Cultural Stress: The Ubiquitous Stressor Hiding in Plain Sight

Howard Murad, MD



While most healthcare providers are generally aware of the role stress plays in disease development, few are attuned to a phenomenon I call “Cultural Stress,” which compounds all of life’s other stressors.

Cultural Stress is the constant, pervasive, ever-increasing stress of modern living. It includes overexposure to technology at the expense of in-person relationships; 24-hour connectivity, which blurs the boundaries between work and personal life; on-demand delivery of goods and services, which severs neighborhood and community relationships and results in long sedentary hours in front of our screens; the pace of technological change, which contributes to professional, economic, and social insecurity; our global economic system, which sows uncertainty as it outsources jobs overseas or to new technologies; environmental contaminants, noise, crowding, and various new sources of radiation; changes to our diet, which has become heavily reliant on a few processed commodities (corn, wheat, sugar, and soy); and changes to our urban development and transportation patterns, which result in less physical activity and more hours spent sitting in long commutes.

It is the chronic nature of Cultural Stress that distinguishes it from conventional stress. Because Cultural Stress is ubiquitous, the body seldom gets a chance to recover without active intervention strategies. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2021;35(2):14-16.)


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