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It’s OK to not be OK…

I don’t know about you I hear the phrase “It’s OK to not be OK” used [perhaps too] often, particularly in the current trouble and strife going on in the world. It’s even spawned a successful Korean drama with the same name and it got me thinking; by saying “It’s OK to not be OK” does that trivialise what mental health issues people are suffering with. Does it mean that by talking about how you’re feeling, you’ve found the cure?

There are many well meaning campaigns which at the root are simply suggesting to people, with mental health issues, that they should talk about it and make others understand. But is that really the answer? What happens if you don’t feel like getting out of bed or eating, never-mind trying to make people understand what you’re going through.

If you’re a regular to my blog you will no doubt have noticed the radio silence from my pages in recent months and that is due to my own mental health issues. I’ve lived with mental health issues since I was a teenager on and off, but it was only when my father died at the end of last year, after a short illness, that sent me into a tail spin and resulted in what can only be described as a meltdown.

Unfortunately, I thought I was coping but it turns out that I really wasn’t. I thought I was looking after myself but again it turns out I wasn’t. I wasn’t sleeping well – in fact I was sleep probably a max of 4 hours a night! I had gained a stone in weight (for the metrics amongst us that’s getting on for 6.5kg). However, almost six months down the line and I am on a much more even footing now. I don’t cry at the drop of a hat now, which was the biggest thing for me. Of course I understand that there is a whole grieving process and I’m in no way trying to play down this at all. And there are still times when I do get anxious and things get on top of me, but I’ve worked on ways that I can deal better with it. I meditate regularly now, rather than when I remember like I used to! I write a journal every evening; sometimes I write about my feelings, other times I document my day. I just like to get it all out before I settle for the night. I watch my diet not in a dieting waycrikey we all know that diets don’t work – if they did the likes Rosemary Conley would be scratching around in the reduced section of the supermarket like the rest of us at the moment not sitting upon a pile of readies. If you don’t know RC is a low fat diet advocate a bit like Jenny Craig and wealthy because of it! Sorry I digress, but that’s for a different post!

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I like to be honest with people and explain myself, for no other reason than my own peace of mind. I’m not going to worry about how you, dear reader, takes any of this news and it’s not for me to worry about that. No, for me the reason I am telling you all of this is because it brings me back to what the quote in this article is all about; it is OK to sometimes not be OK.

This quote to me means honesty. It means putting your hands up and saying “I‘m drowning.” “I can’t cope.” “Today is not a good day.” “I’m not OK today.” By saying this, I feel like I am putting myself back in the driving seat. By saying this, I’m taking control of how I’m feeling. And you can do the same too – but only if you want to. It might not feel like it at the time, but by being honest with myself first and everyone else later, is an important step when dealing with my own mental health.

I guess you might say that the use of this phrase by anyone other than the person who is feeling these feelings could be considered mental health appropriation; especially when it comes from an organisation as part of a well meaning campaign. However, if you are in control of the narrative, and the use of this phrase empowers you, then I say keep on saying it!

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7 reasons why your morning coffee fix can be good for you

coffee: [kaw-fee, kof-ee] noun
because adulting can be hard

Whether yours is an oat milk flat white, a skinny latte or a double espresso, did you know that your morning trip to Starbucks or Costa could actually be doing you good aside from providing that much-needed morning caffeine jolt

Research from the acclaimed School of Medicine at John Hopkins University, says there’s a strong case for coffee having some very positive health benefits and containing a variety of key compounds. These include substances known to guard against Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease to name but two.

Here are my top 7 ways that coffee can have a positive impact on your health;  

  1. When we think of coffee we immediately think about caffeine, and rightly-so because the average coffee beverage has around 96mg of caffeine in it. But what you might not know is that female regular coffee drinkers are less likely to die from coronary heart disease and strokes, the leading cause of death in women, thanks to the power of caffeine lowering the bad LDL cholesterol
  1. Research has shown that not only does caffeine lower the chances of developing Parkinson’s Disease, it also helps those with the disease control their movements better
  1. The darker the roast, the better in terms of making your DNA stronger. Breakages in the DNA strands are linked with the development of cancers and tumours. However, dark roast, fuller flavour coffees help to prevent this damage.
  1. A daily cup of Joe (both caff and decaf) is known to have a protective effect on your liver; with coffee drinkers more likely to have liver enzymes within a healthy ranger, compared to those of non-coffee drinkers. 
  1. Studies have found that drinking coffee could be associated with an 8% lower risk of depression per cup of coffee consumed each day
  1. One in 18 women develop colon cancer in the UK – it’s slightly higher in the US with 1 in 23. However, researchers found that coffee drinkers, both regular and decaf, were 20 plus percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer
  1. Finally, the one you’ve all been waiting for, coffee and your waistline… It has been shown that coffee can help support weight management and maybe linked to decreased body fat. GREAT NEWS. One study also found that people who consumed coffee were more likely to be physically active

How much coffee is safe for women to drink each day? 

You can have too much of a good thing, and I’m sure us coffee drinkers have, at one time or other, experienced the excesses of coffee: 

  • Feeling jittery 
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Raised blood pressure 
  • Anxiety 
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep 

So how much coffee should you drink to get all the benefits and avoid the negative side effects? 

Around the world health organisations suggest that the most caffeine people can safely consume is up to 300mg per day. However, some people, who are sensitive to caffeine, are advised to consume less. In the UK the NHS suggests that pregnant women consume no more than 200mg, or 2 cups, of caffeinated coffee a day. 

Caffeine tolerance is different for everyone. You can still get some of the potential health benefits by drinking one cup of coffee a day, or even decaf

While coffee is no doubt a pleasurable part of your daily life, we can’t get away from the fact that eating a balanced diet, keeping yourself hydrated with non-caffeinated drinks, keeping an eye on those scales and exercising all have a positive impact on your body and overall health.  

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Stress Management  

It is not your job to be everything to everyone!”

This week is Worldwide Wellbeing Week, so this we are going to look at a different Wellbeing related topic each day. Today is the turn of Stress Management, and way that you can better deal with the stresses and strains of life. We will also look at when you need to ask for help and support. 



You are not alone!

Just how common are mental health issues? I ave used the UK and the USA as examples, but mental health issues are common across the globe. Sadly, in some countries they are not treated with the priority that they should be, and can be seen as a deficiency or weakness.

UK

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in United Kingdom.
  • 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in the United Kingdom

USA

  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

The thing about stress is…

Stress comes in many different guises and can creep up on you; like when you walk into a darkened room and someone jumps out on you.  One minute you cruising down life’s highway and the next you’re up against it and going nowhere fast. That’s what stress can be like. 

If you spend a lot of your time feeling stressed and anxious, it becomes harder and harder to shake those feelings off and to live a relaxed life

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress inventory

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory from the American Institute of Stress lists 43 different ‘Life Events’ which are known to be potential stress inducers. Below you will see an image of the Inventory and if you click on the image it will take you to a PDF that you can download and complete to check your current stress levels

For those of you with 150 – 300 points you need to be aware of your stressors, because you (according to the Inventory) have a 50% chance of a major health breakdown in the next two years. If you in the 300+ point category then the odds raise to over 80% chance of a major breakdown, so start identifying and dealing with your stressors now. If you’re 150 or below you’re in a relatively low level of life change and less likely to have a stress induced breakdown. None of this is written in stone, but it’s useful to review your own personal stress factors.

What does stress do to you?  

