Stress is more than just feeling a little pressure around work or school deadlines. The signs of stress are both physical and mental, and its effects contribute to everything from the common cold, to acne breakouts and rosacea flare-ups, and the development of serious autoimmune disorders and medical conditions.To understand stress and the complications that can arise from it, it’s important to first realize that it in itself is a disease that affects a wide range of functions. Therefore, it can be difficult to pinpoint the problem and solve it quickly.
Many experience physical signs of stress.
It’s common for people who are having an anxiety attack to report feeling temperature changes, shaking, slurred speech, and changes in vision. Others report sudden attacks of deep weariness that mimic the symptoms of narcolepsy, where they feel that they must go to sleep immediately. Many people experience emotional signs of stress as a trigger to the flight-or-fight reflex, and have bursts of manic energy that can lead to erratic behavior or lashing out at people close to them.This may seem like a confusing list of symptoms, but once you realize how intrusive stress is to the physical body it all starts to make sense. The human body and mind are wired together so that the brain interprets a situation and then sends signals to the body to help it react appropriately.
Under our current living conditions stress is not always a temporary situation. Relationships, work, school, and family can all contribute to ongoing stress. Keeping up with the daily news report is very stressful for many people during times like these, as are financial constraints, or the factors that go into attempting to achieve work and life balance.
Let’s take a closer look at how the reactions of the body to stress can manifest themselves.
When the mind perceives a situation as troublesome or threatening, it signals the body to release adrenaline and cortisol. These elevated levels trigger the fight-or-flight reflex, causing the body to dump glucose into the bloodstream, alter the digestive process and raise blood pressure. This can manifest as physical signs of stress in many people as sweating, stammering, hyperventilating, and serious stomach upset. Acutely, some people also experience skin reactions to this process such as hives or rashes.
The symptoms usually subside once the stressor is removed, but if the situation goes on for an extended period, the raised levels of cortisol start to create other issues in the body. Thickened blood vessel walls, ongoing digestive problems, chronic skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, acne, melasma, and psoriasis; and autoimmune disorders can all be responses to ongoing and unrelieved stress.
While the nervous system is ramping up adrenaline and cortisol, the other systems of the body are responding as well. Muscles will tense up so that they are ready to react quickly. The respiratory system prompts the lungs to breathe more rapidly. Blood vessels dilate to send more blood and oxygen to the large muscles, and the heart begins to beat harder and faster. The stomach and digestive process undergo changes that either slow digestion down or speed it up. All these bodily reactions come with their own side effects.
Tense muscles can cause bodily aches and pains long after the episode is over, and ongoing tension can create long lasting back or joint pain and headaches. Changes in breathing patterns often lead to lightheadedness, and even panic attacks; and cause many people to experience extreme exhaustion after the immediate stress has passed.
Changes in the cardiovascular system that are repeated often are a known factor in heart disease. Stress can cause digestive disorders such as dysbiosis and damage to the mucosal barrier, constipation, nausea and vomiting, and may affect the body’s ability to effectively absorb nutrients.
Our skin often inherits many of the downsides of stress, as it’s the most exposed and extremely sensitive part of our bodies. Acne, stress rashes and other skin conditions may appear in moments of high stress. Unfortunately, these flare ups may be difficult to track directly back to stress because of their varying factors.
To manage the side effects of stress, it is important to remember that stress is a system-wide disorder. Anything that causes mental and emotional stress will also have physical side effects. Treating the physical symptoms of stress will have a positive effect on mental stress, and relieving stress mentally will have a positive effect on the physical side effects. It is important to treat both simultaneously.
It’s important to seek stress-management support.
After consulting with your healthcare practitioner about medical issues that might be involved, be sure to pay close attention to diet and exercise. Eating a lot of fresh foods can boost antioxidant levels, which may have reduced inflammation caused by stress and will boost the immune system. Daily exercise is known to have a strong positive influence on stress levels. If you do have physical stress symptoms such as rashes, stomach upset or headaches, take over the counter medication when appropriate to give relief to the symptoms.
