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5 Stress Busters That Work

5 Stress Busters That Work

Sometimes just sitting quietly and reading a good book is enough to reduce anxiety and worry.

Tis the season for stress, which can lower immunity—making you more prone to colds and flu and disease. Stress can also wreak havoc on the skin, triggering breakouts, as well as eczema and psoriasis.

Be sure to take time out for yourself this season to reduce anxiety. Incorporate one—or all—of these proven stress-busters into your routine:

1) Take time out for yourself. When things seem to get out of control, it's typically a sign that you're doing too much—and your life, as well as your mind and emotions, are overwhelmed. Simply stop what you're doing and switch things up: go for a breath of fresh air (without your phone, so you're not distracted), find a quiet corner and read a book, or put your headphones on and listen to your favorite music.

"A change of scenery—even just a walk around the block—is helpful to break from the daily grind ... and stress."

2) Get out into nature. Study after study shows that nature has a way of calming the mind and refreshing the spirit. In fact, one study from Stanford University found that walking outdoors in nature for about 90 minutes showed— through brain scans that track blood flow through the brain—decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with anxiety and depression. This study, the researchers say, shows that nature actually has the power to change the brain, for the better. The key is to get outdoors without your Smartphone or camera and just to appreciate everything around you, with all of your senses.

3) Move your body. There's no doubt in my mind that a good workout can take your mind off things—and make you feel great. There's a reason for this: it's during aerobic exercise that the body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which help to reduce worry and tension. The key with exercise is regularity: don't add extra stress to your life by focusing on a particular amount of time you have to exercise. Instead, just get out and do something you love for at least 5 minutes. You may find that after the first 5 minutes, you want to keep going.

4) Set aside time to meditate. Meditation—particularly mindfulness meditation, which trains us to focus our attention on our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion—has been proven time and time again to not only reduce stress, but also improve depression and pain (often a side effect of stress). What's more: it can help your skin look years younger. Those of my patients who meditate regularly exude a calmer, more radiant, youthful glow.

"I am a firm believer in meditation because I've seen first-hand how practicing it regularly helps to reduce stress in my own life—and in the life of my patients."

5) Get enough sleep. Without enough sleep, everything seems much worse in life than it really is—and we all tend to be more emotional. What's more: when we're tired—and stressed—we tend to reach for sugar and caffeine to stay awake. But junk food can fuel the stress cycle. A good night's sleep, though, can help. Sleeping gives the body a chance to relax and rest without being overwhelmed by worry. It keeps us healthy (by keeping the immune system strong) and keeps our minds sharp.

Wishing you peace in this holiday season!