Five Fabulous Reasons To Go Skiing

I have a confession. I am 38 and have never been skiing. It was never high on my list of my priorities to be honest. (Although I suspect this might be because my parents tried to convince me I wouldn’t like it when I was growing up, due to the expense!) However, Squiggle has asked me several times to go skiing and it has got me thinking… am I missing out? More to the point, I don’t want her to miss out; surely I should provide her with the opportunity to try it out if she desires? So I asked some friends and fellow bloggers why they love skiing and what the benefits are. And it would appear there are several great reasons to go skiing…

5 fabulous reasons to go skiing title with beautiful scenic picture of skiing underneath.

THE VIEWS!!!!

This has to be at the top of the list. It was an almost unanimous response from everyone who was asked what they love most about skiing. And I can understand why. You only have to google the word skiing to see a whole mass of phenomenal scenic photos. Who could resist those glorious picturesque views?

“The views are incredible, the air is so incredibly fresh, the sound of skis on fresh powdery snow is one of a kind and I love how skiing makes you feel so free and exhilarated!” ~ Hello Baby Blog

It’s An All- Inclusive Sport

I am sure we all know why doing any sport is good for us and carries a range of benefits; certainly I have written before about why sports are so important. Skiing however, as a sport has its own unique benefits. As Blissful Domestication points out, it is a sport you can take part in just once a year and still improve on!

It is also good for SEND children (and adults), as Tickets, Passports, Kids explains: “I believe it’s rather sensory… I believe the snow takes the edge off the sounds he hears, plus the helmet makes everything quieter. I believe he hears the world so loudly, that the snow makes it easier for him to hear. Plus, it’s not a team sport.” Indeed, I can see exactly why it might be so beneficial for some autistic people for these reasons.

As I read and speak to people about it more, I do notice that whilst skiing and other snow sports might not seem like obviously the most SEND-friendly sport to take part in by nature, in reality it is quite advanced in its level of awareness and is therefore very accomodating; alot of effort has been made to make adjustments and adapt the sport to meet a wide range of needs and disabilities. (This is a generalisation of course, as with anything, individual’s experiences will vary greatly).

In summary, skiing is an inclusive sport that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Awesome!

Skiier skiing down mountain slope with beautiful scenic snow mountains in background.

The Recreational Side of Skiing

Another popular reason to go skiing is actually not about the activity itself; people often value the recreational aspect of it just as much. Cosy evenings in together, sharing a bottle of wine whilst surrounded by breathtaking views or enjoying a hot chocolate in the open air – there is far more to skiing than just… skiing! It is even a good opportunity to make new friends too!

Travel Opportunities

Having a passion for skiing also then sparks the desire to travel to ski resorts in beautiful new locations that you might otherwise not have a chance to visit. Travelling for a specific purpose, such as skiing, offers a great incentive to get saving for the next trip!

Life is an Adventure

Last but not least, skiing is an adventure! Discovering new places, trying new activities, exploring new locations… it is all part of the wonder and excitement of living life to the full! And there is no better reason to give it a try than that!

A close up picture of a skiier skiing on snow

Things To Consider

Skiing can be expensive but even if you can’t afford to go to a fancy ski resort, there are lots of indoor snow centres around where you can still take part in the activity on real snow. Some people like to try it out or have a few lessons before their first ski trip, so it might be worth checking if there is one near you. Of course, there are still dry ski slopes around too as another alternative. I hear some people say this doesn’t quite compare to skiing on real snow, which I can imagine is very true. But it is another option nonetheless.

In most places there is equipment available to hire. But even if it doesn’t become a serious hobby, you will still need some essentials in order to be dressed for the weather, so of course you will need to invest in the right gear! If you are looking to buy ski clothes and accessories, Simply Hike have a lovely range of ski wear and accessories, including some gorgeous womens ski jackets. Don’t forget those googles too!

A lady (blogger Kiki Blah Blah) standing outside in the snow in her ski outfit.
Kiki Blah Blah

Happy skiing!

Thanks to The Money Whisperer, All About A Mummy, Pink Pear Bear, Kiki Blah Blah and Truly Madly Kids for your helpful insights and contributions to this post.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What’s So Amazing About Menstrual Cups? A Guest Post by Jackie Bolen

Here’s something that I have some serious regret about…

Not knowing about menstrual cups until I was in my early 30’s. I’m not sure how I didn’t figure it out until then. Maybe I wasn’t hanging around the eco-friendly crowd, or maybe it was that menstrual cups weren’t so popular back then. Whatever it was, I’m happy that I did eventually hear about them from a friend of mine. I went out and immediately bought a Diva Cup, and have been using it ever since.

