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MY TIPS TO CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE…WHY YOU SHOULD & HOW TO DO IT!

MY TIPS TO CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE…WHY YOU SHOULD & HOW TO DO IT!

This is something my clients talk to me about so regularly…& if I’m honest that’s probably because they know how much I love my coffee!! I so love the smell, the look & the feel of that early morning boost with the froth on top, BUT I do know that it isn’t great for my health, & I know that if I’m not mindful of coffee consumption it can very easily creep up, and actually make me feel pretty wretched. Hence I have become somewhat of an expert on how to cut down!

Some of you may want to cut down your intake, whilst others may want to cut it out altogether. Either way, you all know my belief that KNOWLEDGE IS KEY. If you increase your understanding of what it is that caffeine may be doing to you, you have conscious reasons to try to at least cut down (rather than doing it simply because it’s the “right thing”: human nature is such that this alone rarely works!) I am a huge believer in drinking (or eating) mindfully, so that you become more aware of whether you actually need that coffee/biscuit/chocolate bar…and then believe me, you will be half way there in terms of actually achieving your goals and cutting down.

If you feel you need to make changes to your caffeine habit, you might like to download my FREE Coffee Challenge Guide which will give you some great tips to get started. If however you’re still not quite ready to take the plunge, then do read on for a little further inspiration from my own top reasons to think again…

MY TOP REASONS:

1. The two most basic facts to remember are that caffeine is a stimulant, and it is also addictive. These factors form the basis of just about everything else you’re about to read…

2. Caffeine can cause sleep problems. We all know that drinking caffeine too close to bedtime may stop us from getting off to the land of dreams, but did you know that drinking too much caffeine will also disrupt the general quality of your sleep? Most of us are blissfully unaware of just how large an effect caffeine can have. Did you know that:

“half of the caffeine you take in at 7pm is still in your body at 11pm”

Additionally a recent American study concluded that:

“even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour”

3. Caffeine can increase anxiety. As caffeine is a stimulant, it can evoke the body’s stress response (a primitive, physiological response to threat, often referred to as being in “fight or flight mode”). This means it may make our body respond as it might to a scary event. This may simply make us feel a little jittery, but for someone predisposed to anxiety the effect may be much worse (heart racing, sweaty palms, ringing in the ears): it may even bring on full blown panic attacks. In short, drinking caffeine regularly & long term will increase rather than decrease stress levels.

 

 

4. Caffeine is addictive. I am a firm believer that anything that is addictive holds hidden dangers for many of us – and also holds a silent message: “time to be mindful”. The point here is to stop and think-before-you-drink. Be aware of whether you really need that caffeine kick. (A great way of persuading yourself to start cutting back is to remember that if you do drink it less often, you will feel that ‘kick’ all the more on the occasions you do!)

5. Caffeine intake can adversely affect the digestive system. As caffeine is acidic, drinking a lot of it may damage the lining of the stomach and intestines. It can also work as a laxative (and some people consciously use it as such, but there are FAR more healthy ways to keep on top of those bowel movements!)

6. Caffeine stimulates the heart muscle. Once again, for those in good health this shouldn’t be a problem, but for others it certainly may be. Regardless of heart health though, it is worth stopping and thinking for a moment: why would ANY of us do something regularly that might become detrimental to our heart…?

7. If your daily coffee hit tends to be from one of the many high street chains that offer endless options for extra froth & flavour, then you are very probably consuming a considerable amount of sugar on top of your caffeine fix…

8. If you are used to drinking takeaway bottled coffee, tea, energy drinks or fizzy drinks then you are probably taking in a large amount of preservatives in addition to the caffeine…

 

  

9. Caffeine can cause headaches . This is an odd one, because for some it can actually help relieve headaches (hence caffeine is found in various painkillers). The answer then is simply to experiment and see whether headaches are a symptom of caffeine intake for you or not.

10. Caffeine prevents calcium absorption. Again, this is of more concern to those that are already predisposed to osteoporosis or joint problems, but it is still worth all of us noting it for our general health. Calcium is key to building and maintaining healthy teeth and bones, regulating muscle function, ensuring effective blood clotting and enzyme activity. It is involved in transmitting messages through the nervous system, and is needed for healthy heart functioning…so all in all, it’s pretty important!

11. Caffeine is a diuretic so can lead to dehydration (especially if we drink it first thing in the morning, when the body is already dehydrated). If you are grabbing a coffee first thing in the morning it is always advisable to drink a glass of water beforehand.

