You’ve probably heard about self-care before, the idea of looking after yourself isn’t exactly a new one. Making it a priority to take care of your own needs, physical, emotional and spiritual has become more a popular concept in recent years, but although we all like the idea of taking time out for ourselves, the truth is that many of us don’t actually do it. So, why is self-care so important for our well-being? Put simply, you can’t give anything from an empty cup. A lot of people, women especially, are very good at looking after everyone else. We put our families first, give our all to our job or our business, and make time for our friends – but where do we make time for our own needs?
If you have 101 demands being made on your time, it’s all too easy just to let your own needs slide in an attempt to try and keep everyone else happy, but the more you do that, the less you’ll actually want to help people. You’ll get crabby when your children want you to look at something they’re doing. You’ll snap at your husband or partner. You’ll resent your boss for asking you to help on yet another project and when your friends ask for help with something you’ll roll your eyes and sigh loudly, feeling put upon. When you feel as if you have nothing left to give, you’ll be stressed out and exhausted. Don’t let things get to that stage; look after yourself and arrange some me-time so that you feel relaxed and happy, and other people’s demands don’t wear you out so much. You can also say no to things if you really don’t want to do them, or just don’t have time. You are not on this earth to be at the beck and call of your nearest and dearest, you’re entitled to a life of your own and to do things you love to do, and that make you feel good.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Yourself… Yes, we know that it’s just easier sometimes to give in, let your own needs slide and forget the little things that we enjoy when life gets busy. When we’re overwhelmed, taking time out to do something fun seems frivolous and like a luxury. Stop and think about it the next time you’re tempted to work through lunch instead of making your gym or hair appointment though; self-care actually makes you more productive and less stressed.
• Self-care stops you from getting burned out. Pushing yourself to the point where you’re exhausted and can’t take one more demand isn’t good for anyone, and if you make a point of taking care of yourself before it gets that bad, you’ll avoid a lot of potential stress in the future.
• Self-care is a great stress reducer. We all need a little bit of stress to get things done sometimes, but too much will create havoc on your mind and your body. Doing nice things that you enjoy, and looking out for your own wellbeing stops the effects of stress from taking over, making you more productive and much nicer to be around.
• Self-care can help you to get your focus back. Whether it’s the luxury of a full spa day or just an hour’s walking or session at the gym, getting away from something that has you really stuck can help you to work out what it is that needs to be done. Take a break from that tricky issue and the answer may just come to you when you stop looking for it so frantically!
The news is overwhelmingly negative at the moment, people are frightened, worried about what’s going to happen to themselves, their families and jobs. It can seem as if there is no gap in the clouds at all…but when you’re having one of those days cooped up indoors and wondering when all this will end, there are a few ways you can try to refrain from what’s going on to make it, if not entirely positive, a slightly more positive experience.
This Too Will Pass… Yes, it’s an old line, but it’s true. While we’re stuck in what seems like a never-ending quarantine it might seem that it’s never going to get better, but it will. Remind yourself that although this is horrible, scary and makes life difficult for us all, it’s temporary. While we don’t know how long it will last, normal life will resume at some point and this will all be a memory. Find the Lesson There will be something we can learn from the current situation, even if we’re feeling a bit lost at the moment. Psychologists who deal with trauma believe that an important way of helping someone work through it is to help them see that they have some agency, and an ability to do something to find their meaning. Think about whether there are any lessons you can learn from this crisis, things you may have found in yourself, your home, your job that can be changed in the future?
Look at the bigger picture too – has the crisis fired you up to join a political party, a charity, volunteer for something? Then it hasn’t been totally in vain. Move Left and Right That sounds odd but stay with us…Research has shown that doing repetitive movements like knitting, coloring and painting – even jumping rope, are helpful at self-soothing because of the way they engage your brain in the activity and need you to concentrate. Even better are activities that engage the left side of your brain: running, drumming, skating, or hopping. These simple things can be surprisingly calming…Probably why adult coloring books and running are so popular?