I do regret all those wasted year though. Imagine how much money I could have saved, and how much trash I could have not thrown out?

I’m going to share with you what’s so amazing about menstrual cups, and offer some advice if you’d like to make the switch yourself.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What's So Amazing About Mooncups? Image of 4 confident womens silhouettes against a sunset background.

More Money in the Bank at the End of the Month

I’m sure you know this already, but disposable pads and tampons are expensive! I know that I always feel a bit of sticker shock every single time I walk down that aisle at the drugstore. According to the Huffington Post, people spend an average of 13 pounds a month on feminine hygiene products. That’s a lot, especially considering that it’s an expense we incur every single month for around 40 years.

In the UK, tampons and sanitary towels are taxed at a rate of 5%. This has changed a few times during the last 40 years, but it’s currently at the lowest rate possible. It’s still too much.

Although menstrual cups cost around 20 pounds, they can last for years with proper care and cleaning. The best news is that you’ll recoup your costs in only a couple of months, when compared to disposable pads or tampons.

Less Waste Going to the Landfill

Estimates vary, but it’s thought that the average person uses between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons during their lifetime, resulting in 100-200 kg of waste from sanitary products. A portion of this waste is plastic which is not biodegradable. Although tampons and pads are not a big part of the larger waste problem, this is waste that can be avoided by making the switch to a menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups generally last for 5-10 years, so over a lifetime, a person will need only 4-8 of them. This is significantly less waste than thousands of pads and tampons. And there’s more good news—depending on where you live, menstrual cups can often be recycled.

Reduce your Exposure to Chemicals

Pads and tampons often contain trace amounts of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Manufacturing companies aren’t exactly upfront about what’s in their products, and legislators have been slow to require this. Although there are no long-term studies about what effects these chemicals have, it’s thought that exposure to them might be linked to things as serious as cancer.

I hope that governments will pass legislation that requires companies to disclose what’s in pads or tampons, and/or companies will work to eliminate these harmful things. In the meantime, it makes sense to use a menstrual cup instead.

As long as you get a top-quality cup (avoid the cheap ones from China), it’s made from medical grade silicone that is safe to use inside your body. It will not leak chemicals into your bloodstream and you’ll be able to have a safer period experience.

No Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

To date, there has been one reported case of Toxic Shock Syndrome that resulted from using a menstrual cup. With tampons, there are thousands of cases every year. Menstrual cups are not without risks, but it seem that the risk of this very serious condition is far lower than when using tampons.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Are you ready to have a cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly period? Then it’s time to consider choosing menstrual cups instead of disposable pads or tampons.

If you live in the UK, an excellent place to start is the MoonCup. It’s a company based in Brighton that makes one of the most popular menstrual cups in the world. MoonCup has been around for years, and people that try the cup really seem to love it.

You can buy the MoonCup directly from the cup for around 20 pounds, and shipping is free in the UK. Check it out here: MoonCup’s Website.

Image of hand holding mooncup with box and bag also in photo. Photo by Dylan and Me.Image Credit: Dylan and Me

Author Bio

Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found on top of a mountain, paddling the rivers, or drinking coffee around Vancouver, Canada. She hopes that one day, a menstrual cup will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. This has the potential to make it a much better place.

*This is a guest post.

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Fun Ways to Get Children Active Outdoors

In this day and age, children have grown up with technology. Smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and instant access to the internet is completely normal to them – meaning it’s a different world from when we grew up. While technology is fantastic, it does mean it can be difficult to get kids outdoors. When they have the world at their fingertips they’re less interested in running around outdoors than previous generations have been. But it’s so important to get them away from their devices and outside, learning about the real world and what matters. Here’s how you can go about it…

 Fun Ways to Get Children Active Outdoors title with image of child throwing leaves

Get Them Involved in the Garden

Gardening is an active hobby, and also teaches children patience. It shows if you work hard now, something fantastic will grow later on. It shows them the importance of daily care and nurturing of the garden, helping to develop empathy for the natural world around them. They will also learn about things like soils, types of crops, fertiliser and much more.

