Wellbeing

If asked, just about all women with brown skin would agree that good physical health and mental health are essential for a satisfied, fulfilled and happy life. Although we may strive for wellbeing, many of us fall short of this goal. Many aspects of everyday life stand in our way of achieving the wellbeing that we all need and deserve. So, what are the problems that interfere and sideline us? The first is stress and many women of color experience stresses that are detrimental to both our physical and mental health. Stress may derive from a variety of aspects of our lives--work, school, family, personal relationships or even from how society views and treats us. Latina and African-American women have higher rates of many illnesses, including ones that can affect the skin, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and lupus. We take medications for these diseases that can also impact skin health. But whatever your current health status, most health challenges can be either prevented or at least managed with healthy lifestyle practices, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity and stress-reducing strategies. To evaluate your habits, and bring into focus adjustments you may need to make, take this quick lifestyle quiz.

Lifestyle Quiz

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

  • Do you drink several glasses of plain water per day, not including soda, coffee or tea?
  • Do you get some form of exercise three or more days a week?
  • Do you take a daily multivitamin, Vitamin D and calcium supplement?
  • Do you sleep approximately eight hours on most nights?
  • Do you take steps to reduce stress (take breaks and slow down, breathe deeply, meditate) every day or on most days?
  • Do you avoid or limit alcohol (wine, mixed drinks, beer) to no more than 2-3 drinks per week?
  • Do you abstain from cigarettes and avoid second-hand smoke?
  • Do you eat several servings (at least 5) of vegetables or fruit each day, or do you grab a candy bar and fries when you are hungry? (A serving usually fits in the palm of your hand.)
  • Do you stop eating 4 to 5 hours before going to bed?
  • Do you feel good about yourself and optimistic about your life?

 

If you said “yes” to most of the questions, your lifestyle is looking great. If, however, you said yes to 5 or less, you’re probably like most busy, stressed-out women and you will need to read this section carefully. Your health and your skin will benefit from making a few small changes. We are not suggesting anything complicated since life is already complicated. Read and attempt to implement some or all of the suggestions. They will definitely improve your health and well-being.

Nutrition

Sometimes we forget the real purpose of food. Contrary to what you may think, the purpose of food is not to make us feel better when we are depressed, or calm our nerves when we are upset. Food is meant to nourish our bodies and supply us with energy to keep us strong and free from illness. The U.S.D.A.’s Food-Guide Pyramid www.mypyramid.gov provides a great template for what you should and should not eat and in what amounts.


Grains
Whole-grain cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, whole-grain breads, pastas and crackers.

Vegetables
Leafy salad greens, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peppers, asparagus, eggplant, potatoes, squash, snap peas, yams, corn.

Fruit
Apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, melons, bananas, kiwi, grapefruit, berries, papaya, plums, nectarines, dried fruit.

Lean Meats and Beans
Fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, beef, soybeans, peas.

Dairy
Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt.

Fats (sparingly)
Oils, butter.

The bottom line is: go easy on the fats, sugars and carbohydrates and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. There are two other important components to a healthy diet: first, do not forget to drink adequate amounts of water. If you are dehydrated, you will feel tired and worn-out and your skin will tend to look dull and lifeless. Dehydration may be caused by factors we don’t often think of: drinking too much caffeinated coffee, tea or soda; taking water pills for hypertension; exercising or simply walking around a lot on a hot day. Second, as women of color (and all women) mature, our metabolism slows down. In order to maintain the same weight as you were at age 20, you must eat less food and exercise more. One simple way to do this is to always leave some food on your plate.

Supplements

While vitamin and mineral supplements are not substitutes for a balanced diet, they can help fill in the gaps when you don’t eat well or don’t eat enough to satisfy your nutritional needs. Women have special nutritional needs, such as iron and folic acid, especially during pregnancy. Studies show that many Americans don’t get adequate amounts of vital nutrients, such as Vitamin D and calcium. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III analyzed the vitamin D intake and blood levels of 1,546 African American women and 1,426 Caucasian women ages 15 to 49 years. Low blood levels of vitamin D occurred in 42.4% of the African American women and only 4.2% of the Caucasian women. Vitamin D is made in the skin and obtained from our diet. This vitamin is important because it is responsible for the absorption of calcium by our gastrointestinal tract. Low levels in African American women (and other women with darkly pigmented skin) are related to several factors, including inadequate sunlight or the inability of sunlight to penetrate our deeply pigmented skin, and to a diet deficient in Vitamin D. Certain antioxidant vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E are critical for general health and cancer prevention and they benefit the skin by combating cell-damaging free radicals.

The best way to supplement is to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily. Shop for formulas designed for women and follow the instructions for dosage. Don’t forget a Vitamin D and calcium supplement as well. If you’re interested in taking additional supplements, discuss it first with your health-care provider or a nutritionist to make sure you really need extra supplementation and to avoid any negative interactions with medications you take. In certain cases, vitamins are recommended for patients with acne or vitiligo. If you have either condition, discuss supplementation with your physician. But you must be careful not to take too much of certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, or side effects could develop.

