Helping Elderly Relatives Maintain Independence

As people grow older, they begin to worry about losing their independence. One example of this might be concerns over whether they will stay in their own home or where they will live instead, and what support they might require to live as independently as possible.

If you have an elderly relative, it can be challenging to meet their needs but still respect their wishes, and it can be a daunting level of responsibility to work out solutions with them, and on their behalf. So here is some useful advice on helping elderly relatives maintain their independence…

Helping Elderly Relatives Maintain Independence

Adaptions to Home

In order to help an elderly relative remain in their own home, it is essential to consider adaptions that can be made to ensure their safety and comfort while living independently. If mobility is an issue, as is so often the case, then various aids are available to make life easier, and offer peace of mind.

Unless the person lives in a bungalow, think about buying a stairlift to avoid any nasty accidents and to make both floors more accessible. Well placed handrails in key areas throughout the home are also beneficial. Also consider a walk-in shower if possible too. Lastly, if a person needs a frame or walking aid to move around more easily then make sure this is easily available as well.

And don’t forget the little things! Walk around doing your own safety risk assessment of the home, checking for any potential danger. For example, trip hazards such as loose rugs should be made safe. A panic button that links to someone who can attend the property quickly in case of an emergency is also extremely helpful to have.

Stairlift

Carers

If personal hygiene, preparing food to eat, getting in and out of bed, or other daily tasks becomes a struggle then a carer might be necessary. This could be a live-in carer if needs are quite frequent and intense, or someone who visits daily (or several times daily) as and when needed.

My Experience

My late grandad was adament he wanted to stay in his home during his later years. He was of sound mind, but found physical tasks difficult due to limited mobility. This was in part due to age, and largely due to a partial leg amputation following illness. He lived in a bungalow and used a frame to get around. He had carers visit several times daily, to help him wash and get to bed. His shopping was ordered online for him then delivered and he was able to prepare simple ready meals in the microwave himself. He also had a cleaner. With these simple adaptions he was able to remain in his own home, as he wished.

A photo of grandparents of Living Life Our Way

Alternative Solutions

However, it is not always practical, or even possible, for an elderly person to remain in their own home. It could be that their needs are too intense or complex. One possible solution is for them to live with younger relatives; perfect if you happen to have a granny annex or enough space in your home, for example. There are many benefits to this, and it can be a wonderful experience for all parties I am sure. However, there may also be many reasons why this is not a possibility; not all circumstances are the same.

The other obvious alternative is a care home. Whilst this may seem like a daunting prospect, it can be a very good thing. Staff on hand at all times, plus friendships and company; there is alot to be said for this idea!

My nan, pictured above, could not stay at home as she suffered from dementia and needed more care than could be provided there. She lived in a nursing home for many years before she passed away; it was absolutely the right choice for her and the best place for her to be.

Whatever choices are made, remember every situation is unique. All factors need to be weighed up to decide on the best set-up for each of the parties involved. It is not an easy decision, but hopefully this post will help you consider some of the factors needed to reach a conclusion.

*This is a collaborative post. 

Let’s Talk BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder): Guest Post by Sarah – Life In A Break Down

I can’t work out looking back, when I changed from a normal mentally healthy child, to one who had a warped perspective of myself.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve always been this way.

BPD or to give it is full name Borderline Personality Disorder, is somewhat stigmatized by mainstream media, as of course are many other mental health issues. So, I am hoping to break down those misconceptions a little at a time.

What is BPD?

I guess simply put it is a serious mental disorder which effects the way people who suffer from it process emotions.

There are 9 criteria used to diagnose people with BPD, although the way they are experience and to what degree is different between each patient:

• Fear of abandonment.

• A series of unstable relationships.

• Unstable image of ones-self.

• Impulsive attitude around things which are unsafe to such as drinking, drugs, sex, binge eating, reckless driving etc..

• Self-harm or suicidal tendencies.

• Extreme emotional swings.

• Chronic feeling of emptiness.

• Intense anger.

• A feeling of not being in touch with reality – suspicious and paranoid.

How BPD affects me

It’s been many years since I was diagnosed originally with BPD.

Over the years, things have changed. I have learnt in ways to find a way to live with some aspects of BPD. While those around me have learnt to calm and look after me when things get bad.

I’ve never been a danger to others, like media sometimes likes to portray BPD sufferers to be. However, I can be a danger to myself.