12. Caffeine intake can have a negative impact on dental health. Coffee and tea both stain teeth – and fizzy drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine, are acidic AND contain added sugar…none of these bode well for your next dental appointment!

13. If a trip to the high street coffee shop is a necessary part of your morning (and/or your afternoon) have you ever stopped to consider the effect on your finances? Just take a moment out to think how much you may be spending weekly on this addiction (and how much you could save by putting that money aside…)

14. The sheer amount of plastic cups and bottles that are produced to supply the endless high street coffee vendors is surely contributing to environmental damage. This one is a personal plea from me: if you do continue to grab a caffeine kick in this form, please, please do so with your own, reusable cup...

 

 

SO WHAT IS IT THAT STOPS US FROM SIMPLY GIVING UP? 

One of the most common reasons people are reluctant to give up or cut down on caffeine is the apparent lack of energy we suffer without it. We are simply convinced that we NEED that caffeine kick to get us through the day, but is this a real need, or is it more about habit? In actual fact, the more coffee we drink, the less we will feel its effect. Add to that the many side effects listed above and we can see that caffeine is definitely NOT the best way to get that boost, especially not on a regular basis. A fabulous reason to give up caffeine is to prove to yourself how ‘false’ that supposed boost was. After an initial withdrawal period, you will in fact start to feel more energetic WITHOUT the caffeine, and you’ll also enjoy much greater mental clarity. 

 

A FINAL NOTE…& A FREEBIE!

As a last note I have to remind you that caffeine offers no nutritional value whatsoever, AND it may cause the effects listed above…so what more reason do you need to at least cut down a little? Do be aware that if you decide to start cutting down dramatically, you are likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and tension. If this makes you think twice about reducing intake, simply take a moment to stop and take stock: ALL these symptoms are in fact a result of slowly removing toxins from the body – and that has to be a good thing. Drinking plenty of water & getting moving will help to flush out those toxins. If you’re sensing muscular tension try some gentle mobilisation exercises, and get out in nature & try some deep “belly breathing” in fresh air. If headaches are an issue, try rubbing a little peppermint essential oil on your temples to relieve the pain. Do you notice a common theme in these last few lines? All the suggestions I have given for easing the withdrawal symptoms are entirely natural. Just think: cutting down on caffeine can be excellent motivation to move forward to more positive, healthy habits such as these!

 

 

If you are keen to give all this a try but are still feeling hesitant, please do download My Coffee Challenge. It gives you some simple hints and tips to get started on cutting out OR cutting down on caffeine, and will also provide aids to help you to COMMIT: to ensure you really do stick with it to genuinely see results. Go on, why not give it a go!

 

HOW AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE BRINGS MORE OF WHAT YOU DESIRE

HOW AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE BRINGS MORE OF WHAT YOU DESIRE

This week I am thrilled to share a blog post by Amelia Critchlow from her own site SoulSpaceHealers. Amelia has been a guest blogger for me in the past, and I know you’ll all love reading more of her material…

 

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melodie Beattie 

This post will walk you through becoming aware of your thoughts and how to start focusing on the things you DO like in order to bring more of what you desire into your life.

SO, WHAT IS GRATITUDE?

Gratitude is recognising what you already have and acknowledging and expressing appreciation for it, through thoughts, words, and action.

How often do you think about what you have got versus what you haven’t got? And how often do you think about what you don’t like versus what you do like in your life?

We know that what we focus on we get more of, and what ‘we think about we bring about’. Therefore, watching where our focus goes (because that’s where energy flows), we become aware of our thoughts and what we would like to create more of in our lives. I call it conscious creation.

However, are we really aware of what we are most focused on and therefore drawing to us? All of us are energy hubs vibrating our own personal frequencies. The frequency you vibrate will be drawing to you the experiences you have in your life.

 

GRATITUDE NOW

Ask yourself; what do you love about your life right now? What are the things that are going well and you’re really grateful for? Can you list more than three things?

By thinking about what you do have you move your thinking and feeling from a place of lack and scarcity to one of abundance and fulfilment. By focusing on the things we are grateful for we also create new neural pathways in our mind and shift our energy into a higher vibration – knowing that like energy attracts like energy (we are all essentially magnets!). The best things that come in to our lives come from a higher vibration rather than a lower vibration. If you’re not sure about high or low vibrations, think about when you feel sadness or anger (lower vibration) versus when you feel happy or elated (higher vibration), accidents and negative experiences are more likely to occur in our lives when we are in a lower vibration state or mood.

