Cultural stress is making you sick, oily and older | YStyle, Lifestyle Features,


You’ve suspected for a while now that Facebook is the root of all anxiety. Holistic health and skin expert Dr. Howard Murad writes in his book, Conquering Cultural Stress: The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Aging and Happiness, that there are actually a lot of other factors that contribute to stress: family, work, lack of movement, environment, etc. But with social media as a sort of second life and virtual sandbox for most of us, its impact on wellbeing becomes a bigger factor.

Let’s single out Facebook, purely because that’s where we usually stumble upon all sorts of unsolicited information, indignation and unproductive debate. In Dr. Murad’s book, he asks some simple questions to diagnose stress: 1) Do you overreact to common irritations — like bad service — with rage or despair? 2) Does 24/7 interactivity have you logged on to your job after normal work hours? 3) Do you feel anger or anxiety about being late due to everyday traffic congestion? We see our Facebook friends answer “yes” to these questions every day.

“Cultural stress is a new type of stress that is superimposed on the normal stresses of everyday life,” writes Dr. Murad. In his top 10 sources of cultural stress, he includes digital dependence, long commutes, fear of terrorism, violent acts of nature, political unrest, and having to keep up with constant new rules and regulations. All of these are highlighted on our feeds on a daily basis. Perhaps you suspected right: being active on social media (even if you are just lurking) contributes to anxiety. This is not a plea to abandon being “woke,” it’s a reminder that constant focus on these negatives — indulging in the rage that they bring, on top of them actually happening — releases too much cortisol into your bloodstream, causing your tissues to break down, including muscle, skin and collagen, while assembling fat. That’s right, cortisol is the Michael Angelo of love handles.

It gets worse. You know how regular drinkers (me, in a previous life) say they no longer get hangovers? That’s because their hangovers have caught up with each other and they just feel constantly tired from their bodies not getting a chance to recover. It’s the same with stress. The body can get so used to it that it would overreact to a trivial stressor and interpret it as something serious.

As cultural stress is present and inescapable, Dr. Murad prescribes a regimen that will help combat its effects on health and skin:

Blot party: Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector does the work of blotting papers but delivers extra hydration and a fresh, matte look.

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Eat your water. Water loss is the gateway to all illnesses, so Dr. Murad prescribes a diet that’s also rich in water. “I’m not the only one who thinks eight glasses of water a day is a sham,” he writes. “All food has some water in it. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain 85 to 98 percent water. Roasted chicken breast is 65 percent water, baked salmon is 62 percent.”

Drink clean. Skip soda, fruit juices and alcohol. He says coffee and tea are fine before 2 p.m. Red wine is the alcoholic beverage in moderation, which is one six-ounce glass a day for women and two for men.

Feel your face. He means, topically. Always apply toner to bring skin back to a slightly acidic pH after washing, because this is when it functions best. He says not to worry about using redundant products like an antioxidant treatment and antioxidant moisturizer. “You can never get enough of these anti-aging miracles.” Maybe the Koreans had the right idea all along.

• Savor sleep. “Beauty sleep is not a cliché; it’s a fact.” Sleep dictates how much we eat, how fat we get, whether or not our bodies can fight infections, and how well we cope with stress.

• Keep moving. Visceral fat, the fat that collects around the waistline or viscera — vital organs such as the heart, liver and lungs — is the enemy. But it responds very quickly to diet and exercise, according to Dr. Murad. Apart from moving more, he advises eating more water, “which will automatically cut calories and bathe cells to speed up metabolism and help burn stored fat.”

Don’t stress over oil

Recently, Murad launched its “Eyesup” campaign in the Philippines, which encourages people to reconnect with each other by disconnecting from their digital devices, along with a — literally — cool, new product, the Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector. The launch, held at Life Yoga in Bonifacio Global City, had a meditation and “Eyesup” theme. For about 20 minutes, we were discouraged from using our phones as we meditated in a neutral and relaxed asana and did mild stretching. The demonstration of the MattEffect Blotting Perfector came after the exercise, when we tried exactly how matte and perfecting it is.

The MattEffect Blotting Perfector is a first-of-its-kind skincare cushion compact that instantly mattifies, refreshes and sets makeup with a translucent, liquid blotting formula. Those of us who are fans of blotting will find this product particularly exciting — because there’s really nothing glamorous about whipping out a blue sheet and tapping it on our faces. It has Soft Focus Mattifying Spheres that absorb oil, and its cooling antimicrobial applicator won’t disturb makeup. The product is part of Murad’s Pore Reform collection, which helps minimize pores through targeted cleansing, exfoliation and oil reduction.

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I’ve been struggling with my chill for a while now; I’ve taken up yoga, meditate nightly, exercise daily, and try to eat well, but it’s still a challenge. It doesn’t help that being an Aries makes me innately tempestuous. One thing I can say for certain is unplugging does help. Ignoring your phone when you’re performing another task helps you concentrate better. I think it was the director Sean Ellis who said he preferred using a typewriter because there’s more commitment and less distractions. He isn’t wrong and he wasn’t the first to say it. All the greats didn’t have WiFi available to them and they did okay. One other thing: If you get #triggered on social media, put the phone down and walk away. Or post a vid of a sneezing panda and make the internet a happier place.

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Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector is available at Rustan’s for P2,150.

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