Through my teen years and into my twenties, I tried to take my life many times. It is perhaps only by accident I am still alive.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop self-harming in some ways and my gosh the emotional swings can be so tiring.

I’ve learnt over the years though I’m not alone.

That impulse to hit my head, to stop it. Is felt by many people with BPD.

The insane fear of being abandoned, which I suspect comes from the fact I was adopted, never leaves. But I am not alone.

Sometimes I feel like I’m on a roller coaster with the ups and downs of emotions and sometimes I feel numb like there’s no emotions left. And that’s normal too.

How is BPD Treated?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT) are most often the way people look to treat BPD.

I must admit I’ve tried many therapies over the years and the only one, for me, which worked to any extent was art therapy. I am not a talker, I write, I create, but I don’t talk. As I fear what people will think.

Therapeutic communities can often help some people as well. However, place me with people who are feeling similar and I become a bit like a bomb, ready to explode with the emotions that are swirling around.

Sadly, medication doesn’t help BPD itself, but it can sometimes be offered to help any mental health conditions that co-exist with BPD. For myself this is depression and anxiety.

What to Take from this Post

People with BPD are humans too. We just have issues with processing emotions in quite the right way. This is often linked to something traumatic that has happened in our lives.

Don’t write us off, don’t be scared to be our friend.

Author Bio: 

Sarah - Life In A Break Down

Sarah is the creator behind Life in a Break Down, UK Bloggers and Simply Saving and one half of the duo behind UK Lifestyle Hub. She suffers from a number of chronic health conditions and is often found cuddled up on the sofa with a movie and her pets. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram too! 

Young Minds: #HelloYellow and I Did It… (10k) My Way!

Last month, I wrote about doing a 10k ‘virtual’ race for the charity Young Minds. I thought I should write a quick update post (it’s a little late, but anyway) to say that I completed it!

10k Your Way Young Minds Virtual Race

I took it slow, due to my current fitness levels and a lack of sleep (thanks for that, Squiggle!) but I did walk/ run/ walk for the majority of it, so I did still put the effort in! I did most of it on my own, Squiggle having considered doing it too but decided it would be too much for her, but a friend came to join me for the last few km (partly for moral support, for her own exercise and also because I was out alone at night!) At this point I slowed right down to chat and time on the clock quickly added up. But I did it, and that is all that matters!

Selfie of Katie (Living Life Our Way) during the 10k

I would like to say a huge thanks to those who sponsored me, I appreciate it. At the moment, my fundraising page is still open, so it is not too late if you haven’t done so already! Alternatively you can donate direct to Young Minds at anytime.

#HelloYellow Campaign

Today is also Young Minds #HelloYellow campaign as part of World Mental Health Day. I started the day by making a donation to Young Minds for t-shirt sales, as promised. I am very grateful to those that bought them, thank you!

Screenshot of donation confirmation to Young Minds

You can donate securely online through their website at youngminds.org.uk/donate

Or donate via text by texting YMHY00 £5 to 70070

#HelloYellow hair tie looking up at yellow leaves

We went for a walk in nature and spotted lots of Autumn yellows. I don’t have anything yellow to wear (and try to avoid buying stuff I won’t wear often!) but I made sure I wore a yellow hair tie in support of Young Minds #HelloYellow campaign today!

#HelloYellow hair tie selfie in nature, autumn colours

Keep talking about mental health. Not just today, but everyday. Check on those around you. And remember to really listen too.

It’s ok not to be ok. You are not alone. xx

11 Essentials For A Natural First Aid Kit

When most people make the decision to live a healthier more natural life, they focus on their diets alone. However, if you truly want to live a more natural life you should include natural products for all your needs. In this article, we will take a look at a few simple things you need to build up a natural first aid kit. Consumer Advisors has more information related to all the natural health tips you need…

11 Essentials For A Natural First Aid Kit

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is effective for reducing inflammation while also cutting through any oil that is present on your skin. Although witch hazel is most commonly used to treat acne, it is also effective for disinfecting wounds. Additionally, applying witch hazel to your cuts and scrapes will help them heal faster.

Coconut Oil

Most people use coconut oil for cooking, but did you know that it is an excellent addition to your natural first aid kit. Coconut oil has antibacterial properties while also being antiviral and antifungal. You can use coconut oil to address nail fungus, or to help you fade your scars.

