4 natural remedies for PMS and how to use them

PMS is often an unwelcome but inevitable accompaniment to periods. However, some people experience particularly bad symptoms that can thoroughly disrupt day-to-day life. Painkillers are the most common go-to treatment for PMS symptoms, however there are some powerful natural remedies for PMS including natural botanicals that can ease PMS just as well, if not better, than manufactured chemicals and consequently are better for your body overall. This article explores the four best natural remedies for PMS and ingredients you can use to combat PMS and how to use them effectively so that you can stop dreading ‘that time of the month’.

4 key natural ingredients

Chaste tree berries, evening primrose, red clover and Dong Quai are four natural ingredients and powerful naturl remedies for PMS which can be used individually or combined in a tea or tonic to help with pain, mood swings and headaches. Although you can buy over the counter medication, these botanicals contain an active natural ingredient which can be purchased and can be used as a natural product by itself.

How to make

To use these natural remedies for PMS, firstly, to make a tea which combines all 4 of the above ingredients you will need; 2 cups of organic peppermint tea, 2 tablespoons of organic chaste tree berries, 2 tablespoons of dong quai and 2 tablespoons of black haw. Now for the easy bit; all you need to do is blend the ingredients together and store in an airtight container and your prep is done! When it comes to using the tea, what you need to do is use 2 tablespoons for a pot and one teaspoon for a cup and drink it hot as a tea. Pour boiling water into the pot or cup and let it brew for 2-4 minutes then drink once cool enough to do so. Do this every morning and night a few days before your period is due and during to ensure you get the best benefits. Alternatively, you can store it in the fridge and have it as a shot, again every morning and night before and during your period. This method is perfect for when you’re on the go and don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea.

The power of evening primrose

As aforementioned, these natural remedies for PMS can also be used individually to treat isolated symptoms of PMS. For example, evening primrose oil can be purchased in easy to swallow vitamin form which you can take orally. This can be incorporated into your daily vitamin intake, and you can take in the morning or evening with food for the best results. Alternatively, evening primrose oil can also be purchased as an oil, 15 drops of which (1ml) can be taken daily with food. Evening primrose oil is specifically good for treating mood swings which is a common symptom of PMS, furthermore this natural ingredient can also be highly beneficial for those going through menopause, as mood swings can also be a severe symptom here too.

Spotlight on red clover and dong quai

In addition, red clover and dong quai can also be made into individual teas. Red clover is highly beneficial in maintaining estrogen levels which can be disrupted during PMS and your period. The same method can be applied here, simply fill a jar with red clover blossoms and fill to the top with boiling water. Let this brew for 4-10 hours then strain and enjoy 2-4 cups a day. Dong quai is excellent when dealing with cramps and bloating, arguably two of the worst symptoms of PMS. Dong quai is alternatively known as female ginseng as it is widely used to treat female reproductive health problems including PMS as well as the menopause. Dong quai can be found in supplement form which can be taken orally, however if you are looking for a homemade remedy, you can also make Dong quai tea. Dried Dong quai root can be purchased from a wide range of health stores and herbalists and you can boil the root for 2 to 4 minutes then strain to make your own homemade Dong quai tea.

A great tip which can be applied to all of the above remedies for PMS is to spice up your tea and add other flavours to make the tea more to your taste. Some other naturally sweet ingredients include liquorice, cinnamon, ginger, verbena and lemon.

In conclusion, there are many natural remedies for PMS and alternatives which you can use to help alleviate symptoms of PMS as well as the menopause. They are easy to use and have the same if not stronger effects on your symptoms. It’s called mother nature for a reason!

Charlotte Rasmussen is the author of From Earth: A guide to creating a natural apothecary, published by Rockpool Publishing, on 4th August 2022, priced £18.99.

natural remedies for PMS

Hereditary Cancer Awareness Risk: Why you should know your risk

This week marks Heriditary Cancer Week. If you’ve been following 40 Now What you will know that last year I discovered that I had the genetic mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which means that I have a high lifetime risk or developing breast and ovarian cancer.

The last year has not been easy and has involved a lot of research, medical appointments, discussions with my support network and soul searching.

The honest truth is that a year down the line beyond having a surgery scheduled to have my fallopian tubes removed and having a good old check down there for any signs of cancerous tissue I am still not certain of my course action or any precise timelines of action.

But what is certain that I know that I am at greater risk, I am in the system and being monitored by some of the best professionals in the world, and I am being checked routinely. And that in itself is worth its weight in gold. I know I am incredibly lucky to have that knowledge, and often think about all the people who might also have this mutation, but do not know. Especially as we are now in our 40s and before we know it we’ll be in the age bracket where general cancer incidence rates rise steeply (from around age 55-59).

The role of genes in cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, our genes play a big role in our risk of cancer. It’s estimated up to 10% of all cancers diagnosed are linked to a genetic fault that can be passed from one generation to the next. Ovarian, breast, prostate, pancreatic and bowel are some of the cancer types you’re more likely to get if you carry a BRCA mutation or Lynch syndrome.

But despite the hereditary cancer risks, according to Target Ovarian Cancer’s latest research 75% of the general public have never heard of BRCA and 84% of people have never heard of Lynch syndrome. What’s more many are unaware that a family history of cancer could put them at risk of these genetic faults. It’s time to change that.

What can you do

Use Target Ovarian’s risk tool

Knowledge is power, and using the tool will help you understand your risk and what to do next. So take a few minutes to complete it here. It could change your life and help you take control.

Be mindful if you’re of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage

People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 1 in 40 chance of carrying a BRCA mutation, making them 10 times as likely to carry a BRCA mutation as someone in the general population. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you have BRCA1/2 mutation then there is a 50% chance of passing the mutation on to your children, whether they are boys or girls.

Check out Target Ovarian’s newly launched hub to give anyone with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage all the information and support they need – stories from those who’ve had to make difficult choices, important information about your risk and what do next, and videos to help you understand more about your risk.

Spread the word about hereditary cancer

Awareness is key here. I know just how important it is to know your status, and then be in the system and be duly monitored. By sharing this article, raising awareness or mentioning this to somebody today, you could be making a life-changing difference.

Useful links about hereditary cancer

BRCA & Lynch syndrome FAQ

Facing Our Risk website

Inherited genes and cancer types

NHS guide to predictive genetic tests for cancer

Have you heard BRCA or Lynch syndrome? Or have you ever had genetic testing for hereditary cancer?

Disturbed sleep? 5 tips to improve your sleep during perimenopause

It’s no big secret that sleep is a crucial part of our health and wellbeing. It’s a key component of human life that we need to survive – like food and water. But in a world of digital distraction, rising mental health issues and an increase in working from home. In our 40s, many of us struggle with disturbed sleep, with sleep often the first element of our daily life to get neglected and to suffer.

