10 Unhealthy Mistakes That Make You Age Faster

You may not be a smoker, and you may keep your drinking to a minimum, but that doesn’t quite mean you don’t have any unsavory habits that can negatively affect your health. The truth is, you could be making tons of mistakes that are aging you significantly.

Check to see if you partake in any of these 10 habits, for you could be aging yourself a lot faster than you think.

1. You aren’t sleeping enough

Man sleeping in his bed

Sleep is essential for looking younger. | iStock.com/tommaso79

You’ve heard it a thousand times before — not getting enough sleep is the worst thing in the world for your health, and it can even contribute to diseases later on. You may think you’re fine on the five hours of sleep you got last night, but sleeping too little can do serious damage to your skin, which can make you look way older than you are. According to skin care specialist Annmarie Gianni’s blog, studies have shown those who don’t get quality sleep each night had increased signs of skin aging, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced elasticity.

2. You’re eating too much sugar

Chocolate Mousse Dessert

You should cut back on the sugar for your health and appearance. | iStock.com

Sugary drinks and store-bought cookies aren’t just bad for your waistline, they’ll wreak havoc on your looks. Consuming too much processed, sugary food can make your skin look dull. According to research published in 2013, people with the highest blood sugar levels look older. The study involved more than 600 men and women who had no knowledge of where they fell on the spectrum. A board was asked to guess the age of participants without knowing anything about them, and those who had the highest blood sugar were thought to be older.

3. You’re always stressed

Man taking a deep breathe

Do some deep breathing and meditation to lower stress levels. | iStock.com

If you’re constantly thinking about the groceries you need to buy, the clothes you need to wash, and the deadlines at work you need to hit, then it’s time to take a deep breath and relax. Not only can chronic stress ruin your sleep patterns and increase your risk for heart disease, but it can also make you look 10 years older than you actually are. Stress chemicals are released into your body when you’re always anxious, which slowly results in a more aged appearance, says The HuffPost.

If your job is what’s stressing you out, then you’ll want to practice some meditation and mini desk workouts to lighten your mood.

4. You’re always crash dieting

person holding a pad of paper for their diet plan

Crash dieting could be why you look older than you are. | iStock.com

If you’re always jumping from diet to diet in the hopes of getting your body to where you want it to be, then it’s best to stop while you’re ahead. Making healthy food choices and exercise are great for wellness, but jumping aboard a crash diet is almost always going to set you up for failure.

These diets can also age you dramatically. According to the Miami Herald, fad eating plans often rob us of essential fats, which our skin needs to help retain moisture.

5. You wash your hands and face too much

Washing your hands can age the skin

Washing your hands can age the skin. | iStock.com

We all want to have perfect skin and clean hands, but all of that washing can do serious damage to your skin and quickly age you. When it comes to your face, use a gentle cleanser without added fragrance, and this goes for all skin types. While those prone to acne are likely to reach for the products that have benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to keep their skin issues at bay, these ingredients strip the skin and cause severe dryness and irritation that can lead to wrinkles and a dull, aged look. And don’t forget to moisturize, either.

6. You’re a chronic multitasker

Group of colleagues working together

Focus on one project at a time. | iStock.com

We all have a lot on our plates — between a job, social life, family, and chores, it’s no wonder we’re stressed more than ever. Because we have so many things to check off on our to-do list, accomplishing tasks one at a time seems counterproductive. But according to HealthDay, multitasking is a recipe for a stress-filled disaster that will leave you looking weary and aged. The story notes, “Whenever demands exceed abilities, stress is bound to follow.”

7. You spend most of your day sitting

Business Team Busy Working and Talking

Get up and move every once in awhile. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

From Monday through Friday, a large portion of the population spends a lot of time sitting. For eight hours a day they’re sitting at their desks, then they’re sitting in their cars, and then they plop down on the couch for a few hours of television each night. A recent study found women between the ages of 64 and 95 who spent more than 10 hours a day sitting and didn’t combat the sedentary habit with at least 30 minutes of exercise daily had cells that were biologically eight years older than those of more active women.

8. You only use sunscreen at the beach

Woman wearing hat applying sunscreen

Wear sunscreen all year round. | iStock.com/LiudmylaSupynska

Sunscreen doesn’t just protect you from burns — it can help keep your skin looking young and fresh, too. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found participants who used sunscreen daily at least three to four times per week were less likely to see signs of aging after four and a half years of usage than the group who only applied sunscreen from time to time. Participants who applied sunscreen daily used SPF 15 or higher for their head, neck, arms, and hands.

Don’t just pull out your sunscreen for the beach — apply makeup or moisturizer that contains sun protection daily to keep your skin looking young.

9. Your sex life is lacking

couple cuddling together in bed

A lackluster sex life could be making you look older. | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

If you need another reason to hop into bed with your significant other, we have one — sex has anti-aging benefits. Dr. David Weeks, a clinical psychologist, tells The Telegraph having sex regularly can make both you and your partner look five to seven years younger. This is due to sex releasing endorphins that can help you get better sleep and reduce stress levels. Additionally, sex counts as exercise, which boosts circulation and helps the skin look healthier and younger, too.

Sex can also boost immunity, reduce cancer risk, and benefit your blood pressure. Not only will you look younger, but you’ll feel more energized, too.

10. You’re exercising too little — or too much

group of friends or sportsmen exercising

Get the proper amount of physical activity. | iStock.com/dolgachov

We all know why we should exercise, and more of us than ever are making gym time a priority several times a week. While a lack of exercise is linked to higher stress levels and weight gain (both of which make us look older), you should also make sure you’re not overdoing it, either. John Higgins, M.D., tells Prevention you need to give your body enough time between workouts to heal appropriately. If you refuse to take a rest day, you could trigger an inflammatory response that affects your immune system and impacts your sleep. Make sure to lower the intensity every once in a while, and give yourself true rest days when you need them.