The Stress Series: Stress Two –

Chemical Stress

Along the same lines but different to the way it enters our bodies, chemical stress refers again to the stress that is caused by foreign chemicals entering our bodies and the work that our systems go through in an attempt to remove the associated toxins.  As I mentioned in ‘Stress One – Nutritional Stress,’ some of this stress can come from eating highly processed food.  Other ways that our bodies become stressed by chemical exposure include:

– through the air we breathe, ie pollution (and this includes being a smoker or living with a smoker)

– through drinking contaminated water

– beauty products

I read a fascinating article not so long ago that described the chemical stress that mainly women (but also to an extent men) inadvertently put their systems through during the very first hour after waking in the morning whilst getting ready for the day.  And when you think about it its easy to see how.  Many of us get up and generally shower, right?  And in our shower we may use soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body buffers, and shaving creams.  And then when we get out of the shower we might use moisturisers, deodorants, hair spary, gel, mousse or other hair products.  We might also apply perfume or aftershave if we are that way inclined.  Then for women who wear make-up might come the application of a range of anti-ageing products (which could include the application of various cleansers, toners, moisturisers and well as anti-wrinkle, anti-dark-shadow, anti-blemish products).  Upon this might then be layered the make-up which may include but is not limited to foundation, powder, blush, various and numerous eye shadows and liners, mascara and a range of  sticks and glosses for the lips.  All these chemicals are absorbed by the skin in the name of looking younger and denying the natural process of ageing as the majority of us have fallen smack bang into the traps set by multi-million cosmetic companies who play on our insecurities about the natural process of ageing and make billions of dollars every year as a result.

Now let’s do the maths.  Even if each product contained only ten chemicals (and that’s an extremely conservative estimate) the application of less than half of the products I’ve mentioned above alone comes to a staggering 130 chemicals which are absorbed subdermally (through the skin) to enter our blood streams before we even leave the house!!.  In a similar process that occurs to the chemicals we ingest through eating food, our body is put under stress when these toxins are removed through processes that need to occur on a cellular level so that they can eventually be eliminated.

How can I reduce chemical stress?

I acknowledge living in cities and with so many products (including water) being so heavily packaged it can might seem like there’s no-where to go with this one.  If you feel this way then my suggestion is to make small changes, after all they will accumulate and are better than none at all.  In addition to moving from highly polluted cities to the countryside (which I understand isn’t always an option) there are a number of ways you can reduce your chemical stress which include:

– stop smoking or insist that all smokers smoke as far away as possible from your home

– drink filtered water

– use natural alternatives to regular beauty products (naturally occurring oils such as almond oil, black sesame oil  and rosehip oil are all fabulous alternatives to other moisturisers)

– avoid wearing make-up (or when this isn’t an option try to use those which are derived from plant sources)

– avoid colouring your hair (or again use naturally derived dyes such as henna)

– use soaps and cleansers that are not only plant and oil based but good for the environment too (this includes household cleaners like dishwashing liquid and clothes washing detergent)

What changes do you think you could make in this area?  Or does the whole thought of it just seem to stress you out?  Stay tuned…tomorrow we’ll be looking at the causes and what you can do to mitigate the effects of physical stress in your life.

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