Wellness and meditation coach Alison Nancye says that when you are stressed you are unable to function at your full potential – and aesthetics professionals, in particular, should take note.
“When you work in the business of helping people look good, you run the risk of failure because everyone’s measurement of beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” she explains.
“This can put a lot of pressure on your staff to deliver a standard well beyond measurement, leading them to feel overworked and under-appreciated by both clients and managers of the business.
“Success in this industry is all about interpersonal relationships, and if you’re a business owner, it’s a bit like being a parent or a school teacher: You have to be energetic and agile 24/7 – available to your staff and your clients, which can leave little time for yourself.”
Yet making time for yourself is essential, Alison says, in avoiding exhaustion and, ultimately, burning out.
“You’re not really present when you’re stressed, and you tend to be focusing on the negative emotions like fear or worry,” she says. “These act like a clock ticking inside you. You feed that negativity if you don’t manage it; it just grows.”
The good news is, according to Alison, stress can be managed and even transformed into positive thinking. She shares some of her tried-and-tested techniques with SPA+CLINIC:
The Nature of Stress
Stress is a biological reaction naturally activated when we perceive a threat in our environment. In the 21st century it has reached epidemic proportions, accelerated by our pace of living.
Australian journalist Shannon Harvey began investigating the complex nature of stress when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in her early 20s.
In her documentary, The Connection, she interviewed a cross section of health professionals, including Dr Craig Hassed, senior lecturer at Monash University’s faculty of medicine.
“Imagine you’re in the jungle and you see a tiger,” he told her. “You activate the `fight or flight’ response, and this turbo charge of energy sends the body into a different gear.
“Your heart rate rises and so does your blood pressure. The blood vessels to the muscles open up so you can get extra fuel.
“Sugars and fats are pumping into the blood stream, the respiratory drive kicks in and we start to sweat to cool ourselves and our body pumps out inflammatory chemicals to activate the immune system.
“This physiological, neurological, and metabolic response is meant to save our lives – not make us sick!
“Unfortunately, 99 percent of the tigers we’re running from are the tigers in our mind, and when we do that in the long term it’s physiological wear and tear on the system.”
Its Impact On Health
During her investigation, Shannon became focused on the link between mind and body: namely, how fear and worry (the “tigers” that lead to chronic stress) not only affect mental health, but the physical.
“The body is always responding to what the mind tells it to do, so when the mind is tense, the body is tense,” she says.
“When the mind is happy, the body is happ,y so the body is always responding. This is not just in terms of physical tensions like our muscles, but right down to the very core of our cells.”
Alison Nancye agrees that stress can manifest in a minefield of physical forms if not managed properly.
“It can reveal itself as a stomach ache or headache; also as a skin condition such as acne and eczema, or a rash,” she says.
It Starts With You
Alison says when you’re in “survival” mode, everything feels small yet heightened and immediate, which makes it difficult to plan ahead or look forward to the future.
For business owners and leaders this is especially detrimental. Looking to the future is what motivates you, keeps you hopeful, positive and even relaxed.
Alison recommends the following visualisation exercise:
- At the beginning of the week, take a few minutes to get out of your work place and into the sun. Once outside you instantly relax.
- Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a beautiful natural environment such as pristine beach or a serene garden.
- Visualise what you want to achieve in the week and write these down as goals.
- This becomes the blueprint for how you manage your time and how you respond to external pressures.
- Every morning take a few minutes to meditate and reflect on these – or perhaps you might have a focus for the day based on the goals for the week.
- Write down three things that you’re grateful for in your business and three things you’re grateful about in yourself. (When you look at life from a gratitude perspective and reflect on that, your perspective on life changes. Ergo and seemingly, big stress isn’t so stressful.)
- At the end of the week, reflect on the week’s little unexpected wins such as overcoming an obstacle or hearing positive feedback from your clients.
- You’ll feel more relaxed and open to more possibilities.
