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

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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Light Therapy Can Help 

As the clocks go back for British daylight savings time, the darker evenings draw in are getting shorter and the hours of daylight less, many people begin to feel the affect on their mood. ‘Winter blues’ is more common than people might realise and full- on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can begin to hugely affect people’s lives at this time of year. 

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

SAD is considered to be a form of depression. There is plenty of information available about possible causes and the treatments available; including CBT, talking therapies, light therapy and meds if needed. Light therapy is highly recommended by most experts on this subject. It involves being closely exposed to artificial daylight for substantial amounts of time, in order to produce chemicals in the brain that helps to improve mood and alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD.

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

Needlite is a daylight lamp that can be used at your work desk. It provides much needed imitation daylight that is very close to the real thing, available at any time. It is useful for improving exposure to the amount of daylight on a daily basis, despite being indoors, which therefore supports wellbeing and can assist in the treatment of SAD. I previously wrote a review of Needlite a few months ago and I will be interested to see how effective it continues to be over the winter months too, when it potentially at its most beneficial.

Needlite is available to buy from Well Working. You can also try it out for free, check out the website for further details and availability in your area. 

*Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Needlite lamps for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Common Health Conditions: Where To Go For Advice and Information

I came across an article the other day discussing the ethics behind health bloggers; in particular, the dangers of non- experts giving advice and writing beyond their level of expertise. As a family lifestyle blogger, I have a health and wellbeing section, and cover this topic fairly regularly. 

It got me thinking, should bloggers shy away from covering certain topics? Perhaps just leave it all to the professionals? I think it largely depends on the context it is written. Of course, nobody should be claiming to be an expert if they are not, or offer advice that could potentially be harmful. I guess some subjects are therefore by nature more controversial than others. But I do think well written and responsible health blogs have their place, and can be a very valuable source of information.

For example, I often see on parenting groups new parents asking for health advice for their babies. Sometimes they are questions about rashes or temperatures; the kind of thing that it would be best to look up on NHS Direct or go to a pharmacy to establish whether it is safe to treat at home. But other things are questions that can easily be answered by other, more experienced, parents. Sensible, typical suggestions for dealing with a teething baby for example. Or little first aid tips like how to safely and easily remove a splinter. But if in any doubt whatsoever, it is always best to seek medical advice. Likewise, same applies when it comes to any other advice or health conditions for anyone of any age.

health, medical, health conditions, wellbeing, advice

It is comparitable to how people might ask friends or family for advice vs going to their GP. Of course, we don’t want to waste valuable NHS resources and professional’s time with things that are clearly fine to research ourselves or safe to treat at home, but if there is any doubt whatsoever then seek advice. Rule of thumb, in my opinion, is to treat blog posts and articles more like you are chatting to your friends rather than speaking to an expert!

Personally, whilst I try to ensure that my health posts are informative, of course I absolutely do not claim to be an expert and I make sure that I signpost people on where to go for further information, advice and support. I offer ‘common sense’ practical suggestions about living a healthy lifestyle and ideas to support wellbeing, but I am careful not to cross the line into specialist advice. It is important however to reflect on this sometimes though and make sure I am consciously taking responsibility for the impact of the words I write on my readers. 

Remember: if in doubt, seek expert medical advice. 

health, medical, health conditions, wellbeing, advice

Here are some essential sources for information and advice:

NHS Direct

The Independent Pharmacy

Mind (mental health)

Childrens Health

NHS children’s health section

www.healthforkids.co.uk (NHS site)

www.gosh.nhs.uk/children/about-your-condition

youngminds.org.uk (mental health)

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Healthy Eating Made Easy: Roasted Vegetable Couscous Recipe

Delicious and healthy roasted vegetable and couscous recipe. Ideal quick and easy, yet healthy, meal that will feed the whole family. Make mealtimes stress- free with this microwave recipe. Enjoy healthy, clean eating without hassle.

Healthy eating is important to me and I generally try to use raw ingredients if possible. But like most people, we are often under time constraints, so quick and easy recipes are a must! 

I was set the challenge to choose one of these fab microwave recipes to make and blog about it. So I picked this roasted vegetable couscous recipe because it is super healthy and almost vegan. (It does contain honey). As I have mentioned before, we are flexitarian, meaning we choose to eat mainly vegan food but we are also laid back about it too.

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Ingredients

  • 2 Bell Peppers
  • 100g Button Mushrooms
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 large Courgette 
  • 1 medium Carrot 
  • 1/2 Butternut Squash 
  • 2 Garlic Cloves 
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tsp Honey
  • 300 mls Vegetable Stock
  • 350g Couscous

The quantities given for the ingredients were more than enough to serve all three of us with a huge portion as a main meal. It would be enough for a family of 4 – 5 in fact probably!

