Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:48

Healthy Choices: Stress... and You

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When I have a training class or seminar on skin conditions, I often start by asking how many people have a stress-free life. I rarely get a hand raised. If I do get one, they quickly retreat with a silly statement like “just kidding.” Unfortunately, not many of us can raise our hand for that one. On a Sunday morning, I sat down to write this article thinking that I would be able to put it together in no time since there was clearly so much to write about. Ironically, once I was ready to start writing, my fingers were at an absolute stand still on the keyboard.

Why you ask? Because it occurred to me that it is quite probable that every reader is quite aware of what stress is and the effect it has on their life. But then it occurred to me that maybe you did not know. And you just may not know because our society has become so accustomed to stress and stressful situations that we simply consider it a part of life, a norm. I am here to tell you that you could not be any further from the truth!
Stress is your body’s normal response when it feels threatened, nervous, upset or anxious. Your body’s physiological response is to kick itself into its “fight-or-flight” response mode, in order to have the ability to rise to the occasion and overcome the given situation. Some people even work more effectively under stress and stressful situations. In such a situation, the nervous system releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, sensory perception and muscle tension. All such symptoms are normal and good when you are about to give a speech to 5,000 people, have an important job interview, ask your secret love for a date, or you are about to perform your first facial. However, in excess and over time these symptoms can lead to heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and chaos in your life.
This is all well and good, but unlike many professions we get a double dose of stress. Not only do we have our own stressors to manage on a daily basis, but we also get inundated with each one of our clients’ stressors too. Our business is a source of stress relief for our clients. While in our chairs, beneath our hands flow the multitude of stresses from our clients shoulders, chest, back, neck... and mouths. Yes, it would be lovely if our clients’ conversations were full of joy, excitement and energy about their lives and their days; but that is simply not the case, and hey… we did sign on for this. We entered this field because of our passion and ability to help others look and feel their best. Nobody, and I mean nobody, does that like aestheticians do! So with the good comes the not-so-good, and stress is a big part of it.
Excess stress in your life affects your body, your mood and your behavior – all of which will affect your family, your life and your business. I am sure I am not saying anything you do not already know. What I want to help you accomplish is being able to recognize and own the amount of stress in your life. Begin today. Change it today. You cannot get back yesterday, but you can take control of tomorrow.
Speaking for myself, as I get older, the time seems to fly at a faster pace and there is nothing worse than thinking or saying, “I wish I had....” Now is your time to let go of your, “I wish I hads,” recognize the factors in your life that cause you unnecessary stress and begin the process of letting them go. I had an employee who used to try taking on the weight of the world and fix everything and everyone. My favorite line to say to her was “Don’t own it.” If it does not belong to you, do not own it. Your co-worker’s problems, your clients’ worries, your best friend’s fears ARE NOT YOURS... do not own them! You simply cannot. You have enough of your own things to own and owning other peoples stressors will do two things: first, they will not allow you the privilege of dealing with your own stressors, and second they will drain the life out of you. Your life and your time is too precious. You are a gift and your chosen career as a skin care provider, is also a gift.
As with my past few columns, I am going to give you a task – a bit of a challenge to guide you through a process of reducing the stress in your life. I would love to say it is a process that will guide you to a stress-free life, but then I would be a miracle worker and I am quite sure miracle worker is not in my scope of practice!
Buy yourself a little notebook. Tomorrow at 10a.m., 1p.m., 4p.m., 7p.m. and just before bed I want you to quickly jot down five things that created stress in that time period. If you have more, by all means, write them down but I only want two minutes worth. Put your notebook away and go to bed. Set your alarm the following morning for five minutes earlier than you usually do. Take out your notebook, read through all of the items that created stress in your previous day, and draw a line through every single one that either did not belong to you, or simply was not all that big of a deal.
Stop the heavy sighing right now; I hear the whining, “I don’t have time for this.” Yes, you do! It will take two minutes, that is 15 minutes out of your day. You can give yourself 15 minutes, can you not? The next day’s task is similar however instead at 10a.m., 1p.m., 4p.m., 7p.m. and bed time, quickly jot down five significant things that created stress during that time period. I bet you do not even have five.
Do you get it? You should either feel like you just got hit by a truck or that 1,000 pounds has been lifted from your shoulders. The point is that most of the stress in each of our lives is really not life altering, does not belong to us, or simply cannot be changed; and in these instances follow my lead... do not own it! The secret is to recognize it; the solution is to not own it.
Days turn into months, then into years and decades; where does the time go? We do not know because we are too busy stressing out over it! Life is too short! So start something new, do not own stress that does not need to belong to you. Just let it roll, like water off a duck’s back!

michelle-dallairdMichelle D’Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D’Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical and laser courses.

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