Remember that anything you do to reduce physical stress will have a positive effect on your mental state as well. Above all, be kind to yourself when you are experiencing ongoing stress in life. Following sensible guidelines will go a long way towards helping you get through a stressful period in your life.
Do you want to learn more about how you can improve your skin holistically?
We’re familiar with the trope of ‘the working mom,’ the one works 9-5 at the office, comes home, throws a meal together, helps the kids with homework and after school activities, goes to sleep and then does it all again the next day. We’re just as familiar with ‘the stay-at-home mom,’ who takes care of the food, the cleaning, the tune ups, homework, chauffeuring, and everything in between. These are very brief summaries of what both types of moms do–I know it’s not possible to sum up a mom’s duties in one sentence or paragraph 🙂 Both are incredibly full lives and come with equal yet different levels of challenges and amounts of fulfillment.
But one woman is left out of this scene: the work-at-home mom. The Mama CEO.
Of course, I myself fall into this category, and my search for other Mama CEOS and likeminded support is what led me to Megan Flatt, consultant extraordinaire to Mama CEOs, and creator of the Mama CEO Planner System in addition to many other programs and methods that support moms who run their own businesses from home.
One of my favorite aspects of Megan’s methodology is how she prioritizes self-care for Mama CEOs, and personal goals right alongside family and business goals–and she helps you understand exactly how to make it all happen in your daily life. I interviewed Megan this week to talk specifically about self-care and how to fit it into your schedule–and actually do it. This topic comes at oh-so-clandestine of a time, as I just launched my new website, all while carting my daughters to and from Nutcracker rehearsals and still adjusting homeschooling my younger daughter. I’m not going to lie–I’ve definitely broken my own self-care rules and allowed busyness to get in the way.
Whether you’re a CEO or a mom or both, I imagine you might be able to relate. As women, we are blessed with compassion and multitasking talents and the ability to dream big. But we also bear the burden of feeling like we need to be there for everyone all the time. And often it’s our own self-care that keeps getting pushed to the back burner. Well, Megan has a solution for that–for the “I’ll rest after the holidays, the school volunteer event, the big launch, the new product development, the ballet performance, the big game…..”
Self-Care for Mama CEOs with Megan Flatt:
Watch the video of my interview with Megan below, and scroll down for 4 takeaway tips.
Click HERE to subscribe to my podcast and download the audio of this interview, FREE.
When Your Business is Like Your Child
“When you have your own business, it’s like another child… a breathing, growing thing. It’s never done, just like a child doesn’t stop needing you..” After that came out of my mouth in the interview, I realized I had never thought about my business that way.
If you aren’t a mom, you may struggle to make time for close friends, family, or romantic partners. Maybe you don’t own a business, but you’re in school or you’re devoting yourself to a volunteer project. It’s likely that you still experience “mommy guilt” when you’re doing something outside of your business, especially something nice for yourself, just for the sake of your own care or pleasure.
So how do you do all of those things, and still have time to do the self care that you know is so important?
How to do it all, PLUS practice self-care
1. Revisit what self-care looks like
Self-care for Mama CEOs is tough. Megan brings up such a good point in our interview. She says:
“We have this idea of what self-care looks like… I’m going to drink my lemon water and I’m going to meditate, and I’m going to journal.. We have these luscious ideas of what self-care looks like, but when we’re not able to do it the way this beautiful picture in our mind is, we keep putting it off…”
Right? You set your alarm to wake up early and go to the gym, but when 6am comes and you don’t want to get out of bed, or you’re delayed by a sick child or find an emergency in your inbox, there goes your self-care for the day because you’re so carefully scheduled, there’s no more room. Wouldn’t it be nicer to allow for time to wake up later and practice yoga at home, or go for a walk during lunch, or take a dance class…
What Megan’s really saying is, that self-care might not look the way you think it looks. She talks about how she used to put pressure on herself to get up early and drink hot water with lemon before meditating, but it never happened. The truth? She likes checking her email in the morning. So now her routine is waking up and drinking hot water with lemon while she checks her email. Then, she can meditate later in the day.
