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CBD OIL – SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

CBD OIL – SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

I am thrilled to welcome Sarah Warrington as my guest blogger this week! Sarah is here to share her knowledge about Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is starting to become a popular natural remedy for many common ailments. There has been so much talk about this oil – as always, some more factual and some less! As CBD oil is:

“one of the 104 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa” 

…conversation around it is bound to cause a bit of a stir! However, by looking at the facts we can see the genuine potential this substance has for natural healing – and we can hopefully remove the scaremongering element. So, over to Sarah: read on!

More people than ever before are shifting their opinions about Cannabis, and are choosing CBD to provide natural relief for their medical conditions.

We all know that when trying anything new, there’s always a learning curve, and with CBD, it’s no different.  CBD comes from the hemp plant, is completely natural and does not get you “high”.

THE BASICS

  • CBD doesn’t ‘do’ the work, it signals the body to do the work
  • When we supplement our bodies with cannabinoids and feed our cannabinoid receptors, our Endogenous Cannabinoid System begins to work properly and begins to self-regulate and self-correct
  • CBD supplementation is a completely natural way to help manage stress/anxiety, depression, regulate pain and help improve the quality of sleep.

THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM

Our endocannabinoid system is responsible for nearly every function and process in our body. Just some of the functions regulated by this system include:

  • Moods and emotional responses
  • Stress responses and anxiety
  • Metabolism and energy
  • Neuroprotection and muscle movement
  • Memory and learning
  • Sleep cycles
  • Reproductive function
  • Pain perception and inflammation
  • Cardiovascular function

The endocannabinoids within your body are produced as needed and are quickly broken down by enzymes. The exogenous cannabinoids from CBD however are stronger and longer lasting.

Because your endocannabinoid system is crucial to so many vital functions, some researchers are suggesting that many health concerns could be the result of imbalances within this system. This theory could explain why the research into supplementing the system with CBD is showing so many potential benefits.

Research shows that CBD has the potential to alleviate pain, improve sleep, reduce inflammation, and improve the symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders, including bipolar affective disorder. While the study of the endocannabinoid system is relatively new, the results have been quite fascinating.

 

CBD oil

HISTORY

In 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in the brain of a rat. Researchers found that these receptors reacted specifically to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and were primarily found in regions of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes such as memory, high cognition, emotion, and motor coordination.

Two years later, in 1993, the second cannabinoid receptor was found as part of the immune and central nervous systems. It was then that researchers started to realise that they may have been onto something, but believing these receptors were only found in rodents, felt it was no big deal…right?

Fast forward to 1995, researchers discovered that these receptors, now officially referred to as the CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor, were found not only in rats, but within thousands of other species, including humans.

Thanks to advancements in technology and knowledge plus tons of clinical trials, researchers were able to reverse engineer what they’d discovered. They traced back through the metabolic pathways of various cannabinoids, and uncovered an entirely unknown signalling system between the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies and receptors found in Cannabis compounds, which they called “endocannabinoids.”

Due to the role of endocannabinoids in this system, the system was officially named the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In order to discover the Purest CBD oils on the market there are various considerations. The oils must be:

  • 100% organic.
  • NON GMO.
  • pesticide free.
  • full spectrum, (which means the whole plant is used).
  • including the legal amount of THC ( Europe’s legal amount is 0.2%).
  • CO2 extracted (for purity and quality).
  • mixed with a Sunflower carrier, which contains lectins, and aids absorption in to the body.
  • government Lab tested.
  • approved by the European and UK cannabis associations.

