Everyone’s face tells a story, and the more healthy and youthful you appear, the more skin care specialists assume you live a positive and nurturing lifestyle. While that typically refers to things like diet, exercise and a high-quality skin care routine, most clients who maintain a young and glowing countenance also incorporate some type of mindfulness or relaxation practice into their lives.
So what, exactly, is mindfulness? And how can developing your mindfulness help your skin?
Mindfulness is a continuous return to the present moment.
Ultimately, all spiritual paths point to the same basic tenet – peace lies within us and our attention to the present moment, via breath work, exercising, yoga, tai chi or any number of other presence practices are all means of keeping our attention on the here and now. Renowned mindfulness teacher, John Kabat-Zinn says:
“Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Further, it is about becoming aware of one’s mind & body and living in the here and now by accepting the present, in order to fully appreciate each moment. This attention can be developed through meditation.”
When we do this, the worries of what has been (the past) and what is ahead of us (the future) fade into the background. Over time, and with daily practice, we begin to deeply understand that we are all okay in the present moment. And, that state of non-stress and peace becomes a source for better living, more objective and reasonable choices, and a higher-quality life. Also, a worry-free face is a wrinkle-free face.
The skin loves mindfulness
We’ve mentioned before that the skin is the largest organ of the body. Furthermore, it relies on things like healthy circulation, adequate oxygenation and good nourishment from a healthy diet in order to look, feel and act its best. Any imbalance in one of these areas – largely the result of poor diet, lack of exercise, inherent medical conditions or poor lifestyle choices – affects the skin, and it will show on your face. So, when we consider mindfulness and its effect on our skin, we need to remember the crucial mind-body connection.
Research has repeatedly shown connections between high-stress, high-anger and poor lifestyle choices and heart disease. Where there is heart disease, there is poor circulation. So, it becomes obvious that if someone manages their response to stress and anger, while simultaneously making good lifestyle choices, their skin will be healthier. Then, we can consider the connections scientists have made between stress and physiological aging.
In Psychology Today, endurance athlete, coach and author Christopher Bergland writes,
“a wide range of studies have shown that the stress caused by things like: untreated depression, social isolation, long-term unemployment, anxiety attacks… can speed-up the aging process by shortening the length of each DNA strand.”
These studies have proven that when stress and other negative emotions are held onto and exacerbated, rather than processed and let go, they change your body and cause it to age faster. Your skin is wholly dependent on your body’s wellbeing to remain vibrant and healthy as you age.
If you begin exploring and using mindfulness practices in your life, slowly but surely, your body’s response to negatively-charged emotions diminish, preventing the undesirable cellular changes that increase aging. Again, we turn to the connection between mind and body.
Neuroplasticity is the key to mindfulness and skin’s youthful elasticity
Like the word mindfulness, the term neuroplasticity is a buzzword these days. It refers to the brain’s ability to rewire itself to behave differently in response to routine stimuli. So, for those who feel their high-stress levels, quick reactivity or a tendency toward harboring anger is “biological,” science says, “you have the ability to change the way you respond, and that – in turn – changes your biology, biochemistry and your physical and emotional well-being for the better.”
Mindfulness is a process that facilitates neuroplasticity. While rooted in Eastern traditions and practiced via breathing, meditation, walking quietly in nature or yoga asanas, mindfulness concepts show up in virtually every religion and spiritual tradition on the planet. The more we sit with ourselves and allow ourselves to be present with the emotions at hand – without perseverating or explaining them – the easier they are able to flow through us and out of us, allowing us to remain in the calm and peaceful state that is most natural to human beings.
Start practicing mindfulness each day
When you consider that the average American adult consumes 13+ hours of media per day via TVs and gadgets, and the studies connecting stress, unhappiness, loneliness and accelerated aging, don’t you think it’s time to cultivate a little rejuvenating mindfulness?
There are several ways to begin living a more mindful life – and your healthy skin will thank you for it. These include:
- Reading books on mindfulness by some of the worlds’ leading experts
- Take a yoga and/or meditation class
- Pay attention to flyers and announcements posted at your local yoga class, spiritual center or corner coffee shop so you can attend talks and lectures about mindfulness and related practices
- Go to MeetUp and explore meditation or mindfulness classes/groups to find one that’s right for you.
- Sit quietly, breathing in and out for at least five minutes at the same time every day. When a thought or emotion arises, notice “thought,” or, “anger/sadness/grief/etc./” and then return to your breath. Once you’re used to it, add another five minutes to the practice – with the goal of eventually sitting for 20- to 30 minutes.
- Use a mindfulness app on your phone.
And, of course, we can’t resist urging you to visit your local, licensed esthetician and booking a relaxing facial. We’ll give you plenty of opportunities to relax, unwind and soak up the present moment. We’ll also provide expert tips and recommendations to continue the emergence of a healthier, younger-looking You.