If you are suffering from disturbed sleep, whether ongoing or for a short period of time, it’s important to remember that things can change and that it is possible to get the rest your mind and body needs to thrive. 

Wh sleep so important for your health

Sleep helps the mind and body repair, regenerate and recover. It allows us to wake up feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to take on the day ahead. And not only does a good night’s rest add a positive spring to our step – it has many other benefits too. 

Sleep is essential for various aspects of brain function. Cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance are all negatively affected by sleep deprivation. In turn, this affects our decision-making and problem-solving skills, ability to focus, memory and general day-to-day motivation. 

And on the physical side? 

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy, and a lack of it can result in you struggling to fight off common infections. Sleep also supports the healing of your heart and blood vessels, the repairing of cells and tissues, whilst maintaining a healthy balance of hormones

We know that sleep helps the body in many ways and is critical for our overall health. And we also know the damage that sleep deficiency can have on our health and wellbeing instantly and over time. 

As individuals, we all have a unique pattern and requirements when it comes to sleep. And it’s all about finding what works for you! But the general recommendation for adults is between 7-9 hours a day. 

5 top tips for a better night’s sleep

1) Limit caffeine and alcohol

Enjoy a coffee or two in the morning? Go for it! But try to avoid drinking much past lunchtime, as caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. If you do crave an afternoon coffee, try decaf as an alternative.

Alcohol is also one to be avoided or limited before bed to reduce the chance of disturbed sleep. It may assist with feeling sleepy at first, but is known to disrupt sleep patterns, increase snoring and reduce night time melatonin production. And we already know that’s vital for a good night’s sleep! 

2) Add exercise into your daily routine

We all know the positive effect exercising can have on our mind and body. But did you know it can improve our sleep too? Not only does it increase sleep quality but it decreases the risk of excessive weight gain, which can be a cause for sleep deprivation in itself.  Whether it’s going for a walk, jog, swim or doing yoga – make sure it’s something you enjoy!

3) Reduce screen time before bed

With most of us keeping our phones by our bed, it’s tempting to indulge in screentime until we choose to close our eyes. But blue light emitted by our phones and laptops trick our body into thinking it’s daytime – reducing hormones like melatonin, which help us relax and get into a deep sleep and and can result in disturbed sleep. Try to eliminate any screentime in the hour before bed. Use this hour as an opportunity to read, relax and indulge in some self-care. You deserve it!

4) Get comfortable in bed

This may seem like an obvious one to some, but our bed and environment must support us in our mission to sleep. If you wake up feeling uncomfortable, you may need a new mattress and/or pillows. Always invest in a good quality mattress and bedding – we spend a third of our life in our bed!

5) Take high-quality natural supplements

The Herbtender’s Doze & Dream (The Sleep Mix), is our tranquil adaptogen blend that promotes uninterrupted rest when you need to switch off and recharge. Designed to gently ease you into sleep, our bedtime supplement sees Ashwagandha, one of the few non-stimulating adaptogens, join forces with calming Reishi, as well as Lavender and Chamomile. Better nights lead to better days!

 

 

 

 

8 signs you’re drinking too much and what to do about it

I knew I was drinking too much when every single day I would wake up feeling shame, regret and hungover. I was 41, fed up, feeling stuck, carrying more weight than my 5’2” frame allowed, I was worrying that my drinking was making me a bad mum, and I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. All the signs were there, they had been there for a while in fact but I either couldn’t see them or chose not to. On March 28th 2018, I could no longer ignore the signs and haven’t had a drink since.  

Perhaps you’ve got the niggling feeling that something is not quite right, the excesses of summer are taking their toll and you feel like you need another holiday to recover from the holiday you’ve just had or maybe, just maybe, the idea of taking part in Sober September this year doesn’t sound quite as crazy as it used to. 

These are just some of the signs that you might be drinking too much. Below are more signs that it might be time to take a look at your drinking behaviours and some tips on what to do if you’re worried about your drinking or want to take a break from drinking.

How much is too much?

When it comes to alcohol, there is no completely safe level of drinking, but according to the NHS guidelines it is recommended not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, that’s around six glasses of wine.

Regularly drinking more than the recommended units of alcohol, poses a serious risk to our physical and mental health, but you might not be aware of just how many units you are drinking on a weekly or daily basis. 

It’s not just the amount of alcohol that can be measured in units or glasses that tell us we’re drinking too much, it is worth being aware of the more subtle signs that your drinking habits might be taking you down a path you don’t want to go down, so you can do something about it if you need to.

Here are 8 signs that you are drinking too much

You’re always thinking about drinking. Is thinking about drinking starting to take up too much space in your head? Worrying how much you had the night before, how much you will have tonight, planning the shopping trips so you never run out, calculating when is a respectable time to start drinking, how much others are drinking, how much you can drink without raising concern and what on earth you will do when you can’t drink for whatever reason, are all signs that your drinking habits might be starting to take over. 

You feel happy when you can drink

Similarly, when you know you have a night alone to drink without being judged or having to ‘moderate’ you feel the thrill of excitement. You might also find yourself looking forward to events and nights out because of the drinking that might be involved, not because of the evening itself.

You start to hide your drinking

Drinking in secret, lying about how much you had, hiding the empties, buying from different shops and taking the recycling to different places is definitely pointing to an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Suddenly one bottle is turning into two

The trouble with alcohol use is that it sneaks up on us. We don’t go from having our first sip of cider and black one day to drinking two bottles of wine a night the next, that’s why the actual quantity and units alone are not enough to tell the whole story. That being said, if you are drinking more and more to get the same effect than before, then you are building a tolerance to alcohol and that is a sure sign that you are drinking too much.

The thought of not drinking makes you feel uneasy (or scared)

Before I quit drinking I desperately wanted to not drink yet the thought of having a whole day or weekend stretched out in front of me without alcohol in it, terrified me. If you can’t imagine an evening or a Sunday afternoon without a glass of wine or few, or the very idea of it seems impossible or miserable, this is a sign that you are drinking too much.

You’re doing all the things to ‘be healthy’ but still feel something is not quite right

Sure, you might yoga and drink the smoothies, go to spin class, have spar days and massages. You might even run, meditate, journal and regularly enjoy ‘self care activities’ but you still feel stuck. Maybe the weight isn’t coming off, perhaps you are still drained or numbing out at the end of the day or despite all the good things you are doing, your still feel meh and your anxiety isn’t getting any better.

This general feeling that something is missing, that you just don’t feel like you should, your energy is low and you’re getting through the days when you should be loving your days is a sign that alcohol is getting in the way of you enjoying your life in the way you deserve. This means you are drinking too much.