The takeaway here is, self-care is for you, so don’t fight yourself on it. Do it in a way that makes it easy to go along with something you already like to do, or that’s already working for you.
2. When creating your schedule, ask ‘How do I want to feel?”
This might not seem like the most productive business strategy, but bear with me. We’re used to building our schedules according to what we want to get done, but try turning it around and asking how you want to feel.
Do you want to feel motivated, productive and powerful? Create a plan that reflects that.
Do you want to feel organized, relaxed and calm? Focus on systemization and work on backend things.
Want to feel more visible? This week is a good time to work on podcast interviews and social media.
By taking this approach, we not only get things done, but we feel the way we want to feel. And some weeks it will be that you want to feel productive and powerful. That is, after all, why you’re a badass Mama CEO, or whatever the badass thing that you are is.
3. Go with what you’re already doing well
“Instead of doing it how I should do it, what if I just make the next right decision for me?” asks Megan. “By taking the pressure off myself to do it a certain way, it actually started happening.”
This goes along with rule #1. Let’s say you’re trying to be more organized, but you always leave a pile of books by your comfy chair. You could keep silently hounding yourself to put your books back on the shelf, or you could buy a beautiful basket and put it next to your chair, turning the pile into an intentional-book-carrying-basket-system.’
Stop fighting yourself, and start working within your own habits.
4. Instead of making it a task that you have to do, create your schedule so there’s more space
You may be one of those people who schedules every moment of your day…. I know I fall into that.
But when we plan for self-care, we often fall short. That time often becomes ‘wild card time,’ where unfinished tasks overflow in order to get finished.
Or, you plan to go to yoga at 7 on Wednesday night but when it rolls around, you just don’t feel like it.
Of course, there is some level of planning involved in maintaining an exercise routine or scheduling a massage, but here’s another thing to do: plan in some empty space.
For some people this comes naturally. For others, not so much. I work with a lot of busy moms and CEOs in my coaching practice and for all of them, downtime is the hardest thing to plan, because they worry they’ll waste time doing nothing. I’m telling you though, here’s your solution: give yourself some time throughout the week, maybe a few hours here and there, where nothing is on your schedule. Don’t make any plans. I promise you, that time won’t get wasted.
Warning: this will involve saying no, turning down plans for lunch or requests for favors. But don’t think of it as saying no, think of it as saying yes to whatever activity or task you are going to want or need to do in that moment.
When we start flexing our ‘no’ muscle, it starts to feel good. It starts to feel powerful–but it also helps say ‘yes’ more mindfully.
Megan was struggling to find a planner that worked for her, with her life of wearing all these different hats. She had mom tasks and business tasks and all the necessary things in between, but no planner really accommodated these different facets. So she created one for herself–she literally typed it up in Word and bound it at Staples.
She was working with her clients at how to be more successful at their businesses while being more present with their kids, and one day at a meeting with a client, she pulled out her planner and got the reaction of, ‘WHAT is that?”
Megan realized this was something that her clients could use, that they really needed. Thus, the Mama CEO Planner was born.
Her planner isn’t just a place to write down what you need to do, but it’s this whole system of why are you doing it, how is it going to get done, what’s the actual strategy behind what you’re planning?
My favorite part–and I think the key part–is that it doesn’t compartmentalize your motherhood from your CEO tasks. Because you’re always both. This planner helps make self-care for Mama CEOs a reality.
It’s not about being a robot, but it’s about being realistic and structuring your schedule. Freedom comes from structure–think about yourself like bamboo, whose ability to grow tall and resist strong winds comes from it’s flexibility.
Megan’s planner and planning system has radically changed how I tackle being a mom and CEO, and I wanted to share it with you today in case it might do the same for you!
