Our appearance has a significant impact on the way we feel about ourselves, and sometimes holidays heighten that. Valentine’s Day, a day of love and affection, can put us under an even brighter spotlight. Luckily, this is also a great time of year to start thinking about a few methods we can use to boost our internal–external health and self-confidence. There are many opportunities to keep us looking good, not just now but also throughout the year. I’ve included a few important tips below to help you get started.
Our diets have a significant effect on the way we look. High sugar intake, for example, often leads to inflammation within the body. Not only does this cause severe health problems, such as liver and heart disease, but it can cause the skin to lose its elasticity. Fat, on the other hand, is what your skin needs to hold moisture and its shape, but too much of certain fats are unhealthy and can be inflammatory as well. Use extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, flaxseed oil, and wild-caught salmon to positively balance your daily nutrition. Also, it is best to avoid, when possible, pro-inflammatory, highly processed oils such as canola oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, and cottonseed oil. Also, try to avoid man-made saturated fats in margarine, Earth Balance, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
Instead, have fun with foods rich in antioxidants, such as leafy vegetables, berries and, as a delicious bonus, dark chocolate. So, don’t feel too guilty if you’ve had a little bit of dark chocolate this month!
When thinking about our skin and health, the human microbiome is often overlooked. However, it has an essential role in our body’s digestion and immune system. Give it a boost by eating high probiotic and fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and yogurt with active cultures, which adds bacterial diversity to your gut.
At home, try skin exfoliation once or twice a week, but don’t overdo it. Applying sunscreen every day is also highly beneficial for the skin. Even if you’re not planning to be outside more than a few minutes, sunscreen can protect you from harmful UVB and UVA rays along with the blue light from computer screens.
Being active is extremely important to maintain both a healthy look and controlled blood sugar levels. Scheduling exercise for at least 30 minutes daily is a perfect regime. A vigorous walk around the neighborhood, a visit to the local gym, or even following along with a yoga video from your living room are all great ways to make a significant difference to your overall health and sleep quality. Remember, start small and reward yourself as you make progress toward 3 1/2 hours of exercise a week.
Sleep is vital for you and can have a huge impact on your body, both mentally and physically. It not only recharges but also calms us. In doing so, laying our heads down for a full night’s rest regulates our moods and greatly improves our focus when we wake up the next day. When possible, try to avoid eating food within three hours of going to bed to maximize the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Okay, you can skip this one — this one is tough! High stress can cause deep worry lines in our face and teeth-grinding, which impacts our oral health and can reduce sleep quality, to name only a few consequences. To help reduce stress, consider meditation or taking tai chi, yoga, or similar classes to help you to naturally gear down the mind and body. My personal favorite is following a guided meditation each night for 10 minutes to wind down and help me have a restful night’s sleep. By calming yourself, you also ensure that the cortisol system (the fight-or-flight control) and the sympathetic nervous system (sweat response and part of the cardiovascular system) are not overworked — both of which, when put under constant strain, can prematurely age the body.
Incorporating these tips into your daily routine keeps your overall health in tip-top condition and your skin looking and feeling great. Use these methods as the first stepping stone toward a more confident you.