Drinking or recovering from drinking is getting in the way of your daily life

Do you try not to plan anything after 5pm? Do you feel resentful if you have to be a taxi driver for the evening? Do you find yourself making excuses, cancelling plans or not showing up as your true self because you are drinking, or recovering from drinking? These are all signs that your drinking is taking over your life and it might be time to take a break.

You’re can’t stick to your own rules around drinking

Probably the most eye opening sign you are drinking too much is when you constantly break your own rules when it comes to trying to drink in moderation. Rules such as, ‘I’ll only drink beer, I’ll only drink when I go out. I’ll only drink at the weekend and then I’ll only have one or two glasses.’ This is soul destroying and you don’t deserve to treat yourself this way. I promise, it is much easier to not drink at all than to put yourself through the pain of trying to moderate.

What you can do if you’re drinking too much

If you recognise your own behaviour in some or all of the above signs then the most important thing is to be super kind and gentle with yourself. Do not beat yourself up, otherwise you will only feel worse and as women we are too hard on ourselves anyway. This must stop.

Worried you are drinking too much – so what can you do?

Start to be aware 

Begin to notice how your drinking is making you feel, tune into why you are drinking, what feeling you are trying to enhance or escape from and how you can be kinder to yourself in the moment.

Get more information

Read as much as you can about sobriety, quitting drinking, how alcohol affects your mind and body so you can begin from a place of feeling empowered and in control. Connect with other women already on this journey, ask questions and listen to their stories.

Find a way to be inspired and stay motivated

There is so much life and joy on the other side of drinking but you have to find your own version of it. What do you want to do? How do you want to feel? What will keep you inspired and motivated to stay alcohol-free when life gets challenging?

Put yourself first and ramp up the self-care

Probably the most powerful thing you can do for yourself is to really look after yourself. You deserve health, happiness, kindness, love and support so start by giving that to yourself. One of the reasons that as women we drink too much is because we’re so busy tending to everybody else we forget about ourselves, drink wine and carry on. You deserve to put yourself first, so start.

Commit to taking some proper time off

Having a goal in mind is really motivating and far less scary than saying I will never drink again. Having a timescale or milestone gives us something to aim for. Pick something that feels good to you such as 30 days or three months and then really commit to it. And decide how you will stay motivated and accountable for the time you plan to be alcohol-free for.

Get support

It is so much easier to stay motivated and on track when you have support and accountability, no matter how long you plan to stay alcohol-free. Get a coach, join a support group, enlist the support of a friend or take part in a challenge like Sober September.  Sober September  was created by Cancer Research UK to encourage people to take a month off booze while raising money for charity at the same time. Being part of a community or even just doing this with a friend is a brilliant way to begin this journey as you will have your person or people on your side, cheering you on and supporting you all the way.

Changing your relationship with alcohol is life changing. It can be the hardest, yet most rewarding thing you can do. Sober September just might be the springboard you need  towards finding a healthier, fitter, happier you.

Gayle Macdonald, sobriety coach and addiction therapist and alcohol-free since March 2018, is the founder of Sober Bliss, helping women to change their relationship with alcohol in a way that feels good through uplifting and empowering coaching and community. Find out more at Sober Bliss and book a free call to talk about one to one sober support here.

Tried and Tested Summer 2022

Hold the phone everybody! Our Tried and Tested feature is back by popular demand this summer. If you want to know what products have landed on our desk that are worth checking out then read on friends as we give our Tried and Tested stamp of approval to all things beauty, wellness and food that we have fallen in love with. This summer we’ve been….

Beautifying with….

Vibrant Skin Serums

Vibrant Skin is a natural skincare brand, founded by two lovely sisters – Sarah Owen & Kelly Owen – after a personal journey that took them on a quest to discover exceptional, active, and natural ingredients that would support and rebuild the skin. They are on a mission to show people how beautiful their skin can be, and their serums are science-driven, brilliant quality, evidence-based and unlock nature’s powerful healing properties providing intrinsic protection and deep hydration. We’ve tried all three serums – Energising Vitamin Serum, Time Repair Serum, and Hydra B5 & Hyaluronic Acid Serum – and can truly say that they have left our skin looking healthy and radiant, leaving us feeling fabulously empowered! The Vibrant Skin Serum range starts at £40, discover their products here.

tried and tested

Glo32 Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil

Over 40 years on the planet does not for white teeth maketh. Our previous experience with tooth whiteners has been HARSH which is why they have never previously made it into our Tried and Tested feature. But we have to say we love Glo 32’s Advance Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil. Formulated with Coconut Oil for a healthy and gentler way to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. We used these easy-to-apply strips every day for a month and our teeth were visibly whiter. No need to get your teeth done professionally. Just purchase one of their home whitening kits instead! Glo 32’s Advance Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil costs £20 and is available from Boots and Amazon.

tried and tested

The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil

Hair can dry out in extreme temperatures and with increased UV exposure in the summer months or while you’re on holiday. If your locks are looking anything but luscious it’s time to give them some extra TLC. The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil is perfect for doing just that. Made from ethically sourced, organic ingredients, we’ve been using their pre-wash treatment once a week resulting in noticeably smooth and softened hair. Their luxurious blend of oils nourishes, treats, and repairs your hair from root to tip and is perfect for taking care of dry hair during the summer months. The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil costs £19.99 and is available to buy from thedagroup.com.

tried and tested

Lola’s Lashes Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes

Because you’re never too old to wear lashes. If you are no idea how to wear lashes (much like us), then Lola’s lashes are a good place to start. Their Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes will have you cheating on your mascara. Ridiculously easy to apply without any faff, they are the perfect style to complement an everyday or going out-out makeup with just enough subtle lift, length and volume to enhance your eyes. They’re so quick and easy to apply that you can even wear them daily – even if you are completely cack-handed like us! Lola’s Lashes Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes cost £20 and are available from lolaslashes.co.uk.

Dr Paw Paw Tinted True Coral Balm 

Remember when Dr Paw Paw first entered our lives and we went absolutely mad for it? Well, they’re making waves again – this time with their Tinted True Coral Balm. The perfect summer do-it-all. This small but mighty baby can be used to as a lip balm, lip tint, cheek tint, highlighter and eyeshadow. Full of pawpaw (papaya) fruit, aloe vera and olive oil, it’s suitable for all skin types and skin tones including sensitive skin, and subtle peach pink colour. It hydrates and nourishes and is the perfect way to either enhance your natural lip colour or build a bolder look. It’s become our summer go-to and there isn’t a day we haven’t been using this little multi-purpose hero balm. Dr Paw Paw Tinted True Coral Balm costs £6 and is available to buy from Waitrose, Marks & Spencer from 4th August and www.drpawpaw.com.


skinChemists Youth Series & Hada Labo Tokyo Face Sun Creams

You know one thing that drives us mad in the summer months? Having to apply a sun cream over our moisturiser because our current one either doesn’t include an SPF or has one but it isn’t high enough. But hurrah that’s a thing of the past now thanks to two products we’ve recently discovered.

