How To Create A Stress – Relieving Garden

Gardeners have long known that the garden – the outdoor space, the nature within it and exposure to fresh air – are elements that combine to combat stress. And there is the science to prove it. From a child to the elderly, from the vulnerable to hardworking parents, the garden can be a haven of peace and tranquillity, the perfect place to de-stress. No matter what the season, the garden has something to offer. But if your garden looks like a myriad of weeds and lacks colour and scent, the time has come to roll up your sleeves and start digging. Gardening is good for you and a pleasant garden is the perfect antidote to a stressful, modern life.

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The Science of Gardening

The garden is for everyone; the elderly can reconnect with memories as they garden, children can learn mathematical and scientific principles, parents and teenagers can relax, listening to the latest podcast or reading the latest best seller for example. Lounging around in a peaceful garden is good for you, and science agrees.

Use Your Senses

When it comes to creating a stress-relieving garden, design the experience around your senses:

Smell

Gardens, filled with fragrant blooms, certainly provide olfactory stimulation. Scents are subtle, not overpowering, and there are some that are known to help us relax and unfold away from stress. Lavender, for example, has long been added to bath products and sleeping remedies, in order to calm the whirling mind before sleep. Along with other fragrant blooms, plant them at the edge of flower beds so that as you walk around the garden, you knock the blooms, releasing the fragrance.

Taste

Growing vegetables is good for you in so many ways. Half an hour of digging and mulching sheds calories, as well as giving your body a workout. The vegetables you grow, free from pesticides and insecticides are good for you. Sitting under the pea vines and eating peas straight from the pod is the stuff of memories and there is nothing like the sweet taste of peas, freshly plucked from the plant. Plant vegetables and fruits with companion plants to get the best from nature.

Sight

What could be more mesmerising than watching a dancing, buzzing bee as it goes about its business, hopping from one fragrant bloom to another? What is more beautiful than seeing a garden full of colour, with insects scurrying about going on with their rituals? Instead of staring at a screen, why not stare at the garden? Allow yourself to drift away, gently swinging in a hammock in the trees or on a comfortable rattan day bed, and watch nature at its best – and marvel at the fact that all this is in your garden!

Touch

Textures are important too. For stress relief, there are many elements that combine together and yet, we give little thought to how touch affects the mind, body and soul. We know that human touch can be restful and reassuring. In effect, this is what you want to create in your multi-sensory garden. There are, of course, some experiences of touch we don’t want – such as the sting of a nettle – but there are other plants that are more conducive to being touched by the human hand. When was the last time you ran your fingertips through the dancing fronds of reeds or tall grasses? Or the soft, fragrant leaves of a geranium? Lambs Ears are a particular favourite of ours. The garden, with clever planting, can be a haven of stress relief, and touch is one sense that you shouldn’t ignore.

Hearing

And the final sense, hearing. At the end of the day, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden. Lie on the rattan day bed or sit in the bistro chair, close your eyes and train your ears to focus on the sounds of nature and not those of man-made origin. Block out the sounds of car engines and trains, or the dull roar of planes overhead, and instead listen for the rustling of the leaves on the trees and the grasses as the wind gently moves their fronds. Listen to the birds, their calls to one another and the buzz of an insect as it whizzes past you. Listen to the gentle movement of water as it tumbles and frolics down the waterfall. The garden, no matter how big or small, is a truly wondrous place, where stress simply peels away.

Rattan Direct is an online retailer, specialising in high-quality rattan furniture. Hard wearing and robust, rattan is a perfect material for outdoor furniture and with a growing choice for the modern consumer, any garden can quickly become a stress-free haven.

*Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

Online Therapy: What is it and Why Choose it?

Why Choose Online Therapy?

Everyone is so busy nowadays. Not only does this cause stress, but it also makes it difficult to find a therapist when you need one. And many of us do need one sometimes. It can be tough to find time to choose a therapist and arrange sessions that do not clash with an already busy daily schedule. It can therefore seem less daunting – and so much quicker and easier – to do all that online. Convenience matters; it is somewhat counterproductive if therapy just becomes another stressor.

