It's human nature. We've all been there before at some time or another. It's the type of sweating the strikes right before the huge interview, the presentation to the board or just before the first date. Whatever the case, the stress sweats usually come on when we, or more importantly, our brain feels like it needs to be prepared to distance us from the impending doom we might face. As unfortunate as these events are, they're hardwired into us - and for good reason, it's just that the stressors of today become a little bit more socially uncomfortable and are a lot less dangerous than when we evolved them.
To understand the how and why behind the stress sweats, we need to first understand a bit more about the sweat mechanism of the body in the first place. The roots of the stress sweats come start in our evolution. Way back when, humans were nothing more than another link in the food chain - we werent anywhere near the top predator and because of this we needed mechanisms in place to kick in when danger lurked around every corner.
We humans have two types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. The eccrine glands are primarily responsible for the sweat released from activity and is primarily used by the body to cool itself down through evaporation. Eccrine gland sweat stinks only because the bacteria on the surface of the skin feed on it and their waste is what stinks. Interestingly, eccrine glands are not located in the areas that tend to stink such as your armpits - these are where the apocrine glands are. Apocrine sweat is a little bit different. The glands secrete phermones that were probably more helpful in attracting a mate when we were cavemen/women but now seem like they're more of a deterrant to the goal. Apocrine glands are stimulated during times of stress, pain, sexual stimulation and fright. While that presentation to the board may not seem like a fight or flight situation, to your brain it is and thats where the stress sweats come from. Each persons reaction to and therefore, smell produced from stress sweats is different.
Now that you have a better understanding of sweat (you wanted that in your life, right?), what can you do about it?
Do what you can to stop it before it comes on
"What you manifest is before you". We know that stress is something that is perceived in the mind. In our mind resides the key to handling stress adequately or not. If you believe that you have something to fear or that a situation is going to be stressful, it will be. While it's impossible to ever truly eliminate stress or nervousness, being prepared goes a long way in minimizing the effect of it - and stress sweat that comes with it. Mentally prepare yourself for the situation as best you can before it arises. Rehearse your speech a million times, check all your numbers, anticipate questions, and visualize success and positive outcomes. Simply being prepared goes a long way.
Before the stressful event comes up, be present and aware in your mind of how you're feeling. Take what I call an "emotional inventory" where you ask yourself "what am I feeling right now?". The answer to this might be nervousness or fear, then ask yourself "what can I do about these feelings?" Often, there is nothing you can do about them and so, acceptance of that fact can be liberating however, it's important that you follow it up with visualizing the outcome that you want - the thing you do have some control over. Think about what it looks like to put your best foot forward, to make the best impression and to respond appropriately to the situation. Finally, take a few moments to clear your head of all thoughts. Focus on nothing but your breath. Feel the oxygen come in through your nose and enter your lungs. Feel your rib cage expand with that breathe and then slowly back out of your mouth or nose. Go through this 10 times to relax the mind.
Lastly, preparation often begins well before the stressful event. If you know you have something stressful coming up, don't eat foods like garlic and onions that make you stink. Don't drink coffee if it's going to ramp you up and get a good night of sleep the night before.
Develop and practice good hygeine
I'm not going to tell you to take a shower and if I have to, you've got much more significant issues than stress sweat smell on your hands (and body). They are important however to remove that body odor inducing sweat. Beyond that, use a deodorant that can effectively manage and fight the stinky effects of stress sweat. Green Theory deodorant can definitely help you with this. We use natural ingredients, super well known odor fighter, baking soda and harness the odor eating powers of probiotics to block that stink before it starts! Furthermore, there's detoxifying bentonite clay in each stick that reverses it's electrical charge when it comes in contact with sweat and pulls toxins out of your body. You get healthier just by using it!
Some people prepare themselves ahead of time by doing an underarm detox to help stabilize the ph in their underarms. This can be useful whether you're using a commercially processed deodorant or a natural deodorant. To learn more about an underarm detox, you can read our blog post on it.
Make sure you stay hydrated
Our bodies are like, 86% water. We need it and the more you have of it each day, the better you function. Water is important because when we sweat, we lose water and that loss of water puts more stress on the body. In fact, just a 3% reduction in hydration level has been shown to reduce athletic performance. Whether you're performing in business, athletically or just mentally, you need water to be at the top of your game.
Don't sweat the sweat
Sweating is both natural and necessary. It happens automatically whether we like it or not. It's our bodies way of keeping us cool and flushing toxins out of our system. They key isn't to block it - as antiperspirants do. By the way, if you're interested in why blocking your sweat glands up with aluminum as antiperspirants do, you can check out our blog post on why you don't want aluminum in your deodorant. What's more important (and healthy) is that you control the side effects of sweating and manage it. Finding a deodorant like Green Theory that's effective and safe to use while taking the proper steps to manage stress ahead of time is the key. If you've never tried natural deodorant but are thinking about joining the millions that have, check out our blog post in what to expect when making the switch to natural deodorant.
What do you do to help reduce stress? What's your most embarrassing stress sweat moment? Let's hear about it in the comments section!