The first is skinChemists Youth Series Wrinkle Killer, an SPF 50 Sun Protection Day Cream that goes beyond being a typical moisturiser with added SPF 50 (also available with SPF 30). The new range offers intense hydration, as well as protection from the sun, helping you beat wrinkles and enjoy summertime. Years in the making, skinChemist’s SPFs are unscented and won’t leave white residue, making it perfect for all skin tones and no weird white face afterwards!

The second is Hada Labo’s Face Sun Cream, a water-resistant moisturising sunscreen lotion SPF50 specifically for the face. We love how light this lotion is – it’s non-greasy, quickly-absorbed and has a dry-touch consistency that can be used even on wet skin. Youth Series Wrinkle Killer, SPF 50 and SPF 30 Sun Protection Day Cream RRP £34.99 is available at  www.skinchemists.com or www.feelunique.com ; Hada Labo Tokyo Face Sun Cream SPF50 now £11.29 at Superdrug.

Eating and drinking…

Good4U Salad Topper

Summer is all about salads, but what if we told you there was away to elevate your salads to seriously satisfying levels? We recently discovered the Good4U Salad Topper range and are firm Tried and Tested fans. Their range of salad toppers are not only designed to power up the nutritional value of your salad, but they also level it up both in terms of flavour and texture. With Garlic & Chilli, Super Seeds, Garlic & Herb and Caesar Crumbles, there’s pretty much not a day that goes by where we don’t use these on our meals. And yes, they can be used on so much more than just salads too! Good4U Salad Toppers cost £2 for a packet and are available from leading supermarkets and direct via their online store.

Tried and Tested

OHMG Magnesium Water

Looking for that perfect summer drink to take the edge off? No we don’t mean a G&T. We’re talking about OHMG Magnesiums Water! OHMG Magnesium Water is a delicious range of still and sparkling water infused with Magnesium, fruit extracts and botanicals. 100% natural, containing no sugars, no sweeteners and no calories. Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral and an essential nutrient responsible for more than 300+ functions inside our body. Studies have shown that up to 75% of us are depleted in Magnesium. Meanwhile, every can of OHMG Magnesium Water contains 56mg. So guess what we have been reaching for some Tried and Tested relaxation canned daily….A 12 can variety pack of OHMG Magnesium Water costs £23.99 and is available from ohmgwater.com.

Tried and Tested

Sheese Cheese Alternative

Our experience of cheese alternatives has so far left us yearning for the real stuff. That is until we locked our chops around Sheese’s dairy free cheeses! Somehow they have absolutely nailed it in terms of taste and texture – so it’s no wonder they are award-winning. But what we love about these guys is that they go so much beyond the traditional cheese slice or grated packs. While these are great, for us the real stars of the show are their Blue Cheese and Wenselydale editions which are just so ridiculously moreish. We are not sure how they achieved such wizadry with a base of coconut oil but at this point in time we don’t even care! If you are looking to cut back on or replace dairy in your diet then it’s Sheese for the win. Sheese is available at all good supermarkets. Prices typically start at £2.50 for a pack. Check out their range here.

Nick’s Bars

We all love a good snack, but we also know that finding snacks that are healthy, yummy and won’t leave you feeling hateful thereafter are hard to come by. That is unless you know about Nick’s who have quite simply made snacking better. Their range of chocolate bars are sugar free, gluten free, palm oil free and pretty much guilt free. We countdown the hours to our 3pm rendez-vous with our stash of Nick’s Bars and currently crushing on their Peanuts N Fudge Bar and protein bar range big time. Currently with 20% off site wide check out the Nick’s range. here.

Eat Well for Less: Happy & Healthy

Food is getting expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip on eating well. Despite the ever-increased basket pricing of our weekly shops, there is still a way to eat well on a budget. Including simple, common sense advice which many have come to expect from the BBC Series Eat Well For Less this book is packed full of light lunches, simple suppers and weekend nosh that are quick, easy and won’t break the bank. It has helped us revisit some old classics over at Tried and Tested but also try out new spins and takes also with ingredients we already have knocking around in our fridge or kitchen. Perfect for knocking up something without having to spend money on extra ingredients you will only use once which is the problem with so many other recipes we find! Eat Well for Less: Happy & Healthy is currently available from Amazon for £8 (RRP £14.99)

Tried and Tested

Aktar at Home

Let’s face it – eating out has become astronomically expensive and takeaways are not exactly cheap these days. That said, we love a good curry and have found the perfect solution from Aktar At Home, freezable curry boxes by Aktar Islam, Michelin star chef which makes for a generous and delicious feast. All Meals are freezable so you can have your fill one day and more another, and another after that. A Mixed Box includes a whole variety of mouth-watering curries including two chicken, one mutton, one vegetarian/vegan, and an abundance of pilau rice and the most epic naans we’ve ever seen! We loved every mouthful and will be coming back for more. A Mixed Box Deal costs £70 and is available from aktarathome.co.uk.

VAHDAM® Tumeric Teas

The health benefits of tumeric tea are seemingly endless, which is why we are big Tried and Tested fans. But then add in the mix a climate and plastic-neutral element and premium-quality Indian turmeric with superfoods like Ginger, Ashwagandha, Moringa, and an array of spices which are 100% natural, pure and caffeine free that you get with VAHDAM and now you’re really talking. Stemming from Ayurveda, turmeric has been known for its powerful healing properties for over 5,000 years. From being a fix for seasonal colds to healing wounds, providing anti-inflammatory benefits and boosting immunity, turmeric has a myriad of health-promoting benefits. We are especially in love with VAHDAM’s Ashwagandha Herbal Tea Bags – which includes the ancient herb renowned for helping the body manage stress, perfect for unwinding with before sleep and their Tumeric Spiced Tea Bags which are like a hug in a mug. The full range of VAHDAM Teas is available at hollandandbarrett.com, Amazon and other online retailers from £4.99.

Tried and Tested

Supplementing with…

Heaven Collagen Drops

We wouldn’t be a day without collagen supplementation which in our view is an absolute must when you hit your 40s. Cue Heaven Collagen Drops, so intensely concentrated that you only need to add a few drops to your morning glass of water. Super easy to use, you can either ingest them or also mix in with your daily creams for healthy glowing skin as well as lustrous shiny hair. Founder of Heaven Skincare Deborah Mitchell has been creating and testing these potent skincare supplements since 2013 as part of her Inner Beauty collection. Thanks to a clever blend of high levels of marine collagen, glucosamine, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Biotin they leave you looking – and feeling – Tried and Tested fabulous! A two week supply of Heaven Collagen Drops costs £27.50 and is available to purchase from Heaven Skincare.

