When it comes to make-up and hair, I’m pretty low maintenance. I’ll put on colored lip gloss if I’m having a photo taken, for example, but that’s all the make-up I own. As for my hair, I have a wash and wear approach. I wash it in the shower, towel dry it for 15 or 20 seconds, and work in some mousse to tame the curls. I haven’t owned a hair dryer or curling iron since college days.
It’s altogether different, however, when it comes to hand and body lotions. It’s not that I must have the best or latest product. No, I happen to have dry skin, especially my hands, and I keep looking for that elusive lotion that will offer the perfect solution. I’ve tried lots of lotions in this quest.
I noticed something the other day, with the four lotions I’m currently using. Three lotions market themselves as stress-relieving or calming. One with lavender and chamomile promises calmness. Another one has a “stress-fix” name with a stress-relieving aroma, or so it claims. The third, also a stress relief lotion, promises to calm and relax with lavender, chamomile and ylang-ylang.
I know I’m a sucker for good advertising, but I didn’t go seeking stress relief in body lotions. It just happened. What’s my review? These products are doing a decent job on the dry skin front and do have lovely fragrances, but those promises of stress relief? Not so much.
I’m not so naïve as to think that a $7 bottle of lotion will bring stress relief and calmness to my life. Over the years I’ve come to know what helps me with stress. My recipe follows the ESP approach we’ve used in our health initiative, Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls.
I’m not so naïve as to think that a $7 bottle of lotion will bring stress relief and calmness to my life. Over the years I’ve come to know what helps me with stress.
ESP of stress relief
For the E, my emotional health, I need to limit my critical nature, give and seek forgiveness, and let go of my all-too-prevalent need to control things. For the S, my spiritual health, I need to ground my days in worship and prayer, come to the communion table regularly, and study God’s Word in community. For the P, my physical health, I need to limit carbohydrates, exercise more and laugh a lot.
It’s not that stress magically goes away and calm ensues when I’m monitoring my ESP. I live in a large urban environment, with a complicated family life, in a country that’s marked by political upheaval, racism, violence and poverty, in a world that filled with trauma, war, and strife.
Let’s face it, there’s going to be stress. But when I’m paying attention to my ESP, I’m better equipped to handle the stress. I put the challenges in perspective, turn to God for guidance and find comfort and solace in community.
My prayer for you, dear sisters, is that you discern your ESP recipe and pay attention to it. Calgon’s not going to take it all away nor is a body lotion that promises stress relief. When we live our lives grounded in faith, we are better equipped to handle whatever comes our way. Thanks be to God!
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. This message first ran as the Grace Notes column in the April 2018 issue of Gather magazine.