Aging is inescapable—we will all age. This is not a question of if, it’s just a matter of when. The only thing we can do is some good preparation. The good news is there is plenty you can do and it doesn’t have to involve a scalpel. So, stock up on these healthy habits and preventative measures that keep you looking and feeling as young as possible.
Starting with oral hygiene makes sense. Discolored and damaged teeth not only make you look old, but it makes you feel old too. Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and let them do the rest. They will ask you to floss and may suggest you use whitening toothpaste with fluoride. Professional teeth whitening might be something to look into.
Proper dental care will also protect from gum disease, which, if neglected, can lead to tooth removal. So, good dental care not only keeps your smile looking younger, it can save you from missing out on enjoying foods and causing you to feel old beyond your years.
Granted, thinking about aging may not make us smile, but smiling makes us look younger. WebMD reports that a recent study in Psychology and Aging found people in photographs look younger when they are smiling. People estimating ages of people in photos guessed a younger age when the person in the picture was smiling, while neutral or angry faces received an older age estimation.
Other smile research finds that the very act of smiling is beneficial. Smiling can even help people live longer. A study at Wayne State University titled, “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity” says smiling emotions increase our lifespan.
Get Enough Exercise
Daily exercise goes a long way toward keeping us younger and providing health benefits. Even if it’s two or three days a week, consistent exercise is endlessly helpful.
Going to the gym is a great option but exercising at home with workout tapes or home gym equipment is great too. Or, go outside. Jogging, walking and biking are good alternatives. Exercise makes us feel healthier, lowers stress, decreases diseases, lowers risk of heart attack and stroke, increases mental health, increases metabolism, and helps with sleep.
Manage stress and reduce aging by writing. Keep a journal, write some poems, or just jot down things that are bothering you. Expressing yourself and getting out on paper thoughts or frustrations you might have is beneficial.
Some people prefer to express themselves through art or crafts. Any way you can release emotions and focus is good for your mind and soul.
Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Switching to a plant-based diet offers many health benefits. Eating natural foods can make us look and feel younger by hydrating skin and other tissues. It cuts down cancer rates and tumor growths. It reduces heart disease.
Other studies show that eating a plant-based diet literally slows down the aging process. An enzyme called telomerase is believed to be involved in slowing the aging process. As we age, the activity of telomerase wanes. A plant-based diet helps maintain the activity. It slows down the natural decrease of telomerase activity in our bodies, which means it slows down aging.
Just because you are old or aging, doesn’t mean you have to dress like a stereotypical old person. Pick out the clothes you’ve always liked. Don’t be afraid to show your stylish side. What we wear affects our emotions, it affects our mood. Go ahead and feel good.
Not only that, but people’s enthusiastic response to our levity in wardrobe is another positive outcome.
Do What You Love
Work is important. It not only brings home the bacon, but it is what occupies most of our time. Doing what you love or feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment in your work goes a long way toward keeping you young. Happiness is a stress reducer, and less stress means fewer wrinkles and health issues.
If work is something you dread every single day, look into finding something new. There are plenty of online employment services, and you can look these until you are sure you’ve found a better match with your work-life balance. Work-life balance is very important, but life becomes very unbalanced when you’re miserable every day.
Cut Back on Daily Screen Time
We are just learning that too much screen time is detrimental to health and well-being. Being hunched over a computer or digital device continuously will damage your posture, making you look older. You could develop a hunchback. Vision can also be negatively affected by too much screen time.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, you should know about “tech neck.” Tech neck is a new phenomenon that has been discovered that claims too much cell phone use, peering down into screens, causes premature neck wrinkles. Though it has yet to be proven, women everywhere are living in fear and repositioning their screen time viewing angles.
Keep Your Hands Off Your Face
Here’s a tip you probably had not considered. Do not use your fingernails to pop pimples or pick at facial blemishes. Keep those germ-infested nails away from open wounds on your face.
If you pick at your face, broken blood vessels and permanent markings can result. Bacteria on your hands and under your fingernails can get into your body through blemishes and it may damage your skin. See a dermatologist instead.
Open and Honest Relationships
A very important impact on aging is our relationships at home. Work is one place a healthy and happy environment can put less stress on our aging bodies, and home is the same. If your relationships are stressful it is going to lead to premature aging. A 2008 study of adult development at the Harvard Medical School concluded that living a long, healthy life depends on marriage and other relationships at home.
Individuals from 50 to 80 were the healthiest if they had maintained strong relationships, like a stable marriage. Good relationships include sharing open and honest communication and feeling at home with one’s partner. A loving relationship helps you deal with stress instead of creating more of it.
