If you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms, it’s vital to understand the root of the problem. As someone who has battled with my own anxiety for the last decade, I know very well from first hand experience that in order to break the cycle of anxiety, you have to understand the cause and how to break it. It was onlt when I went for therapy that I truly understood the triggers for my anxiety (like many others, they stemmed from my childhood). If you’re struggling with anxiety symptoms, this Mental Health Awarness Week then today Love Island’s wellbeing and mental health coach Kamran Bedi – author of The Anxiety Antidote – shares his incisive tips for understanding your anxiety symptoms and how to break the cycle.
The importance of self awareness
Self awareness is the main ingredient for breaking the cycle of anxiety, but the determining factor that is key is being aware of HOW to break the cycle. Most people are aware that they feel anxious, but no so much for how to make any sort of change. So I guess an increased awareness of how to make changes is what I offer in my work and through the Anxiety Antidote book.
Becoming more self aware
In my book one of the areas I guide the reader to consider is the ‘cause’ of their anxiety. Quite often people can get lost in the feelings and emotions, the physical changes and challenges that can feel overwhelming, but it can be very straight forward in identifying the cause of the anxiety and then dealing with the cause. It usually falls into two areas. Firstly, the cause could be mental and the anxiety is being formed through the persons thinking, secondly it could be a situation that is present in the person’s life that they need to address and deal with for the anxiety to be reduced or eliminated. The cause is always a key aspect to become aware of to then work on, whether its mental or actual.
The key to breaking the cycle of anxiety
The key to breaking the cycle is with working on the cause. If it is a mental cause and a set of thoughts, then interrupting the thought patterns and developing a more positive relationship with the mind can be key to breaking the cycle. I outline a variety of methods and awareness in the Anxiety Antidote that can really help readers become and feel more present, more mindful of their thoughts as well as how to take action anywhere inside their own headspace, to have more positive power and influence over their thoughts.
Staying mentally present
Mindfulness is the key to addressing anxiety symptoms as is awareness. In developing a daily practice of mindfulness, readers can learn to incorporate it into their daily lives so they are not then held captive to their thoughts that can often feel overwhelming.
Patterns of anxiety
There can be both physical patterns as well as mental patterns of anxiety. Usually on a physical level the body can enter into fight, flight or freeze. A person may have a fast heart rate and short fast breaths. This can usually be accelerated by the thoughts that cause this to literally switch on in the body, as what you think, you will feel. The mind has a very powerful influence over the physical and emotional state of the body, and in changing the thought patterns or even stopping them and then being more mindfully present, the person can end or reduce the anxiety experience and quite quickly.
Techniques and strategies for self-action to address anxiety symptoms
In my book, I cover how to work with your inner voice, how to be present and mindful, how to breathe to calm your nervous system, how to stop any mental movies playing over and over in your mind and also how to work with anxiety triggers in my book. The in-depth knowledge and the clear steps outlined in the book will really help any reader increase their awareness and improve how they think, feel and live and quite quickly.
It’s important to work on the thoughts and anxiety and not avoid it on a daily basis. A lot of people will keep anxiety inside of them and not deal with it, which can make the anxiety grow in strength. The key is to use the methods available in the book and to work on your mind on a daily basis. A daily practice of mindfulness and working with your thoughts and anxiety is as important as brushing your teeth twice a day.
A pep talk for those living with anxiety
My advice from personal and professional experience is to work on, with and through your anxiety and to not avoid it. I see too many people who have suffered for years who have not worked on their anxiety. The trouble is for many, they have lived with it and lost out on years of their lives. Anxiety can stop you from travelling, being social, and it can affect your relationships and your health. In working on it with the methods available in my book, you can increase your understanding of what is happening in your mind and body but really transform your life.
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….
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.
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 Bootsand Amazon.
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.
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 Balmcosts £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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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. Clubberciseoffer over 2,000 classes worldwide with options for kids, teens, and families starting at £5 per session. Find your nearest Clubbercise class here.
Let us know which of these Tried and Tested items you’d love to try too in a comment below!
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.
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.
Much more than deep breathing and stretching, yoga is an act of healing – both physically and mentally.
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.
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.
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/
I am a big believer in the power of breath, and have used breathwork for a whole host of things – combatting my anxiety, tackling my insomnia, getting a handle of big emotions, dealing with pain as well as my own particular health worries. I have very much felt the myriad of breathwork benefits first hand.
