Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
Is she the one with the largest breasts, flawless skin or fullest lips? These qualities may enter into the overall beauty equation, yet there is something deeper that transcends beyond what we visually see in the mirror.
True beauty radiates from within.
There is no denying that the most beautiful women in the world are far more than a product of external beauty. Inner spirit, positive emotions and healthy relationships produce a natural beauty that cannot be found in a bottle.
Conversely, even the best, most expensive treatments in the world cannot conceal negativity, fear, anxiety or the emotional toll of a toxic relationship. Inner beauty is the secret often forgotten on the quest to remain forever young.
Let's explore some of the elements that enhance inner beauty and reflect a glow of health and positivity.
1. PREVENTIVE HEALTH MAINTENANCE
It may not sound as sexy as the latest and greatest facial rejuvenation procedure, but before making that phone call for Botox, have we scheduled our yearly mammogram or seen our internist?
External beauty means nothing if our internal organs are not well-maintained. Poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking or lack of exercise do not do a body good. Annual physical examinations—including age-appropriate screening tests—are necessary to allow for early intervention and lifestyle adjustments to maintain quality health. Chronic disease prevention, increased lifespan, ability to live an active lifestyle, and decreased cost of health care are a few benefits of preventive medicine. Seeking a trusted medical professional is step one. Preventive health care saves lives and is vital to living life to the fullest and remaining young at heart, literally and figuratively.
BONUS: Overall health and hydration are reflected in our skin quality, allowing for a beauty that originates from the inside out.
Movement is the key to health. It also contributes to happiness, weight loss, increased libido, brain function and memory. Regular exercise and strength training can boost circulation, improve bone density, increase energy levels and release endorphins, making us feel as good as our body looks! While there are many ways to exercise, finding a physical activity you truly enjoy is the key to staying motivated each and every day. Even a simple 30-minute walk each day can begin to transform your body, mind and spirit. From walking to running, cycling or yoga, the sky is the limit!
The positive feedback is exponential, as exercise helps with stress reduction and sleep quality, allowing us to wake each morning feeling stronger, leaner, and more confident in our appearance.
3. GOOD NUTRITION
We are what we eat.
Nutrition is more efficacious than any medicine. Without the building blocks of good nutrition, instead of a temple, our body will become a house of cards. Crash diets and processed foods cause inflammation and deprive our bodies of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary to build healthy skin, lower our cholesterol, and reduce our risk of cancer.
Nutritional deficiencies are apparent on the outside. Skin, hair, and nails are structures that undergo constant renewal and require natural, healthy food to fuel this process. Collagen—the protein responsible for the elasticity and firmness of our skin—is the most affected by the aging process. Oxidative stress, a main cause of aging, occurs when there are more free radicals than antioxidants in the body. Toxins, stress, processed foods and UV light cause free radical damage. Antioxidants from plant foods such as vegetables, nuts and whole grains help to neutralize free radicals. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to build collagen and prevent free radical damage. Reducing our sugar intake and eating a diversity of whole, natural foods that are high in protein and green, leafy vegetables gives us the essential nutrients we need, such as Vitamin C, iron, and zinc.
Furthermore, natural foods provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent diseases and slow the aging process. The resultant increase in energy and radiant beauty from eating healthy is the cherry on top!
4. MENTAL HEALTH
We are what we think.
A beautiful exterior is only a façade if it conceals inner turmoil and negativity. Everyday life can be filled with stress. Mental health is a product of many things, but the books we read, media we watch, and music or podcasts we hear can influence our outlook on the world. Eliminating toxic relationships and minimizing the chaos of social media may be the first step toward a brighter mindset. Professional support may be part of the journey to improve our ability to manage our feelings. In the end, our sense of peace and contentment is dependent upon our state of mind.
Meditation, a well-known practice to enhance mental health, can be used as a powerful stress-relieving tool to help boost energy and sensory awareness. Research supports the positive benefits of mindful meditation in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger and fear. Being mindful allows us to focus on the present and lift the weight of the past.
A feeling of relaxation and inner peace is priceless: It's echoed in our positive attitude and the way we view our reflection in the mirror.
5. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Humans have an inherent desire to connect and build relationships. Multiple studies from major institutions, among them Harvard University, have shown that companionship increases longevity. Healthy relationships instill a sense of trust, respect, value and belonging. The health benefits of companionship include fewer doctor visits, lower blood pressure, and decreased anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Having the emotional and even financial support of a loving partner or friend also improves our ability to cope with the stress of life.
Social support is important not only during times of crises, but also during times of success and celebration.
The quality of a few loving relationships is far more important than the quantity of social media "friends." Investing time and energy into our valuable relationships yields concrete benefits. One of love's greatest benefits is joy. Be it a happy marriage—with the emphasis on happy—or the support of trusted family and friends, fulfilling relationships hold the key to a long and beautiful life.
