UK consumers spent a staggering £8.9 billion on beauty and personal care products in 2013, excluding services such as hairdressing and spa treatments. These products are designed to make us look good on the outside, sometimes with the added by-product of making us feel good too.
But are we getting the best value for our money?
What if there were some simple actions you could take that would allow the feel-good factor to last long after you have left the beauty salon and were not dependent on having a huge array of products on the bathroom shelves?
What if there was a way that was scientifically proven to make you feel happier, more confident, and even younger – you’d be interested wouldn’t you?
And what if I were to tell you that you already have the equipment you needed…
Mind and body – one system
As long ago as 1890, William James published a book called “The Principles of Psychology”. In it he suggested that the relationship between emotion (how we feel) and behaviour (what we do) is a two way street.
We generally believe that feeling happy makes us smile and feeling sad makes us frown. James suggested that the opposite is also true – smiling makes us feel happy and frowning makes us feel sad.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists tested this theory under laboratory conditions and found that volunteers who were asked force a smile were significantly happier then when they clenched their teeth and forced their faces into a frown.
So act as if you are happy (smile) and you will feel happier.
What we do (how we behave) can also influence how confident we feel.
Researchers at Columbia Business School asked one group of students to adopt “power poses”, and another group to adopt stances associated with low power and low dominance.
When the volunteers’ blood was tested it was found that even after only a minute of posing, those in the power pose had more testosterone in their bodies causing feelings of confidence, whilst the other group had higher levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with feeling stress.
To find out more about this research, watch Amy Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk
So how you stand and how you position your body can change the chemical balance of your body.
But what about the holy grail of the beauty industry – the quest for eternal youth? Surely we can’t think our way to feeling younger? The answer is yes! In 1979 Ellen Langer recruited a group of men in their 70s for a week long holiday. Before the holiday their strength, posture, eyesight and memory was tested.
Throughout the week they were encouraged to act as if they were 20 years younger, there was no one to help them off the bus or carry their luggage and there were no handrails or other mobility aids at the retreat. The retreat was decorated as if it was 1959 and they were instructed that they should act as if they were in 1959 and not mention anything that happened after 1959.
Within a week several of the participants had stopped using their walking sticks and the whole group showed improvements in dexterity, speed, memory, blood pressure, eyesight and hearing – they had effectively knocked years off their bodies and minds.
So why not do something you used to enjoy when you were much younger, play a game, go dancing, just have fun and unleash your inner child!
We allow ourselves to be seduced by the clever advertising of the beauty industry into believing we need the latest cream, serum or lotion in order to look good and feel good, and whilst there may be a benefit, if we all applied these simple ideas to pamper ourselves from the inside out, we may just reap even greater rewards.