Start now, today, by bringing your awareness into your life and listing out things you are truly grateful for. If you are struggling then ask yourself, ‘what could I be grateful for?’ (Tony Robbins asks this question in his book Awaken The Giant Within).

 

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Find a journal or notebook you love (always has to be one you love of course!) and make it ‘Your Journal Of Gratitude’ or ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. Make it a practice to write in this journal as often as you can, ideally every day. List out 3 things at the end of the day that you are grateful for – it doesn’t matter if you write the same things down over time, this will just be drawing more of it to you remember 🙂

In the morning when you awake, lie quietly and think in your mind about the things you are grateful for and the things you look forward to that day – you will be sending a message to your mind to look out for good things and you are more likely to experience them.

You can also use social media to acknowledge and express what you are grateful for, demonstrating it on a wider level, whilst at the same time encouraging others to adopt the same positive habit too.

Then, in your journal, begin to note if over time your default focus is moving from lack to gratitude. Notice how more of the good stuff is showing up in your life. It’s important to make note of when you seeing good things showing up.

What you acknowledge in gratitude from today, (present), will begin to form your experiences for tomorrow, by focusing your thoughts on positivity and abundance we begin to draw more of precisely that to us.

**Remember you can always contact us at soul.space.healers to discover how to uncover your deeper sub-conscious beliefs with Theta Healing to see even more abundant changes in your life. Check out our soul sessions here.**

 

Amelia has also just launched the dates for her 1 Day Retreat – not previously run before! This is your chance to meet Amelia in person, learn more about Theta Healing® whilst getting creative and understanding more about how to manifest what you want in your life (and gratitude is a key ingredient!) 

TEEN TOOLS!

TEEN TOOLS!

I had such positive feedback from last week’s blog post that I really felt I needed to do a follow up post to suggest a few more ideas and some further inspiration on how to make these “Teen Tools” really work. So do take a look at the video below (yes, it’s a vlog this week as opposed to a blog!) I will talk you through two of the methods that I believe are the simplest yet most powerful strategies we can give our kids, tweens and teens to move forwards in life with positive mental health…which is surely a gift we would all love to pass on. 

 

TEEN POWER FOR TEEN WELLBEING

TEEN POWER FOR TEEN WELLBEING

We all know that parenting TEENS can be hugely challenging as hormones race, and the beginnings of independence mean that peer pressure takes on a whole new meaning. It was ever thus, and OUR parents surely dreaded this job back in their day too!

As a mum of a soon-to-be-teen in today’s world though, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the endless statistics in the press for mental health issues in this age group, and about our responsibility as parents to be able to recognise these:

“Normal teenagers are often moody due to hormonal and physical changes that happen during puberty. However, when mental illness is involved, it may be difficult to differentiate “normal teenage behaviour” from the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties”.

If we look at the world we are living in, it is perhaps not surprising that these issues are rearing their heads. As adults we find it hard to manage our tech ridden world in terms of emails and being “wired” 24/7, and we know that when it comes to social media or digital games it is often easy to get “stuck”. Our kids meanwhile have never known a different world: to them, creating “selfies” and videos for Facebook & Instagram, or playing intense and all-consuming games on the PS or Xbox is the norm. But it isn’t normal life: social media equals watching others’ lives as a ‘voyeur’ – and indeed having your own life watched over – both of which can be incredibly dangerous for vulnerable teens who are still developing their own sense of “self”.

 

Meantime whilst we all probably remember it being difficult to switch off from “Space Invaders” or “Mario Kart” in our own days of computer games, if we compare these to the constant bombardment of colours, sights and sounds in today’s gaming graphics there simply is no comparison. If “Space Invaders” on a black and white screen was addictive, then today’s “Fortnite” and “Battlefront” are surely the cocaine of video games…

 

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

I believe the ideal way to solve any problem is to preempt the situation before it becomes an issue: in this case, to promote mental well-being in our kids and teens from day one, just as we would promote physical wellness. Those of you who remember my post from back in September will know that I thoroughly believe our need to somehow balance out the modern world of tech is what has encouraged today’s interest in age old concepts such as meditation and paleo diets (click here to read more). These are concepts we can introduce to our teens as well. It is vital we help them to understand that we all have mental health just as we all have physical health, and we MUST take care of both. If we are open and honest about this from their early years, the results will be twofold. We will at least start to help remove the stigma around mental health for coming generations, AND we will help our teenagers to put in place simple, daily activities which whilst helping to enhance their mental wellness will also actually be enjoyable…

