“Inner beauty” – what is this phrase that people are throwing around more and more? It usually goes hand in hand with “glow”, “youthful” and “radiant”. It’s such an abstract, seemingly mythical concept. However, the basic concept of inner beauty is pretty universal. It’s all about looking after yourself. Self love, both mental and physical.
Now, it’s all well and good making broad, sweeping statements about taking care of yourself and “your body is a temple” etc etc. But how exactly do we do this? Regardless of whether you’re someone who is a health and fitness freak, or someone who’s looking to manage stress by making a few lifestyle changes, I’ve put together 7 tips to help you get started.
Drink more water.
Water is crucial for the body to function as it should. Every cell in the body requires water to maintain your basic bodily functions. It’s also cheap, readily available, and isn’t loaded with sugar and chemicals that your body eventually grows to rely on. Concerned you aren’t getting that 1.2 L (6-8 glasses) a day? Try some of the following:
- Start your day with a full glass of water. Bound to perk you up and get rid of that morning breath.
- Swap your morning coffee for water or tea.
- Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere you go.
- Tempted to reach for Coke? Have water instead.
- Add a slice of lemon or lime to your water – it tastes so refreshing and is perfect for the warmer summer months.
Go to bed at a reasonable time every day (and keep it consistent).
Easier said than done. Getting enough sleep is often a luxury nowadays, especially if you are a parent and you’re having to juggle the stress of building a career and looking after your family all at the same time. Adjust your sleep schedule around your daily requirements – if you often have early starts, start going to bed earlier – that next episode of your favourite TV series can wait.
Challenge yourself every day.
Part of growth is constantly pushing your boundaries, and developing yourself as a result. Do something that makes you think a little harder, or something that pushes you slightly out of your comfort zone – do it every day. This could be anything from watching a documentary about a subject you’ve never been too knowledgable on, or running for a little longer than you usually do. Been practising that cat eyeliner but never had the courage to wear it outside the house? Do it today. As Einstein famously said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
Do some exercise every day (yes, you can do it).
This follows on from my previous point. Don’t give me the “I have no time” line. Exercise doesn’t require a full day – you can do several reps of crunches/sit ups/push ups in 5 or 10 minutes. If you don’t fancy running outdoors, there are plenty of exercises you can do in the privacy of your own home. The key is consistency. If you are someone who does not do much exercise on a regular basis, start with gentle exercise but do it frequently, allowing enough time in between for your body to recover. Avoid pushing yourself hard and not doing anything for a long time afterwards because you are in so much pain. This hits your ego and your body harder than you think.
Put aside at least one hour a day for yourself.
If not an hour, half an hour or even 15 minutes. Just shut your eyes and breathe deeply, in and out. Consciously relax all your muscles and make a point of slowing your breathing down. Try to quiet your mind, and imagine exhaling all those niggling thoughts with each breath, whether it’s your to-do list for today, or a nasty email your colleague sent you yesterday. Nobody can take this from you – this is your quiet time.
Talk to someone, and listen to them.
You’d be surprised. Even if you’re a little more introverted and would rather go home than talk to the person who loves being the life of the party, resist that temptation. Don’t go home just yet. Strike up a conversation with them, let them tell you about themselves, their hopes, their dreams, their fears (maybe after a few drinks). Share something about yourself, ask for their advice on something you’ve been mulling over – whether it’s a big decision, a career change or what to get your mother for her birthday. Open your eyes to how others see the world, and you’ll grow to become a much more well-rounded, cultured human being.
Don’t do it because the other person will have to give you something of similar value in return. Do it because it feels good. Do it in the knowledge that it makes the other person feel that bit happier and more appreciated. Extravagant gifts are no means necessary. Surprise your co-worker with a coffee just the way they like it, buy your significant other flowers or their favourite beer for no reason. A little goes a long way here.
And that’s my little guide to that thing we call inner beauty. I love my makeup, but seeing someone waking up an hour earlier to go to the gym as part of their New Year’s resolutions AND when it’s not the 1st of January? That’s the real stuff right there. You go girl.