My Best Pharm supplements

Not all supplements are created equal – something we know only too well from first hand experience. But recently we discovered My Best Pharm – the result of a cooperation of doctors, pharmacists and dieticians for a more 360 degree approach to supplementation. Their products have an innovative, modern composition, combining the latest, advanced production technologies with many years of tradition and experience in the use of substances of natural origin using clinically proven, patent-protected ingredients from all over the world back up by strong medical evidence – unlike so many other ranges on the market! We have in particular really enjoyed their MyBestComplement supplement (£32.90) which is a powerful blend of 13 valuable ingredients including oils, plant extracts, antioxidants and vitamins with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects to help bolster immunity, support brain function, achieve healthier looking skin as well as supporting the heart and circulatory system, liver and digestive function and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The perfect Tried and Tested do-it-all! Find out more about My Best Pharm’s range of supplements at mybestpharm.uk.

Do Not Age supplements

We all want to live longer, feel more youthful, healthy and energised as we age but how do we go about doing that? Do Not Age is on a mission to extend healthy lifespan for as many people as possible through their range of supplements. Using the latest information from leading longevity researchers they develop both products and advice, then distribute them to all that want to live healthier for longer. Our Tried and Tested readers may not have heard of a lot of the names of the products developed by their research team, but having tried and tested some of them including NMN which helps to fight inflammation associated with aging and SIRT6 Activator® which promotes DNA repair and supports genomic stability we were hugely impressed by how quickly you feel your best self from taking them – the increased energy levels are palpable that we are pretty much betting on Do Not Age to secure our newfound longevity. Find out more about the Do Not Age range of supplements at donotage.org.

Exercising with….

Clubbercise Classes

Exercise is an important form of self-care for us over at Tried and Tested, as is doing what you love! If like us you are missing your former dance floor glory days then this one’s for the raver lurking deep inside of you. Clubbercise is fitness meets clubbing where you’ll burn 600+ cals in ONE sweaty, euphoria-inducing Tried and Tested hour. It’s no wonder that Clubbercise is making waves in the fitness community, combining full body workouts with banging soundtracks had us bouncing around with our hands in the air complete with glow sticks. to become all the rage amongst fitness fans and ravers across the world. Combining toning, plyometric and combat moves that are easy-to-follow with high or low-impact options for all fitness levels we were in sweaty fitness heaven thanks to the soundtrack of club anthems including our favourite 90′s classics. Clubbercise offer over 2,000 classes worldwide with options for kids, teens, and families starting at £5 per session. Find your nearest Clubbercise class here.

Tried and Tested

Let us know which of these Tried and Tested items you’d love to try too in a comment below!

Cover Image by rawpixel.com

Pelvic floor in your 40s and beyond

I have to admit, I have really noticed a change in my pelvic floor and my ability to control my bladder since I hit my 40s. There, I said it. But it’s not a truth most of us would never be bold enough to admit, until someone else did. And although there has been a lot in the news lately about pelvic floor health in the menopause, very little has been said about it in decade before. So what happens to your pelvic floor in your 40s and what we can do to address some of the issues we might face when it comes to pelvic floor health? We get the lowdown here with Karin Goldschmidt, Pelvic Health Senior Physiotherapist at The King Edward VII hospital.

How does your pelvic floor change in your 40s?

Pregnancy and childbirth will have put a major strain on your pelvic floor muscles, but an increase in body weight can make this even worse.

Menopause usually starts when you are in your late forties or early fifties, however in some cases it can happen earlier or later than this.  As the body starts to produce less oestrogen, many women find themselves putting on weight much easier than when in their 30ies. In fact, fat mass can increase as much as 44% during menopause. When a person has a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) of 26 or above, their pelvic floor has a consistently heavier load to support. Body fat presses down on the bladder and bowel and can result in difficulty controlling the release of urine, faeces or wind.

Skeletal muscle atrophy and associated weakness are inevitable as we age, and the pelvic floor muscles are no exception. Once you reach 40, you ‘ll lose as much as 5 percent of your muscle per decade. This decreased strength and muscle mass is related to myriad pelvic floor dysfunctions, including stress UI, pelvic organ prolapse, faecal incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

What changes/symptoms does this mean women in their 40s might experience

Common symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor or bladder dysfunction are:

  • Leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing, bending, laughing or lifting weights which is called stress incontinence.
  • It is also common to leak when hurrying to the toilet, hearing running water or even when putting a key in the door when arriving home, this is called urge incontinence.  
  • Many women experience a dragging or aching sensation around the vagina or anus which can be due to a prolapse of the pelvic organs.
  • Problems in controlling wind or bowel contents which often is associated with constipation due to difficulties in emptying your bowels causing a need to strain.
  • Painful sex or decreased sensation due to vaginal dryness.

A perhaps less well known issue, although also common, is tightness of the pelvic floor muscles as a result from rarely relaxing them. This can lead to pelvic pain and trigger other symptoms.

Why is it important that women in their 40s make pelvic floor health a priority?

In our 20s and 30s women might not have paid too much attention to their Pelvic floor and thinking that issues such as leakage and Prolapse are symptoms one just have to learn to live with. However it is very important to understand that as we age, if not looked after, the Pelvic floor is likely to become weaker and therefore their issues could potentially become worse and hugely affect ones quality of life. The good thing is that, if given the appropriate attention and care,  these symptoms are often reversible.   

How can women in their 40s protect their pelvic floor – and is it all about kegels?

Kegels are very important indeed, as well as staying generally healthy with consistent exercise, a varied fibrous diet and drinking lots of water, there are other important ways to look after our Pelvic floor.

Posture

The posture of your body changes the way your pelvic floor muscles work. If you’re sitting slumped, it’s hard for your muscles to do anything to help you. If you sit taller, supporting your head and neck up better, your abdominal muscles can work much more efficiently and your pelvic floor is not as switched off and compromised by the pressure. When standing, if your posture is poor, you can end up tilting your pelvis which will also impact how your pelvic floor muscles work. When standing with a better posture, your abdominals, bottom, pelvic floor and leg muscles are allowed to work together in synergy.

Breathing

This is something that comes completely natural to us yet most us don’t do it the as efficiently as we are meant to. We tend to hold our breath when concentrating doing our pelvic floor exercises  as well as not breathing properly down into our tummy and not expanding the breath into the side of our ribs. As your diaphragm ( breathing muscle) moves, so should the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is not a rigid structure, meaning it should move up and down in synergy with our breathing. As we breathe in, the pelvic floor moves down. As we relax, it moves back up. It follows the movements of your lungs and diaphragm.  

