Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Manage Your Stress for Inner Beauty

Soften your eyes. Relax your face,” I instruct my clients when we are working on deep relaxation in session. And the change is immediate and visible as the lines of tension fall away and a peaceful expression steals over them. When conducting this exercise with a roomful of people, the whole mood of the group changes. You can almost see everyone’s blood pressure go down! For you see, no matter how skillful the face lift, how costly the wrinkle cream, nothing can erase the look of stress, anger, sadness or chronic anxiety from a face when the soul inside is tense and troubled.

Most of us have known people with all the right clothes, makeup, hair, etc. but when they opened their mouth, negativity and anger poured out. How does negativity detract from outer beauty? Bitterness, stress and unresolved hurt often manifest themselves in tense facial muscles especially around the lips and eyes. This leads to fine lines around the lips and wrinkles in the eye area.

And so, we must seek peace as the ultimate beautifier—peace with ourselves, with God and with others (which is not necessarily the same as having everybody pleased with you.) All world religions teach us that true beauty comes from within, from finding stillness and acceptance. Sayings such as: “accept the things you cannot change” (prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous), “that which you would change, must first be accepted as is” (Buddhist saying) and, “see to it that the light within you is not darkness” (Jesus) attest that there must be inner calmness and peace for true outer beauty to exist.

And, just as it’s impossible to do our own liposuction or facelift, so we must have help to seek inner beauty--through counseling, and getting still to connect deep within ourselves in solitude. We must decide to measure and cherish our worth by more than numbers on a scale or how well we hide our aging. This changing of our mental health, like the changing of our physical health, requires a deliberate effort and investment of time and resources. It means sitting down with paper and pen and asking ourselves hard questions, like “what do I believe makes me worthy, happy, successful or attractive? Why do I believe that? Who taught me that belief?”