However, to many, the concept of breathwork might sound mysterious – after all, breathing is something we do every minute of our lives, without even thinking. But the reality is, most of the time, we are not breathing fully, or properly.
So what? You may ask. Well. Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Finding Inner Safety and wellbeing, sleep and energy expert, explains the problem here, “When we don’t breathe fully, we don’t inhabit our bodies fully. We become dissociated and numb. At some point in our lives we may have learnt that this was a helpful thing to do, that it would stop us feeling a pain or trauma at that time that we didn’t have the resources to deal with. Maybe we were young so learning how to not feel, to block out (in) uncomfortable feelings was preferable to feeling them.”
The good news is is that this is pretty easy to reverse, and if you are curious about breathwork benefits, then here is your chance to experience them right here, right now as we share three breathwork exercises taken from Dr Nerina’s book, so you can try along with us today, to experience what can be truly profound breathwork benefits.
Practice 1: Notice the Breath
Notice your breathing. What is it doing right now? Don’t try to change it, simply allow it to do what it has been doing all along until you paid attention to it.
Have you been holding your breath while reading or listening to my words? Are your shoulders tight? And what about your jaw?
Have you been gripping it? Is your breathing deep? Do you feel it in your belly or does it feel stuck in your chest, shallow and tight?
If you find that your breathing is shallow and restricted in your chest, lie down comfortably. Don’t get into bed if you might be in danger of falling asleep! Using blankets and cushions, make yourself comfortable and warm.
Notice your breathing. Place your left hand on your chest and over your heart. Place your right hand on your belly. Allow your breathing to settle and deepen, feeling the weight of your hands on your body. Can you allow your breath to reach deeper into your belly?
Start to gently prolong your exhalation but don’t force it. Imagine you are breathing roots out through your lower body – belly, hips, legs, and feet. Don’t worry about your exhalation – it will take care of itself. Simply, gently making the exhalations longer OOOOUUUUUUTTTTTTT as if you are breathing roots out through your feet and deep into the earth.
Send those roots deep down into the earth. As you breathe out your roots of safety, repeat to yourself:
This simple practice is one that I do most days. On days that I don’t I might find myself rushing around, feeling ungrounded and even overwhelmed with everything I feel I have to do.
When you wake in the morning, avoid rushing to open your eyes. With your eyes closed, simply check in with your breathing. What is it doing right now?
Simply follow five exhalations. Doing this might make you want to breathe in a different way – your breath might deepen so you feel your belly expand. Alternatively, let it do whatever it wants to do. Simply follow it.
As you notice your breathing, ask yourself ‘How am I feeling right now?’ Just a simple check-in to start your day.
It would be good if you could repeat this exercise as you go about your day. Perhaps find three other times when you simply notice five exhalations at three other times in the day. Maybe before you have your lunch or while you make a cup of tea. And then, last thing in the day when you turn your light out, follow five exhalations to help you to slide effortlessly into velvety sleep.
This simple practice helps you to become acquainted with yourself and how you are feeling rather than being constantly caught up in the mental realm – always thinking, often over-thinking.
Come back into your body.
Come back to yourself.
Practice 3: Sigh it Out
This is a really effective practice for letting go of emotions or stuck energy as you go about your day. We tend to sigh spontaneously as we go about our day but if we bring intention to our sighing it becomes a powerful therapeutic practice in its own right.
When we sigh, it drops us into feelings of calm and contentment. Try it right now. Take a big, exaggerated breath in, hold it in for a second or two and then sigh it out through your mouth. Make a sound as you do so. Make a sound of relief as you sigh.
Try this again, this time exaggerating the exhalation and making it longer.
Imagine sending this exaggerated sigh out of the soles of your feet, as if you are breathing out roots, so this prolonged out-breath makes you feel safe, grounded, and connected to the earth.
Notice if you start to feel softening anywhere in your body. Maybe your shoulders drop and relax, or your eyes and jaw soften.
Have you tried breathwork before? Or is this your first time encountering the benefits of breathwork? Do let us know in a comment below.
I won’t lie. The first time I had a mammogram, I really didn’t know what to expect. But being at high risk of developing breast cancer in my lifetime due to the fact I have BRCA1 gene mutation, then well let’s just say I am going to become very familiar with mammograms! But apart from the fact I expected it was some kind of scan, I had little idea about what happens when you have a mammogram.
