Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Review

Did you know that roughly a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure? The good news is that it can often be addressed by making simple lifestyle changes. Through regular monitoring, triggers can be identified and simple measures taken to improve heart health and overall wellbeing.

Yet people are far more likely to track daily steps and weight, rather than blood pressure. Only 15% use health tracking devices to keep a regular check on their blood pressure, according to recent research by Braun, compared to almost 50% of UK adults who weigh themselves and count their daily steps. In fact, two thirds of adults surveyed only get their blood pressure checked occasionally during routine GP appointments, while 7% never get it checked at all.

This simply doesn’t add up; heart health is the number one measure of overall wellbeing, and people fear that high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke or heart attack – yet most people do not think to monitor it. As medical expert Dr. Achim Max Brenske points out:

“There are many health measures that we are already consistently tracking, yet blood pressure is a metric that is often not thought about but could be one of the most important. Making blood pressure monitoring part of your at-home health checks, with an easy to use wrist or arm monitor, can help to identify triggers and allow you to immediately make simple adjustments to significantly improve your health and wellbeing. It’s such a small change that really can make a big difference, and ultimately save your life.”

Both Squiggle and Andy need to be particularly aware of their blood pressure; Squiggle due to her anxiety and the meds she is on, and Andy because he has thyroid issues. Both of them therefore need close monitoring for existing health reasons. My own blood pressure and health is fine, but it is also equally important to ensure it stays that way!

Since as a family we already understand the importance of keeping tabs, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the brand new iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor by Braun..

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Review

Using the Monitor

The Braun iCheck 7 wrist blood pressure monitor comes with a quick start guide and more detailed manual. However, as the device is so intuitive, apart from double-checking which app I needed to download on my iPhone (Healthy Heart), within two minutes I had the batteries in, was connected to my phone, had the device on my wrist and had taken my first measurement.

With its one button operation and clever positioning tool – a ‘ball in the hole’ system that helps guide you to the correct position for taking an accurate reading – the device is simply fool proof and incredibly comfortable.

Healthy Heart App

The iCheck 7 syncs with the free Healthy Heart app on your phone or tablet, which then displays data using charts and graphs. The Healthy Heart app follows the simplicity of the device and, in addition to showing your recording history in various formats, it includes information on blood pressure, tips for recording the most accurate measurements and lifestyle recommendations for a healthier blood pressure.

Screenshot of Healthy Heart app

To get the most of the app you can add detail on diet, exercise, mood, medications and sleep. This helps you to analyse how your lifestyle impacts your blood pressure. Blood pressure readings can also be shared with your doctor to discuss your health further.

Reading the Results

Results are colour coded both on the device and in the app; green (normal), yellow (mild hypotension), orange (moderate hypotension) and red (severe hypotension). This makes it really clear at a glance. In addition to blood pressure, the device records heart rate and alerts you to any irregularity.

Braun blood pressure chart

Andy’s Analysis

Andy used the monitor to record his blood pressure regularly over the course of several days at various intervals. He discovered that most of the time his blood pressure was normal but he did have mild hypotension a few times and moderate hypotension once.

He will use this information to think about any positive lifestyle changes he can make to impact his blood pressure. One idea is using relaxation techniques before and after meetings. He will also discuss the results with his GP too. He will continue to monitor results closely as well of course.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor on arm

Our Verdict

We are impressed with the monitor and its ease of use. The only thing that could improve it, is maybe if it came with a carry case. Aside from that, it is absolutely brilliant! If you’re looking for a quick and simple compact blood pressure monitor, this device is for you. If you’re not looking for one, why not?

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor box

Cost: RRP £99.99. The monitor is available to purchase from Boots.

Experts Tips for a Healthy Heart

Understand the factors that affect blood pressure…

Dr. Max Brenske, German GP and medical expert, explains that factors can vary: “your genetic disposition, age, sex, obesity, physical fitness, lifestyle factors, the time of day and medication can all play a role in your blood pressure and heart health. Explore the effect of these factors on your blood pressure by taking readings regularly.”

