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11 Things We Do that Age Us

aging gracefully

Aging gracefully comes easily to some, and less easily to others. Sometimes it's just to do with having good genes, but often it is the decisions we make during our lifetime that determine how fast we'll age. You may not realize it, but most people make mistakes every single day that make them age faster than they should, harming their skin and quickening the appearance of old age. Here are 11 mistakes we all make that age us:

1. You try to do too many things at once (Multitasking).
If your to-do list is longer than your arm and you are dealing with the stress of juggling many projects or tasks at once, you're doing yourself a disservice, says Raymond Casciari, Chief Medical Officer at St. Joseph Hospital. Several studies have shown that day-to-day stress triggers the release of free radicals in the body, which damage cells and quicken the aging process. The doctor suggests focusing on one task at a time.
2. You rarely pass on dessert.
Other than being an obviously unhealthy habit, having a sweet tooth may be adding years to your face, as sugar molecules attach themselves to protein fibers in our cells, a process known as glycation. This can lead to an ashen look, dark circles around the eyes, a loss of facial contours, wrinkles, puffiness and bigger pores. So if you want to hold on to that youthful glow, don't overdo the sugar.
3. You get less than 5-6 hours of sleep a night.
Not getting enough sleep doesn't only give you black bags under your eyes, but has been linked, through several studies, to a shorter life span. According to Dr. Casciari, the founder of a sleep lab at St. Joseph Hospital, getting about seven hours of sleep is optimal. So if you're nodding off, low on energy or finding it hard to focus, you're probably not sleeping enough, and it may age you faster than you'd like.
4. You spend most of your day sitting.
Sitting and leading a sedentary lifestyle are some of the worst contributors to aging people in the modern world. Most people do very little physical activity, and the result is an increased risk of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer and of course obesity.
Studies show that people who exercised 150 minutes a week or more lived 10-13 years longer on average.
5. You don't use any eye creams.
The skin around your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face, and that is why it usually starts showing signs of aging sooner. Keeping the eye area moisturized can take years off your face. The best creams contain Retin-A, which is a form of vitamin A. But you can also add antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.
6. You only use sunscreen when on vacation.
If you only use sunscreen at the beach, note that you may actually be doing more harm to your skin while running errands and driving. Skin damage accumulates, and the sun's rays are the primary reason for aging skin. Dr Taylor, associate professor of dermatology, recommends that you use an SPF between 30-50 for daily protection.
7. You wear too much makeup.
This is not a judgment, just a fact. Many make-up products are oil-based, and can clog your pores and cause outbreaks. Overusing skin products with fragrances, alcohol agents and chemicals that irritate may cause premature lines and wrinkles.
8. You sleep with your face against the pillow.
Sleeping on your stomach or side with your face mashed into the pillow may create wrinkles and make you age faster. Our facial skin gets less flexible with time, and so as we lie on the pillow night after night, our skin may not spring back and smooth the lines you had, and so the pillow can leave permanent marks on our face. So sleep on your back or invest in a satin pillowcase that'll keep your skin smooth.
9. You keep your house very warm.
When you turn up the thermostat or light a fireplace because it's cold, it's tempting to make it hot and toasty inside. But the problem is that the thermostat, and also the fireplace, suck moisture out of the air in the house, which leads to dry skin. If this goes on, as indeed in cold climates it may, it will lead to damaged skin with aging effects. 
Invest in a humidifier, and set it to 40-60% humidity. This will free your skin from the itching, scratching and even flaking that comes with dry air. 
Another way to go is placing a wet towel over a radiator or a bowl of cold water in the room.
10. You purse your lips 
Drinking your beverages through a straw can help you avoid staining your teeth, but just like squinting can give you wrinkles around the eyes, so can pursing your lips give you wrinkles around the mouth.  
By the way, this also often happens when you smoke a cigarette.
11. You've stopped eating fat altogether.
Some amounts of fat are required to maintain a youthful appearance and feeling, according to Franci Cohen,  nutritionist and exercise physiologist from Brooklyn, NY. Heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, which you can find in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, as well as nuts like walnuts and flax seeds, will keep your skin plump and supple. This will prevent wrinkles while also boosting the health of both your brain and heart.

Images by freedigitalphotos.net

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