Episode 37: How Stress Affects the Body and Skin with Dr. Keira Barr






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Brief summary of show:


Perfectionism, self doubt, and criticizing ourselves -- we all do it, and this week, we’re diving into why.

We’re also talking about stress, the impact it has on our body and skin, and how we can start to repair the damage we may have caused.

My guest is Dr. Keira Barr, a speaker, author, life coach and physician who helps high-achieving women let go of perfectionism and self-doubt and embrace confidence and courage instead. She has helped thousands of women quiet their inner critic to amplify their own voices and live their most authentic life.


Dr. Keira is a dual-board certified integrative dermatologist, Mind-Body Medicine practitioner and a trauma informed life coach.

Dr. Keira’s work has been featured on radio, tv as well as publications including MindBodyGreen, Better Homes and Gardens’, Reader’s Digest, Glamour and SELF magazines.



Listen in as we talk about:

  • Why we’re so hard on ourselves and how to celebrate how great we’re doing

  • Ways our stress shows up on our skin

  • Dr. Keira’s best tip for aging gracefully

  • Why weight loss is deeper than nutrition and Dr. Keira’s best weight loss tips


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Resources mentioned in the episode:

Connect with Dr. Keira


Connect with Me





Podcast Highlights:


[00:01:47] Why we don't give ourselves enough credit


[00:05:39] Different forms of self care


[00:13:10] The correlation between work and stress


[00:15:58] The number 1 breathing technique you need for more mindfulness


Click here for full transcript of this episode

00:00:00] Natalie: Perfectionism self doubt, criticizing yourself in some ways we all do it, but it's time to stop today. You're going to learn just how to do that. [00:00:38] Natalie: So why do we hold ourselves back from success? Hi, everyone. Welcome to the podcast today. It's interesting how we do this. And sometimes we set such a high standard for ourselves that we don't even begin. We don't try. I've been guilty. Today's guest Dr. Keira BARR is a speaker, author, and physician who helps women embrace confidence and courage over all that other crap. [00:01:03] We fill our heads with like self doubt. You know what I'm talking about. And you also know if you've listened to this podcast for some time that I'm really big on mindset. It's one of the pillars of my business and this podcast. So let's not waste any time. Let's get right to this interview and start with making changes today. [00:01:19] Dr. Keira Barr joins me now. And we have so much in common. I think we could, we could talk for hours. We started doing this and I realized we weren't recording yet. So let's get the interview started, uh, Dr. BARR. Why is it that we, we cut ourselves down and that we don't necessarily give ourselves enough to be successful. [00:01:39] And I know you have transitioned in your life, from practicing every day as a dermatologist in helping women. So why don't we do that to ourselves? [00:01:47] Dr. Keira: Oh, let's count the ways. Um, I mean, we are conditioned to do so if you just think about like my background in dermatology, right. focusing on. The surface, but really going beneath the surface. [00:02:02] And, and you think about like beauty and skin and the greater picture of the beauty industry and social norms, like, especially as women, we've been led to believe that our skin and our appearance is something to be nipped tucked, covered up camouflaged, and like, how are we not supposed to feel like. [00:02:21] We're not judging ourselves cause other party judging us. So it's hard not to cut ourselves. [00:02:26] Natalie: And we, tell ourselves, like, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to worry about that. But then I worked in television for nearly 30 years and no matter what I did, someone was criticizing on television. Like, are you tired today? [00:02:38] Or what's wrong with your makeup or whatever. So our world has conditioned us to do that, but let's talk about that. Self-confidence and that love and the way that you help women in particular [00:02:50] Dr. Keira: regained. Yeah, I think it's so, um, it's the work I do because it's also what I need. I am, I am in the fray just like everybody else. [00:02:59] And I think it really boils down to one of the most potent ways is to treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, and love. and that's one of the things that one of my colleagues and mentors shared with me, a beautiful question. It's like, what would feel like. what would feel like love when it comes to nourishing ourselves? [00:03:19] Like not just with the food that we eat, but how we move our body. who do we spend time with? We were talking about careers. What would feel aligned and good versus making us feel completely burned out. And I think most of us don't ever ask ourselves that question. And it can be incredibly powerful to do that. [00:03:40] And it goes a little bit further too, because not just asking what would feel like love in this moment, but to do things with love and. It's an acronym that actually stands for L is for, to listen, to listen to yourself, to listen in on your thoughts. Most of the time we are having thoughts that are incredibly critical. [00:04:00] but it's this hum that's constant that we're not paying attention to. And we just think it's our truth. And the O