Since the growing season is relatively short in most places, it’s worth investing in a greenhouse to stretch this out as long as possible. If you have an old dilapidated one in your back garden, you could bring it back to life with some new sheeting for your greenhouse and a good clean. Choose some crops that are easy to grow in your climate zone, and then work your way up to more difficult ones. Children are more likely to try foods that they’ve grown too, so could be a good way to encourage healthier eating.

Take Them Camping

Camping is a cheap and cheerful vacation that all the family can enjoy, and is a great way to get kids outdoors. From putting up tents to building dens, and generally running around and having fun, it’s a great way to get kids outdoors and away from their screens without it feeling like a chore. You could stay in a tent, an RV or more of a glamping experience in a ‘pod’- check out local campsites and see what kind of things are available. If you go away with friends and their children it could be a fun bonding experience too.

Two children outdoors studying something on the ground next to a pond.

Go on Hikes

Hiking is a great way to keep your family fit; even if you have younger children you could simply pick an easier hiking trail. You get to observe nature, you could print out fun worksheets from Pinterest and do a fun nature trail, take photos or look at birds and wildlife through binoculars. You could collect items such as feathers, pine cones and interesting pebbles, then use them to craft with later on. Or see if your local area does rock hunting even!

Make these walks fun, keep the conversation light and upbeat, and encourage them to really get into it. Even during the colder months, simply wrap up warm and wear wellies to keep your feet dry. If you have a dog you could take them along too, or alternatively you could all take your bikes out and follow biking trails instead.

Find An Outdoor Sport Or Hobby

There are lots of outdoor sports and hobbies that encourage children to have fun outdoors. From water sports and team games, to geogaching or traditional orienteering, there are many examples of lovely activities that will inspire children to spend time outside.

Another example is fishing; this isn’t just a fun hobby, there’s plenty that it can teach children. One of the main being patience, this isn’t a skill many children (or adults for that matter) are blessed with, and it’s something that could come in useful to them throughout their lives. Learning that good things come to those who wait and practicing calm and patience during uncertainty is a fantastic lesson.

*This is a collaborative post.

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety

This post has been written at the request of Squiggle. She specifically asked for advice from other children, for dealing with stress and anxiety, and strategies to help her to relax. We do alot of work on this already and have lots of strategies in our toolkit. But sometimes you just need fresh ideas, or to hear them from someone else! So here are some tips for kids, by kids…

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety. Title written on image of child smelling flowers in a sunny field.

Keep a gratitude jar or list where you write positives, achievements and things you are grateful for to look at when you feel low. ~ Nomipalony

Kids self-help books can be really useful. As can therapy apps. I have written about these here.

My nine year old said a spa day – I feel I’ve taught him well! ~ Twinderelmo

My 3.5 yo just said going outside makes him happy – so guess he’s right, everyone in our family loves to be outside, being close to nature. It’s also proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels. No wonder all kids love to be outside! ~ Captainbobcat

Writing and drawing her own stories helps to alleviate anxiety.

My six year old daughter says spending time with loved ones and her animals makes her happy, relaxed and feel lucky and appreciated. Particularly dog walking and exploring new countryside areas. ~ Family Travel With Ellie

My twelve year-old suggests putting a nice film on and then fall asleep with a blanket. ~ Edinburgh With Kids

My son says to do some mindful breathing! ~ Pink Pear Bear

Music – whether it is singing, dancing, listening to it or playing it – is very therapeutic.

My children have both said reading, they like to read before bed and I have found them with books in their hands while fast asleep… they are 7 and 6. ~ Mummy Cat Notes

I write a reasons to be cheerful post everyday on my Facebook page ~ Monkey Footed Mummy

Yoga with the kids! I have 5 and 7 year old boys and even though their attention span on yoga is about ten minutes, it is ten minutes of calm and recentering before we’re onto the next crazy activity. Well worth giving it a shot. ~ Motherhood Diaries

My 5 year old said to eat lots of chocolate! ~ Five Little Doves

Treating yourself can really help, as long as the child understands the need for balance and to moderate.

My 8 year old suggests going to your room and finding your favourite music. Then dance until you feel better! ~ Household Money Saving

My nearly 7 year old has struggled with anxiety over the last few months. We’ve introduced a ‘worry bag’. Every day, she takes a few minutes to write down any of her anxieties on pieces of paper. The paper goes into the worry bag at bedtime and we put the worry bag away. Then once every few days (can be more or less frequent depending on how she’s feeling) we open up the worry bag, and go through all the worries, and work out how to manage each worry. We throw each worry away once we’ve tackled it.

