The biochemical changes caused by stress hormones age the body and brain. At times of stress, blood rushes to muscles, away from the vital organs, to prepare the body to tackle the source of stress. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, and breathing becomes fast and shallow. When this state of readiness is not released in an appropriate way, many body systems suffer: one study suggests the process may age blood vessels, while other research maintains that prolonged exposure to stress as we age decreases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory and emotions. Negative states of mind that come with stress, such as anger and anxiety, can derail well-being and may prompt lifestyle choices from smoking to binge drinking that further contribute to the ageing process.

Reduce Monday Stress

Those who thrive on stress tend to use positive ways to cope with its impact. But some of us are not so lucky. Research tells us that Monday is the most stressful day of the week. Plan out ways of making Monday less stressful, for example, a breakfast exercise session or lunchtime massage.

Exercise

Exercise is an amazing stress buster. Research has shown that 15 – 30 minutes of exercise each day significantly reduces anxiety and other stress-related symptoms. Exercise also strengthens the bones and immune system, boosts oxygen intake for youthful-looking skin, balances emotions and improves memory function. Exercise can be introduced into your daily schedule in simple ways, for example, using stairs instead of the lift or taking a brisk lunch-time walk. Destressing activities such as yoga and t’ia chi are especially good in the evening, relaxing the mind before sleep while also strengthening muscles and joints.

Bathing

Soaking in warm water not only revives aching muscles and joints but also promotes blood flow in the skin, allowing better removal of waste. It also calms the nervous system and soothes away stress. Relaxing essential oils such as jasmine and lavender can add to the effect. Place a cold eye mask or cucumber slices over your eyes to soothe them.

Herbs and Oils

There are many soothing oils that can help promote relaxation and ease tension. Chamomile tea soothes the mind and works on both the muscles and nervous system to relax the body, promoting restful sleep. Jasmine and lavender essential oils soothe anxiety, calm nervousness and also promote restful sleep, so are perfect for adding to a bath. Neroli lifts depression and confidence, soothes anxiety and combats nervous tension. Sandalwood comforts the nerves, eases tension and anxiety, and promotes restful sleep. Always read the dosage and warnings on the bottle of essential oil before use. Essential oils should be diluted in a base oil before use (usually 2 drops of essential oil per 5ml/1tsp base oil).

Sleep

A good night’s sleep is a powerful healing tool for both mind and body.

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health…

The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,

Sleep deprivation also has an impact on our appearance, causing under-eye bags, grey-looking skin, lank hair and lack of energy. In the long-term, a chronic lack of sleep has been linked to depression, depleted immunity, and greater risk of heart disease. Between the ages of 35 – 50 sleep becomes more shallow, so you may need to rethink the amount of sleep that you need in order to feel refreshed. Experiment with bedtimes until you find a routine that suits you and, regardless of sleep quality, rise at the same time each day. A short power nap during the day can boost concentration and energy.