Take Care of Your Skin by Exfoliating
One way you can help keep your skin soft and supple is by exfoliating. The process removes dead skin cells allowing new skin to breathe and retain that healthy glow. Especially if you use foundation daily, which traps dead skin cells from naturally shedding, you should exfoliate regularly.
One option is to use natural exfoliants like baking soda, oatmeal, or coffee. Over-the-counter products work too. Be sure to pay attention to apply the best exfoliation method for your type of skin. Sensitive skin requires a mild exfoliator, while thicker skin can take a stronger treatment.
You might be surprised to find that being organized has many positive outcomes. It’s a simple thing, but it can bring game-changing results. If you are organized, you are less stressed out and more at peace.
Keep your calendar current and your reminders accurate. Being organized makes your day to day life manageable. Another way it can benefit you is by organizing closets and other areas in the house. Stay on top of things and stay calm!
Appreciate Nature’s Beauty
One thing that is easy to forget but simple to do is to appreciate natural surroundings. Nature offers a bounty of beauty and wonders to behold. If we are stressed out and rushing here and there, we won’t notice, but taking some time to appreciate it will lower stress.
It’s the small things, like catching the first bloom on a seasonal plant or going to the beach and watching the waves crash.
We hear it all the time, but it cannot be overemphasized—drink lots of water. Staying hydrated will help your skin stay supple and your body healthy. Start at breakfast and drink water all day. It helps with absorption and nutrient dispersion and digestion, as well as in all proper body functions.
Staying hydrated helps keep your skin radiant and firm. But drinking water is not the only way to hydrate. Eating fruits and veggies with high-water content is also very beneficial. Foods like avocados, watermelon, flaxseed oil, brewer’s yeast, and cucumber can do wonders.
During Dry Winter Months, Use a Humidifier
In the winter, dry air tends to make our skin itchy, flaky and dried out. Using a humidifier reduces skin dryness by adding moisture to the air. Board-certified dermatologist and director of the Connecticut Skin Institute Omar Ibrahimi told HuffPost, “Humidifiers are a wonderful part of the winter skincare regimen.” She explained that colder temps and the use of heaters worsens skin conditions due to loss of moisture. Dry skin ages prematurely.
Hydrating can help with other issues too. Hydrated skin protects the epidermis from allergens, germs, and irritants. Dry, cracked skin allows germs and allergens to penetrate and cause skin infections and other problems. During winter months, drink plenty of water and use a humidifier.
Practice Good Posture
Good posture is no accident. We have to continuously remind ourselves to sit up straight and hold our shoulders back until it becomes a habit. The benefits of good posture include reduced joint pain, less neck pain, and better lung capacity. Bad posture can curve the spine and leave it stuck in a bad position. Good posture lowers stress on spinal ligaments and also wards off backaches.
Good posture means your feet are flat on the floor when sitting, and weight is evenly distributed to both hips. Your back should be straight, and your shoulders should be back, yet relaxed. Try to line your ears up with your collarbones.
Wear Less Makeup
Let your pores breathe. Wearing foundation every day can cause premature aging. Trying to hide wrinkles and blemishes with makeup can counterintuitively make them worse as makeup particles settle into fine lines and wrinkles.
Foundation and other products inhibit natural skin cell renewal, impeding the shedding of dead cells. Additionally, the process of applying makeup, pulling, tugging and rubbing tender facial skin can wear down elasticity and cause early wrinkles. Another concern is bacteria that builds up in blush brushes and other makeup tools. Makeup is also a common culprit behind acne and skin problems. So, let your face breathe and renew once in a while!
Give to Charity
Giving to charities is beneficial to all. But, for the elderly, the positive effect is even stronger than it is in younger people who donate. Helping others increases decision-making and other emotional factors. It raises sympathy and compassion.
Brain scans show that aging people who donate time and money experience more happiness. Giving to charities not only reduces stress levels, but it will also reduce tax burdens. It’s a win-win endeavor.
Don’t Forget About Neck Care
Obviously, you want to steer clear of tech neck, but did you know that the neck is one of the first areas to show aging? With or without tech neck! Dr. Gulhima Arora, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmetologist says, “The cause of wrinkles is depletion of collagen and elastin, which naturally keep the skin firm, in the deeper layers of the skin causing the skin to sag and wrinkle.”
She said skincare and many of the suggestions here, like not smoking, vitamin C and fish oils, sleep and staying hydrated help. She also suggested treatments like masks, massage and acupuncture, and chemical peeling to stimulate collagen production. So, during your cleansing and exfoliating routines, don’t forget about your neck!
Watch Out for High Blood Pressure
One factor that increases blood pressure is aging. But here’s the thing, you may not know you have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. There are no symptoms or signs, which has lent it to be known as “the silent killer.”