I teach a series of simple strategies for mental well-being in my stress management courses. By gently encouraging some of these practices in our kids (and practising them ourselves so that we lead by example), we will set them up for better well-being, improved self awareness, and a happier future. All it takes is just a few minutes of time and effort to ensure at least some of these tasks become a part of their daily routine…

 

MY TIPS FOR TEEN WELLBEING:

1. Starting a journal can be done in various ways: the simplest option is a to keep “Gratitude Journal”. Encourage your kids – whatever age – to jot down 3 things that have made them happy each day. They may like to do this first thing every morning or last thing at night: the choice is theirs. Help them along a little further by prompting with questions such as “what has made you happy/smile today?” What have you done to make someone else happy today?”

2. Practising belly breathing is a great way to calm anxiety as it actually brings the heart rate down and encourages the whole body to relax. It can be done anywhere, and it only takes just five minutes a day to make a difference. Encourage your kids to do this daily: they can choose the time and place they wish to practice and make it into a little “me time”. Beware: it does take patience and practice for anyone who has never really thought about HOW to breathe – click here for a video with step by step instructions AND an audio guide.

3. Regular exercise has long been recommended for improving mental health, and for helping those “happy hormones” to kick in. During the teen years there can be a tendency for even the most active of kids to become a little “lazy”, so it’s important to gently steer them towards whatever form of physical exercise is likely to be most motivating for them. Remember there is a huge range of possible activities to choose from, from football to hockey, dance to ice skating, archery to martial arts… Try to consider your teen’s general interests first. If they like water try swimming, or maybe rowing or paddle boarding. If they are especially peer aware, encourage some of the more “cool” activities such as street dance or skateboarding. If they can be persuaded to be outdoors in nature as well, then this will provide a further boost…

 

4. Getting out in nature is incredibly powerful for our mental well-being, and once again, is something that many teenagers rarely do. If they hate the idea of “just” going for a walk, then switch things around a little. Suggest walking to the cinema, or take a walk in the woods with the aim of going for a picnic, game of rounders or whatever may entice them. Even if it’s a walk that ends in them sitting with headphones on listening to their fave music then let them be: you may feel that headphones will isolate them once more, but if you can at least connect whilst walking there, why not give them a little “me time” once they’ve arrived – that way everyone gets a little of what they want, (and they will still be out in nature whilst listening!)

5. Connect, connect, connect. If you say these three words to your kids, they will invariably think you are talking about the internet. We need to explain to them that in fact CONNECTION is the exact opposite of what the net offers them, which – more often than not – is ISOLATION. We must find a way to gently encourage chatting and connecting. It is not essential that kids regularly discuss their innermost feelings or their worries at an age where this may feel intrusive, but it is essential that we keep channels of communication open, so that as and when they do feel the need to communicate further the option is there. Chat over dinner, chat in the car, chat before bed – whatever works best for you and your kids. Let them talk about music, films, their mates or (inward groan) their favourite computer games, as long as they TALK. (It is worth noting that if you are aware of a subject that may be causing anxiety, it can often be good to initiate chatting whilst driving so your teen is able to avoid eye contact if it is a subject they find embarrassing…)

6. Practising meditation once daily is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. It is a way of quieting the mind, and in today’s age of tech dependency, where our peer-aware teens are surely awaiting the next “ping” or “whoosh” of a reaction on Facebook, or a new level passed on their latest game, their minds are rarely “quiet”. The degree of “buzz” this creates in their heads is surely cause for concern, but I personally believe this is also why meditation has such a powerful effect today. Setting aside just ten minutes a day to allow the mind to become still is the exact antidote we need to balance out this tech overload, and by encouraging our kids and teens to learn to meditate we are truly setting them up for life.

7. Mindfulness and meditation are similar, but not identical. The former is a way of training the mind to be fully aware, fully awake to the present moment: unlike meditation it can in fact be done anytime and all the time. This is surely another powerful tool to counteract the over stimulation that the world (and especially tech) often offers our teens, hence mindfulness courses for teenagers are proving increasingly popular. We can utilise this concept on a daily level too, by encouraging our kids to choose one activity to practice mindfully every day: this is something which will serve them for a lifetime. Whether it’s their morning shower, their walk to school, or eating breakfast, committing to practising one act mindfully at the start of each day is truly relaxing and therapeutic. For more ideas, click here.

