Dr. Howard Murad: “I hope that my research on cultural stress can bring more awareness to the incredible amount of harm we are doing to our physical and mental wellbeing, and how we can combat it through practicing daily forms of wellness and self-care”

I hope that my research on cultural stress can bring more awareness to the incredible amount of harm we are doing to our physical and mental wellbeing, and how we can combat it through practicing daily forms of wellness and self-care. I want to encourage a philosophy that self-care is healthcare, and if we make […]

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I hope that my research on cultural stress can bring more awareness to the incredible amount of harm we are doing to our physical and mental wellbeing, and how we can combat it through practicing daily forms of wellness and self-care. I want to encourage a philosophy that self-care is healthcare, and if we make self-care a daily practice in our lives, we can revolutionize our physical and mental well-being.

I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Howard Murad, M.D.. Dr. Murad is recognized as one of the fathers of modern wellness based on his years of expertise as a board-certified dermatologist and pharmacist whose holistic health approach recognizes the mind/body/skin connection in living a healthier, happier life — at any age. Dr. Murad’s ability to “connect the dots” linking cellular hydration, nutrition, joyful exercise, creative expression, reducing cultural stress, and efficacious skincare, are unique contributions to Modern Wellness. A practitioner not just of medicine but of the philosophy of health, Dr. Murad has been studying the effects of the environment, nutrition, and lifestyle on skin and overall wellness since 1972. In 1989 — at the age of 50 — he founded Murad, Inc. and launched the first science-backed, doctor-branded skincare line. Understanding that healthy skin comes from the inside out, Dr. Murad was the first to also introduce “internal skincare” first through supplements and later expanding it to include mental and emotional wellbeing which became the beginning of the Inclusive Health® movement. Having treated over 50,000 patients and counting, Dr. Murad hopes to inspire people to achieve not just beautiful skin — but greater health and happiness inside and out. Dr. Murad’s inclusive health protocol has been fundamental in reversing the effects of “Cultural Stress,” a condition he named and identified as the constant and pervasive form of stress due to modern day living which has been scientifically shown to have a negative impact on cellular health. Dr. Murad’s impact on healthy living reaches far beyond his legendary skincare line. Today, much of Dr. Murad’s work involves teaching people how to manage cultural stress through a comprehensive treatment plan he describes in his published books and online at www.drhowardmurad.com.

Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Murad. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always feel a need to help people, and early on in my life a friend of mine’s relative inspired me to become a physician. I was lucky enough to get into medical school, but Uncle Sam had a different path for me, and put me in Vietnam. As a surgeon in Vietnam, I had seen more than enough blood and violence in my life, and the military asked me to open a small clinic for dermatology. I realized one of the wonderful things about dermatology is that you get immediate results when their skin clears up from your help. I realized the incredible healing power of touch while I worked with these patients, and never looked back as I pursued a life in dermatology and skin products.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Early on in my career I was selling my products to private salons as a main source of income, along with the dermatology-spas I had started. A friend encouraged me to have an infomercial about my products and my derma-spas, which I did, in hopes of getting the word out more. The infomercial was wildly successful, and yet the salons I worked for stopped doing business with me, because they were worried that my products, now being accessible to everyone and a televised product, cheapened my image of my brand. I ended up losing money because of the infomercial, but I realized that the path to success runs through failure. In the fullness of time, the infomercial eventually paid off, but at the time it felt like a mistake. I realized I have to be willing to fail and take risks in my career if I want to truly succeed.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first was starting out as a dermatologist, I went to a trade show in New York City to get the word out about my company. I left a few days later without a single person interested in my products, and without a single penny earned. The first of many mistakes was that I hadn’t even brought any products and skin creams for people to purchase. I was just telling people about my company. What a rookie mistake! Along with that, I was using way too many medical terms, I didn’t have any pictures of before and after results, I didn’t give out massages with skincare testers for people to try, and on top of all of that, the glycolic acid that I was selling (which I hadn’t brought with me) was a really scary idea to people back then. Who puts acid on their face? Now glycolic acid is totally commonplace in skin care regimes, but back then I really had no idea how to sell the idea that acid could be helpful. As simple as it seems, I had to learn that half of running a successful company is not just a great product but a strong marketing plan that knows how to advertise and promote the company and products.

Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?

As my company Murad Inc. was growing, I started noticing right around 2003 a phenomenon I called “cultural stress.” Many of my skincare patients suffered from depression, lack of sleep, and poor diet which resulted in progressive aging in their skin. As I began to focus on a more inclusive health regimen for them, I started connecting the dots and realized there was a much larger issue than just troubles with their skin. I define cultural stress is the stress of modern day living. It results from a combination of work-related, sociopolitical, and general life stressors, superimposed onto day-to-day stress. It’s leading us to live unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles that result in isolation and loneliness and depression, which leaves a lasting impact on our health and wellness.