What is Online Therapy?

Many people are still confused about what online therapy is. Online therapy is simple. You can talk to a therapist online through FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Also, you have the option to text message or chat online with your therapist instead if you do not want to do a face to face session. You can also email or visit an online support group to talk to others with similar issues. Even if you don’t have internet access you can do therapy on the phone.

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The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

There are pros and cons of everything, of course. Nothing is perfect. Here are the pros:

  • Convenience – You do not have to leave your home to see a therapist.
  • Less expensive – Many sites advertise their prices up front and some are covered by insurance.
  • More comfortable – You can actually lay in bed in your pajamas if you want to. And for those people who are not comfortable talking face to face, this is definitely for you!
  • More privacy – Some people do not feel comfortable going into a therapist’s office. The stigma of mental health disorders is still a big deal for some, unfortunately. Or maybe you just generally find attending formal appointments too stressful. But you do not have to worry about that with online therapy.

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And here are the downsides of online therapy:

  • Insurance – Until online therapy becomes more popular, it is often only available privately and is difficult to get insurance coverage. However, this is starting to change and some insurance companies are now covering online therapy.
  • Lack of personal touch – Some people need that face-to-face contact of seeing a therapist in person. It is actually therapeutic to some patients with depression to venture out of the house to see a therapist. However, for the initial session, online therapy may encourage those people who do not want to leave the house to get help.

    There are lots of benefits to online therapy and it is a great choice for many. However, if it is not your cup of tea, find a therapist nearby and go see them.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Depression: A Closer Look At Mental Health 

    Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
    There are different types of depression with various symptoms but the most common include feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks, difficulty concentrating, feeling guilty or worthless, lack of energy or extreme fatigue, change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much), lack of appetite, weight loss or gain, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy,
    or thoughts of harming yourself. There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. 

    ​What Is ‘Wrong’ with Me?

    Do you sometimes feel like something is missing in your life? Maybe you have lost interest in the activities that you used to love, such as biking or swimming. Are you feeling more tired than usual? You may be suffering from clinical depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. In the United States, over 16 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode. That is close to 7% of all the adults in the United States.

    Who Is Most Affected by Depression?

    Although anyone can get depression at any age, and any gender, women are more than twice as likely to become depressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the age group that is most affected is between 12 and 25 years of age. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports a higher incidence of depression in adults from 40 to 59 years old. This discrepancy may be due to fluctuating amounts of reports from different years. Either way, anyone can have depression, no matter how old you are. 

    depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

    What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

    There are different types of depression with various symptoms, but the most common include:

    • Feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks

    • Difficulty concentrating

    • Feeling guilty or worthless

    • Lack of energy or extreme fatigue

    • Change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much)

    • Lack of appetite

    • Weight loss or gain

    • Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy

    • Thoughts of harming yourself

    Causes of Depression

    There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. Some of these include:

    • Imbalance of brain chemicals

    • Hormones

    • Genetics

    • Previous mental health condition

    • Environmental such as extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect

    • Alcohol or drug abuse

    depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

    How to Treat Depression

    There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. The most common way to treat depression is with antidepressant medication, such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, or Zoloft. These medications may take one or two weeks to take full effect, but just knowing that you are doing something to help can make you feel better. Psychotherapy is another common treatment for depression that is effective. Also, research shows that exercise is good for depression because it raises the dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin levels in the brain.