As stress is fundamentally an internal reaction to external situations or set of circumstances, you don’t often realise the damage that it can potentially cause to your body. When you’re under stress, the stress hormone Cortisol is released, which is responsible for your natural fight or flight response, so called because its function is to help you run away from a perceived fearful situation. However, the chances are you’re no in a position to run away from what is stressing you; and instead, this hormone release only serves to 

  • Cause tension in your body 
  • Make you feel mentally foggy 
  • Make you feel tired and fatigued 
  • Make you feel powerless 
  • Make you feel irritable 
  • Cause you to have trouble sleeping 

How to recognise Sneaky Stressors 

It’s not always easy to stand back and recognise that you’re stressed. It’s easy to brush it off as just one of those things, but “those things” can tend to sneak up on you as I said before. Here’s my list of Sneaky Stressors 

  • Alcohol 
  • Caffeine 
  • Noises  
  • Family issues  
  • Work related problems 
  • or even the news! 

If it isn’t nipped in the bud, stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, a compromised immune system, high blood pressure and other illnesses

What lifestyle changes can you make to deal with stress? 

There are lots of ways that you can combat stress and the first one is taking time for yourself. I’m not saying that it is always the case, but stress often occurs when you don’t prioritise yourself and give yourself permission to have YOU time. 

  • Connect socially; even if you might not feel like it send that WhatsApp or make that call to a friend for a catch up 
  • Find yourself some talking therapy support. Your GP will be able to help with this or charities such as Mind and the NHS in the UK. In the USA the National Alliance on Mental Health or Mental Health America 
  • Take good care of yourselfeat healthy meals, take exercise, drink plenty of fluids, sleep well, cut down on alcohol and caffeine
  • Treat yourself – get your nails done or have a massage
  • Start a meditation practice. There are plenty of guided meditation videos on YouTube – my favourite is Jason Stephenson
  • Start writing a Stress Journal to get down on paper the things that are bothering you. By identifying what your personal stressors are, you will be in a better place to deal with them. 

Accept the things you can’t change 

This statement is probably easier to say than to do, because there are always going to be unavoidable stresses. However, you can still learn to react in a more calm and relaxed manner

  • You cannot control the uncontrollable, so quit trying right there. There are always going to be things that are beyond your control, and you must start to learn to accept that
  • Always try and look for the silver lining in any tough situation.  Even if it’s just a tiny positive; it’s always better than a negative!
  • Similarly, don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. We are all human, and making mistakes is part of growing and developing.  
  • Let go of resentment and anger, and learn to forgive yourself and others. 

The benefits of stress management 

Getting your stress under control is key; and hopefully some of the advice I have provided will help you with that. Once you do get your stress under control hopefully you will see some of the following benefits, along with others. 

  • Increased motivation 
  • Lower irritability 
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Relaxed mind and body 
  • Boost to your immune system 

Some stress reducing affirmations to try once you’re on top of your stress;

“I love my life.”
I am living my life stress free and relaxed.” 
My life is full of limitless possibilities.
Every day, in every way, my life gets better and better.”

This post is not meant to replace medical advice. Always seek medical advice or consult your GP if you are feeling unwell, both physically or mentally.

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Are you summer solstice ready?

“My soul is in the sky.”

Puck – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Tuesday 21st June 2022 at 10:13am is the summer solstice. This powerful time is when the sun reaches its peak, from our perspective in the Northern Hemisphere, before it begins its descent back towards the winter solstice (in the Southern Hemisphere, this is reversed, so the date marks winter solstice). It is the day that summer officially begins, astrologically speaking, and is met with all sorts of traditional celebrations, gatherings, bonfires, and other ritual practices

ASK YOURSELF:
DO I REALLY ENGAGE WITH MY FEELINGS OR THE ENERGIES AROUND ME AS MUCH AS I COULD?

But the summer solstice is more than just the longest day of the year, it also heralds a seasonal shift, changes and new beginnings. The 2022 is all about finding balance in your life and bringing about the courage to be the boldest, brightest version of yourself

ASK YOURSELF:
WHAT CAN I DO TO BE LIVING AS MY BOLDEST, BRIGHTEST, AUTHENTIC SELF?

It’s also a time of rebalancing the feminine and masculine energies. The sun represents masculine energy and at the solstice, the sun is at its brightest and most powerful. Meanwhile, the Earth, represents feminine energy, is abundant and ripe. The two pause together in the sky for a moment, creating a powerful union, a moment of relationship, balance, and connection, with the symbolic implication of sexuality and fertility at their peak. Thinking of starting a family? What better time than Midsummer

ASK YOURSELF:
COULD I BE MORE BALANCED IN MY LIFE/ MY RELATIONSHIPS? HOW CAN I BECOME MORE BALANCED?

As the summer solstice ushers in a new season, it’s time for us to see the beauty of nature and to celebrate everything our planet has given us. So, here’s a suggestion, why not go outside and watch the sunrise? Set your alarm early and take a long walk. Breath in that beautiful Prana, Mother Earth provides us and be at one with nature.  

ASK YOURSELF:
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE MORE TIME FOR MYSELF?

The summer solstice is an energetically charged day and an important time to set intentions for the remainder of the year. It symbolizes prosperity, extravagance, and good spirits, and is a chance to reflect on yourself and look forward to what’s to come. It’s the start of a new chapter, so it’s a great time to make plans and review your long-term goals.  

ASK YOURSELF:
DO I FEEL THERE IS SOMETHING MISSING IN MY LIFE? WHAT DO I WANT MORE OF?

This guided meditation from Spirituality & Health can help you take stock of your achievements this far in the year; and set you up for your next chapter!

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The POWER of Journaling to Unclutter your mind 

“The mind is like water, when it’s turbulent it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm everything becomes clear.”

When your mind is weighed down with negative thoughts, life can seem so much harder to deal with. A cluttered mind, or Mind-Clutter as I like to call it, can really make things difficult to see clearly or as they are. Not only that, but it can become even more difficult to navigate your way through life’s challenging moments.  

Mind-Clutter can also take a toll on your stress and anxiety levels too. And a mind full of churning negative thoughts can lead to unhealthy coping behaviours that can damage your health, such as binge drinking, smoking and over-eating, to name but three. 



So here are some of my tips that show the POWER that journaling has for uncluttering your mind!

Accept What Is

By accepting What is – right here and now – you are acknowledging your reality in this moment. And whilst your reality will no doubt change over time, by accepting What is, just as it is, everything in your life can change. Your journal can help you in this process by helping to identify what you can control and what you can’t.  Then all you have to do is take your attention away from what you have no control over and reroute yourself toward what is within your control.

Create a Decluttering Routine

By establishing a daily journaling routine, you can proactively manage your Mind-Clutter on a regular basis by allowing your thoughts to flow onto the pages of your journal, directly from your mind via your pen! Just make sure that you won’t get disturbed whilst you’re journaling, and you give yourself time to really get everything onto the page.  Better out than in!

Release What No Longer Serves You  

It’s a really simple thing to do, but very few of us take time to release what no longer serves us. Instead, we carry it around with us, letting it manifest physically in aching shoulders, tension headaches or a churning tummy.

When you feel this out of alignment life can become a struggle. Releasing the beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve you can free up space for what’s truly meant for you. Your journal is the perfect place to do this. Create a list of the things, people, activities, commitments etc. that you’re happy and ready to let go of. Writing them down in ink makes them much more real.  