I wanted to research the causes of cultural stress, and how to prevent and lessen its effects. I created 11 cards that had positive quotes such as “I am free to be myself,” and one of my favorites, “I am worthy of …” and you fill in the blank. The affirmation cards were developed to affirm behaviors that are known to have positive well-being effects. They’re based on affective science and positive psychology. When I used them in a study of a couple dozen individuals, it was found that these cards helped reduce the effects of Cultural Stress. Of course, these affirmations alone cannot solve all of our problems that contribute to stress, but the positive outlook that can manifest from these daily affirmations have been clinically shown to lower perceived stress, blood pressure, and heart rate in many of my clients.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

I had one skincare patient who told me she was incredibly lonely and isolated in her home. She wrote speeches for other people for a living, and helped everyone around her, except for herself. I talked to her about the damage cultural stress can have on our lives, and about the power of positive affirmations. After our talk, she went out to a bar, met someone she clicked with, and eventually began a relationship with him. She also started writing and giving her own inspirational speeches instead of sending them off to other leaders. When I saw her again, she was a whole new person. Moments like that remind me why I wanted to be a doctor — to help others in every way that I can.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Cultural stress is deeply embedded into our society, and at first it can seem really difficult to disconnect from. Americans are completely overworked in part because of the rise in technology. We essentially can bring our work with us anywhere, and we are constantly “on-line” and contactable, which means we have much longer work hours. This extra stress means our sleeping gets exacerbated, and we are much more exhausted.

Another issue with the “convenience” of technology is that we stay sedentary, and on our phones instead of going out and being physical. Why go out for dinner or even cook dinner with you can have food delivered to your door at any hour? Why go to the movies when you have Netflix on your phone? We also have social networks like Facebook and Instagram that make many people actually feel more isolated and depressed than bringing them “together.” How do we disconnect and get more connected to our mental and physical health again? It’s almost impossible for many of us to simply ditch our phones, but we can start becoming aware of the stress, and consequently start making simple changes in our lives to disconnect from those stresses that are hitting us the worst. Every person it is unique, and I don’t want to give one “solution” because that solution may be different for everyone. But I think a few examples that might help are turning your phone off from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., doing yoga, ocr inviting a friend over to cook once a week or once a month. Carving out times like that that are just for you can help reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is encouraging people to become their best self. You don’t have to direct everyone to do exactly what you want them to do all of the time, and I think that is a really understated philosophy in a lot of leaders. As a leader, you want to give your employees a roadmap so they can eventually figure things out themselves. If you let them grow their own ingenuity, each person can find their own unique techniques to solving problems, which I believe is the real end goal. When I hire people, I try to pull from people who have backgrounds in different industries because they can usually find more innovative ways to solve problems.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be careful with your money! I ended up spending so much money when I didn’t need to.
  2. Show up prepared for every event and meeting. I will never forget showing up to that storefront in New York City and not selling a single product.
  3. Look into alternatives before hiring someone. Instead of hiring the first person that walks in, look into other possible employees from a wide range of backgrounds to find the best candidate for the job. I used to always hire the first person that would walk into an interview, and it was much to my detriment later on.
  4. Invest in security. When I first started out I found out that some of my employees had been stealing form my warehouse and selling my products at other stores on on the black market. I made sure to move to a different warehouse, and get guards after that incident.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others and try to be like other companies. Believe in the product that you have. People would interview for a job at my company and they would have a background working with someone such as Estée Lauder, and so I assumed they would be a great fit, and that I should hire them. But their backgrounds didn’t help me when I was a small start-up, and they brought old ideas that didn’t work for the new innovative creations I wanted to make. I realized I needed to be myself, and be my own company, and not try to imitate other businesses who had different products and ideologies.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I hope that my research on cultural stress can bring more awareness to the incredible amount of harm we are doing to our physical and mental wellbeing, and how we can combat it through practicing daily forms of wellness and self-care. I want to encourage a philosophy that self-care is healthcare, and if we make self-care a daily practice in our lives, we can revolutionize our physical and mental well-being.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My father was a successful businessman, and yet at one point he went bankrupt. Growing up, my father, my mother, my siblings and I lived in a cramped apartment in New York, and sometimes by the end of the week, we didn’t have enough food to eat. And yet with all of this hardship, he never complained. I remember one time all we had were onions left and he said “If all we have is an onion left, then we will eat an onion sandwich, and we will be full.” It made me realize that if I took a risk and I failed, I could still eat an onion sandwich, and be full. Funny enough, it made me into the entrepreneur that I am today — one that doesn’t give up even when I knew there could be failures.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Actually, Jackie Robinson is the person that comes to my mind when I think of someone I wish I could have had a meal with, even though he is long gone. As the first black person to play in the major leagues, he had to have had a lot of courage. The team members, and even the coaches and umpires treated him like garbage. In the face of such adversity, he had to lean on his inner-strength to do something that was so much bigger than himself, and he helped change the history of African Americans in this country. He realized his mission was so much more important than just him, and he changed this country for the better. I would have loved to have met someone with that much perseverance and strength.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Visit my website www.drhowardmurad.com and sign up for our weekly newsletter where I share health and wellness tips for a happier, healthier self.

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