Having said that, it doesn’t distract from the fact that having a mammogram is not exactly the most pleasant of experiences in my personal opinion just because it does tend to be pretty uncomfortable as your breast tissues gets pulled and manipulated into certain “flatter” positions before it gets positioned into place ready for the scan.
That said I would rather take a mammogram every day of my life rather than having a malignancy undetected in my breasts. The alternative – not knowing the status of your breast tissue and any potential changes and what they may mean, is unthinkable to me.
Do not put your mammogram off
Whatever the pain and discomfort you feel, I want to lay down now how important it is NOT to let this deter you from having your routine mammogram and attending breast cancer screening. All women are invited for a routine mammogram in the UK from age 50 up. If you have an increased risk of breast cancer due to hereditary factors then you should be having a routine mammogram annually from the age of 30 of 40.
Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for the disease nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England, but mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can rapidly improve the long-term prognosis and chances of recovery.
If you are worried about having a mammogram, not sure what a mammogram is, or yet to have your first mammogram, here Kate Whittaker, Superintendent Mammographer, at King Edward VII’s Hospital explains all.
I’ve been invited to attend a mammogram. Should I go and what should I expect?
When women turn 50, they will be contacted by the NHS Breast Screening Programme Unit, inviting them for a mammogram. All patients registered as female will be contacted every three years, until they turn 71.
Mammograms are a straightforward, non-invasive short procedure, but increasingly women are missing appointments, or declining to attend their screening. Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption, saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England. But mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can greatly improve a patient’s long-term prognosis and chances of recovery – so why should women attend them, and how can they prepare?
Before the appointment
As mentioned above, breast screening can save lives. Identifying and intervening early can dramatically improve the outcomes for breast cancer, but attending a mammogram is obviously a personal choice.
If you do decide to attend and feel nervous about the procedure, try to book an appointment at a time when you’re not going to be rushing around. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a friend or loved one to take you to the appointment for moral support, and have something nice planned for afterwards that you can look forward to and distract from any worries.
When you have a mammogram, you’ll be asked to undress from the waist up, so try to wear something comfortable that’s easy to take on and off. You’ll always be imaged by a female mammographer, but if you have any queries or concerns, including mobility issues or special requirements, it’s best to contact the screening unit before your appointment. That will allow them to make any necessary changes to your appointment, such as duration or location, as some sites are remote and may not be accessible to disabled service users.
During the mammogram
When you’re ready, you’ll be invited into an x-ray room by the mammographer, who will explain the procedure and answer any questions. Your breast is imaged by gently placing it onto the x-ray machine and applying some compression. This only lasts a few seconds and releases the moment the x-ray has been taken. You’ll have four images taken in total, two on each breast. All you’ll need to do is take a few small steps in front of the machine and raise your arms when asked, to help with the breast positioning in the side images. The whole process is over very quickly, in around five minutes, but keeping still is really important to get an accurate x-ray.
Breast screening can be uncomfortable, or occasionally a little painful for some people, so talking through any concerns with the mammographer can be very useful, you can also tell them to stop at any point if you’re feeling discomfort.
Getting your results
Results will be sent to you by post and they generally take between two and four weeks. A copy will also be sent to your GP for your medical records.
Your results will either say ‘No sign of breast cancer’ or ‘Need further tests’. If you have no sign of breast cancer, you can wait for your next mammogram in three years time, unless you notice any breast changes, including any lumps in your chest or armpit, discharge from your nipple, or an unusual texture on the skin of your breast. Do a check once or twice a month, and contact your GP if you notice any changes or have any concerns about your breasts.
If you need further imaging, don’t panic. Most people who need further tests will not be diagnosed with breast cancer. But if you are worried, you can discuss the appointment with a breast care nurse, who will be able to explain to you the result, and what next steps will be taken.
You’ll be offered an appointment in a screening assessment clinic where you’ll be offered an examination of your breast and sometimes more mammograms, an ultrasound, or sometimes a needle test. Results from these tests normally take around a week. All of this will help the Breast Unit team and your GP to best support you and offer any further investigations and treatment you may require, which, in some cases, can limit the need for invasive treatment, or surgery. So when you receive your next invitation, I’d urge you to come forward and attend your mammogram, or if you notice any breast changes or symptoms in the meantime, speak to your GP to access support as early as possible, which may save.