If you want to go one step further, and really help you on your way to letting these things go; copy the list you have written in your journal. Go outside somewhere safe where you can burn things – like your barbeque or fire pit – and set light to the list. You can use some incense sticks to do this like Palo Santo, Nag Champa or Patchouli which all cleanse and protect. And as the smoke rises, literally watch What No Longer Serves You disperse into the ether.

Power Prompts to clear the Mind-Clutter 

Here are some of my tried and tested prompts to get you thinking and motivated when you’re journaling. These prompts can set you up for an incredible rewarding and fulfilling journaling session

Write any of these in your journal (or create your own) and write down how you feel about them at this moment in time. Don’t sugar coat it, be honest with yourself, but remember to be kind. Never berate yourself for feeling a certain way

  • What things have been weighing on my mind lately … 
  • What one thing really frustrates me the most … 
  • I would really love to let go of … 
  • What’s no longer supporting me … 
  • Here’s another way I can see this situation is … 
  • If I could change one thing right now it would be … 

By uncluttering your mind and getting rid of what no longer serves you, creates space for what does serve and Nourish your Soul. The Power of using your journal to not only identify what the clutter looks like in your life, but also gives you’re the room you need to map out your new–look, clutter-free future.  

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What is the definition of LUCKY? 

You will often hear the wise ones, the gurus, the memes saying “Live every day like it’s your last.” and by that they mean, pack as much in as you can.  Live life to the fullest.  And of course, that’s all right and correct, but have you ever stopped to consider how lucky you actually are?  Forget for a moment about cramming your days with fantastic experiences, and instead ponder your very existence

Now this might be a bit deep for a Monday (or any other day of the week for that matter), but bear with me on this for a second.  If you’re one of those people that considers themselves unlucky, mull this over.

The odds of… 

Having twins – 1 in 250 (natural pregnancies)
Finding a four-leaf clover – 1 in 10,000
Winning an Olympic medal – 1 in 622,000
Dying in a shark attack – 1 in 7,000,000 
Winning the lotto – 1 in 45,057,474
The chances of you being born – 1 in 400 trillion  

Yes, that’s right. The chances of you being conceived, surviving pregnancy and being born, scientists believe, are 1 in 400 trillion and may even be as high as 1 in 400 quadrillion. To put that into some kind of perspective the probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 10 2,685,000 — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes – a few zeros short of Jeff Bezos’s latest bank balance!

In other words, the odds of you being alive are basically zero! 

By this point I am suspecting that some of you have either switched off or your head might have exploded. And whilst I appreciate that these are well and truly brain scrambling numbers, my point is this; that by saying sensational things, you get an idea of how incredibly lucky and special you really are

How about revisiting the part about you thinking you’re unlucky and only bad things happen to you.  If you consider that you have literally beaten the odds to even be right here right now reading this post, it might go some way to you seeing that the concerns and worries you have in your life in a slightly different light. And even seem just that little bit easier to deal with. Then, over time, if you continue to remind yourself that you are lucky to even be here, that will become part of your own power and go some way to alleviating your general worries and anxieties

Now you can add all the wise one/ guru/ meme stuff back into the mix. We couldn’t add it before because you have to firstly understand the incredible odds you were up against just to be here! By adding the “Live every day like it’s your last” stuff at this stage removes any element of doubt, makes it easier to believe, and leaves you with a kind of calm knowing or assurance that packing all that stuff in and making all those memories, are unhindered, and meant to be.  

So, if, one rainy Tuesday it all gets a bit much, and you find yourself having a little bit of a pity party for one for whatever reason, remember, you’ve done the hard part. Everything else will be a breeze

All of my posts are written with the utmost sincerity and integrity. This is a look at how lucky we actually are to be alive. It is not meant to simplify the complex mental health issues faced by some individuals or as medical advice. This is for interest purposes only. 

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NOTHING you want is upstream!

It’s all about the subtle but essential part of allowing all your desires to flow to you.

You never see a river flowing upstream to get to the sea and there’s a good reason for that. It’s all about ‘the path of least resistance‘. Water in rivers finds the quickest path downhill (the path of least resistance) until it reaches its ‘goal’, the sea. And if it meets something in its path, it finds a way to get round the obstacle to continue flowing. It might take time, but eventually the water will find a way through. It’s literally effortless; just all part of the flow.

Get into the flow

The same can’t always be said for those of us trying to achieve our goals. Sometimes it can be anything BUT effortless! We often strive, sacrifice and struggle in order to reach our goals; frantically going against the flow, paddling upstream in order to achieve success. But in actual fact it’s when we let go and get into the flow, surrender to the current, that we magically float effortlessly downstream, where our goals and dream reside.

Magic flows, when you let go

A good analogy of this is when couples are desperate to have children. They try everything to get pregnant, IVF, gift treatment, the lot, only for none of it to work. BUT as soon as they ‘let go and get in the flow‘, they find themselves pregnant. That was exactly what happened to some very good friends of mine. They went through the mill “paddling up stream” to get pregnant, only to fail. Once they’d ‘dropped the oars‘ – and by that I mean they went on holiday, ate, drank, had a good time and generally relaxed – they found themselves expecting. Not only that, but their second was only just over a year from the first! Two babies in two years, when nothing in the previous SEVEN! #MAGIC!

What is the flow?

The flow is set purely by our desires. So when we launch a rocket of desire the current immediately starts to flow to take you to do your desire. However, if we deem this request to be something small and easily achieved, like say a good parking space at the supermarket, we don’t give that much attention as we would something bigger. We almost take it for granted that we will receive the desired parking space, and what do we know, we do generally that good space. Why? because we let go of it immediately. We asked and we believed the space would be there for us. BUT if we launch a rocket of desire for something we perceive to be much bigger, such as wealth, health or relationships for example, we think about it all the damn time. And when we thinking about it all the damn time we can get really messed up on the rocks lying just under the surface of the flow, i.e. our perpetual need to MAKE IT HAPPEN preventing our desire from coming to us!

And because it’s something bigger, we throw everything at it and it occupies our every waking moment (aka paddling upstream). Usually, we get very impatient if we don’t see results. Then we shout at the unkind Universe that hasn’t granted our wish! Said that magic and the Law of Attraction is a heap of crud. Total hocus pocus and it doesn’t work! Hands up who has done that? Don’t be shy…! When in actual fact everything that we asked for exists, downstream, when we have faith, and listen to the guidance and intuition nudging us along the way!

And finally…

There are some fantastic bloggers and authors out there that write on the subject. Genevieve Davis has written some great books about Becoming Magic and Steve Aitchison has a brilliant, really in depth, blog post on the subject. However, the master of the magical process of letting go can be found in the book Ask and it is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, where Abraham puts it like this,

The most common misunderstanding that prevents people from getting control of a situation and gaining their personal balance is the belief that I need to get to where I want to be right now or as quickly as possible. We certainly understand your desire to find the answers to your questions quickly or to solve your problems as fast as you can, but still, that urge works against you. When you feel an urgency to be somewhere else, you are pushing hard against where you are. That is upstream. But an even more important flaw in the premise you are beginning from is this: In your belief that you must hurry to an improved place, you are discounting the power of the Stream, its speed, its direction, and its promise. And in the forgetting of those things, you are definitely pointed in the opposite direction of who-you- truly-are and all that you have become.”

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When will we feel SAFE?

