Stress affects us in multiple ways: from premature ageing to reduced longevity and even poor mental health. Of course, when it comes to combatting physical and emotional strain, there is no one-size-fits-all – but by implementing some simple changes to your everyday lifestyle, you might just breathe a little easier.
For immediate relief from tension, celebrity facialist Sarah Chapman advocates facial massage – to relax the muscles, as well as the mind. “Using your knuckles as well as your fingertips can help to unlock tight jaws and temples while lifting the face”, she explains. “What’s more, incorporating your favourite oil-based skincare and some slow, deep breaths can further aid relaxation”.
While muscle tension can also exacerbate the appearance of stress, so too can a compromised dermis. Alongside the magic of touch, Sarah Chapman recommends topical products to calm and repair: including those rich in ceramides and soothing actives. Her Skinesis Ultimate Cleanser (rich in collagen-stimulating peptides and potent skin-defence antioxidants) in addition to her Liquid Facial D-Stress Mist (a lightweight, liquid infusion with hyaluronic moisture magnets) support a distressed dermis brilliantly. “Finally, be sure to focus on omega-rich oils”, Sarah advises. “Topically applied and also ingested, they are excellent at supporting the skin. Every cell membrane in the body needs omegas to stay supple and strong”. We recommend ARTAH Essential Omegas which contain high dose marine omega that is sustainability sourced from small wild fish, to not only support skin health but also mood, focus and cognitive function.
However, what of the stress that gets locked in the physique? To counter physical stress, you might consider hi-tech solutions: for example, muscle-stimulating devices such as EMFace and EMSculpt Neo. Created to strengthen and tone the face and body, they work not only to counteract the aesthetic signs of fatigue (like slackening skin and the appearance of fine lines) but also to future-proof our skeletal muscles. According to Miss Sherina Balaratnam, Medical Director at SThetics Clinic, these are vital to underpin the structure of our face and body – yet they decrease by one per cent each year after the age of 25.
“Not only do we start to lose collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, but clinical studies show us that our skeletal muscles start to deplete with age too”, explains Sherina, who deploys such muscle-fortifying treatments to help her patients regain lost energy, while ensuring longevity in all areas of our body – from post-partum diastasis to weakened pelvic floors.
And let’s not overlook the effect of stress on the scalp. “Inflammation and accelerated ageing can present through redness and flaky skin, as well as decay within the hair follicles”, explains Sherina, who recommends cleansing, nourishing and stimulating new cell formation via the HydraFacial Keravive – a personalised, in-clinic treatment that combines deep-cleaning with growth factor-rich serums.
Still, we mustn’t demonise stress entirely. After all, according to RTT Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist, Anna Lancaster: “stress has a purpose… prehistorically stress responses (eg. increased cortisol and flushing adrenaline) enable our bodies to work optimally in a fight or flee situation when faced with a sabre-toothed tiger.” What we do need to be aware of, however, is how our subconscious influences negative stress. After all, the subconscious mind is what forms our key belief system: determining how we feel about ourselves, about others, and about our environment. In fact, it’s responsible for 95% of our behaviour. So, if we can control our thoughts and reactions to stress, we can more effectively manage its impact on our health.
In times of anxiety, Anna advises breath-work: for example, “Box Breathing”. Simply breathe in for a count of seven, hold for a count of seven, and then exhale – also for a count of seven. “Doing so can calm the body while helping the mind to mitigate stress responses”, explains Anna. Otherwise, try re-framing a situation. “Brain training helps to reset your stress system – for example, telling yourself ‘I’m not stressed, I’m excited’, can encourage a shift from a high, elevated state to something much calmer,” she says.
If anxiety persists, Regression Therapy – which addresses the root cause of stress-inducing behaviours – might also help. “These often result from childhood experiences that manifest into adult life”, explains Anna. “That’s because our subconscious mind is created predominantly between the ages of zero to seven years of age”. Regression therapy, which is a form of hypnosis, works by enabling one to re-visit childhood experiences – in order to observe, and address, them from an adult perspective. Doing so can be an emotional journey – however it is a powerful way to find peace moving forward.
Decreasing stress may require a holistic approach and patience – but there is a surplus of solutions to calm your skin, body and mind, both with a practitioner and at-home. If you’re seeking more tips to stress less, catch up on our Stress Management discussion, where our pioneering panel of wellness experts further explain the treatments and therapies that can help us feel calm and collected, in every area of our lives.