 

8. Considered nutrition is so important when it comes to stress and anxiety: many of our Happy Hormones are produced in the gut, and in addition the majority of our immune system is actually located in the gut. It is not difficult to make small nutritional shifts and changes that can start to make a big difference in terms of stress management, but it can be challenging to change habits. For more ideas on what to aim for and what to avoid, click here.

9. Essential oils are a simple yet effective way to boost mental well-being, and they take no effort whatsoever! If your teen is open to the use of a diffuser then try having one in his or her room, otherwise try using them elsewhere in the home to see how they react. Alternatively just a few drops of oil placed on a tissue or cotton wool near a radiator (where the heat will encourage the aroma to be released) will scent the room, or a few drops sprinkled directly on a pillow may help induce relaxation at night. Encourage your child to choose a scent they like, and feel would be most helpful for the result they want to achieve: relaxation / calm / focus / energising. Oils provide a simple, natural remedy (and if they are using them at home they needn’t feel exposed: no one else need know anything about it). Lavender is great for relaxation; frankincense for anxiety; mandarin or rose is calming, peppermint and rosemary encourage focus, and ylang ylang can be good for aggression and for anxiety. To learn more about how to use essential oils click here. (It is also worth noting that if your teen comes to enjoy the use of essential oils, they can then pop a tissue in their pocket for when they are out and about, and drink in the scents and their power whenever they feel the need…again, noone else need know anything about it).

 

We all probably feel it would be wonderful to live in a stress free world, but sadly in Real Life this isn’t about to happen. All of us – and our children – suffer stressful situations to a greater or lesser extent, and there is no shame in this: it is simply part of what life throws at us. The first step then is for us as parents to admit to the stresses in our own lives, rather than presenting ourselves as all-invincible: this is surely the best way to encourage our kids to slowly relax into the knowledge that it’s “okay” to feel stressed. Next, we should encourage them to understand that it’s actually GOOD to admit to stress…and that this will always be the first, essential step towards managing it.

If meantime we can encourage our kids to regularly practice at least some of the above tips, we will be providing them with an invaluable toolbox which will allow them to move forwards in life. They will progress in the knowledge that mental health matters, that it’s “okay” to talk about it, and that just as you take vitamins to help physical health and prevent colds and flu in winter, you can “take” Journaling, Breathing and Connection to help your mental well-being and to build a foundation of positivity, calm and self awareness…which together are more powerful than any pill or tablet the chemist will offer you.

 

 

I LOVE MY BUBBLE BATHS! HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE BAD FOR MY HEALTH??

I LOVE MY BUBBLE BATHS! HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE BAD FOR MY HEALTH??

Most of us would agree that a little self-pampering is a good form of stress relief. Some would prefer soaking in a bath full of bubbles in candlelight, others might opt for having a massage or a facial… Either way a little “me time” and a treat to yourself feels quite luxurious – what’s not to like??

 

But what if I were to point out that this experience might actually be UP-ING your stress levels? If I were to say that:

  • many bath products on the market are full of industrial chemicals.
  • candles can contain almost as many toxins as cigarettes [click here for more].
  • parabens in facial products MAY be hormone disruptors and may be highly detrimental to human health.

…would you think again?

 

Granted, there is a lot of scaremongering out there on this one. It can be confusing reading the endless articles in the media on the subject, and there are many grey areas where more research is necessary. HOWEVER, my logic says to me that it’s really quite simple: why use products which MAY be seriously damaging to my health when there are other, natural alternatives…?

 

 

 

THE FACTS

  • our skin is a complex structure, and often works as a very effective barrier. It was brilliantly designed to protect us from the daily onslaught it received from the environment, BUT that was the environment of yester-year. In today’s world, toxins are far more rife, so the barrier doesn’t always work so efficiently…
  • our skin is the largest organ of the body and is exposed to endless chemicals on a daily level. Whilst some of these are never absorbed into the system, others are. Equally, the oft-made claim that “all cosmetics enter the bloodstream” is NOT true. However, it is true to say that some do…
  • The skin’s ability to absorb is affected by many factors: skin type, age, ethnicity, environment, seasonal change, extant skin conditions…
  • 90% of the chemical ingredients used in self care products have never been fully evaluated for safety.
  • Many of us use endless cosmetics without even consciously realising it. On a daily basis we may use deodorant, toothpaste, shower gel, hand wash, shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, cleanser, moisturiser. In addition there are those products which we perhaps use less often: facial masks, exfoliators, bath products, hair masks, hair gels & oils, foot balms, antiseptic creams… Surely then our choice of self-care products matters just as much as our choice in nutrition?

