During the rush-rush pace of the holiday season, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is “slow.”
There’s just no time!
If you want to look good while you’re doing all that running around, though (and who doesn’t?), it’s time to practice a little “slow beauty.”
Think of the difference between “fast food” and food that is “slow cooked.” Which is better for you?
Slow beauty is built on the same idea-that when we take the time to slow down just a little bit, our bodies, minds, and definitely our appearance, benefit.
Fortunately, you don’t need hours of time. We’re not going to ask you to fudge on your to-do list, but only to work in small pieces of slow beauty into your everyday routine. Here are seven ways you can do that.
7 “Slow Beauty” Tips
1. Don’t forget about you.
This is by far the hardest thing to remember during the holiday season. Our minds are focused on giving to others, which is a wonderful thing. We all know how good it feels to reach out a helping hand, and science has discovered that giving bounces back to benefit our health and well being, too.
We often spread ourselves too thin at this time of year, though, which can leave us feeling sapped of energy, listless, irritable, and perhaps even resentful of the season and what it seems to require of us. To avoid landing in this quicksand of negative thoughts (or to climb out if you’re already there), don’t forget to put yourself on the list.
Stay aware of your body and what it’s telling you. If you’re getting tired, take a nap. Rest. Cut back on the engagements that you have. Delegate some of the holiday tasks to someone else. Take a step back and ask yourself if there’s an easier way to accomplish the next thing on your list.
Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s more important that you arrive at the holidays feeling refreshed and happy than that the lights are positioned just right or the table has just the right number of candles.
The best way to do that is to take a look in the mirror at least once a day and ask yourself how you’re doing. If it’s all starting to wear on you-with fatigue, dark circles under the eyes, more visible wrinkles, etc.-it’s time to take action to boost yourself back up. The following tips will help.
2. Make slow, thoughtful choices.
I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you to read labels when making your purchases, and to support those companies that are providing safe, nourishing, and non-toxic products for you. But this step is also about being aware of the decisions you’re making, and how they will affect you and your family.
We can get so caught up in holiday fever that we can throw to the wind all of the things we cared about the rest of the year, like making sure we eat right, exercise every day, and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. We can make impulsive decisions that affect our checkbook come January, which can stress us out. We can push ourselves too hard because we’re not slowing down enough to think about what we’re doing.
Before you make any decision-about what to eat, whether to blow off your exercise routine, what gifts to buy, and where to spend your hard-earned cash-I invite you to take a deep breath and think for an extra 60 seconds. Usually that’s all it takes to get of that rush-rush mentality so you can make choices you’ll feel good about.
3. Five minutes of meditation.
We tend to think that we need to donate hours of time to meditation to experience the benefits, but this is simply not true. Five minutes is enough time to slow those racing thoughts down to a pace that you can better manage them.
Try finding anyplace that’s comfortable, at any time of day, and simply shut out the world. Close your eyes and focus on one image-some place you love to go for vacation, for example, or a candle, tree, lake, or anything else that makes you feel peaceful. Then let your thoughts come and go without reacting to them. Bring your focus back to that tree or that lake. See if you don’t feel restored within just five minutes.
You may be surprised to learn that a regular meditation practice can actually help you look more beautiful. Science has already proven that it reduces stress, and actually creates changes in the brain that results in less anxiety.
“What I can say for sure,” says Cybele Fishman, integrative dermatologist in New York City, “is that meditation has been found to reduce subjective perceptions of feeling stressed. That probably translates into less inflammation in the body. And less inflammation in the body equals healthier, younger-looking skin.”
4. One beauty treatment a week.
Here’s where you slow down and give your skin what it craves. That may mean a spa facial, or a simple exfoliating or moisturizing treatment at home. At the very least, make sure you use a mask of some sort-either one to exfoliate skin and slough off all that holiday stress, or a moisturizing one to counteract the cold, dry weather.
Your skin needs this, so just put it into your schedule. Maybe it’s something you do on the weekend. Make an appointment with yourself to be sure it gets done or you’ll be sure to notice dullness, increased breakouts, and other unpleasant effects of holiday stress combined with skin neglect!
5. Filter what goes into your head.
We’re constantly bombarded by information in today’s world, which can be not only exhausting, but stressful. Every time we hear about someone getting hurt or killed, war breaking out somewhere in the world, strife in the government, rising numbers of poor or unemployed, or simply find ourselves staring blankly at our devices, chances are we’re stressing ourselves out.
A study by the PEW Research Center, for example, found that the more we hear of these undesirable events, particularly on social media sites, the more stressed we become. Overall, women experienced more stress than men.
The message is to be aware of what you’re exposing yourself to, and how often. During the stressful holiday season, particularly, it might be wise to limit your consumption of social media, Internet, and media information. Too many hours at your devices could be accomplishing nothing more than to increase your stress level-and the reflection off any screen is not good for your skin!
6. Practice your own personal art.
Most of us have hobbies that help bring us back to ourselves. Knitting, woodworking, painting, cooking, drawing, playing a musical instrument, crafting, writing, gardening, and more are all important pastimes that can significantly reduce the stress in our lives.
We often ignore these passions during the holiday season. We just don’t have the time, we think. Spending even just 30 minutes at one of these pursuits is likely to leave us feeling much more relaxed and centered, though, which can translate into a much happier holiday season. And a more relaxed, centered person is always more likely to radiate beauty than a stressed out, pulled-in-a-thousand-different-directions person!
It’s proven to work. A 2007 study review, for example, found that arts, crafts, music, reading, and even home repairs reduce the effects of stress-related diseases and slow cognitive decline. A 2012 study found that knitting, quilting, and playing games were all good for the brain.
7. Renewal ritual of the month.
Most of these tips are for things you can accomplish in 30 minutes or less. But for this last tip, I’m hoping you’ll be willing to carve out a little more time. You can limit it to once a month, though for optimal health I’d suggest twice.
Here’s where you take some time to really de-stress and renew. If you can, get away for the weekend, or even for one day. Go somewhere you can leave everything behind-work worries, household concerns, etc. A retreat, ski trip, cabin, friend’s house, etc. I’d also recommend you unplug from your gadgets to give your brain a break.
If you simply can’t get away from your hometown, try going somewhere in town that renews you. The library, a park, a garden, etc. Somewhere you can just be without feeling like you have to “do” something.
You may also find renewal in clearing out your space. Haul some stuff off to Goodwill and feel that new energy that comes from having lightened your load. Or maybe you can plant some new houseplants, or make some changes in your interior decorating. If you’ve been wanting to create a place in your home to meditate or do your personal art, now is the time to work on that.
Try to think of something that you can do that when you’re finished, you’ll feel lighter, more energetic, and more positive about getting back into your life. When you feel that way, your inner beauty will shine through!
How do you keep yourself looking vibrant and glowing through the busy holiday season? Please share your tips with our readers.
* * *
“Is Meditation the Ultimate Beauty Booster?” WellandGood.com, http://wellandgood.com/2015/09/18/meditation-beauty-treatment/.
Keith Hampton, et al., “Psychological Stress and Social Media Use,” PEW Research Center, January 15, 2015, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/psychological-stress-and-social-media-use-2/.
Amanda Mascarelli, “Hobbies promote good health, studies say,” The Herald, May 6, 2014, http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140506/LIVING/140509498.