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Dr. Amy's 7 Habits for Healthy Skin

Learn how to look younger in only minutes a day

Wondering what you can do to nurture vibrant, healthy skin from the inside out? Tackle stress! Make Dr. Amy's seven habits -- which are the heart and soul of her book, The Mind-Beauty Connection -- part of your life. Then, watch every inch of you -- but especially your face -- start to look younger, less stressed, more alive. Each of these tips for healthy skin chips away at the nonstop pressure and tension that can age you 6 years or more.

1. Practice Deep Breathing

Shift your body's balance of oxygen versus carbon dioxide in favor of energizing, stress-squashing oxygen by doing slow, controlled breathing exercises. Practice deep breathing.

  • How often? Aim for twice a day.
  • Why do it? When you focus on your breathing, you're not focusing on anything else (your to-do list or the late babysitter). That mental shift helps remove stressors, which can cause healthy skin to breakout, bringing you to a deeper level of consciousness, a place where you can put things into perspective.

2. Get Active

One of the top tips for healthy skin, a healthy body and a clear mind is exercise. By putting your body in motion for 30 minutes or more each day, you can release the repressed anxiety trapped inside and relax more fully each day.

  • How often? Do something -- anything -- every day, because exercise only tames stress for a maximum of 24 hours. So to reap the most benefits, you need to do it daily. If you prefer, tuck 10-minute pockets of activity into your day -- at lunch, after dinner, right after you get up and the house is still quiet. Find ways to sneak fitness into your schedule.
  • Why do it? Staying active boosts circulation, which delivers more nutrients to cells and skin. It also increases lung capacity, so you can take in more oxygen; lifts your spirits and sense of well-being; and fights age-related diseases. And, for many, it's the ultimate stress reducer.

3. Beat the Foods That Beat You

One of the best tips for how to look younger involves eating a well-balanced diet. To eat for healthy skin and a healthy body, try to reduce the allure of sugary, fatty foods by eating more lean protein: fish, eggs, poultry, low-fat dairy foods, and even walnuts. Use this list of good-for-your-skin foods that can help lower stress and fight wrinkles, too. Also, try to be more aware of what you reach for -- and how much you consume -- when you're stressed. Get some pointers on mindful eating.

  • How often? All day, but especially early on -- morning protein helps curb afternoon cravings.
  • Why do it? Protein is key to avoiding mood swings and energy dips. It helps you maintain a healthy blood sugar balance, which in turn keeps certain hormones (including insulin) in check. Bumping up your protein intake also gives you more energy and fights hunger pangs, which can play games with your moods.

4. Focus on the Good Things

Pick up a notebook you particularly like, and at the end of each day, make a list of things for which you are truly grateful. Or write down three things that went well, and why.

  • How often? Nightly, as part of your winding-down routine.
  • Why do it? Keeping a journal that records the good things in life helps shift your focus to what you're doing right, and that can put the brakes on the stressful negative chatter that often goes on in your head.

5. Stretch Out Your Sleep

When it comes to healthy skin, a clear mind and a healthy body, there’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Make it a goal to sleep as many hours as you need to feel alive and productive the next day -- all day.

  • How often? Every night.
  • Why do it? Sleep is free cosmetic medicine, pure and simple. When you ask Dr. Amy what single thing makes the biggest improvement in how a stressed-out person looks, she says, "Sleep." Nothing exacerbates stress and etches in lines like exhaustion.

6. Take a Time-Out

For most of us, life is so hyperscheduled and speedy that we never do absolutely nothing. It's rare to set aside time to simply be -- no agenda, no demands, no plan. (Just like a real vacation. See if you're due for one.) Find a comfortable, quiet spot to sit for 10 to 15 minutes every day, stop all your hustling and bustling . . . and simply, by yourself, be still.

  • How often? Try for once a day.
  • Why do it? Slowing down for a little while helps create a sense of spaciousness in your life, a break in the nonstop whirl that can open the door to new perceptions, new solutions, new possibilities. It gives your brain, your psyche, your whole being a break. Like one long, peaceful sigh.

7. Cuddle or Have Sex

Enjoy a little intimacy.

  • How often? At least once a week.
  • Why do it? All kinds of age-defying, beauty-promoting events happen during sex as three seductive hormones spill out of the brain: endorphin, a natural opiate, which contributes to that delicious high; prolactin, which gives you that relaxing, tension-zapping ahhhhhhh; and soothing oxytocin, which promotes feelings of affection and triggers a nurturing instinct.

Feel the stress start to slip awaywith these tips.

July, 2009