Do you recycle? If you live in the U.S. and care about the environment, the answer is probably, yes. And you know that recycling is a good thing, right? But what if somebody told you that recycling can prematurely age your skin and damage your body?

I am talking about one particular kind of recycling that we, humans engage in – recycling our thoughts and emotions.

Imagine a zebra peacefully grazing in the savanna. All of a sudden she sees a big hungry lion. In an instant, her heart is pounding, her breathing becomes shallow and rapid, her blood pressure goes up and after a moment of hesitation she is running for her life.

Even though big hungry lions are rare on our streets, we often experience a very similar reaction. It is called “stress” and it occurs when our senses detect danger and our brain teams up with our adrenal glands to start spewing stress chemicals in our bloodstream.

If the stress is short-lived, these chemicals may even have beneficial effect on the body. But as you may already know, repeated stress exhausts the body’s reserves and is harmful.

Not only your brain and your adrenal glands produce stress chemicals – your skin does it too. Yes, your skin is a mean lean chemical machine that can produce an explosive blend of stress chemicals. Nearly every chemical that is produced in the brain under stress can also be produced in your skin – by skin’s cells and nerves.

If you think about it, it is logical. Your skin is your first line of defense, your fortress that protects all other organs and tissues. So it is to be expected that skin should have its own stress response system.

Unfortunately, this clever arrangement doesn’t take into account our desire to remain young and beautiful. And if your skin keeps producing stress-related chemicals it will age faster. These chemicals will trigger processes that lead to wrinkles, skin sagging, inflammation, dry skin and many other problems that impact your appearance.

And let’s not forget muscle tension that is created by frowning and pursing your lips and keeping this angry, irritated expression on your face. So many women have to inject nerve toxins into their skin to smooth out wrinkles on their forehead only to develop them again when the toxin stops working.

You may say, “Yes, I know this, but it is unavoidable. Stress is a part of our everyday life.”

Not quite so. You also add insult to injury by allowing your mind to recycle and reuse negative emotions.

If we get back to our zebra in African savanna, it would be an equivalent of a zebra munching her grass and thinking – “Gosh, I nearly escaped this lion. I still can remember his huge teeth snapping behind me. Why we have so many lions lately. I am a goner. One of those days this lion will get me…”

Of course animals don’t do this. They are too smart. You need to be a human to have your thoughts running in loops and your negative memories haunting you for decades.

One lady told her psychologist, “I cannot stop arguing with my mother.” Since this lady was of advanced age, the psychologists exclaimed, “How old is your mother?” The lady replied with irritation, “Oh, she passed away years ago, but I still argue with her in  my head.”

If you smolder and simmer and sizzle inside – you are flooding your body and your skin with harmful stress chemicals.

I for example, stuttered most of my life. And as you can imagine I had many embarrassing situations. For example, I usually couldn’t say my own name and would just stand there huffing and puffing, trying to get the word out. Not only I experienced a painful sting of embarrassment in the moment it happened, I would also go back to this experience in my mind again and again day after day.

Do you think it was a smart thing to do? Of course not. When I look back I cannot believe how many precious moments of my life were wasted on negative thoughts that kept running in loops inside my head.

When you reuse and recycle your stress, even small irritation can have big impact on your health and beauty. Imagine a small rock inside your shoes that keeps rubbing your foot. If you have it long enough, you may develop a painful sore.

The same way even little angry thoughts, even a tiny morsel of guilt and resentment may greatly increase your stress level and have devastating effect on your skin and body, if they are continuously reused and recycled.

This is one area where NLP is invaluable, because NLP techniques allow you to interrupt habitual thought pattern and start using your mind differently. And one of the thoughts patterns I particularly enjoy learning is recycling your positive emotions and experiences. Imagine starting with a little smile, a tiny spark of happiness, and then start running them in loops, amplifying them with every round. You may end up with a glowing enormous smile and with a shining ocean of happiness. Who said that recycling cannot be good? It is good to recycle your unwanted things, so people can re-use them, and it is good to recycle your positive emotions so you can re-use them , amplify and pass to other people. With the right kind of recycling, the word will become a much better place.