If you’re paranoid about ageing and want to hold onto your youthful looks for longer, the chances are that you have made some lifestyle changes to slow the process. From quitting smoking and avoiding sun exposure to improving your diet and upping your activity levels, there are so many adjustments you can make.
But have you considered stress and the impact it can have on your looks? Studies show clear links between the two, with the stress hormone cortisol increasing inflammation and breaking down the skin’s collagen and elastin levels. Chronic stress can also speed up the ageing process by shortening DNA telomeres.
Developing healthy habits and understanding how to deal with and overcome stress is critical to ageing well. Below, we’ve put together some pointers to help you on your journey.
One of the simplest ways to reduce your stress levels is to take a step back and focus on your breathing. If you feel yourself getting stressed, take yourself out of the situation and find somewhere quiet to sit, so you can breathe deeply. Close your eyes, place one hand on your stomach, and inhale deeply through your nose, feeling the breath enter your body, working its way to your head. This technique is known to slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reground you – ideal if you’re going through a challenging time and need some respite.
In today’s always-on times, it’s easy to live a sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk for eight hours and then watching television with your partner until you’re ready for bed. But finding time for regular exercise is important for reducing stress, depression, and anxiety, allowing the brain to release feel-good endorphins and give you a boost. Whether you’ve had a bad day in the office or you’re worried about hitting that deadline, making the effort to go for a walk or signing up to the gym can release tension. You might not feel like it’s making much of a difference at first, but you’ll soon realise the benefits of exercise and find it therapeutic.
According to a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, meditation can reduce our cortisol levels and calm our nervous system, and the best part is that it only takes a couple of minutes. Regular meditation can even alter your brain’s neural pathways and make you more resilient to stress in the future, changing the way you think. So, put your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and recite a positive mantra such as “I am happy” or “I am relaxed”. Naturally, meditation isn’t for everyone, but if you’re persistent, you should find that it starts to relax and de-stress you. Apps like Calm, Body Scan and Headspace will offer guidance.
Focus on what matters
Keeping a gratitude journal is good for your mental health, reminding you to reflect on the good things in your life and be grateful for what you have. When you’re consistent with your journaling, it can help to cancel out negative thoughts and worries, keeping you focused on more positive things. Whether you’re grateful for your dog, a promotion at work, or your new kitchen, you can write them down and refer back to them when you’re feeling stressed.
Another way to lower your stress levels is to identify a creative outlet such as baking, writing, or photography that takes you out of your world and helps you to concrete on something else for an hour or two. Whatever your age, it’s never too late to start a new hobby, so experiment and see what makes you happy. Picking up a new skill can give you more confidence, help you meet new people, and offer an outlet to vent your frustrations during difficult periods.
Learn to say no
Whether you’re a busy professional or the family matriarch with a million and one things on your to-do list, being able to say “no” when you want to is vital for your mental health and wellbeing, and will subsequently help you to lower your stress levels. Saying no does not make you selfish – especially if you’re overloaded or stressed – and it can actually be very freeing. Examine your priorities and don’t make new commitments unless you have the time and energy for them, and decide whether saying “yes” would add to your stress levels. When you do have to say no, be brief, be honest about your feelings, and be respectful to others.
Do you have any de-stressing techniques that you think our readers would benefit from? Do let us know on social media @Oralift and check back soon for more on our anti-ageing blog.