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You’re just a few hours from looking the worst you’ll look all week. Or so says one study that claims women look their oldest at approximately 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.
If you’re like many women, then today is your most stressful day of the week. One study, discussed in The Telegraph and sponsored by skin care companies, found that one in ten women think Wednesday is the most stressful day of the week and another 25% couldn’t pick a day if they tried, because they think there are several stressful days in a week (The Telegraph, MSN).
But that’s not the only reason women apparently look their oldest. It’s the combination of factors: the booze from the weekend (the body can take 72 hours to show the signs), the lack of sleep (many women say Monday is their worst night of sleep, paired with not getting enough in general), and the midday slump that causes women to feel (and look) older.
So here are a few tips for beating the Wednesday lull that might have you feeling less-than-your-best…
The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Get Enough Sleep!
It’s the most obvious of all tips we could give. If you get enough sleep regularly, you won’t be so tired all the time. It’s kind of a given, right? But if you’re anything like me, you tell yourself that you can compensate with caffeine. That doesn’t work. What does is getting somewhere between the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
The first thing lack of sleep does in making you feel bad is causing a downshift in your sense of well-being. One study found that participants who were sleep-deprived had more difficult maintaining a happy mood, and had poorer cognitive function during stress tests than their well-rested counterparts (International Journal of Psychophysiology).
The second thing it does is actually make you look worse. Sleep is when your body going in reparative mode, and that includes your skin, and in the long-term this can do damage. But, it’s the stress that your body is less able to handle when tired that does you in short-term (Medical Hypotheses). Stress can affect the immune system and constrict blood flow, resulting in tired skin (The New Science of Perfect Skin).
Get Up, Get Moving!
Exercise has some phenomenal skin benefits. But even just taking a brisk walk in the afternoon can be helpful in reducing the stress and fatigue that can often hit midday. I can’t be the only one who occasionally has to fabricate an errand just to get outside and moving!
Exercise reducing the amount of stress hormones in your skin; it also increases blood flow. These benefits combined can help to stave off the tired appearance that plagues many women mid-afternoon. And long-term, exercise can help skin ailments exacerbated by stress, such as acne (Women’s Health Magazine).
Working out — whether it’s running or lifting — has been shown to lessen symptoms of depression and improve mood (Clinics). Regular exercise has alone been shown to boost energy overall (Science Daily). Less stress means better skin!
Need a quick fix this afternoon? A brief walk will help to improve mood, increase energy, and reduce stress (APA).
Stay Away from the Sugar!
When you’re sleep-deprived you’re probably more likely to crave sugar than any other time. Resist the urge; you’ll thank yourself later. That’s because sugar can actually make you more tired.
That’s because what you eat is strongly connected to a neuropeptide, Orexin, that makes you feel awake or tired depending on its levels in your system. Studies on mice have shown that injecting them with Orexin increases metabolism by increasing their energy expenditure (Wired). This is one of the puzzle pieces many researchers are looking at in understanding weight gain. When we have more Orexin in our system, we’ve also got more energy and a faster metabolism.
So what foods help increase Orexin?
In a series of experiments, from in vitro to in vivo, researchers found that meals rich in protein increased the activity of Orexin neurons and sugar decreased the activity of Orexin (Neuron).
That’s why so many people out there tell you to reach for almonds or another protein-rich snack when you feel low-energy, because these really will help to boost your energy. A protein-rich meal or a meal that balances carbohydrates and proteins will help you stay awake way better than a carbohydrate rich meal (Physiology and Behavior).
Think Happy Thoughts!
Yeah, this one’s another given; but it’s important. Your mindset can definitely affect your work and keep you from feeling energetic. Having something to look forw
ard to — whether that be a date with your sweetie or a new class you’re taking can make you feel more positive throughout the day.
A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that positive thinking people tend to be healthier and have fewer symptoms overall when they’re sick (Psychosomatic Medicine). Overall, optimistic people tend to have better health and live longer (Huffington Post).
And short-term, your attitude can reduce the amount of stress you have, making you feel more energetic and helping you look better (CNN). So whether you’re thinking right now, or long into the future, it’s a good thing to keep a positive attitude.
Just because one research study found that Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. is, on average, the least attractive moment in most women’s week doesn’t mean yours has to be. In the long-term, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and thinking positive thoughts can help you feel less stressed and more energetic. But if you’re looking for something to help you out today, don’t fret! Taking a quick, brisk walk, eating protein-rich snacks, and thinking positively about something coming up in the future can all help you battle that deadly combination of the midday, mid-week slump.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!