My response the the UK Government back app designed to make the streets safer for women and girls

I am writing this blog post as a response to the UK Government backed app – Path Community – which is currently being trialled by 500 people, including Met Police Officers, in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

The not-for-profit app is designed using the technology already installed on most smartphones, so it basically provides anyone making a journey by foot at night a ‘monitored route‘ . Apparently, if the user deviates from their planned route by 40 metres or more or is stationary for 3 minutes then their nominated ‘guardians‘ are contacted. They, in turn, try to make contact with the individual concerned, and if they can’t they have the option to call the police. There are other features too – including sharing anonymised data with local authorities to pinpoint areas of potential cause for concern – but this is it in a nutshell.

On the surface this app might sound like a great idea, but if you scratch a little deeper you will see that it’s nothing we don’t already do as women to keep ourselves safe – text during our journey and when we get home, share our locations, wear bright clothing and turn our door keys into a makeshift knuckle duster etc. What it doesn’t do is address the issue and the real reason why women and girls don’t feel safe on the streets of the UK, male violence. Not to mention that if we look at this app from a domestic abuse stand point for a second, suddenly a so called safety app becomes a tracking device for an abuser.

Clearly the app has come about following the senseless and grotesque murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, to mention but two, both as a result of male violence – the latter at the hands of a serving Metropolitan Police Officer . But sadly this app or any others in the pipeline developers, doesn’t absolutely nothing in the fight to make the streets of the UK safer for women. In fact I would go as far as to say that it really isn’t required and appears to be a cheap governmental ‘fix’ to be seen to be doing something; when in actual fact focus should be on what needs to be done, addressing male violence against women.

Whilst the developer Harry Read acknowledges the fact that it’s not the answer to the problem, he does believe that the app is something that can be implemented immediately in an effort to make the user feel safe.

Unfortunately, not everything in this world can be solved by the digital miracle, and certainly not male violence against women. I’m not painting every man with the same brush, but sadly, as with everything, the minority make it bad for everyone else.

Ultimately, we can only reach safety for women on the streets of the UK with a collaborative effort and participation from various (stakeholder) organisations .

I will leave you with a comment by Anna Birley from Reclaim the Streets set up after the murder of Sarah Everard, who called the app insulting to women and girls,

It still isn’t enough. Women and girls, and the steps that we take to stay safe every day, are not the problem. The problem is that male violence makes us unsafe.

Source article from the Guardian website.

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The BENEFITS of meditating…

So what are the benefits of meditating? Of course there are the overall benefits such as sleeping better, calming anxiety and positive well-being, but for me meditating is a complete bubble of other worldliness.

I meditate all the time – in fact we all do believe it or not. When you brush your teeth and you’re staring into space that’s a form of meditating especially when you’re right there in the moment – that’s mindfulness. We do it all the time without even realising it. It’s not all weird chanting and incense stick-burning or find-yourself-trouser-wearing – although that’s perfectly acceptable; it can be a very natural state of being.

What’s the best time to meditate…

I really can’t answer that because it’s different for everyone. The keys to meditating are to do it regularly and to not make it a chore! I meditate almost every evening before I settle down for the night. Not only does it aid my sleep (and I am particularly rubbish at sleeping because I hate the dark); but I find the perfect way to ‘close‘ down my day. Closing your day is an important way of stopping today spilling over into tomorrow. I also like to shower in the evening – not just to be clean – but to ‘wash off‘ the day. Seeing the water going down the plughole is (for me) a very good way of getting rid of today, for a fresh start tomorrow.

Where can I meditate…

Again, there is no right or wrong place to meditate, so where you meditate is entirely up to you. I’ve already said I meditate in the evening, but what I also LOVE doing is meditating in my car.  Now, I am not talking about closing my eyes and sitting in the Lotus Position you understand, that would be plain crazy and super dangerous!  What I’m talking about is instead of your usual radio station or banging tunes, try something different and listen to some meditative music or ambient sounds*.  These are easy to access on most music app providers. If I’m stuck in traffic in the car and I’m feeling stressed by the situation, then doing this immediately puts me in that lovely little bubble I talked about earlier.  I make sure I have the windows up, so if it’s hot I put on the air con, and sit back and listen. This FEELS incredible to me. I’m there on the motorway, or stuck in traffic in my pure bubble of calm. It sets me up to take on anything!

What does the research say about meditating…

There’s much documented research, and anecdotal storied, about the positive benefits of meditating. The likes of Russell Brand attribute his daily meditation practice with his ongoing recovery from addiction.

In fact research carried out by John Hopkins University found that regular meditation apps and programmes can helped to ease psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain-related stress, and support the promotion of well-being within the user.

Sarah’s meditation and mindfulness fave apps

There are a couple of apps I love to use when meditating or when my anxiety takes over; BreatheLuv by Tru Luv Inc and loona: calm, relax and sleep by loona Inc.

Both of the apps are interactive, the Breathe Luv app is free to use. It’s based on a bedroom with you asleep in the room. You can click on various items in the room, which will the provide you with a mindful activity to do; this might be regulating your breathing for example. You can literally have hours of calm and relaxing fun with it. And if your panic attacks are anything like mine, having something to my mind wandering is what I need to calm down.

The loona app does come with a price tag after the free trial period, but it also comes with activities based on how you’re feeling at the time. So if you have trouble calming down during or post panic attack there are activities for that, amongst other things. You can choose the type of voice you like to listen to and the ambient sounds you want to here too. I recently coloured in a Chinese Dragon Shrine, with the calming voice giving me instructions along the way. Once the activity is over you have the ambient sounds playing for a time to help you get to sleep, for example.

You can download them on both Apple App Store and Google Play (or your usual app store).

How does meditating help me…

With the world being in current state of flux what with the Covid pandemic and the ecological issues facing us all, external factors can have a deep impact on our lives, and meditation can act as an antidote. In my world I have been through a stressful time recently with the loss of a parent and I have found that mediating – connecting to source energy has made all the difference. My mind has been the equivalent of a tangled ball of wool, but the bubble of calm have made the most incredible difference to my woolly noggin!

Finally, I’ve put together a Spotify meditation playlist below which you might like to try; perfect to “tune in and zen out“.

* Please be aware of your surroundings and do not use guided meditation downloads etc. whilst driving or operating machinery. Only use them when you are in a non-hazardous environment.

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Autumn Hygge Selfcare Ideas

“All the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be
are full of trees and changing leaves…”
To the lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

Today in the northern hemisphere is the Autumn Equinox, the time when daytime and night-time are of equal length.  A time when the days start getting shorter, and we think about hunkering down for the long autumn and winter months ahead.  For me this time of year always makes me think about the cyclical nature of the seasons – the hibernation before the warmer days come around again.

We all know how important it is to make time for yourself to support your mental health; so, today’s post is all about selfcare ideas for easing into the season!

Bake

In the UK and USA the new series of The Great British Bake Off starts this week, and that’s always a great motivator to get those cake pans out, and to fire up the oven.  I don’t know about you, but for me I find baking very therapeutic.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are at baking (I didn’t inherit the Victoria Sponge making gene from my mother unfortunately) what matters is that you’re engrossing yourself in the whole experience.  Give it a go, try my favourite autumn recipes, Easy Carrot Cake.

I didn’t inherit the Victoria Sponge-making-gene from my mother unfortunately.”

Drink something warm and sweet

Well there is only one thing that is warm and sweet that you can drink this time of year, PSL; for the uninitiated that is a Pumpkin Spiced Latte courtesy of our friendly Seattle-based coffee shop.  If you aren’t a fan of this diabetes-inducing beverage (and I count myself in that group) then why not try a new fruit tea, or a coffee style.  I like to go to the nether world between sweet and bitter with a nice equal part mocha!  Alternatively, a nice warm cider round the firepit or a campfire all wrapped up in a lovely warm jumper is perfect for an autumn evening.

