The Stress of Modern Living is Hurting us More Than we Think
Every species evolves in response to its environment. Most of the time, these changes are subtle, and only pinpointed over millenia. This is not the case with modern humans. We’re changing and rapidly so. We’re not sprouting wings or developing new body parts, but we are adapting to a new norm where constant stress is pervasive. Unabated exposure to technology is altering who we are in profound ways.
With the ubiquitous use of smartphones, our evolution has begun. Future scholars may look back and recognize our generation as the first one where our natural eye position moved downward and eye contact with others decreased. We are able to see some of these changes easily around us—glance about at a restaurant. You might even recognize the symptoms in yourself like “tech neck,” blue light skin damage, and even depression. Science has shown that being constantly connected to technology has caused an increase in sleeplessness, sedentary lifestyles, isolation, depression and anxiety—all of which have significant implications for our skin, health and ultimately happiness.
As a dermatologist, I believe that healthy skin is a direct reflection of how you live your life. But today, nearly all of us are living in an increasingly stressful, always-on environment. This is what I refer to as Cultural Stress, or the stress of modern living.
In fact, this type of constant and pervasive stress has tremendous health consequences, which are particularly visible on the skin. Chronic stress, like that from Cultural Stress, has been shown to weaken immunity, increase inflammation, and accelerate aging.
That’s why today I am proud to launch EyesUp, my new initiative designed to educate people about the danger of digital-only relationships and the power of real-world human connection. I am encouraging people to pledge to go “EyesUp” and connect with one another in real life.
But what does it mean to go EyesUp?
Let me share a story. One of my friends told me about a recent boat ride she went on with some colleagues. Later, the friend realized she completely missed her co-worker’s boyfriend propose to her in the midst of a beautiful sunset. My friend was, like so many of us, focused on perfecting the perfect photo and engrossed in her social media feed. My friend missed the opportunity to connect with her colleagues because her eyes – quite literally – were down.
The truth is that there is beauty all around us: babies being born, friendships being made, and relationships to be nurtured. But so often, we miss these everyday milestones because we’re focused on things that are, ultimately, meaningless.
At the end of life, people often ask themselves, “Is there anything I wish I had done differently?” Most people say, “I wish I had spent more time with my children and the people I love.” But because of Cultural Stress and digital dependency, we’re spending more time alone and not seeing the beauty of what life is. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in starting this movement to disconnect with our devices and reconnect with the people who are important to us.
To living a happier, healthier life!
Dr. Howard Murad
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.