To measure your blood pressure, you must see a doctor. If you have hypertension, you may be able to mitigate it with a healthy diet and exercise. Otherwise, there are plenty of medications to reduce blood pressure. Hypertension leads to heart disease, eye problems, kidney failure, and stroke. It can also be the culprit behind shortness of breath.
Cut Down on Sugar
Sugar accelerates aging. On each of our DNA is an end cap called a telomere. The cap protects DNA from damage and naturally shortens as we age. However, sugar quickens the rate of telomere’s shortening. Too much sugar causes us to age sooner. An easy way to cut back on sugar is to cut out sweetened beverages.
Water is ideal. Coffee and tea are also good options. Other problems sugar causes are increased acne, premature wrinkles, dark spots on the skin, and slower healing of flesh wounds.
Some Oils Are Good for You
One type of oil you should not cut back on is omega-rich fish oil. Studies show that increased consumption of these oils can increase your lifespan. This is great news, but, also, it can guard your skin from aging and protect against heart disease. Anti-inflammatory properties in omega-3 fatty acids slow down aging. “Good fats” maintain the health of cell membranes. Omega-3’s may also combat Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Additionally, omega-rich oils like rosehip and argan oil can be applied to your skin. It will help keep your complexion looking young. If you’re looking for it in foods, anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, lake trout, and tuna is a good source.
Discover Things Online
A big part of aging is losing touch with the everchanging world around you. Things can get overwhelming, even for young people. While it might be challenging, you can still try to stay connected and up to date on new trends.
Try to discover the vast and interesting world online. There you can experiment with social media, different technological inventions and all the goodies that you can find in the virtual world. It can't hurt!
Seeing a Therapist Might Help
A lot of people say they do not need to see a therapist, and, in general, that is probably the case. But, talking to a therapist might help in ways you hadn’t considered. Sometimes we need some assurance and validation. A therapist can help you see outside of your problem and assure you that you are doing the best you can.
He or she might even identify an issue that you did not recognize and relieve you of that stress. There’s nothing wrong with talking to someone. If you are feeling depressed, try see a therapist and get some moral support and maybe a prescription of anti-depressants. It can make a huge difference.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outside has more benefits than you might have imagined. Being outside helps people age gracefully. Just taking a little walk lowers stress levels and combats depression. Stepping out raises our attention span and helps us concentrate. Also, our bodies absorb vitamin D outdoors.
Being outdoors also helps with immunity. A research study in Japan showed that spending at least three hours outdoors increased the number of white blood cells, the cells responsible for fighting viruses. Other healing attributes to time outside are less pain and healing properties.
Laughter is Good for You
Smiling is one way to stay young, and so is laughing. Watch comedy shows or go out to see a funny movie, because laughter keeps us healthy. Laughter can reduce pain, it facilitates good blood circulation, and it reduces stress hormone levels. It also increases the release of healthy hormones and endorphins that benefit the immune system.
But don’t take my word for it. How about a couple of quotes? “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine,” Lord Byron. “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,” Victor Hugo.
Get Plenty of Vitamin C
Vitamin C makes our skin soft, supple and radiant. This essential vitamin that comes from citrus fruit, and other fruits and vegetables, is responsible for maintaining collagen, a protein that connects cell structures that add to your skin’s elasticity. Eat foods with vitamin C every day. Taking a supplement is also beneficial.
As another bonus, vitamin C has strong antioxidant properties as well. Foods that have high vitamin C content, besides citrus, are broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, sweet potatoes, guava and papaya.
Another important way in which we can lower stress is by practicing gratitude. Just thinking about the little (or big) things in life that we are thankful for is good for us. It shifts our thoughts to a positive vibration, toward seeing the bright side of life, rather than being in an angry state of mind about the things we don’t like.
When you’re out, be sure to say “thank you” to those you interact with. It makes them feel better and it will, in turn, make you feel better.
A Loving Partnership
Having a fulfilling and loving relationship with a partner is a wonderful way to fight the wrinkles.
There is nothing more stress destroying than loving someone and having them love you back.
Reduce Stress with Meditation
Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are all proven activities that reduce stress and provide health benefits. Meditation slows down heart rates, blood pressure, and breathing, reducing stress and improving digestion. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress by applying concentration on the present moment. It helps you cope with emotional stress. Mind-body exercises like yoga reduce stress with physical movements combined with breathing exercises.
Meditation may improve coronary artery disease problems, help with PTSD, chronic pain and headaches. It can also help with irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Other studies find it could improve memory during cognitive decline due to aging.