Megan is a business growth strategist, but what she really does is empower Mama CEOs to create fulfilling lives and set a stellar example for their children. As a mom and a business owner, she herself wants to feel successful in BOTH roles: to be actively actively present for her kids, and build a business she’s passionate about. Her mission is to help Mama CEOs achieve the same. Learn more about Megan HERE.
I feel really lucky to live where I live. I’m just outside of Philadelphia, a city I fall more in love with every day–and the reason for that is because it’s not just a concrete jungle. Philadelphia has a ton of green space, and in fact, its Fairmount Park is one of the largest city park systems in the world–not the United States–the world. So I get to enjoy the benefits of the city–the arts, restaurants, science museums, historic landmarks, shopping, etc–but I also get to go into the woods whenever I want to. I can hike or bike trails of varying levels of difficulty, go on herb discovery walks, or just skip stones in the creek with my kids.
I have to admit that I haven’t always taken advantage of living so close to Fairmount Park–but now that I live such an electronically connected life (running online businesses and courses will do that to you), the more I feel drawn back into nature. In fact, a friend and I have buddied up to go together as often as possible before the weather gets too cold. Why is it so important to spend time in the woods?
There are probably hundreds of reasons–but here are my top 4 reasons to spend more time in nature
Breathe fresh air. It’s no secret that urban air is extremely polluted, but did you know that even air in more rural areas is also polluted, due to agricultural pesticides and other airborne pollutants? The leaves of the trees, and other greenery in the forest filter the air–so the air you breathe and come into contact with in the woods is cleaner even than the air you’d breathe standing in the middle of a field.
Experience aromatherapy naturally (and safely!). Multiple studies show that essential oils improve various areas of overall health and wellbeing–and that’s not just limited to those in the little amber bottles! When you spend time in nature–especially in wooded areas–you breathe in phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees–this helps to boost the body’s immune system. Phytoncides have shown dramatic health and wellness benefits in studies.
Less brain fog. Spending time in nature has been linked in numerous studies to higher levels of mental focus, clarity, and performance in both children and adults.
Stress management. We can’t make all everyday stressors go away, but we can add more stress relieving activities into our lives to counteract negative effects of stress. Research shows that spending more time in nature can improve our bodies’ abilities to minimize the effects of stress, and improve mental and emotional health.
Wherever you live, I encourage you to find time as often as you can to be outside in nature. Whether you live near a forest, ocean, desert, or anything in between you’ll find wonder, beauty, healing energy, and peace. Remember that we don’t live in nature–we are PART of nature, and the further technology brings us away from its energies, the more we must consciously connect, often. Bring the kids, bring a friend, or just bring yourself and see how much better you’ll feel!
By the way–the pictures in the collages above were all taken on my last visit to Fairmount Park earlier this week. So many treasures!
Today I bring you another beauty nutritious and delicious guest post (and infographic) from the wonder Alana Mitchell of Skincare By Alana. Today Alana shares how blueberries benefit our skin–and overall health. Enjoy!
I have been a long time blueberry lover. They seem to go so well with so many things: pancakes, peanut butter, yogurt, honey, in salads, and so much more. While most people are aware that blueberries are a fabulous antioxidant-rich snack, many overlook their benefits as a skincare ingredient. Today I want to discuss some of the many benefits these delicious berries can offer to your skin, so grab yourself a small bowl of blueberries and enjoy!
6 Skin Benefits of Blueberries
Strengthen Your Skin – A little known fact about blueberries: they have strengthening and healing properties that may help to reverse signs of damage. One sign of aging in particular is the appearance on broken capillaries on the face, which appear very similar to spider veins. Using products with blueberries, or utilizing a DIY blueberry mask recipe may help improve the appearance of broken capillaries while delivering healing benefits to the rest of your skin as well.