Help De-Stress Your Staff
“If you want your business to thrive, creating the environment for your staff to thrive is key,” Alison says. “Treat the importance of your staff’s health as you would a client’s, because your staff’s lack of energy and increased stress will provide a negative and energy-depleting environment for clients.” To this end:
- Stay connected: A good way to tell if a staff member is becoming exhausted is to ask them. Creating a regular time each week to connect with your staff – with the interest you do a client – will allow your employees to feel valued and create the space for trust, openness and resolution. If they are reluctant to share, take note of lack of eye contact when they are communicating with you or clients. Be aware whether their conversation is light or heavy. Notice if they are resourceful in creating solutions for your clients or lean more toward being short-fused and expedient at hurrying the client out the door. Is their mindset more negative than positive?
- Show appreciation: To overcome staff burnout, be sure to praise them for their highlighted efforts. This will make them feel supported and appreciated, well beyond the salary going into their bank account each week. It will also encourage them to choose positive practices in their work day. As human beings, being praised – no matter what role or income bracket – we enjoy feeling valued. Treat the importance of your staff’s health as you would a client’s health, because your staff’s lack of energy and increased stress will provide a negative and energy-depleting environment for clients.
- Offer mini meditation breaks: If a staff member is heading for burnout, taking time out or time off is key. You can’t control how they spend their time outside the workplace, but you can give them the opportunity to have energy-increasing and stress-decreasing breaks at work. Give them “mini meditation” breaks and encourage them to sit while eating and use “mindful” techniques when chewing and drinking, which all involve slowing the action to a reduced speed. All of these healthy habits help to reduce exhaustion, increase energy levels, regulate breathing and allow the body and mind to regroup.
- Avoid cabin fever: Invite your staff to step outside for a minute or two in the fresh air and sun at various intervals in the day to receive a healthy boost of sun rich vitamin D and give them a break for spending most of their time indoors.
Ultimate Relaxation For Clients
“Just as stress can manifest as a skin condition, the mind plays an integral part in healing its body,” says Alison.
“Never underestimate the power of the mind. Meditation is a powerful tool that can be used to complement all your body and skin treatments.
“If you are able to provide meditation rituals, such as soothing conversations that involve focusing on gratitude, and things to look forward to through positive visualisation, your clients’ spa experience will transform their mind as well as their body.”
- Once clients are settled and relaxed on the bed, with eyes closed, invite your client to breathe in and out gently for 10 breaths.
- Then ask them to focus on the natural rise and fall of their belly. There’s no need for them to change their breathing but simply observe their breath. (By turning attention to the body away from your mind you naturally reduce stress levels.)
- Invite the client (as they continue their breathing) to imagine themselves in a beautiful picture of nature anywhere in the world.
- Encourage them to imagine themselves relaxing and unwinding in this beautiful setting.
- Invite them to continue with their belly breath breathing and nature visualisation for as long as desired.
Stress-Busting Short Cuts
There products also promote relaxation and are available for retail stock at spas, salons and medi-clinics:
Regul8 Stress Relief Relax is part of a range of Digestive Tune-Up supplements created by Debbie Dickson, a leading skin therapist and herbalist. Ingredients like lemon balm, passionflower and rhodiola work to re-establish cognitive alertness and clarity, during times of mental fatigue or strain while relieving symptoms of stress, nervousness and mild anxiety.
- The Goodnight Co‘s brand philosophy says sleep equals radiant, glowing skin. The range include silk pillowcases, eye-masks and crystal healing packs.The stress crystal pack is a soothing combination of stones renowned for being protective: Rose quartz, moss agate and ametrine.
- Rachael White No.2 Archangel Raphael-Healing concentrates work on the principles of vibrational medicine. Each oil is designed to target emotional dysfunction and she says this blend is the best for stress. “If you are feeling stressed in any way, take the top off the bottle and simply inhale until you feel a sense of peace and clarity come over you,” says Rachael, creator of the concept.
* Alison Nancye is the author of 10 books and two meditation CDs. She has been meditating for 20 years and is a sought-after speaker and media expert in mind wellness, meditation and mindfulness, life skills and healthy living.