Professional Beauty talks to world-renowned performance and behaviour specialist, Dr John Demartini about how balanced thinking, prioritising and saying no not only makes you more productive, but better looking.
How much does stress affect the way that we look?
There is no doubt that the hair, skin and nails are affected by the autonomic nervous system. When we are under fight of flight responses it definitely effects our skin, the blood supply to it, the emphatic drainage. Under extreme anxieties, extreme pressures and sometimes unrealistic expectations, the sympathetic nervous system can literally dry up the skin and cause issues such as psoriasis, pigmentation and changes in hair growth.
How can positive thinking make our skin and the way we look, better?
I don’t want to say positive thinking…I want to say “balanced thinking” because balanced thinking and equanimity always helps physiology. If you are beating yourself up, you need [to add some] positive thinking, if you’re feeling you’re beating someone else, you need to give them some positive thinking. You need whatever it is that brings it back into balance.
Challenges and bad things happen… Should we accept our negative thoughts and not get too stressed out by them…? Is that something that you will recommend?
Again, I like the word “fulfilment”, I think that life needs both, support, challenge, there is this thing called “Youth Stress”; let me elaborate on this for second. When a young boy loves his video games and he finishes one video game and completes it, he goes, “mum, dad, I want to get that more advanced video game”. He is actually looking for challenges that inspire him. The challenges that inspire you are called youth stress, and that is shown to balance out and to bring wellness. It stimulates just enough autonomic sympathetic repair to bring wellness and actually help us have resilience and health.
So we shouldn’t avoid stress all together in the workplace?
If we are trying to avoid all forms of challenge and we are looking for only happiness and only one-sidedness, we are setting up unrealistic expectations. We create distress because we are trying to run away from half of our lives. This distress is what causes illness, so youth stress is healthy. Striving for a one-sided world, one-sided happy, everything to go smoothly, it’s not real so you have to have a balanced orientation to have real resilience and wellness.
Obviously too much is not good. If people are feeling overwhelmed and over-stressed, how can they get themselves back to this balanced thinking?
Firstly, I tell people to make a list of everything they are doing in a day, and first just look at it and see if it is really, really important. Next I would say, right next to it, write down its value. How much does it produce per hour? Or how much meaning does it have? Can you delegate any of it? How much time is spent on it? Because you may be minoring in majors and majoring in minors which lower your self-worth because you never get the things that are most important done; that adds to the stress level, distress. If you are doing the highest priority things, and you are setting a realistic expectation and time on it, you calm it down. Obviously doing some sort of exercise program or stretching program or deep breathing all assist on that. But setting realistic expectations and rescheduling things is really a priority, it really helps reduce the stress level.
So it’s about taking control?
Yes, I have seen people stop what they are doing and go, “oh my god; I’m allowing everybody on the outside to run my life”. You have to be able to say no. Say thank you, but no thank you. Say yes to things that are truly meaningful, productive, and profitable and things that really inspire you. If you don’t start your day with high priority actions that inspire you, your day is going to keep filling up with low priority distractions and that adds to stress.
People find it hard to say no. How can we say no to more people?
Nobody is dedicated to your fulfilment, everybody is projecting their fulfilment on you to fulfil them. So you have to be able to say no to people and you need to know how to communicate what you want in terms of their values so they are fulfilled. Clients particularly; you have to listen to what is important to them and then communicate what you know. You need to help them in terms of their values so they are receptive so you do not have to fight people all day.
So if things seem overwhelming, really it is down to how we manage things. Is that right?
If you don’t plan your day and structure your day, it’s easy for people to infiltrate it. I think anybody that has seen a day that is not filled with an agenda, gets filled with weird stuff. So you want to make sure that you take command of your day on a day-to-day basis, and really put in there what is reasonable, realistic. What I used to do, is write down what I need to get done for the day and then I would set the times of when I want to get it done. If I am setting it and getting it done before then, I can add more to my day; if not, I’m setting unrealistic goals. So I try to structure and get feedback to set realistic time frames on my day and fill it up with things that are meaningful.
Is there any way to make people change their skin by making them more fulfilled.
Definitely. I’ve been involved in the industry and worked 34 years in personal development and 38 years in health care. I’m absolutely certain that that can be done. I have seen it over and over again. What is really common in psoriasis skin conditions, dry skin, deep pigmentations and things. A lot of our expectations and stresses are only because we keep trying to compare ourselves to others and try to live by other people’s values and we have internal conflict and this adds to the distress and runs our autonomic nervous system into chaos and causes these skin conditions as a feedback. They are symptoms of feedback to let us know we are not being our self. We need to set realistic expectations according to what is valuable to us. Our skin reflects our psyche, without a doubt.
Can this advice help for people who just want their skin to look better? You know, make them glow more…?
Unquestionably, and diet has a big factor in it too. Some people have no idea about diet and nutrition, they are not taking any supplementation, and they are not eating wisely. I am amazed at what some people eat. Like, how can they eat that stuff? It is not even food! And they expect their body to perform… I’ve seen so many people going on a Mediterranean diet where they are eating fish and breads and grains and avocados and olive oil, nuts… When they start eating real food, their body does amazing things. People don’t eat enough fibre; their bowels are backed up and that creates pimples and all kinds of stuff because the toxins are trying to come out of the skin and they are not designed to be able to come out that way.
Also, if they are not drinking enough water, if they are not sweating, and their bowels are slow, and they are not deep breathing, the sweat glands have to take over. So if they breathe deep, the bowel function also helps the skin and takes the burden off the skin and tries to detox everything.
Can this help with ageing?
Without a doubt. I am 62 years old and most people thing I am 48–50. 52 at the most, and I know it is because I am doing what I love, I’m inspired by what I do and I priorities my day. I don’t add junk to my body. I make sure I do a little bit of sweating and make sure that I do the things that I have learnt. I live wisely and ultimately, I don’t age as much.