Do you want to maintain – or even improve – your looks and health, especially as you age? While exercise, healthy eating, and skincare routines are often discussed, some lesser-known habits can help you in aging gracefully.
“Aging gracefully” refers to the process of growing older in a way that prioritizes physical, mental, and emotional health and emphasizes positive attitudes and habits that promote a fulfilling and vibrant life.
The concept of aging gracefully is about embracing the aging process rather than trying to pointlessly resist it – and finding ways to live a healthy and meaningful life as you grow older.
While aging is a natural and inevitable part of life, your age is determined mainly by your lifestyle choices – diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reactivity.
Adopting healthier practices will maintain your physical and mental well-being and can also help you feel more confident and empowered as you age.
Here are six unusual habits you can adopt after 50 to boost your looks and health.
1. Sleep on Your Back for Better Looks
You spend a third of your life sleeping, and how you sleep can impact your looks.
Sleeping on your stomach or side can cause sleep lines, eventually turning into wrinkles. To avoid these sleep lines, try sleeping on your back.
Sleeping on your back helps prevent wrinkles, reduces the likelihood of developing acne, and – perhaps most importantly – helps keep your spine long and aligned.
Getting used to sleeping on your back can be challenging at first, but try placing a pillow under your knees to reduce pressure on your lower back or using a U-shaped pillow to support your neck and prevent snoring.
2. Replace Negative Thought Patterns with Positive Ones
Aging gracefully also involves accepting and celebrating the changes that come with aging, such as wrinkles, gray hair, and changes in mobility or energy levels.
Instead of viewing these changes as unfavorable, aging gracefully means embracing them as a natural – and even honorable – part of the aging process, and finding ways to adapt and continue living a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Ultimately, aging gracefully is about maintaining a positive attitude and taking care of yourself physically and mentally to lead a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life as you grow older.
Evidence has established that your thoughts and mental states significantly impact your physical health.
One way in which this can occur is through the stress response. When you experience stress, your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which have several physiological effects, including increasing heart rate and blood pressure, suppressing the immune system, and promoting inflammation.
And if you experience chronic stress, these effects can contribute to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.
Research has also suggested that:
- positive emotions and attitudes, such as gratitude and optimism, may be associated with better health outcomes;
- conversely, negative emotions and attitudes, such as anger and pessimism, may be associated with worse outcomes.
Overall, while the precise mechanisms underlying the link between thoughts and health are not yet fully understood, mounting evidence suggests that mental state plays an essential role in shaping the state of your body and emotional well-being.
3. End Your Shower with a Cold Rinse or Take a Cold Face Bath
While a hot shower may be relaxing, taking a cold shower has numerous benefits, including boosting circulation and improving skin health. Cold showers can help tighten and firm your skin, reduce inflammation, and increase blood flow to your vital organs, improving overall health.
Cold showers can also help reduce stress and improve your mood. When you take a cold shower, your body releases endorphins – hormones that make you happy and energized.
TIP: If taking a cold shower seems too daunting, start by taking a warm shower and gradually turning down the temperature toward the end of your shower.
Another option is to fill a large wide bowl with ice water and submerge your face. Many people find this easier than a whole-body ice bath while still enjoying some of the benefits.
4. Aging Gracefully Means Eating More Fermented Foods
What medical researchers know now that they didn’t know 20 years ago? Gut health is absolutely crucial for over all health. It turns out, your gut is like your body’s second brain.
Fermented foods have been through a process in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch within the food, creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics.
Eating fermented foods boosts your gut health, which is vital to your well-being, including the appearance of your skin.
Your gut health can decline as you age, increasing your risk of chronic diseases. Fermented foods can help improve digestion, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Incorporating fermented foods into your diet can be as simple as having a serving of yogurt for breakfast or adding sauerkraut as a side to your meals.
5. Do Daily Breathwork for Better Looks
Breathwork involves consciously controlling your breathing to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Different breathing techniques can affect the body positively by calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and improving clarity and focus.
Breathwork can also help improve cardiovascular health by increasing oxygenation and reducing blood pressure. This, in turn, helps everything – including your skin and looks.
One highly beneficial nose breathing method is alternate nostril breathing (called nadi shodhana in Sanskrit). This technique involves alternating the breath between the right and left nostrils while using the fingers to close off one nostril at a time.
Here’s how to practice alternate nostril breathing:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight and your left hand resting on your left knee.
- Use your right hand to bring your index and middle fingers to the space between your eyebrows.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril.
- Inhale deeply through your right nostril, then close it with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril.
This completes one round. Repeat for several rounds, alternating the breath between the right and left nostrils.
Alternate nostril breathing can have numerous benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving respiratory function, and promoting a sense of calm and balance in the body and mind.
6. Do Outdoor Sunlight or Forest Bathing Each Morning
Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice that involves spending time in nature to improve mental and physical health. Forest bathing can help reduce stress, improve mood, and boost the immune system.
Being in nature has numerous benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, improving sleep, and increasing creativity.
To practice forest bathing, find a natural area and spend time walking, meditating, or simply sitting and enjoying the surroundings.
If regularly accessing remote natural settings is unrealistic for you now, then at least go for a short walk outdoors each morning in the sunlight.
Morning sunlight exposure can have numerous benefits for your physical and mental health:
- Boosts Vitamin D levels: Morning sunlight exposure can help your body produce vitamin D, crucial for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation.
- Improves Circadian Rhythm: Exposure to morning sunlight can help regulate our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal clock that regulates sleep and wake cycles. This can improve sleep quality, energy levels, and mood.
- Reduces Depression and Anxiety: Studies have shown that morning sunlight exposure can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.
- Boosts Energy and Alertness: Exposure to morning sunlight can help increase energy levels and improve alertness by suppressing the production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep.
- Helps with Skin Conditions: Sunlight exposure can help improve certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, by reducing inflammation and improving skin barrier function.
It’s important to note that while morning sunlight exposure can have numerous benefits, it’s important to avoid prolonged exposure during peak hours (midday) of sunlight. Additionally, individuals with a history of skin cancer should consult their doctor before increasing sun exposure.
Conclusion on Aging Gracefully
In conclusion, aging gracefully is a goal for many. Adopting these six simple lifestyle changes can help you achieve that goal by improving your looks, mood, and physique, especially after the age of 50.
It’s important to remember that these habits are just one part of a holistic approach to aging gracefully. Consistent cross-training exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and reducing stressors are also crucial factors in maintaining your looks and health as you age.
Consult with your healthcare professional before making significant changes to your lifestyle, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.
Incorporating these strange habits into your daily routine may take some time to get used to. Still, with consistency and patience, you will likely see improvements in your looks and overall health.
So why not try something new and see how it can benefit you in the long run? After all, aging gracefully is not about stopping the aging process but embracing it with healthy habits and confidence.
As with any new habit, starting slowly and listening to your body’s needs is wise.
Over time, you may find that these habits become integral to your wellness routine.
Additional Resources on Improving Your Looks and Aging Gracefully:
Supine Position in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23669094/
Association between Positive Psychological State of Aging Gracefully and Cardiovascular Health – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22506752/
Effects of Cold-Water Immersion on Health: 22 Random Control Trials – https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/7/1280
Evidence of Fermented Foods Promoting Overall Health: Systematic Review of Epidemiological Studies – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9530890/
Better Health = Better Looks – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17972486/
Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Aging Gracefully: A Randomized Controlled Trial – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7602530/
Evidence for Added Health Benefits of Nature: Analyzed Results of 143 Studies Involving Over 290 Million Participants – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562165/