Mood Matters

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Research Institute of Happiness, has plenty of tips for improving mood and blood pressure. He points out that our daily lives can be made healthier by making simple choices such as cycling or walking to work. Studies show that people who have active commutes not only enjoy their journey more but also have lower mortality and obesity rates. He also has these words of advice: “Learn to say no – We often try and pack too much into our daily or weekly schedule. Be realistic when you are making your to do lists.”

Lastly, he suggests investing in relationships: “One of the best predictors of whether people are happy or not is whether they are satisfied with their social relationships. We all need to be heard, seen and understood and have someone we can share worries and dreams with.”

Sleep

With almost half of Brits revealing that they don’t regularly get a good night’s sleep, what are the reasons we are tossing and turning throughout the night? According to the research, financial worries (49%), relationships (47%) and health concerns (35%) top the list as the main contributors. Stressing about these factors impacts on sleep patterns, which in turn can raise blood pressure.

Nick Littlehales, Elite Sport Sleep Coach offers the following strategies to help improve sleep:

•Educate yourself on circadian rhythms so you’ll know when your body naturally has higher blood pressure, releases hormones and is optimised for either activity or sleep.

• Resting at multiple times during the day, rather than just at night, encourages your body to be in harmony with the circadian rhythms of the day.

• Manage your intake of stimulants, such as caffeine, to allow your body to recover and sleep more efficiently.

• Adopt good bedtime routines. Strenuous activity before bed will mean cortisol is heightened, keeping you awake. Take time to relax before bed; deep breathing, stretching or yoga for exanple. Also, reducing your exposure to blue light and encouraging the release of melatonin, your body becomes suppressed and ready for sleep.

• Your body has a natural drop in temperature before sleep, so moving from warm to cool will help you get quality, uninterrupted sleep. Having a warm shower and then moving into a cooler bedroom environment will help this process.

Health and Fitness

Simple activities, such as power walking can really make a difference Faya Nilsson (@FitnessOnToast) explains. However, she also suggests you need to put in the effort to train regularly to ensure optimal blood pressure levels.“Workout for 30 mins a day, four times a week; that’s the regularity you’ll need to help keep blood pressure at normal levels. If you have high blood pressure you should gradually and slowly increase training. I would advise training for shorter periods of time but more often. If you are struggling to find the time to train try body weight exercises to do at home like push-ups, pull-ups and lunges. You can do them anywhere.”

Food and Water

Faya also emphasises how crucial it is to drink plenty of water. “Dehydration absolutely impacts the blood pressure, leaving behind more sodium in the blood, so drinking two litres a day, throughout the day, will keep your blood pressure better regulated.”

Last but not least, she reminds us to eat well. Leafy greens, oily fish and berries are good choices, especially if you have high blood pressure. She recommends a healthy Low-GI diet with complex carbohydrates, reducing the amount of sodium in the diet.

Remember; small changes really can make a big difference. Knowing what triggers blood pressure spikes, through regular monitoring, is the first step to making long-lasting changes that will improve your heart and overall health.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor boxed

*Disclosure: I was sent a Braun iCheck 7 wrist blood pressure monitor for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How To Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy

Are you prone to dry skin? Or maybe you are trying to defy the signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles? (Although I do like to remember that getting older is a normal process and there is nothing wrong with looking our age! However much we might wish, we can’t stay youthful forever!) If you want to keep your skin looking healthy, here are some top tips…

How to keep your skin looking healthy

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy looking for skin. When we are sleep deprived, not only do we get bags under our eyes, but we become more likely to suffer from spots or other skin ailments. Even just generally speaking, the difference between the appearance of a well rested person compared to when they lack sleep is noticeable!

Skin, healthy skin, look younger

Nutrition

Your skin needs essential vitamins and nutrition to stay healthy. So eat your fruit and veg! Dark skin berries are especially good for your skin. Anthocyanidins are the blue and red plant pigments found in fruit, seeds and berries and are known to protect and preserve the body’s natural collagen.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Remember, this is not taken care of by moisturing; dehydrated skin and dry skin are not the same thing! Moisturing your skin stops it from becoming dry, but hydrating your skin by drinking water ensures the skin cells are full and therefore improves your complexion.

