In the fight against our body’s natural process, we often do more damage than good. We pump our skin full of strange chemicals or do strenuous exercises that cause us back problems.

Here’s the biggest problem with our perennial fight against the symptoms of aging. Mother Nature doesn’t want us to look terrible as we grow older. Nature intends us to stay active and attractive throughout our later years as well as our younger years. All those things that terrify us about aging? They’re mostly just symptoms of a long-term flawed lifestyle.

Stop listening to those beauty adverts that tell you that aging is an awful thing. They’re trying to make you feel bad so that you’ll buy their products. (This is especially true for women, the main target of self-esteem-damaging ads.) Making some changes to your lifestyle now will slow down this descent in health and appearance. Read on.

Stop stressing out about it (and everything else)

First piece of advice: don’t stress yourself too much about it! Growing old is not some horror story, nor are you doomed to look like some sort of badly-CGI’d monster. You’re going to be fine. You can’t stop yourself growing old; you can only keep yourself healthy. And that’s what a lot of this actually boils down to. When we hear that an older person we know is actually even older than we thought, we tend to say they look youthful. What you should understand is that, in this context, “youthful” really means “healthy”. When you get older, your body gradually loses its ability to fight all the things you’re doing to it, and your looks begin to match your behaviour. That’s why you’ll usually find that the “younger-looking” older people have kept up a healthy lifestyle for a long time.

So with that in mind, I’d advise you to stop stressing out so much. Not only is it not as big a deal as you think it is, but stress is actually going to accelerate the entire process. And by “entire process”, I mean “life”. Stress has long been known as a long-term killer. It affects your skin and your heart, making it harder to stay healthy. Long-term exposure is linked to depression, which will really send you out of whack. And all that frowning? That’s just going to exacerbate your wrinkles.

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That whole “breathe deep and count to ten” thing that people love to preach to you when you get angry? Follow that advice. If you’re feeling stressed and in the heat of the moment, then close your eyes and count to ten. Concentrate on your breathing. It will calm you down more effectively than you can imagine. And why not take it a step further with meditation? Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone. But why not give it a go? Don’t dismiss things like meditation or yoga because of the “kooky” image they have in the media. It may work wonders for you. And don’t be afraid to just sit for a couple of hours and watch a film or play some games. If it helps you destress, do it. Just don’t do it for too long. More on that later!

Are you a smoker? I have boring advice for you

If the answer is yes, then I’m going to tell you what you’ve heard a million times before. Stop smoking! Tobacco smoke contains thousands of horrid chemicals. Many of them cause direct damage to collagen and elastin. Those are the components of your skins that supplies it with elasticity and strength. And yes, collagen and elastin are the things that people sometimes get injected into their skin to reduce wrinkles. Your body already has these things – it’s just a case of looking after them.

What else can smoking do to you in this arena? Well, it pretty much contributes to every possible aging sign. It restricts blood flow, causing difficulty of movement. It damages your teeth and gums. It accelerates hair loss. You name it; smoking contributes to it. Check out this study of several twins, one of whom is a lifelong smoker. See how much of a difference it makes?

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Get out of your chair and start exercising

Here’s a biology lesson. Our bodies are meant to move. All of the cells in our bodies were generated as strong and effective when we were younger. But in order to keep those cells strong – skin cells, brain cells, lung cells – we need to send the right signals to our body. The signals that say I still need those good cells! In order to do that, you should be proving that to your body in the most important and effective way possible: regular exercise.

You’re sitting down right now, aren’t you? If you’re not, then I apologise. But it’s not like I don’t have justification for such a guess. The vast majority of us are sitting down all day. We sit down in our cars. We sit down at home, watching television and playing video games and browsing the Internet. We sit down at work in our modern offices, typing and typing away. Even people who stand aren’t exactly moving around very much. This is what we call a sedentary lifestyle, and it’s slowly killing you. It’s causing your muscles to atrophy; that is, lessen in strength due to lack of use. All that slow movement you associate with the elderly? Sure, your limbs are going to weaken. But you’re not destined to a speed of a an inch every few minutes. This is, more often than not, a symptom of a life in which they simply didn’t exercise enough.

If I got that through to you as effectively as I wanted to, then you’re not even reading this article anymore. You’ve got on your running shoes and got your heart pumping. Good. Start getting into the habit of regular exercise. Spend half an hour a day with an elevated heart rate. Get some good headphones, listen to a favourite album, and go for a jog. But remember: there are exercises out there that can do more damage than good. Those sit-ups that your high school teacher told you would be good for your stomach in the future? Yeah, they actually cause long-term damage to your back, resulting in late-life hunching. So stop doing those.

Deal with hair loss gracefully

Unfortunately, if you’re going to lose your hair, then you’re going to start losing your hair. Age does weaken the cells in your skin that keeps your hair intact, but not everyone is doomed to baldness.

One of the saner, healthier procedures we go through when fighting aging is hair loss treatment. Unlike Botox injections and sit-ups, these things won’t cause you long-term damage or put you at immediate risk. If you are dealing with hair loss and really hate the idea of going bald, then I’m not going to tell you to “just stop stressing about it”. No, it’s not going to look as bad as you think. But if it’s going to bother you that much, then the healthiest thing to do for yourself really is to take action. Hair transplants or restoration treatments can help you keep your luscious locks and stop stressing about it. And hey, I did tell you to reduce stress, didn’t I? Find out more at FUE Clinics.

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Keep your mind stimulated

You remember that the brain is a muscle, right? And like any other muscle in your body it can begin to waste away with a lack of use. Now, of course, you’re always using your brain. It doesn’t just switch off and stop doing anything. But if you don’t give it the occasional challenge, your mind is going to lose its edge. You want to keep that edge razor-sharp. If you let it get dull, it’s just going to make everything else on the list more difficult. You’ll exercise less. You’ll succumb to stress much faster. You’ll be less motivated to make changes.

So keep your neurological exercise routines up. You can start simply by practising a deep awareness of your understandings. Step outside and take in everything you experience. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What can you smell right now? How do the things around you feel? If you just sit down all day and don’t stimulate your mind in this way, you’ll stop caring about your surroundings. That’s a sure sign of a dull edge.

You should read more. I’m sure teachers and maybe even nerdy friends have been telling you this since you were young. But reading really does do amazing things for your brain. It stimulates your brain more than any other form of entertainment. It helps you learn new words, or retain memory of the ones you already know. It helps you with empathy. It keeps your brain whirring, guessing, pleasured. It doesn’t have to be something big and complex like Infinite Jest or Gravity’s Rainbow. As the above study shows, even a blood-pumping thriller does the right tricks. (Although you should definitely challenge yourself with something like Infinite Jest. I’m just saying. It’s a good book, okay?)

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One other thing: learning a new skill. There’s not much better for your brain than learning a new skill. You could learn to play an instrument. Not only do musical people fascinate others; they exercise their memory all the time, remember notes and muscle movement. You could pick up a new language. You could even start learning how to code. Or play a sport. Have a browse through Khan Academy for more academic-leaning skills. Why not brush up on physics or economics? Whatever you do, keep that brain working!

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