I have been aware of stress recently and not because April is Stress Awareness Month. Stress can easily creep up on you so that being frazzled and overwhelmed starts to feel normal. That’s what was happening to me and the very thought of getting myself in hand and dealing with stress was itself making me stressed out. So I did some reading and I have come up with some strategies that put me in a better frame of mind.

One of the best ways to overcome stress is to be happy. If this sounds like an oxymoron, it is. But don’t be deterred. You just have to work on it proactively. One of the devices that I use to put myself in a happier mindset is to give thanks, or to put it another way, to count my blessings. I can always find something (it was a mild day) or someone (a lovely person took the time to thank Truth In Aging customer service) or my cats (just for being there).

I learned this week that the tiny kingdom of Bhutan measures the country’s happiness by GDH, Gross Domestic Happiness – and the very thought makes me smile. And smiles, of course, are stress busters.

A great mood enhancer is light (which of course is why we are glad to see the back of gloom-enhancing short winter days). Believe it or not, LED light therapy is used to combat depression, especially seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  Traditionally, white LED light was used and, recently, green and amber have been found to perk a person up.

So now you have another reason – as well anti-wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne - to bask beneath a Facial Secret LED panel or even wield a Baby Quasar or Sirius Aurora.  Well, I personally think it puts me in a better, less stressed mood. Or maybe it’s just that my LED sessions signal an end of the working day and a little bit of “me time”.

Which reminds me, being good to oneself alleviates stress and so there’s nothing like a spot of pampering and preening. This is both “me time” and a little investment in looking as well as feeling good.  Give me 15 minutes and a handful of products that beautify and relax and I will give you a de-stressed woman:

Chella Anti-Fatigue Eye Mask ($45). Give yourself 15 minutes of spa-like chill-out and lie back to let these masks depuff and firm tired eyes. And its particularly unstressing to know that these masks really do adhere gently like a second skin even as you move to take a sip of Chardonnay. Also there are good botanical anti-agers that make them much more than a quick pick-you-up.

Applying a face mask at the same time, is not just essential, it’s multi-tasking, so you get to feel less stressed by the lack of hours in your day. Tingly, refreshing masks are not the order of the day and I’ve eliminated anything DIY (mixing your own can be a teensy bit stressful). So reach for something soothing and simple such as Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask ($62) with argan oil and aspen bark, which is rich in salicin, an aspirin-like substance, which is considered to be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, calming, and healing. Contrary to images conjured by the main active, bee venom, I find Royal Nectar’s mask ($59 in the TIA shop) to be relaxing and it leaves my skin looking hydrated, firm and glowing.

After rinsing, finish with a spritz of Sevani’s Rose Hyaluronic Age Defying Tonique ($39 in the TIA shop). It feels like a fine mist of rose water - pretty and pampering. For the best description of it, I’ll leave it to Jeri, who wrote in her review: “The fragrance, alone, takes me to another place. My skin immediately feels refreshed, moist, smooth, and well balanced and CALM.”

At this point, you’ll be blissed out, but do take time to reach for antioxidants and especially something for telomeres. Scientists have discovered that stress may lead to shortening of the telomeres, the DNA sequences at the end of a chromosomes that control cell aging. One study found that women with the highest levels of perceived stress have telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging compared to low stress women.

There is a skincare ingredient that is supposed to stop your telomeres from shortening, called teprenone or Renovage. You can find it in Osmotics Renovage Serum or Your Best Face Control.

Exercise is not only extremely successful in making us stress bunnies feel better, but it can act as a “stress-buffer” that prevents telomere shortening. Even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres (source). So check out The Bar Method for exercise inspiration.

I also found some recent research suggesting that a cheerful outlook on life is also important. If you are a glass half empty kind of person, then you could be shortening your telomeres and putting years on!

So, you see, there’s that thing about happiness again.Think positively, de-stress, smile and stay young!

Nothing puts a smile on my dial like my cats greeting me when I come home in the evening. Please share your tips for keeping stress free and tell us what makes you happy.