Some of us may become obsessed with finding the proverbial fountain of youth. We take aging seriously, perhaps too seriously. Advancing years will work their changes on us all, after all, and we must learn to accept certain inevitable results. But that doesn’t mean we have to help the process along, does it? Even if we have decided to access the aging process, and grow old gracefully, as they say, this is no reason to contribute to our own downfall. And there are certain things we do, or at least some of us do, to hurry along the aging process. And we can certainly avoid this to a large extent.
Our attitude, itself, can be detrimental. A happy person, not only looks younger but tends to feel younger. Anger and stress can cause facial lines that, if they are a constant reminder of our advancing years. Happier people tend to live longer, perhaps because of a reduction in stress-related diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, joint and bone problems, and digestive disorders. Remember when your mother used to warn you that your face would freeze that way? Turns out that may be a bit true. If you spend more than fifty percent of your time displaying expressions of anger or stress, those frown lines and forehead furrows may, indeed, become permanent, aging your appearance significantly. So, lighten up! Add a little hope and optimism to your life.
We all should certainly be aware of the health consequences of heavy drinking or smoking. Smoking, as we all know, can cause cancer of the lungs and throat, emphysema, and other breathing problems. But on a more cosmetic level, smoking can make us appear far older than our years. By inhibiting the distribution of necessary nutrients to our organs, it can seriously affect those organs, including our skin. Skin, the largest organ in our body, requires hydration, collagen, elastin, and oxygen to maintain a youthful appearance. Without those nutrients, our facial lines will become more discernibly etched, and our skin may even discolor. We can develop fine lines around our mouth and deeper forehead wrinkles. Not exactly the image of dewy youth! And excess drinking can be just as damaging to our youthful look. Poor muscle tone allows our features to sag, our skin can become discolored and sallow, and we may suffer from broken blood vessels and spider veins. The term “gin blossom” may sound pretty, but believe me, there is nothing attractive about a series of burst capillaries spreading across your nose. W. C. Fields may have been hilarious, but he is hardly remembered as a sex symbol!
Sometimes, our environment may be to blame for our rapidly aging look. The excess sun is the primary culprit, as it’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are the number one cause of skin damage and age spots. Constant tanning, while we believe it may help us to look healthier and younger, can actually cause our skin to become heavily wrinkled. We may, over time, develop a hide that resembles leather. Some people tout the benefits of sunbathing, but the fact is that after twenty minutes in the sun, the benefits derived from soaking up all that vitamin D are outweighed by the adverse consequences. At the opposite end of the spectrum, excessive exposure to cold will do you no good either. Extreme cold will cause your skin to appear too thin, and to wrinkle. And, just like an extremely dry climate, it will cause your skin to dry out. And, while we’re talking about dry skin, you must be aware that excessive acne treatment can also cause your skin to dry out, leading to wrinkles, and rough dry skin with no elasticity. So, if excess sun, cold, dry, and even medication can make you age more rapidly, what is the answer? Moisturize, of course! At least once a day apply a moisturizer to combat the harmful, aging effects of the environment in which you live.
And we can never discount the effect that diet has on our aging process. Our bodies thrive on healthy, fresh foods, as close to their natural state as possible. And if we are thriving, we naturally retain a more youthful appearance. Diets high in fats, sugars, processed foods, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables may make us look, and feel older than our years. Inflammation is one of the causes of a prematurely aging appearance, and this can be caused by certain foods, such as refined sugar, white flour, and even an excessive amount of dairy products. Even if you are not overweight, you should consider replacing your diet heavy in sugar, fats, and carbs with one more natural items to keep your body youthful and healthy.
We should also talk about weight when discussing how to maintain a youthful look. Most people will immediately think of the excess poundage that they have accumulated over the years, and this certainly could be detrimental to a youthful appearance. People who carry a few extra pounds tend to exercise less, and this inactivity will lead to further problems. Exercise will help you lose excess weight, but it should be targeted at building additional muscle, which will increase body tone and help combat the aging process. But excess weight is not the only thing to worry about. Those who are underweight can appear much older than they are due to a lack of underlying fat in the facial structure. This can give an appearance eerily resembling a skull, never a harbinger of youth. And Botox or a facelift will not restore your youthful look, as you lack the underlying fat layer to provide it.
There is no denying that most of us live in a high-stress world. We are exposed to stressful experiences and decisions each and every day, and such stress can take a toll on us. So, how do we deal with it? Try a relaxing massage. Or some meditation. Maybe an hour or two simply listening to our favorite music would do the trick. Exercise is good on a number of levels, both physically and mentally.
We make choices every day, which decides how gracefully our bodies will age. We may choose to be a couch potato each night when we know we should spend at least part of our free time exercising. We chow down on a pizza for dinner, when we know a salad would work better for us. These are all choices. But there are other ones we can make that will benefit our bodies, and help us to feel and look younger. We can stop eating when we are full. We can nap when we are tired. We can make the decision to care about ourselves, and our bodies by making correct choices.
We all want to keep those birthdays coming, but no one wants the calendar to be written all over our face and body. And now we all know what can affect our aging process, and how we can assuage the damage. It’s a bit ironic that as children, we all wanted to be older, and now we’d do practically anything to achieve the reverse, but such is life. Here’s hoping you have a good experience the next time you look in the mirror.