is to observe how it feels in our body when we have those thoughts and to actually then be able to vocalize. What that actually feels like, is it sadness? Is it anger? Is it frustration? Is it disappointment? [00:04:19] Is it joy? And then the E is to be able to embrace what you feel without judging it, because we're so good at judging, but just notice like just there, it's just what it is. And then to be able to take some deep breaths, I teach, breathing techniques with my clients as well, but just to breathe through it with. [00:04:36] and you can do that throughout the day. So it's like, what would feel like love and how do you do it with love? I think those are the most powerful things to kind of regain our sense of agency and authority over what's happening. [00:04:48] Natalie: I just have to say that, as I know we're about the same age and we both work with women about this age and taking the time when you're worried about to my kid, take their lunch to school. [00:05:00] And you know, I, I'm trying to keep up with work and just get enough sleep, like actually taking the time to listen to yourself. Not just everyone else. It's hard for people who are busy. So to do those four things and to take that time, we hear so much, it's just me. Or do we hear a lot about self care today and why it's so. [00:05:22] Dr. Keira: Yes. And, I'm also one of those people, like, so I just gave that like rattled that off. Right. And someone listening, which is X, it would be like, I don't have time to do that. Like you just add one more thing onto my to-do list, you can be like, [00:05:35] Natalie: does that mean I have to get up 10 minutes earlier because I know [00:05:39] Dr. Keira: that's, that's the thing like, yes, there is so much about self care and I think. [00:05:43] there's a whole business and industry about it and it can feel very overwhelming, but self-care literally is even just noticing how you're breathing. Most of us when we're stressed out and anxious, we may not even realize that we're holding our breath and you breathe automatically, but it also can be brought under your voluntary control. [00:06:00] So it's not something that you have to add onto your to-do list. You're already doing it self care. It could be as simple as like, am I breathing? How am I. Is it shallow? Is it, you know, can I, can I deepen that a little bit? Can I slow it down a little bit? And you can be doing this while you're standing in line at the grocery store or driving in your car, like. [00:06:22] So simple, but it's literally just giving yourself permission to focus inwards where so many of us, especially as professionals, as moms, as caregivers, we tend to focus outward and then we're depleted exhausted and stressed out. And I assure you. That shows up on your skin in so many different ways. [00:06:41] Natalie: Well, I did it just now, while you were talking like, wait a minute, just to stop and feel like your breath with your hand to your heart, to take that deep breath. I'm usually too busy, multitasking. Like I literally, while I'm driving and making it to do list while I'm, instead of taking those moments and to start that habit, I love that, but let's go back to the skin because I find it so fascinating that as a dermatologist. [00:07:06] Practicing dermatology, you went through medical school, did all of this. You started seeing the stress on your client's skin. And I want to hear more about that because we're always trying to cover up, right? Like I turned 50 this year, so I got plenty to cover up, but really the best thing I ever did for myself was to change careers, to get off of that grind in the morning news and to realize. [00:07:30] That, that stress was not serving me or my family and to put my passion into something else. So I just went into me, but I want to hear more about, about how you made that transition. [00:07:40] Dr. Keira: Yeah. but sharing your story highlights this point. So well, so I started focusing on client stress because I like you. [00:07:49] had my own situation. My own skin was changing. So I didn't appreciate how stress was impacting my life. I was go, go, go and academics, juggling career and kids. I had gotten a lot of sun exposure. as a young person, my dad was a redhead. I thought, you know, I'm a brunette. I couldn't get tan. I couldn't, I burned. [00:08:07] I've tons of moles. I [00:08:09] Natalie: come from the baby oil and Crisco on. I mean, I am just like, I can't [00:08:14] Dr. Keira: believe we did that when [00:08:15] Natalie: we were young. Yeah. So, sorry. I just admitted that to a dermatology. [00:08:19] Dr. Keira: No, no, no. I was right there with you right there with you. Um, and so. My mobile started changing. So they became darker, more asymmetric. [00:08:29] So we always talk about the ABC D E X of moles and melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer. And so my own skin was changing. My own nearby were changing. I was just getting them biopsied. And as a dermatologist or a pathologist, I'm also the one looking at. The cells underneath the microscope, watching my own skin get more and more atypical with every passing year. [00:08:50] And then ultimately there's that one spot on my arm. And this is at the height of I'm running ultra marathons. I'm thinking I'm killing it at work. Eating well wearing my sunscreen all, but, but this particular spot, I had a diagnosis early melanoma. My skin was shouting that the stress of not loving your job, over-exercising not being