We hope the above helps you overcome any fears you may have about attending a mammogram screening. Focus on the end game in that when you attend a mammogram, you are doing something amazing for your body and yourself, and empowering yourself with the knowledge you need about any risk factors, warning signs and potential treatment down the line. To find out more about assessing your breast cancer risk see this useful guide over at our friends Breast Cancer Now or speak to your GP.
While gals in their 40s are always looking for ways to be healthier and ensure they can still do everything they used to do in their 20s and 30s, their parents are another issue. The older you get, the older your parents will be, and this means they may require more care and support. And of course, you’re going to provide that care and support to say thanks for raising you and making sure their quality of life remains as good as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to keep them safe, but how?
Move closer to them
Moving closer to your parents will make sure you can look after them in case anything happens. If they cannot move in with you due to any number of reasons, you can at least try to be as close as possible.
Being closer to them will allow you to respond immediately. You don’t want to be on the other side of the country if something happens, so being able to act quickly can put your mind – as well as theirs – at ease. While moving house is not always convenient, it’s something to consider as your parents get older.
Consider care options
If moving house isn’t on the cards right now, you can look at other options, especially if your parents have suffered an illness or a fall that has affected their mobility and overall health.
There are many care services to consider, such as care homes, while live-in care has become an increasingly popular option for elderly folks who do not want to move out of their house. With this, a professional carer will be on hand at all hours to provide support and company, which can make it easier for you if you do not have the time to drive back and forth due to other family or work commitments.
Sometimes, you don’t need to be right by your parents to keep them safe. It might be that they just want you to check in regularly so you can see how they are doing.
A phone call every night or every other night is often enough, especially if they live far away and you can’t nip over for a quick chat and a catch-up. You could also buy them a smartphone with messaging apps so you can get immediate responses.
Let them keep their independence
Your parents’ independence is crucial for their wellbeing, so allowing them to maintain this independence can be beneficial for keeping them safe.
While you might think that they cannot take care of themselves like they used to because of old age, there’s a chance they will surprise you. They don’t want people to coddle them but instead let them live their lives and feel they are in control, which will keep their mental capacity in excellent condition.
While not all parents will require all-day care and support immediately, it is something that may happen to your mother or father (or both). If you know your options before something happens, such as an illness or a fall, you can make sure they can enjoy the rest of their life with independence and support.
Are you currently dealing with your aging parents? Let us know by commenting below or connect with us over on Instagram.
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Aging gracefully isn’t always the easiest thing to do but there are some tips and advice that can give you a better chance of doing so. You must remind yourself that you matter and that the better job you do at self-care the better you’re going to feel overall.
Below are some of the best ways to stay well as you age. Put these into practice and it won’t be long before you’re on your way to improved health and more happiness. Getting older can be hard on your mind and body but it can also be a beautiful and rewarding journey if you approach it in the right manner.
Take care of your physical body
One of the best ways to stay well as you age is to take care of your physical body. There are many ways to do so such as getting enough sleep and exercise daily. Also, address aches, pains, and discomforts as soon as they occur instead of putting them off. Have a doctor you can visit as needed and keep the number of an emergency dentist handy. It may also help to do yoga or stretch often to remain loose and build more strength and stamina. Your new routine may also include strength training as well as other fun activities that get your heart rate up.
Stay well as you age by finding useful and productive ways to lower stress. Too much of it can be debilitating and cause you anxiety and anguish. It may be that you write in a journal, review your gratitude list, or head outside for a walk when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These are just some of the best ways to reduce stress and reset when you’re experiencing tension and uneasiness. Know what your triggers are and try to avoid them or at least prepare for them when you can. Acknowledge and notice your feelings and have healthy outlets for releasing any negative emotions you’re harboring.
Challenge your mind
Mental health matters and plays a significant role in how you feel overall and function. Improve and boost your mental health by staying challenged and engaged in life. Find a job and career that makes you think and problem-solve and do some crossword puzzles in your free time. Start a new hobby and socialize with others so you’re always taking in new thoughts and perspectives.
Cook healthy meals
A nutritious diet will also help you achieve better wellness and keep you on track to feeling great. Stay well as you age by cooking healthy meals for yourself and packing healthy snacks to bring with you on the go. Consume more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and try to cut back on the refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar. You’ll have more control over the ingredients and what you’re putting in your body when you grocery shop and cook at home. It’ll be easier to maintain a healthy weight and you’ll have more natural energy when you eat right. There are so many benefits that it’ll be worth your efforts to prepare meals yourself.