 

CBD oil is a life changer

 

MY STORY 

I’d been looking for a decent CBD oil since it became legal in the UK. I have suffered with stress and depression for some time and heard CBD is great to manage this. I struggled to find a brand that I felt happy with, but Maxx4 caught my attention from the moment I saw their website. They are a really ethical organic company and their CBD oil is a member of the UK and European Cannabis Trades Association  (CTA) which really reassured me. 
Maxx4 products are designed to offer the full potential of the hemp plant. They are “full spectrum”, made from full plant materials and RAW.  100% organic, vegan, lab tested and have the sunflower oil as a carrier. In particular, they make every effort to preserve the natural terpene content of the plant.
Unlike other brands that often weaken the finished product by attempting to mask the natural flavour of the hemp plant, Maxx4 does no such thing. I love that about them. To me, it’s not about how the oil tastes, its about keeping the finished product as potent as possible, therefore as useful to my needs as possible.  With in a week of taking the oil I was feeling happier and less stressed. I have 3 children, two teenagers and a 10 year old.  They noticed the difference: I actually sing in the car!! And I am more patient with them.  
I decided to become a supplier of Maxx4 products in October last year, and since then have helped over 200 people with various health issues.  I no longer take anti-depressants: after 30 years CBD is my only natural drug. I have many ex-army guys with PDST taking the oil, and only this week one came to thank me, saying it’s the first time he has felt himself – and that is after 3 months off all medication!
The company have a Facebook group with over 3000 customers on it, each telling their incredible stories. Please do visit the website here,  or the Facebook page here. Alternatively you can email me swarrington1@btinternet.com. If you are interested please do get in touch: I truly want to help.
MY GUILTY SECRET – MATCHA LOVE!

MY GUILTY SECRET – MATCHA LOVE!

 

 

Ok, so most of you will know how I love my coffee & how easily my intake can go waaay over what it should if I’m not mindful of it – but where did this matcha love come from?! My advice to clients who are trying to cut down on coffee is often to try to find an alternative hot drink. In the past that would have been hot water & lemon first thing in the day, or perhaps herbal teas later on, but now things have changed: move in matcha!

This bright green, traditional Japanese health drink has become my latest love in the kitchen. From its fabulous green colour (green being another of my loves), to the endless goodness it provides, to the ritual of making it – it’s a win-win! Both the Chinese & the Japanese have been drinking matcha for centuries (they also use it in cakes, desserts, & infuse it into creams, but that’s another story for another time…)

 

WHAT IS MATCHA?

  • Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. The leaves are laid out to dry, then they are de-stemmed, de-veined and stone ground to become the characteristic bright green powder that is matcha. More specifically:

matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder”

  • The powder can be made into a simple hot matcha drink (by whisking the powder into water that is approximately 70 degrees centigrade). Other alternatives are matcha latte or iced matcha, or if you want to be a little more adventurous a matcha smoothie or a matcha milk shake!

 

WHY IS IT GOOD FOR US?

  • Matcha is a high quality tea made from “tencha” which in itself comes from the Camellia Sinensis tea bush. (It should however be noted that now that matcha is so very fashionable sadly not all matchas will match this high quality).
  • With other green teas components from the leaves are “steeped” – that is they are left to infuse in hot water to release both the flavour and the nutrients. With matcha, you actually ingest the whole leaf (see above) so you are getting a much more potent ‘punch’ of all the nutrients.
  • Matcha is packed with antioxidants, and especially with polyphenols which have been linked with many positive health benefits (amongst other things polyphenols are believed to combat inflammation, which is the source of so many health issues today).

 

matcha drink alternatives

 

 

GREEN TEA & CAFFEINE…

I’d like to believe we are all aware of keeping an eye on caffeine intake – and of why we should. Matcha does contain caffeine, so it is not a caffeine-free alternative. In fact, because you are ingesting the whole leaf rather than the steeped residue caffeine levels are higher than green “teabag” tea. However, matcha fans will tell you that the caffeine ‘hit’ from matcha is quite different. It is described as a:

“clean, calm and focused energy boost”

…which lacks the jittery-ness and the spikes and crashes of a coffee-based pick-me-up. It’s a similar comparison to the effects of “good” and “bad” carbs. A slower, more prolonged boost, as opposed to a quick ‘high’ and equally quick crash. Hence, the fans insist, whereas coffee will make you “wired”, matcha will gently ease you into increased focus and ‘cradle’ you whilst you are there…

 

MY MATCHA LOVE

There are many things about this drink that I personally love. It has a somewhat bitter after taste which sort of resembles the after taste of coffee. If I “latte it” with my beloved frothy milk on the top it feels like a treat which is more than comparable to my frothy coffee. On top of that I have to confess it’s the ritual that I love. If you make your latte the traditional Japanese way the whole experience becomes much more mindful – almost meditative – (and that in itself will increase our awareness of how much we are drinking).

