With work, school, families, friends, and romantic relationships all factoring into our day-to-day lives, a little bit of stress is pretty much inevitable. It’s not pretty, and in fact, stress can create physical damage, not just emotional. We’re talking hair breakage, acne, and even weight gain or sore muscles. It can also result in fatigue or moodiness, and even make us more prone to getting sick. The first step is to identify our stresses and our body’s reactions, and then find the proper ways to deal with it.
Get the right amount of sleep.
The first step to less stress is to prioritize your to-do lists for each day, and most importantly, make it your utmost priority to take better care to maintain your overall well-being. Getting enough sleep at night—about eight to nine hours—could make all the difference between a cool, calm you and a stressed out mess, says Tiffany Mason, owner of Mason Coaching and Consulting, a lifestyle coaching firm.
Fortify your immune system.
Your immunity does more than prevent colds—it also helps protect, repair, and regenerate cells. Bodily damage from stress not only makes you look older, but it makes you more prone to illness, which could lead to chronic disease, says Brenda Do, Chief Trumpeteer at LiveGracefully.com. To combat stress from the inside out, it’s best to take the right supplements to strengthen your immunity so that all of its protective functions are working at full strength. “Medicinal mushrooms like red reishi, beta-glucans, zinc, and selenium are all well-studied immune boosters that go way beyond vitamin C,” says Do. It also helps to take adaptogens, which are nutrients that keep your body calmer during stressful times so you don’t overreact to stress and cause yourself more damage than necessary, Do says. Popular adaptogens include eleuthero and panax ginseng.
Watch your diet.
Replenish your body with healthy minerals and vitamins by increasing fruit and veggie intake, or take a daily multi-vitamin. Extra vitamins help the immune system to replenish what stress is taking out of the body, says Dawn C. Reid, M.S., a relationship success expert. This means doing your best to avoid fatty, fried, or unhealthy foods with no nutritional value, as well as reducing caffeine, which can actually increase anxiety and therefore prevent your mind from being able to calm down. Taking the right supplements can also help to ward off hair breakage and complexion side effects, which are other sad realities of internalizing too much stress.
Take a bath.
As Sylvia Plath once famously said, “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” We tend to agree, especially when it comes to relaxing. Stress can cause your body to retain toxins from environmental and chemical pollutants, which are guaranteed to adversely affect your skin. “A surprising or not often heard of skin care product that I know of is magnesium bath salts,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a medical doctor and nutrition expert. Saturated magnesium salts in a hot bath soothes tired muscles, promotes sound sleep, and helps detoxify the body through the skin, which helps with acne, eczema, and other skin conditions. “If you can’t have magnesium bath salts every day, try one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium in a powdered magnesium citrate that is taken with hot or cold water. It is inexpensive and can be found in most health food stores or vitamin shops,” Dean says.
“I love to take ten minutes at the end of the lunch hour to find a quiet place, close my eyes and breathe deeply—essentially, meditate. It helps gather energy and focus back for the afternoon and relieves stress—obviously, this is a great beauty aid,” says Kathy Heshelow, founder of Sublime Beauty.