6. SEXUAL WELLNESS
Sexual wellness lies at the core of our human existence. Since the beginning of time, human beings have been driven by two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.
Although this may sound primitive in today's sophisticated society, it is the basic motivation behind our every action, desire and thought. Our basic animal instincts drive us to seek a partner with whom to reproduce for the survival of our gene pool. Our quest for beauty would be remiss without including our inner spirit animal longing for companionship and intimacy.
Despite our best efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, hormonal changes as we age pose a significant roadblock to our sexual wellness. Insomnia, depression and reduced libido can affect both sexes during midlife. Menopause and andropause clinics abound as people recognize these changes and seek early intervention. Hormone replacement therapy, along with innovative new procedures to regenerate the female and male organ systems such as the O-Shot® and P-Shot®, can improve libido and enhance the sexual experience.
Finding a trusted medical provider to explore options and get ahead of the curve is critical. Doing so will improve individual health—and the ripple effect will benefit your love life!
7. AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
In the never-ending chase for "better" and "more" out of life, we often forget the many reasons we have to be thankful.
There is a clear link between improvement of well-being and gratitude. Cultivating gratitude is a skill that takes time and repetition. Using a gratitude journal is one of the best researched methods to improve our sense of gratitude. The habit of practicing daily gratitude allows us to rediscover all the great things that already exist in our life. This five-minute activity conjures positive feelings and optimism that translate into an improvement of our health, relationships, emotions, and personality.
Focusing on the good in our present-day life inspires the belief for a better future.
From a beauty perspective, are we grateful for the reflection we see in the mirror or do we compare ourselves to others? Gratitude reduces feelings of jealousy and envy; it has been shown to increase self-esteem while making us less self-centered. As we age, we can be grateful for the smile lines and crinkles around our eyes that show we live a life filled with happiness!
8. BEAUTY SLEEP
Sleeping Beauty was onto something with her countless days of slumber.
The process of repairing the body occurs during sleep and includes making new collagen for the skin, to prevent sagging. The body also boosts blood flow to the skin during sleep, allowing for a healthy glow and rosy cheeks. When blood flow is diminished, it can collect under the eyes where the skin is thin, reflecting dark circles. Sleep deprivation can also lead to red eyes, puffiness, wrinkles and dull skin.
We look as tired as we feel. Facial expressions, such as a furrowed brow and frowning at the corners of the mouth, correlate with poor sleep quality. A good night's sleep is as important as any expensive night cream. The goal is to maintain at least seven hours of quality sleep each night, so we awake looking and feeling rested, energized, and ready for a new day.
9. MEANINGFUL WORK
We all work for a living. Whether we're a student, a full-time parent, a volunteer or on a professional path, it's still work. The real question: Do we love what we do? Maybe not every single day. But the majority of the time, do we find satisfaction and fulfillment on our chosen path? We are all born with natural talents and interests. We feel most confident using skills that come naturally.
Fear is often the great inhibitor in the pursuit of dreams, as opportunities may seem limited or risk is involved when stepping out of our comfort zone. A calculated risk is vital to our development as human beings. Finding a way to incorporate our passions into daily life—no matter how small the commitment—instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. The desire to grow, improve and gain more knowledge is a consequence of doing something we love. In addition, relationships, health and overall happiness improve, because we are living life with a sense of purpose.
To quote Audrey Hepburn, one of the most iconic and classic beauties in history: "The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides."
It all begins with loving ourselves. This differs vastly from being selfish, which seeks external satisfaction and feeding our ego. The concept of self-love is about love coming from the inside out. The power of self-love gives us the freedom to let go of trying to obtain the picture-perfect life and instead accept ourselves as the uniquely beautiful and perfectly imperfect human beings we are. We can begin to accept our mistakes, have gratitude for the wisdom we have gained along our journey, establish healthy boundaries, trust ourselves, and follow our passions.
Self-love gives us the freedom to enjoy life and not take ourselves so seriously, which, ultimately, is the Holy Grail to finding inner beauty.
We as individuals reflect so much more than just the image we see in the mirror. Like a mirror image, beauty has two sides. Inner beauty is the missing piece of the overall beauty puzzle. The best beauty evolves from the inside.
Now we possess the beauty secret that can't be bought in a store or found in any procedure performed in a doctor's office. This truly is beauty.
Jeanne Eyde, D.O., is a Board-Certified ENT, Facial Plastic Surgeon practicing Aesthetic Medicine and Sexual Wellness at Grand Pearl Spa in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is also the Medical Director at Urban You. Dr. Eyde specializes in nonsurgical facial rejuvenation, performing the most advanced injection and laser treatments. Furthermore, she is passionate about men's and women's wellness and is trained in all the Vampire® procedures, including the Priapus Shot® and O-Shot® techniques for sexual wellness. Connect with her at the Grand Pearl Spa or on LinkedIn.