HOW DO YOU APPROACH AGEING?
Dr. Jebina: Ageing is a natural process which begins from the time when one is born including the ageing of the skin. Ageing is inevitable. There are two different types of ageing: intrinsic and extrinsic ageing. Intrinsic ageing is a physiological process that results in dry skin, fine wrinkles, loss of collagen/elastin and thinning of the skin. Extrinsic ageing is triggered by external environment factors such as pollution, smoking, poor nutrition and sun exposure, resulting in premature formation of wrinkles, loss of elasticity, dullness and rough-textured skin.
Anuja: Ageing depends on our everyday lifestyle. It all depends on how we maintain our everyday health, fitness etc.
Mannsi: I approach ageing with a lot of joy. In fact, I am 37 going on 38. Yet, whenever someone asks me my age these days, I say, ‘close to 40’ because it is liberating and also a joy to get to live so long. Not everyone experiences it, and since I am lucky enough to live so many years, I wear my age like a badge of honour.
Sangu: I cope with ageing by doing things I enjoy. I balance work, mom-life and friends every single day. That’s what makes me stress free.
Prava: In order to understand and internalise ageing, we must understand life consciously and how life evolves which is always obvious, universal and natural. Ageless living is only possible when you transcend from the false assumption that you can control the life process. Fundamental wisdom is to understand the lifecycle of the sentient being and to be grateful for each moment given to human beings on the planet which is far more generous than to many other beings.
Dolly: As you age, there will be periods of both joy and stress. It’s important to build your resilience and find healthy ways to cope with challenges. This ability will help you make the most of the good times and keep your perspective when times are tough.
As well as learning to adapt to change, healthy ageing also means finding new things you enjoy, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones.
WHAT Do YOU THINK IS BENEATH OUR SOCIETY’S OBSESSION WITH ANTI-AGEING?
Dr. Jebina: I personally no longer use the term ‘anti-ageing’ as we are not against ageing. We know we cannot stay young forever however we can delay the signs of skin ageing. I prefer the term healthy and graceful ageing. We can age with better looking skin and healthy appearance.
Getting older has its own benefits, we are getting wiser and collecting memories as we blow each candle from the cake.
Anuja: All human beings have become so accustomed to the marketing world impressing upon us at every opportunity beauty ideals based on looking young, smooth and having firm bodies.
Mannsi: I feel it is more of a media created issue. We look at flawless skin at age 50 in magazines and set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves. I believe that this is where the whole obsession with anti ageing starts.
Sangu: If it’s about skin, yes, I am particular about my skin ageing. I am a really happy-go-lucky person, I always have to feel young spiritually.
Prava: I believe that the desire to stay young intensifies when you begin to observe aged people and the challenges and limitations old age brings in life, and when we observe death too. In the same frame, when you are presented with the illusion of young forever images of celebrities in the print media and on screen, we just want to cease ageing and to avoid the trauma of ageing. When we develop the courage to face the truth of life, we can accept ageing and death comfortably and enjoy each moment gracefully.
Dolly: A booming anti-ageing culture is dependent on us feeling highly uncomfortable with the ageing process, much less able to embrace it. This is a culture that asks us to conflate health with youth and sells us the idea that ageing and wellness cannot co-exist.
Because of the obvious reason – living is good, and dying deprives you of it! Presumably, you prefer not to die tomorrow. Tomorrow, you will prefer not to die the day after. This pattern will, in all likelihood, not change: at all ages, you will prefer not to die. So, by a kind of mathematical induction, you too want to live forever.
IS THERE ANY INTERACTION BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH, ANTI-AGEING AND OUR SKIN?
Dr. Jebina: Yes of course. With poor mental health comes poor quality of life and we have seen worsening of skin condition like allergies (eczema), acne, redness of skin (rosacea) and psoriasis. Chronic skin disease and mental health go hand in hand. Stress can release high amounts of cortisol hormone which can break down major structural proteins like collagen and elastin, making our skin loose and wrinkly. It can also cause cellular DNA damage and delay in wound healing.
Anuja: Yes, there is a huge interaction between anti-ageing, mental health and our skin. Vicious circle like stress, depression and other kinds of psychological problems can exacerbate our anti-ageing and skin problems.
Mannsi: Society today has normalised a lot of unnatural things. The constant unrealistic messaging in the media regarding certain parameters that define how attractive one is, make it difficult to keep one’s sanity. Mental health does go for a toss if someone doesn’t conform to society’s accepted beauty standards. Ageing is one of those areas in life where this relationship is very prevalent.
Sangu: Yes, I do feel like our skin health is also connected with our mental health as well as what we consume. That’s the reason why I try my best to stay stress free. For me, my mental health is of utmost importance as that’s what keeps my overall day going, whether it be negative or positive.
Prava: Our mind is the most powerful commander in our existence, and everything happens first in our mind and gradually manifests in your body and wellbeing. In this context, yes denial of truth may lead to mental health issues. Unnecessary fear certainly leads to stress that accelerates ageing. The skin definitely reflects the quality of your mental and physical health. Only way to address this correlation is mindfulness and having the acceptance which requires courage and consciousness. When you are happier, you glow inside and out.
Dolly: Stress, depression and other kinds of psychological problems can exacerbate skin problems. The common dermatological issues that have been documented to be made worse by stress include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, itching, eczema, pains, etc.
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR SKIN?
Dr. Jebina: Everybody wants to look good on social media and definitely the airbrushed and filtered pictures have created more unrealistic expectations among social media users. But I would also say it has created awareness to some extent. People are more aware of the treatment options and have understood basic knowledge about aesthetics. Now they know wrinkles can be minimised, saggy skin can be lifted and tightened, we can polish our skin and add healthy glow and plumpness.