aligned, burning myself out with showing up as And then it snowballed into hormonal imbalances and gut dysbiosis and all the things. [00:09:25] And so stress can manifest itself in so many different ways. And when it comes to the skin, specifically, stress creates a cascade of challenge. It suppresses your immune system stress does your primary stress hormone cortisol, you know, sends signals all throughout the body, shifts things in so many different ways. [00:09:45] And so it can suppress your immune system. So those individuals who have autoimmune conditions may notice they flare. Things like psoriasis, eczema will flare acne cortisol that stress hormone loves to stimulate your oil gland. So when you're stressed out, if you notice you're breaking out more There's a good reason for it. Hair loss. So people may notice that their hair starts to fall out and it's usually not at the time of the. Stressful event. Like some people will notice it's three to six months down the road from when they had a significant, like a divorce or a death in the family car accident. [00:10:21] They're moving a new job. Things that sometimes are significant stressors, but some that they're like, oh, I just had a really bad I've had the flu or something. The stress can shift your hair grows in three different cycles or resting phase growing up out phase and a falling out phase. [00:10:37] It can shift from the growing phase to the falling out phase very quickly, but that takes several months for that shift to happen. I mean, there's fine lines, so is okay. I feel like I could talk for hours. Ladies I'm in the I'm in the same age bracket, as you write fine lines, wrinkles, we're noticing hyperpigmentation things that we're thinking we need to nip and talk and do all the things. [00:11:00] Getting your stress under control is one of the greatest aging gracefully secrets ever encounter because cortisol not only breaks down the collagen and elastin that gives your skin that youthful plump appearance, it prevents repair. So it is in your best intent. To learn how to work with the stress in your life and make it work for you. [00:11:25] Cause we can't get rid of stress for someone. And that's what I'm thinking. Yeah. Right. How to regulate your nervous system to shift out of that, go, go, go like fight or flight mode into more of that rest and relaxation mode. [00:11:36] Natalie: what makes me laugh with this is we're conditioning. And marketers are really smart. [00:11:41] They spend a lot of money on this to say, if I work harder, I can make more money and I can buy really expensive products to put on my wrinkles and cover up and all of that. And we're just running this vicious cycle, instead of I'm a big believer in let's get to the core of it. Let's figure it out instead of covering it up or more medications or anything like that. [00:12:01] Let's, let's understand our nervous system and our stress. And I love it. You connected those two things as a dermatologist, I can only imagine people would come in to your office and you could see the stress on their skin before they even identified or said anything to you about their personal life a hundred [00:12:19] Dr. Keira: percent. [00:12:19] And this is a work life. Yeah. Right? Yeah. So, so many things. And this is what I love about this specialty, even though I'm not. In a clinic anymore. I now teach people how to use their own skin and empower them to use what they see as an opportunity to take control of the things that control like their diet and lifestyle. [00:12:44] Because what shows up on your skin is a window to a reflection of your overall health and wellbeing. And you can use your skin as a roadmap like. You're noticing, especially women or those who are going through menopause, right? People who go through menopause, their hormones are shifting and they may notice that they're gaining weight around the middle. [00:13:01] A lot of this does have to do with declining, progesterone and estrogen and your androgens, but a lot of it is blood sugar dysregulation and your stress response. [00:13:10] Natalie: And really, so the gaining of weight in certain areas has to do with stress as well. [00:13:15] Dr. Keira: Yes. When your body feels like it is under attack, whether you're dealing with, ongoing. [00:13:22] world issues, or, you know, so it's, it's, in some ways it's, it's an indirect threat versus a direct threat. Someone, you know, someone cut you off on the highway and your, your system is in fight flight or freeze mode. But when it is kind of a chronic scenario where your, your nervous system is always on survival mode, Your body then mobilizes the resources. [00:13:44] It thinks it needs like your blood sugar, like glucose to, you know, get your muscles and your heart and your lungs ready to. Get out of harm's way. If your body's not using that fuel, it's gonna essentially redeposit itself around your weight. Same thing with not prioritizing sleep. This is why that ad like that cliche. [00:14:09] It is real true. Our body rejuvenates and repairs, and especially your skin repairs at night. So, so many little simple things that we actually can do when we can't control what's happening outside of our own world. Like we cannot control what's happening right now. With anything outside of ourselves, but there are so many things that we can take control of realize our own agency and authority over our health and wellbeing that are really simple. [00:14:37] That don't add a lot to your, to