I am NOT here to tell you that you will get breast cancer if you use the wrong deodorant, nor that your paraben-loaded facial cream will slowly kill you: it is just not as simple as that. What I am saying however is that much of the research IS worrying: surely if there is a possibility that these chemicals are detrimental to our health, and there are other options on the market that

  1. don’t contain these toxins
  2. actually contain ingredients that are BENEFICIAL to our health

…then it is worth re-vamping our bathroom cabinets to contain these?

 

 

WHICH PRODUCTS MATTER MOST?

There are various factors to consider here:

  1. Our face and scalp absorb 5-10 times more quickly than other parts of the body, so facial and hair care products immediately have more potential for damage.
  2. Hair products are absorbed into the scalp, AND then wash over the rest of the body. Consider also that reading the label on a “typical” shampoo bottle, “you may see as many as 20 ingredients, many of which have been synthesized in the lab”.
  3. Generally speaking, those products which we wash off will have less chance of penetration. Some products spend much longer on our skin: consider body creams; hair and face masks; deodorants; moisturisers, make-up.
  4. Deodorants used on the armpits are relatively close to the breast. Aluminium is a common ingredient in deodorants, and can clog lymph nodes in this area. Aluminium has been found in breast tumours so using such deodorants MAY present cause for concern.
  5. When it comes to our children’s skin, we surely want to avoid all toxins: consider the sheer quantity of creams, powders and oils we often drown our babies in… A particularly worrying example is eczema creams which often contain steroids (and this is made more poignant when we consider the belief – held by many – that numerous of the chemically laden moisturising creams on the market are one of the chief causes of eczema in the first place). 

 

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that many of these ingredients are harmful and may produce long term health issues, though more research is needed to substantiate this. I would still insist: why encourage chemically derived products that your body simply doesn’t recognise and cannot synthesise when there are other natural options? I know with surety that I would rather not use bath products which contain petroleum, or deodorants containing aluminium, when other products do not include these potential toxins, and in addition they DO utilise ingredients which enhance my health…

 

 

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

 

 

1. If I am soaking in a bath it may seem wonderful to watch those large, soapy bubbles around me, but these are typically created by a surfactant or detergent (usually containing petrochemicals). Try instead a product containing coconut oil, which will produce bubbles whilst also offering a host of health benefits. It’s naturally antibacterial and anti fungal, so as well as being an effective, natural moisturiser it will boost your immunity too.

2. If you don’t feel the bubbles themselves are such a necessity, then how about going for a bath oil instead? There are many natural bath oils on the market, or you might choose to create your own. If you’re getting creative, it is important to help your chosen essential oil(s) to disperse by placing them in a base or carrier oil: this will also avoid any possible skin irritations from direct contact oil-to-skin. In addition, a carefully chosen base oil will help to naturally moisturise and nourish the skin. Examples are apricot oil, safflower oil or olive oil. [N.B. some essential oils will irritate skin and/or mucous membranes so should be avoided in bath creations – e.g. clove, cinnamon, spearmint. Try starting with some of the milder options which are definitely kind to skin, such as lavender, rose or chamomile].

3. The fragrances typically used in cosmetics can also emit endless pollutants: in a world so heavily populated by cars (meaning that burning of fossil fuels – and therefore air pollution – is ever on the increase), surely it makes sense to replace chemical fragrances with a more natural alternative where possible? Try products containing essential oils, which will produce a wonderful fragrance (opening a bottle of lemon or orange essential oil is EXACTLY like cutting the fruit in front of you & drinking in those wonderful scents). Additionally, these oils are derived from nature, and if used carefully can offer a myriad of benefits for both mental & physical health. Many are naturally antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and they are also believed to balance mood, to help boost immunity and influence hormones… Why oh why use chemical fragrances when you could choose essential oils which will genuinely enhance health holistically?

 

 

4. Our 21st century mania with keeping “clean” to avoid picking up bugs and viruses seemed innocent enough, and certainly explained soaring sales of anti-bacterial hand washes. Since 2017 however, when the American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) pointed out the potential health risks these gels and liquids present, many of them were banned in the US. The two ingredients that were deemed especially worrying were triclosan and triclocarban, but there were in fact a total of 19 suspect ingredients. Washing hands WELL in plain soap and water is actually just as effective and far less damaging, but if you’d like a further boost, guess what my fave suggestion might be? Oh yes, it’s essential oils!! So many of these oils are anti-bacterial, and by using them you will of course reap many other health benefits. Click here for more.