The knack

Get into the habit of tighten your pelvic floor muscles the second before any activity which involves a rise in intra-abdominal pressure – coughing, sneezing, lifting, carrying, bending – even laughing sometimes!

Toileting position

Using a step or stool under your feet while on the toilet helps create a squatting position which will reduce pressure into your rectum when passing a stool. This will reduce pressure on the ligaments and muscles in this area. It is also important to ensure you always sit and relax on the toilet and not get in a habit of hovering as this does not allow your pelvic floor to relax completely while you empty your bladder.

Can you share a recommended pelvic floor exercise routine? And how often should women aim to do this?

I often recommend to download the NHS Squeezy app for help with visualisation and motivation. However you can do this routine anywhere  without any equipment at all.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises  should include long, held squeezes as well as short, quick squeezes; ensuring that you let the muscle ‘go’ or ‘relax’ after each squeeze. You should work the muscles until they tire and do the exercises regularly to help the muscles become stronger and more effective. Always remember to breath out as you lift the pelvic floor and breath in as your relax. Also start the lift from the anus, then the vagina and finally a gentle drawing in of the lower part of your tummy to activate your deepest of the abdominal muscles.  

Long squeezes         

Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold them tight, then release and let them fully relax. How long can you hold the squeeze? Repeat the squeeze and hold until the pelvic floor muscles tire. How many times can you repeat the squeezes? Aim to be able to do 10 long squeezes, holding each squeeze for 10 seconds.

Short squeezes

Quickly tighten your pelvic floor muscles, then immediately let them go again. How many times can you do this quick squeeze before the muscles get tired? Always let the muscles fully relax after each squeeze.

You may need to start with ‘little and often’ if you find that you can only hold the squeeze for a short time, or only do a few before the muscles tire. Aim  for 10 short squeezes.

It’s great if you manage to do your pelvic floor muscle exercises at least 3 times each day, however we all lead busy lives and this obviously might not always be possible, however remember than little is better than nothing!

You may find it easier to do them when you are sitting or lying down. Build up your exercise routine gradually over the weeks and months. You should notice an improvement in 3 – 5 months and then keep practising your pelvic floor muscle exercises once a day to maintain the improvement.

Is it ever too late to work on your pelvic floor health?

Absolutely not, better late than never. Your pelvic floor health is for life! Just like any other muscle group in the body, the pelvic floor muscles can always be improved in strength and in their ability to relax. And your bladder and bowel are adaptable too and responds to various trainings.

Any other advice you can share on looking after your pelvic floor in your 40s?

Sadly, too many women suffer from pelvic floor issues unnecessarily, often due to little knowledge that support exists or too embarrassed to seek help. However please be assured that passionate  women’s health professionals are here to help and there is no need to suffer in silence, there is nothing we haven’t seen or heard before! And on a very positive note, with the right support (and a little bit of patience and determination) many pelvic floor issues can be treated and symptoms improved greatly.  On a final note , always take your time to urinate and poo, never strain!

So how is your pelvic floor doing ladies?

Photos by MART PRODUCTION

5 anti-ageing foods that will give your skin a youthful glow

A well thought out skincare routine is a good start but unfortunately not enough to get you that desirable, youthful, lit-from-within looking skin. One piece of the puzzle that can help you to get there is having the right diet which includes anti-ageing foods, among other things.  

To find out more, Beauty Daily by Clarins consulted with two leading nutritionists on how to eat your way to healthy-looking skin and asked for their recommendations on the best anti-ageing foods to keep in mind, and tips and recipes for a more youthful diet.  

So what food group qualify as anti-ageing?

Although there isn’t one ‘fix all’ food group that holds the secret to anti-ageing, The British Dietetic Association (BDA) says the best and most proven way to fight against skin ageing is by eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet.  

“Unfortunately, whilst it isn’t possible to stop the ageing process in its tracks, we can be more aware of our diet to make sure we are doing what we can to help us age well,” says Jemma Joel, Registered Nutritionist and NHS Health Coach.  

Joel suggests including a range of nutrients in the diet, not just those that are high in antioxidants. “Always choose whole foods where possible, as well as high sources of protein and healthy fats.”

She also advises: “Be mindful of your intake of processed and high sugar food, as sugar can impact breakouts because of the blood sugar spikes increasing inflammation and sebum production.”  

Research has shown that one of the adverse effects of eating too much sugar is premature ageing. This is because sugar can damage your skin through a process called glycation, which damages collagen, and elastin (which are the proteins which are responsible for skin’s plumpness.)

There is good news though – to make these changes to your diet, it doesn’t have to be scary and it’s not necessary to make them all at once. You can begin by making better choices when loading your plate to ensure that you are swapping out more processed foods for healthier options where possible. Think about these changes as an investment in your health, rather than a restriction.  

5 Anti-Ageing Foods That Are Approved By Nutritionists

Nishtha Patel a Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner shares her top 5 anti-ageing food recommendations.  

“Eat the rainbow of different coloured plant-based foods daily and rotate your food. This creates diversity in your gut microbiome and a healthy gut is a key to good health. They are also loaded with different antioxidants and other compounds which are crucial for hair, skin, eyes, nails, brain, heart health and of course ageing,” Patel recommends.   

1. Blueberries

Evidence shows that blueberries are great at supporting the skin’s ability to fight inflammation which related to skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and premature ageing. When out shopping, try and but wild blueberries where possible as they contain approimately 33% more brain-healthy anthocyanins than ordinary blueberries. 

“Although wild blueberries are harder to get your hands on, they are richer in anthocyanin (more so than ordinary blueberries) which are the chemicals which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  

Wild blueberries are fantastic for the brain, heart and skin, but if you’re unable to get the wild ones, try other organic berries as they help work towards the same results. Patel explains.    

2. Avocado

Avocados are a hugely rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds because they are packed with fibre, healthy fats, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate, which all play a significant part in promoting healthy skin.  

It’s no surprise that avocados are such a popular ingredient in diets as not only do they present a myriad of health benefits but they are delicious for both sweet and savoury recipes, so there are plenty of dishes for you to get your teeth into. 

anti-ageing foods

3. Oily fish

Fish is anti-inflammatory which is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and omega 3, both of which are vital for healthy skin and hair, as well as your heart and brain.   

Patel says: “Wild Alaskan salmon is considered the best but you can of course eat any oily fish in order for your skin to benefit. An easy to remember acronym is S.M.A.S.H.: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sandine, Herring. This can remind you of the best choices to make when it comes to oily fish.”  

4. Sweet Potato

When you are looking to reduce signs of ageing on your skin, sweet potato is one of the best foods to start with as it’s full of beta-carotene, which helps to prevent early ageing.