Anuja: Social media has changed our relationship with our skin. Skin is so important and the beauty industry has made an impact on people who desperately want to look young.
Mannsi: Recently, I discovered that my phone has a gamut of filters that smoothen out skin. Some, to such an extent that skin looks waxy or fake. The existence of these apps proves that this is the latest beauty standard that people want to follow and their popularity goes to show how important it is for people to have such skin.
The beauty industry is both, the beauty and the beast in the story, as it is responsible for the growing unrest in people’s minds about their looks, while also being the solution provider of the problem it creates.
Sangu: Majority of the people are starting to be active on social media which has its positive and negatives sides. Positive as people are more aware of skincare and are focusing on good skin including options of botox, fillers and even surgeries. It’s good to see people maintain themselves. Even I have started. I wouldn’t say it’s wrong as long as it makes you feel and look good.
Prava: There are two sides of social media and its relationship to your skin. One is the direct physical impact if you are using a devise for too long, it impacts your sleep, sights and focus. The other side effect may be more psychological because social media is now a mostly exaggerated version of flattering images that one can easily begin to compare and feel inferior to their own reality. Such comparisons bring misery and impact mental and physical health adversely.
To some extent, there are skin care products that can help prevent skin from deteriorating such as from dryness, cold or sunburn. However, the advertising industry projecting false promises mislead people and create the unreasonable desire to look young. Instead of being desperate and obsessed about such unnatural optimism, one can benefit from accepting and internalising what each age stage brings to our lives. The moment you begin to identify beauty apart from how you look but who you are, you will begin to focus on wisdom, experience, knowledge, values, influence, inspiration, kindness, compassion and empathy that are far more important than how you look on the outside.
Dolly: Social media promotes photoshop, filters, plastic surgery and makeup. Young users believe that the fabricated appearances that these methods create are natural. So, when young people can’t look like Instagram models, it impacts their self-esteem and mental health greatly.
We live in a youth obsessed society. We cannot watch a TV show, enjoy a movie, walk through a store or read a magazine without seeing or hearing something about altering our face, bodies, or changing our style of dress in order to look younger or sexier. In fact, people tend to view women who use relatively glamorous make-up as more attractive, likeable, and trustworthy, and even more competent.
IS THERE ANY BETTER WAY TO REJECT THE NEGATIVE ASSOCIATIONS WITH AGeING?
Dr. Jebina: Everybody should understand it’s a fact of life that we will age and we have to accept this in a healthy way. If they don’t like certain changes which come with ageing (skin ageing) then we can minimise that to improve the quality of life.
Anuja: We should always learn to be happy with each and everything we have in the present and understand how our inner thoughts affect our life approach.
Mannsi: Accept your age. Appreciate the beauty, the joy and the wisdom that come with it. As a community, we need to be more vocal about the pride in growing older. And please, let’s ditch the saying, “you never ask a woman her age”. This perpetuates a sense of shame about how old we are, and someone makes us feel conscious about the years behind us. What’s there to hide, anyway? I feel way happier, brighter and cooler at almost 40 than I did at 25.
Sangu: Let’s start by accepting who we are and loving ourselves; that’s the most effective medicine for anything.
Prava: Yes, the truth is that certain type of humans look younger for longer period of time than others, and to benefit from this advantage, you will have to choose your parents wisely. We inherit everything from generations of our forefathers, there is basically no choice in terms of how we look. However, how we feel about it is absolutely our choice. Instead of denying natural process, we need to educate our children to accept that the nature of beauty changes with your age, and how to see those stages gracefully and humanly is the only way to avoid what is unavoidable.
Dolly: There are several ways to view ageing in a more positive light: practice self-acceptance, live with a sense of purpose, make friends with people of all ages, prioritise learning, stay active, and define your own path.
WHAT ARE SOME DAILY PRACTICES TO ENSURE THAT WE AGE GRACEFULLY?
Dr. Jebina: If you are using sunscreen, you are already on anti-ageing (healthy ageing) protocol. That’s the most basic but also most important part. Avoid smoking, avoid high carb/sugar/salt diet, moisturise well, eat lots of antioxidants and get good quality sleep.
Anuja: There are some practices which will ensure we age gracefully: exercise, daily diet, mental health, physical activity and enough sleep. Hair & Shanti Unisex Salon chain has launched Organic Harvest Pro Facials exclusively in Nepal in all its branches. Come and experience our luxurious organic anti-ageing facials with goodness of broccoli for your skin. It helps to repair, rejuvenate and deeply hydrate the skin.
Mannsi: Take care of your body to ensure good health. Be grateful of the years of wisdom and good memories behind you. Laugh a bit more. A lot is over, and no one knows how much is left. Make the most of each moment.
Sangu: We can start by eating healthy, hydrating and exercising. We can even do some short yoga sessions as it impacts the overall health mentally and physically.
Prava: To some extent we can stay young and healthy for many years. Thanks to science and technology, and our access to knowledge, we are already living much longer than our previous generations. Our healthy life depends on the choice of food we consume, lifestyle we choose, and the way we look after our health, both physical and mental. Exercise, accepting truth, meditation, having good healthy relations with your friends and family are the foundations to your wellbeing.
How you live is a choice; therefore choose well in terms of what you see, who you wish to spend time, where you wish to go. Everything impacts life. I try to be conscious in choosing what makes me healthy and happy and learning what I control and what I must accept.
Dolly: Live in the moment. Like everyone else, you cannot predict life’s every turn so make the most of each moment. Forgive yourself and others. Laugh, stay curious, be flexible in body and bind, meditate and be grateful.