do list just like you did with putting your hand on your heart. That is one of the greatest things you can do this soothing self touch. This is, part of the self compassion practice. Our body has such wisdom. And just putting your own hand there and letting yourself know like you're okay. [00:14:56] Things may be a little muddy outside. Your four walls, but like right now, with your hand on your chest, you are breathing. You can create safety and a sense of groundedness for yourself at any time, anywhere, even in a room full of people that soothing soft touch can be an instant reset for your nervousness. [00:15:17] Yeah, [00:15:18] Natalie: I just did it again. And it feels, I want to encourage anyone who doesn't do this regularly to make it a habit, because it is a habit. It's one of those things that if you do it regularly, you have to start at certain times. Like I I've noticed I've started to do this. I hope my family has noticed this. [00:15:33] I haven't actually told them. When we sit down at the table before we eat, before we pray, it's this, I take this deep breath to just reset and it just centers my mind. It's probably the one time a day. I know I do that. But to do it more regularly, either in the car before you walk into work or whatever that is to take that I take a deep belly breath. [00:15:55] Is that what you would recommend to [00:15:58] Dr. Keira: in, through your nose and out through your mouth? Yes. Two to three breaths really is a reset. And it's so beautiful that you innately knew to do that before mealtime, because that's one of the most important times to get your body into that kind of rest and relaxation. [00:16:14] You can actually get the benefit of all the nutrients that you're going to consume, because when we're in stress mode, digestion shuts down. Like you don't need to eat. Getting chased by a tiger. No. So like blood flow is diverting from your gut. So when we're eating, standing up or rushing through things, your body doesn't know the difference, whether it's actually being chased by the tiger or not. [00:16:39] So giving yourself that moment to kind of prepare for the meal is actually one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself so that you can. Really get the nourishment that you need. And so, yeah, I have a whole chapter of that, about that, how to like the approach and the plan and everything for, for eating in, in my book, the skin whisper, but it's something, I also teach my clients because they're all worried about I've gained weight. [00:17:02] I want to lose weight and I'm like, I can help you lose a ton of weight A lot of his emotional and mental too, honestly, that's, that's where we overeat. And we overindulged because we're trying to numb out our stress, which is no blame, no shame about that. We all have that tendency, but there's ways to work through that, but I will never give anyone a diet plan. [00:17:25] You don't need it. Your body innately knows. And when you can really slow down and listen in, right with love, approach yourself with love. Eating and losing weight becomes like effortless, right? [00:17:38] Natalie: That's not the goal. It's about being happy and healthy and grounded and all of those things. Yeah. Okay. So I want to, I want you to tell people where they can find more, because I know you have so much more that you can teach them. [00:17:51] And then I want you to leave us with a tip that people can do aside from what we've just talked about, this breathing, something else they can do right now, um, to help them. [00:18:01] Dr. Keira: yeah, so I don't know if they can literally do it right now, but I think one of the most powerful things, some of us are not in a head space where we can just sit and breathe. [00:18:11] And they're probably like doctor, like, no, like that's not going to work for me. I've tried meditating. I'm not gonna move your body. Like literally a dance party in your kitchen. I do. I lead people through a more, extended practice with like, Good rationale and all of that, like it's, evidence-based science behind it, but literally you can just put on a song 30 seconds and just move your body, shake your booty, starting from your feet upward. [00:18:38] It's like when we look at our pets, if you just look to our pets for an example, when they're scared, what do they do? They shake it off. Right. And then they're back to normal. So like, Hands on. I do this with my kids. I do it with like everybody and instantaneously, they feel so much better. So if you're sitting in your car, listen to us, like crank it up. [00:18:58] You're sitting in traffic road, rage, like just like find a good song and like move your body. And yeah, [00:19:03] Natalie: it does amazing things, breathing, and moving do amazing things. Right. [00:19:09] Dr. Keira: And you don't have to add it to your to-do list. Literally just put something on. [00:19:13] Natalie: Yeah. Where can people find you online? [00:19:15] Social media? [00:19:17] Dr. Keira: my website is www.drkeirabarr.com and it's K E I R a B a R R. And on, social it's at Dr. Keira BARR. So those are probably the best places. I'm not always as active on Instagram, but, There's some good resources there, some articles, especially that stress and scans, so [00:19:34] Natalie: wonderful. I love what you're doing. [00:19:36] We have so much in common, like I said before, and, uh, I look forward to talking to you again soon. You too.





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