We’re not going to sit here two years into a global pandemic and tell you to simply stop stressing. Stress comes with the territory of being a living, breathing being, and extremely uncertain times are going to brew up some serious angst. But stress doesn’t just live inside us invisibly—it shows up on our skin, in our hair, and throughout our bodies, so finding ways to cope is imperative to looking, feeling, and functioning our very best.
Here’s are a few signs your stress is impacting your health in a major way:
Long periods of stress might slow hair growth, and we might even notice excess shedding and more scalp peeking through our tresses. With less hair growth, we’ll see an overall limp, thin, or brittle texture, more scalp buildup, a dry and flaky scalp, or even excess oil.
Nails that peel easily, are flimsy, and are prone to breakage and slow growth are also a side effect of prolonged stress. Hangnails, ridges, and the disappearance of the half moons are all signs of imbalanced hormones, typically tied to stress.
Lack of appetite
High anxiety can push our body into survival mode, causing us to hone in on the cause of stress and stop producing ghrelin, the hunger hormone. This can have an effect on our appetite and cause us to lose weight in an unsustainable, unhealthy way.
On the other hand, obsessive-compulsive eating can be triggered by a spike in cortisol, making us crave sugary, salty, and fatty foods in order to fuel the body to battle whatever is causing it stress.
High cortisol levels make us feel alert, and should be at their peak in the morning to wake us up. Melatonin should be high in the evening to put us to sleep, but when cortisol stays high throughout the day, it affects this circadian rhythm, making it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Breakouts and skin irritation
Cortisol increases oil production and slows our bodies’ natural detoxification processes, causing stagnation and buildup that can manifest in breakouts and flare-ups like eczema and more.
Stress is a hormonal response in the body, and hormones signal every function from digestion to detox. Our sleep, skin health, mental wellness, and so, so much more are affected by our hormones, so when a cascade of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline throws off our balance, a lot can happen. It’s up to us to find calmer ways of responding to stress utilizing simple, go-to stress-reduction protocols like breath, and herbs like adaptogens.
In order to scientifically, effectively reduce stress by slowing the heart rate and affecting the production of stress hormones, we don’t need anything at all, just our bodies for this easy breathing exercise. Simply breathe in for four counts, hold the in-breath for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold the out-breath for four counts. Repeat as many times as you like or need before, during, or after feelings of intense stress, or just as body regulatory maintenance.
Adaptogens are herbs that are categorized for their ability to help us adapt to stress. Here are some amazing adaptogenic herbs to take in either capsules or powder form mixed into elixirs and smoothies that help our bodies regulate, repair, and come back into balance amid the chaos:
- Licorice Root