Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. However, let’s face it, most of us find it hard to be thankful. Our thoughts are filled with negativity. We ruminate on the terrible traffic, on the amount of cooking we will have to do, and on the arguments that will always unfold when family gets together. However, according to science, that stress makes us ugly.
You see, there’s something called the “negativity bias” that most of us have. Most animals, and humans, give greater preference to negative thoughts. In fact, being a positive, or negative, person is actually hardwired into our brains. Telling a person with a negatively hardwired brain to “just be positive” is like telling them to “just breathe underwater”.
While even positive people get negative thoughts, it’s easier for them to let them go, and to think positively. Unfortunately, negative people tend to have a harder time letting go, and tend to be more stressed. The bad news for them is that according to a study by behavioural ecologist Dr Fhionna R. Moore et al., men, and women, with lower levels of stress were perceived as more attractive. Stress literally makes you ugly.
How to De-Stress
While positive people can just let go of negative thoughts, what are some things that negative people can do?
Both cardiovascular and resistance training release endorphins. While this doesn’t address the underlying cause of negative thoughts, exercise has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Reduced stress helps you to appear more attractive.
In previous articles we talked about how sugar gives you acne, and sugar gives you wrinkles. In both articles we showed that eating a low-glycemic-load diet was the key to better looking skin. While this doesn’t necessarily reduce stress, it can make your skin more radiant.
Drink More Water
Dehydrated skin has the appearance of more wrinkles. Drink plenty of water to help keep your skin hydrated and stay away from binge-drinking since alcohol gives you dry skin. Again, like eating well, this doesn’t really reduce stress, but who wants to compound the “uglifying” effects of stress with dehydrated, wrinkled skin? Not me! So, drink up. You’ll be more beautiful as a result.
Stress increases as sleep decreases according to the American Psychological Association. Be sure to get your beauty sleep as this does help you to reduce your stress levels.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
We have saved the best for last. This is the most potent practice that one can do to affect negativity. Whereas, the previous suggestions do not directly affect the underlying cause of negative thoughts, not only does meditation reduce stress, it physically changes the brain. What does it change in the brain? According to researcher Sarah Lazar, in an interview with the Washington Post:
- The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.
- The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.
- The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.
- An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
- The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for what you have. No matter whether you are hardwired to be positive, or negative, there is a way for you to be less stressed, and more beautiful.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.