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Stress Management

By: Renee Knight
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Angela Cortright, who owns Spa Gregorie’s in Newport Beach, California, and Spa Gregorie’s Rancho Santa Margarita in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, tries to keep stress out of her spa before it becomes a problem. She’s all about making the work atmosphere light and fun—laughter just seems to melt anxiety away. But when “the 15,000 balls” she juggles at once begin to overwhelm her, she takes a step back and determines what balls are critical. She doesn’t let all the layers that come with the daily grind get in the way, and that helps her stay focused.

Stress multiplies, Cortright says, so if she freaks out, it affects her employees. “When you lose control, you absolutely are ineffective as a manager. And you’re very likely to say something or do something that you’ll sorely regret,” she says.

Instead, try inhaling and exhaling. Deep breathing is the most simple stress-relief tool because it can be done anywhere, even when you’re dealing with an unhappy customer. Clearing your mind and progressive muscle relaxation are other options—all spa owners have to decide what works best for them. For some, a combination of relaxation techniques is the best path toward stress reduction.

Iacobacci also turns to her spirituality when the anxiety gets to be too much. “I do a lot of praying, too,” she says. “Because sometimes you can say something in prayer that you can’t ever say to someone else. And it’s a very good release.”

Stress at home

The battle against stress doesn’t have to begin when you’re faced with a troublesome situation on the job, says Suzanne Hendershot, manager of cardiopulmonary employee wellness at St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio. Exercising, snuggling up with a good book and treating yourself to a long, hot bath can help you release negative energy after a day you’d rather forget has finally ended. But if you can get away for five or 10 minutes, Hendershot recommends incorporating exercise into your workday as well, especially if you’re feeling tension starting to build. Aerobic activity works best, but some form of stretching also can calm those nerves. Exercise helps decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a higher oxygen level in your muscle tissues and a calmer you.