Coconut oil

Arnica

This oil has been used for its medicinal benefits from the medieval times. It is a natural anti-inflammatory. This means that it is effective for relieving the pain from sprains or muscle pain. Just remember that arnica oil is most effective when applied topically to the skin.

Aloe Vera

The gel from the insides of the spiky succulent known as aloe vera is nature’s most effective remedy for burns. It’s very easy to cut an aloe vera leaf, if you have some nearby, when you need it and use the gel to soothe painful cuts, burns, and scrapes. However, buying a bottle of aloe vera gel from your nearest pharmacy also works!

Aloe vera

Calendula Extract

This natural remedy is especially effective for helping your body regenerate damaged tissue. Not only does calendula extract help your body to heal itself but it will also help to soothe and relieve injured skin. Use calendula extract on cuts and scrapes, to relieve minor burns or rashes that have become inflamed.

Ice Packs and Hot Water Bottles

Keeping a few ice packs in your freezer is a brilliant idea. Ice packs and hot water bottles are great for relieving pain and inflammation. Additionally, they are reusable and will help to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Honey

Everyone should include a bottle of raw honey in their natural first aid kit. Honey helps to improve digestion, relieves nausea and can soothe a sore throat. Additionally, honey is nature’s antibiotic so if you feel a cold coming on one of the best things you can do for your immune system is to drink a glass of lemon water with a spoon of raw honey.

Honey

Turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric is called Curcumin. This is a wonderful chemical compound that soothes inflammation, heals wounds and helps you recover from coughs and colds. If you notice any cuts or scrapes on your skin you can apply a paste of honey and turmeric to boost your skin’s ability to heal it.

Marshmallow Root

This root has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Additionally, many modern supplements and medications contain marshmallow root as one of the active ingredients. There is good reason for this. Marshmallow root can be used to treat mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughs or indigestion.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is far more than just a tasty breakfast food. Oatmeal can provide you with significant relief for skin irritation. Additionally, oatmeal can provide you with relief from anxiety, stress and insomnia. Try adding a cup of oatmeal to your bath water at night for a relaxing restorative bath.

Ginger

Ginger is one of the most effective remedies for combating nausea. Nausea can be crippling and if you feel sick, you need a remedy that works quickly. Drinking a mug of hot water that has had ginger steeping in it will help you to get rid of your nausea quickly.

Peppermint

Mint is a great natural remedy that provides you with a variety of benefits. Drinking a glass of peppermint water will help to relieve nausea, indigestion, gas and constipation.

Peppermint leaves

*This is a collaborative post.

10 Ways to Naturally De-stress: Guest Post – Vanessa Bermudez

Stress is more dangerous than you may think. While stress comes in many different forms (and can even push you to do better in the workplace), it is one of the biggest threats to the healthy lifestyle you deserve to lead. The American Psychological Association states that those who face chronic stress in their daily lives are more at risk for cardiovascular diseases, arrhythmias, and even sudden death. When you start to feel a heavy weight on your shoulders, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and contemplate some natural ways to destress.

“Incorporating stress management activities into your daily routine, along with a healthy diet, will help your body heal much faster. Personally, I find this to be one of the most challenging aspects of good health. It’s easy to get caught up in your daily life and forget to take break. However, it is necessary if you want to experience true healing,” says Jen Broyles, certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. If you’re feeling stressed and aren’t sure how to tackle it, consider these natural ways to find some peace of mind.

10 Ways to Naturally De-stress: Guest Post - Vanessa Bermudez

1. Take a yoga class
Yoga is an enriching, mindful practice that can help you manage the source of your anxieties. The physical poses, deep breathing, and meditation found in yoga promotes a sense of awareness of your mind, soul and body. This natural state of relaxation has the potential to relieve your mind of its stress and focus on the present moment. If you’re feeling overloaded, consider joining a local yoga class or practicing a new routine at home.

2. Make a cup of warm tea
Set the coffee aside and pick up a cup of warm tea instead. Studies have shown that your mom is right – tea really can lower your stress levels, in part to its chemical properties and benefits that tell your brain to take it easy. The study also notes, interestingly enough, that even the act of putting a kettle on the stove can reduce your stress.

