Habit stacking gratitude meditations or affirmations into your morning and evening routine could be the glow up you're looking for.
Daily gratitude has been one of the most popular and well-documented wellness practices of the past few years. Stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington, and Michelle Obama all practice gratitude regularly; the hashtag #gratitude has four billion views on TikTok; and there’s study after study that shows how giving thanks for the good things in your life can enhance your health and happiness.
Sounds good, right? But what if you feel like there’s no time for you to incorporate yet another practice into your routine? If you’re someone who’s really consistent with your daily beauty routine, we have good news for you: You can actually add gratitude to your beauty routine with the magic of “habit stacking,” AKA fitting healthy habits into your day by coupling them with things you already do habitually. Even better? Because gratitude has so many mental health benefits, it’s also bound to trickle down into your skin health. By helping you reduce stress, practicing daily gratitude as part of your beauty routine can leave you feeling and looking glowy as ever.
Here, we break down how this all works with the help of a range of wellness pros.
How Gratitude Can Boost Your Mental Health
The beauty of gratitude is that it’s so easy to practice, not to mention free, while also having significant benefits for your mental health and overall happiness. Practicing gratitude can be more or less structured, can be done in writing or in your head, and doesn’t have to look a specific way: It simply means taking time to feel thankful for the good things in your life, rather than focusing on the problems. This, in turn, can help you feel healthier, happier, and less stressed in your day-to-day life.
“Research shows that the more we focus on gratitude, the less anxious we might be,” explains Kristen Casey, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist you may know from TikTok. “Moreover, we've seen a positive correlation between gratitude and quality of life, which suggests the more we focus on what we're grateful for, the more we will perceive a better quality of life.” Dr. Casey is careful to note that gratitude is never a substitute for mental healthcare, but that it can be an impactful tool regardless. “Gratitude is one strategy to enhance mental health as a part of a larger mental health toolbox to navigate tough times or simply enhance your life,” she says.
If you’re a little skeptical as to how something as small as feeling thankful for the good things in your life could have such wide-ranging effects, we get it, but research shows this practice actually has the potential to rewire your brain. “It may seem like a small step, but by starting every day with the decision to focus on what we are grateful for, even if it is just one thing, like gratitude for our heart pumping or gratitude for a warm bed to sleep in, it will start to reorganize your thought processes to focus on the gratitude,” says Olivia Dreizen Howell, a clinical hypnotherapist, neurolinguistic practitioner, and certified life and success coach. “When we can make the minor adjustments on what we focus on — and shift that focus to a focus of gratitude — it will shift our decision-making, and therefore, actually change our behaviors and outcomes.” Dreizen Howell explains that like begets like, so to speak, so the more positive thoughts you focus on, the more positive thoughts will come to you, which can greatly impact your mood for the better, and lead you to bring an attitude of gratitude to everything you do.
How Gratitude Can Boost Your Skin Health
There is no research we know of that directly links practicing gratitude to improved skin health, but what we do know is that gratitude has been shown to help reduce stress, and that stress is tangibly detrimental to your skin health. Ergo: Reduce stress via gratitude practices (alongside other stress-busting lifestyle habits), and you’ll be well on your way to glowy skin. It also comes down to the popular belief that if you feel good, you’ll look good, too — even if all that has changed is the smile on your face!
“Stress can affect skin health (e.g. pimples before a big deadline or exam, eczema, or psoriasis flares),” says Kellie Reed, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, TX. “Stress can also cause sleep deprivation which increases signs of aging, such as fine lines, reduced elasticity, and uneven pigmentation.” Dr. Casey also makes the point that when we reduce stress, we are more likely to make other healthy lifestyle choices, such as moving our bodies, hydrating, and eating well, or engaging in activities that bring us joy — all of which are likely to have a noticeable positive effect on our overall health, which includes skin health. Building on this point, Dreizen Howell observes that when we’re feeling calm and centered, we’re also more likely to make skin-healthy choices more specifically, such as applying sunscreen daily and sticking to a skincare routine more generally.
Adding the gratitude element back into the mix: “Practicing gratitude and mindfulness can decrease stress, thereby improving sleep and skin appearance,” says Dr. Reed. “I believe glowing skin can often come from within, which radiates as a happy smile and/or the pleasant feeling that comes from being grateful.”
6 Ways to Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Beauty Routine
As we’ve established, a daily gratitude practice can have wonderful repercussions on your wellbeing, as well as helping you achieve better skin. If you’re intrigued by the possibility of adding gratitude to your beauty routine specifically (whether morning, night, or both), the experts shared some concrete tips for getting started.
Listen to a Guided Meditation During Your Skincare Routine
This may be the easiest way to incorporate gratitude into your beauty routine because it doesn’t require any conscious effort except the effort to focus on what you’re hearing. Dr. Reed suggests listening to either a guided gratitude meditation while you go about each step, or a podcast about gratitude which can inspire you to practice it all the time. Meanwhile, Dreizen Howell suggests listening to subliminal audio tracks. “Look for subliminal audio on gratefulness and gratitude,” she says. “I listen to subliminal audio (AKA tracks that incorporate positive affirmations with music or binaural beats) when working, walking, or even with my kids.” It’s important to note, however, that there’s little evidence for subliminal messaging’s effectiveness.
Gratitude meditations, podcasts, and subliminals are widely available on all mainstream streaming platforms.
Incorporate Mindfulness and Appreciation Into Each Step
Make your beauty routine a gratitude practice in and of itself by paying close attention to every step and noticing how great it is that you get to have this moment of self-care every day. Dr. Reed suggests really noticing the feeling of running water, the texture of your lotion, and the sensation of working a product into your skin, while Dreizen Howell suggests practicing gratitude for each tool and product you use.
Alternatively, try shifting your attention to your skin itself, by “taking time to appreciate your skin as well as being loving of any imperfections,” says Dr. Reed. “For example, those ‘smile lines’ come from years of laughter.” The expert adds, “think about all the things your skin does for you — keeps you warm and [acts as a] barrier for many germs.”
Think Grateful Thoughts
Instead of focusing grateful thoughts on specific aspects of your beauty routine, consider elements of your life generally that you feel gratitude for. “You can focus on three aspects of your life that you appreciate while doing your makeup in the morning or while in the shower,” says Dr. Casey. “Maybe you like to take a bath at night and put on a face mask — you can think about all the neutral or positive things that happened throughout the day.”
Write It Out Before or After Your Routine
If you prefer, you could make your gratitude practice an additional step in your beauty routine. “Write in a journal before you start your beauty routine about what you are grateful for,” says Dr. Reed. Build on this strategy by meditating on what you wrote down while you go through your skincare steps.
“One trick I always have my clients do is to put a sticky note on any mirror that simply says, ‘I am worthy,’” says Dreizen Howell. “Our subconscious mind loves repetition, so anything we can do to remind ourselves again and again that we are worthy will help us feel gratitude for ourselves.” If you place your affirmation note on the mirror in your bathroom, that’s what you’ll see every time you get ready for your day— and for bed!
Set an Intention for Your Day
If you choose to incorporate gratitude into your morning routine, think about the energy you want to bring to the day as a whole. “Use this time to set your intention for the day and be appreciative of what you have,” says Dr. Reed.
However you choose to do it, adding a gratitude practice to your existing daily beauty routine can have an amazing effect on your overall well-being, as well as the appearance of your skin.
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Read the original article on Shape.