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Stress and the Skin

By: Kirsten Sheridan
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the June 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 5

There are four brain wave states, but only two should be considered when choosing essential oils for promoting relaxation. Beta brain waves operate at a higher frequency, and essentially are known as those associated with thinking and action. Alpha brain waves operate at a lower frequency, and enable you to access your intuitive and creative right brain more readily. Therefore, beta waves are more stimulating and, if overutilized, can cause muscle tension and increased levels of anxiety. During treatments, and in order to aid in the relaxation response, alpha waves should dominate.

Environment. The ambiance of your treatment room should be conducive to influencing alpha brain waves, so soothing music choices are important. Punk rock is not going to cut it.

Massage. Touch, particularly in the form of massage, has a positive effect on stress reduction and the nervous system. Massage stimulates the sensory nerves, which promote feelings of well-being. Stress hormones such as cortisol are reduced, along with pain, and immune function is improved. Acupressure can enhance energy flow—or chi—and have a positive effect on the nervous system. Hot stone massage improves circulation and helps elicit the relaxation response. Placing hot stones between the toes or in a spinal layout pattern, or positioning a belly stone before a treatment are welcome additions for many clients.

Reflexology. Adding reflexology to your treatments or as a stand-alone service is a great way to promote calm. Even if enjoyed for only a short time, it makes a big difference to the nervous system.

Lymphatic drainage massage. Chronic stress negatively impacts the lymphatic system, so lymph drainage massage is beneficial not only for heightening relaxation, but also in aiding with the elimination of toxins and improving immune function. When lymphatic drainage is mastered, it has a soothing effect on the sympathetic nervous system.