Express Yourself Artistically Many people seem to be indulging their creativity at the moment, and there’s a good reason to encourage this. The part of the brain that deals with emotions is very receptive to creativity, and this makes creative pursuits a great way to express your feelings. Stick with something you know or try a new pastime – but make it creative: drawing, dancing, music, singing, learning a musical instrument. It doesn’t matter if you’re technically accomplished, it’s about releasing emotions and engaging your creative brain.
Start A Long-Term Project So, you’ve always wanted to learn how to play an instrument, there’s a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle or expert LEGO set you’ve been meaning to tackle, and you’ve never completed a Rubik’s cube. What better time to make a start? Your choice of project doesn’t have to be anything challenging or highbrow either – perhaps you’ve always wanted to read the Harry Potter books or watch Game of Thrones but never got around to it? Start now, give yourself something to distract you from the things you have no say or control over.
It happens to the best of us; when we’re out in the sunshine it’s easy to forget to reapply sunscreen after swimming, or we may just misjudge the strength of the sun and get caught out. Sunburn can be extremely painful and it’s all too easy to end up with red and sore skin if you get too much sun and without using enough sun protection. Although it’s common and seems temporary, a sun burn actually causes serious and long-lasting damage to your skin. Sunburn also increases your risk of developing skin cancer as well as ageing your skin with wrinkles, lines and uneven skin tone. The best way to deal with sun burn is not to get it in the first place – always remember to slap on your high SPF sun screen, stay out of the sun as much as possible and reapply sun screen regularly. When sunburn hits, treat it as soon as you notice it developing and get out of the sun as soon as possible. Find some shade, or preferably get indoors. Then you can start to treat the burns.
Keep It Cool. It sounds obvious, but a cool shower or bath will help to cool down your skin and take the sting out of the sunburn. Once you’ve bathed or showered, pat yourself dry gently, leaving a little water on your skin, and apply after-sun with built in moisturizer liberally to help keep the water in your skin and prevent it from drying out. Treat the Soreness. If you feel very sore in any particular area, an over the counter hydrocortisone cream can help soothe the burn. Avoid products like benzocaine or anything that ends in ‘caine’, even if it starts to itch, as these will irritate the damaged skin and could even cause an allergic reaction. You can also take mild painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling and deal with the discomfort.
Stay Hydrated. When you’ve been burned, your body reacts by drawing extra fluids towards the surface of your skin to deal with the damage, taking them away from the rest of your body. This could lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. Avoid making yourself feel even worse and load up on water and cooling fluids to take the heat off.
Leave the Blisters Alone. There’s a reason that your skin produces blisters after a sun burn – they protect your skin from what’s actually a second-degree burn! If your skin starts to blister, don’t be tempted to burst them, just leave them to heal naturally. Blisters are there to help your skin heal and protect you from infection, so popping them just increases your risk of getting the burns infected. Just keep them covered if they are too tempting and pretend they aren’t there…
Stay Protected. You’ll need to be extra careful to protect your skin while it heals, as the damage has been done and you really don’t want to make it worse. Wear clothes that cover up your skin as much as possible when you’re outdoors, especially the areas that have been burned. Look for tightly-woven fabrics that you can’t see light through if held up to a bright light. Wear a hat and sun glasses too. Slather on extra high SPF sun screen after a burn, be very vigilant about reapplying it and if possible, stay in the shade.
Men’s Skin VS Women’s Skin. Men’s skin is naturally thicker than women’s and produces more sebum, making it oilier. Don’t be tempted to steal your partner’s skin care products as they won’t be as effective for you as something that’s specially formulated for the guys. Most men also stress facial skin out with shaving on a regular basis which can cause sensitization and irritation and needs male-oriented skin care.
Skin As Men Age. If you’re noticing lines and wrinkles as you head past 40 and towards 50, you’re not alone. They’re caused by a reduction production of collagen by your body as you age, and as this is the protein that gives skin its elasticity and strength, things start to look older. It’s perfectly normal to lose collagen as you age; once you get to about 30, you’ll lose around 1% of your collagen every year. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable - and the older you get, the worse the wrinkles and lines get. So how do you stop them in their tracks, or at least make it look like you have?
