice this we pull ourselves out of the past or the future and bring ourselves back to the present. But connection is not only about connecting with ourselves, it’s about community, and our skin centers are a meeting point for a community, a place to feel connected and this may become even more important at this time of year.

    6. Get up and exercise. Research shows that physical activity can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, even dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It doesn’t have to be hours of activity, 20 minutes can be enough if done regularly. So avoid sitting on the sofa watching all those Christmas movies, get moving you will feel better for it!

    Stress is part of life but remembering that at this time of year the most precious gift is time with loved ones. And as professionals, we too must practice what we preach—our clients look to us to help relieve their stresses—and if we’re not calm nor present, their treatment can be given in vain. So let’s not waste it by letting stress become the main focus, take action and enjoy the moment.

  • Beauty Sleep – Myth or Truth?

    This topic has always been one of some debate, from a personal perspective it was just one of the many ploys that my mother used to coax me to go to bed when I was a wee one! Today we know more about what actually happens to us when we sleep and the consequences of not getting enough quality shut eye. From credible research that links sleep deprivation to obesity to the abundance of apps that measure how many times we roll over, sleep is a hot topic and big business… Here’s what we know about sleep and the skin, and what happens when you don’t get enough!

    It’s Day Job

    In the daytime, the skin is very active fighting off potential invaders like bacteria and viruses while also neutralizing unstable molecules that cause havoc on cells. These are generated by UV, chemical exposure, smoke, stress, unhealthy diets and pollution. Just another reason why sunscreen is a must and preferably one with built in antioxidant technology. It’s not only you that has to work during the day: your skin has a long list of job responsibilities, too.

    The Night Shift

    At night the skin switches to clean up and repair mode while you rest, new skin cells replace damaged cells and rejuvenation takes place. In fact, cell regeneration increases by double at night and production of collagen also escalates. To help enhance this process, use or prescribe specialized overnight products, specifically those with microencapsulated Retinol and designer peptides that work on repairing skin. As the skin is clean and not in defense mode, it’s more readily able to absorb these helpful ingredients. Most people do best with about 7 hours sleep. Well rested skin looks exactly that — well rested, good tone, plump, fresh, hydrated and bright.

    Burning the Candle

    On the flip side, lack of sleep can be detrimental to both the skin and body. The body uses sleep time for internal housekeeping – processing nutrients, detoxifying, renewing and recharging. If your body is chronically starved for sleep, the effects will eventually become visibly and physically noticeable. Signs like slow healing breakouts or telltale dark circles and puffiness under the eyes are going to give you away, you’ll feel tired and look tired.

    Long Term? Think Zombie Skin!

    Something every party girl needs to know is that when you build up ‘sleep debt’ over time, this has long-term consequences. The aging process will be accelerated and the immune system will be impaired, which means you’ll be more susceptible to skin infections, cold sores maybe even skin cancer. For the body as a whole there are chronic effects like serious health issues, metabolic problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and depression.

    Top Tips For Some Quality Shut Eye

    Ready to change those sleeping habits? Here’s some helpful tips to get you on your way to rest and relaxation:

    •  No caffeinated beverages, tea or coffee after 4 pm (also no sugar at least 2 hours before bed).

    •  Working out after work or doing yoga also really helps not just for the body but for switching off the brain from work.

    •  No phones or bright LED lights next to the bed, or in the room for that matter. Try to black out your room as much as possible or try a sleep masque.

    •  Taking a bath with a blend of relaxing essential oils — the heat from the water soothes muscles, the aromas through you breathing them in will help you to unwind. The best essential oils for sleep are Lavender, Chamomile, Sandalwood, Ylang ylang and Rose.

  • Breakout Freakout

    Ah summer. The home stretch, the ninth inning, a time for preparation and relaxation and… final exams! This may stir up terrifying memories, or if you’re in the midst of it, elicit a reminder of what’s to come. This crunch time is key to passing exams with flying colors or not passing at all, and it can feel like a literal squeeze or crunch, with your mind racing at 100mph. What you may not even realize during this hectic time is how it can also affect your body and even your skin.

