Friday, 26 October 2018

Post-Stoptober beauty

For those who are valiantly slogging their way to the end of Stoptober, or Sober for October - well done!

Afterwards is arguably most important, though. Stoptober is not meant to be a virtue-signalling month where you quit the cigs or booze for 30 days and then return to your old ways. The question is how to sustain it.

This should be a holistic approach that involves mind, habits, and body.

If you have given up alcohol this month, then this probably involves having quite a few drink-free days a week, and/or alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks when out, in a bid to reduce your overall consumption. For ex-smokers, it might involve having something to hold or fiddle with when you would normally smoke, or taking up a new hobby that will engage your hands. For both groups, it may involve reconsidering how much time you spend with certain friends, changing your route home from work, or finding coping strategies for stressful situations that would normally send you reaching for a corkscrew or lighter.

The power of mindfulness - extending to techniques such as hypnotherapy - is also surprising for its capacity to calm and rewire your mindset. This is easy and quick to do, and often free. Having prepared for birth using the iHypnobirth app, and used the Surf City Sleep Well app to improve sleep quality, I have seen noticeable results in terms of feeling calm, relaxed and prepared, as well as being able to develop clear strategies to help me fall and stay asleep more consistently. As you can imagine, there are plenty of apps to help you quit smoking or eat mindfully.

Wellness is just one part of health and beauty. Some people also like to continue the good work they have started in Stoptober using commercial products - such as whitening toothpaste to improve nicotine-stained teeth, or face creams containing vitamin C and antioxidants to boost skin quality (sagging and lines are just some results of smoking). You could also consider nail kits and nail whiteners to help reduce staining.

The effects of alcohol consumption (and, let's be honest, most Brits drink unhealthy amounts, even if this falls within social norms) are perhaps not as immediately or obviously visible physically, but they are there. Rosacea, for example, can be linked to alcohol consumption, as can obesity.

As a result, we should remember that beauty also starts from within. Consider drinking more water (alcohol dehydrates the skin), improving your diet and exercise plan (alcohol is just empty calories, after all), or even taking supplements to help detoxify (from a reliable retailer, of course), as alcohol deprives the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Some of the products linked to above can also help with this.

None of this is said to be preachy. None of us are perfect. And I know it isn't always that simple. I've tried every acne-busting product under the sun (well, nearly), been a clothing size 10 to 14, consume minimum dairy and have even given vegetarianism a go, but that hasn't stopped my face and body being plagued by spots from the age of 10. I'm now 32. (Thanks, PCOS!) The only thing that has improved my skin even remotely has been pregnancy! But we all have to do what we can. So if you've started with Stoptober - why not keep up your good work?

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