Feel Better Every Day: Why You Should Try A Skin Gratitude Practice
In the well-being and spiritual space, many experts encourage people to have gratitude practices. The reason being they inspire positive feelings about ourselves, encourage an optimistic point of view, and even come with some tangible, good-for-body benefits.
"Gratitude is the way by which we remind ourselves that not everything is bad and that there are blessings we can focus on," Sanam Hafeez, M.D., a neuropsychologist in New York City and Columbia University faculty member, previously told mbg about the benefits of gratitude. As a result, gratitude can cause a "ripple effect" in which counting your blessings makes you feel more motivated, "and by feeling more motivated, you are continuing to work toward a dream job, a fitness goal, or an improved relationship," Hafeez explains.
Perhaps you have one in place already: You wake up in the morning and jot down a few things you're thankful for, or you go to bed and reflect on your day as you journal. Well, one holistic esthetician believes you should adopt a skin gratitude practice as well.
Why you should adopt a mindful skin gratitude practice.
"There are two ways to pay attention to your skin," says licensed esthetician Hayley Wood, founder of Therapeutic Skin Coach. Wood shared this advice during a recent workshop on sensitive skin in partnership with Burt's Bees. (Check out the recording here.) "You can do it through the lens of fear and self-criticism, or you can do it through the lens of love."
Of course, love seems to be the obvious answer in terms of happiness and well-being, no? The problem is, it can be so challenging to become the sort of person who is able to look in the mirror without going straight to criticism. For many of us, it's a habit we've adopted over time and just have a hard time kicking.
"You could be someone who knows everything about every ingredient in your skin care routine, and if you still pick yourself apart in the mirror, it can cause stress and that inflammatory response. You want to train yourself to have this mindful daily check-in," Wood assures us. "You have to do your grooming anyway. You have to do your hygiene routine, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and washing your face anyway. Why not create an atmosphere where that is your check-in time with your skin. Ask yourself, how am I feeling in my skin? For me, the biggest difference I noticed in my skin and my approach to my routine was when I stopped attacking my skin and stopped being too critical."
So what does this look like day-to-day? Well, just as everyone will find a mindful gratitude practice that works for them, your personal skin gratitude practice may shift. But here's a good place to start, and it takes a page from some of the more famous gratitude practices out there:
- Ground yourself by asking how you and your skin are feeling. Pay attention to your emotions when you ask this, how your skin physically feels, and the like.
- After checking in with yourself, identify three things that you are grateful for about your skin. This can be functional aspects ("I'm grateful my skin keeps me protected from pollution"), aesthetic ("I'm grateful my skin looks glowy after a full night of rest"), or anything you think of ("I'm grateful my blemishes are responding to my new product").
- Give yourself grace if you are having a bad day and just can't seem to muster three things. Just express gratitude for what you can, allow yourself to feel the things you need to feel, and then do your best to move on. We can't always like our skin every day but should try and love it regardless.
- Express your thanks to your skin, and then start your routine as you see fit.
It might even start shifting how you tend to your skin on a day-to-day basis: "Some days you don't need all the products in your routine," notes Hayley. "Some days you might want to give yourself a full spa day. But how are you going to know unless you ask yourself what it is that you need today." It can also help those with picky fingers or those with overeagerness to attack skin conditions to relax, take a beat, and (ideally) not go overboard.
We know there are significant benefits to gratitude practices. In fact, research and expats alike espouse the many things you can look forward to when adopting one. It's no wonder that it may have similar benefits to how you approach your skin and skin care. If you are someone who perhaps struggles with self-confidence in your skin, try this easy gratitude routine.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.