Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Stress Less This Holiday Season and Start Your New Year Feeling Balanced
The holidays are known to be a stressful time with all the busyness of shopping and decorating, and either traveling to see or preparing to host loved ones. With a clear end in sight, you can agree it’s a cheery, welcomed sort of stress.
This year, however, COVID-19 is a scrooge not only threatening to ruin our holidays, but also wreaking havoc on our collective mental health. And research confirms it’s taking our stress level into the danger zone.
When you’re stressed out, you don’t look or feel your best. Extended periods of stress can have major effects on your skin’s vitality, sleep quality, mood, energy and immune system.
Cortisol Affects Everything
The state of being in ‘fight or flight’ mode is exhausting on your mind and body. When cortisol and other stress hormones course through your bloodstream for extended periods of time, they steal resources from other important health systems.
For one, cortisol and collagen production are deeply connected. Elevated levels of cortisol in the bloodstream can have many adverse effects. One of these is the down-regulation of collagen production in the body. More simply, excess cortisol can reduce the amount of collagen that your body can produce.
Collagen not only helps keep skin firm and smooth. It’s also integral for healthy hair growth (if you’ve had excess hair shedding after a long bout of stress, then you can relate). This structural protein is the building block of connective tissue that lines muscles, lungs, the gut and other organs. And many of collagen’s amino acids help support a healthy immune system.
Periods of prolonged stress can degrade connective tissue, appearing visibly in the form of wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity and radiance. Nails may start to become brittle. And a decline of collagen in hair follicles may cause hair to become thinner and rougher.
While your complexion might be the most visible casualty, you can feel the effects of low collagen/high cortisol, most notably through fatigue and muscle weakness. Joints and circulation may be affected too.
Break the Stress Cycle
Finding your balance amidst a time that’s anything but normal may not be easy – but it can be done, starting this holiday and beyond.
Start by paying attention to the greatest sources of stress and worry in your life, and doing what you can to reduce the triggers. Take time to reflect on the situation thoughtfully and with optimism that a solution is available. This feeling of being proactive can in itself help reduce stress.
Easier said than done?
Don’t feel bad about needing a helping hand.
Regain your calm with a natural supplement that includes the mood-balancing ingredients, hemp and L-theanine. Hemp’s calming compounds help release stress and worry, while the amino acid L-theanine promotes alertness without drowsiness. One to try: Uplift & Unwind… part skin booster, part stress soother, it combines patented collagen with hemp and L-theanine for a collagen powder unlike any other.
Improving your sleep hygiene is also critical to mellowing out your mood, and it begins in the daytime with exercise and movement to help you feel tired at night. A brisk walk outside or a quick workout inside are great ways to move your body. Before you go to sleep, give yourself ample time to wind down without electronics. Curl up with a good book and warm chamomile tea to help you fall into slumber.
No baggage beauty
If the signs of sleep, worry and lack of sleep are showing on your face and hair, then it’s time for intensive collagen therapy for skin and hair. Because skin and hair demand a steady supply of collagen to remain healthy, consider upping your daily supply of collagen protein. Try Youthful Beauty, a peptide fortified collagen powder specially formulated to elevate beauty. It combines high absorption collagen that skin and hair need with hydrators and fruit extracts that help fight wrinkles and free radicals.
Berries are beloved for their sweetness and revitalizing tanginess. But here’s another reason to love them: they’re high in vitamin C and other compounds that can help quell the effects of stress, as well as inflammation-triggering oxidative stress created when stress levels are sky high.
An excellent source of antioxidant compounds, elderberry supports a healthy mood and a strong immune system. These powerful, tiny berries are not readily available for consumption, which is why elderberry extracts are so popular, especially during cold and flu season. For all the benefits without the sugar, try Nordic-Elder Shield made with concentrated black elderberry from Denmark.
Blackcurrants are another type of berry that stand out for their brain-boosting compounds. Studies show they can help combat mental fatigue and boost cognition even under stressful conditions.
While 2020 may go down in the books as the year that tested our resilience and patience, you can leave the baggage behind and start 2021 with a better mood, better sleep and all new perspective.