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.



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?




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?



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…



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). Click here for a great reusable, biodegradable, chemical-free food wrap.

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 own 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.



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.




Are you surgically attached to your phone? Or maybe it’s your kids that are? Does the sound of the Play Station or Xbox ring in your ears just a little too much? Are you physically able to ignore the “ping” or “whoosh” of a new email landing in your inbox?

We’ve all been there. Sitting in a meeting you sense your phone vibrate & feel the frustration of knowing you can’t look at it…yet. Standing in a queue, a little bored, you pull out your phone to fill those few spare moments (during which you could have actually switched OFF instead of logging ON…). Whether your “thing” is social media, Candy Crush or podcasts, the common thread is there: we simply can’t do without tech! Or can we?



We all know that there are massive advantages to technological advances in so many areas of our lives, but we must also be aware that the new digital world holds threats as well as benefits. A couple of years ago many people would have brushed this conversation aside, but today we have become SO tech dependent that most of us are at least a little concerned…

We are so attached to our tech, and so permanently “wired” (which, let’s remember, wasn’t even in the dictionary a few decades ago) that it’s easy to forget how not to be wired. We have simply become massively tech dependent:

  • we use our mobile phones, ipods, laptops, tablets, pc’s daily
  • we rarely travel without our satnav
  • we rarely shop in a shop: it’s all online
  • we’ve forgotten how to look up something in an encyclopaedia: it’s just so much faster on Google
  • God forbid we’d write a letter!! Emails are so much quicker



Don’t get me wrong: technology has allowed us to move forwards in leaps and bounds in endless ways, and it can be absolutely fabulous on many levels. But we really do live in a “one-click-society”, and it is taking its toll on both our mental & our physical wellness…

  • When we used to read maps, we had to use our brain to decipher & analyse. We had to be creative, & we had to utilise spatial orientation
  • When we used to shop at the supermarket, we often walked long distances up and down aisles with a shopping trolley (a mini cardio workout), & then we would carry several heavy bags at least as far as the car, & sometimes much further (muscle strengthening)
  • When we used dictionaries & encylopaedias we actually had to know the alphabet!!!
  • When we used to write letters, we had to use spelling, punctuation and grammar – now “Word” does it all for us


And through all of this we & our children are slowly losing our ability to understand the real, tangible world around us…

We are also losing our ability to understand each other. We evolved to be tribal creatures: we lived in large groups and were naturally social creatures. (It is interesting to note that being forced into social isolation actually invokes our fight or flight mode as the brain recognises loneliness as a threat). Research actually shows that stress hormone levels tend to be higher in lonely people, and yet our “social” side today is oh too often engrossed in “social” media…which is anything but sociable.

We need to embrace tech and all it can offer us, but if we are also to maintain true “wellness” then we have to find a way to temper & to balance our use of it. [If you would like to download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech”  click here].To top it all off, it IS addictive: social media & emails create an anticipation loop whereby we are eagerly awaiting the next “ping”. Most of the time, the awaited email doesn’t live up to our expectations, which then causes a dopamine dip, hence the dopamine loop:

anticipation > dopamine release > reality > dopamine dips > anticipation……& so on

All of this leads to anxiety.

Incidentally, the ‘Gaming Loop’ when our kids are waiting for the next “skin” on Fortnite is very similar…



Enough doom & gloom! There has to be a way out, yes? Let’s hope so…



One of the less discussed aspects of this tech revolution is that the sheer speed at which things have moved forwards in technology just cannot be matched by man’s natural, linear ability to change. The rate of progression in tech is simply off the scale (90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years) & we just can’t keep up with that.

This, I believe, holds some of the answers. As science & electronics race ahead of us they remind us how primitive we still are in many ways, which suggests to me that we should embrace this. I firmly believe that many of the ‘old school’ habits & rituals that are fast becoming popular are doing so in reaction to this technological surge forwards that we just can’t match.

  • Meditation & mindfulness are now “in”: some of the earliest written evidence of meditation was in 1500 BC
  • The Paleo Diet is now very “hip”: it harks back to our primitive habits as hunter gatherers (believed to have originated some 1.8 million years ago)
  • Essential oils inhabit the modern mum’s medicine cabinet as natural remedies: they were used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans


So what’s the solution? I think we need to move backwards to counterbalance the surge forwards: to utilise time tested rituals as our antidote to this modern world we live in.