    Talk Therapy

    Talking about what you are feeling is one of the best ways to help yourself feel better. Some people prefer to talk to a psychiatrist, friend, or family member. However, others are more comfortable opening up to strangers in support groups. One thing that has become really popular recently is online therapy. It is extremely convenient to be able to just go online and talk to someone on Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype without having to leave your home. This is perfect for those of us who are so busy taking care of the kids, household, and everything else. Some websites offer thousands of licensed therapists who are available 24 hours a day. Go online and check it out. You can start feeling better today.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Love Your Body: Live Your Life by Shopaholic Adventures (Guest Post) 

    “The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”

    – Osho

    Fashion is something I’ve always been passionate about, but it wasn’t always an easy hobby to have as a chubby girl in school and college, with limited options to wear to hide my fat.  I never had the confidence to fit into the kind of clothes my friends wore, this was the biggest beauty-anxiety and insecurity, I struggled with throughout my adolescent and teen years. 

    I tried my best to loose weight, from GM Diet, aerobics, yoga (inspired by weightloss journey of Kareena Kapoor and religiously doing 50 surya namaskars every day), skipping meals, to diets and more diets and I would be lying if I say it dint loose, I did loose but it was a temporary weight loss and I gained back again within 2-3 months.

    But the truth is, I know better – we all know better! Happiness is not a number on the scale. Happiness is from inside, its believing in you, self confidence. I learnt it the hard way after years of diets and exercise, I looked in the mirror and asked myself why I spent so much time hating my wide hips, lack of a thigh gap, thunder thighs, cellulite, stretch marks, thick knees? I asked myself, was wasting time focusing on the outside, worth being trapped in a mental prison of unhappiness on the inside?

    “You get to be a beautiful, “flawed,” and perfectly imperfect human being. You can choose to go from being a victim to becoming the hero of your own life story. There is no room for failure as YOU become in charge of yourself!!”

    body confidence, body positive, plus size, inspirational, fashion, blogger, Shopaholic Adventures, guest post, Living Life Our Way

    From that moment on, I made an effort to focus on accepting things about myself I once considered flaws. That was the day I got the confidence to pursue my love for fashion and be a fashion blogger, try new looks and styles and wear what I like. I love to dress up and I do it, I love wearing red and hot pink, and no one can tell me to not to wear as it might make me look fat. Well I say, let it be “that’s who I am. I love myself for who and how I am, and will continue to love myself forever.”

    “Your body size will fluctuate but the love you have for yourself will forever remain,

    Self-love is unconditional, no rules, no criticisms,

    Just over whelming LOVE!!”

    body confidence, body positive, plus size, inspirational, fashion, blogger, Shopaholic Adventures, guest post, Living Life Our Way

    This guest post was written by Praghti Malhotra, Co-Founder and Editor of Shopaholic Adventures You can also find her on Facebook Instagram and Pinterest.

    10 Reasons To Be Happy

    I was tagged by The Mum Diaries to write about ten things that make me happy in celebration of International Day of Happiness. (Yes, I do realise I am very late!) So here goes…

    1. My family. Ok, granted, they also drive me crazy and make me want to run away screaming sometimes too. But, you know… balance is everything 😉 They definitely come top of the list! Squiggle in particular needs a special mention here. 💜

    2. My furbabies. Also part of the family of course, but they deserve a separate mention. How could I not smile at these little cuties!

    pets, furbabies, family, about us, blogger, general life, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, Living Life Our Way

    3. Photography. I am by no means an expert, I don’t even have proper equipment, but I really enjoy it as a hobby. It brings out the creative side of me and that makes me happy!

    4. Writing/ blogging. I started writing a semi- private blog shortly after Squiggle was born, partly as a journal for those early days as new parent and as a way to share our latest news and developments with family. Over the years, this shifted in focus and naturally evolved; firstly to document our home ed journey then to share our love of nature, before developing it into a family lifestyle blog. I am a self- employed blogger now and am grateful that I can earn a small income from my interests! 

    5. Outdoors. I love getting outside in nature, it is so relaxing and helps with my overall wellbeing, and therefore my happiness.

    6. Live music. Whether it is at a huge festival or local pub, my favourite band or newbies playing covers, I just LOVE it. Seriously get all the feels!

    music, concert, gig, kaiser chiefs, about us, blogger, general life, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, Living Life Our Way

    7. Nights out. These are fairly rare, like many parents! But having the odd proper night out on the town now and again, catching up with friends (often involving drinking and dancing too!) gives me a chance to let my hair down and socialise. If the night out includes live music, even better!!!

