If you’ve ever seen The Butterfly Effect, you may, too, wonder what actions are taken and moments pass that directly impact your life. While it can be fun to think deeply about this concept with friends in your off time, not everyone has the luxury to sit back on any given day and evaluate the impact their small efforts and routines make on themselves and the world around them.
The fact of the matter is, however, that small things do add up. In fact, a lot of your small habits may lead to premature aging — both in body and mind — and even oxidative stress, which is a huge threat to your health. Let’s explore a few of these damaging everyday habits, and entertain how to fix them quickly to reduce your aging capacity right now!
1. Keeping your mind busy
One of the most damaging things we do to ourselves is to keep ourselves busy. In a society that values intense levels of productivity, trending topics, and messes of hobbies, it can be easier to keep ourselves busy than to slow down and truly take a moment in the silence. While meditation and eastern medicine have been slowly influencing the western world for decades, a return to more natural methods has ensued.
Lucky for us, we have begun to understand the benefits of meditation and moments of silence on our own. Mindfulness practices show promise in reducing mental health symptoms, boosting self-esteem and performance, and overall stress reduction, among other incredible benefits.
2. Too much physical inactivity (at a sedentary job)
I’ll be the first to admit that the pandemic — and a blossoming career working from home — has led to a level of inactivity that I have been working to correct. Regardless of where you operate your business, sitting in front of a screen or remaining sedentary for hours at a time each day is incredibly damaging to your health, no matter your age. That is why it is so important to get your children and any dependents out and about between screen-based activities and sit-down work as well, especially with remote learning still on the horizon in many instances.
According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, “Exercise has vast beneficial effects on a multitude of organs and body systems and delays aging-associated losses in cognitive function, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, certain site-specific cancers, depression and immunity.”
Without regular exercise, basic functioning is almost impossible, and symptoms of aging can progress more rapidly than usual. When possible, take a break here and there for regular movement to keep the blood flow going and productivity up.
3. Not getting enough sleep
Sleep deprivation inhibits your immune system and can lead to an array of issues, including heart failure, anxiety, erratic blood pressure, and digestive problems. Are you getting the recommended 7-9 hours per night? Without your recommended sleep, cortisol cannot be fired off consistently throughout the day to keep your body’s natural clock, or circadian rhythm, working. Lack of sleep is linked to numerous physiological and mental conditions, including memory loss.
4. Sleeping incorrectly
Not only can the amount of sleep you get on a consistent basis drastically change the way you look and feel, but so can the way that you sleep. You could be getting the deepest sleep of your life, but your arm is pointing straight above your head and losing feeling as you rest.
Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal, as your head is likely pivoted in a hard right or hard left position. This can strain your neck, especially if you don’t utilize the full range of it often enough. If you are a stomach sleeper, consider adjusting your pillow to minimize the harsh angle of your neck and head. Consider practicing physical therapy exercises like these to improve your range of motion, and opt for a clean pillowcase with copper oxide in it, which is known to help reduce immediate face wrinkles and signs of aging over time.
Lying on your back is actually the preferred method of sleep. It evenly distributes your weight. This reduces pressure points in your back, which over time can lead to less muscular damage and bone thinning. Of course, adding pillows in areas to adjust any points of pain can be incredibly helpful as well, like under your knees, or under your neck, etc.
5. Exposing your skin to heat
We all understand the risks of gallivanting around town sunscreen-less on any given day. (Don’t do it! Wear sunscreen, kids!) However, did you know that too much heat can really age your skin? That’s right. Before you notice your cheeks turning red from the temperature, beads of sweat, or another warning sign that you may be hot, exposure to heat could already be completely destroying the collagen and elastin in your dermis.
In fact, heat works in the same way that many free radicals do, damaging the skin at a rate that is absolutely alarming. Reduce the amount of heat you use in your shower to benefit your skin and hair follicles, and keep your thermostat at a manageable temperature to help reduce your skin’s exposure to damaging heat.