Vitamin C – When you think Vitamin C, you think citrus, right? While oranges, lemons, and grapefruits may pack a large Vitamin C punch, it is important to realize that blueberries are yet another fantastic source of this popular (and incredibly effective) skincare ingredient. The high levels of Vitamin C found in blueberries help to deliver anti-aging, radiance boosting results for beautiful, even skin.
Vitamin A – In addition to Vitamin C, blueberries deliver a large dose of Vitamin A to the skin. This nourishing vitamin helps to improve the appearance of wrinkles, brighten up dark spots and discolorations, and promote a healthier complexion overall. An added bonus? The Vitamin A found in blueberries may help to regulate oil production and contribute to a more beautiful, clear complexion!
Key Vitamins & Nutrients – In addition to Vitamins A and C, blueberries are rich in selenium, magnesium, zinc; antioxidants like anthocyanin, and so much more. As an old Shakespearian quote goes (tweaked, of course),” Though they be but little, they are fierce!” These delicious berries are backed with skin (and body) nourishing goodness, so definitely enjoy with pride.
Free Radical Protection – The antioxidants found in these tasty berries protect your skin from free radical damage, which often cause harm to skin cells and accelerate aging. While free radical damage is unavoidable, you can protect your skin by utilizing products and eating foods that provide protection against them.
Fatty Acids – The essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in blueberries improve your skin’s hydration levels by locking in moisture, and keep it looking more beautiful (and healthy) both short-term and long-term.
The bottom line:
As long as you are not allergic to blueberries, these tasty berries are a great addition to both your skincare and diet routine!
Do you want to learn how to make skincare products suing all natural ingredients like blueberries?
I teach an online course called Create Your Skincare, which teaches you how to create and customize your very own skincare line using all-natural ingredients–like blueberry! You’ll learn how to choose the best skincare ingredients for different skin types, combinations, and goals–and also how to use natural ingredients safely. Click HERE to learn more!
About the author:
Alana Mitchell is a licensed aesthetician, and aesthetics instructor with a background in business and marketing. Alana has worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years and is the owner of Skincare by Alana and Spa Alana in Dana Point, CA.
In my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, I write a great deal about how skincare shouldn’t be considered a form of vanity–how caring for the skin not only helps it do its functions (protection, temperature regulation, detoxification, respiration, sensation) optimally, but also how it can help someone add self-care to their life. Self-care is one of the most missing “ingredients” for a person’s overall health and wellness for many reasons, including but not limited to:
Too busy caring for others
There are higher priorities
Have you ever given yourself any of those excuses to avoid self-care?
In my coaching practice, helping people value self-care is really important to me, because I know how much it helped me shift my own mindset and increase my results. I’ve seen the same thing happen over the past 5 years in my coaching practice as well, so I know it’s not just me 🙂 When I hear from other health coaches and skincare experts how integral self-care is to their own coaching modalities and how it benefits their clients, I have to admit I feel really validated. I mean, self-care was a big part of the curriculum that I and other Integrative Nutrition® health coaches learned; but to hear that something so seemingly simple works in other coaches’ practices really drives the message home about how important it really is.
Skincare and self-care
Tisha Jill Palmer
In today’s video, my fellow health coach, friend, and co-founder of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, Tisha Jill Palmer shares how she uses luxurious, custom skincare products to introduce her clients to better self-care. Tisha Jill also talks about the importance of having support when making lifestyle changes or learning something new–because if something goes wrong, it’s so much better to have a safety net of teachers and colleagues so you don’t have to go back to the drawing board.
Tisha Jill also shares her experiences with taking my course, Create Your Skincare, and how at first she was a little nervous about the idea of learning something so hands-on in an online platform. Tisha Jill, like many, is a pen and paper kind of learner. Or, more specifically, a multi-colored felt-tip marker and paper kind of learner. She talks about the importance of having something tangible to work with when learning something new–and how the format of Create Your Skincare really worked in a tangible way, while it also offered the convenience of a virtual experience.
