Fun news! Simply engaging your senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound will help you age in reverse and feel like a kid again every day!
Glancing at your coffee cup stops tiredness in its tracks.
Turns out you can enjoy a pick-me-up without downing another cuppa joe. Researchers reporting in Consciousness and Cognition found that just looking at a mug or coffeepot instantly makes you feel less groggy. That’s because we so strongly associate coffee with perkiness that visual cues are enough to tame tiredness.
Quiet stress with the sight of leaves.
Feeling a little irritable lately? It’s not just the challenging times we’re living in. Harvard scientists say it’s more difficult to manage tension as we get older because the body has a harder time bouncing back from bouts of stress. The easy fix? Marvel at colorful foliage! Looking at fractals, repeating patterns, in nature (like leaf veins, pine cones, or branching patterns), switches your brain to a mental comfort zone that lowers stress by 60 percent, MIT scientists say.
Or pretend you’re in Paris! If you’re stuck at your desk, hop online and take a free virtual tour of the Louvre art museum in France. Italian researchers found that gazing at a beautiful painting or sculpture lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 60 percent by focusing the mind on the present.
Melt belly fat with a tasty swap.
You’re not imagining it — stubborn weight around your midsection is trickier to lose since hormonal fluxes and metabolism slowdowns that happen over time cause us to store excess belly fat. Luckily, there’s a simple diet tweak that helps us age in reverse and nix middle-age spread: Trading the romaine lettuce in your salad for kale, arugula, or collard greens. The compound that gives these leafy greens their unique bitter flavor stimulates the flow of bile to help break down food faster. Plus, it detoxifies the liver and dials down cravings, boosting metabolism by 53 percent and making it easier to melt belly fat.
Or swish with mouthwash! To avoid overindulging on “treat” foods, savor a bite or two to satisfy your craving, then swish a minty mouthwash. A study in Appetite found that mint rinses whisk away the savory, salty, fatty, and sweet flavors lingering on your tongue that keep your appetite ramped up.
Bolster immunity with a touch of love.
It’s normal for your immune system to weaken with each passing year, making you more susceptible to colds and viruses. To restore your defenses, wrap your arms around loved ones or even your pup. Physical touch boosts the feel-good hormone oxytocin, tamping down body-wide inflammation. Chinese scientists say when troublesome inflammation is kept in check, your body can direct its energy to warding off colds and destroying invading germs 40 percent faster.
Or rub your feet! Massaging the soles of your feet for 10 minutes a day stimulates acupressure points, which University of Miami investigators say increases the activity of virus-killing white blood cells.
Sleep deeply with soothing sounds.
Trouble snoozing? Blame changes in sleep patterns (like less slow-wave sleep) that become more common with age, making it difficult to catch enough shut-eye. To the rescue: a soothing voice. Cuing up a free sleep meditation playlist at bedtime cuts overnight awakenings by 66 percent and helps you stay in the deepest stages of slumber up to 80 percent longer, a study in SLEEP found. One app to try: iSleep Easy Free.
Or try pink noise! A softer form of white noise, pink noise blends high, and low frequencies (sounding like a waterfall), which synchronizes brainwave patterns so you doze off sooner and sleep more deeply.
Beat brain blips with the scent of sage.
At least 67 percent of us struggle with foggy thinking during menopause, but taking a whiff of a sage-scented candle or dried sage leaves sharpens your focus in 10 minutes, report scientists at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. The aroma activates the brain’s attention-boosting frontal lobe and the limbic system, the area of the mind responsible for memory formation.
Or slice open a lime! Squeeze a lime into your glass of water and breathe in the citrusy scent. A study out of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that lime’s aroma helps the brain churn out more beta waves, increasing mental stamina for an hour.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.