Bad habits that are making you look old
There's no escaping the passage of time – you will get older, and your body will age. And yet, some people in their 60s look like they're in their 40s, while some people in their 30s look like they're in their 50s. So what gives?
Harboring anger and grudges
Skipping sunglasses on sunny days
Sleeping on your face
Staring at your phone 24/7
Eating a poor diet
Poor skin care
Basic skin care is a big deal when it comes to limiting the effects of aging. As tempting as it is to head to bed after a long day without washing your face, Dr. Youn says this is a big no-no. "This is a bad habit that really needs to not happen. Makeup, as well as the day's grime, oil, and pollution, clog your pores and can result in acne. Your skin rejuvenates itself at night and cannot do this very well if it isn't cleaned."
Drinking from a straw
Drinking from a straw seems so benign – maybe you even do it to help prevent dark liquids from staining your teeth. At any rate, it might be time to retire your straws because pursing your lips to sip from a straw can lead to "smoker-style" lines surrounding your mouth. Dr. Youn emphasizes that these smoker's lines "can worsen and deepen with any activity that involves pursing your lips, including drinking out of a straw or drinking from a non-reusable water bottle." Yikes.
Too many cocktails
If your goal is to look younger, alcohol is not your friend. "Alcohol is dehydrating and damaging to DNA, which can lead to a less youthful appearance," LeBeau told me.
Running too much
Staying active and exercising throughout the week is vital to keeping that youthful glow, but it is certainly possible to have too much of a good thing. Running too much can leave you looking and feeling older. "Too much running punishes the bones and joints, and one can get stress fractures and cartilage damage," Powerlifter and trainer Robert S. Herbst told me. "It has also been associated with blood markers that show damage to the heart muscle."
Some bad habits like smoking are obviously going to affect our health and aging. However, there are also small habits that we may not even realize we're doing that can affect us too. The simple act of frowning can make you look older over time. "Smiling makes you younger and increases immunity," Dr. Murray Grossan told me. "Even just a 'fake smile' will reduce the number of colds you get." The next time you catch yourself frowning during the drive to work, take a moment to smile. Not only will you feel an instant mood lift, you'll look younger too.
Healthy eating and steering clear of sugar is vital to looking younger. However, if the pendulum swings too far, and you are concerned you've become obsessed with restricting calories, it's time to seek help. "Restricting too many calories actually lowers your metabolism, sending your body into starvation mode. Your body will then hold onto all calories you put in, which actually slows down weight loss," Therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW told me.
Even if you're one of those people who feels fine on four or five hours of sleep, it's not serving you. Going to bed late every night does not give our bodies a chance to repair and replenish. This only adds to the aging process. Skipping sleep even leads to a shorter lifespan. "Sleeping within the seven-hour range is optimal," Dr. Casciari told Health. Try going to bed just 15 or 30 minutes earlier tonight and see how you feel.
Too much television
Sitting all day
If you walk like an older person, you're going to become one faster. Slouching when you walk actually zaps your energy. A study in Biofeedback found that when participants walked with a hunched over posture, they felt less energetic afterwards. This was especially pronounced in participants who already had depression.
Not managing your stress
Perhaps no habit on this list is as dangerous to our health and aging as stress. Feeling stressed out not only robs your day of happiness, but makes you older in the process. "Studies have shown that excessive worrying can lead to premature aging. Frequent or habitual worrying increases cortisol and promotes oxidative damage," Psychiatrist Jared Heathman told me. "This results in shorter telomere lengths that may reduce lifespan by two to eight years." Those darn telomeres again!
Skipping the eye cream
How often do you fall into bed after a long day, rather than winding down and doing your skincare routine? Dabbing on a dot of eye cream at night only takes a moment, but can help you look younger over time. "The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and has very few oil glands," Dermatologist Debra Jaliman told Shape.
Not having sex
When you stop having sex, you may start to look older. That's because making love affects all areas of our lives. Giving up sex is associated with more stress, a weakened immune system, and depression. All of these factors leave us looking and feeling older. Not sure where to start with this one? Make a commitment to taking your sex life back. "Some women are not active participants in their sex lives," author of What Smart Couples Know Pat Covalt, PhD told Prevention. "A lot of men would like to be touched more, seduced more. Everyone wants to feel wanted."
It's up to you
While learning about all of these bad habits and their negative effects can feel overwhelming, this is positive. The good news is that all of these habits and choices are up to us. Lifestyle factors have a huge effect on how our bodies age, so let's start taking control today.