By the way, this is one of the few interviews with students that I’ve had the opportunity to do in person! See our fun conversation (and get a sneak peek at something I’m working on to add into Create Your Skincare in the future) below:
If you’re a health coach or aesthetician (or just someone who needs a little more TLC in your life!) who wants to help your clients experience self-care more regularly, custom skincare is an amazing way to introduce it. In Create Your Skincare, we not only teach you how to create and customize spa quality, all-natural products, but also how to set a sacred skincare space, the right intentions and how to schedule self-care rituals to maximize your overall results.
Create Your Skincare starts soon and is great for all styles of learners!
Today we bring you another wonderful guest post from Alana Mitchell of Skincare by Alana. This one’s all about how carrots benefit the skin and health from the inside out and outside in. Enjoy!
Carrots; some people love them, some people don’t like them at all, and many people are totally indifferent. I will admit I was not a carrot lover growing up. I rediscovered my love for these nutrient-rich, orange veggies when I was introduced to carrot juice during early adulthood. The beverage was sweet, somehow milky, and just the right amount of “carrot-y”. Just like that, I was hooked! Carrots are not only super yummy, but they are also ripe with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can be enjoyed internally (consumed as food), or externally (applied) for a skin boost.
Here are 6 beauty and health benefits of carrots:
Anti-Acne – If you’ve ever stopped by an organic pressed juicery and peeped their menu, odds are they had a “glow” type beverage (for beautiful skin, of course). The key ingredient in these “glow” drinks, in my experience at least, has always been carrots; and with good reason! Many people have sworn by carrot juice for helping to eliminate and prevent acne. You can boost skin clarity and health by enjoying a glass of carrot juice a day (for long term benefits), or by using the pulp as a spot treatment as needed.
Anti-Aging – Looking for a Vitamin C-rich food source? Look no further than carrots. These orange beauties are loaded with Vitamin C, which has been proven to help boost collagen, and thus, help with anti-aging.
Glow – Going back to the “glow” drinks, did you know that the antioxidants and Vitamins A and C, potassium, and other minerals in carrots can also help to promote a brighter, glowing complexion? Indeed, if you already have clear skin, but are still looking for a “glowy” boost, then by all means, indulge and enjoy!
Soothe – If you are looking to give you skin some soothing love, carrots are a wonderful option. Indeed, they posses anti-inflammatory, healing properties, which make them a fantastic choice for soothing redness, irritation, and more. Enjoy a carrot juice mist, or again, gently use the pulp for calming benefits. A tip to live by:always use fresh carrots. Make your own concoctions at home as needed, store them in the refrigerator, and discard of any unused product within 24 to 48 hours.
Digestive Health – Many people are unaware of the link between digestion and healthy skin. The truth is, our digestive system is essential to skin health. This is where we absorb nutrients from our food, and also where our bodies work to get rid of toxins. An unhappy digestive system can lead to unhappy skin, which is something none of us want to experience. The good news? There are certain foods, like carrots, that are great for digestion. High in fiber, carrots help to regulate bowel movements and aid in digestion. Keep it moving!
Hair Health – Think the vitamins and nutrients in carrots are only good for your skin? Think again! The vitamins and nutrients in carrots enhance hair health, shine, and strength, so drink you refreshing glass of carrot juice and rest easy knowing that you are doing something good for your overall confidence and health!
Note: always check with your health or skincare practitioner before embarking on any new skincare regimen, no matter how natural.
About the author:
Alana Mitchell is a licensed aesthetician, and aesthetics instructor with a background in business and marketing. Alana has worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years and is the owner of Skincare by Alana and Spa Alana in Dana Point, CA.
Want to learn more about how to boost your skincare regimen with natural ingredients?
My online course, Create Your Skincare begins soon–and we teach a ton about how to harness the beneficial and therapeutic properties of natural plant extracts, oils, butters, and other natural ingredients in your topical skincare products. Our next semester starts soon! Click HERE to learn more.
*Image 1 credit: By Stephen Ausmus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons