Ten Ways to Look Younger
8. THE RELAXATION RESPONSE
With the mainstreaming of Eastern religions, the practice of meditation has gained more than its share of attention — especially from the masses looking for an anxiety reducer. But modern meditation is merely one among many methods of tapping into a physiological counter-stress mechanism that can improve our health, sans pill-popping.
“The secretion of stress hormones directly affects various diseases: anxiety, depression, excessive anger, insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, and high blood pressure,” explains Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The consistent presence and buildup of those hormones accounts for 60 to 90 percent of all doctor visits.” But, he insists, we also have an “innate, nonpharmacologic capacity that is the opposite of the stress response: the ‘relaxation response.’”
By that he means zeroing in on an image or idea that breaks your train
of thought, usually through the repetition of a word, sound, concept, mantra, prayer, or movement. The institute’s research shows that evoking the relaxation response for 10 to 20 minutes daily actually changes functions at the genetic level.
“There are 50,000 or so genes in our bodies controlling proteins that help to determine characteristics, like high or low blood pressure, and whether we experience various pains,” says Benson. “We now know we can influence the
activity of these genes by evoking the relaxation response. We not only
observe a decrease in the stress response, but also beneficial effects to the immune system and a favorable impact on the aging process.”
So many ways to get injected these days, so little time. But in fact, most people turn to the likes of Botox, Restylane, Radiesse, and Perlane because of time — and the battle against it. Nichole Brennan at Back Bay’s Skin Deep Med Spa is a specialist in that particular cause. “I restore and soften,” she says. “I don’t try to change anyone’s look in any way. People should look rested, not different from themselves.”
Such are the claims of most contemporary plastic surgeons. Brennan’s departure? Convenience. She deals mostly in fillers (“I love injections for immediate results,” she says), which require little or no healing time. And yet, with so many medispa injectors out there right now, it’s tough to tell who among them has an eye — or any taste — that’s trustworthy.
She bolsters cheekbones, nasal-labial lines, and the jawline with the calcium-based Radiesse (which lasts roughly a year); she plumps under eye areas, lips, and the tops of hands with Perlane or Juvéderm (both are hyaluronic acid — a sugar gel that lasts about six months). And while she uses Botox in the usual brow areas, she also has a trick: As age sets in, the nose keeps growing. Brennan hits the area just below the nostril and above the lip with a few small injections to relax it and perk the nose slightly. “Some people think that facelifts make you look younger, but it’s the opposite,” she says. “It’s not about looking pulled-back and harsh. It’s about giving back volume lost as our faces age.” $300–$2,000; Skin Deep Med spa, 231 Newbury St., 2nd fl., Boston, 617-266-7546.