November 01, 2017

Unfortunately, I don't think we need medical research (although there is loads) to tell us that stress is one of the biggest causes of premature ageing and putting lines on our faces.Chronic unrelenting stress (worrying, hot flushes and panic attacks) is our body’s way of telling us that it is stuck in “fight-or-flight” mode and that means our bodies are releasing increased amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.

The effect these hormones have on our skin:

  • Elevated levels of adrenaline can cause a depletion of your nutrient stores. Adrenaline encourages your blood to be directed away from your skin and sent to your muscles to deal with the emergency situation. As such, fewer nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the skin resulting in dull, pale and sallow complexions.
  • High cortisol levels can impair the production of connective tissues like collagen and elastin. A sudden decline in the production of these connective tissues, which gives skin that plumped up look, can cause the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face.
  • In addition if you're feeling anxious or stressed, it can also be hard to have a good night’s sleep, which is important to help rejuvenate and get you ready for the new day ahead.

Dealing with anxiety and stress effectively and taking time out of your busy schedule to introduce relaxation and meditation techniques is key to prevent this ageing nasty... and help your overall well-being.

Aside from changing the external factors here are 5 tipsfor reducing your stress and anxiety.

1. Eat good food

Eating the right foods can help to balance your entire body including your nervous system. Eating certain foods can act as triggers for stress and anxiety, just like eating others can help to calm you down. At the very least,  a good diet will give you more energy and help you to think more clearly.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- These fats have also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels. Foods high in omega 3 are wild salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, walnuts and hemp and chia seeds.
  • Dark green vegetables-  Spinach, kale, broccoli are rich in A, B and C vitamins. They also contain a good amount of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus that help reduce stress hormones in your body and stabilize your mood.
  • Anti-Stress SaladFoods rich in magnesium - Magnesium helps improve your mood and energy by producing and supporting the brain chemical serotonin - our happy hormone! Foods high in magnesium include almonds, avocados, spinach, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, oats and brown rice.
  • Complex Carbohydrates - You should consume complex carbohydrates every day to fuel your brain properly.  Complex carbs contain the amino acid tryptophan, which the body converts serotonin. Ideally eat complex carbohydrates (starches), such as whole-grain products, vegetables (sweet potatoes are a great choice) and beans. Complex carbs contain fiber, which helps slow blood sugar level changes and reduce negative effects on mood
  • Folic Acid - Eat foods such as Asparagus as it contains vitamin B and folic acid. Levels of low folic acid are linked to neurotransmitter impairment, which can lead to anxiety.

2. Avoid Caffeine

I know!! But caffeine is a stimulant that increases adrenaline production within in the body, one of the hormones you are trying to keep at bay. So perhaps try swapping those daily cups of coffee and tea with decaf, peppermint or chamomile tea. Chamomile is actually a natural anti-anxiety medicine as it contains two chemicals that promote relaxation.

Chamomile Tea

3. Focus On Deep Breathing

Next time  you are feeling lovely and relaxed take a moment to notice your breath  - I'll take a bet it's deep and long. However, conversely when you're stressed you'll notice that your breath is shallow and rapid.

In times of stress if you find a quiet space and try a breathing exercise. My favourite is Nadi Shodhana; it is an ancient practice that has been used over the centuries to bring tranquility, clarity and help concentration. It lowers stress levels and unblocks and harmonises the flow of energy in your body.

How to practise Nadi Shodana:

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor. Straighten your spine and roll your shoulders back.
  2. Breathe deeply through both nostrils for 5 - 10 full breaths.
  3. Place you index finger and your second finger of your left hand between your eyebrows - which will enable you to use your thumb to close your left nostril and your ring finger to close your right nostril. (If you prefer to use your right hand you can)Nadi Shodana
  4. To begin close your right nostril with your finger and breathe in through your left nostril as you count to four.
  5. Shut the left nostril and unplug the right nostril and breathe out (of the right nostril) for four counts.
  6. Keep the left nostril closed, as you breathe in for a count of four.
  7. Then shut the right nostril and release the left nostril. Breathe out of the left nostril for a count of four.
  8. Repeat this sequence: Breathe in left, breathe out right, breathe in right, breathe out left.
  9. Continue Nadi Shodana for several minutes, eventually working your way to 20 minutes.

4. Schedule time for yourself

Fingertip Facelift Massage

Make a conscious effort to schedule at least 30 mins every day for relaxation - go for a walk, do yoga, meditation, listen to music or arrange a massage (perhaps even a fingertip facelift massage - which is incredibly relaxing!).  This will help to lower your heart rate and calm your mind and give you perspective on what is causing you worry.


5. Have a Hot Epsom Salt Bath

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious try taking a hot, soothing bath with some epsom salts. The salts contain magnesium sulfate, which can help to calm your nervous system and promote relaxation. You could add some lavender essential oil, which has calming/relaxing properties and will help prepare your body for sleep.

Epsom Salts and Lavender

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful