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.

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.

Progress For The Planet: What We Can All Do To Help Mother Earth

The evidence is overwhelming, and, let’s face it, you can’t get away from it now. The fact is we’re not doing enough to benefit the planet. Climate change is very real, and even if you don’t necessarily agree with the information that’s out there, we can all help to improve the planet we live on. Luckily, there’s been one hell of a drive in the last few years in small methods to cut back on energy expenditure, which, in turn, lessens our carbon footprint. Every single one of us has the potential to change the planet for the better, and it all begins with small habits. So, what are these habits?

Progress For The Planet: What We Can All Do To Help Mother Earth

Look At Your Waste

In the United States, approximately 40% of the food consumed is thrown out. Now, that’s a very huge amount, especially when you think the amount of food wasted could feed 1 billion people! In addition to this, the health epidemic that is in the western world, especially with regards to obesity and lack of exercise, means that overall, we humans are providing waste on so many fronts. So, what is the answer?

Firstly, to benefit each and every one of us, as well as the planet, we can look at reducing our portion sizes. Not only does this improve our waistline, but waste is greatly reduced. Not only this, by going into our weekly supermarket shop with a preconceived plan, we don’t buy excessive amounts of food that we’ll end up wasting anyway. On top of this, start to be more clever with your food in general, such as using leftovers, so every morsel of food you purchase doesn’t go to waste.

How Much Do You Really Need To Use That Car?

It’s great now that so many of us are actively looking for other ways to travel rather than use our car. As well as thinking about getting a bicycle or using public transport in our everyday lives, such as to and from work for example, there are also other things you can try to do so that you aren’t required to use the car so much.

For example, if you tend to go on roadtrips often and use the car to travel on vacation a few times a year, when you think about how much you use your car for that reason, perhaps you could even consider cutting back on the number of roadtrip vacations you have of this nature? Or, if you are more than adamant that your downtime goes unspoiled, maybe it’s time to think about other parts of your everyday life that you can cut back on.

Working from home is one of those great options, because you don’t need to take the car to the office. Whilst many experts believe you could be using more energy at home, because you potentially turn on lights, the television, etc… there are some summer energy saving tips you can follow to ensure that you are cutting back as much as possible.

Look At Your Energy Expenditure

Once we begin to think about how much our carbon footprint affects the planet, then we can make a concerted effort to cut back on overall energy expenditure. There are many carbon footprint calculators online to give you a head start. A lot of us don’t think about our own personal impact, and when you realize how much energy you are using, from getting in the car, to the food you consume, to the electricity you use, then you can start to help the planet by curbing certain lifestyle habits.

Even something like consuming meat can help mother earth, even by just cutting down on meat by one portion a week. You can have meat-free days at home, and if you are concerned that you won’t get enough protein, remember, there is more than a sufficient amount of protein in pulses and quinoa, and are all vegan-friendly. Ultimately, the best way to have an impact on the planet with regards to our diet is to eat as locally as possible.

When you think about the food you purchase in the supermarkets, even though you mean well by consuming fruits and vegetables, by looking at the place of origin, and then consider the carbon footprint it took to transport these fruits and vegetables to your supermarket, going local is one of the main common sense approaches to benefiting the planet. Not to mention the fact that eating local produce that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides is better for you. Yes, the price tag appears to be more expensive, but by consuming whole foods that fill you up and aren’t injected with preservatives or water to bulk them out, you will naturally crave less food. And you don’t need to see a doctor to understand how whole foods can impact every aspect of your life, from improved brain function to overall health; you can eat these foods, or grow them yourself, and feel the benefits.

Thinking About Everyone Apart From Ourselves

A true way to get an appreciation of what you can do to help the planet is to witness some of the positive outcomes. For example, by donating your leftover food, rather than letting it go to waste, to food kitchens or homeless shelters, you are going to serve the community. There are many supermarkets that encourage you to donate a few cans of foods whenever you can, to minimize wastage. And actually helping out in a local sense is the perfect starting point, because then you can see the impacts all around you, not just in an environmental sense, but in the fact that you are also helping the homeless or others in need. Or you’re even just seeing that you are saving money! It contributes to an overall feeling of wellness. This, in turn, contributes to our overall feeling of compassion and fuels our desire to do something to benefit the planet.

We can feel like we’ve heard enough lectures on how to benefit the planet, which is why it’s far better for you to take the initiative and to do things yourself. Once you start this, either by actively looking for ways to minimize your carbon footprint, or getting a better understanding of how we are damaging the planet, only then can we progress.

*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.

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 Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*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.

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling: Guest Post by Noor Najam – Pateeri

Traveling for most of the people is fun and relaxation which is why they tend to keep no boundaries. They would eat whatever comes their way and even skip meals in all the hassle. The thing we do not realize is that the unhealthy eating habits that we develop during the trip go a long way with us. Not only that, unhealthy and unrestricted eating also leaves us falling sick or too weak by the end of the trip. And then we wonder why it happened. If you truly want to stay active and healthy throughout your travel, eat healthy and make healthy choices only. The question probably is how?! Fret not! Here is your answer…

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling title on faded background image of a table full of a healthy breakfast buffet

Satiate Cravings with Healthy Snacks
When you are in motion constantly with tons of luggage to carry, it is normal to have unnecessary cravings throughout the day. Before you quickly reach out for a chocolate bar, a pack of chips or a sugary drink, stop and think! Do you have a healthier alternative that you can go for? Yes, you always do and yet you ignore it thinking that you are on a vacation and you can eat as you please. Remember that you have to pay a higher cost for it now and later both.
There are tons of healthy snacks out there which are not only healthy but delicious as well. Popcorns, sweet corns, dry fruits and fruits like oranges, bananas and apples are a few great examples. Similarly, you can drink a glass of fresh juice instead of getting a sugary soda.

Do Not Skip Breakfast
You may skip a meal or two but never skip breakfast. It does not only help in kick-starting your day but that is when you need the most energy to stay filled and active throughout the day. If you want to prevent unnecessary cravings and weakness, eat a very healthy breakfast full of protein and fiber. Take oats, eggs, yogurt and brown bread. Also, you must take an apple every morning as it is rich in fiber and iron and it will keep you satiated throughout the day.

More Sweat, More Water
All the hassle we face while travelling leaves us feeling dehydrated. The interesting part is that we do not even realize what is wrong when we feel low and out of energy. It is dehydration that gets most of us sick by the middle or end of our trip. If you want to stay hydrated and remember drinking enough water, just keep a water bottle with you wherever you go. Also, add a few slices of lemon, mint or chia seeds to add more flavor and healthy features to your plain water.

Empty Hotel Fridge for Controlling Temptation
We all know how hotel rooms have fridge full of chocolate bars and sodas that are too tempting to keep your hands off. If you truly want to avoid them and stay on track with your healthy diet, ask the management to empty it. You can then use it for stocking your own healthy snacks and items that you really need to stick to.

About the author

A photo of guest blogger Noor Najam standing outdoorsNoor Najam is a 22-year old student who loves to explore food delights and ever-growing new tastes of different regions. She likes to stay fit and make healthier food choices. She thinks she should have studied a culinary related bachelor’s degree instead of her current bachelors in Social Sciences. She regularly posts on pateeri.com