Stress in the salon can come from anywhere—a nightmare client, a frustrating coworker, a misbehaving tool or product—and the pressures of the holiday season often serve to amplify tensions. Before you lose your cool, test out one of these stress-busters to enhance your calm. —ANGIE REIBER
1. JUST BREATHE. There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the benefits of meditation, but many people are intimidated by the thought of sitting still and silent for a stretch of time. According to mindful.org, beginners can ease in with a practice called “mindful breathing.” Draw your attention to your inhale and exhale, focusing on the breath as it goes in and out. That’s it! Stand, sit, close your eyes or don’t—just tuning into what’s going on inside your body is enough to help it begin to relax.
2. TAKE A STROLL. If you can squeeze in a five- to 10-minute walk around the block (or mall, or parking lot), that could go a long way toward boosting your mood. Physical activity reduces stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, while stimulating feel- good endorphins in the brain. Combine a low-intensity stroll with a meditative exercise like mindful breathing (see No. 1) and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
3. LEND A HAND. When you’ve just had a client from hell, rather than sitting and seething in the back room, ask your fellow stylists if they could use any help. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton for randomactsofkindness.org, pitching in and doing something nice for others releases oxytocin—the “love” hormone—which in turn releases nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Talk about a win-win!
4. FOLLOW YOUR NOSE. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defines aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” Basically: Smell your way happy. Rose, lavender, lemon and chamomile count among the most common stress-relieving essential oils; inhale directly from the bottle, dab skin-safe blends on pulse points or add a couple drops to a diffuser necklace to wear on especially vexing days. Ahhh...
5. HAVE A LAUGH. There’s a reason they say laughter is the best medicine: Laughing activates the body’s natural relaxation response, reveals Dr. Gulshan Sethi, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Tucson Medical Center and a researcher of laughter therapy. He explains that laughing increases endorphins, those natural painkillers, which leads to an increased sense of well- being. Check out Beauty Launchpad’s Pinterest boards for sidesplitting stylist memes, or try someecards.com (a favorite around our offices!) for other chuckle-worthy fare.