Our taste buds are often the gateway to memories, along with smells, so drinking or eating something can often evoke fond memories of days gone by.

“Autumn’s sweet whisper requires a good book and a warm drink”

Read a new book

I have deliberately put this beneath the drinking something warm and sweet, because in my world the two compliment each other perfectly.  There is nothing like snuggling up with a warm drink and a new book

Now, the most recent book I’ve read is called Skint Estate written by Cash Carraway and tells the true story of a working single mum trying to make ends meet.  It’s both uplifting and inspiring in equal measure, as well as being an horrific indictment of life in 21st century London as a single mum.  If you get the chance give it a go because it’s beautifully honest in its writing.

Get creative

Much like the baking; it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at it getting creative is a chance to express yourself.  Why not try crochet or knitting; neither of which is reserved for just your grandma these days.  Both are gaining more and more popularity with a much younger audience, with numerous YouTube channels providing all the instruction you need if you’re a novice.  I had an idea of how to crochet, and I could knit, but thanks to YouTubers like Bella Coco I got back into crochet.  I’ve made various baby blankets and changing mats, and I’m currently working on an autumn-colour inspired cardigan

My other half started drawing in lockdown as w way of coping with the uncontrollable.  He has developed his style and has a few fans on the socials; and the one thing I’ve noticed is that when he’s ‘creating’ he is much calmer, and in the zone.  He will say himself that it gives him peace of mind and a chance to relax when he gets the pens out!

Bring the outdoors in doors


I don’t believe that Springtime should take all the glory when it comes to bringing nature inside.  Autumn can hold its own in that department too, as it’s a great time of year for bringing nature indoors. Why not pick up some fallen pinecones, leaves and other berries on your walks and make them into a beautiful door wreath.  Wreaths are not just for Christmas you know!  You can also create a display in your hallway with pumpkins and candles. Autumn is the bountiful months of the harvest, when everything is gathered in, so make the most of it!

Doing little things to occupy your mind, nourish your soul, bring out your happy and make your heart sing are key to creating your own self-care routine.

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The best ways to get out of ‘the funks’!

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” 

I don’t know about you, but some days I get up in a bit of a funky mood.  It might be because I was up late the night before, or I’ve had a fight with my other half, or the one that used to blindside me all too often was the hormone-related funk!  

You’re entitled to have ‘the funks’ from time to time; after all you can’t be happy all of the time, right. But what are the best way to right the ship and get back, firing on all cylinders again?



Let’s explore some of my tried and tested methods now. 

Grounding 

When you’re in a funk, you are not grounded.  Instead, you are caught up in the darker, chaotic energy of ‘the funk’.  You will notice that things will tend to happen to you in a domino effect, and to combat that you need to ground yourself.   

The easiest way to ground yourself is to go outside, find a little patch of green, take your socks and shoes off and walk around.  Now stand still and scrunch your feet in the grass and imagine that there are roots from your feet going deep into the earth, anchoring you securely to the ground.  Take a deep breath of the great outdoors, hold it at the top for a count of four, and let it go

If you can’t go outside, then find a comfy chair or seat to sit down in, where you won’t be disturbed.  Take your socks and shoes off, and put your feet flat on the floor.  With your knees relaxed and slightly apart, put your hands in your lap. Just like before extend your roots through the floor and deep into the earth below you

Now, imagine that out the top of your head is a brilliant white cord of light which extends high above you and connects with the infinite source energy.  Feel that white light cord coming through the top of your head, to your crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and root chakras.  Imagine that as soon as all the chakras are connected an amazing light fills your entire body.  From the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers.  You are full of bright, purifying, negativitybusting white lightBreathe the light in.  Hold it was the top for a count of four, then let it go.   

Make the white light as bright as you can.   

Allow it to come out of you, and wrap itself around you like a blanket.  Breathe it in.  And when you’re ready, from the root chakra upwards, draw the light upwards.  Give thanks to each of the chakras as the light dissipates from it.  When it reaches your crown chakra, disconnect from the infinite energy source.  From your feet bring the roots back up through the earth and into your body again

When you’re ready open your eyes, and now gauge how you feel, from 1 – 10, in terms of ‘the funks’.  You should be hovering around a 2.5 if not lower.  If that’s not the case then do it again, until you feel calmer and happier

Journaling

Now, one of the best ways to get out of ‘the funks’ is to simply write it out of you.  There is something cathartic, and quite magical, about getting all that funky energy out of you through the ink connecting with the page in your journal

Take a page from your journal, and really go to town on what is making you feel funky.  Remember that no one is going to see what you’re writingNo one is going to judge what you’re writing; it is literally between you and your journal. Say exactly what you’re feeling, in as much detail as possible.

If you want to take things a stage further then have a go at automatic writing. 

If you’re not familiar with this technique, I believe, that automatic writing comes from your subconscious mind, and is a direct connection to your higher self/ soul.  It is argued that automatic writing has its roots in some supernatural force external to you, guiding your hand.  However, as I’ve said, I choose to believe that it’s a great tool to use if you’re looking to take your conscious mind out of the equation, and find some guidance from deep within your psyche.   

Take a bath 

There is nothing nicer than spending time on your own self-care, and luxuriating in a bath, complete with a face pack, scented candles, essential oils, bath bombs, soft music (playing on a waterproof speaker of course; safety first) and a glass of Prosecco or wine (alternative non-alcoholic beverages can be used instead), is a perfect way to lighten your funky mood and look after yourself, at the same time.   

When everything gets a bit much, just close your eyes and use the space to visualize living through the perfect day.   

Visualize

Visualize waking up with the sun streaming through the windows.  Hear the sounds that you would hear outside. Create your perfect day from start to finish.  Maybe that will be you meeting a friend for lunch.  Walking along the beach with your feet in the water.  Perhaps it’s spending the day on a game drive or safari.  

The beauty of visualization is that you don’t have to have lived this particular perfect day before.  You can make it up as you go along, and that’s the fun bit.  It might be really simple or complex.  Whatever would be your prefect day, lay in your luxurious bath – or wherever is comfortable – and visualize it.  And by spending time visualizing your perfect day, you are taking your mind off of ‘the funks’, and lighten your mood

And if you just don’t have time and want to get out of that funk ASAP, why not try these instead…

  • Throw some shapes, with a dance party just for one.  Put on your fave tracks and boogie away. 
  • Watch some ‘Cats do the craziest things’ videos on YouTube 
  • Find some funny memes 
  • Call or Face time your best friend for a chat
  • Eat a snack.  Sometimes we get a little cranky when we don’t eat.  So, have a snack just to make sure that you’re not actually Hangry! 
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The magical alchemy of bathing

“[My guilty pleasure is a] deep, eco-unfriendly, hot bath. Preferably with a glass of champagne and someone sitting on the loo seat gossiping.” – Dame Prue Leith

I don’t know whether it’s a generational thing, but Sunday night for me was always bath night, and still is.  Growing up in the 1970’s Sunday evening meant bath and hair wash in preparation for the school week ahead. There was nothing like getting in the tub with half a bottle of Matey foaming under the running water, ready to strip my poor juvenile skin off at source and I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. And you know nothing has changed for me in the intervening years if I’m honest; aside from the fact that a bath is no longer a once-a-week necessity and I’ve upgraded the Matey for a Lush bath bomb or 50! 