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is becoming well known for it’s antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known to neutralise the damaging effect of free radicals generated by sun damage to skin. So pour yourself a cuppa and relax!

Let Your Skin Breathe

Leave your face make-up free sometimes to allow your skin to breathe, and generally try not to clog up your pores with too many products. Wash your face regularly – but not too often – with plain warm water.

Healthy skin, face, protect skin

Protect Your Skin

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays using suncream and also try to cover up. And avoid staying out in the sun too long! It is recommended that when the sun is strongest (11am – 3pm UK) that you stick to the shade. Remember that this includes cloudy weather too! Vitamin D is essential, just be sure to balance it with protecting your skin.

Colladeen

Colladeen by Nature’s Best is a natural supplement that works to promote natural collagen production. This increases elasticity in the skin, and also protects it from sun damage. It contains essential vitamins, such as vitamin C, lutein, biotin and niacin, and also green tea. Studies suggest these may play a protective role against the damaging effects of sunlight on skin.

Colladeen studies suggest that after 24 weeks, there will be less lines and wrinkles, firmer skin and visibly 50% reduction in spider veins. It also states that a natural SPF of 15 will build up internally too. I have been trying out Colladeen for a few weeks and will let you know how I get on!

Colladeen, collagen, skin care, healthy skin

Colladeen Visage costs £18.95 for 60 tablets (one month supply).

*Disclosure: I was sent Colladeen for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: Guest Post by Veronica – My Parenting Journey

Pregnancy is a time of strange cravings and increased appetite. While a pan of brownies sounds amazing, a pregnant woman needs vital nutrients to grow her unborn baby. It is ok to reach for snacks sometimes, but you have to make sure you are eating healthy, nutritional foods during pregnancy.

Poor diet leads to problems during pregnancy. Lack of nutrients can cause premature birth because a well-balanced diet gives your body the nutrients required for fetal development. If you want a healthy, smooth pregnancy, include these top ten nutritional foods to eat during pregnancy.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy title with image of egg and avacado with grains

Eggs

Everyone knows that eggs are great for your body. Eggs are a low calorie, high protein food that contains omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is very important during pregnancy because it aids the brain development and formation of eyes in the unborn baby.

Salmon

Another source of omega-3 fatty acids is salmon. Omega-3 is vital for your baby’s development, and one of the best sources is salmon. Unlike other fishes, salmon contains low levels of mercury. Doctors encourage pregnant women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of salmon each week!

Beans

Pregnant women need a lot of protein during pregnancy, and beans are a fantastic way to get extra protein into your diet. Beans are also a source of iron, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Another reason to eat beans is because they are a source of fiber, which relieves constipation and prevents hemorrhoids.

Avocados

Avocados are full of amazing vitamins for you and your growing baby. Most importantly, avocados offer a large amount of folic acid which ensures proper neural tube development. Avocados also have vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Plus, pregnant women need healthy fats, so add some avocados to your salads and sandwiches.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, just like carrots, get their orange color from carotenoids. This plant pigment converts to vitamin A when it enters our bodies. Sweet potatoes are also a source of vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber.

If you’re apprehensive about trying sweet potatoes, make baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with cinnamon. Kids generally love them, and they make a great side dish for dinner.

Greek Yogurt

Protein is the all-star during pregnancy, and Greek yogurt offers twice the amount of protein when compared to regular yogurt. Along with protein, Greek yogurt is a source of calcium and probiotics. To grow a healthy baby, a pregnant woman needs calcium to keep bones strong, for the baby and mom!

Dark, Leafy Greens

You have to make sure you include dark, leafy greens in your diet. Options include spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens and other dark greens. These foods are loaded down with vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, leafy greens are a source for folic acid.