 

 

So what are my own ‘must haves’ for my matcha love? Here goes: 

  1. a quiet 5 minutes to enjoy the actual process of making it
  2. a bamboo scoop and whisk to make the matcha in the traditional Japanese way
  3. a bowl as opposed to a cup
  4. frothy milk (personally I prefer latte to plain…)
  5. a quiet 5 (or 10!) minutes to enjoy the results…

 

matcha ritual with bamboo scoop and bamboo whisk

 

So if you have yet to jump on the matcha bandwagon then why not go ahead and give it a go? There are undoubtedly many actual health benefits, but as I say, for me it’s more than that. The whole process and the slightly ritualistic quality of creating this drink makes my matcha love more mindful, so that my afternoon drink becomes a part of my stress management and self care (as opposed to a jittery coffee-based ggrrrrr!)

 

MY TOP TIPS FOR A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP!

MY TOP TIPS FOR A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP!

Creating a bedtime routine can be incredibly powerful. We know all about doing this for our kids, why shouldn’t it work for us too? Establishing a peaceful atmosphere can help induce relaxation, and a regular and calming routine can send powerful message to the brain that it is time to unwind and switch off from the day’s happenings.

 

As someone who once experienced horrendous sleep problems, I had to work hard to discover the routine that worked best for me. So here are the habits I’ve established – and I truly know how effective these can be…

 

MY TOP TIPS 

1. No screens for AT LEAST 1 hour before bedtime. This one is all about melatonin production & how we can utilise understanding of this to enhance our sleep.

2. Consider alternatives to TV as a pre-bed activity. Although some TV can be a great switch off, it is sometimes over-stimulating. Reading a book, listening to a podcast or simply listening to music are all options which may be more relaxing.

3. Enjoy a warm drink. My preference would be a cup of chamomile tea. For some warm milk does the trick (it contains both tryptophan and melatonin) but for some it can have the opposite effect: try it out yourself before making the decision.

 

relaxing chamomile tea

 

4. Avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, but do consider something calming such as yoga, with its emphasis on calming and relaxing.

5. Even if you don’t want to do a full yoga workout, I thoroughly believe in the benefits of a few yoga stretches before bed. Although we may think we’ve become physically relaxed during our evening, we usually tend to sit in one position – whether watching TV or reading a book – for some time. We then get into bed & lie pretty much in one position for many hours, and this combination can lead to waking stiff and achey. Instead, try a few gentle mobilisation exercises such as some shoulder rolls, a Pilates roll down, and a yoga cat stretch before getting in to bed to ease out sore muscles.

6. Make your cleansing routine – however simple or complex it may be – a calming ritual. Think of massaging the skin as you remove make up, take in the scents of your products & focus on your breathing throughout. I would add here that it’s worth thinking about the products you use near to bedtime. Using natural products containing essential oils can aid relaxation and sleep.

7. A quick spritz around your bed or over your pillow with an essential oil based Pillow Mist will leave a waft of lavender or whatever your chosen scent may be, and can be a fabulous way to induce sleep

8. If you have difficulty sleeping, a few drops of cedarwood essential oil on the soles of your feet can work wonders for insomnia.