What do you do to stay well as you age? How are you preserving yourself? Let us know by commenting below or connect with us over on Instagram.
“Ugh, she’s so selfish!”, you may have muttered under your breath about someone else in your life probably more than one or two times. Well, hold the phone! Because being selfish – or indeed, more selfish, is having somewhat of a reinvention. Yes people, the times they are a changing. Those days when being branded as selfish, or self-centred are slowly being replaced by an alternative way of thinking, which is that being selfish is actually good! Otherwise known as positive selfishness.
If you are sick of putting everybody else first and putting your needs last. If you are feel that you are being undervalued by those around you whether it be family, friends or work colleagues. If you are feeling like you’re running on empty, spread thinner than the latest iPhone then hold up! Here, Carolyn Hobdey author and founder of Redefining Selfish lays down seven reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own this new breed of positive selfishness.
We get so caught up in our busy lives, in the groundhog day of work, family and household chores, giving our all to everyone else, trying to avoid careering into a midlife crisis etc that we don’t stop to consider our own needs. When this happens, we can become fed up and frustrated, but how often do we stop and think about what’s causing those feelings?
Here are seven reasons why you might need to be more selfish and what you can do about them:
An endless ‘to-do’ list
When you feel like you’re never getting on top of things in your life, it can be hard to see your way out of the rut. If you’re in a constant state of busy-ness with barely any time to think or catch your breath, then its a sure sign that you need to take some selfish time out.
To do this, you need to determine what is actually important. This helps to sort out that not everything on that list is of equal weight in your life; it gets you away from your ‘to-do’ list being one amorphous mass of stuff. To do this, write everything you have to do on post-its (one item per post-it). Then plot them on a grid with ‘important’ on one axis and ‘urgent’ on the other from low to high for each. Now place the post-its on the grid – be ruthless about what goes where!
Feeling resentful about your life
Even if your life is the picture of ‘success’ or looks like you have it all, it’s ok if you don’t feel that way about it. It’s normal to look at your life and ask yourself, “is this it?”. If you find yourself doing this, or hacked-off by the monotony of your existence, then its time to take stock and be focused about what you want.
To do this, look at the two possible versions of your life. In the first, write down everything that those you know and love will have to say about you at the end of your life if you carried on living it as you are today. If nothing changed, what would be the legacy that you would leave? What would be said about your behaviours and actions?
Then write the alternative version. This includes everything that you want to be said about you – the person you were, the impact you made and how you lived your life. Look at the difference between the two versions, then plan what steps you’d need to take to move from the first version to the second.
Frequently weary or burnt out
Our ‘always on’ society means constant demands on your time and attention.
When you feel like you’re always running on empty, it’s time to take notice. Excessive, extended periods of stress lead to burn-out. Burn-out means you’ll hit a brick wall and your body will prevent you from doing anything, however much your mind wants otherwise. Therefore, prevention is crucial.
Instead, see yourself as a battery; your energy levels are the charging bars. Check in on those bars every day. Keep a record of your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 5. Observe if there is a pattern. Notice if your levels are consistently low or if certain events/people reduce them. Then start doing one thing per day to be kind to yourself. Something exclusively for you that boosts that battery. Build cumulatively on that success.
Stressed or anxious
Life’s endless treadmill naturally leads to stress – especially when we’re expected to have-it-all and be able to do-it-all. The reality is that we’ve no more time in each day than our ancestors had, we’re just expected to cram more in. The negative impacts on our minds and bodies of the relentless cortisol experienced when we’re stressed have been well documented.
Ten minutes each day of thoughtful breathing, mindfulness or guided meditation has been proven to have a significantly beneficial impact on reducing stress and anxiety. Think you don’t have time? Monitor for a week how much time you spend scrolling through social media…
Feeling guilty for putting yourself first
When did showing yourself some respect become a bad thing? If you feel guilty for taking time for self-kindness, then ask whose guilt it is that you’re carrying around. Where does it come from? Who instilled that into you? Is it even your guilt?
To remove this guilt, see this time as an investment in you. When you put yourself first, you’re putting credits into the bank of you – these are just a way to balance out all the debits that you allow others to withdraw. Staying in the ‘black’ with your body’s account is much healthier.