For me my bath is a safe haven; a muscle memory from the days of being cocooned in my mum’s womb as a growing baby perhaps, but it certainly always makes me feel warm, safe and secure; an alone space where I can just ‘be’.  For me the bath is the perfect place to practice some self-care.  I love the peace and quiet that the bath and the bathroom affords me, for me it’s a great place to meditate.

Bath recipes 

Yes that’s right, there is such a thing as bath recipes complete with ingredients to make the perfect bath.  New-York Healer Deborah Hanekamp – who also goes by the name Mama Medicine – provides individual bath ‘recipes’ for the clients she works with.  For example, if love is on your mind and you’re looking for Mr or Miss right then you might want to try a concoction of coconut milk, rose absolute essential oil, Epsom salt, dragon fruit powder, along with a rose quartz crystal.  Mama also suggests bathing with the lunar phases, “We can feel so much grounded peace by connecting with nature through our baths, and aligning ourselves with the moon,” she says. “The full moon is a great time for reflections and revelations in your bath, while the new moon is a great time for intentions in your bath.” She explains more in her book Bath Rituals, which is available now. 

DIY bath soak 

Do you fancy making a delicious smelling bath soak?  It couldn’t be simpler and it make a really lovely gift for someone you care about because you can tailor the Soak specifically to them. 

You will need; 

385g Epsom Salts 
130g pink Himalayan rock salt 
60g bicarbonate of soda 
60g dried rose petals 
60g dried Lavender flowers 
60g Marigold/ Calendula flowers 
5 to 10 drops of Lavender essential oil 
5 to 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil 
5 to 10 drops of Cardamom Essential oil 
2 to 4 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive oil 

In a Kilner jar or similar place the Epsom Salts, Himalayan rock salt and bicarbonate of soda.   
In a food processor blitz the all but a small handful of the various petals (this helps with the releasing the bath water down the drain) and mix into the other dry ingredients. 
Add the various oils to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add the remaining petals.   
You’re done and the soak is ready to use! 

Note:  For a greater depth of smell, leave the soak for a few days and use. 

Did you know? 

  • Submerging in warm water can calm down the central nervous system, alleviate anxiety and take away aches and pains 
  • A warm bath can increase the levels of serotonin, which is that lovely happy chemical produced by the brain. 
  • Steam from a hot bath is a good influence on the lungs, and can help you breathe better.  Particularly useful if you’re suffering from a cold. 
  • Bathing is a very grounding experience. So if you’ve had a particularly busy or stressful day be sure to have a bath as soon as you can when you get home. Soak up all those negative ions.

I highly recommend you check out the 5 mental health benefits of bathing by Fiona Thomas at Happiful. 

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The wonders of micro-habits!

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed!”

So, we’re half way through 2021 and what better time to review your New Year’s Resolutions.  What?  You ditched them by 3rd January.  Oh, wait you were better than that, you kept up the good work until the end of January.  Congratulations! 

The reason I am being so tongue in cheek about reviewing NYRs is because we all know that we start the year with the best of intentions and then slowly but surely the wheels drop off.  The main reason for this is because you’re doing TOO MUCH and making TOO MANY CHANGES, TOO QUICKLY!   

From past experience my NYRs have encompassed more than one thing, and have typically been huge changes.  They have included such boomerang style activities as losing weight, getting fit, giving up booze, walking to work and saving money, to name but a few.  Of course, I’ve always wanted this to happen yesterday, so to add to my huge challenges I have allowed myself totally unrealistic achievement time frame too.   

Does any of that sound familiar?  Well, it’s taken me a while to learn, but I’m here to wave my magic wand and tell you all about the wonders of micro-habits! 

What are Micro-habits?

Micro-habits – as the name might suggest – is the use of teeny tiny habits that, over time, mount up to make a big difference.  And the beauty of micro-habits is that they don’t take up too much of your time or energy, and can be used to break your goals into manageable chunks.   If you’re already familiar with Manifesting and the Law of Attraction, micro-habits will support you in the often missed out bit of the Manifesting equation… ACTION.  Each little tiny micro-habit acts as an action towards your desired Manifestation. 

What kind of Micro-habits should I be doing?

Now micro-habits can be whatever you want them to be but here are some of my fave micro-habits; 

  • Be grateful.  Write down three things that you’re grateful for from your day.  I often talk about an attitude of gratitude on my blog, but it’s a very power activity if done regularly.  The key thing to remember is that you must always try and be positive, not matter how your day has gone.  This activity really helps you reframe even the worst days.  
  • Refuse once a week!  That’s right, just say no.  This can be at work or in your personal life. Remember you can’t drink from an empty cup so by having the courage to say no when being asked to do something really puts you back in control.  The best way to refuse is when something just doesn’t vibe with you, feel right or doesn’t excite you.  And once you start refusing, you will realise how empowering and liberating it feels.  
  • Manage your money.  It’s not always easy to know where your money is coming from or more importantly where it’s going to.  And if you want to save for the future you need to be clear about these things, so that you can save successfully. There’s loads of apps out there to help you with this; your bank might even have one.  Just get clear on your finances; know what you can spend and what you can save. 
  • Stand up every hour.  Of all the micro-habits on the list, this is by far my favourite.  I do this regularly (like once an hour actually) and at work I go into the ladies and do a few exercises.  It really gets the blood pumping; so, when I’m dancing around waving my hands above my head in the cubicle it makes me LOL.  
  • Do it now!  If a task takes less than five minutes, then do it straight away, this saves you from procrastinating about it and putting it off.  Loading the dishwasher – less than five minutes.  Putting the laundry on – less than five minutes.  Putting the bins out – less than five minutes.  Make your bed – less than five minutes (see the next point for making your bed). These are just three of a myriad of things that take less than five minutes. Get it done.  Move on! 
  • Make your bed.  “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed” Admiral William McRaven famously said this in a speech.  This might seem like a little thing that doesn’t matter. It might seem like something that’s a waste of time, but it sets you in the right mood for the rest of the day.  If you don’t achieve anything else that day, you will have a nice tidy, comfy bed to get into. 

These things aren’t, in themselves, going to change the world, but they teach you about the size of your action steps to set you on a path towards accomplishment of goals. And, if like me you have suffered with depression, one of the hardest things is to do is to motivate yourself to do anything.  These tiny little micro-habits support you to motivating yourself, because they’re small and take up almost no time to do. 

“Micro-habits make the big goals possible.”  

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Discover your authentic self

“Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe.”

We are constantly being bombarded by the media, telling us who we should be, who we should strive to be like or what we should want out of life.  We live in a global society that rates fame and superficiality as most desirable prizes.  Where our bank balance is a direct measurement of our self-worth and much less importance is placed on how we actually live our lives.   

What does Authenticity mean and why is it so important? 

In a nutshell, authenticity means acting in a way that is truly you; that shows your true self and crucially how you feel.  As opposed to showing another facet of yourself.  It’s all about expressing yourself genuinely. 

By being inauthentic you are, in effect, saying to yourself that the real, whole you is not good enough.  That it’s not OK to be the real you.  And over time this continuous “acting” can have a detrimental effect on us and our ability to be our authentic selves. 

But how do we end up at this inauthentic version of ourselves? 

Firstly, let’s not knock the inauthentic version of ourselves or as psychologists would call it the “Adaptive Self”.  As the name suggests, this version of ourselves was created at a young age and shaped by outside influences such as our peers, parents, teachers, religion etc. in order to “get along” and fit into society, and generally adapt to the world around us.   