9. All the many benefits of essential oils can be enjoyed best by using a diffuser, and it is my own absolute preferred bedtime soother. Choose your favourite from the many scents that can aid relaxation: lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, marjoram, chamomile, vetiver…

 

FRANKINCENSE

 

10. If with all of this you are still struggling to sleep, or if thoughts are still racing around in your head, try Belly Breathing whilst focusing on relaxing the body rather than on sleep, until you drift to the land of dreams…

RELAXING FOODS

RELAXING FOODS

This week I am thrilled to be sharing a post by Emily Fawell of 4wellpeople. Emily is a friend & colleague, whose work as a Nutritional Therapist I greatly admire. In this post she gives some simple, practicable ideas on how best to use our nutrition as an aid to relaxation…

Relaxing foods are precious resources for all of us leading hectic lives. Every day, we rush from a demanding job and family life, to a full-on social life, giving little thought to our body’s desire to relax.

 

If you find it hard to wind down after a demanding day, or need to introduce a little extra calmness into your weekend, then try adding the following relaxing foods into your diet…

 

OATS

Oats have many health benefits: they contain beta-glucans which support the immune system, and lower cholesterol; they are packed full of fibre which means that they release their energy slowly, which means more sustained energy levels; and they are an excellent source of selenium which is a powerful antioxidant and an important mineral for thyroid function. In addition to all this, they also contain good levels of tryptophan which promotes good mood and sleep.

 

LETTUCE

Remember Beatrix Potter’s Flopsy Bunnies?  They ate so much prized lettuce that Farmer McGregor was able to pick them up and pop them in his sack, to take them home for the pot. The milky sap that oozes from lettuce when it is cut contains the chemical Lactucarium, a sedative and pain reliever, structurally similar to opium, but not nearly as strong. In some cultures, lettuce is served at the end of an evening meal because of its soporific qualities.

MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS

Magnesium is a mineral which is vital for nerve function, and a common sign of deficiency is muscle twitching and restless legs. We use up large quantities of Magnesium when we are stressed or exhausted, and a twitching eyelid is often a sign that we are doing too much. To boost your magnesium intake eat

  • plenty of nuts,
  • seeds
  • and dark green leafy vegetables such as
  • spinach,
  • chard,
  • broccoli,
  • cucumbers
  • and green beans.

Another relaxing way to increase your magnesium levels is to take a bath in Epsom Salts.

 

DARK CHOCOLATE

Dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants, and as a result is good for heart health and the immune system. But it also has other benefits – it can lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and it stimulates your brain to produce opioids which make you feel good.

Make sure you choose a good quality dark chocolate, the higher the cocoa content, the better – at least 70%.

 

MILK AND OTHER DAIRY PRODUCTS

Calcium, the mineral which is found in milk and dairy products has a sedative effect on the body. This explains why many of us were given milky drinks at bedtime. Dairy products are also high in tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter – good levels of which are needed for sufficient melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

 

GREEN TEA

If you feel stressed out during the day try replacing regular tea with Green tea. Green tea has higher levels of a chemical called L-Theanine than other teas. L-Theanine promotes a state of relaxation in the brain. It does, however, contain some caffeine (less than regular tea or coffee) so if you are caffeine sensitive you could try a decaffeinated Green tea.

 

CHAMOMILE TEA

Chamomile is renowned for its calming properties and is a great tea to take in the evening before bedtime. Its relaxing benefits are due to high levels of a chemical called apigenin, which in clinical trials has been proven to reduce anxiety.

 

 

So why not try adding a few of these relaxing foods and drinks to your diet and see if you can induce a greater sense of calm?

 

 

If you have enjoyed this blog post, why not learn more about nutritional therapy and how it could help you if you are worried about your anxiety levels.

If you think you might benefit from some support, please call Emily Fawell, on 07967 639347 for a free 15-minute consultation or email emily@4wellpeople.co.uk.

