As women, we intuitively understand that when we look good, we feel good. Taking time to nurture ourselves and pay attention to our appearance can pay off by improving our mood, enhancing our sense of well-being, and now, according to scientific research, creating a measurable impact on our health.
Activities like maintaining a beauty routine and taking time out to pamper ourselves generate positive physical and chemical effects on the body that can lead to reduced levels of cortisol (the stress hormone that is implicated in heart disease and weight gain) and greater efficiency in the way that our bodies process fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Laughing, smiling, listening to music and practicing meditation are other pleasurable experiences that also have a profound effect on the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. The effects are quantifiable and can actually be seen on an MRI.
Grooming activities can cause a reduction of stress hormones, release endorphins (chemicals that fight pain), reduce blood pressure and even stimulate healthy cell growth. Conversely, when you hate the way you look and neglect your beauty routine, the depression that ensues can cause suppressed or abnormal cell growth, a reduced sense of well-being, and generate a downward spiral that will require what can seem like a superhuman effort to pull oneself out of. It’s just easier not to go there, girl.
So, the next time you get a facial, treat yourself to a spa day or even get a maintenance “root job” at the salon, don’t you dare feel guilty! Gently remind yourself that maintaining a beauty regimen is essential to good physical and mental health, and a wonderful way to simply show yourself some love.
Copyright June 2016 by Sharon Gnatt Epel for La Ishá