She’s found this really helpful, and is sleeping better and is happier at school as a result. I think the symbolism of writing the worries down, putting them away / throwing them away once we’ve tackled them really seems to help. ~ The Mum Conundrum

Incase anyone else relates to this or finds this information useful, my daughter finds writing down her problems distinctly unhelpful. She described it as making them even more concrete and real. I included the advice anyway because I think it is generally a great strategy for the majority of children and her reaction/ way of looking at it is very rare!

Our 8 year old says, “music, reading and being with her pets” helps her to relax and chill out. ~ Virtually Allsorts

Child sat outside on the grass in sunshine reading a book.

My daughter (10) likes to read her favourite books and escape into imaginary worlds through them. ~ Starlight and Stories

My son likes to draw and paint so he takes the pen or paint brush whenever he feels stressed. It let him pour out his emotions through art expression. ~ My Parenting Journey

Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy mind.

Playing outside or going for a walk. Great for kids and grown ups alike. In my teens I always put on headphones and laid in bed listening to music to relax. Always slept with my headphones on. Also, hugging someone you love. ~ Mum of 2 point 5

My son gets very anxious alot due to his autism. When he is like that, he loves to organise his train collection! Anything to feel he is in control and it relaxes him. Also, we read books about different feelings to help him understand why he is feeling how he is. Lastly, he says playing football in the park helps him alot! ~ Mother Gets Lippy

When you feel like it’s bubbling up inside, try and stop yourself, close your eyes, take a very deep breath (or two) and see if that changes your immediate response to a situation. If you manage to do it often in the day, you find yourself being more positive or receptive to life’s everyday situations. Hard to do at first, but it can become a (good) habit! ~ Mind Your Mamma

Self-care, including healthy eating and plenty of exercise, really helps.

I just asked my five year old and he suggested Netflix and a duvet with chocolate fingers! From Mammys perspective I find his interest in sports is which causes him to be less stressed, that coupled with minimal screen time; I find it drives them wild! ~ The Mamma Fairy

My 7 year old daughter says bubble bath and quiet time. She loves being by herself to block out noise and just chill out! ~ Country Heart and Home

Totally immerse yourself into a hobby. It can be absolutely anything, from crafts to music, to baking or sports. Getting better at something and seeing the results of your efforts help gain perspective and a more positive outlook on life overall. ~ How To Rock At Parenting

Thank you to all the children who contributed to this post!

Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From Grace, Junior Master Diver

Have you ever tried scuba diving? It is a far more accessible and affordable sport than many might think. We have a diving club in our town, as I am sure alot of places do, and much of the equipment can be borrowed on loan. If you are looking to purchase your own essentials too, scuba diving experts Simply Scuba have an excellent range.

Black and white photo of grace scuba diving with title 'Scuba Diving: The Amazing Benefits & An Inspirational Story From A Young Master Diver'.

There are many benefits to scuba diving; it provides an excellent physical workout and is great for mental wellbeing too. I have written before about the positive impact on the mind of being in water, so it is a brilliant activity from that perspective. It connects people to our natural environment, which ispires and motivates us to protect it – again something I feel passionate about!

I got in touch with a young Junior Master Diver to find out more about scuba diving. She has been diving since the age of 10 and now, at the age of 14, she has an incredible 14 certificates related to scuba diving. This is Grace’s inspirational story and what she says about scuba diving…

A selfie of Grace scuba diving.

I learnt to dive in Egypt with my dad when I was 10 years old. (That’s the youngest you can do the first course). I did one dive in the sea; I would like to say that I loved the whole dive but I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning. I was so close to not doing it, but I am glad I did because I don’t know what my interests would be now if I haven’t started that dive. After I got used to it, I thought every second was amazing!

I love that when I am diving I can switch off from everything outside, all you can hear is the bubbles you breathe and once you have good buoyancy you feel weightless. Now I have been diving for 4 years I have been able to do all of the main courses I can do for my age; I am now a Junior Master Diver and, as soon as I turn 18, I am hoping to get my Dive Master, which will let me be an instructor later.

I would like to be able to teach people to dive because I think that more younger people especially need to experience it. A lot of people think that it is too expensive, or they don’t have the opportunity to do it, but if you look, even around London where I live, there are plenty of dive clubs that you can go to that will train you, and you don’t need any of your own equipment. It is only as expensive as you want to make it.

