We know you have a lot on your plate right now. Between starting your career, making life-long friendships and finding love, your 20s are shaping up to be a pretty busy/life-changing decade. And we’re so sorry to do this (sorry, not sorry), but we have news for you: Life is only going to get more hectic.
You may think you have little time now to make things easier on future you, but the truth is you’ll have even less time later when you actually achieve all of those things you’re working toward now. But, hey, time is only a concept, right?
Maybe—but not when it comes to aging. That, my friend, is all too real. Which is exactly why you need to start good habits now when it comes to taking care of your body, to ensure you still look (and feel) good when you’re older.
Do your future-self a favor and take a minute to read up on our seven things you should start doing now in your 20s to ensure you look and feel better in your 40s.
1. Eat Healthily
Eating healthily is a constant struggle—especially when things like cronuts and margaritas exist in the world. Do your body a favor and make a pledge to start eating a healthier diet now. Start by making small changes like opting for a side salad over French fries when eating out or grabbing for an apple and carrots instead of a bag of chips with lunch.
Even focusing on one or two changes—like limiting salt intake or keeping your sweet indulgences to one or two treats a week—can make a big difference over time.
2. Drink Lots of Water
We know you’ve heard it before—but drinking water every day has monumental health benefits. For one thing, our bodies are made of the stuff and need to maintain enough water to perform essential bodily functions like circulation, digestion and maintaining body temperature (to name a few).
But, on top of all of that, water is also great for keeping your skin looking hydrated and healthy, which is always helpful when it comes to keeping that youthful glow (especially nice when you’re not so youthful anymore).
3. Establish a Skin Routine
Hopefully, this is something you learned in your acne-prone teenage years but, if not, now is as good a time as any to establish a regular skin routine. The most important thing you can do for your face every day is to wash it once in the morning and again at night. But not every cleanser is created equal.
Evaluate what your skin needs are. Do you have a problem with oily skin creating breakouts? Or are you suffering from dry, patchy skin? You may also need to apply a soothing toner after each wash and, of course, follow up with a nourishing moisturizer. Trust us, after a few days you’ll see a difference in your skin—and you’ll love it.
4. Don’t Go to Sleep with Makeup On
If this is a habit you’ve fallen into thanks to those late-night “study” sessions in college, then you need to break the cycle now. Aside from making you more prone to breakouts, sleeping with makeup on makes your skin more susceptible to the exposure of free radicals—which, in turn, can lead to the collagen in your skin breaking down, essentially making your skin age faster.
Give your skin a fighting chance at maintaining that youthful appearance by cleansing your face before bed every night.
If diet is the #1 way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your body physically fit, then regular exercise is definitely #2. Trust us when we say you won’t always have the energy—or the flexibility—to scale those proverbial mountains. Get a head start on staying in shape when you’re older by forming a love (or tolerance) for exercise now.
Take different classes and try new activities to find out what you enjoy. Why? Because it’s easier to keep living an active lifestyle when you’re having fun doing it.
6. Protect Yourself from the Sun
Everyone knows that you have to wear sunblock at the beach, but did you know that you actually should be wearing it every day? Sun or shine? UV rays are strong, and you don’t have to actually see the sun for it to do some serious damage to your skin.
Wearing a moisturizer with SPF is a great way to protect your face from sun damage every day, no matter the season, but the sun protection conversation doesn’t stop at sunblock alone. Stylish accessories like sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats may look great with your outfit, but they also protect your face and eyes from the sun when it’s just too bright to handle.
7. Take Your Vitamins
Including a multi-vitamin with your breakfast every morning is easy. It’s also a great thing to do for your body, especially if your diet is lacking in certain antioxidant essentials like Vitamin C and Vitamin E—both vital when it comes to keeping your skin healthy. But vitamins aren’t just for digesting. You can also get facial masks to give your skin a relaxing and restorative at-home-spa-treatment when necessary. Thank goodness for small pleasures, right?
Your Future Self Will Thank You
Staying healthy in the now is hard enough—but keeping healthy for the future doesn’t have to feel impossible. Start introducing these seven changes to your daily life and start reaping the benefits now (and well into your 40s).
Disclaimer: This article was written by a guest author.