5. Anti-ageing creams would seem to be another 21st century mania.  Yet again, many potential risks have been at least anecdotally connected with these creams. Why not look instead for a natural alternative? At the risk of becoming repetitive, essential oils step in once more. There are many oils which possess anti-ageing properties, whilst also enhancing health on so many levels. Just one example is frankincense:

“…a cytophylatic oil which means it aids the process of skin cell regeneration. Tonifying and rejuvenating, it’s one of the most important oils for improving skin tone and treating aging skin as well as reducing scar tissue.”

6. If you use exfoliators this should be looked at both in terms of your own health and that of the planet. Most commercially produced scrubs contain microplastics which are massively damaging to our planet and by default to ourselves. Alternative options might be oats, apricot kernels, ground rice, crushed seeds, or sea salt (for a body scrub rather than for more delicate facial skin).

 

IN CONCLUSION…

This really is a post which could go on forever, but I feel I have covered those self-care products which I feel most strongly about, and those which come up in conversation with clients most often. Taking on the task of switching ALL your products may seem like a mammoth job, so do be realistic and try making the change bit-by-bit. Similarly overwhelming is the job of deciding which products to change to, especially when labelling is often less than helpful in this sector. For a reliable guide to more ethical and genuinely natural products click here.

If it does all seem a little insurmountable, try to see it as a fun process: the chance to explore new products that will smell & feel fabulous as well as being good for you! And hold on too to the fact that you are making a decision which is powerful on so many levels. You will be reducing your own stress levels, enhancing both your physical and mental wellbeing, and encouraging the health of our beautiful planet as well: surely that is a decision worth making. So go on, take the plunge and start to make that change…TODAY.

 

POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

Unless you never listen to the news, pick up a magazine, or scroll though social media, you are likely to be aware of the many environmental issues faced by our society. From global warming and acid rain to climate change and plastic pollution…and sadly, the list seems to be growing all the time.

On a more positive note, awareness is growing too, and this is an absolute MUST in the world we live in.

 

A DOUBLE-EDGED ISSUE

The problem is surely twofold. On the one hand we are watching our planet’s decline as natural resources are increasingly depleted:

“Over the last few decades, the exploitation of our planet and degradation of our environment have gone up at an alarming rate…our actions have been not in favor of protecting this planet…”

On the other hand, these changes also have an immediate effect on our own health. “Stress” is a huge factor in modern living: whilst some of this is due to factors such as work ethics and the monumental influence of technology, environmental stressors also play an increasingly large role:

“Environmental stress refers to how people or animals respond to physical, chemical and biological features of their environment. These stressors may include exposure to natural disasters, electromagnetic radiation, pollution, climate change, or noise. They can be pathogens that invade the body, causing a stress response, or features of your workplace like an uncomfortable chair. Whether one-time or long-term, environmental stressors cause strain on the body and mind.”

So surely we should be tackling this as a double-edged issue, and should be doing absolutely all that we can to protect both the future of our planet AND ourselves?

 

 

WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE STRESSORS?

Actually listing the environmental stressors that are regularly affecting us paints a glum picture:

  • climate stress
  • air pollution
  • chemical stressors
  • plastic pollution
  • energetic stress
  • ergonomic stress
  • biological stress

CLIMATE STRESS may refer to those changes that only last for a season, or to an overall shift such as global climate change.

AIR POLLUTION is caused chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels. Pollution emitted from vehicles produces vast problems in this area.

CHEMICAL STRESSORS affect us on many different levels: the remains of pesticides found on our foods, ingestion of antibiotics, and chemicals found in cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products all contribute to chemical overload within our (already stressed) bodies.

PLASTIC POLLUTION is frighteningly abundant. Plastic is affordable and remarkably strong: it is a hugely prevalent, ever constant image in our “disposable” society. It is estimated that 500 billion plastic bags are used globally every year…

“whenever they are disposed, [plastics] take hundreds of years to decompose and their continued stay in the environment does great harm. When burnt, [plastic] pollutes the air, when disposed in the landfills it causes land pollution, and when dumped into the water it pollutes the waters”.

ERGONOMIC STRESS increases as our weekly working hours continue to go up. Endless hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer, over-doing manual work, too little physical exercise and bad posture all contribute.

ENERGETIC STRESS is caused by the various different wavelengths we are subjected to, from exposure to mobile telephones to use of microwave ovens…

“invisible but very real, energetic stressors can cause disturbances to the body and mind. The earth contains many different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that travel through time and space…all of these invisible rays can have an impact on our health and well being. 