My best diving moment was probably doing part of my rescue course at night in a cavern in Florida. It was almost pitch black so we were diving with torches. It was only my instructor, my dad and me in the cavern and I have never seen anything like it. The rock illuminated by our lights was just unbelievably stunning, but at the same time it was such a big open place that it was quite eerie. I didn’t know what was coming, but my instructor had told my dad before the dive to go ‘missing’ so I had to deal with it underwater. I found him but when I turned round my instructor had gone ‘missing’ as well. He wasn’t far away but he was pretending to be unconscious (I could tell he wasn’t because of his bubbles).

I dealt with it how I was taught but as I was bringing him to the surface he started acting like a panicked diver; he was kicking and grabbing at me to see how I would react. At one point he knocked my mask off and pulled off both of my fins (flippers for people that don’t dive). I managed to handle the situation and get him out of the water by literally dragging myself and him across the top of this cavern. It was stressful but I remember having a massive smile on my face because I knew that if something that extreme happened in real life I could deal with it and I had confidence in myself, and my dad, as divers. 

My best achievement is becoming a Junior Master Diver in 2016. Since I have been diving I have met so many interesting people, and a lot of adults say that diving is sometimes more social because in the end you spend more time out of the water than in it.

My certifications:

•PADI Junior Open Water

•PADI Junior Advanced open water

•PADI Junior Project Aware

•NAUI First Aid

•NASE Drysuit Diver

•NASE Rescue Diver

•NASE First aid and CPR

•NASE Oxygen Provider

•NASE Night Diver

•NASE Nitrox 1 Diver

•NASE Navigation

•NASE Equipment Specialist

•NASE Digital Imaging

•NASE Cavern Diver

•NASE Wreck Diver

•NASE Junior master Diver

I would recommend that people should give diving a go even if it doesn’t appeal to them. I have known people that thought they weren’t that bothered about it, but once they tried it they thought it was awesome. Also, you don’t have to be a good swimmer to learn how to dive, you just have to have confidence in the water. Any age can dive, but in the future it would be great if we could see more younger people taking part in the sport.

You can find Grace over on Instagram and her photography page for underwater pictures is grace.w.photography. There is also a video clip of Grace’s photography that she took during a dive recently on YouTube too…

I was interested that Grace mentioned drysuit diving, which is something I hadn’t heard of, so I looked it up to find out more. According to PADI website “A dry suit seals you off from the water and keeps you comfortable, even in surprisingly cold water. There is incredible diving in the world’s cooler regions and in some areas, conditions are even better in colder months. Becoming a dry suit diver allows you to expand your boundaries and dive more places, more often.” So basically, it allows you to dive in colder waters, which sounds great for travelling opportunities and finding new diving experiences. Amazing!

Scuba diving is something I am yet to try but I am certainly very sold on the benefits! Squiggle will be old enough soon too, and I would definitely give her the opportunity to try it out, if she would like to. Perfect for both body and mind.

A photo of Grace scuba diving.

Thanks Grace for sharing your story and inspiring us all!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Activ8rlives Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Monitor: Review 

As I recently mentioned in a previous post, I was sent an Activ8rlives heart rate and blood pressure monitor to review. This handy, easy to use device usually retails at £59.99 including free P&P. (Although at the time of writing it is on sale at £49.99). Activ8rlives Blood Pressure2 Monitor is available in two cuff sizes for the upper-arm: Small to Medium (17-32 cm Pink) and Medium to Large (25-48cm Blue).

Activ8rlives Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Monitor

Setting Up

The monitor comes in a compact box and is a single integrated unit. There are no wires (other than the USB charger of course) and no complicated setting up required; it’s really quick and super easy to set up using bluetooth.

You just download the app, turn on bluetooth on your phone, scan the code (really easy and it tells you exactly what to do anyway) then press a single button on the monitor. It literally could not be more straightforward!

USB charging of battery takes 120 minutes, with battery lifetime 500 charges. Mine came charged already anyway, so no need to mess around with this when it first arrives.

A picture of Activ8rlives Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Bluetooth Monitor box and contents.

How To Use

You place the monitor on your upper arm as instructed. There are clear, easy to follow, step by step instructions on exactly how to position it correctly. Once it is on, you press the button and it begins taking the measurements. As with all blood pressure monitors, there is a tightening/ squeezing feeling as it takes the reading, then it releases again.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app during blood pressure monitoring.