3. Go on a quick stroll outside
One of the simplest, cost-effective ways to get a grip on your stress is by taking a walk outside. Walking can boost endorphins and reorganize brain neurons, allowing you to reconnect to the nature that surrounds you. With all the hustle and bustle in the digital age, it can be easy to forget what matters most, but taking a leisurely stroll around the park can remind you of the world’s natural beauty.

Woman walking along the beach

4. Take a salt bath
When you’re feeling the stress, consider an epsom salt bath. Stress reduces our body’s level of magnesium, so the magnesium in epsom salt does wonders when absorbed through the skin in a nice, warm bath. It promotes a peaceful sense of relaxation that can also help us focus better, sleep better, and feel more energized in the morning. The benefits of an epsom salt bath don’t stop at reducing your stress, but well into your daily life.

5. Visualize peaceful surroundings
The power of the mind is stronger than you think – even the National Institutes for Health “recognizes the power of guided imagery to elicit relaxation response,” according to the Huffington Post. You can practice visualization anywhere you are, at any time. Simply closing your eyes, taking deep breaths, and picturing peaceful surroundings (like a hot sandy beach in the Bahamas) can help lower your feelings of stress.

Woman meditating next to lake

6. Watch a good comedy
“Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain,” explains the Mayo Clinic. It costs nothing to laugh, but it means everything to your health! When faced with a great deal of stress, it may help to watch a comedy film – or crack a few jokes with a friend – to get some endorphins rushing.

7. Incorporate CBD oil into your routine
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-pain remedy for many looking for alternative treatment. It’s known for its natural cannabis-derived properties that lets you enjoy all the relaxation from the plant, without the psychoactive THC. In other words, CBD oil helps you feel calm and collected without getting a high. “For many with a lifetime of experimenting with different products, CBD oil can be a new solution. We would encourage anyone trying something new to speak to a professional they trust,” says Marc Lewis, editor at Remedy Review.

8. Turn off your phone
No, seriously – turn off your phone! It can be difficult in today’s age, when the average workday extends far past 9 to 5, to turn away from the screen and call it a day. However, it’s more important than ever to disconnect from the screens before it starts to take a big toll on your stress. Consider turning off your electronics for an hour every day to feel your stress melt away.

A switched off mobile phone

9. Do some deep breathing
Your breathing can be a powerful tool when it comes to managing your own stress, so take advantage of it. Practicing some deep breathing techniques sends a message to your brain that allows for it to calm down and think about the bigger picture. There are a variety of different methods out there to try, but a personal favorite is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise recommended by Dr. Weil, M.D.

10. Write down what you’re thankful for
We have so much to be thankful for that it can be easy to forget. In order to manage your anxieties better, try making a list of everything you are appreciative for. This practice of mindfulness can help you feel more equipped to handle life’s next big obstacle by reminding yourself of what’s truly important: your health, happiness, and ability to lead a stress-free life.

Author Bio

Vanessa Bermudez - author bio photo

Vanessa Bermudez is a contributing writer for Remedy Review and is based in Brooklyn, New York. She is the co-founder and editor of Modern Girls, a collaborative digital space featured in Girl Gaze Project and Teen Vogue.

10K… Our Way! Raising Money for Young Minds

Young Minds is a fantastic charity that means alot to me personally; they work hard to provide information and support for children and adolescents with mental health concerns, as well as their families. They also campaign to improve mental health services for young people, which is currently lacking in many areas of the country. Their work is vital for the wellbeing of our young generations.

However, I have delayed posting about my Young Minds 10k charity ‘run’ (I use that term loosely!) despite signing up weeks ago, because I had absolutely no plan as to how I would actually complete it! I am not fit enough to run 10k (yet!) and as a full-time carer, it isn’t always easy to find time to go to the gym.

Given we spend alot of time outdoors anyway, it initially seemed logical that I should be doing this outside too. But the fact is, there is a big difference between everyday walking outdoors and wandering around exploring vs actually finding time to ‘train’ for a run. Plus I find it harder to run outside longer distances, due to different surfaces; I am guessing this is pretty typical.

But that is what I love so much about Young Minds 10k Your Way. There is no ‘should’ and no restrictions; it can be carried out anytime, anywhere. It makes it far more accessible for people like myself to participate. Plus there is no set schedule and no waiting around, no crowds and no pressure. You don’t even have to tell anyone where or when you will complete it beforehand, if you don’t want to. This makes it really inclusive and accessible for anyone to take part, regardless of any challenges and potential barriers, which I really admire; it is a brilliant concept! Just run the 10k and raise some funds for a worthy cause. No frills, no fuss. Simple.

