What also occurred to me when I was taking my picture is how detached I’ve become from the way my makeup-free face actually looks and what this is telling me about my general health and wellbeing. With my eyes widened by mascara and the dark circles beneath them hidden by concealer, I’ve lost all sight of how exhausted I am and what my lifestyle is doing to my skin and by extension to my body.
While I pride myself on being ‘healthy’, living in a city where everything is open long after we should all be in bed and where everyday is spent charging from meeting to meeting and firefighting emails, I realise that I have become programmed to think that being tired and wired is the norm. I feel guilty for not seeing my friends and family as often as I’d like to, I’m anxious in case I miss out on the latest exhibition/film/new bar/exercise craze, and I fear being perceived as not being able to keep up with the pace. So I drink coffee, and lots of it. The barista in my local Starbucks knows my name and order (well sort of), and I know I’m not the only one.
Last week, when I finally dropped with exhaustion, I suddenly realised how rarely I spend an evening at home and how heavily I rely on caffeine to get me through the day, and my barefaced selfie shows it!
So I’m having a bit of a lifestyle audit. I can’t promise I’ll kick the coffee habit, but I’m aiming to significantly up my sleep and hopefully, as a result, reduce my coffee intake.
A survey of healthy living blogs and magazine articles also suggest the following steps to feeling less frazzled, and if I can adopt some of these then maybe I’ll be able to venture out without make-up…maybe.
- Introduce ‘gentle’ exercises into your regime – walking and Yoga are perfect ways for stressed-out bodies to stretch, relax and rejuvenate. Yoga is particularly vaunted as a stress reliever and certain poses are great for getting your body into a sleepy state. Try the forward fold, legs up against the wall and reclining angle poses.
- Eat light later on in the day – by midday, the body’s metabolism is reaching its peak, so breakfast and lunch should be the largest meals of the day. Evening meals should be lighter, and should be based around fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Focus on eating a colourful, plant-based diet – phytonutrients are the substances responsible for giving foods their smell, flavour and colour – and they’re also thought to protect the body from disease, acting as anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, hormone-balancing agents. Cleaning up your diet, and focusing on foods that support your liver and digestive functions particularly help to promote your skin to glow. Cut down on those things that might aggravate your digestion, caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks, sugar, wheat, dairy and processed foods.
- Turn off the light – many of us are photosensitive, so the light from mobile phones, TVs, laptops etc. make our bodies think it is still daylight, thus inhibiting sleep.
- Breath easy – take a ‘breathing break’ before bed to aid a relaxed deep sleep. Find a comfortable space, sit down and spend five minutes concentrating on breathing deeply in and out. It is a great way to settle the mind and relax the body.
I will leave you with this TED talk which offers the secrets to a long and healthy life: How to live to be 100+