  • If we become MINDFUL of our phones, we can consciously stop & think “would it be so terrible if I don’t open that text straight away?”
  • If we embrace the HUNTER GATHERER philosophy and habits our bodies will be so much better able to cope with the stress that tech (& plenty of other 21st century habits) provoke
  • If we take our shopping experiences back INTO THE SHOPS we will enjoy a tangible experience not a virtual one, and are more likely to be awake to (or mindful of) what we actually buy
  • If we are genuinely SOCIABLE with each other (rather than totally socially isolated on social media) we will make a move back towards tribal times & those healthy habits that genuinely heal body & mind…


Bill Gates said:

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”

Personally, I prefer Isaac Asimov’s view:

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”

To me, the message remains the same: we NEED an antidote to tech, and at the risk of “over-quoting”…



If you feel it’s time to take action & do something about your own “tech habit” (or someone else’s), then do download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech”: a highly actionable guide which provides a step-by-step process by which to get on top of digital dependence.



It’s that time of year when we are looking to get out and about. The kids are off school, the UK weather is actually being kind to us(!) and it seems almost criminal to be indoors during weather like this. 

Aside from the hassle of actually getting everybody out the door, I think most of us would agree that being out in nature makes us feel good. The kids have renewed energy when they are outside; adults seem better able to “switch off” and relax.  If you live or work in the city, then escaping to somewhere green really enhances your feeling of “getting away from it all”, alongside which it FEELS good to be out in the countryside, away from exhaust fumes and noise, surrounded instead by the scents & sounds of nature…

Is this ‘feel good factor’ just a myth, or is there more to it…?



I am here to give you a fabulous excuse to book a weekend away in a beautiful corner of countryside, in the true knowledge that this is PROVEN to be good for your wellbeing – both physical and mental. Indeed the Japanese spent $4million researching the benefits of so called ‘Forest Bathing’, concluding that this is

“scientifically proven to improve your health”

Forest Bathing essentially just means being in the presence of trees. The whole point of the experience is NOT to achieve something, but simply to “be”. You might sit, you might stroll, you might read a book, but most importantly you will RELAX in the presence of trees. We seem to instinctively sense that this is a pleasant and soothing thing to do, but we need to examine the research to understand the actual health benefits. Simply “being” in a forest environment has been shown to result in:

  1. lower concentrations of cortisol [the stress hormone]
  2. lower pulse rate
  3. lower blood pressure
  4. lower sympathetic nerve activity
  5. higher parasympathetic nerve activity

The first three are fairly self explanatory, but what about the nerve activity? Our SYMPATHETIC nerve system is what controls our ‘fight or flight’ response (our body’s ‘self-help’ reaction to – for example – being chased by a wild animal), so if being amongst trees reduces activity in this system this surely means we will be less ‘wired’. Meanwhile our PARASYMPATHETIC system does the opposite job, supporting our ‘rest and digest’ system and aiding our relaxation response…another plus for sitting amongst the foliage!



The crux of it all comes down to one of my favourite #stressmanagement topics: essential oils. Particular essential oils called #phytoncides are found in wood and plants (and in some fruit and vegetables). Trees emit these oils to protect themselves from germs and insects. What is of especial interest to us is that the phytoncides affect the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells. These are cells which

“provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention”

And so whilst ‘bathing’ in a forest, we are in fact drinking in a fabulous immunity support “pill” via essential oils…and not a jot of medication in sight!



It is surely true to say that the overall calming effect of the forest environment must also be a contributory factor. When we immerse ourselves in green surroundings, with the soothing sounds of streams and babbling brooks, and the chatter of birds and wildlife each one of these plays a part in relaxing us. There are in fact so many elements that go to make up the therapeutic profile of the natural landscapes, helping us to ‘switch off’, ‘calm down’ and simply ‘reboot’, but if we are looking for scientific proof then it is the phytoncides and their affect on human health which  is the major player.



Encouragingly, all the evidence suggests that we don’t actually need to spend a LOT of time in nature to reap the benefits. It is more important to aim for regular contact, so “little & often” is a good one to aim for – and if we’re honest it’s also probably more realistic for many of us within our weekly schedules. If you live or work in urban areas, then try to get to the park during your lunch hour, or take a family picnic in the park on a summer’s evening, remembering that even just a little pocket of time amongst the greenery can be positive. You can still aim to venture a little further afield at the weekends, and ‘up’ the effects that much more…

So, if forest bathing is so simple to achieve, lovely to experience and 100% free, then what’s stopping you? Whether it’s a quick trip to somewhere local or a ‘note to self’ to plan that weekend away, you can now genuinely convince yourself that you owe it to YOU – and to your family – to “get away from it all” and experience the many proven therapeutic benefits of being AT ONE WITH NATURE.




