This isn’t rocket science, but I discovered this on Christmas Day. You could say it was my Christmas miracle.
There are so many ways to have a person’s skin glow- skin care routines pre-and post- sleep, face masks, face scrubs, etc. (apricot is great for face scrubs). There’s the post workout glow, post-coital glow, and of course, pregnancy glow amongst women (which I have been told is just sweat from throwing up, so I suppose it’s the same as the post-workout glow). My personal favourite glow is the one that follows a HIIT workout out in the sun. My skin is red and hot in the aftermath and I feel like I’ve earned the shower and food after.
The reason I’m talking about glowing skin is because it was on Christmas Day when I was all dressed up in red that someone said to me, “I love your look today, you’re positively glowing!” I had then said, “oh, thank you very much, I just bought a new foundation, actually”. “No, I don’t think it’s the foundation”, she had said. “You’ve been glowing for quite some time. You’ve been looking good!”
Obviously flattered as I was, I started thinking about the things that had changed in my life since the last time I had looked noticeably like sh*t. It was not many moons ago, if I’m honest, it was probably in September that I was still looking like I was out of f*cks to give about how I looked. It was fair to say I was at my worst, and when I’m at my worst, effort is minimal. My outfits for work would mostly consist of black leggings and variations of grey and blue tops; colours to show how I was truly feeling- quite bleak. It was easy to tell from my face and my lack of effort in looking presentable that I was at a very ‘ceebs’ stage of my life. One time, on a date, I wore a Reebok vest and jeans- that’s how ceebs I was. Another time, on a date with a different man, I wore a regular white vest and jeans. No one would have said that I was glowing. A bunch of people did ask me if I was ill, but nobody would have thought that I was glowing.
So, when my friend pointed out that I appeared to be glowing, I had to revisit what it was that had changed since September and the only thing I could think of was that I was happy. After a long time I was genuinely happy. There was nothing in my head or in my life that was stressing me out. And that made my skin glow.
So now I have actual tips because clearly I am a pro at glowing skin.
1. Seek help when you’re down
Talking to someone about how you feel is probably the most underrated route to happiness and ultimately good skin- definitely for me. I always do this to myself- whenever I am low, I suck it all in and keep it there until I explode. The lava that comes out is neither pleasant nor pretty. There are ugly emotions and sadness all over. Don’t let that happen. I used to think ignoring feelings and emotions is the best way forward because discussing them isn’t going to change the pickle I am in. If anything, talking about it is probably going to make me feel worse. But when I sought help from an actual therapist and a life coach, things went differently. My therapist made me cry about 4 times but in the end I understood myself a lot better and that was the outcome I was hoping for. Soon after talking things out, I realised I was doing much better. The first date I went on after my therapy and life coaching sessions, I wore a maxi dress and actual make up. I was starting to give a damn again. I was starting to glow again.
2. Bring your ambitions back to the front seat
When something has got you down, life almost always loses priority and the source of discomfort starts to poke its ugly nose into everything that you do. Nothing gives you joy because you are constantly demented by the thought of whatever has got you down. Naturally, work, your family life and quite possibly your life goals and ambitions take a step back whilst the grief consumes you. It’s easier said than done, but don’t let that happen. Actively make the effort to bring your ambitions back into the front seat where they belong. If anything, it’ll give you something else to think of and even if it feels like a transient relief from sadness at first, there will come a time when your ambitions and goals become your priority again, exciting your brain, reducing stress, making you happier and brightening up your skin. That’s what worked for me.
3. Never underestimate the power of friends and family
As someone who doesn’t really talk to friends and family about actual feelings and sh*t, I can still vouch for the fact that quality time spent with friends and family is the cure to almost everything. Except perhaps Coronavirus.
At a time of general unhappiness it might seem attractive to shut yourself away from the world, cocoon into a duvet with hot chocolate and watch The Crown, but it’s so much better for your sanity to instead meet people and socialize (I can almost hear introverts crawling back into their hibernation beds). When you meet people and talk about something other than yourself you distract yourself from your problems and have a laugh- reducing stress, making you happier and brightening up your skin. I don’t know what introverts like to do to distract themselves from their issues but I’m sure there’s a less-social version of this suggestion to have your skin glow.
4. Capture the happy moments
There is one conversation that I had with my brother that I will never forget. I had stumbled home, a teeny bit inebriated, and had promtply burst into tears because something on the radio on my way home had reminded me of something sad and now I was feeling dismal. He had then proceeded to ask me how I felt every morning- did I feel like I had a purpose in life? Did I feel excited about waking up in the morning, about the events of the day? Does anything give me joy anymore? ‘No’, I had said tearfully whilst in his embrace and he had concluded that I was in fact in depression. I had then confirmed the diagnosis with my therapist and was rather taken aback when he agreed with my brother. As a way to start appreciating things again, he asked me to keep a photo journal of the things that brought me joy, no matter how little. In my quest to be happy again, I got to it immediately. I stopped after five days because it was turning out to be an expensive coping mechanism- I wanted to be happy, not broke. But I continued to take pictures of things that brought me joy anyway and sharing on social media- not to get more likes but to have them on record for myself- to know that there is a happy version of me and that whatever happens, I can be that happy version again. With great skin.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one stresses one doesn’t sleep- and lack of sleep not only leaves you cranky and annoying but also with unhealthy skin. When you’re happy, you have less disturbing dreams, leading to better quality of sleep and possibly even quantity of sleep. Through Christmas, I have been on annual leave, sleeping at 3am and waking up at 9am. That’s not a crazy amount of sleep and I wouldn’t say I don’t have disturbing dreams (in the dream from last night I was pregnant with Indian actor Sunil Shetty’s child- it was very disturbing), but I don’t wake up looking groggy; I wake up, well, firstly cursing the birds outside my window for being too loud, but secondly, I wake up feeling happy. And with great skin. Except for that one time when I went to bed after having had too much fun (not the naughty kind) and not having removed my make-up. That time I woke up with a pimple.
Add alcohol to a sad person’s diet and you witness a landslide decline into grief. Alcohol is a depressant and it is so easy to wind up with a bottle of wine on a lonely night- but not only does it make things worse because of its depressant nature, it also wrecks sleep, leading to a vicious cycle of stress → alcohol → no sleep → bad skin → stress.
The bottom line is, no one can force you to be happy, the solution to not being depressed isn’t ‘just try and be happy’, and the way to overcome sadness isn’t to just meet people. But talking to someone who understands you, seeking the help you need, spending quality time with friends and family, not resorting to alcohol, and getting a good night’s sleep can go a long way in ensuring your happiness. And good skin.