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Cultural Stress

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Dr. Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD

Beauty / / March 16, 2012

Our busy, on-the-go lives have created yet another problem. We have no time to cook at home, and so we have grown accustomed to eating out. Those who eat in restaurants are faced with the stress of choosing a restaurant and making a reservation or sometimes waiting an hour or more for a table. Others become reliant on unhealthy fast-food meals, as a matter of fact The American College of Nutrition reported that 46% of expenditure on food items was spent on unhealthy fast food. In either case, we are consuming more processed foods than ever, and eating foods high in sugar and saturated fats, can cause glycation, making us more susceptible to diabetes. Refined foods also contribute to poor brain function and depression, and we often combat this with caffeine to stay awake and prescription sleep aids to help us sleep. Our national sleep deficit has resulted in an astounding 42 million prescriptions in sleep aids in one year, and over $9.2 billion in retail coffee sales.

To help maintain mental and physical health, we need to eat complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables — and good fats, especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These not only encourage water to be attracted to the cells, but are also a component of the cell membrane. In fact, recent studies have shown that Omega 3’s in our food may help decrease depression —a leading mental health disorder that has been linked to the constant and pervasive stress in our lives.

Cultural stress and the effect on your skin

As we who work with the skin know, all these conditions are reflected in the way the skin looks and feels. How does cultural stress affect your skin? First of all, any kind of stress causes a tremendous amount of nervous system activity. It can cause an outpouring of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related hormones. In recent years, I have observed an increase in rosacea and adult acne, which I believe are directly related to an increase in cultural stress. When you are stressed, researchers believe that the increase in certain hormones known to worsen acne, are released.

Another skin condition I that I believe may be attributed to cultural stress is an increase in facial hair among adult women. Hormonal shifts and the outpouring of androgens when you are stressed can cause you to lose hair, and it can also cause hair to suddenly appear in places where it didn’t previously exist. The good news is we can counteract cultural stress and improve our health both physically and emotionally with the “Cellular Water Principle®.” 

Cultural stress contributes to damaged cell walls which in turn, allows the precious water that keeps them functioning to escape. The water loss has a myriad of effects. It causes our cells and connective tissue to break down, which prevents our heart, lungs, brain and other organs from functioning at optimal levels — all of which become apparent when you look at the skin.

We can encourage more water in the cells and reduce cultural stress by addressing these 3 areas, and best of all — you can teach these simple steps to your own clients:

  1. Topical Care – as the largest organ of the body, the skin is extremely responsive to topically applied products. By using the appropriate skincare regimen and professional spa treatments, you can address skincare concerns ranging from acne to wrinkles, while also preventing future damage.
  2. Internal Care – with topical skincare, we address approximately 20% of the skin, the epidermis. The remaining 80%, the dermis, responds by feeding the skin from the inside. Eat a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables and healthy fats such as those found in raw nuts and olive oil to promote healthy, hydrated cells and take a dietary supplement to provide the body with a constant supply of essential nutrients.
  3. Emotional Care – maintain connections with others, discover a passion such as painting or dancing. Reducing isolation promotes a healthy sense of self. One of the most powerful tools for emotional care is the healing power of touch. Research from the renowned Touch Research Institute shows that it’s as beneficial to touch as it is to be touched. Massage is shown to increase weight gain in premature infants, alleviate depression, and positively alter the immune system.

Cultural stress, whether caused by fear, overwork or too many options causing conflict in decision making, ultimately leads to isolation. I believe isolation to be one of the most prominent diseases in today’s world. Studies have shown that to reduce isolation, people need to have regular physical and social contact which reduces cultural stress, leading to happier, healthier lives.

Tips for reducing cultural stress

Practitioner Heal Thyself

The first step in reducing cultural stress is trying to determine what gets you worked up. Identify in yourself the biggest causes of cultural stress and then develop a plan of action to reduce the impact it has on your daily life.

Practice being mindful

Take some time each day to meditate or be quiet, and enjoy the simple rhythms of life.

Use 5-cent psychology on yourself

Most of us have cell phones. If you are stuck in traffic and late for an appointment, make a call and then accept the fact that you can’t control the situation. One thing you can control is how you react to these situations. Try to make the best of it, as I always say “why have a bad day when you can have a good day.”

Exercise Regularly

Go for a walk, do yoga or take an exercise class. Being physically active, even for just a few minutes can make a difference in the way you feel.

Nourish your body for optimum health

Make it a habit to avoid the Standard America Diet. Get foods that encourage and increase the water content in your body—a diet full of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, good fats and proteins. Take a nutritional supplement to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet. And remember the “Cellular Water Principle®.”

Get a good night’s sleep

Americans sleep less than people in any industrialized country in the world. You need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to fully restore the body. Don’t lose sleep, find the time to recharge your body at night so you have the energy to face the challenges that come up every day.

Find a hobby

It forces you to take time out for yourself and do something enjoyable, while providing time for you to reflect. The goal should be to reduce cultural stress and while enjoying the simple pleasures of life. As the great English poet William Wordsworth wrote: "The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours…

Categories: Skin Care
About The Author
Dr. murad 1

Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Click here for more articles by Dr. Murad.

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