If you’re like many people, thinking about the holidays can make you break out in a cold sweat.
But did you know that stress-induced sweat is chemically different than sweat that is induced from exercise or heat? Read on to find out why your body’s response to anxiety is a sweaty one--and what you can do about it.
Why Stress Causes Sweat
On a biological level, your body doesn’t know the difference between running from a bear and hosting Thanksgiving with an estranged relative. All it knows is that you’re experiencing excitement and anxiety--and these feelings accompany the release adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones send a very specific message to some very specific sweat glands in your body.
You see, when you experience sweat due to exercise or heat, your body produces sweat from eccrine glands. But sweat from stress also activates sweat glands called apocrine glands. And unfortunately, apocrine glands have a triple threat when it comes to odor: 1) your body produces about 30x more sweat when stressed; 2) sweat from apocrine glands has a denser concentration of the proteins that odor-causing bacteria metabolize; and 3) these glands are located in parts of the body that have a higher number of hair follicles, thus having a greater surface area for bacteria to thrive.
In other words: when you’re stressed you produce more sweat, and this type of sweat is also more appealing to bacteria...and then on top of that, there’s a greater number of overall bacteria to feast on the aforementioned stress sweat.
It’s not the best combo when you’re wanting to appear calm, cool, and stink-free during holiday anxiety.
What Do You Do About It?
While you can’t always control whether you’re feeling stressed (especially around the holidays), there are a few things you can do to tip the odds in your favor.
- Keep your hair trimmed where your apocrine glands are located (armpits and private areas). Less hair means less surface area for bacteria to thrive.
- Wear clothing with natural fibers--synthetic fibers are more likely to hold onto odor, even after washing. If you find yourself extra stinky while wearing synthetic fibers like polyester, you might be smelling odor from previous sweaty/smelly experiences, as well as compounding the stench for the next time.
- Make sure you dry yourself thoroughly after bathing/showering. Since damp areas encourage the growth of bacteria, it’s important to try to keep bacteria at bay before entering the inevitably stressful situations.
- Of course, managing the stress you do experience can help, too. Practicing deep breathing, meditation, and getting enough exercise are all things you can do to prepare yourself for holiday stress well before it hits.
- Finally, wearing a dependable aluminum-free deodorant like SmartyPits can help keep odor at bay if stress-sweat does strike. Finding a scent that complements your body chemistry is especially important. If you’re having an especially stressful day, you can reapply as often as you need.
Wondering which SmartyPits will be the best fit for you throughout your most stressful moments? Take our quiz here.