Leafy greens are easy to include in your diet. Add spinach to your salads. Put them into your soups, omelets or stir fry recipes. The options are endless.

Another reason you want to consume leafy greens is that they are a source of iron. For all mothers, anemia is a concern for pregnancy and right after birth. At the same time, your baby’s red blood cells must form and require iron to do so. It is a great reason to toss more spinach into your diet.

Carrots

Carrots are a source of vitamin A, which is an important part of your pregnancy diet. Vitamin A is responsible for the proper formation of skin, eyes, teeth, and bones. Carrots also supply vitamin C and vitamin in your diet. Also, the high fiber content in carrots will keep your bowels moving regularly. When you are pregnant, that is essential to prevent constipation, which can cause hemorrhoids.

A bunch of freshly picked carrots

Whole Grains

Another nutritional food for your pregnancy is whole grains, which are high in fiber and nutrients. Whole grains contain vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, and mineral selenium, as well as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that protect your cells. There are a variety of whole grains to pick from, such as oats, spelt and barley.

Oats are one of the easiest to include in your diet. They are full of minerals that increase your heart’s health.

Nuts

All nuts are extremely healthy and belong in your pregnancy diet. Nuts are the perfect snack, and we know pregnant women love (and need) to snack often. You can put a variety of nuts in a bag for the perfect on-the-go snack. Nuts contain dozens of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Together, these nutrients help your baby grow!

Believe it or not, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain omega-3 fatty acids. We know that these are crucial for the baby’s brain development. So, feel free to include these in your diet often!

Eat Well During Pregnancy

Don’t worry – you don’t have to include all of these in your diet each day. Spread them out throughout the week! Have eggs for breakfast a few days with a cup of Greek yogurt. Make a salad with carrots and spinach. Toss a bag of nuts into your purse before work. Eating well during pregnancy benefits you and your new baby.

Veronica at My Parenting Journey

About the Author

Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Editor of myparentingjourney.com.

Looking After Your Health

We only have one body (and one brain), so it is vital to take good care of it! As obvious as some of the basic ways to help stay healthy are, they can easily get forgotten about within busy everyday lives. Sometimes a quick reminder prompts us to re-evaluate our current habits and make positive changes. So let’s start with simple daily practices that support good health…

Looking After Your Health text, image of lady running

Daily Habits

Get enough sleep – a good night sleep has numerous benefits; it improves memory, attention and concentration, helps regulate mood, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, fights off inflammation, lowers stress and inspires creativity too!

Be active – move around as much as possible throughout the day, try to avoid sitting for long periods, and exercise regularly. Some practical ways to do this in daily life might include simply taking the stairs instead of the lift, ditching the car and walking or cycling to work, taking a lunchtime walk, joining a gym, taking a fitness class or jogging/ park run. You could also consider a standing desk if you work in an office. These are just a few examples.

Eat healthily – make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of nutritional value. Ensure foods rich in protein, fibre and essential vitamins. Remember your 5 a day! Avoid excess salt, sugar and saturated fats. Drink plenty of water too. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Take time to relax – taking time to enjoy a hobby, reading a book, taking a bath or watching TV; whatever helps you to unwind. Other relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also beneficial, or indulge in some art therapy.

Stay connected – whether it is a quick chat with a colleague, catching up with a friend, a phone call to family or sharing your feelings, it is important to talk and stay connected.

Track Your Health At Home

Whilst monitoring your own health at home should not replace consulting with professionals, it is very useful to track your own health at home. The information can be used to motivate yourself to improve your health and pick up any danger signs early. Often the reports from apps and devices can be sent straight to your GP too so that they can monitor results too; which means you can work together more closely with your healthcare provider.

Medical image - stethoscope, pen and notes

Health Concerns – Visiting Your GP

If you are concerned about your health, in the first instance go see your GP. Of course, common illness and ailments can be treated at home, and you can also pop into a pharmacy for advice. But if you have any doubts or niggles about symptoms then do make an appointment asap. There is no need to feel embarrassed or fear you are wasting their time; it is far better to air on the side of caution if you are worried.

