Staycation Face

Staycation Face
Me, dining on vacation in Italy circa 2011 B.C (Before Children)

This is not a deep dive into the plethora of scientific studies that back up the notion that our physical wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our mental health, including our unique thoughts and outlook. This, rather, is a truthful toe-dip, from the point of view of a female makeup artist in her near 40’s, seeing herself beginning to age, and recognizing the environment in which this ‘aging’ is occurring, and some days--rapidly!

Mirror, Mirror

One needs only to look back at a photograph of oneself on a seaside holiday (from the neck up anyway) to recognize that happiness and relaxation truly do look great. Our faces look more hydrated and plumped, our smiles more genuine, our skin more glowing and generally speaking younger. Without makeup, Without a filter! This in stark contrast to the visage you might expect to see catching a glimpse in a finger streaked bathroom mirror, juggling one child’s incessant verbalized need for something called a Battling Robot, and another’s audible squeals from another room over the sound of pooling water, while hoping to have five minutes before making breakfast to respond to emails marked urgent from the day before, a red voicemail dot that’s been sitting there for longer, and remembering that two family members’ health cards have expired and what that might entail to remedy. The face looking back is as drawn and frazzled as her surroundings.

Staycation Face

Is it the permission we give ourselves on holidays to take a break from our negative thoughts and everyday sources of stress, that makes the difference in our appearance? Or the added time usually spent outdoors, away from devices, and having fun with people we love? I think, Yes. Feeling good is certainly the root of Beauty, both inner and outer. So how to achieve this the other 330 days of the year?

There is no easy answer, but there is a simple one. Be happier. Don’t be a slave to your own negative thoughts and criticism. Here is a 3-step precis of what I have discovered that works for me:

The Five Minute Journal : This journal was gifted to me over 4 years ago, as part of a self-awareness workshop I took part in. Ever since, it has sat in my bookshelf never opened, but often enough threw me culpable glances. Then one day, I picked it up, rid myself of any preconceived notions about journaling, and within days it had transformed my mindset. The fill in the blanks style journal feels as though the kindest version of myself wrote me a love note, and kept me accountable to that positivity all day long. Get one!

Breaking Rituals/Routines : Generally speaking, the self-care products industry wants you to spend more time on yourself, more time to groom, make-up, slather, or massage. These can all be good things, until they become routine and lose their meaning or become a source of guilt (as motivation for doing them, or for not doing them). The antidote is to inject some Belief into these routines, which can otherwise become just a hygienic necessity. Belief in your products-- that they were made with good intentions, good ingredients, and have been passed into your good hands to be good to your skin, and Belief in yourself--including all the unique and wonderful aspects that make you who you are. If that isn’t enough to make your 10 minutes in the bathroom feel like a break from the rest of the day, try to dedicate one hour each week to your personal upkeep with a DIY masque, a gua sha session, an invigorating dry body brushing session, or even a more lengthy makeup application. These breaks from the norm tell your inner and outer self that you are taking care and attention because you matter. And you will look the better for it.

Stay off social media: When I’m on holidays, I leave my phone off in my carry-on for the entire vacation, or check it just once a day for work-related messages. This isn’t always possible in our everyday lives full of responsibilities and communications, however you can use your time on social media more wisely if it’s not your job to be on it. When was the last time you felt bad about your appearance after going on a park walk, or grocery shopping? Do you look as critically at women in real life walking their dogs or with their shopping buggies as you do when looking through a model’s, influencer’s or even your cousin’s filtered Instagram photos? Social media is full of filtered, not true-to-life photos of people being, looking, and doing something better than you. Period. It’s disheartening and puts unachievable goals to our front of mind. Limiting my exposure or simply closing an app as soon as I find myself comparing or obsessing has been a blessing to my self esteem.

The Destination

I find myself at odds with myself, that despite my own educational and emotional progress in my spirituality, feeling grounded in my own beliefs, values, and worth, that I still waste emotional energy fretting about my appearance. On one hand, I give the proverbial middle finger to society’s obsession with youth and infantalization of women. On the other hand, I find myself focused on new lines on my forehead that make me feel bad. This dichotomous mindset is, I have learned, pretty common--but not altogether healthy or progressive (no judgment). In everyday life when we are not on vacation, we are more susceptible to our usual habits, thoughts, routines, and stressors, and they show on our faces. But these are not all inescapable. If we can consciously change our thoughts for the better, we can change our outlook, and what looks back at us will be happy too. Regardless of the motivation, whether it be internal or external, isn’t happiness our ultimate paradise?