Minimum Daily Allowance

Vitamins

Age 15-18 19-30 31-50 50+ Pregnant -18 Pregnant
19-30
Pregnant
31-50
Vitamin A

700

700

700

700

750

770

770

Vitamin B1/ Thiamine

1.0

1.1

1.1

1.1

1.4

1.4

1.4

Vitamin B2/ Riboflavin

1.0

1.1

1.1

1.1

1.4

1.4

1.4

Vitamin B6

1.2

1.3

1.3

1.5

1.9

1.9

1.9

Vitamin B12

2.4

2.4

2.4

2.4

2.6

2.6

2.6

Vitamin C/ Ascorbic Acid

60

75

75

75

80

85

85

Vitamin D

5

5

10

15

5

5

5

Vitamin E

15

15

15

15

15

15

15

Vitamin K

75

90

90

90

75

90

90

Folate/ Folacin

400

400

400

400

600

600

600

Biotin

25

30

30

30

30

30

30

Choline

400

425

425

425

450

450

450

Niacin

14

14

14

14

18

18

18

Pantothenic Acid

5

5

5

5

6

6

6

Protein(grams)

44

46

50

50

 

 

 

Energy (k. cal)

2,100

2,100

2,000

1,800

 

 

 

** All doses are in Mg. unless otherwise stated

Minerals

Age 15-18 19-30 31-50 50+ Pregnant -18 Pregnant
19-30
Pregnant
31-50
Calcium

1300

1000

1000

1200

1300

1000

1000

Chronium (ug)

24

25

25

20

29

30

30

Copper (ug)

890

900

900

900

1000

1000

1000

Iodine

150

150

150

150

220

220

220

Iron

15

18

18

8

27

27

27

Magnesium

360

310

320

320

400

350

360

Manganese

1.6

1.8

1.8

1.8

2.0

2.0

2.0

Molybdenum (ug)

43

45

45

45

50

50

50

Phosphorus

1250

700

700

700

1250

700

700

Potassium

2000

2000

2000

2000

2000

2000

2000

Selenium (ug)

55

55

55

55

60

60

60

Sodium

1500

1500

1500

1500

1500

1500

1500

Zinc

9

8

8

8

12

11

11

Exercising

Too few women of color get the amount of physical activity we all need to be fit, feel energetic and prevent illness. Having a super-busy schedule is one reason, but there are others—lack of motivation, self-consciousness, limited access to facilities, or worries about what sweating will do to your hair. Women who don’t exercise are at higher risk for nearly every major disease, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. In some cases, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself if it really makes sense to take medication for hypertension or diabetes when weight loss could resolve the problem.

If you don’t get 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity every other day (3 to 4 days each week), the following is simple advice for fitting fitness into your life. (If you have not exercised in years, or have a chronic condition, talk to your physician first):

  • Walk, walk, walk. Walk reasonable distances instead of driving or taking public transportation. Get off the bus or subway a stop or two early. Park your car in a parking lot 5 blocks from your office instead of across the street. Take the stairs up one flight and down two flights instead of escalators or elevators. Take a walk after dinner (take the kids with you). Whenever you have the option to walk, do so.
  • Schedule your exercise routine like an appointment. Write it into your daily planner and stick to it. If you can’t work out one day during the week, make up for lost time the next day or on weekends.
  • Exercise in the morning to get it done and out of the way. Get up a half hour earlier to make time for it before dealing with breakfast, the kids, etc.
  • Work out in short spurts. If you can’t spare a half hour, divide the time into two 15-minute workouts. Try a quick exercise video in the morning before work, then power walk during your lunch hour or after work.
  • Get equipped. Invest in home exercise equipment—a treadmill, stair climber or stationary bike, for example. This way you can sneak in 20 minutes or more without having to leave home. Buy some light free weights while you’re at it.
  • Enlist the family. Spend time with your mate and kids by working out together. On weekends, go for a hike, roller blade or ice skate, or play a sport (touch football, softball, basketball) as a family.
  • Get moving! In your spare time, lift free weights, do lunges or simply touch your toes to get a good stretch. It’s all exercise.

Sleep

As busy women, we burn the candle at both ends, getting up early in the morning to get things ready for the day and staying up late at night, finishing our work. Often we turn to stimulants (coffee, diet soda) to get us going or keep us going when we’re tired. But most people need a solid seven or eight hours a night in order to function properly. The body perceives sleep deprivation as “stress” and it affects every aspect of your life. Sleep can be diminished if you suffer from heartburn (reflux esophagitis), sleep apnea, menopause with night sweats, depression or other disorders, so get a check up to make sure your health problems are addressed. Otherwise, you may need to simply make sleep more of a priority. Follow these tips for a good night’s rest:

  • Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol in the evening. The caffeine may prevent you from falling asleep and alcohol may cause you to wake up prematurely.
  • Don’t eat a big meal right before bedtime. If you are hungry, try a light carbohydrate snack. Avoid chocolate, which contains caffeine.
  • Stop smoking. Smokers have more difficulty falling asleep and experience nicotine withdrawal during the night.
  • Exercise. Physical activity can deepen sleep. Just don’t do it less than 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Relax before bedtime. Take a warm bath or read a good book. Turn off the TV; watching television is a stimulant and may keep you up later than your body really wants to be.
  • Stick to a routine. Try waking and going to bed at the same times each day to maintain regular sleep patterns.