Complaints

If you feel you have been fobbed off, be assertive and ensure you are satisfied with the care you receive. You can ask for a second opinion if necessary, or even request to be referred to a specialist. You should also be able to find formal complaints procedures online if needed.

Of course, most of the time professionals do their job extremely well and offer excellent care. Cases of medical negligence are thankfully relatively rare in comparison to the number of people cared for effectively. However, if your care falls below acceptable standards and this directly causes an injury to your health, then you may consider pursuing action.

However, most of the time significant errors do not happen. For the vast majority of people, such mistakes are hopefully not something you will need to think about!

Health Conditions and Treatment

It can be daunting to find out you have a health condition. Remember though that getting a correct diagnosis means that the condition can be treated, or at least managed, in the best way possible, and as soon as possible. Ask questions of professionals and seek support from local groups and networks. Talk to friends and family too. Also try to focus on any positive changes that can be made to potentially improve outcomes, if possible.

Remember: if you have a health condition, good daily habits are just as important (if not more so) to promote staying healthy!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Beginners Guide To Mountain Biking with Halfords

When it comes to mountain biking, are you more likely to go shredding, or end up OTB? (Hint: if you don’t know what these terms are, check out the guide below!) If you are a novice, or are yet to try it out but are keen to have a go, then this is the post for you!

Mountain biking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy spending time outdoors. It is an excellent way to keep fit; fantastic for health and wellbeing. Not only that, with so many tracks to choose from throughout the UK, it can also inspire and motivate people to see more of the country too. Plus it is a lovely clean, eco- friendly hobby (or is it a sport?!) as well. So basically, it is pretty much perfect!

Whilst I am somewhat of a beginner myself, I do have some excellent expert tips to get you started, thanks to this very handy Halfords Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking, and also with the help of some very experienced fellow bloggers too…

Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Choose The Correct Bike

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mountain bike; style of frame, wheel size, type of tyre and what type of mountain bike itself. The Beginner’s guide talks you through these considerations, so check that out for further details. Halfords stock a great range of mountain bikes, so you’re bound to find the ideal one for you!

With regard to the type of bike; there is front suspension, full suspension and electric. I have noticed that electric mountain bikes can sometimes get negative press, as they are seen as ‘cheating’ or somehow missing the point. However, there are also benefits to them, as this article explains. I particularly wanted to give them a quick mention though, because I believe they might potentially make mountain biking more accessible for some SEND people, so that is certainly worth noting.

Get the Gear

Any experienced mountain biker will tell you, having the right equipment is absolute key! Safety gear – helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves – are essential. Welsh Mum also suggests mudguards so your legs don’t get covered, waterproof gear, a comfortable backpack, and the right shoes and socks all make a big difference. Check out the gear list in the Halfords guide.

Chronicles of Theo mountain biking

Image: Chronicles of Theo mountain biking.

Bike Trails

There are trails all over the UK and they are helpfully colour coded to a standard grading system, so you can pick the right level of difficulty. Green is the beginners route, if you are just starting out. You can find out more about locations in the Halfords guide. (Told you, it’s super useful!)

Expert Advice

Miss LJ Beauty spends a huge part of her life mountain biking, and has been lucky enough to travel the world. Here is her advice:

Why not join a local mountain biking group? To find like minded people of all ability’s The key to learning is have fun! Mountain biking is progressive sport there are always new things to learn. No matter what level you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on a trail! We are a friendly bunch And are more than happy to help!

Get on your bike and come shredding!

Miss LJ Beauty Fort William down hill

Image: Miss LJ Beauty on Fort William down hill.

Have you been mountain biking? Why do you love it? Where is your favourite trail? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords.

How To Grow Your Hair

Many mums find that they suffer from hair loss when they are pregnant, or shortly after giving birth, or sometimes both! It can be daunting finding clumps of hair in the shower after a hair wash, but rest assured it is normal. (Although if you are concerned, or are also experiencing other symptoms, do speak to a healthcare provider about it of course!)

