We’ve been advocating for gratitude since the beginning. It creates a happier, healthier self — that much is clear.
But could it also be the key to slowing the aging process?
Recent studies present an anti-aging breakthrough: practicing gratitude could be a way to legitimately slow down aging — especially of the skin.
Here’s how gratitude can slow down aging.
Gratitude helps manage stress.
When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin.
These two neurotransmitters are responsible for our “feel good” emotions. They make us happier and help us to manage stress. When we practice gratitude regularly, we can strengthen these neural pathways.
When we manage stress, we help our skin. Stress causes an inflammatory response in the skin which reduces the skin’s barrier function and therefore increases acne, reduces healing rates, and losing moisture.
By practicing gratitude and reducing the stress in our life, we are actually strengthening our skin’s barrier function, retaining moisture, and healing more quickly.
Gratitude reduces negative emotions.
We’ve all heard of frown lines. Stressed and upset expressions often make wrinkles in the skin that we correlate with age.
The best way to avoid making “angry” faces?
To feel less anger!
By expressing gratitude regularly for what we have, we put our lives into perspective. Thus, incidents that may otherwise throw us into fits (and our face into frowning for hours), become small and manageable. Hence, fewer lines in our face.
Gratitude helps you sleep.
Psychologists recently asked people with neuromuscular disorders to make nightly lists of thins they were grateful for. After three weeks, participants reported better and more refreshing sleep.
Supposedly, this is because practicing gratitude reduces our negative thought patterns at bedtime and increases our positive thoughts. In turn, we fall asleep better and faster.
While you sleep, your body boosts blood flow to the skin, creating glowing complexions. If you don’t get enough sleep (and we’ve all experienced this), your skin can appear lifeless or drab.
As such, practicing gratitude increases your chance of a glowing, well-rested face.
Gratitude strengthens immune system function.
Gratitude often results in more optimism. As we look back on our past with gratitude, we’re inclined to be more positive looking forward.
Turns out, optimism is shown to be correlated to better immune system function. While the science of why is unclear, optimistic subjects produced a higher number of blood cells that protect the immune system, as compared to pessimistic subjects.
A stronger immune system = happier and healthier skin. Your skin will be more adept at fighting off intruders — whether that’s bacteria, environmental byproducts, etc.
Thus, you’ll have skin that looks cleaner and younger!
Now that you know gratitude is related to healthier, younger skin, the question is this: how do I practice gratitude?
Here are 3 ways to practice gratitude regularly and meaningfully.
Grow and Tend to a Garden
Plant a garden and every day, as you take 5 minutes to water or check on your plant, stand in awe of nature — how it’s growing and working in tandem with its environment. Plants are resilient, beautiful, and imperative to our survival. Recognize how lucky we are to have them.
Create a daily practice of recording something you’re grateful for. EX: “Today I am thankful for __.”
Write it on a post-it note and put it up where you will see it! It can be as simple as, “Today my pants fit,” or, “Today, it started raining after I got to work.” Keep it simple, lower the pressure, and make it something you can stick with.
Acknowledge the People Around You
Send a thoughtful text message to one new friend every day. Remind them why you are grateful that your worlds have collided. Or just tell them you’re thankful for their support or that you met! Text everyone from your mother to that friend you just met — you’ll quickly realize how many people you have in your life to be grateful for.