A study published by the American Journal of Public Health found that people who eat more fruit and vegetables have healthier, glowing skin and that is due to carotenoids, which are the orange/red pigments found in certain fruits and vegetables.   

Carotenoids are pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange colours in many fruits and vegetables so load up on them if you want radiant skin. 

“The orange colour comes from beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A and is important for healthy elasticity for the skin and for cell turnover, as that is what helps to keep you looking young,” says Patel. 

anti-ageing foods

5. Beetroot

Many studies report that beetroot, especially when in the form of a juice supplement, protects against oxidative damage to DNA, lipid and protein structures. It is great for the blood, heart, and brain too.  

Pro tip: “Whenever I cook, I try to add as many vegetables and spices into my meals as possible,” Patel says. 

She adds: “Herbs and spices account for plant-based ingredients in your diet. The more plants and plant-based food you eat, the more you feed your gut microbes.

These are the tiny bacteria in the gut that produce prebiotics which are fuel for the healthy bacteria (probiotics) living in the digestive tract. Furthermore, vegetables are high in fibre, so they also act as a giant brush gently sweeping out the colon.”  

Nutrition coach Joel says her favourite nutrient-dense, delicious recipe recommendation would be “a balanced colourful bowl of goodness.”   

“When making one of my bowls I like to add avocado, diced sweet potato, edamame beans, shredded radish, and a couple of tablespoons of plain hummus. The beauty of making these bowls is that they are so versatile, and you can amend them to fit in with your preferences.”  

For more recipe, follow nutritionists Jemma Joel, and Nishtha Patel for more healthy and nutritious everyday recipes or check out this detailed Nutritionist-Approved Guide To Clean Eating 

With your anti-ageing diet sorted, read next about how to incorporate The Natural Anti-Ageing Skincare Ingredients into your beauty regimen. 

 

Image by Edgar Castrejon for rawpixel.com

Will CBT work for me?

Have you been considering seeking counselling or therapy recently and wondering will CBT work for me? When people think about seeking counselling or therapy, it can feel confusing and challenging to know what type of counselling to seek; there are so many models and approaches.

Before we address the question will CBT work for me, it’s important to first establish that there are different types of counselling therapies being practiced, all of which ultimately aim to help the client overcome a range of emotional problems. However this means it’s not surprising the waters can become muddied when taking the first step towards seeking support through couselling.

Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies are among the counselling therapies and psychotherapies that people usually seek.  They are recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for anxiety disorders, depression and many emotional problems, because of the wealth of research that has demonstrated their effectiveness and efficacy.

The ideas that underpin each counselling model have a profound effect on the techniques we develop and the way we ‘do’ our work or the way we counsel.  The model a counsellor uses, their ‘therapeutic bias or preference’, will even affect what is considered important or relevant during sessions. But just because there are different types, it does not mean one particular therapy is more ‘authentically’ counselling than the other.

Many models of counselling

There are many different theories of counselling available to choose from, whether as a practitioner or a client. Some of the most well-known include:

  • Psychodynamic therapies, which includes Psychoanalysis, developed by Freud, are influenced by Freud’s ideas and direct the therapy to the past and childhood in order to make sense of their problems in adulthood.  Emphasis is given to negative experiences of early development and the role of early parenting in the formation of the self and the other.
  • Learning Theory Approaches, which include behavioural therapy which aims to eliminate unwanted and unhelpful behaviours as a way to solve problems.  It is active and goal focused.
  • Perceptual – Phenomenological Approaches which includes Transactional Analysis, Gestalt Therapy and Client Centred Therapy. Client or Person Centred is a non-directive form of talking therapy.  The therapist remains non-directive, does not offer suggestions or solutions.  It is not goal focused but rather focuses on the relationship between the client and the therapist. The idea is that the therapeutic relationship could lead to insights and lasting changes in clients.
  • Existential Therapy is philosophical and focuses on free will, self-determination and the search for meaning.  It emphasises the client’s capacity to make rational choices. It is non directive and the therapist does not offer suggestions or solutions.
  • Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy which includes Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy or REBT, Cognitive Therapy (also known as CT and CBT), and Cognitive Behavioural Modification.  These are goal directed and state that our emotional disturbances arise from unhealthy unhelpful beliefs, attitudes and thinking and behaviours and that these can be changed so that we can free ourselves from being stuck in emotional pain.  They concentrate on present problems and the current mindsets and behaviours that are creating them.

All of these are counselling theories. ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)’ is an umbrella term for several different theories that share common principles, just as ‘Psychodynamic Therapy’ is also an umbrella term.

will CBT work for me

Will CBT work for me? Informed choice is key

When deciding on what type of counselling to seek, it is important to make an informed choice. It is helpful to do some research, speak to your GP and perhaps talk to your friends about what they have found helpful and whether they managed to free themselves from their emotional suffering.  Prospective clients should ideally choose the model that they think best suits them, their strengths, experiences and ways of working.

But equally important is questioning perceived ideas or misconceptions about different models.  So, some non-CBT counsellors think that CBT counsellors don’t pay any attention to the therapeutic relationship (the working relationship between the client and the counsellor), which is completely untrue.  Of course, a CBT-counsellor will work hard to develop an open, trusting and relaxed working relationship. We are, after all, encouraging our clients to be frank and honest with their experiences and beliefs. How could we expect them to share these things if they did not trust us?

In Psychodynamic counselling, for example, the therapeutic alliance is viewed as the most significant condition or the central vehicle through which change occurs.  In contrast, a CBT counsellor sees the therapeutic alliance as significant and very important, whilst believing that change occurs when a client changes their mindset and their behaviour.  This process of change starts from understanding emotional responsibility, emotions, facing our past, present and future and developing skills of critical thinking and healthy behaviours. Without a therapeutic alliance effective change would be limited regardless of the counselling model used.

Even under the CBT ‘umbrella’ there can be differences. REBT, for example, can be described as philosophical CBT.  In REBT, the process of therapy is an active and directive one but collaborative.  The therapist and the client work as a team and focus on the client’s goal.  It is a transparent process where problems and priority problems are agreed, goals set, and emotions assessed.  Then the unhealthy beliefs that are at the heart of the client’s emotional problems are identified.  Once this happens, the client learns to turn the spotlight on these happiness sabotaging beliefs so they can be questioned to check if they are realistic and helpful.  Once this skill is learned, their healthy alternative beliefs are discussed and formulated.  Then the process moves onto how to strengthen the healthy versions and weaken the current unhealthy ones through cognitive and behavioural exercise and homework.   It’s like planting a seed for the healthy version and doing what’s needed so the seed can flower.  The weeds that need to be kept in check are the unhealthy beliefs. The client learns this philosophy of change is universal.  Once learned and applied to the initial problems, it can be universally applied to whatever we experience in life.  REBT is an active-directive existential and humanistic CBT model that leads to consistent mental health and resiliency.

Avy Joseph is the author of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Your Route out of Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage, and Other Everyday Habits with CBT (third edition published by Capstone, April 2022). He is an experienced CBT/REBT Therapist and Director of the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. He is a registered and accredited therapist with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

Images by rawpixel.com

Benefits of yoga: Why you should add yoga into your everyday routine

We now live in a world where self-care, health and wellbeing are being prioritised, and actually, are actively encouraged – which is something that we haven’t seen until recent years. And one of the very best ways to practise self-care in our humble opinion is through yoga and meditation. Here, Victoria Cranmer, founder of health and wellbeing travel firm Mindful Escapes, shares her thoughts on the benefits of yoga and why yoga should be added to our everyday routine.

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There is a global increase in people battling burnout, and time is of the essence, therefore practising as little as 10 minutes of yoga as part of your daily routine can be a beneficial addition.

People have never been as busy as they are today. Whether it’s juggling work and business with family life or struggling to find the time to relax and unwind, people are continuing to battle the feeling of burnout.

Yoga enables and releases feelings of anxiety, stress, worry, self-doubt, fatigue and the feeling of burnout with each and every breath.

Much more than deep breathing and stretching, yoga is an act of healing – both physically and mentally.

benefits of yoga

Benefits of yoga

As a great source of healing, yoga has many benefits and can work to support everybody in an entirely unique and different way.

Whilst not medicinal, yoga is the ideal way to incorporate gentle movement to your day and improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Improves strength, balance and flexibility

The regular movements and breathing techniques of yoga can aid the improvement of your strength, balance and flexibility by increasing blood flow and warming up the muscles. As well as this, yoga can improve posture, which in turn, reduces back pain and enhances comfort.

Reduces aches and pains

For people with illnesses such as arthritis, or those that suffer from aches and pains, yoga makes for the perfect form of gentle exercise. The stretching and breathing of yoga eases pain and discomfort and is a great way to manage bodily aches and pains without medicinal intervention.

Reduces stress and benefits heart health

When practised regularly, yoga can help people to feel less stressed, thus reducing inflammation and contributing to a healthier heart.

benefits of yoga

Relaxes to aid sleep and boosts mood

With yoga comes a sense of calm and can therefore be a great way to end your day and wind down before going to bed. For a better night’s sleep, alter your exercises to encourage relaxation, but to kickstart your day, yoga can make for the perfect mood booster – simply select exercises that require a little more energy and that make you feel awake and raring to go.

The ultimate self-care tool

Yoga is the ideal way to take care of yourself. Whether it’s 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour – yoga can be practised in such a way that works around your day, providing you with some well-deserved ‘me time’ whilst supporting stress management and encouraging mindfulness.

Getting started

It’s important that people practise yoga in a way that suits them – after all, we all have entirely different needs.

Whilst you will receive maximum benefits from adding yoga to your everyday routine, some people prefer yoga retreats to fully immerse themselves and to create the ultimate experience.

A retreat can be the perfect way to prioritise yoga and its healing benefits in your busy life without any distractions from the outside world. For more information on yoga retreats and its benefits, visit: https://mindfulescapes.uk/

Image by rawpixel.com

Diagnosed with terminal breast cancer: How to live when life hands you lemons

I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at 47. Whilst I knew there was a small possibility, I didn’t really expect my cancer would return along with an incurable diagnosis. But here we are.

If we know anything, it’s that life often throws us curve balls, this one being the biggest, shittiest one you could ever imagine. Being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer is unimaginable and something I still struggle to believe, even though I know it’s very real. As I walked out the hospital I remember telling myself and those I loved that I would beat this, that if anyone can I would. That I would defy the odds and live with this for a long time. This became my mantra and one I still tell myself most days.

As hard as it is to imagine, life goes on. Living with cancer is far from easy, but this diagnosis has driven me to try and live more vividly and fully than I had before. I may be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer but right now I’m well and not ready to go anywhere.

It takes an army to live your best life when life gives you lemons. Here’s some of the ways I cope:

Choose life

I got busy living. Embracing life, enjoying the little things. I love my adventures and intend to live big.

Belief

This work is never ending. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. It applies more now than ever before. Facing my fears, choosing my beliefs and letting go of those that don’t serve me. All of this work is central to my determination and belief that I can thrive with stage 4 cancer.

Be informed

Do your own research, read books. Make sense of your cancer and take control based on what works for you.

Be my best advocate

I have had to trust myself and the decisions I make. To take charge. It’s documented that patients who direct their own treatment fare better than those that don’t.

A strong reason for living

Focusing on all the reasons I want to keep living, rather than the fear of dying. Looking forward. To the experiences and adventures I’m yet to have. My husband. My family. My friends. My business. Early on, I was so terrified, I couldn’t imagine life six months out. Eventually once the dust settles I just started focusing on living instead.

Avoid statistics

They are indicators not inevitabilities. There are exceptions to every rule. All we can do is walk our own journey, and be grateful and determined to defy the odds

Understand my disease

I spent a long time reading and researching different protocols so I kew my options. I have tried to understand what my body is trying to tell me. How to nourish myself, to appreciate, to let go. I try and take it as an opportunity to change the way I treat my body and the environment around me.

Focus on healing

I have also learnt that maybe this journey isn’t about finding a cure. A magic bullet. It’s about healing. The type of healing that never stops. Everything I do is about trying to heal my mind and body. There are so many options. The important thing is to trust the decisions you make and believe in yourself. My life has taken on a new normal, and whilst it doesn’t fit my old view of what my life would look like, it brings different joys and appreciations every day.

I’m only a year into my stage 4 diagnosis. As you can imagine, it’s been A LOT. It’s a process of continuous learning, about myself, my disease, my healing. My focus is on filling my life with love and adventures and creating something amazing as a legacy.

So when life gives you lemons, shake yourself off, take a deep breath and make shit happen.

Sara Cohen is founder of luxe sustainable womenswear brand www.hakinakina.com. Having already recovered from breast cancer once, she was in remission for several years, until last April when she found her cancer had returned and was by definition terminal. 5 years ago, having recently recovered from cancer she was looking for swimwear that suited her active lifestyle and offered the high level of protection she needed to cover up her radiation burns. She was left with minimal options; so when she moved to New Zealand she decided to take matters into her own hands.  Armed with a background in marketing and 5 years in women’s wear, she opened her own business and a line of swimwear to give women the freedom to play without compromising comfort, beauty or the environment. Find out more at hakinakina.com or connect on Instagram @hakinakina.active.