Not being valued by others
When this happens you need to ask, “what do I do that makes this happen?”. Yes, this might seem harsh on you, but when others treat you badly, it’s frequently because you communicate that you don’t matter.
Want that to change? Start looking at how you treat yourself. Consider what you tell people about your value by the way you prioritise yourself. When you start putting you higher up on your priority list, others will treat you how you treat yourself. Simple.
Thinking being selfish is ‘bad’
Do you tell yourself that if you take time for you, take attention away from others and don’t put those you love first that the whole world is going to cave in? Where does that perception of selfish come from?! When did loving yourself become a thing of shame?
Change your mindset about ‘selfish’. You can’t rescue anyone if you’re drowning; put your own life-vest on before helping others. When you look at self-care as being a way in which you can better serve those you love, then it becomes self-less to be selfish.
Shifting your mindset about what it means to be selfish is about learning to value you.
You matter. Believe that.
Do you ever wish you were more selfish? Could you see yourself redefining the concept of selfishness to the benefit of your confidence and wellbeing? Do share a comment below and keep the conversation going over on our Instagram community here.
First there was Brexit, then there was the pandemic, and now Russia is pummelling Ukraine. If your levels of anxiety are creeping up again then you are most certainly forgiven. This morning after I dropped off my daughter at school, I had a conversation with a fellow school mum about the state of affairs and I walked away with that familiar yet unwelcome feeling of anxiety gripping my chest. When we are constantly being thrown curveballs of the unknown, the sense of dread about what will happen next becomes palpable. This, my friends, it what it is to be living through a permacrisis.
However bad whatever the world seems right now, it all feels a bajillion times worse thanks to the never ending news feeds which are constantly being rammed down our throats thank to the phones in our pockets and our attachment to social media. We can’t bare to look, yet we become disgustingly addicted to doom scrolling all in one fell swoop.
So now we are firmly here in the age of the permacrisis, how the heck do we live through it without completely losing our marbles? First let’s take a look at why we are all feeling so damned anxious now:
“It can be difficult to get your head round… after all, Covid is nearly over, and Mr Putin and his army are hundreds of miles away. So why on earth are so many of us not sleeping properly and perhaps quietly wondering if we’re mentally ill? Well, the answer is actually quite simple.
It’s because most of us are control freaks, whether we want to admit it or not!
In the UK we’re so used to being in control of our lives that it’s the ‘norm’ and we really don’t think about it very much in the usual way. We have freedom. Then, suddenly, control is wrenched away from us, and we’re subject to mammoth changes almost overnight.
The problem is, everybody’s psychology is already exhausted from two years of Covid, and just as things start to feel normal again, up comes this new threat… and resilience has taken such a beating that it all feels just too much.”
Watts offers some hope: “What can you do to relieve that nagging anxiety at the back of your mind, that uncomfortable feeling somewhere in your gut? Take time to detach yourself from it. We can’t stop what’s happening in Ukraine, but you can give yourself a psychological break from it for a while. Here’s the perfect exercise to do just that. It works best if you can learn it and then do it with your eyes closed:
Step 1: Imagine how you might look from the outside
If you knew exactly how to deal with the situation and make it as vivid in your thoughts/mind as you can. Don’t worry if it seems daft or unlikely, or what anybody else might think or say if they knew – just imagine it anyway in the privacy of your mind, and store that image of the ‘competent self’ anywhere in your thoughts.
Step 2: Now think of a clock
…with an hour hand, a minute hand and a hand that shows the seconds so that you can see the clock is working. Make that vivid in your mind, too. (You don’t have to think of both this image and the first one at the same time.)
Step 3: Take a moment
…to imagine how you look from the outside when you’re at your most anxious and make that vivid too – be honest now and make it look real!
Step 4: Imagine you can stop the clock
…and actually stop time by simply staring hard at the image so that it’s frozen in the past. In fact, everything has stopped except you. You can just walk out of that frozen scene and see yourself with each step adopting that ‘competent self’ you created at step 1.
Step 5: Zoom in
Now zoom right into that image to actually become that competent self as if you’re on the inside looking out on the world as you stride forwards and notice how good that feels.
Step 6: Repeat
Repeat steps 3 – 5 at least three times and notice how it gets easier each time. Stop when you’re happy with how you feel, or after six repeats which is about the maximum useful number.
