When we talk about inner beauty, one of the literally thousands of warm fuzzy quotes juxtaposed on warm sepia photographs immediately come to mind. However, there is more to the paraphrased “love thyself” than just drinking hot chocolate on a cold evening or walking down your favorite stretch during a picturesque sunset – inner beauty will not only make you feel beautiful; it will make you beautiful - at the very least to your own eyes - and here’s explaining how.
Have you ever wondered why different people can be so polarised about how they look? Like one day your friend could be rocking the town with a cool new look and the next day completely hating it? Barring intense psychological and chemical analysis on our neurological brain functions, we can significantly attribute how we feel about our looks everyday to a special hormone in our brain called “Serotonin”.
Now at this point - before we bring our favourite new hormonal best friend into picture - let’s have a very light philosophical discussion about beauty.
What is beauty and how do we define it? A common interpretation – and somewhat controversial one – is that beauty is all in your head. As the famous English proverb goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that, ironically, applies even to you. You could wake up one morning and feel like your outfit is absolutely atrocious even though it’s what you wore last week, or suddenly feel like your hair should be a few inches shorter, even if you just had it cut. Your beauty is very much affected by your mood, and having a good mood will definitely mean you’re going to feel much better about the person staring back at you in the mirror, throughout the entire day.
So that is where Serotonin comes into the picture. Serotonin is a mood-affecting hormone that is important in the balance of how you feel about everything going on in your life. In a nutshell, Serotonin works in tangent with other feel-good hormones such as Oxytocin to make you feel good about yourself, and having it out of balance – either too much or too little – can affect your outlook in subtle but impactful ways.
So what are the ways to regulate Serotonin? Simple; look after yourself, and don’t compromise it. One of the most popular ways of releasing Serotonin is simply by sleeping well and enough. Sleep helps the body regenerate its hormones, and it has been recommended by many to get at least a good 8 hours of sleep a day. If you feel cranky or on edge when you wake up, you should consider getting in more hours of sleep in a day… You would be surprised at how much of a difference an extra hour of sleep can do to your mood and stress levels in a day.
Another way to help give a boost to your mood is to exercise. But against popular belief, it’s not restricted to the gym or the running track. Serotonin gets released even in gentle exercises such as yoga or stretching. In a very cute and popular dilemma, there are times when you won’t feel like exercising to boost your Serotonin levels, when in fact the very reason why you don’t feel like exercising is because your Serotonin levels are too low!
Finally we have what is quite possibly the most ancient and underrated form of Serotonin release ever known in history: happy thoughts. It’s incredibly simple, and equally as effective. And it also explains why Facebook & Instagram are slowly being taken over by motivational posts. Your friends may laugh and make fun of them, but they secretly smile before scrolling. So this is where you, as an individual have to put in effort to keep thinking happy thoughts as much as possible. Keep a picture of your loved ones on your desk, stick puppy pictures on your bedroom walls, and most importantly, laugh and smile with your family and friends. The more happiness you inject into your life, the more your serotonin levels will balance out, and the more beautiful you will feel.
Of course that doesn’t mean to say that your inner well-being won’t translate to actual physical beauty differences. Stress is an inhibitor of skin cell regeneration, which means that the more stress you take on, the longer your skin cells will take to naturally regenerate. Moreover, stress can cause hair thinning, puffy eyes, and even allergies. And fittingly did you know which hormone helps to combat and regulate stress? Serotonin.
So take some time to think about how much you’ve been really looking after yourself. Have you been sleeping well? Have you been keeping active? Have you been keeping yourself happy? The power of inner beauty may be nuanced and subtle at times, but all these great little habits will add up over time to build a beauty that will radiate from within, and last you a lifetime.