Because stress can damage your health at the cellular level, managing stress is a critical part of an Inclusive approach to optimizing health. In his book The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger (Wiley, September 2010), Dr. Murad explains how developing a Sense of Self is the key to mental and physical well-being. Take a look at some of Dr. Murad’s tips on how to manage stress:
1. Get a Hobby: When you have a hobby, it forces you to take time out for yourself and do something enjoyable, while providing you time to reflect.
2. Get Connected: One of the easiest ways to reduce your isolation is to join a group that shares similar hobbies, philosophies and interests. Get involved in community events, exercise classes, professional groups or associations, book clubs, potluck dinner nights with your friends, charity events at your children’s schools, or volunteer at a nearby nonprofit or take a class at a local community college.
3. Disconnect: There’s an odd duality to being attached to machines that allow us to connect with others around the world in an instant. From cell phones to social networks that can transmit what you’re doing right now in seconds, communication these days is quick, easy and can be isolating. When you’re constantly communicating with someone by electronic transmission rather than in person or even over the phone, you can lose touch with the experience. You also have a tendency to lose focus, as those transmissions become rapid-fire, frequent, distracting and intrusive. In a nutshell: Put down your phone! Take time at least twice a week to not check your phone or email. It’s a healthy mental break.
4. Get Touched: Dr. Murad recommends that everyone visit a spa or massage therapist as frequently as possible. Massage not only benefits the muscles and tissues being kneaded and stretched, but also has been found to lower stress levels significantly. It can help alleviate depression, reduce pain in cancer patients, improve sleep patterns and positively alter the immune system.
5. Start Your Day Off Right: Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium stress out your body and trigger an increase in cortisol levels, not to mention food cravings. Many people can easily find themselves lacking these critical nutrients by skipping breakfast and relying on caffeine to stay alert and productive throughout the day. Try eating a handful of berries (vitamin C), six to eight ounces of low-fat yogurt (calcium and magnesium) and a slice of whole grain toast with natural peanut butter. Whole grains are loaded with B vitamins, while peanut butter contains fatty acids that can decrease the production of stress hormones. Peanut butter will also keep you satisfied longer.
6. Eat “Brain Food”: About two-thirds of our brains are composed of fat, and the protective sheath around communicating neurons is 70 percent fat. In essence, we need fat to think and to maintain healthy brain function, as well as for normal growth and development.
The omega-3 fats in salmon (often called “brain food”) and other cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and olives have numerous proven health benefits, including help in protecting your heart. It’s also important to limit your intake of processed foods!
7. Exercise: Exercising regularly nourishes the skin with oxygen while sweating flushes out toxins. It also improves digestion and increases your metabolism and endocrine functions so that the entire body is functioning at an optimal level.
8. Get to Bed: Almost every system in the body is affected by the quality and amount of sleep you get at night. Sleep can dictate how much you eat, how fat you get, whether you can fight off infections, and how well you can cope with stress. Turn off the TV one hour prior to sleeping and refrain from stressful activities and conversations two hours prior to retiring to the bedroom. Dr. Murad advises, “Try to get a minimum of eight hours a night because sleep is an ideal time for cellular renewal and overall repair for the skin.”
According to Dr. Murad, “Healthy skin is a reflection of overall wellness.” When the body is at optimal health, the skin will follow suit. Regulate stress and get healthy, glowing skin by following the Inclusive Health® philosophy.