Drinking Too Much Speeds Up Aging
A glass of red wine with dinner is not a problem. Some studies even suggest moderate drinking lowers the risk of heart disease. However, drinking heavily results in premature aging and exaggerated aging. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated, “Alcoholism may accelerate normal aging or cause premature aging of the brain.”
So, the impact of alcohol on the brain not only causes people to show signs of aging earlier than normal, it also exaggerates the early aging, which means normal signs of aging are amplified. Other problems related to chronic drinking that will make you feel old are bone loss, depression, cancer, and hypertension.
Spend Time With People From Different Generations
Whether it’s with people who are older than you, or young children or teens, spending time with people who are outside of your generation will have a positive effect on your own emotional well-being.
Young people tend to make us feel younger, while older folks offer perspectives outside of our own. Getting to know people in older generations could make you a more understanding person, more appreciative, and more open-minded. Socializing may help you live longer, reduce stress and stay in better health, mentally and physically. Plus, the benefits for our elders include dementia prevention, giving them a sense of purpose and helping them become digitally literate..
There are a few factors that will age our skin faster than too much sunshine. Apply sunscreen whenever you are going to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes. People with very fair complexions may want to apply it within 10 minutes of sun exposure. Use a high SPF level and reapply as the directions suggest.
Sunlight is good for us too. We absorb plenty of healthy vitamin D while we are outside, but harsh UV rays are not good for our skin. Besides skin aging issues, skin cancer is another dangerous risk that comes from too much time in the sun.
Steer Clear of the Tanning Booth
We all know that real tanning in the actual sun causes skin cancer. So, what about tanning booths? Can a fake tan cause melanoma? Yes. A tanning booth emits UVA and UVB rays, just like the sun. Prolonged use of tanning booths causes skin cancer. Tanning damages your skin making it age prematurely. Also, frequent tanners develop leathery skin.
Skin not only wrinkles faster, but it is prone to dark spots. Some people get addicted to the glow of their skin after a tan, but tanning lotions and spray tanning might bring about the same effect.
Schedule a Yearly Visit
Visit your primary care physician each year. A medical exam will help you remain healthy and provide advice about what you may need to do to stay in good health. Blood tests will show if you need supplements or other medications. Blood pressure or other heart medication may be necessary, or you may find that diet and exercise will be enough.
Same with diabetes. If you find out soon enough, you can avoid becoming diabetic just with diet and healthy habits. Another important reason to get a yearly medical exam is that it can nip the disease in the bud. If diseases are caught early, there is a much higher chance you can beat it.
Some people will say smoking is a way to relieve stress. But, like the sun, exposure to toxins in cigarettes ages skin. Smoking ages skin by damaging the collagen and elastin in skin cells that keep our complexion soft and supple. In this way, it speeds up the signs of aging. Plus, there’s this: prolonged use will likely kill you.
If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health and your appearance. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. It’s an addiction that leads to health issues and saggy skin.
Don’t Cut Back On Sleep
Just one night of inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on your complexion. Lack of sleep causes swollen eyes, dark circles, hanging eyelids, and droopy mouth corners. Two days of insufficient sleep decreases our perceived attractiveness and impacts health. At night, your body repairs and rejuvenates, so give it plenty of time to allow that natural process.
Prolonged bouts of inadequate sleep cause skin to age faster. It also negatively impacts the way your skin heals and recovers from normal stress, like sunburn or wounds. Missing a good night of sleep can be made up with a short afternoon nap.
The study of adult development at the Harvard Medical School emphasizes the importance of healthy relationships for feeling young and living longer. Staying social and keeping in touch with friends is also beneficial.
If you’re in a new area, you might want to join social groups like Rotary Club or perhaps an interest-based group in your city or town. Take an art class or volunteer. Social support, whether in groups or with individuals, lowers stress and keeps us happy.
The Downside to Long Hot Showers
Unfortunately, exposing skin too long, hot showers depletes it of natural oils. Hot baths are just as bad, maybe worse. Applying moisturizer directly after bathing can help lock in some moisture, but it can’t replace what was lost. Natural protective oils protect the epidermis and preserve our complexion. The longer the shower or bath, the more damage your skin incurs.
Skipping showers is one way to preserve your natural skin oils, but most people will not go for that. Use gentle soaps and take a short, lukewarm to cool shower. Try to keep it under 10 minutes. Don’t forget to exfoliate!
Consider Adopting a Dog
If it’s at all possible, get a dog. Cats also have a beneficial effect. Animals reduce stress in humans for many reasons. Getting out for a walk with a dog is good exercise and just being around pets lowers blood pressure. Also, taking pets out increases social interaction with others.
Linda Anderson, co-founder of the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis has said that older pet owners have had their lives vastly improved because of the love of their pets. Plus, adopting a pet and saving a life just feels good.