This exercise has helped a good few people to get through trying times – and the good thing about it is that you can do it as often as you like and it gets better every time. You can’t change what’s happening in the world, of course, but you can change how you react to it!”
“Whilst as a mental health professional I know that distraction is not the cure, it can be helpful to use strategies which keep us mindfully in the present. This might include things such as affirmations, or even just practicing skills in mindfulness such as rhythmic breathing or yoga. When creating affirmations it can be beneficial to include ways you can have a positive impact upon your thoughts and actions such as: I am choosing to focus on the things I can control, I am learning skills to soothe and calm myself, I can trust myself to take action as an when needed.
Where we do have to use a little bit of caution with positivity is if we are using it in a way which might actually be gaslighting to ourselves. For example, in the past I have worked with people who were feeling very sad and having a truly horrid day but were telling themselves that they were feeling really strong and were going to have a great day. This runs the risk of invalidating important needs and feelings and communications. So if you are having a horrid time right now then it is always a good idea to reach out to someone qualified and experienced to help you feel better.”
Other tools to try and reduce the anxiety of living in a permacrisis
I am a big believer in having a bank of tools for dealing with tough mental times, of which we have been having plenty of over the last few years. Here Lisa Butcher, hypnotherapist, reiki master and shamanic practitioner shares some additional tools we can use during these times when we feel anxious about things we can’t control:
When you start to feel your palms getting sweaty or your tummy twisted in knots it’s good to work on your breath. Every time you breathe in imagine there is calming beautiful energy coming into your body and every time you breathe out imagine letting go of fear, worry and anxiety. I like to do 7/11 breathing which is when you breathe in for the count of seven, through your nose, hold for a couple of beats and breathe out through your mouth emulating a sigh for the count of 11. Do this upto 10 times. Another great technique is to breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of three and then breathe out for the count of eight. It’s important to count the breath as it makes you concentrate on what you are doing and helps to take your mind off the feelings of anxiety.
Grounding is a brilliant way to get out of your head and into your body. Imagine yourself as a big oak tree. With the roots growing out the bottom of your feet, going through the different layers of the earth vertically and horizontally firmly grounding you. Now imagine pushing the energy swirling around your head (overthinking and fear) down through your body and down into mother earth to be transformed. I like to do this practice every morning when I wake up. I lay in bed and visualize my body being grounded. I then take this feeling with me on my morning dog walk. It helps me to connect with nature and feel like I’m connected to the earth.
The TIPP Technique
If you are in the middle of a panic attack the best way to deal with it in the moment is to fill a wash basin with ice cold water. Put your whole face in the water and hold for 20 seconds. Take your head out of the water and take two or three deep breaths. Repeat this three times, and then do star jumps or move your body for 60 seconds. After sit down in a chair and take 20 long deep breaths – breathe in for the count of five and out for the count of seven. This technique is called TIPP – it stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Pace Breathing, Paired Muscle Relaxation. It might sound dramatic but believe me, it works.
The Five Senses
Look for five things around you and describe them. Listen to four different sounds and only focus on them. Smell three different things – try to distinguish three different scents around you. Touch two different textures. Taste one thing. By doing this you are using all of your senses to get out of your worry/fear. By stopping in the moment and using all five senses you relieve negative thought patterns and ease the anxiety.
How have you been feeling anxious with the recent world developments? Do leave a comment and share below and join our Instagram community here for more support.
Photo by Keenan Constance, Olya Kobruseva and PNW Production from Pexels
As life starts to throw more challenges as we get older, whether it’s in terms of our health or just the sheer volume of tasks we need to complete every single day, the fact is that we’re not always in the mood for a bit of naughtiness, if at all! We can be very surprised by changes that occur in our sexual activity, especially after 40. There are very common reasons for this, such as decreased libido, hormone decreases, and changes in our sexual response. But there is more to it than this. Here, we explore, 4 common sexual concerns after 40.
1. Loss of libido
It’s a very common thing women experience, but we must remember that men experience it too! As women go through perimenopause into menopause, women are less likely to think about sex, if at all. And they may be very surprised at this sudden change. But it’s not just women. But men can have decreased libido too. And this is predominantly because their testosterone levels are starting to dip.