I was lucky in that I didn’t actually have any noticeable hair loss during pregnancy or postpartum. However, I then randomly and unexpectedly began to notice quite significant amounts falling out last year. I am not really sure what caused it to be honest, and there weren’t any obvious patches at first. But after a few months, I did start to notice visible thinning in places.

Obviously this can be abit upsetting, although I tried not to worry about it too much personally. (Apart from anything else, I am sure stress wouldn’t help!) But it is comforting to know there are things that can be done to help. So here are some tips for encouraging hair growth…

How to grow your hair title with faded background image of a woman with long healthy hair

Don’t use too much heat and avoid too many styling products

Try to avoid using too much heat, or doing too much styling, because this dries out hair and damages it. Styling products often also contain chemicals that are harsh on your hair. You need to keep your hair healthy to allow it to grow, so go for the natural look as often as possible

A lady drying her hair

Healthy diet, healthy hair!

If you eat healthily, ensuring you get plenty of nutrition, this will also help your hair to grow. Take supplements if needed to give your body, and hair, that extra boost. This BBC article has some excellent suggestions on what to eat for healthy hair.

Condition your hair thoroughly

Remember to condition your hair everytime it gets wet and make sure you use plenty of conditioner. Natural oils, such as coconut oil, and other natural hair treatments, will help to replenish your hair and encourage growth.

Coconut oil in glass jar with wooden scoop

Choose the right brush

Help your hair to produce its own natural oils by brushing regularly. However, the wrong brush can damage hair, which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve of course – so make sure you choose the right type of hair brush! Any knots should be teased out carefully, starting from the bottom, not get pulled out mercilessly by the brush.

Get regular trims

Regular trimming to avoid split ends helps to keep hair healthy. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive to cut the hair that you are trying to grow, I promise you – it really isn’t!

Be patient!

It isn’t going to magically grow an inch overnight! You need to be realistic with your expectations. Keep trying the tips above and you will hopefully start to see results.

If all else fails…

Research hair transplant cost if the issue is severe and home methods have not helped, especially if it is having a major impact on your self- esteem and confidence. This may seem drastic but if nothing else has worked and it is affecting your overall wellbeing, it might be worth looking into. It is often helpful to consider all options; if nothing else, it can feel somewhat empowering to know that you do have choices, and that there are ways to regain some control over it, if need be.

What are your top tips for growing your hair? I would love to read them in comments!

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

 4 Ways Camping Can Rejuvenate Your Soul

As modern people, we often do not get out into nature half as much as we should, and certainly nowhere near as often as even some of our more recent ancestors did. Instead, we remain indoors for the vast majority of our lives, whether at home, at the office, at the local cinema, or restaurant, or club.

There’s nothing wrong with the indoors, of course. Nature can often be savage and unforgiving, and electric underfloor heating is a tremendous boon in the midst of winter, when would be left fighting for our lives against the elements if we were still hunter-gatherers. Nonetheless, connecting to nature is essential, for mind, body, and soul. So here are some ways that a good camping trip – in as wild a place as possible – can rejuvenate your soul…

Title image with faded camping picture in background

It can wash away the preoccupations of daily life

Over the course of our normal 9-5 workdays and the lives that surround them, we are caught up between a near-endless number of obligations and concerns and preoccupations of various types. These obligations aren’t just all in our heads, either, although many of them are. There are real obligations placed on us by society to fill in the right form at the right times, complete our projects by particular deadlines, top up our cars, and attend parent-teacher meetings. All these preoccupations – each small in their own right – can mount and become the kind of chronic stress that leads to breakdowns and unhappiness with life in general.

Camping can wash all of that away for a time. Suddenly you are no longer “plugged into the Matrix”, but are out in nature, with your days and nights stretching before you. What do you need to do out here? Eat and sleep. Everything else is optional.

Leave your phone off and only switch it on for emergencies. Leave all your fancy gadgets at home. Go camping and let nature remind you of a more simple mode of living, and wash your soul clean of its usual preoccupations.