Conversely, it’s these very layers of beliefs, emotions and thoughts our authentic self is buried under, that can actually end up running the You Show.  So how can you redress the balance between your “Adaptive Self” and your authentic self? 

What do you truly believe? 

Start with pad and paper (don’t use tech for this exercise) and list the beliefs you have about yourself. Using my spidie senses I should imagine they will go something along the lines of “I’m thick.” “I never have any luck in love.” “I’m ugly.” “I’m too fat to find love.” Just watch your inner critic goes to town when given an opportunity like this! 

Once you have listed some of your beliefs examine each one carefully, and unpick how you acquired it. Where did it come from?  Did someone say it to you once and like a piece of Velcro it stuck? Who was that person that gave it to you? Why do you carry on believing it?  AND most importantly does that belief represent the “authentic you” right here, right now, today?  
  
Now create positive alternatives to those negative beliefs you’ve listed, such as “I am more than enough,” or “I am loveable and desirable,” or “I am perfect just as I am,”; you get the gist. Now repeat these as positive affirmations to yourself.   

MY TOP TIP: When it comes to affirmations, record them onto the voice notes on your smart phone and listening to them back with headphones when you’re in a relaxed state; i.e., when you’re drifting off to sleep at night. By doing it this way these affirmations will seep into your subconscious and stick! The best part of all when you’re using this method is that it doesn’t seem like a chore to do.

Slow down 

The pace of life we live – pandemic or no pandemic – is mind blowing.  We are busy making snap decisions and even snappier statements all due to the fact that – “there’s just no enough hours in the day.”  But a key to living authentically is slowing down.  Think about the decisions you’re making and whether they’re in line with your authentic self.  If the words you’re using don’t feel right to your authentic self, then stop and don’t say them.  I’m not talking about procrastinating; I’m talking about being more mindful of what you’re saying and how those words might adversely affect others, especially if they don’t come from a place of authenticity. If needs be, reformat what you were going to say OR better yet, don’t say them until you feel they are the right words for the situation. 

Learn to say ‘no’ 

This is going to be hard if you’re a people pleaser but try and learn to say no to people. Simply measure what you’re being asked against your values and answer authentically. You don’t have to be rude, but if someone asks something of you that doesn’t sit right, instead of saying yes as you might have done previously, just say no.  You will have to deal with their instant shock of you not people pleasing, but they’ll understand, and you’ll get used to saying it too.  

Speak your truth 

I don’t know about you but this is a sentence that is quite disposable, and more often than not used in any one of a number of reality TV shows, where the protagonist for the episode starts talking “their truth” all over the shop.  However, far from it being the throwaway sentence from reality TV, in speaking your truth you are declaring to others that you can be trusted; but more importantly you trust others enough to show your vulnerable side.  In doing this people will tend to act much more positively towards you, because they spot this vulnerability.

Listen to your intuition or inner guide 

Your intuition is always the voice within that is nudging you in the right direction.  However, because of the layers of inauthenticity mentioned previously, we have, over time, forgotten to take notice of it.  Your inner compass is always steering your ‘ship’ in the right direction, but due to the layers of background noise this has been dumbed down to nothing more than a whisper. 

MY TOP TIP:  Sit somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and think of a question that you want clarity on.  Then ask that question and see what pointers or nudges you receive to guide you. It might be a feeling, emanating from the Solar Plexus chakra region – in the abdomen around the belly button area – that you hadn’t noticed before when you’d previously pondered the question.  Alternatively, if you prefer, ask that question before you go to sleep at night and see what comes through in your dreams, to guide you.  Make sure you have something you can document this on when you wake up so you don’t forget it! 

The key to all of this is don’t rush in and suddenly start being authentic all over the place, but small changes every day make for a big change over all, towards your goal of living a more authentic life. Open yourself up to living authentically, and see how your life changes.

“Don’t trade your authenticity for approval.”

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7 things to do this weekend that your garden will love you for

Now that the clocks have changed and there’s more daylight it’s time to turn your attention to the garden, and with the Easter holidays coming up what better time to wake up the garden in preparation for the warm days of summer. 

Freshening up your outdoor space doesn’t have to break the bank, so try these simple tips for giving your garden a little spring-time TLC.

Trim that lawn  

Provided there is at least 2 inches (5cm) of growth on the grass then feel free to fire up the mover.   Don’t go too short with the first cut because you don’t want to stunt the grass with any further frosts.  Make sure your mower blade is sharp to avoid damaging the grass unnecessarily. At this time of year, it’s best to cut the grass in the afternoon when it’s had time to dry out a bit from the morning dew.  

Don’t forget to neaten the edges with a spade, strimmer or long handled shears.  

If you do find that your lawn is suffering with a touch of grass-based alopecia then pop to your local DIY store or larger supermarkets for some grass seed. Once sown, You will see a difference in a matter of days, but just remember not to cut the re-seeded patches, with the mower, until they are well established; garden scissors or shears will do the trick in the meantime. 

Prune your plants 

You know what it’s been like in Lockdown, not being able to go to the hairdressers, well your plants are feeling much the same way!  Of course, there are the correct ways of pruning shrubs – if only I was listening when my granddad was telling me – which Gardner Google should be able to help you out with. However, the general rule is that by pruning summer-flowering plants in early to mid-spring will allow for new growth and flowers in summer.  

Don’t forget we can still get ground frosts up until the early part of May in the UK, so be mindful when pruning and don’t go snip-happy bonkers with those secateurs.  

Herb your enthusiasm 

There’s nothing like a splash of colour in the garden before the summer plants give up the goods, and this can be achieved simply by planting up some colourful containers.  You’re not too late to pop to your local garden centre or DIY store and grab some spring flowering plants like primroses and pansies to create and attention-grabbing display.  However, if you want the colour of the pots but fancy something a little more practical and more importantly edible, why not pot-up some herbs!   

Now my hack for herbs isn’t growing the from scratch; oh no no no.  I buy mine from the potted herb section in the supermarket!  This is a perfect solution; someone has already done the hard work and all you have to do is plant them out. They range in price from 79p to £1.50 and you can get all your favourites.  A word of warning though, you do have to make sure that they’re kept sheltered until the pesky final frosts of the year have passed! 

Remove dead leaves 

This is a quick, cheap way to make your garden look 100 times tidier. After a long winter your garden or court yard will no doubt be covered in last year’s deposit of leaves.  Just be mindful of any wildlife using the leaves as their home; you never know you might bump into a toad or a hedgehog, both of which are partial to a bit of leaf litter!  If you do happen across some wildlife, just leave them as close to where you found them as you can and let them find their next home, rather than you playing real estate agent on their behalf. 

Get weeding 

Along with removing the dead leaves, spring is the perfect time to weed your flower borders, before they become inaccessible with floweringGr plants and shrubs. Gardening hack? Weed when it’s wet, because the damp soil will relinquish the weeds much more easily, even those with the tap roots like dandelions!   

Bath your bird bath 

If you have been feeding the birds over the winter months and providing them with a bird bath for drinking and bathing, now is the time to clean them up.  Remove any moss from the bird bath before cleaning it. 

You can disinfect bird baths and feeders with some VERY weak bleach solution.  Rinse them thoroughly, and, if you can, leave them to air dry – otherwise dry them off – before restocking with seeds and water.    

A midspringtime light’s dream

One of the best and most impactful ways to make your garden pop is by investing in some solar powered lighting. There are so many types on the market these days, you are actually spoilt for choice. Almost every garden centre, DIY store and supermarkets sell them, as does the online super emporium Amazon!