While some methods and medications can help with this, such as Testogel, the fact is that when both partners are losing their libido, this can throw up a confusing number of components. Commonly, if one partner is sexually active and the other one isn’t, this can pose relationship problems, where breakups and divorces can occur.
2. Perception of the self
Something that is not always spoken about in relation to sex is the fact that as we get older we are going through so many physical changes that we can feel less desirable, which means we can be less interested in sex. Over the age of 40, there is more of a chance of us gaining weight, losing fitness levels, as well as our mood altering throughout these times.
But we have to bear in mind that the challenges in dealing with each of these aspects can be overwhelming all in themselves. If we don’t feel attractive, which will impact our interest in sex, the best approach is to do what is manageable and reasonable to improve our overall health and appearance. But this alone is not enough. We then need to move on and learn to accept that we are who we are as we enter a new stage of our lives.
Having that sense of self-perception is so important, regardless of your sex drive, but the more important component is to learn to accept who you are. Once we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin, this is when we’re going to feel more attractive and open to possibilities. So many of us don’t feel attractive, even during the act of sex, which means that we’re going to not want to even initiate this because it’s going to have a negative impact on our frame of mind.
3. Gender role behaviour
In mid-life, partners can begin to fall out of sync with each other. Women in mid-life will experience a number of changes, not necessarily because of pre-menopause but the focus in their lives changes. For women who have had children in their 20s or early 30s, now they are beginning to focus more on their own needs, but will also have more time to devote to themselves. This is why we see many women changing careers in mid-life. The same thing applies to men, as they are more likely to start slowing down in their careers and want to have a balance in their lives.
Overall, these things will impact sexual behaviour and will mean that when both partners are going out of sync with each other, they won’t necessarily have those same desires to focus on the other person. As we get older we can feel that we may have given too much of ourselves to others, especially if we’ve been in a parental role. We see many women and men in middle age going out and socialising more as they may have felt they missed out on a lot of this over the last decade or so.
The main solution to this is about, very simply, learning to sync up with each other’s lives, even to the smallest degree. It’s almost like we’ve got to let our partners get these things out of their system. After all, we deserve to let our hair down, but if our partner is looking to do the same thing we’ve got to be aware that as we try to reclaim our lives for ourselves, there is another person in the equation.
4. A change in sexual response
In women and men, there is a lot more difficulty in coming to orgasm, or orgasms may be less satisfying, and could potentially be an early warning sign of underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
What can we do to help with these problems?
As we get older, there needs to be more focus on sex in a holistic manner. The fact is that it’s not just about being able to do it as in when you please. As we get older, we’re going to encounter more health problems that pose obstacles. Here are a few things that you can do to help move things along:
As we go into mid-life, our stress can increase. And this is where taking a look at your common stressors and eliminating these will help. Because if you work to manage your stress, you’re going to improve your general well-being which will have a positive effect on your sexual appetite. Managing stress doesn’t have to be about meditating for 2 hours a day, in fact, even as little as 5 minutes a day can have a positive impact, as long as you choose the right practises for you. Learning to breathe low, slow, and deep can have a positive impact on your abilities to deal with stress.
Having a healthier diet
Our bodies respond very well to certain diets. And because there’s so much information around being healthy, we can find ourselves going down certain avenues that don’t benefit us on an individual level. Physiologically speaking, you have to ensure that you are increasing blood flow and helping your body to regenerate in the right ways. In many ways, the solutions are simple: eating for energy and having whole foods without any preservatives or additives. But it’s also important to remember that fat can also be beneficial here, especially good fats.
Women who take part in exercise have been shown to display fewer menopausal symptoms. It also increases cardiovascular health, resulting in a better sexual response.
It may be beneficial to go to the doctor and discuss the right methods to medicate any form of anxiety or depression. It’s worth noting that medication like antidepressants can inhibit sexual function, but having this in combination with a type of therapy such as CBT may work for you.
Finally, having adequate sleep is vital for every aspect of your life. Having a solid 8 hours is not just going to reduce your stress, but will increase your hormone production which has a natural impact on increasing sexual desire.
Because getting older, for many people, means naturally losing interest in sex, this doesn’t have to be the case. The reality is that we all deserve a healthy sex life, and having an understanding of the common issues that underlie a lot of middle-aged sexual anxieties, as well as having the best health solutions, will make a massive difference.
Keep the conversation going by commenting below or connecting with us on Instagram