Stress

Emotional stress is an ever present part of women’s lives. Work pressure, family responsibilities, financial strain and relationship difficulties all contribute to making us feel stressed out. When we’re under pressure, our bodies release stress-related hormones to help us respond and cope. However, when we experience too much stress and no relief, our immune systems become more susceptible to infection and even cancer. The stress overload can contribute to a host of physical and emotional health problems, from frequent headaches and colds to more serious conditions such as hypertension.

Excessive amounts of stress can also be hard on your skin and hair. The flux of stress hormones may trigger mild to severe acne outbreaks, hives, eczema, and psoriasis.Ongoing stress can also cause cold sores to develop on the lips. If stress becomes severe, two types of hair loss—telogen effluvium and alopecia areata—can occur.
The sources of the stress in your life may not be easy to change, but you can change the way you cope. Instead of letting stress get to you, learn how to manage it. The tips below can really make a difference.

  • Breathe deeply for 10 to 20 minutes a day. Find a quiet or relatively quiet space (at home, at your desk at work, before you pull into your driveway or in front of your house after work, or even sitting at the back of the bus) and pay attention to your breathing. Close your eyes and count to 10 as you slowly breathe in and out. Really inflate your lungs and then exhale….completely.
  • Sip a calming herbal tea.
    A warm mug of chamomile, valerian or green tea with honey will help relax you.
  • Write in a journal.
    Putting your thoughts on paper is an easy, effective form of emotional release. Invest in a decorative journal book and pen; write once a day.
  • Call a good friend.
    During a stressful period, don’t forget to call on those friends who make you laugh and help you see the lighter side of life.
  • Stay in the present.
    Do not dwell on things you should have or could have done in the past…..let it go. Also, don’t worry about the future. Sometimes it is best to take it one day at a time.
  • Get a pet.
    Focusing your thoughts and energies on a furry animal can take your mind off of stressful events.
  • Join a support group.
    Seek out a group with similar concerns or interests, such as a book club, knitting/quilting/scrapbooking network, or 12-step group.
  • Meditate.
    Gaze at a candle, repeat a mantra or simply empty your mind for 10 to 30 minutes for instant relaxation.
  • Say a little prayer.
    Don’t wait till Sunday to hand your concerns over to your God or a Higher Power through prayer.
  • Do something silly.
    Instead of fretting over a problem, distract yourself with your favorite comic strip, humor book or a funny movie rental.
  • Say no to the negative.
    Keep your distance from those friends and family members who always see the glass half-empty. Negative thinking is contagious. It is OK to end relationships with people who do not have your best interest at heart.
  • Join a spiritual community.
    A local church, mosque or other house of worship may offer a supportive community and new friendships, as well as spiritual reinforcement.
  • Carve out time for yourself.
    Take 20 minutes for a bubble bath at night or for a solitary stroll at the end of the day. Better yet, schedule a monthly massage. Make sure that your manicure or pedicure are at a low-stress and relaxing salon.
  • Take a walk in nature.
    A visit to the local park or beach may make you feel instantly calmer.
  • Get counseling.
    When stress is simply overwhelming and interfering with your enjoyment of life, seek the care of a mental-health care provider.

You may wonder why Brownskin.net, a website devoted to skin education, discusses well-being. The simple answer is that the health and beauty of our skin depends upon our overall mental and physical health. It is key for women of color, who are faced with so many life challenges, to begin or continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity and stress-reducing strategies. The efforts you make to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally will help your natural beauty shine through.

| Skin Problems and Conditions | Skin Care Tips | Hair | Nails | Identity | Nurture & Heal | Ageless | Urban Vixen
Procedures | Pregnancy | Men | Children
Privacy Policy
| Legal Disclaimers | Sitemap

Copyright © 2008 Brownskin.net. All rights reserved. | Brownskin.net 932 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
created by MGI Communications


What is Brown Skin?
Brownskin.net is an educational site for individuals with skin of color. Whether your ethnicity and skin care needs are related to your Asian skin care, Latina skin care, African American skin care, Black skin care, or Indian skin care, this site is meant for you.

Brownskin.net covers topics related to skin care conditions from Acne to Hair Loss to Skin Cancer. The site contains skin care tips and advice designed to help individuals with skin of color understand their skin type.


 

Brownskin Sponsors