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Recipe

Vegetable Preparation

• Deseed the peppers and cut them into bite size chunks.
• Finely chop the onions.
• Peel the carrot then slice them thinly.
• Slice the courgettes.
• Chop the butternut squash into bite size chunks.
• Crush the garlic cloves.

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Microwave Vegetables

• Place all of the prepared vegetables in a large casserole dish.
• Add a tiny amount of water.
• Cover and microwave on high for 5-7 mins.
• Drain and cool slightly.

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Roasting the Vegetables

Pre-heat oven to 220ºC (based on convection oven – adjust for other types).

• Put the vegetables onto the oven tray.
• Chop the button mushrooms and mix them in with the vegetables.
• Add some olive oil.
• Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
• Place in the pre-heated oven on the lower shelf and cook for 25-30 minutes, shaking occasionally, until golden brown and soft.
• Stir through the honey and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Cooking the Couscous

• Mix the vegetable stock with boiling water.
• Pour 450 mls over the couscous initially then gradually add more boiling water if required.
• Stand for 10 minutes.
• Cover and microwave on medium until warm. (Approximately 5 minutes).

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

Final Preparations

• Separate the couscous grains with a fork.
• Stir in the vegetable mix.
Serve and enjoy!

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

The verdict…

I made a couple of simple, minor amendments to the original recipe but stuck to it for the main part. It was a fairly quick and easy recipe. Most importantly, it was absolutely delicious! Very filling, and so healthy too. I will definitely be making this one again!

recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Top 5 Signs That You Need a New Mattress

Confused about whether you’re in need of a new mattress? It’s something that often gets forgotten for years at a time, and the signs that you may need a new one can be put down to your own health problems when in fact it is the surface you’re lying on for at least 6-8 hours per night.

Though the general rule is to change your mattress every few years, many people find themselves feeling unsure about the exact point at which they need to do so. Some may feel that changing their mattress isn’t really required unless it’s obviously damaged in some way.

sleep, bed, mattress, interior design, home and garden, wellbeing, health

If you’re feeling unsure, below are the top 5 signs that it’s time seriously consider investing in a new single mattress or double mattress:

You’re sleeping badly

Since our bed is where we sleep every night, it’s natural that our mattress will have an effect on our sleep quality. Poor sleep can have an impact on our mood and energy levels for the whole of the next day.  If you find yourself tossing and turning more often than not, your mattress could very well be the cause of it.

Some people assume that bad sleep can only occur in older or damaged mattresses but this isn’t the case. If you have purchased a mattress that isn’t a good fit for your body type or sleeping position then it may be the reason you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality or age of the mattress, it may just not be a good match for you.

Being well-rested is too important to not invest in. If you’re sleeping badly, it may just be time to start your hunt for the perfect mattress.

Your mattress looks or feels worn out

It’s important to monitor your mattress closely and regularly to check whether it is deteriorating in any way.  When you change your bed linen is a good time to do so. Inspect the mattress closely for any signs such as lumpiness or a sagging in the middle section.

If your mattress is quite clearly worn, it’s unlikely to offer you the support you need. It’s time to begin the search for a new one before it starts negatively impacting your sleep.

Your mattress is more than 5 years old

The general consensus is that you should look into investing in a new mattress every 5-8 years. An exact time can’t be given as this purely depends on the quality and durability of your current mattress. Some can even last up to 10 years, while others struggle to make it to the 5 year mark.

If your mattress is more than 5 years old, we’d suggest you start closely monitoring it to check for any possible decline. It won’t happen exactly on its 5th birthday, but you may start seeing wear and tear after this time.

You’re sleeping better in other beds

Many people don’t even know how great their sleep could be until they spend a divine night snoozing peacefully on a different bed and realise the importance of a mattress. Once you’ve had this experience it can be hard to go back. If this has happened to you, investigate how much it might cost the get the mattress that you had such an amazing night’s rest on.

You’re frequently waking up with aches and pains

Those of who are waking up stiff and sore more often than not need to look into getting a new mattress. Many people blame sitting in an office all, or a strenuous workout they may have done for their daily aches. You’d be surprised to find how often the mattress can be a cause of it.

This could because the structure of your mattress is in decline and it is not offering enough support. It could also be the case if your mattress is too firm or too soft for your specific needs. Either way, it definitely needs to be explored further as a new mattress may just offer you some much needed relief.

Visit Bed Mattress to view a high-quality range of luxury mattresses by Sloane & Sons. Pocket Sprung and Memory Foam mattresses are both available with free UK delivery and a 5 year guarantee. Find out more about the full collection on the website.