Following childbirth many women struggle with the reality of getting back into exercise and nutrition routines. The birth itself, whether straightforward or complex, creates a huge stress on the body, and this is followed immediately by the fatigue and anxieties of raising a new-born baby. Though undoubtedly a wonderful experience, most women suffer from extreme exhaustion, and some – especially first-time mothers – experience overwhelming degrees of stress & anxiety. The sheer responsibility of raising a new-born can make all other intentions fade into insignificance, so that exercise and nutrition are just not ‘on the radar’. In truth though, a considered exercise plan coupled with good nutrition will promote improved energy & a decrease in stress levels, bringing both health and psychological benefits. In addition, the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) support the following advantages:

  • a quicker post-natal recovery
  • improved posture, energy levels, stamina, metabolic rate
  • a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight
  • a better body image
  • increased self confidence

In my opinion, any new mum planning to exercise in the post natal period should look to work with a personal trainer with experience in this field. The first step should be a detailed consultation which will ensure a programme plan that is specific to YOUR experiences of childbirth and beyond.

Every woman’s experiences of pregnancy and birth are different, so programme design must be unique to the individual, and exercise prescription will be massively different depending on how active the new mum was prior to and during pregnancy, and on the actual birth experience (natural or caesarean, complex or simple). There are however certain generalised rules which will apply across the board:

1. New mums should be very aware not to hurry to start classic abdominal exercises. Regardless of whether diastasis recti abdominis is present (the stretching apart of the vertical muscles down the front of the abdomen, which creates a gap) the abdominals will have been extremely stretched, and it will take time and patience to return to form. It is however vital to start slowly rediscovering abdominal strength in order to support posture and to ensure that when you do start to work out your spine is protected.

2. Very early on it is simply a case of trying to sense the abdominal muscles, together with the pelvic floor. Begin by sitting on a chair, or on the floor if comfortable, or on a yoga block or Pilates ball. Breathe in to prepare, then on the exhalation simply squeeze the belly button back towards the spine and try to sense the two sides of the abdominals drawing together. This can be repeated as many times as is comfortable, (up to 20).

3. Pelvic floor exercises or ‘Kegels’ are essential to rediscover strength in this area (which was also massively stretched during birth), and to ensure a return to healthy bladder functioning. This involves trying to raise the perineal muscles up within the pelvic area: you can imagine the feeling of needing a pee and stopping yourself, or thinking of the base of the pelvis as the floor of a lift which you are trying to slowly raise up within you, floor by floor. These exercises are hard to master at first as there is little feeling in this over-stretched area. (They will be much easier for those who performed them before birth, and therefore have some understanding of the sensation they are trying to feel). It is vital that pelvic floor exercises be done at home as well as during structured exercise sessions. Regularly practising these simple exercises will help to avoid the embarrassment of stress incontinence, as well as being good for general health. In addition, the pelvic floor muscles will ultimately work in integration with the abdominals, and so also help to regain strength and tone here also.

4. Moving forwards, a trainer will explore slowly progressive abdominal exercises as appropriate to your level of post-natal fitness. It must be remembered that you are now working with a “new” and changed body, so you need to work slowly and with focus to ensure that you are listening to your body and developing your fitness sessions according to YOUR body’s limitations.

5. You should be working to re-establish muscle memory in terms of ‘correct’ posture, and this in itself will also slowly help abdominal work. Start by finding neutral spine in the supine position, then explore this in sitting and standing positions: aim to maintain this stance in all subsequent exercises, and in day to day activities. This will take time and practice, as the posture has changed quite considerably over the previous 9 months.

6. The re-training of the abdominals should be done alongside a graduated programme of fitness exercises. Both muscle strengthening and cardio work will be slowly built up again, with constant reminders of abdominal work and core strength throughout.

