We all experience stress. It is a natural physical and mental response to everyday events. As much as we would like to take a big eraser and blot it out of our lives, stress is not going away.
Our bodies respond immediately to stress by releasing hormones which rev up our heart and breathing rates, tighten our muscles, and sharpen our senses. This stress reaction is a good thing when it is short-lived because it helps us to manage life. But, when it bombards us hour after hour, and day after day, our bodies start talking to us…and especially to women.
Three Surprising Side Effects of Stress for Women
Women typically report that they are dealing with stress more often than men, and there is science behind that. Women suffer from stress on a different level than men because they have a completely different hormone system.
When long-term stress plays havoc on a woman’s body, it can show up in some surprising ways.
Skin Break Outs
You aren’t 16 years old anymore, so why in the world would you be dealing with breakouts? Stress.
Hormonal changes that naturally occur due to pregnancy, menstrual cycles, and the shifting of estrogen levels can trigger acne. When we toss in chronic stress, however, it can lead to hormonal imbalances which trigger our bodies to respond, and this can show up as ‘stress pimples’ at any age.
Cortisol, our primary stress hormone, is the vehicle behind stress pimple breakouts. Stress can make any skin condition worse, but as cortisol levels rise, hormones that regulate the sebum balance in our skin are disrupted. This leads to more oil production, clogged pores, and the development of acne.
Stress is hard on our skin!
If you deal with prolonged stress, the extra shedding of hair that you notice in your hairbrush may not be your imagination.
It is estimated that 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss at some point in their lives. The cause? Stress and hormone shifts.
Telogen effluvium is a common condition that can lead to temporary hair loss. The most frequent cause of this is stress. Stress pushes hair follicles into a resting phase, and when this happens the body will slow down or stop producing new hair strands. This condition is also related to poor nutrition and changes in hormone levels, which are also greatly affected by chronic stress.
Stress is not good for our hair!
As you slip on your favorite pair of jeans, you notice that they feel tighter in the waist. How could you have gained weight? You can point your finger at stress!
Women experience weight gain from stress more often than men, and the facts that support this is that men largely have more muscle tissue than women. Muscle burns more calories than body fat.
Cortisol causes a shift in bodily functions which includes slowed down metabolism (which can be felt as fatigue). At the same time, cortisol revs our internal survival mode up, and this increases appetite. Remember the day when you felt so exhausted, and you wondered why? You wondered if you were experiencing a major hormonal shift. You felt famished, but why? Stress.
The equation of prolonged stress makes weight gain more likely. It looks like this: increased cortisol + slowed down metabolism (fatigue) + naturally occurring hormones and shifts = increased appetite and cravings, stress water retention (yes, that too!), and body fat that simply does not want to budge.
It is not just in our minds, the craving for something sweet, fat-filled, or salty often pops in from a physical trigger, and even if we do not imbibe in these ‘treats’, the extra pounds on the scale can show up from stress alone!
Two Ways to Beat the Side Effects of Stress
If you are experiencing stress, and especially if you are dealing with some of the side effects of chronic stress, we have ways at Sage Blossom Massage to help you. We love you and we want to help!
The benefits of salt therapy, or halotherapy, are more than skin-deep! How does this work?
Salt absorbs impurities and provides anti-bacterial and anti-inflammation properties that benefit the skin. Smaller particles can reach beneath the skin’s surface and absorb moisture. The dry salt of halotherapy accelerates cell rejuvenation and improves the surface of the skin.
The cleansing and deep rejuvenating effects of salt therapy can be the healing catalyst to help with skin breakouts, hair loss, as well as weight gain.
Two of the top benefits of infrared sauna are detoxification and improved skin health. Imagine what this can do to relieve skin breakouts and improve scalp condition and subsequently help with hair loss!
Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? Some physicians refer to it as our “third kidney.” 93% of infrared sauna energy is absorbed through the skin. This helps the release of toxins buried deep within the skin (i.e., the release of toxins that lead to breakouts and skin conditions).
During infrared sauna, skin is further cleansed by sweating, which rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts and purifies the skin. Dead skin cells are replaced, improving skin elasticity.
The benefits of infrared sauna reach beyond the skin. If you suffer from stress-related weight gain, we have good news!
Did you know that the average sauna user can produce 500 grams or more of sweat and burn 300-700 calories during an infrared sauna session? This is the equivalent of running 2-3 miles! Plus, metabolism temporarily speeds up as the heart rate increases, boosting fat-burning properties in the body.
We want you to be the best you. This means we want you to feel great. We want you to be stress and pain-free.
Remember to imbibe in self-care, whether that be to drink more water, or to relax and sleep better. Worry less, and self-care more!
If you are in the Austin, Texas area, we are here for you and want to help you boost your level of self-care and diminish the toxic effects of stress from your body.