Here are some of the solar powered lights in my garden.

As a caveat to all of this; I will say that I don’t consider myself a gardener and I’m a late starter when it does come to gardening. What really got me loving my little patch on planet earth was Lockdown 1.0, when the weather was wonderful and there was little else to do. Plus the only shops open initially were supermarkets which cashed in on selling compost, bedding pants, veg seedlings and all things garden-related.

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Make a change and stop wasting money…

We always want a bit more of the green stuff, don’t we?  We love the opportunities that it gives us, and when we get to mid-life we think we’re on top of our finances; after all we’ve been around for half a century, surely we should have a handle on it. But do we really know how much of the stuff are we actually haemorrhaging without realising it?  By identifying some of your money-wasters from my list below, you could be make a much bigger change than you could ever imagine, and not just to your pocket!

So, here are my top 9 of the most common money wasters to be mindful of: 

Bottled Water 

If the programmes and campaigns by David Attenborough and Gretta Thunburg haven’t pricked your conscience about the use of single use plastic, then think about it this way…water is an abundant, freely available resources, just like air.  But what if air were bottled and sold back to you for £1.50, in a bottle you couldn’t use again, would you buy it?  I doubt it.  Get a filter jug. Get a reusable bottle and stop wasting your money (at the very least). 

Gym membership 

Admittedly we have been in a lockdown on and off for the past 12 months but even before the Corona Virus Pandemic paying for a gym membership you didn’t use was a very common pastime.  Just get out in the fresh air.  Take your dog for a walk.  Take up Yoga.  Dance in front of the mirror. Get tips from YouTube videos.  Just move more, instead of paying for that gym membership! 

Diet club membership

This previous point leads me neatly onto the dreaded diet club membership.  Again, due to the ongoing Covid crisis the face-to-face clubs have been closed, but doesn’t stop them popping up online.  Honestly, think about it, do you really want to be belittled by a woman (or man) that has reached their goal weight and survives on dust in order to maintain it?  Of course, you don’t.  That £5.95 a week, or whatever the ridiculous cost is, would be much better spent supporting a homeless charity!  Get your scales out and weigh yourself if you must.  Eat a bit less.  Move a bit more and you will make a difference to your waistline.  You don’t need to be shamed into losing weight, or to continue to fund a multi-billion pound world-wide industry. 

Magazine Subscriptions 

Subscriptions are always the things that you plan to cancel but never do.  But the chances are that you will find similar or possibly more in-depth articles available from a quick Google for nix, free, zilch.  You don’t have to wait for the next issue, they are all free all of the time.  Try it now. 

Ping meals and Food deliveries 

This isn’t rocket science and goes without saying really. Here I’m also talking about the lunchtime meal deals we pick up from the supermarket on our way into the office.  We all know the fat, salt and sugar content of these types of meals, not to mention the cost of them.  They’re OK for a treat once in a while, but if they start forming part of your weekly shop then stop!  Start preparing your own lunchtime food for the office and cooking your own meals, with real ingredients from scratch, on a regular basis.  And if you’re not much of a cook head over to trusty old YouTube for some tips. In the long run it’s both cheaper and healthier.   

Satellite and cable packages  

BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub offer free to watch and catch-up programmes and films.  There’s also Netflix, which again offers a mindboggling array of films, shows and series for £9.00 a month.  BritBox and Amazon Prime offer similar streams for less than that.  Just don’t line the pockets of Mr Murdoch et al, and use that money for other things!

Fast Fashion

Invest in good quality, ethically sourced and made, timeless pieces for your wardrobe, rather than cheap, flimsy, potential landfill garments that have been made in sweatshops by people earning a dollar a day.  Ultimately, you’ll be saving your pocket, the environment and the potential exploitation of a workforce. 

Computer Software  

These can be a real waste of money, and you’re often duped into buying them purely because through ignorance.  My advice, get a free outlook email account and then have access to a chopped down version of the Microsoft Suite for nothing.  You can use all your favourites – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – which you can save to your OneDrive account to access it anywhere. 

Ditch the bad habits

Smoking and drinking are exactly what I’m talking about here.  They are all short-term pleasure, with no long-term gain whatsoever.  They shorten your life expectancy, provide a good source of ill health and potential long-term debt. Imagine what you could spend that £4700 per annum on instead of cigarettes (£13 a day x 7 x 52).   

Featured

A guide to Journaling

“My keyboard is my journal – Pharrell Williams

In today’s hectic world where we can communicate with people around the world in a matter of seconds, and can order food and have it delivered to our homes 24/7. Where we are in local lockdown restrictions, away from our loved ones. Where we are constantly bombarded with scary and sensationalist media headlines leading to anxiety and stress. Where we just don’t know what the future holds. With all of these things affecting our lives there needs to be an outlet for us to clear our minds of the day to day clutter in a positive, fulfilling and life-affirming way… enter stage right JOURNALING!

The benefits of getting in the scribbling habit allows you to clarify your thoughts and feelings by putting them down on paper. I say paper, because if you use your table, pc or phone or other device that also receives emails and messages etc. you can easily become very distracting, taking your attention away from what you’re doing.

Journaling is sooo simple and an incredibly effective way of downloading the junk from the day and unclutter your mind; leaving you feeling lighter, more positive and able to sleep!

  • Decide on a journal that you want to write in – and crucially is within your budget – together with a pen you like to write with.
  • Allow yourself time to scribble – make sure you have time uninterrupted to write in your journal.
  • Try journaling at the end of the day before you retire to bed. This will help you download the thoughts of the day to help you sleeping better. (100% recommend this as I journal in the evening before I go to sleep. I always make sure that I have the bedroom to myself, some low lighting on and just a quiet space in which to write. The main benefit I find is that it helps me sleep!).
  • Don’t worry if your thoughts are just ramblings – automatic writing if you like – it’s only you that is going to read it. So whether it’s what you really think of your boss or how you would have handled a situation differently, the key is to write it off your chest.
  • Eventually you can you your scribblings to set goals and challenges for yourself; as well as for the things that you’re grateful for.

Journaling can be a really liberating feeling, so much so in fact that I have created a printable 21 Uplift Journal. I created this Journal as a deliberate and intimate conversation with yourself, and included a few uplifting activities in it as well. Give journaling a go… what’s the worst that could happen? Just remember to always keep it safe and away from prying eyes!

Happy Journaling

Featured

How to raise your vibe fast, today!

“The universe doesn’t speak your language, it speaks your vibe!”

I don’t know about you but this year has been all over the place in terms of crazy energy to say the least! It doesn’t matter if you’re the least sensitive person, you will have definitely picked up on the chaotic juju circulating the globe!

Over the passed few months I have spent a lot more time on my daily practices, some of which I have included in my list, to ground myself and bring me back to centre rather than allowing the current situations to engulf my thoughts.

In these crazy times it’s often hard to maintain high vibes all the time, but here are some of my tried and tested top tips for keeping the negative energy to a minimum and raising your vibes high, high!

Be grateful. Start your day by stating three things you’re grateful for.

Get your groove on. Put on your fave music and throw some shapes!

Say something nice to someone.

Call a friend or two who are always high vibe.

Funny Jim Carrey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have a nap.

Eat some naturally high vibe foods

Take a deep breath – this works for panic attacks too!

Give yourself five minutes

Go for a walk outside in the fresh air, you could even meet up with a friend (socially distanced of course)!

“Vibe high, and the magic around you will unfold.”

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