Developing healthy habits while you are young can slow the aging process and help you to live a long, happy life. But what habits are the most effective? In this post I’ll be going over five habits to keep you healthy while you’re young, and not so young, too!
1. Lead a Stress-Free Life
One of the biggest challenges of our times is reducing the amount of stress in our lives. You may have a busy, demanding job or perhaps you are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. In addition, attention from our families, partners, or social engagements may pile more stress on top of that.
Regardless of its source, stress is detrimental to our health and studies have shown that chronic stress triggers the release of free radicals, which damage cells and accelerate the aging process.
The key to relieving yourself of stress, in addition to quitting an exasperating job, is to take time out for yourself every day to relax and unwind.
Also, it is important to take longer “time-outs” from work and stressful demands on your time, such as mental-health days, which are becoming more and more common, and vacations.
2. Exercise, Practice Yoga, and Meditate
Studies have shown that not only does exercise preserve the health of the physical body while it ages, but it also protects the brain. Scientists have found that people who stayed physically active into late adulthood tended to have larger brains (the brain often shrinks in later adulthood, which is believed to be a contributing factor to memory loss in old age).
Yoga is an excellent way to exercise and release stress at the same time. There are variations in styles of yoga, from slower and relaxing styles such as yin and restorative yoga, to faster, more dynamic styles such as vinyasa flow and ashtanga. Moreover, daily meditation is a surefire way to beat stress, calm the mind, and increase cognitive functioning and mental focus. Exercise, yoga, and meditation thus keep us feeling young and healthy, both physically and mentally.
3. Get Adequate Sleep
Surveys have shown that few of us are actually getting the amount of sleep our bodies need, which is from seven to seven and a half hours per night for adults. Our bodies and brains need sleep in order to perform crucial brain and bodily functions, such as repairing cells and tissues, fighting off illnesses, and clearing out toxins.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression, poor memory and cognitive performance, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Moreover, a new study has shown that sleep deprivation can also cause your skin to age faster. According to the study’s lead researcher, “Inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.” So, take care of your sleep habits, and your sleep will take care of you!
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
The foods you eat have a huge overall impact on your well-being, your appearance, and even your lifespan, in addition numerous studies have linked nutrition to skin health. Choose foods that are packed with nutrients such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and nuts.
Fruits that are packed with vitamin C such as oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, and pomegranates, help guard against sun damage and wrinkles. Vitamin C also contributes to the production of collagen, which helps keep the skin smooth and young-looking.
Foods high in antioxidants such as blueberries, kidney beans, and pecans, can help your body to repair cells damaged by free radicals. Leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain phytonutrients that help protect against sun damage. Spinach is also loaded with beta-carotene and lutein, two nutrients that have been shown to improve the appearance of skin.
Eating foods that are rich in omega-3s can reduce inflammation, which occurs alongside the aging process. These include almonds, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and chia seeds.
5. Avoid Toxic Substances (Such as Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco)
A lifetime of alcohol consumption can take its toll on your body and can also add years to your face through puffiness, wrinkles, and dryness because alcohol dehydrates the body and skin. Alcohol can also cause shrinkage in the brain, which leads to memory loss and lowered cognitive functioning.
However, this damage to the brain can be reversed when alcohol consumption ceases. Your body’s tolerance for alcohol can decline with age, and hormonal changes that occur with aging can increase alcohol sensitivity.
Drug use can also cause drastic aging of the skin over a short period of time. As toxins from drug use are released from your pores, acne and scarring can occur, and the skin can appear to be dry, grey, and dull. Moreover, drug abuse can lead to a premature aging of the brain by causing the neurotransmitters to work overtime to release large amounts of dopamine and serotonin into the bloodstream.
Smoking cigarettes, in addition to causing a host of other major health problems including heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, can speed up the aging process of your skin and cause premature wrinkles. In addition to slowing the aging process, becoming sober and substance free can ultimately change your life for the better.
We live in a society that worships youth and external beauty. Of course, what matters most is how you are feeling on the inside: do you feel healthy, happy, energetic, and stress-free? If these qualities exist on the inside, they are likely to be mirrored on the outside.
Five habits you can adopt when you’re young (or not so young!) to keep feeling and looking youthful include living a stress-free lifestyle; exercising, practicing yoga, and meditating; getting adequate sleep; eating a healthy diet; and avoiding toxic substances such as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Not only will these five habits leave you feeling great, they will help you feel and look younger, for years to come.