PLASTIC & FOOD PACKAGING

PLASTIC & FOOD PACKAGING

I am delighted to welcome back Lisa Patient as this week’s guest blogger. Lisa works together with my friend and colleague Emily Fawell. Both are registered nutritionists, and you can learn more about their work at Vital Health Nutrition here. In this article which was initially written for the #ion_nutrition Institute for Optimum Nutrition magazine, Lisa paints an honest picture of the desperate need for a Plastic Pollution Solution. This is something I feel incredibly strongly about: please do read and share, and then maybe take just a few minutes to consider what YOU might do to cut down on your own plastic consumption…

 

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted annually, so keeping food fresh for as long as possible is vitally important for the economy and the environment. But how safe is the plastic packaging that we use today? Lisa Patient writes for the Optimum Nutrition Magazine:

 

Plastic, in many forms, is the most widely-used material for food packaging. It was first introduced in 1949 as a product called Saran Wrap (a forerunner to products such as Clingfilm in the UK), and soon went on to replace traditional methods that used cloth, paper, or glass. Developed from the first type of plastic to be invented [polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC)], food wrap plastic could keep out air, moisture, and chemicals. It was also versatile, lightweight and cheap to transport — unlike glass, which incredibly dates back to 1,500 BC as a food packaging and meets many of the criteria for food storage.

 

HORMONES

But despite all of plastic’s positives, it has been suggested that exposure to some types could disrupt our hormones. Some research, predominantly using rats and mice, has shown that the chemical structure of certain plastics causes them to either mimic the function of a hormone with a similar molecular structure, or block the action of a hormone by latching on to the receptor site that triggers a hormone to activate. For example, a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is used in plastics, has a structure similar to the female hormone oestrogen; a comprehensive review of BPA published by the State of California links it to a number of female hormone conditions including recurrent miscarriage and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Many of us will have encountered the term ‘BPA’ on products that are marketed as BPA-free. Widely used since the 1960s, BPA is a component part of the white lining inside food cans, and 
is found in drinks cans, plastic water bottles, and bottle tops. Studies, mostly from the US, have found that circulation of BPA in women’s bloodstreams is common: one study that tested 85 samples of umbilical cord blood found that all 85 contained BPA. In another study of 268 pregnant women, 96 per cent tested positive for BPA in their urine.

Whether or not BPA causes actual harm to human health, however, is contested by the plastics industry because very few studies have been carried out on human subjects — although one 2015 study linked levels of BPA in mothers to low birth weight in babies, with female babies affected more than male babies.

But it is not just women’s hormones that are suspected to be affected by plastics. A recent study found that surfynol, a chemical used to create multi- layer food packaging, damaged sperm in laboratory tests. Analysis of the sperm showed multiple defects including their ability to swim, to make energy, and in their protection mechanisms.

 

 

CARDIOVASCULAR & WEIGHT WORRIES

Another area of concern is phthalates, which are chemicals that are used to soften plastics, and which can leach onto food during microwaving and heating. Emerging evidence suggests these may damage the walls of arteries and may directly damage heart cells. A 2014 study linked dietary phthalate exposure to higher systolic blood pressure in children and adolescents.

However, plastics containing these phthalates are commonly used to package processed foods, and so it may be that further studies need to separate the risk factors of phthalates and quality of diet.

It has also been suggested that some plastics may affect cholesterol levels. Widely used perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been shown to interfere with the genes that regulate cholesterol metabolism, affecting how much cholesterol we produce, and how effectively it is transported around the body. Resistant to heat, water and grease, PFAS are used to line non-stick cookware, greaseproof paper, fast food wrappers (particularly burgers and fries) and microwave popcorn bags.

And it may be the case that dieters in particular should beware of these plastics. More than 620 people participated in a weight-loss trial in Louisiana over two years, during which time blood samples were regularly taken to assess subjects’ blood levels of PFAS. After two years of dieting, higher PFAS concentrations in the blood were linked to weight regain and slower metabolic rates (the rate at which we extract energy from food), particularly in women. The study concluded that “the possible impact of environmental chemicals on the obesity epidemic therefore deserves attention”.

In mouse studies, BPA has also been linked to weight-gain; one study found that even a low dose of BPA caused disruption to the metabolisms of male mice, affecting body weight, food appetite, and insulin and glucose regulation.

SCALE OF THE PROBLEM

Currently, we can’t seem to escape plastics. Samples taken from water supplies around the world have shown that the vast majority of water supplies across all continents are contaminated by microscopic plastic fibres. In the UK, plastics were found in 74 per cent of samples — so avoiding plastics may be more difficult than we might like to think.