Kind of…

I still need to actually cover the 10k distance somehow though! So I have decided doing it on a treadmill at home will be most achievable. Now, I don’t actually have a treadmill at home yet. But, erm, minor details…

I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl…”

By this point, a third of the way through September already, I have those lyrics above from Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers playing on a loop in my head. Granted, I am not aiming for the moon, but the crawling part seems apt about now lol! I realise 10k really might not seem like much to a seasoned runner, but I am far from any such thing…

But I don’t care. Whether I run, walk or crawl, I will (attempt to) do this! I don’t mind if it takes me an hour, 3 hours or all day. I won’t be going for speed or checking my time. My aim is simply to complete it. Eventually! 😉 If you would like to sponsor me, I would really appreciate it. I have set my target at £500, so dig deep please! Thank you.

justgiving.com/fundraising/livinglifeourway

You can join me in taking part too – it’s not too late! Sign up here throughout September.

Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

How to Start Eating Healthier and Stick to It: 3 Simple Changes You Can Make Right Now

If you want to start eating healthier but you are finding it hard, or if you know that you need to make some changes but you don’t know where to start, here are 3 simple changes you can make right now to get you on your way…

How to Start Eating Healthier and Stick to It: 3 Simple Changes You Can Make Right Now

Drink Black Coffee

I am not a coffee drinker myself, but I was surprised to discover it does have some health benefits. Did you know that coffee is great for burning calories? It can actually increase your metabolism and it can also help you to curb your appetite as well. of course, it’s important to know that when you do drink coffee, that you need to have it black. Milk adds loads of calories to the drink and absorbs some of the benefits. Plus no sugar or sweeteners either!

When you drink black coffee, you will soon be able to see a difference in the quality of coffee as well and this can open up a brand new hobby for you. Don’t forget to choose sustainable brands if possible though! Of course, if you have never tried black coffee before then you may find that it takes some getting used to, but it will be worth it!

Cup of coffee. Smily face in coffee

Eat Your Greens! But don’t forget other superfoods too…

Eat plenty of vegetables for nutrition and to fill up on healthy snacks rather than turning to junk. Get in the habit of nibbling a carrot for example, rather than munching on something with more empty calories! Try eating vegetables that you have picked right from your garden, as this will give you a huge sense of accomplishment and you will soon see how the products you have grown yourself differ when compared to the ones that you have purchased in the store.

Also choose nutritious grains to fill your belly. Quinoa is a popular choice of course but less known options such as sorghum are also worth considering too. It is easier on the digestive system, and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and protein. Plus, it’s eco-friendly. Assuming you cannot forage sorghum seeds locally, which is unlikely, see if you can source any in stores.

Bowl of fruit and grains. Healthy breakfast

Healthy Substitutes

It is more than possible for you to have great meals without having to compromise too much. You can easily switch items for similar, yet healthier, alternatives. As time goes on you will likely find that you are able to become more creative as well. If you want to get started, try swapping mashed potatoes with some cauliflower. Cauliflower is nice and creamy, and it tastes like mashed potato as well; it’s soft and delicious. The best thing about this substitution is that you won’t be overloading your body with starch and it is a great way for you to lower the calorie intake. Another simple swap is to opt for sweet potato fries instead of chips. For snacks, if you struggle to give up the crisps, try switching from potato crisps to vegetable crisps.

Sweet potato fries

It is the simple changes that start you on the path to healthy eating without it seeming too overwhelming. And remember, every small positive change is a step in the right direction!

*This is a collaborative post.

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.”

I need to be aware of Squiggle’s blood pressure due to her anxiety and the meds she is on. Her dad also has thyroid issues. Therefore I am well aware of the need for 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 I already understand the importance of keeping tabs on blood pressure, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the brand new iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor by Braun. I decided to lend it to Squiggle’s dad to have a go, since he has problems with blood pressure already; I thought it would be good to properly put it through its paces thoroughly…

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

Analysis

Squiggle’s dad 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 hopefully 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, and continue to monitor results closely as well of course.

Braun iCheck 7 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor on arm

Verdict

I am 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. This does not in any way affect thoughts and opinions given in this post.

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.