Ask the Salon Services Expert – Beverly Ashdown


Ask the Salon Services Expert – Beverly Ashdown


Life today is filled with demands, deadlines, frustration and uncertainty. In small doses, stress can help us perform under pressure and motivate us to do our best. However, when we are constantly running on emergency mode, our mind and body may pay the price.

Stress may be affecting our health without us even realizing it, as we come to accept the symptoms as a way of life. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily its effects can creep up on us. We get used to it and it begins to feel normal. We may think that illness is to blame for that nagging headache, decreased productivity at work, forgetfulness, and even insomnia, but in reality stress may be the culprit.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting us when we feel threatened or upset, whether real or imagined. When working properly, it helps us to stay focused and alert.  The stress response helps us meet challenges, sharpens our concentration, and can even give us extra strength to protect ourselves during a crisis. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to our health and quality of life.

Stress symptoms can affect our body, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can take a heavy toll on our relationships at home, work and school. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of stress so we can manage them. Unchecked, stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Some common effects of stress include:

On our mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

On our body:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

On our behaviour:

  • Over or under-eating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Social withdrawal

Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways we respond to stress.

  • Foot on the gas – An angry, agitated, or fight response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional and unable to sit still.
  • Foot on the brake – A withdrawn, depressed, or flight response. You shut down, pull away, space out, and show very little emotion or energy.
  • Feet on both – A tense or frozen response. You becomes frozen under pressure, unable to do anything. You appear paralyzed, but below the surface you’re extremely agitated.

While we may feel that the stress in our lives is out of control, there are ways of managing it. Doing so involves changing the situation when you can, changing our reaction when you can’t, taking care of ourselves, and making time for rest and relaxation.

Learn the 4 “A’s” of coping with stress: Avoid, Alter, Adapt or Accept.

Avoid unnecessary stress. Alter the situation. Adapt to the stressor. Accept the things you can’t change.

We can also cope with the symptoms of stress by strengthening our physical health. Set aside time for relaxation or meditation. Yoga and Tai Chi are good for the body and mind.  Exercise regularly. If you can’t get to the gym, then take up walking, running or cycling. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. A stress releasing massage with calming essential oils will also not only relax tense muscles, but will also help relieve and calm the mind.

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