And it’s not just tap water that is affected. A broad analysis of 259 bottles of water from 11 different brands sampled from Europe, Asia, Africa and America, found that 93 per cent contained particles of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

 

Demonstrating how difficult it is to avoid plastics, one fascinating study in 2012 analysed the blood levels of phthalates and BPA in a group of volunteers that had been restricted to an organic natural diet that had not been in contact with any plastic packaging. These were compared to samples from a group eating a regular plastic-wrapped diet. Much to everyone’s surprise the concentration of phthalates in the blood of the organic group actually increased over the course of the study. After much investigation, the research team attributed this to leaching of phthalates from the plastic tubes that were used to extract organic milk from the cows’ udders.

 

INNOVATIONS IN FOOD PACKAGING 

The plastics used in food packaging do not biodegrade, but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they become tiny particles called microplastics.

Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the EU, has said that Brussels’ priority is to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.

But nature may have a solution — in the form of microbes. A paper published in
 the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research discusses how microbes and fungi could be used to break down plastics.

For example, mangrove soil taken from the Niger delta contains a family of bacteria called the Aspergillus species, which feed on carbon from both high-density and low- density polyethylene, the latter of which accounts for about 60 per cent of all plastic waste.

The race is on to produce packaging and bottles that are wholly or partially made from plants or biomass such as corn, sugarcane, cellulose, seaweed and algae. In the meantime, some consumers are looking for more natural ways of storing food. Herbs, for example, have been used for centuries as a means of preserving foods, and recent publications describe success with cinnamon oil, rosemary extracts and green tea as preservatives, using them to line the inside of packaging.

However, any changes to our use of plastic is likely to be consumer-driven rather than led by manufacturers. This is because the success of plastic remains: it’s very low cost to produce, and change can be expensive.

 

For a referenced version of this article, please click here.

 

 

 

If you would like to learn about the alternative to plastic food wrapping that Shaw Lifestyle recommends click here

 

HOW (& WHY) TO START A JOURNEY OF SELF CARE IN 2019

HOW (& WHY) TO START A JOURNEY OF SELF CARE IN 2019

What is this mania with “self care”? And what even IS self care??

 

Strangely enough, #selfcare means taking care of yourself!  But what I really mean is truly taking care of yourself with little acts of kindness to YOU. To my mind it is a huge comment on the life we are living that we have to consciously stop & think about engaging in self care: about being kind to ourselves, and giving ourselves a little hug…

That “little hug” can be anything that equates to giving a little special time to yourself. It might be stealing some time in the afternoon to indulge in reading a favourite book, or getting up half an hour earlier to start a practice of mediation in solitude, or treating yourself to a long ramble in the woods once a week. It can be ANYTHING that genuinely feels like a little “me time”. This fact is important: if you don’t actually enjoy reading, then reading a book will NOT constitute me time for you; if the thought of lying in the bath for 20 minutes just makes you feel frustrated and bored then that isn’t self care for you. Choose wisely: select something you will genuinely enjoy, and something which will be a true “switch off”. Time to “park” everything else for a while and simply focus on YOU: on doing something you like whilst not even thinking about anything else…

 

 

In today’s society our day to day lives are such that we are forever being pulled in different directions. We have constant demands on our time, from a work ethic that (largely due to our digital world) often demands 24/7 availability, to children whose clubs and hobbies have become a full time job, to the “MUST DO” habit whereby we MUST fit in exercise/meditation/self development too. It can all seem totally overwhelming, & it can feel nigh on impossible to fit in anything else, but I promise you it is possible to carve out an extra 5 or 10 minutes in your day if you set your mind to it. It is YOUR choice, and it has to be YOUR commitment: if you make that commitment, the benefits to be had are endless…

 

THE BENEFITS OF SELF CARE

Giving a little back to YOU makes you feel less resentful of ‘giving’ to everyone else. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there. That feeling that everyone always wants a piece of us: the kids, your partner, work, neighbours – even the dog! It is impossible to achieve this without some degree of resentment unless we find a way to give a little back to us too.