BIOLOGICAL STRESS refers to any illness or allergic reaction we may encounter. As the years go by, it seems these are increasing, from incidences of eczema to a vastly increasing list of autoimmune conditions. Could this be a result of our body trying to fight the many other environmental stressors it faces?

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

In a generalised conversation about the welfare of our planet, it can seem incredibly daunting to try to do ANYTHING to better the situation. The facts are grim, and can seem insurmountable…

 

 

If however we break things down, and we realise that some of the above issues in fact overlap, then we can start to explore what simple changes we might make on a day to day level…

 

10 TIPS TO PROTECT BOTH YOUR PLANET AND YOURSELF:

1. Conserve energy: unplug electronic devices when you’re not using them; use warm (not hot) water for washing; use energy efficient light bulbs; consider replacing household appliances with more energy efficient models.

2. Reduce petrol pollution: walk or cycle to avoid using petrol consuming vehicles; at the very least use buses or trains to reduce petrol emissions from endless cars.

3. Avoid plastics: utilise reusable or recyclable packaging wherever possible; try (reusable) fabric bags for shopping; use paper straws; purchase a re-usable non-plastic water bottle; avoid plastic based wraps such as “Clingfilm” (which can leak toxins straight into our food).

4. Eat natural, organic foods as much as possible: this will reduce exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Some studies also suggest that organic foods have higher levels of omega 3 fats, antioxidants and minerals.

“Scientists theorize that when plants aren’t coated in chemicals to help fight off pests and insects, they develop stronger compounds to protect themselves”.

By ingesting these foods we too will benefit from these disease fighting compounds, and therefore be in a better position to stave off environmental stressors.

5. Check labelling for presence of (plastic) microbeads: these are typically found in shower gels, exfoliators, toothpaste, cleaning products. The tiny plastic particles:

“can have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health…due to their composition, ability to absorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain”.

[It is reassuring to know that since recent revisions in the UK, legislation has banned the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of some cosmetic and personal care products. Click here for more]

6. Aim to use NATURAL cosmetics: always try for those which don’t include chemical “nasties”. Take a moment to consider how many cosmetics you and your family use daily to realise the true power of this one, and consider how everyone of these is absorbed into the body. Cosmetic labelling is nowhere near as well regulated as food labelling, so it can be very confusing. Click here to access a simple and reliable chart of recommended natural products.

 

7. Avoid chemically fragranced products: body sprays and air fresheners are often rich in chemicals. Aim instead for natural fragrances such as essential oils, which actually provide health benefits. Also be aware of scented candles, some of which:

“produce smoke laced with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes”.

Click here to learn more about the potential health risks connected to candles.

8. Consciously reduce “screen time” for all the family: aside from the impact on our mental health, theories on “energetic stress” are increasingly worrying. Studies suggest that constant exposure to the radio-frequency waves emitted by mobile phone radiation may be hugely detrimental to our health. Click here for my Top Tips to Detox from Tech.

9. Think posture, posture, posture: aside from creating muscular aches and pains, postural mal-alignment can be detrimental to digestion and respiration, and can even enhance chances of cardiovascular disease.

10. Let nature be your doctor: taking care of both physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and putting in place those stress management techniques which are relevant to you will minimise the need for (often chemically laden) antibiotics and medicines as you allow your body to live as it is supposed to.

 

OUR HEALTH AND THAT OF THE PLANET…

In terms of our own health, this last one is perhaps the most important message. The closer we adhere to the sort of life we were designed to live, the more able we will be to deal with those toxins that do creep in. Our bodies are meant to be constantly “detox”–ing, but in today’s society – where the overload of chemical stressors is rising day by day – our organs often don’t operate as efficiently as they should, and so struggle to rid themselves of these toxic substances.

Meanwhile, in terms of the wider issue of our planet, isn’t it time to sit back and take a good look at ourselves and the world we live in – the world we are creating for our children and grandchildren? By selecting  just one of the above pollutants, we can see the sheer enormity of the problem. Plastic waste is choking our oceans and is releasing toxic chemicals into our soil and into our air. Wildlife on both sea and land are affected by this constant flow of pollution from a vast array of plastic materials that many of us use daily: by default, we – and our children –  are suffering too.

There are so, so many small ways in which we can help, and even if each of those makes just a tiny difference, we have to hang on to the hope that a small effort from each and every one of us on this beautiful planet will be the start point for saving both the planet and ourselves.

 

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