7. Nutrition remains hugely important in the postnatal period, and it is very easy, due to the stress and tiredness of having a new baby, to forget this. Remaining hydrated is of vital importance, especially if breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also calls on the mother’s calorie intake, (as does exercise), so she must accept that the return to pre-pregnancy weight will be a slow process: the first priority is to feed her body well enough that she and her baby can get through this challenging period in good health. This will be achieved by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

8. After the initial post natal period, group exercise can be very incentivising for many women, as the companionship and support of those who may share some of your experiences can be very positive. If there are yoga or Pilates classes specific to the post natal period, it is well worth checking these out.

9. Stress levels can be incredibly high when trying to adjust to life with a newborn. There is obviously undoubted joy at the birth, but this also brings with it sleepless nights, a ‘new’ and unfamiliar body, upside down hormones…and so the list goes on. Appropriate exercise and nutrition will be massively helpful in managing these stress levels, and must be prioritised, however hard that may seem. Additionally, all the usually recommended stress management techniques can be helpful. Perhaps the simplest and most effective in the early days is #breathingexercises, which can be practiced at any time, day or night.

It is so easy – and totally natural – to get caught up in what’s good for the baby at this stage. What we must remember is that THE most important thing for the baby is to have a healthy mum, so we must also prioritise our own health and wellness – both physical and mental. Remember: keeping your own cup topped up with those things that will enhance your health is what will enable your baby to flourish and thrive.



Stress is very definitely ‘out there’, and it seems it is becoming more and more acceptable to admit to suffering from stress. I think this is a huge step in the right direction, and is hopefully a move towards removing the stigma surrounding mental health in general.

There is however a downside to this upsurge in conversations about stress. Now that there is such a plethora of information across the media, how do we know what is fact and what is fiction? Read on!

1. STRESS IS THE SAME FOR EVERYONE: FICTION. Stress is the body’s response to a perceived threat. Every individual will react in a slightly different way, dependent on many different factors: it is NOT a case of one-size-fits-all. Our reactions to stress are dependent on genes, life experiences, temperament, culture…and the list goes on. Equally the actual physiological response can differ in the individual: “there is considerable variation in level and type of hormones released by different people and in response to different stressors – [it is] not a simple physiological process”


2. STRESS CAN MAKE YOU PHYSICALLY SICK: TRUE. The stress response creates both behavioural and physiological reactions, hence the symptoms related to stress are many and wide-ranging. The involvement of hormones is key here: our hormones need to be in balance for the body to thrive. If we define stress as “any force that disturbs the natural equilibrium of the body” we understand the potential for stress to stop the body from thriving. Meanwhile chronic (ongoing) stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, whereby depletion of the adrenals and the HPA axis takes the body way out of balance, and potentially on the road to a myriad of health problems.

3. STRESS IS ALWAYS BAD FOR YOU: FICTION. Most of us can picture situations (perhaps leading up to a sport event or a work presentation) where our adrenalin races, our heart beats a little faster, our palms get a little sweaty…and then we go and perform really well. The stress response strengthens connections between neurons in the brain and boosts brainpower. Short term stress boosts the immune system, and can motivate us to succeed (imagine yourself working to a deadline – for some this is a huge motivator to keep going and to do well). Meanwhile dealing with a stressful situation can make us more resilient as it helps us to learn to deal better the next time around.

4. YOU MAY BE STRESSED EVEN IF YOU DON’T SHOW ANY PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: TRUE. This goes hand in hand with the fact that stress is not the same for everyone. If you are a ‘coper’ you may show less outward signs of stress, even though the hormonal changes are still eating away at you on the inside, and still need to be addressed. Equally, use of medication or inappropriate behaviours (such as misuse of alcohol, nicotine or other drugs, or even excess use of caffeine) can mask symptoms. It must be understood that this can create its own dangers: it is important to be fully aware of any symptoms so that they can be addressed. Masking symptoms “may deprive you of the signals you need for reducing the strain on your physiological and psychological systems”. Lastly, we should remember that these sorts of habits tend to ‘up’ the negative impact that stress is already having on the body (we feel jittery, we have difficulty sleeping, blood pressure can be affected).

5. IF YOU ARE STRONG YOU WILL SIMPLY “GET OVER IT”: FICTION. Stress can create anything from minor headaches or skin complaints to high blood pressure and heart issues. These will not simply ‘go away’ unless the underlying stress is addressed in some way. “Admitting that you need help…doesn’t make you broken. It makes you fixable. And teachable”.
The one fact that is consistent throughout this is the need to be aware of and to address stress. Positive stress management techniques which are considered and appropriate to the individual can start to at least ease any complaints and start the body on the road to recovery…

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