The Monitor

The small screen on the actual has a bright-LCD back light that displays green, yellow or red colour depending on where your reading falls in comparison to the WHO blood pressure classification. This makes it easy to see at a glance if your blood pressure is high, low or normal. However, the device also automatically uploads uploads the data to the free app.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app showing blood pressure and heart rate results.

Activ8rlives App

The app itself has several settings so it can be kept very basic just to record results if you wish, or it can be used on more advanced settings to record a whole variety of things related to health and wellbeing. I love how versatile it is, making it genuinely useful and suited to the individual users needs. The app complies with EU privacy laws, with UK-based secure cloud servers.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app dashboard showing weight, BMI, heart rate and blood pressure.

Summary

This is a handy device that is quick and easy to set up and simple to use. It is genuinely useful, and is especially good for adults who need to monitor their blood pressure regularly, perhaps due to a previous condition for example. (Please note self- monitoring at home should never replace seeing a professional and seeking medical advice when needed).

*Disclosure: I was sent this item to review. All opinions are my own.

Great Gift Ideas For Health and Wellbeing (Gift Guide)  

This gift guide is aimed at anyone looking for gift ideas that focus on wellbeing. Filled with presents that support a healthy lifestyle, this gift guide has the perfect suggestions to show you really care about someone! This post also includes a giveaway too.

Since my blog regularly focuses on health and wellbeing, when I was planning my gift guides for this season I knew I definitely wanted to include one on this topic specifically. It is important to me when choosing gifts for others to pick something out that is meaningful and special, or truly makes a difference to their lives. And I figured you, my lovely readers, would appreciate these fab present ideas too…

Image with collage of items included in the guide. Title at top.

Stocking Fillers

Higher Nature is an independently owned business that provides high quality nutritional products, including the Mind Matters collection, which focuses on supporting mental health.

Image of Brighter Day, Rest Well spray and Worry Not spray by Higher Nature

Brighter Day Drink

This natural fruity flavoured drink is perfect for the darker, winter months. B vitamins in a natural blackcurrant drink to brighten your day and lift your mood.

Cost: £7.99 (currently half price at £3.49 at the time of writing).

Worry Not Spray

Handy spray to keep by your side for those moments in life when you feel anxious or overwhelmed. A supportive blend of amino acids, B vitamins and herbs.

Cost: £9.99

Rest Well Spray

This unique spray formulation can help towards improving the quality of rest. It contains a unique blend of amino acids, herbs and vitamin B3.

Cost: £9.99

Caffeine and L-Theanine stack by Focus Supplements

Caffeine and L-Theanine work together to improve your focus and energy while introducing a feeling of calmness. L-Theanine removes any caffeine jitters, creating a sensation of calmness, combined with the focus and attentiveness of caffeine. Buy here: Caffeine Amazon

Cost: £14.99

Yoga Clothes

Yoga is good for both the body and mind. It’s a great activity for reducing stress/ relaxation and supports general wellbeing, and a healthy lifestyle. So yoga clothes make a fab gift!

Ohmme Yoga Shorts For Men

For example, OHMME is an eco- friendly athleisure slow fashion brand created as ethically as possible. These yoga clothes have been created to encourage men to take up yoga from a mental health perspective. They also donate to CALM Charity.

A main wearing a pair of blue 2-dogs yoga shorts.

I have a giveaway for one lucky reader to win a pair of mens yoga shorts from OHMME (usual price £45). Check out my eco- friendly gift guide to enter.

Grow Your Own Food Kits

Growing kits make a lovely gift; the act of growing your own food is in itself great for wellbeing, and eating the results is healthy too!

A picture of a child kneeling outside by the salad kit in use, pointing to the food growing.

Salad Kit by The Crop Club

The Crop Club is a brilliant initiative that reconnects communities through the joy of growing food and inspires healthy happy lifestyles. They also collaborate with companies and communities who want to give their stakeholders a gift that makes them feel good whilst remembering their brands. For individuals, they sell salad kits to grow at home.

A picture of the salad kit contents.

These salad kits are designed for people with small spaces; you don’t need a garden to grow your own! The coffee sack planters are perfect for small spaces and all varieties are chosen because they are compact, fast to mature and many can be re sown throughout the season for a continual harvest.

