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And this is the bare minimum, according to Walsh. Chronic dehydration will affect the skin's elasticity and cause premature signs of aging. The best indicator of your hydration is your urine. Someone who is well-hydrated will produce clear or light-colored urine. Dark-colored urine is a sign of dehydration. Need more motivation? Drinking water helps you lose weight because the H2O aids with digestion, keeps your energy levels up, and improves muscle function.
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Eating bad food is biggest mistake Walsh sees people making. “Unfortunately, our culture is one of heavily processed fast foods and quick meals, both of which can lead to premature aging,” she said. “In order for the hair, skin, nails and overall body and appearance to look and feel their best, we must fuel ourselves with nutritionally dense food.” There are plenty of superfoods and quick healthy snacks you can choose from.
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Stress is the ultimate ager, Walsh says. “It taxes the body, leads to fatigue, sucks the joy out of life, and keeps us in a state of anxiety.” You can be under stress and not even realize it. The feeling of anxiety and tension is so common that many people think they are OK unless they are having a heart attack. But stress has a sneaky way of building up until it becomes a serious problem. A recent study shows that negative emotions, such as stress, are linked to poor physical health in more than 150,000 people in 142 countries. If the body produces these hormones on regular basis, they hurt the immune, digestive, musculoskeletal, and nervous system.
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Daily meditation is the foundation to keep stress under control, Lin says. “Fifteen minutes a day is a good start. It’s like taking shower for the mind. Otherwise the dust/stress accumulates easily.” Meditation also helps with learning to discipline the mind, she adds, so one can be present and concentrate on the task at hand without the added layer of mental commentary.
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Yoga and gentle movements will help you relax and avoid stress, Walsh says. “They are practices that calm the nervous system, focus the mind, release tension and help us find more balance and ease.” Yoga teaches people to let go of any stress they may accumulate while developing tools for stress management. “For example, a big part of the practice is learning how to reflect over react,” Walsh adds. “So when someone bothers us or we find ourselves in a stressful situation, instead of quickly reacting with anger or frustration, we can take a moment to pause, reflect and then respond with more ease. Yoga sessions don’t have to be long at all. You can even practice with some poses at your desk.
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This is the age of sleep deprivation. People just don’t get enough shut-eye and most of the time they already know it, Lin says. “What they need is to develop a habit of going to bed earlier, not using electronic device before bed, and to learn to follow through,” she adds.
Many studies have shown how sleep is key to overall health and wellness. “It is a chance for the body to repair and refresh itself,” Walsh adds. “If we are constantly not getting enough sleep, all of the major systems can be affected. It is essential we aim for at least 7-8 hours per night for optimal functioning.”
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Getting more Zzz’s is important but the quality of the sleep is equally significant. Meditate for a few minutes or practice some gentle, restorative yoga poses before bed,” Walsh says. Journal about several things you are grateful for; call a friend to say hello; disconnect from the screen, whether TV or phone, at least one hour before bed; read a book that entices your imagination. There are even certain foods you can eat to help you sleep your best.
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“Alternate nostril breathing,” according to Lin is a quick and calming way to restore balance, remove toxins, and to rejuvenate the nervous system. “Practice it by opening and closing each nostril with the thumb and ring finger, and continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils,” she adds. A few minutes a day will do. It also helps release accumulated tension and fatigue. You can see how in this video.
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Movement – this would be the “best and most powerful thing” Walsh says that keeps people young. “If the body stays moving in a variety of ways, the mind stays fresh, the systems stay healthy and the brain functions best.”Walking, running, yoga, CrossFit, Pilates are all great ideas. “It doesn't matter so much the kind of movement but more importantly that it’s enjoyed and cultivated as a near daily practice because “the endorphins released help people feel good and also young!”
Being stuck in a daily routine that leaves no space for reflection or any curiosity and creativity is the biggest mistake Lin says. In fact, studies have shown that happy marriages keep people healthier, and dull routines kill marriages faster than fighting. Recent research has also found that brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education (and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed). So keep your mind occupied and try new things.
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“Pack healthy snacks if you need afternoon snacks,” Walsh says. “Fats” is not a bad word and not all of them are created equal. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in some fruits, vegetables, and fish, keep the membrane of every cell in our body healthy and prevent damage. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of certain chronic diseases and conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and arthritis.
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“Usually when we are stressed and anxious, we stop breathing, which further stresses the system and increases us feeling tired, irritable and cranky,” Walsh says. “If we are able to maintain full deep inhales and exhales, we have a better ability to keep stress levels low and properly managed.”
Slow down and take deep breaths, Lin says. They bring more oxygen to the brain and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces calmness. “As a result our heart beats slower and our muscles can relax.”
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You can’t let everything get to you. Avoid needless suffering and build immunity to other people’s opinions and actions. “First is to learn to love and accept oneself,” Lin says. “Once you have a high opinion of yourself, others’ opinions are less relevant.”
“I help people build a thick skin by working on their confidence levels,” Walsh adds. “I find it helpful to boost confidence by acknowledging others' talents, gifts, successes and progress. I use a lot of positive reinforcement and personal recognition.” It’s important to point out the good work you’re doing.
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If you want to look younger, your skin has to be protected. Keep it glowing by drinking tea — instead of coffee — to slow down the wrinkles, according to a study; staying hydrated, getting enough sleep; and always applying sunscreen before you go outside. “The single most important factor in protecting your skin is hydration,” Dr. Elizabeth Hale, spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation and board-certified dermatologist, says. “So drink your eight glasses of water or have soup for lunch, or any fluid-based food.” When your body is dehydrated it will slows the blood flow and your skin doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrients. The most common mistake people make, according to Dr. Hale, is thinking that they don’t need sunscreen. “Ninety percent of premature skin aging is caused by overexposure,” she adds. “Put sunscreen on no matter what.” UV rays penetrate the clouds and windows so sun damage is always possible if you’re not prepared.
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Lin recommends a morning routine that might include meditation/prayer, reading (books, not news), affirmations, visualization (of how you want your day to look like), or keeping a journal. “Pick one or two things and even doing 5 minutes consistently will have great impact,” she adds. For the curious mind, consider learning something new on a regular basis: An inspiring quote, a foreign word, a definition, or a formula. “Something for 10 minutes,” she adds. Her Facebook page provides daily inspirational quotes.
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Alcohol is one of the most divisive topics when it comes to longevity. There is plenty of research showing how it slowly kills you if you drink excessively. But how much is too much? A 2010 study, for example shows that heavy drinkers outlived nondrinkers. Moderate drinking, one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men, defined by the CDC, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on health – lower risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
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Setting a goal for the day is another trick you can apply to sharpen your brain power and boost your energy, Lin says. Even if you don’t want to be 20 again, you can feel like it. Keep the appetite and optimism to achieve more and be happier so you can turn back, or at least slow down, the body’s internal clock.