Maintain a Skin Care Routine. If you haven’t already done it, invest in some good quality professional skin care products and start using them every day. You’ll need a cleanser (or facial wash) along with moisturizer and exfoliator at minimum, and you can add in eye serum or cream if you notice signs of aging around your eyes too. After cleansing your skin, the second step is to hydrate it. The latest wonder ingredients for anti-aging products are retinoids, a range of ingredients that are derived from vitamin A and shown to visibly decrease some of the main signs of getting older on your skin; crow’s feet, wrinkles and lines. They work by boosting collagen production but are also powerful antioxidants, so they also protect your skin from damage by any free radicals. Moisturizers and serums containing retinols can also help repair existing skin damage and if you have any dark spots or suffer with rosacea or acne there are treatments and targeted products that even help with that. If you want to take things a bit further, the next step is an esthetician and something a bit more professional.
Why It’s Smart to ‘Go-Pro’ with Skincare We all know how important it is to choose the right skincare products. If you get your products right, they will leave your skin looking and feeling at its best. They can help to improve skin condition if you have acne, dry skin, and sensitivity or if your skin is starting to show signs of aging. There is such a wide choice of products on the market that it can be hard to decide which one to try. Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help you select the right skincare products for your needs.
What’s Your Skin Type and What Does It Need? We recommend having a professional consultation to truly determine your actual skin type and pick up on any specific needs you might have overlooked. An esthetician will take a really close look at your skin and help you to decide what the priorities are for your skincare routine. She may tell you something about your skin that you don’t know - for example, even if you think your skin is just a bit dry, it could be because it’s sensitive too, and you just didn’t realize that you were using products that irritated it? Changing your products to a professional range that’s specially designed for your skin type could make all the difference.
Why Go Professional? There are commercials everywhere for skincare products and they all promise beautiful skin. Some are cheap and available from drugstores anywhere but the professional ranges are more expensive and exclusive, so why would you opt for a professional product? Drug store and department store beauty products can be sold by anyone, because they normally contain lower levels of active ingredients. They are cheaper because they can be easily mass produced and have a very long shelf life. Buying from a salon, spa or esthetician means you get an extra level of recommendation – you’re not just buying from an advertising agency’s copy but you’ve got the benefit of the esthetician’s experience and training in helping you find a suitable product as well as a better quality product with better active ingredients. You’ll also find that most estheticians have a money-back guarantee, so that if a recommended product doesn’t suit you after all, you can return it and try another one. Estheticians carefully research their product lines, and are educated on ingredients, how to use the different products, and will educate you on how to best take care of your skin.
What’s in A Cosmeceutical? Cosmeceuticals, sold by licensed estheticians tend to contain higher concentrations of active ingredients – only medical grade products sold by doctors are legally allowed to contain more active ingredients. Professional skincare companies put a great deal of money into researching cosmeceuticals; they use hi-tech ingredients like peptides, enzymes, plant stem cells and vitamins. They also benefit from the most advanced latest delivery systems. If you want to do something fantastic for your skin – book a session with a professional esthetician to get to know your skin properly. You don’t always have to book a facial to get professional product recommendations, although this will give your esthetician a complete look at your skin. Most estheticians offer product consultations and can create a customized plan for your skin based on your concerns and their expertise.
What would your esthetician tell you if you asked for her top tips on skincare? We’ve compiled a few of our most important top tips for you, so take your pick (or try them all).
1. Get your veggies! If you can, invest in a good quality juicer and drink your fill of green veggie juice every day. Swap your afternoon coffee or morning latte for a green juice and watch it transform your skin completely. Green juices help to stimulate lymphatic drainage and oxygenate your skin. Add some avocado if you really want to power up your juice – it gives your skin nutrition from inside and has great hydrating properties.
2. Always, always take off your make up before you go to bed. Sleeping in your make up is not only bad for your pillow cases, it’s terrible for your skin as the chemicals in modern make up stay in your pores overnight if you don’t remove them properly. Blocked pores lead to breakouts and for the sake of a few minutes before bed, it’s just not worth it.
