With a slower pace of life and fewer distractions, there is more time to practice self-care, an important part of staying physically and emotionally well during stressful times. But all the beauty treatments in the world won’t reverse the effects of daily habits that could be aging you prematurely.
We know that eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting or avoiding alcohol, and stopping smoking can help older adults look and feel younger. Of course, getting enough sleep can shave years off, especially around the eyes. But little habits that seem harmless could be creating wrinkles and causing middle-aged and older adults to appear more advanced in years than necessary.
24/7 Tempo recently compiled a list of daily habits that, according to medical experts, are causing premature aging.
- Drinking through a straw – pursing lips repeatedly around a straw or water bottle can create vertical lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Drink lots of water, but pour it into a glass and keep on sipping.
- Dehydration – drinking soda, alcohol, juice or other sugary beverages can speed up skin aging. Stay hydrated, but stick to water or decaffeinated unsweetened tea.
- Limit alcohol to one drink per day – too much drinking can cause arcus corneae (a white or gray opaque ring in the corneal margin) and earlobe creases as well as contributing to dehydration.
- Too much sugar – sweets can damage collagen fibers, making it harder for them to heal. Sugar also contributes to oxidant stress and inflammation which are both associated with skin aging.
- Dry air – although it’s tempting to crank the heat during the cold winter months, keeping the thermostat too high can dry out skin, leading to decreased elasticity and more wrinkles. Aim to keep the temperature between 60 and 67 Fahrenheit at night and below 70 during the day.
- Side or stomach sleeping – try to sleep on your back to prevent facial and chest wrinkling caused by sleeping on your side or stomach.
- Poor or insufficient sleep – a good night’s sleep helps promote skin rejuvenation – poor sleep causes cells to age faster. Create a bedtime ritual, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and get regular exposure to natural sunlight during waking hours.
- Junk food – eating processed foods high in trans fats, salt, and sugar can accelerate aging. A healthy, nutritious diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein helps provide the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals for good health.
- Digital devices – too much exposure to the blue light from computer screens, smartphones, televisions, and tablets can not only wreak havoc with good sleep, but it can also damage the skin by speeding up the oxidation process and causing inflammation.
- Poor posture – slouching over the computer can lead to back and neck pain and looking down all day at a device can cause wrinkles to develop on the neck and chin. A dowager’s hump or kyphosis of the upper back adds years and can cause disk problems.
- Rubbing your eyes – the delicate tissue around the eyes can be damaged from rubbing causing dark circles, broken blood vessels, and sagging eyelids. Treat the eye area with care – it will also help prevent the spread of illness to keep hands away from the eyes.
- Stress – find ways to cope with stress each day. Practice meditation, spend time in nature, listen to music, or write in a journal. Too much stress or worry can elevate cortisol, which is associated with depression and can weaken collagen.
- Over-washing the face. Treat the face gently by using a mild wash that doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils. Avoid long, hot showers which can also dry out the skin. It is important, however, to remove makeup before bed to allow the skin to breathe and recover from daily exposure to air pollution.
- Wear sunglasses – squinting in the sun can cause wrinkles around the eyes. Wearing good UVA/UVB protective sunglasses can also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
- Wear sunscreen daily – wearing sunscreen on a daily basis can help prevent sun damage that causes wrinkles, age spots, and a loss of elasticity.
- Healthy fats – Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatting acids help keep skin hydrated and healthy. Fish, nuts, avocado, eggs, chia seeds, and olive oil are good sources of healthy fats.
- Extreme dieting – limiting whole food groups can damage health and make the skin look older. Focus on a balanced, unprocessed diet for proper nutrition and good health.
While the list of habits that can age adults prematurely seems long, most of the tips for staying youthful are common sense. Eating well, getting exercise, managing stress, and sleeping enough will not only improve how older adults look, but a healthy lifestyle also helps people approach aging with greater optimism, longevity, and independence.