It can get you back in touch with the cycles of nature

Chronic insomnia is one of the major issues plaguing modern man in the developed world. The reasons aren’t too hard to fathom, either. Instead of our days following a natural rhythm, we find ourselves in an “always-on”, world. We can wake up before dawn, watch YouTube videos, organise our days on our planners, have a strong coffee, and leave for work. After working for an entire day, we return home, switch on the blinding artificial lights, and watch Netflix until the early hours.

Camping gets us back in touch with the natural cycles of nature. We rise with the sun, are active while it shines, and then get sleepy – and sleep – moments after it sets. Things seem to fit into their proper categories and positions, and our mood and health begin to improve rapidly.

A tent pitched up on a large open field overlooking the beach and ocean below

It can remind you of your connectedness to the great web of life

We buy our food from the local grocery store wrapped in plastic. We hear about environmental crises, but it doesn’t really register. It can be easy to forget, when living in the city, that we are not just detached individuals floating through the world, but are in fact connected to the great web of life all around us.

Camping reminds us of our place in the order of things. It can make us feel more whole, less alone, and more in touch with the planet we occupy. It can remind us that we are part of a greater whole and have an important role to play in the world.

It can give you space to dream

One of the most damaging consequences of being caught up in the constant flow of information and distraction that makes up modern life, is that we are so drawn into the everyday complexities of things, that we completely lose our perspective and forget, or can no longer manage, to dream the big dreams that make life truly worth living.

Getting out camping in a wild location can truly give us a different perspective on life. Now, we see our normal lives as if from a great height. We’re in a different place, somewhat outside of space and time, and we can see more clearly than we did before. From this perspective – this place outside of our normal routines – we may once again find the space to dream, to wonder, and to plan our lives from a transcendent place of hope and excitement.

A tent in the forest

*This is a collaborative post.

Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More

In today’s world, it is too easy to become body conscious and overly focused on weight, or other aspects of our bodies. Yet maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including keeping our bodies healthy, is important to wellbeing. And a desire to improve and be the best version of ourselves is ok too; in fact I would say it is a good thing! So how can we strike that balance of striving to make changes, which may or may not include weight loss, yet remain body positive at the same time? And how do we empower those around us, such as our children, to love their body too? Here are some tips to becoming more body positive…

Title Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More with image of 3 people jumping for joy on a beach

Attitude Makes All The Difference

First of all, as with anything, your outlook on the subject makes all the difference. So you need to shift your focus! For every negative thought, you need to think of at least five positive things about your body. It is about reframing how you think, and therefore feel, about yourself. Look in the mirror and really pay attention to all the good things about your body. If those critical thoughts creep in, accept them and move on. Switch back to what aspects of your appearance you do like. If you can’t find anything, you aren’t looking hard enough!

To empower yourself and those around you, especially if you have children around listening to you, stop telling yourself, or anyone else, that you need to lose weight, are too fat, don’t look good in those clothes, hate this part of your body, or that part… the list goes on… you get the idea. It is ok to want to improve ourselves but the attitude and approach we have to that makes a difference. The messages we tell ourselves, and each other, on a daily basis matters!

A photo of two women supporting each other while working out together. Women empowering each other.

Embrace Your Flaws

The way we think about our flaws and are least favourite parts is important too. Remember nobody is perfect. As they say, even those stunning supermodels don’t actually look like that in real life! We all have wobbly bits and that is ok, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Try to adopt realistic thoughts about your own body and accept your imperfections, embrace it for what it is.

Body Confidence: Be Comfortable

Wear clothes that help you to feel comfortable. Whether you prefer to dress up, be casual, stand out, or blend in; just be yourself and wear what feels good for you. Body confidence is not about dressing a certain way; it is about dressing the way you choose.