Cost: £30

Gifts For Relaxation

Luxury bath sets are wonderful gifts. There are such a range of fabulous items in a variety of scents that support wellbeing and help us to relax. From oils to salts, bath bombs and body scrubs, there are plenty of presents available to pamper with!

Neals Yard Bedtime Collection Gift Set

This Beauty and Sleep Bedtime Collection is an ideal gift for anyone, for example.

Cost: £15

TowelUp

And for after the bath, this cool little invention makes a nice addition to any stocking too! TowelUp is a handy clip that stops a bath (or beach) towel falling down when wrapped around the chest or waist, and it comes in a pretty gift bag too.

A picture of TowelUp clip in a pretty little gift bag on a white towel.

I also have one of these to give-away, head over to my facebook page to enter!

Cost: £3.99 for one or £6.99 for two (+ 73p P&P)

Self- Care Books

There are some brilliant books that focus on wellbeing and these make a thoughtful present.

Survive and Thrive by Jennifer Boon

Jennifer Boon is a life coach who has written a new book series called Survive & Thrive. This series focuses on supporting women through challenging life phases and shows us that it is ok to love ourselves. She offers solid practical advice on how we can fill up our own ‘love reservoirs’ and empower ourselves to go after the life.

Image of cover of paperback version of Survive and Thrive book.

The first book in the series is called Dating and Being Single. Despite the title, the book is great for those in a relationship too, as it is really about self-love and acceptance. Full of amazing advice regardless of current status!

Cost: £9.99

I have a copy of this excellent book for one reader to win! Enter via rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends 7th December 2017. UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply.

This is a collaborative post and contains affiliate links.

​Win Activ8rlives Sleek Bluetooth Smart Scales for Christmas

I have some news and a giveaway to share with you! Activ8rlives got in touch to let me know about their fantastic 3 for 2 Christmas offer; you can buy a combination of Smart Scales, BuddyBand2, Blood Pressure monitor, Pulse Oximeter and Peak Flow meter, in any combination of 3 for the price of 2. Awesome deal! I don’t have any of these myself (yet! I will be reviewing the Blood Pressure Monitor soon, so look out for that!) but I have heard great things about the Smart Scales! A fellow blogger, Just Average Jen, reviewed them and she wrote that they were stylish, easy to set up and use, and accurate – sounds good to me! You can read her review here: Just Average Jen – Body Analyser Review.

Body Analyser Smart Scales image with info about activ8rlives 3 for 2 offer

Here is your chance to win the sleek Activ8rlives Body Analyser Smart Scales, measuring weight, body and visceral fat, muscle mass, hydration and BMI. Activ8rlives’ health+wellness monitors are easy to operate and are supplied with printed colour manuals and free Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App (iOS and Android), which guides you through the process of connecting. Data is then automatically uploaded via Bluetooth, stored securely in the UK, and allows weight, diet and wellness tracking over time. The perfect device to help you monitor and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, for you and your family.

Free Customer Support 7-Days-a-week 01480 352821.

www.activ8rlives.com

Entry to the giveaway is via rafflecopter below. One lucky reader will receive a set of Body Analyser Smart Scales.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK residents only. Competition ends 7th December 2017. Other T&Cs apply. Good luck! 

Top Tips For A Good Night Sleep

Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. Yet it is something that many of us struggle with, for one reason or another. Whether it is getting to sleep, staying asleep or frequent disturbances throughout the night, lack of sleep and/ or poor quality sleep can play havoc with your mood, health and functioning.

So here are some top tips to help ensure you get a goodnight sleep and wake up well rested…

Picture of a pair of feet sticking out of the end of the bed. Reads Top Tips For A Good Night Sleep.

Wind Down

Many people need time to relax and unwind after a busy day in order to feel ready to sleep. There are various relaxation aids and tips to switch off in the sections below to assist with this. Meditation or some gentle yoga might also be beneficial.

I try to shut off tech and not use my phone for about 30 minutes to an hour before going bed. I try to have a bath and listen to music instead. ~ The Mum Diaries

Switch Off

Whilst a minority of people might do just fine falling asleep to TV or other devices, alot of people would benefit from no screens in the bedroom.

We took all electric devices out of the bedroom and it made a huge difference. ~ I Am River

Charging my phone away from where I sleep helps. ~ The Coaching Parent

Declutter Your Mind

If you go to bed with your mind swirling with thoughts, it can be difficult to switch off and get to sleep. Writing them down can help get them out of your head.

