OATS AND STRESS

EMBRACE OATS

Oats may not be as trendy as kale or acai berries, but that’s not a good reason not to celebrate this underappreciated superfood daily!

When used on the skin, oats have powerful healing effects. They’re known for their skin-soothing properties, which is why they’re beneficial for sunburns, rashes, and allergic reactions. Their coarse texture also makes them perfect for removing dead skin cells. Because they’re humectants, which means they help retain moisture, they can even help moisturize your skin. And they’re packed with eighteen different amino acids, which your skin needs to rebuild tissue and promote healing, so oats can help repair damaged skin.

From a health standpoint, oats are heart-healthy, helping in lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk. They’ve also been found to lower risk of colon cancer and diabetes, stabilize blood sugar, improve immune function, and improve athletic performance and sleep (some experts recommend eating oats before bed). And yes, oats will keep you full longer, which can lead to changes on the scale.

To reap the skin rewards, make a mask with oats. Mix 1/4 cup ground oats with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, stirring until the mixture is a smooth, spreadable paste. Add more water or oats as necessary to get a good consistency. After washing your face and patting it dry, apply the oats to your face, avoiding your eyes. Wait fifteen to twenty minutes and rinse with warm water.

Then start your day by eating oatmeal. Soak steel-cut oats overnight in non-dairy milk or yogurt if you don’t have time to spend cooking them in the morning. Just avoid those single-serving instant-oatmeal packages; they’re often laden with sugar.

BREATHE AWAY STRESS

No buts about it: stress sucks. So fight back with some calculated breath work.

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is called the fight-or-flight response, which is why your heart starts beating faster. Those hormones also constrict blood vessels so blood is diverted away from your extremities and directed to your core. As a result, your blood pressure rises. Once the stressful situation ends, everything should return to normal.

Trouble is, many people live with chronic stress, which means their bodies stay on high alert for long periods of time. That can take a toll on the heart, increasing risk for heart attack. Plus, numerous studies have found that women who are chronically stressed have shorter telomeres than women who find more Zen in life. Shorter telomeres are associated with a shorter life.

By getting that stress under control, you can eradicate these issues and perhaps add years to your life. Take those folks in the Blue Zones , one of their keys to longevity is that they know how to downshift and reduce stress. To combat your stress, know your stress triggers and work to find ways around them. Then every day, do at least one thing you enjoy doing and engage in regular exercise, which can help release tension in your body and make you feel better. One thing that’s scientifically shown to reduce stress? Deep breathing, but make it count—literally! Simply count your breaths from one to nine (one count equals an inhale and exhale) as many times as you’d like.

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