For those who menstruate, remember to love your body during your periods too! Again, wear whatever feels comfortable for you personally, such as Knixteen products for example. Also make sure periods are not a taboo subject in your household! Too many previous generations were given the impression that it is something to be embarrassed of; teach your children that it is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Body positivity needs to apply to all stages of our menstrual cycles!

Silhouette of two women doing yoga outdoors

What About Self- Improvement Then?

It is not contradictory to want to lose weight, or improve our appearance in some way. We can be positive and accepting of our bodies exactly the way they are, yet still want to improve ourselves too. It just comes down to how we think about it. Approaching it from a place of loving your body and therefore wanting to be healthy and feel even better is very different to wanting to lose weight, for example, because we hate our body and feel ‘fat’. Again, attitude makes all the difference!

What do YOU love about YOUR body? What are your top tips for becoming more body confident? Share some love in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Strategies To Help Children Who Procrastinate

“Not now” and “later on” are common things that a household with older children or teenagers will hear. It could be relating to homework, chores, or just general helping around the house. And in many ways, it can be completely normal. Even us as parents can put off the less than desirable tasks as we have other things to do instead or don’t have the energy right then and there to do them. What is important is noticing if you or your child are an occasional delayer, or if you or they are a proper procrastinator and do so because of an underlying issue. Dealing with children that delay tasks for either reason can be a challenge, but knowing the difference and why your child does it can be even more of a challenge.

The thing is, if children are delaying these kinds of thing at home; by simply not starting them with enough time, not completing them, or not even bothering with them, it can cause them some challenges in life. It can mean lower grades, less freedom due to parental punishments, or the inability to take part in extracurricular activities.

A group of teenagers chatting happily

Some reasons why they will put doing things off could be:

• Boredom or lack of interest

• Poor time management

• Lack of self-discipline

• Lack of empathy and seeing the relevance of the task to them

• Fear of failure or anxiety

As parents, we need to identify why it might be that our children are putting off doing certain things, or just not wanting to do them at all. Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, then it is a good idea to intervene. Here are some ways that you can help your child to be more focused and productive…

Use Your Experiences to Share and Relate

Whether our children like it or not, we have been there and done that, so to speak, and can share some of our life experiences. You could talk about how to become a productive student and what changes you had to make when you went off to University, for example. You could share what you struggled with as you were growing up and what you learned, or strategies that helped.

Clarify Your Expectations

If your child puts things off because of anxiety or the perceived thought of failure, then make sure you are clear in what you expect of them. You are highly likely not expecting perfection; so let them know. Focus on the effort it takes to do something, rather than the end product, or the score, or grade.

Help Teach Problem Solving

Children with anxiety will be likely to make a small situation much bigger than it is, in their head. If they perceive failing at a certain task before they’ve even done it, then it could mean to them that they’ll instantly be punished or become unpopular. The scenario is not likely to happen, but the thought that it could might well be enough to put them off. Help your child to do some rational thinking about this and sometimes even talking about worse case scenarios will make them see it is not that bad. Also help problem solving skills and confidence by starting with smaller, more manageable tasks. You can also teach relaxation skills too.

If Anxiety Gets Too Much

If your child has anxiety, it is important to be understanding and support them in beating their anxiety, using approaches that help them feel able to do whatever it is they are trying to achieve. Gentle nudges out of their comfort zone without making it too overwhelming tends to be effective. If their anxiety becomes unmanageable, CBT and/ or self- help strategies can sometimes be very effective. If it gets to a point where anxiety is significantly affecting daily functioning though, please ensure you seek professional help asap.

*This is a collaborative post.

International Day of Happiness

Today, 20th March, is International Day of Happiness. This year’s theme is Share Happiness – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

I created this reminder of actions we can take to help ourselves, and others, to feel good…

International Day of Happiness infographic

This was inspired by ideas from the Action for Happiness website, which has plenty of other ideas and resources too. I printed off some of my favourites for us to display at home…

Squiggle reading our Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Squiggle also wrote her own message too…

International Day of Happiness message from Squiggle

International Day of Happiness message by Squiggle

What will you do today for International Day of Happiness? Leave me a comment!