A Hairy Situation
How fast does hair grow? Does gray hair really exist? These questions and more were answered at the recent Decoding Hair exhibit in Paris organized jointly by L’Oreal and la Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie. More than 350,000 people came to learn more about their hair, and the show was so popular it has now left Paris for the Hague and the start of a world tour, so look for it soon in your city! If you can’t wait for the show, however, there are a few things you can do to promote a healthy head of hair right now. Stress shows itself externally, but Lynn Grieger, the registered dietitian at www.ivillage.com, suggests that you eat a diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and whole grains to fight dull, limp hair. Nuts and seeds also help to promote luster, and the fiber from fruits and vegetables helps to restore shine and body. The more variety and color in your diet the better, and smoothies are an easy way to incorporate these into your daily routine. Don’t forget those eight to ten glasses of water a day — your hair and skin will appreciate it. Follow these tips and soon you too may have hair that is turning heads!
Say it Loud, Say it Proud
Researchers at the American Psychological Association recently found that cancer patients who talked about their fears experienced less distress and a better health outlook than those who avoided expressing their emotions. Since separation and divorce can generate significant stress and fears about the future, “talk therapy” should be equally beneficial to those in this group. But where to find a sympathetic ear? If you’re having a difficult time finding a therapist or support group and if your friends are tired of hearing about your divorce, you do have another option. A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has shown that talking about a stressful situation out loud to yourself will lead to less stress the next time the same situation arises. “Frustration leads to aggression, so you have to get tension out in a non-destructive way,” says Professor C. David Jenkins of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To avoid funny looks, he suggests taking a brisk walk with your cell phone; instead of placing a call, however, just hold the phone to your ear and talk through your frustrations while experiencing the soothing atmosphere of the great outdoors. Speaking about the things that bother you will reduce intrusive thoughts surrounding the issue and leave you better prepared to deal with the problem the next time around. So whether you’re having trouble with stepchildren, an uncooperative ex, or just the daily grind, speak up about it — you’ll feel better in no time!
For the latest stress news and research, visit www.stressless.com.
Dance the Night Away
Want to do something to improve your physical fitness, but the thought of joining a gym leaves you cold? Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that dance — whether it be folk, jive, or funk — helps to reduce stress, increase energy, and improve strength, muscle tone, and co-ordination. In addition to this, dancing burns as many calories as swimming, walking, or riding a bike! Just half an hour of dancing to your favorite tunes can burn between 200 and 400 calories; in one evening, the average folk dancer will travel five miles! Dance also has the benefit of being a fun social activity that can get you out meeting new people while getting in some painless exercise. Building a social network has been proven to boost self-esteem and give a person a more positive outlook. “Couple-dancing is the only place in this politically-correct world where the man gets to be totally masculine and the woman gets to be totally feminine — and celebrate and enjoy it,” observes Joel Wood, owner of Our Studio in the Greater Toronto Area. “And competitive dancers’ fitness levels have been equated with those of Olympic long-distance runners,” he adds. If you aren’t ready to hit the clubs or a dance studio yet, half an hour dancing around your living room is much more rewarding than half an hour slumped in front of the television. You’ll feel better, and you’ll look better too!
Love your skin
Okay, so there’s no real fountain of youth, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely powerless when it comes to fighting signs of aging. Dull, sallow-looking skin, fine lines around your eyes and mouth, loss of elasticity, and general dryness are all signs of slightly damaged skin. For the most part, these are the result of environmental factors, when sunlight and air pollution lead to free radicals that slow down cell renewal. By now, everyone knows that drinking water, eating a balanced diet, and getting your beauty sleep are necessary steps for keeping a youthful glow, but is there anything else you can do? The new Kinetin Skincare Series from Almay boasts innovative new formulas that help improve skin tone and skin firmness to help give skin a healthier-looking and more youthful appearance. “Women told us that, in addition to anti-aging benefits, they want treatments that firm, tone, and brighten their skin. Our new Kinetin firming products meet those needs,” says Vanessa Solomon, Executive Vice President and Global Manager at Almay. Good skincare is especially important for someone going through a difficult separation or divorce as prolonged stress can also cause free radical damage, and tense facial muscles can lead to deeper lines and wrinkles. So treat yourself to something special — your skin will thank you!
Healing with Words
In Healing Conversations: What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say (Jossey-Bass, 2002), Nance Guilmartin has provided a few guidelines to help people communicate — whether they want to comfort someone or need comfort themselves. The art of conversation, says Guilmartin, is “not just knowing the right thing to say at the right time but also not saying the wrong thing at the tempting time.” The following ideas are excerpted from Guilmartin’s book, and should help you to show up for a conversation mind, body, and soul:
- Listen. Listen with your eyes, ears, and heart, and suspend internal conversations. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say, reacting to what the speaker is saying, or wondering where the conversation is going.
- Pause. Guilmartin points out that our minds “want to speed past the discomfort of [the] discussion so without thinking about it, we’ll often shift right into taking action — saying or doing something that we think can help.” Instead, take time and reflect before jumping in.
- Be a Friend, Not a Hero. One of the most important things in a healing conversation is acknowledging your friend’s pain; let them feel it and don’t try to rush it away. Your main job is to help, not to rescue.
- Offer Comfort. People have a right to their feelings, so don’t judge or think of your friend as broken and in need of fixing. You can still show you care without having to agree or disagree.
- Be in Touch with Your Own Feelings. People can often sense when a listener is panicking, judging them, or feeling sorry for them. Says Guilmartin, “no matter what situation we face, a healing conversation gives others the gift of our presence,” so a good listener is able to sit through their own discomfort long enough to help.
- Be There Over the Long Haul. Sometimes, the best role you can play is that of a sounding board — over and over again. “People need time to adjust, to second-guess themselves, to transition, to ask ‘What if?'” notes Guilmartin, and this process may take some time.
- Show Up Even When It’s Awkward. It’s okay to be honest if you don’t know what to say, but above all, let the other person know you care. If a face-to-face meeting is awkward, Guilmartin points out that a healing conversation does not always have to be conducted out loud — “you may choose to let someone know how you feel by putting your thoughts in writing.”
- Be a Helpful Resource. “Often the best thing we can do is refer [a friend] to another resource — another friend, an expert, a friend of a friend,” says Guilmartin. When you have reached the limits of your ability to help, don’t be afraid to look for other ways to offer support: give your friend resources such as books, or supply a quiet space where they may find their own answers.
- Take the Initiative. Sometimes people honestly don’t know what they need, so Guilmartin suggests putting yourself in your friend’s shoes and thinking about what he or she would be willing to accept. If you’re the one in need of comfort, it’s okay to take responsibility for asking for what you need to feel better.
- Be Compassionate. Don’t confuse empathy and sympathy with compassion — even if you have gone through a similar situation, nobody really knows how someone else feels. Guilmartin suggests you should “be open to others’ stories before asking whether it would help to share yours.”
Following these steps will take patience but, as Guilmartin says, “the essence of healing is understanding and being understood.” These ten principles can help you to open the door to intentional kindness