    Psychological stress is not just “in your mind,” although it does begin there. When we experience stress, a region in the brain called the hypothalamus releases signals to specific glands to produce even more signals, or hormones, which then circulate around the body and elicit the “stress response.” The stress hormones released by the glands sitting atop the kidneys are epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol.

    Cortisol is a stress hormone that can also impact skin health. When cortisol is released, it can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum as well as increase inflammation. In the skin, this increased inflammation and sebum is the perfect environment for P. acnes to thrive inside the follicle. The result? A breakout.

    We may not be able to avoid those finals, but we can try to avoid that stress-induced pimple by practicing relaxation techniques. Or at the very least, treat it with efficacious ingredients to help the skin heal. If you have teenage clients in the treatment room, remember this is a high-stress time so combine stress-relieving techniques with these ingredients:

    Benzoyl Peroxide: Stops breakout-causing bacteria in the follicle and helps clear skin.
    Salicylic Acid: A hydroxy acid that exfoliates surface skin cells and reduces inflammation.
    Bentonite and Kaolin Clays: Purifying clays pull oil from skin, deep cleaning and helping to control shine.
    Niacinamide: Assists in regulating sebaceous gland secretions while scavenging free radicals.
    Meadowsweet: protects against the production and secretion of excess sebum.
    African Whitewood: The bark extract of this tree has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and sebum-regulating properties.

    To learn more about stress and breakouts, check out this video that I shared for Ted Education:

  • Stressed Super Hero?

    So Mum, what have you been doing recently? If you’re the modern working Mum, you’ve been managing the children’s holiday, chauffeuring your kids from party to party and 101 sporting activities, doing the household chores, dealing with the daily pressures of work, and managing a relationship with your spouse. Is your super hero uniform getting a little ragged around the edges?

    Interestingly there is a new field of medicine called Psychodermatology, which focuses on the complexities of the mind-skin connection and the skin problems that are associated with or worsened by stress.

    Stress causes a chemical reaction in the body, making the skin more sensitive and reactive. It produces cortisol and other hormones, which trigger your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This can result in an increase of breakouts. Stress also impedes skin healing. Stress exacerbates psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation and skin irritation. Sadly, this results in a compounding effect on our stress levels, because when our skin isn’t great, it has a negative impact on our psyche!

    If you or your clients are struggling with the work life balance, it’s time for a “super hero intervention,” with some much needed stress management techniques.

    For stressed skin, the answer is to receive a prescriptive, professional skin treatment – a solution based treatment that not only addresses the effects that the client’s stress is having on the skin (acne, pigmentation, sensitization, dehydration, etc.), but that also incorporates stress reduction touch therapies such as scalp massage, pressure point face massage and stress relief back massage. All of this will help melt away the tension associated with stress.

    Product choice at this time is essential (think calming). Select products and treatments that addresses the neurogenic and immunogenic inflammation associated with stress. Look for these calming ingredients when treating the stressed client:

    Boerhavia Diffusa (Red Hogweed) Root extract: targets neurogenic inflammation.
    Oat Avenanthramides: anti-irritant and anti-redness properties, inhibits histamine release.
    Ginger and Bisabolol: act synergistically to reduce inflammation-induced itch, redness and irritation.
    Anti-inflammatory extracts: Cucumber, Echinacea, Wheat Germ Extract, Comfrey, Raspberry, Grape Extract, Allantoin, Panthenol, Vitamin E, Bisabolol.

    You can also offer or suggest these types of treatments for the body:

    • Swedish/remedial /aromatherapy/stress reduction massage
    • Body wraps
    • Hot stone
    • Reflexology
    • Spa water and heat therapies

    And while you’re at it, create a “super hero pressure pack” for everyday use with these therapies:

    Bach flower remedies:
    • Rescue remedy
    • Impatiens
    • Hornbeam
    • Larch

    Herbal supplements:
    • Gingko Extract
    • St John’s Wort
    • B group Vitamins
    • Magnesium
    • Niacinamide
    • Folic Acid
    • Tranquility teas

    As skin therapists we often give, but seldom do we receive, so don’t forget your “me time” too! An aromatherapy or mineral salt bath, combined with your favorite hobby such as reading, walking, exercise or seeing friends, will help relieve tension and stress levels. So advise your clients to receive these amazing treatments, but be sure to book yourself in too!