I always have loads of thoughts going round my head – I try & scribble them down if I can’t sleep as it helps ’empty’ my brain! Or use voice memo on a phone. ~ Sophie’s Nursery

Relaxation Aids

Finding relaxation techniques that work for you is important as it allows you to de-stress and supports sleep. Whether it is relaxing music, hypnosis or something else, making time to relax is essential for wellbeing.

I listen to relaxing music, as do the kids – Weightless is the name of the song that works wonder for all of us! ~ The Mamma Fairy

I use online hypnosis tracks from iTunes and they work a treat! ~ Thrifty Mum

I have struggled on an off for a few years but about four years ago I found ASMR videos on YouTube. They are often called tingle videos as if you experience ASMR This is what you feel! Gentle whispering is the one I watch the most, they are so soothing and relaxing, I always fall asleep to them! ~ Ready Freddie Go

If I’m struggling to get to sleep, reading a book usually sends me off. Don’t think I’ve finished a book in years as I always forget what I’ve read at bedtime! ~ The Growing Mum

Comfort

To get a good night sleep, you need to be comfortable! Invest time and money in finding the most suitable mattress and choose good quality bedding. Pick the duvet tog that is right for you and the room temperature. Or layer up with blankets so they can be adjusted according to need. Some people even find weighted blankets useful. The Dozy Owl has a great article to help you choose the best pillow too.

Bedroom Environment

Lighting in the bedroom is important. Some people prefer a nightlight, whilst others really need the room to be as dark as possible and find blackout curtains or blinds helpful. Noise levels can also be an issue. If you find yourself frequently being woken up by environmental noise, then it is probably time to invest in a pair of ear plugs or use a white noise generator. A fish tank (or even a fan) in the room can also have a similar effect. Relaxing scents such as lavender oil can also help assist a good night sleep too.

Bed with side table and lamp. Minimalistic clean neutral but welcoming bedroom.

Sleeping Arrangements

Sleeping arrangements are such a personal thing. Whilst some people sleep much better snuggled up to a warm body next too them, others find themselves waking at every little noise or movement and find it easier to sleep alone. In the case of relationships, it can become a delicate balance of the importance of intimacy vs the importance of sleep. There is really no right answer, weigh up what the priorities are and what works best for everyone involved.

I don’t struggle with sleep, just stay up too late. But if you’ve a baby who’s in their own room near enough to hear when they cry, turn off the baby monitor once you’re in bed. They keep you awake with any little sound but really you only need to know when they’re really calling for you. It’ll help them self settle if they’re just being noisy and having a moan.

My husband would say sleep in another room to your partner if they keep you awake. He’s a really light sleeper and moans I’m noisy even before I am asleep. ~ Bubba Blue and Me

We have a family room with us and 2 little ones sharing. We have a huge room with two double beds and a single in. I have no idea why but we all sleep better for it and it works for us. ~ I Am River

Avoid Caffeine

For a small minority of people (particularly those with ADHD) caffeine can have the opposite effect and potentially be relaxing. However, generally, for the vast majority of people, caffeine acts as a stimulant and is best avoided, or at least reduced, as it gets closer to bedtime. The length of time needed before sleep varies from person to person, and alot of people find it useful to cut it out completely.

I’ve realised I sleep a million times better & fall asleep instantly if I have no caffeine all day. So not even a tea in the morning! The days I have a tea (usually green) I take much longer to sleep. ~ Lylia Rose

Supplements

I was recently sent some Benenox Overnight Recharge to try. It is a combination of honey, two amino acids (L-Alanine and L-Glutamine) and Vitamin B6. During a survey, 3/4 of people felt this helped to improve their quality of sleep and left them feeling more refreshed the next day.

I take a magnesium supplement, it’s know as the anti-stress mineral and is a muscle relaxant, so is really effective for helping to relax me and get me to sleep. I also have a mug of rooibos tea before bed. ~ Pure Nourish

Benenox in two flavours presented in a pretty purple box

Last Resort…

Failing all the above, I’d book a hotel room away from the man child & childerbeasts! I reckon that should do it! ~ The Smallest Of Things

On a serious note, sometimes a change of scenary and night away (espeecially with a room to yourself!) can really make a difference. After a good night rest you can wake up feeling like a different person. Sleep matters!

What are your top sleep tips?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.