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Combing Out the Tangles: Stress Reduction

October 7, 2015 | By | 1 Comment

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Stress is a big deal in our society. We have quickly transitioned from a species that needed to be watching out for wild animals who want to eat us, to cubicle workers watching out for bad traffic. Our bodies were built to react to the former set of circumstances, but have not been as successful developing strategies for coping with the latter. So when we get startled by a car cutting us off, our body reacts the same way it would react to a mountain lion leaping out of the bushes. It’s a full blown, “fight or run for your life” reaction. We can get the same reaction when faced with work conflicts, unexpected bills, or big life changes (like moving or ending a relationship).

The problem is, while that fight-or-flight system can be essential for preserving life, it can be taxing on your health and well-being in the long run. One of the main hormones that causes these reactions in the body is Cortisol. Cortisol diverts your body’s resources away from non-essential functions. As essential as it may seem, the growth of your beard (and growth in general) is one of the functions Cortisol works to inhibit. There are lots of other impacts, but a quick trip to Google will give you all the info you need. Suffice it to say, all of those “false starts” of the fight-or-flight system, and the lingering effects of stress hormones can have an impact on the health of your beard, and your health in general.

It can be challenging to figure out ways to reduce stress, and much like all the other ideas I’ve written about, I’m sharing what has worked for me. What will work for you may be different, but these strategies might give you a good place to get started:

Get outside

Be in the sun. Feel the breeze on your face. Look at the trees. Feel the grass between your toes, or make a snowball. All of these things are beneficial to human beings living in a world that has often departed far from our natural roots.

Find something that you like to do outside, and get into it. Vegetable gardening, tending a flower garden, mowing the lawn to perfection, fishing, hunting, bird watching, nature photography, hiking, biking, backpacking…I could go on, but you get the idea. I make an effort to do a little bit of something that I love outside every day. Even if I just walk for a cup of coffee instead of driving or brewing one at home, I’ve given myself a chance to get a little fresh air and sunshine.

A theoretical side benefit for the bearded gents: Exposing yourself to the elements could possibly trigger our body’s natural defenses. One of those defenses is a big beard that blocks out the sun’s rays and the winter winds, so maybe being outside will make your beard grow!

Sweat

Physical exercise is important, and it has a whole host of benefits associated with stress reduction and lifting mood. All the things mentioned above count as exercise, so it doesn’t have to be done in a class or on a machine at the gym (though those things are just fine too). This, however, goes beyond that. It is important to sweat, because it is one of the body’s methods of getting rid of toxins. In short, sweating can help you reduce the amount of Cortisol that is floating around in your system.

Using getting outside as a starting point, I’ve always liked to find ways to challenge myself with what I enjoy doing. I like to hike, so I try to hike faster or farther than I did last time. I’ll try to push myself, just a little bit, out of my comfort zone. When I go beyond what I can do easily, and work up a good sweat, I always feel better at the end (well, maybe after a little rest).

A side benefit for your beard: Sweating also cleans the pores. Healthy pores have healthy hair follicles that grow healthy beard hairs!

Reduce worrying

Yes, easier said than done. Stress is different from worrying, but they are often linked for me. Worrying is spending an unnecessary amount of time and energy focusing on a stressor to little or no effect. I often can’t help the source of the stress, but I can help the worrying.

For me, it really helps to prioritize what I am worried about. I try to keep focused on the things that are immediate. I also try to make a realistic plan for dealing with the thing causing the stress and keep that plan in mind. Whenever the worry starts to creep up, drawing my focus away from the present, I remember the steps I have planned to take, and try to trust in my plan. It is difficult at first, but the more I do this, the easier it gets.

Hopefully, keeping all of these strategies in mind will reduce my stress, reduce the stress hormones in my body, and keep my face forest thriving and growing!

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Joe Farrell is a proud member of Steel City Beard and Mustache Club, and currently serves as their Philanthropy Chair. As co-founder of Evolve Coaching, Joe works with individuals seeking to improve in the areas of social skills, employment and academic success. Joe has been practicing the care and feeding of facial hair for as long as anyone can remember. Does he have a chin? The world may never know.

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Click here to view all of the entries in the Combing Out the Tangles series.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Ron says:

    I really enjoyed the article and have been using some of these points. I use to have issue with beard tangling and dryness. Recently I started using this great beard oil, it is a great beard moisturizer, I really recommend. http://detroitgrooming.com/products/beard-oil-the-corktown-1

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