Breathing space: time to “switch off”. In a society of constant demands – from the “ping” and “woosh” of notifications on our phone, to the endless stream of info for our kids activities – the chance to “switch off” or “unplug” for a while becomes a luxury. It is a NECESSARY luxury: one we need to make time for.

Welcome release from from mind chatter. The idea of “mind chatter” goes back to the Buddhist concept of “monkey mind”. Buddhists observed the never ending restlessness of a monkey and compared this to our own restless minds. Our minds are never still, (it is believed humans have around fifty thousand separate thoughts each day), and when this is added to the stresses of modern day society, we can see how real a NEED we have for this release.

Improved health. Taking time out for ourselves will enhance both physical and mental health. When we are forever “on the run” our bodies and our minds feel the pressure. Both end up “running on empty” and this can lead at best to feeling a little run down, and at worst to burnout.

Lowered stress levels. If we are a little clever about which activities we choose as self care, we can succeed in significantly lowering stress levels (see below).

A chance to be mindful. There is a very good reason why “mindfulness” has become such a buzzword: it is SO very necessary as an antidote to what today’s world throws at us. But how easy is it to be mindful in the midst of our never ending day-to-day? Not at all! Giving yourself a few minutes each day for self care however can double up as an opportunity to be mindful as well.

Feeling better about YOU. Giving yourself a little time, a little kindness, equates to giving value to yourself. If we don’t believe we’re worthy of that, then we are really not respecting “self”: not awarding ourselves enough self worth. Committing to a regular practice of self care gives value to YOU, thus increasing self esteem.

AN EXTRA “PLUS”

An added advantage of elevating self esteem is that feeling better about yourself can be the first step to start to doing other (perhaps more challenging) things to make you feel better still: to make you the best version of you that you can become! So we’re talking the biggies like exercise and nutrition, which are themselves a hugely important aspect of your self care. If you start with simple “me time” activities such as those discussed above, this will get your self esteem back where it belongs. This in turn will do wonders for your ability to tackle the bigger challenges a little further down the line: just think what that might do for your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions, and your ability to stick to them…

 

HOW TO “UP” YOUR SELF CARE TO THE NEXT LEVEL

If you can include some activities that are more specifically related to stress management, then this will enhance ALL of the above even more. Some examples might be:

  • Getting out in nature (scientifically proven to lower stress hormones)
  • Practising “Belly Breathing”
  • Starting a daily practise of Gratitude
  • Starting a daily meditation or mindfulness practise

Once again, ALL the above are pleasant things to do: I’m not asking you to go clean the house, I’m asking you to find the time to do something lovely!

 

I am well aware that for most of us, the most challenging part of this whole article is actually FINDING THE TIME. I get it: I’ve been there. But I PROMISE you that ANYONE can find five minutes extra in their day. It is about prioritising YOU, and that is the very first step in self care. There is a wonderful Zen saying which states:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy: then you should sit for an hour”

…no more need be said!

HOW TO PUT ALL THIS INTO ACTION

Your first step has to be believing you are worth it, remembering your own self value, and therefore finding that time. The second step is COMMITMENT: make the decision that 2019 is going to be the year that you give back to YOU – and therefore to everyone around you. Write down your commitment to a self care programme, sign it & place it somewhere you will see it regularly. Tell other people about it: telling others increases accountability. Then jot down a list of activities that you consider to be true self care for YOU.

If you’d like to take it all a step further and to engage in a daily 5 minutes of stress relieving self care, then do grab my FREE download here. This is where the real turnaround happens. The guide will take you through a simple, manageable, step-by-step process to carve out that time and practice self care activities that will truly address your stress levels as well. In the space of just seven days you will start to see the difference, and THAT is the turning point: the point at which you realise that SELF CARE WORKS: that it is oh so very worth putting in that time. And you’re not thinking it because you’ve read my article: you’re BELIEVING it because you’ve tried it yourself, and you’ve seen the results .

 

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