    8. My guilty pleasures on TV. Big Brother, Love Island, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea to name but a few…. I can’t help it, I love them!

    9. Travel. I want to do more of this. The excitement of new adventures; visiting new countries and exploring new places is something that makes me really happy.

    10. Myself. Ultimately happiness comes from within. Looking after my own wellbeing, keeping myself balanced and maintaining my sense of inner peace, all leads to truly being happy.

    I now tag Clear and InspiredSo This is Adulthood and From Rachael Claire to write about 10 things that make you happy! 

    Top Tips For Hair Care

    I will be the first to admit that my hair is not in the best condition it could be. I am a busy mum and too often it just gets scraped back into a ponytail and ignored. However, I have been thinking about various (natural, if possible) ways to care for hair and thought I would share some top tips with you all…

    General Healthy Hair Tips
    First things first; don’t overwash it! Hair benefits from producing its own natural oils to keep it healthy. Some people even opt to ditch the shampoo completely and let their hair do its own magic! Even if this approach isn’t for you, Wellness Mama has a useful recipe for making your own natural shampoo and Eco Fluffy Mama has written a handy post about DIY natural dry shampoo too. Also, try to minimise the use of products and appliances. We all know that heat and too much styling damages hair. Keep your hair as natural as possible!

    Treatments/ Conditioners
    There are lots of natural treatments that work well to generally keep hair naturally looking and feeling its best too. Here are some favourites…

    Coconut oil is my personal go to method. I find it works equally effectively on both mine and Squiggle’s hair, even though we have very different types of hair. This is also the preferred method of Hollie from Thrifty Mum to keep her hair beautifully soft and healthy.

    haircare, beauty, healthy hair, hair tips, DIY hair treatment, natural hair treatment, health, wellbeing, Thrifty Mum
    Thrifty Mum after her coconut oil treatment.

    Apple cider vinegar is also brilliant; it is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, it is a natural exfoliator and it is packed with nutrients too. Pretty impressive! Coconuts and Kettlebells has written a post with more detailed information. This is a favourite method of Daisies and Pie.

    haircare, beauty, healthy hair, hair tips, DIY hair treatment, natural hair treatment, health, wellbeing, Daisies and Pie
    Daisies and Pie after apple cider vinegar rinse.

    Jade from Raw Childhood uses the ‘Curly Curl Method‘ so doesn’t use shampoo and only uses approved conditioners without drying alcohols, silicones etc… She uses olive oil protein treatment for her hair, which leaves it naturally glossy and tangle free.

    Healthy hair, beauty, health, wellbeing, natural hair treatments, haircare tips, life hacks, Raw Childhood
    Raw Childhood post olive oil protein treatment.

    Banana gets mixed reviews; some people swear by it whilst others find it messy and hard to remove. I think it depends on hair type somewhat, so proceed with caution! Using over-ripe bananas that are thoroughly blended and strained, preferably mixed with oil, is my best advice. 

    Dry Hair/ Flaky Scalp
    The natural treatments named above also effectively combat dry hair or a flaky scalp. Any of them can help, so find the method that works best for your hair.

    haircare, beauty, healthy hair, hair tips, DIY hair treatment, natural hair treatment, health, wellbeing, Living Life Our Way
    Squiggle’s previously dry curls post coconut oil treatment.