*Disclosure:This post is written in collaboration with Sloane & Sons.

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is the main spice in curry and one of the most powerful herbs on the planet. For centuries, turmeric has been used as a medicine for relief and treatment of various diseases. The main reason behind its potential to improve our health is curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. Although most of us know turmeric is healthy; sometimes we fail to realize all those amazing benefits it provides. This article will change that! Here are eight evidence-based benefits of turmeric and curcumin.

turmeric, health benefits, health, wellbeing, healthy eating, healthy living, guest post

1. Anti-inflammatory effects

Acute or short-term inflammation is good for your body because it helps fight pathogens and bad bacteria. However, chronic inflammation is a risk factor for numerous health conditions, but curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties. A study from the Alternative Medicine Review discovered that curcumin is an equally effective anti-inflammatory agent as medications used for this purpose, but without side effects. The compound uses a multifaceted approach to relieving inflammation, and one way of doing is through blocking NF-kB molecule which travels into the cells’ nuclei and activates genes related to inflammation.

2. Better memory

Beta-amyloid plaques in your brain and oxidative stress, free radicals, and inflammation are main reasons behind weak memory, particularly when it is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipophilic action, turmeric improves cognitive functions, according to a research from the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Additionally, evidence shows that turmeric improves memory and attention span due to its ability to relieve inflammation and improve blood flow. Bearing in mind that turmeric influences different processes that nudge the brain in a positive direction is poses as one of the most effective ways to improve memory naturally.

3. Arthritis relief

Arthritis is a common problem that refers to inflammation of joints. As you can imagine, this joint pain can negatively affect your overall quality of life. The Phytotherapy Research published results of the study which found that curcumin was more effective for rheumatoid arthritis patients than anti-inflammatory medications. Curcumin works to block inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that contribute to the onset or severity of joint inflammation. This explains why numerous dietary supplements for arthritis and joint pain include turmeric on the ingredient list.

4. Cancer prevention

Cancer is a severe disease indicated by the abnormal growth of cells. Evidence demonstrates that curcumin affects cancer growth, development, and spread at the molecular level. The activity of curcumin was reported against lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, ovarian and breast cancers, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and other types of this serious disease. Curcumin has an amazing potential to reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis), metastasis, and it plays a role in the death of cancerous cells.

5. Depression management

Benefits of Curcumin also extend to treating depression as confirmed by multiple studies. In one study, scientists enrolled 60 patients with depression and divided them into different groups: one took Prozac, the second group was assigned to curcumin, while participants in the third group received a combination of Prozac and curcumin. Results of the study revealed that participants in curcumin group experienced similar benefits to those in Prozac category. Additionally, the third group which received a combination of Prozac and curcumin experienced most benefits.

6. Heart health

According to the WHO, heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. Reducing the risk of heart disease requires a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet. Make sure your new and improved lifestyle contains turmeric as well. Evidence shows that curcumin can help reverse steps in the heart disease process. When it comes to heart disease, the main benefit of curcumin is its ability to improve the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels. This is particularly useful if we bear in mind that dysfunction of endothelium prevents us from regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, and other factors that contribute to disease.

7. Anti-aging effects

Including turmeric into your lifestyle is one of the best anti-aging tips someone can give you. Why? That’s because it can improve quality and appearance of your skin in numerous ways including faster healing, correct oily skin, sun damage protection, skin cancer prevention, and treating chronic skin conditions due to anti-inflammatory properties.

Moreover, since curcumin has beneficial effects on heart health, brain health, arthritis, it is easy to conclude this compound improves longevity and helps you live longer and with better quality of life too.

8. Diabetes prevention and management

You’ve probably come across claims that turmeric can help you prevent or manage diabetes. Are they true? It turns out they are. A review of studies found that curcumin can decrease the level of glucose in blood and it can play a major role in diabetes prevention. Thanks to its role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, turmeric can also help people with diabetes manage their condition. Of course, if you already have diabetes, you should consult your doctor before taking turmeric.

Conclusion

Turmeric is the most potent herb in the world, and it is clear way – its active compound, curcumin, helps you improve overall health and quality of life. You can consume turmeric through curry or, as many people do, through dietary supplements.

References

http://www.jbc.org/content/270/42/24995.full

https://www.sciencealert.com/turmeric-can-improve-memory-and-attention-span-in-old-age-study-finds

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462866

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19233493

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/turmeric-for-skin/

Author Bio:

Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing about skincare and beauty. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines and wrinkles, information about arthritis, improving memory and fitness routine. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.