3. Don’t worry about putting a face on for the gym – always work out makeup free. Mixing sweat with your cosmetics creates a lovely sheen of bacteria and chemicals that won’t do the condition of your skin any good, so avoid any makeup at all, yes, even tinted moisturizer!
4. Take a probiotic. Your skin always looks best when your digestive system is working as it should do, so along with a good quality probiotic try to include papaya and pineapple for their digestive enzymes and avoid inflammatory foods like dairy and gluten.
5. Sleep. Go for 8, 9 or even 10 hours whenever you can, because sleep is when your body repairs itself, and it can’t do it in too little snooze time. Missing out on quality sleep will show itself up in your skin, especially around your eyes.
6. Use a toner – yes, really. Just make sure it’s a gentle one. People who don’t tone after they’ve cleansed are prone to larger pores and more congested skin.
7. Make a serum part of your beauty routine. A serum containing antioxidants is the best option for most people. It’s the finishing touch that can really make all the difference to the condition of your skin.
8. Exfoliate regularly. Look for a product that contains glycolic or lactic, and use it 2-4 times per week, depending on how sensitive your skin is. Removing dull, dead skin regularly will give it the extra brightness that just cleansing won’t.
9. Use sun protection every single day. No excuses.
10. Make sure that your moisturizer contains an SPF, and you’ll prevent skin cancer, sun damage and the signs of aging we all try to cover up.
. If you have dry skin, you can end up spending a lot of money on good quality moisturizers and products to treat it topically. Did you know that a few changes to your diet can also help to alleviate dry, itchy and scaly skin?
Fatty Acids Keep Your Skin Plumped. Fat – it’s a no-no in some of our diets but it really shouldn’t be. One of the most vital parts of our skin’s natural barrier is lipids, including, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides, which means that skin without enough fat resembles a mass of badly arranged protein blocks that doesn’t quite have enough glue to hold it together.
Water can escape easily which means that your skin will become easily dehydrated. You need fatty acids in your diet to create the ‘glue’ that holds everything together under your skin surface – these are the omega-3s found in oily fish like salmon, herring and mackerel; eggs, grass fed beef and flaxseed oils. Omega 6s are commonly found in evening primrose oil and borage seed oil. Several studies have pointed to the benefits of fatty acids in the diet; in one study of 50 people with atopic dermatitis, 96 per cent of study participants who were given an evening primrose oil supplement reported less itching and dryness after five months.
Vitamins and Minerals that Soothe Dry Skin. Vitamins and minerals are essential for most of our bodily functions and repairs; skin is no exception. Vitamin C is needed for production of collagen – it produces an enzyme that causes collagen to form. Other trace elements like zinc and copper help to make the collagen denser and work together with vitamin C to keep your skin hydrated. You can get them from a good multivitamin or look for foods containing vitamin C (bell peppers, oranges and tomatoes) zinc (seafood, pumpkin seeds and spinach) and copper (beef liver, lentils and almonds).
Caffeine, Water and Alcohol. It’s very unlikely that drinking the occasional coffee will dehydrate you, but it has been shown that caffeine constricts the small blood vessels, which means less of the good stuff is getting through to your skin. Alcohol is also a diuretic and well known to be a dehydrator, but as with caffeine you’d have to be drinking a lot more of it than a couple of glasses of wine or beer with dinner to really feel or see the effects. There’s also a myth that drinking lots of water is the key to well-hydrated skin – although it sounds obvious, it’s not actually the case at all. Water that we take in is processed internally, and we’d need to be extremely dehydrated to notice the effects on our skin. The outer layer of the skin is the most important area for skincare, and it’s this area that needs to be fortified with the right hydrating and moisture-retaining foods. If you're already eating a balanced diet, not cutting out all the fat and eating a good range of fruits, vegetables and healthy foods, you shouldn’t need to use a multivitamin or supplement to improve the condition of your skin. Up your vitamin-rich foods, include some oily fish and fats and make sure that you enjoy a varied diet and your dry skin will thank you for it.
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