    Hair Loss
    Hair loss is sometimes caused by having a dry flaky scalp, hence the importance of the above tips. Of course there are also various other reasons for hair loss too; including stress, hormone changes or imbalances, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune issues, and other medical reasons (including cancer treatment for example). Or sometimes it is simply in your genes! But whatever the reason, hair loss can affect a person’s confidence and self- esteem.

    hair loss, harley street hair clinic, beauty, health, wellbeing, natural hair treatments, haircare tips, life hacks, Living Life Our Way
    Hair loss

    Whilst in some cases hair loss is only temporary and/ or can be rectified by addressing the underlying issue, for example through proper nutrition in the case of vitamin deficiency, in other cases this may be more difficult to tackle. If it is not just a temporary issue, and other methods have failed, then there are also potentially other options to consider; such as hair transplants in extreme cases, or Advanced Tricho Pigmentation Treatment. This is especially worth considering if it is really affecting the person but they are not at the stage of hair loss where a transplant is an option, or if they cannot have one for whatever reason. 

    I firmly believe that beauty comes from within and we don’t need to change our appearance to feel good. But I also think that if something is making someone feel stressed or miserable, and bringing them down, then doing something about it is a positive thing. It can really help that person’s overall wellbeing! 

    What are your top tips for healthy hair? Tell me in comments!

    Now I am off to take my own advice on general good hair care… 

    *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Harley Street Hair Clinic. 

    Needlite: Bringing Daylight Indoors 

    Needlite are a small, Danish start-up who invented and designed a unique daylight desk lamp, which launched in the Nordic market just under two years ago. The idea is simple: provide the user with efficient work light and provide the much-needed daylight at the same time.

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    The Needlite has a simple, modern design. It is easy to use, either via the sensor or by downloading the iphone app. One simple touch allows you to turn it on/off, and change the brightness. There are various other functions too. I love how funky and modern it is!

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    But there are more important benefits to the Needlite. Did you know that many people in western countries spend more than 23 hours indoors per day on average, all year round? That is not enough daylight! Yet humans need daylight for numerous health reasons; including energy, mood, digestion, sleep, recovery from illness etc… General indoor lighting is poor on quality and never contains daylight; the blue wavelength is not present in traditional lighting, which makes Needlite different to other indoor lighting.

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    So whilst it might not seem very relevant to consider investing in a daylight lamp at this time of year, it is actually beneficial all year round. I am going to be trying it out further over the coming months and will share my thoughts with you in an update post later this autumn, but I can already see how it would be useful!

    Needlite is sold in the UK through www.wellworking.co.uk at RRP £399 (although it is currently on sale at £359 at the time of posting). Check the Needlite website for stockists in other countries.

    *Disclosure: I was sent the Needlite daylight lamp free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


    Visualisation: How To Connect To Our Natural Environment From Anywhere

    Whilst visualisation is often a major part of guided meditation, for me personally I feel that meditating is more about aiming to clear your mind and let thoughts float into your head naturally whereas in contrast, visualisation involves purposely constructing thoughts. Both serve the purpose of helping us to relax, regain/ maintain balance and achieve a sense of inner peace, plus help us to feel connected with ourselves, each other and our planet. These are brilliant to do outside in nature.

    However, visualisation is also a great tool to help us maintain a deep connection with nature and our natural environment even when we can’t physically get outdoors. Using visualisation techniques, we can take our mind outside and on a journey to a place we love, intentionally focusing our thoughts and mind on what it really feels like to be there, by imagining and recalling using all the senses, whilst switching off to anything else around us. 

    Find a quiet spot anywhere and close your eyes. Picture in your mind your favourite natural spot. What do you see around you? Take it all in, imagine every detail. Take some deep breaths. What do you smell? What do you hear? What can you feel? Really immerse yourself in the moment and the feelings of being there.

    For example, I am going to visualise sitting on a rock in an entrance to a waterfall at sunset…

    The waves created by the waterfall crash around as the water cascades down in front of me. The rock is cold and wet but the warmth of the sun bares down on my skin. Splashes of the waterfall catch me; it feels cool and refreshing. I take in the clean air and that glorious smell of fresh running water.

    The sun begins to lower, turning the sky into a beautiful canvas of orange, red and gold. The fading sunlight reflects on the water, dancing colours around like a carnival of light. A bird soars past gracefully. I close my eyes and take in my surroundings using my other senses for a moment. I feel at peace, a deep sense of calm.

    visualisation, meditation, 30 days wild, #livinglifewild, #30dayswild, natural environment, nature, our planet, waterfall, connected, peace
    Do you use visualisation techniques to connect to our natural world from anywhere? If not, give it a try! 

    Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety 

    Last week was mental health awareness week. Whilst I have written about this subject before, including most recently for Time To Talk back in February, I actually find it a difficult subject to write about. Hence the late post about it, well at least in part anyway!

    Here’s the thing, I wholeheartedly believe that people need to know that they are not alone when it comes to mental health issues. The stigma that exists really does need to be tackled; people need far more support and understanding… and far less judgement. I consider myself a mental health advocate infact. But when I post information or words of support, I purposely don’t share details of our personal story. I initially thought it was perhaps obvious why this might be but as time has gone on, I have discovered that sometimes the lack of openness about this subject is met with confusion, as I guess it does perhaps appear contradictory on the surface, and sometimes leads to (wrong) assumptions, occasionally even suspicion. So I thought it might be useful to blog about why I don’t blog about it! 

    First and foremost – it comes down to RESPECT. It is not my story to tell. Squiggle has an anxiety disorder, I am open about that fact. But whilst as a family we welcome sharing our feelings, encourage openess, understand and support mental health issues – and we certainly do not in any way indicate that it is something to be embarassed of – we do also respect her feelings on the matter. We respect her RIGHTS to privacy and respect the things she has shared with us in CONFIDENCE. It is about TRUST

    In short, it is her perogative to choose who she wants to share personal information with and how much to share. As far as I am concerned, this applies to anyone sharing personal information about themselves in any context, regardless of age or subject. 

    (Of course there are rare occasions it has been necessary to discuss and I have done so, for example when speaking to professionals to seek help for her, but that is an exception). 

    The other thing is that I want my blog to be somewhere that I would feel comfortable with her reading. Today, next month, in a year, in a decade, even in 20 or 30 years… if she ever came across anything that I have written I want her to feel safe and comfortable reading it. I don’t want it to trigger her anxiety, or cause her stress. Especially not when she works so hard to overcome it! If she ever chooses to use her experience to help others, that is her choice. But it is up to her. And it should never come at the expense of her own mental health. You know what they say, you have to fit your own gas mask before you can help others! 

    Ultimately, everyone is different. Some people choose to write about really personal things and that is ok. But it is also ok not to as well. We should all just do what we feel is right for our situation. And whilst I know I don’t need to explain my actions or reasons, I have chosen to because I hope in doing so, it might help people understand a little more about it. 

    On that note, what I would like to share with you all are a few useful resources that we have found really helpful…

    Self-help books that are really useful for children with anxiety or OCD:

    What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck ~ £12.50

    What To Do When You Worry Too Much ~ £12.50

    What To Do When You Grumble Too Much ~ £12.50

    Self- help book for parents:

    Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step By Step Guide For Parents ~ £15.24

    Thrive App: 

    Thrive ~ I already love this app, even though I have actually only just discovered it! It guides you through meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and other useful strategies. Plus my particular favourite; creating a zen garden. It also has great additional features like mood tracker and support network. In my opinion it can be used by the whole family. The app has various cost options: £4.99 per month, £9.99 for 3 months unlimited use or £1.99 per month for one year subscription. 

    Thrive app, anxiety, mental health, cbt, mindfulness, stress, depression, meditation, zen, relaxation, Living Life Our Way

    Lastly, here are some recent blog posts written about mental health: 

    The Parent and Pupil Coach (great tips for helping children with anxiety)

    Pink Pear Bear (letter to anxious child)

    Someone’s Mum (about her own anxiety)

    A Blonde and A Baby (describing her anxiety

    Two Little Misters (how to help a friend with anxiety)

    Emma Reed (ending the stigma of counselling)

    Surviving Life’s Hurdles (on how getting outdoors helps)


    *This is a sponsored post and the books are affiliate links.