Spring Forward!

Happiness is the meaning and purpose behind life. But how can you help others towards happiness, and how can you promote it within yourself?

As buds burst from slumbering soil, the hopeful promise of Spring comes happily into focus.

Happiness and the Promise of Spring

The winter months in the UK are long and often dull, cold and wet. For many, the beginning of Spring signals a fresh start – the chance to look forward with excitement to the weeks and months ahead.

For sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the coming of Spring brings with it a promise of happier, healthier times. The weather can have a stark impact on our moods, and there is no wonder that winter can be a difficult time for many. SAD is surprisingly common, with approximately one in three people suffering from symptoms during the darker days of the year. 

However, it’s important to remember that many mental health issues are not confined to one season; millions of people live with poor mental health throughout the year.

What Can I Do to Help?

Mental health problems don’t display themselves like broken bones or grazed knees. Therefore, it’s a good idea to be mindful that anyone who looks ‘fine’ on the outside may actually be suffering internally. 

We all have mental health: from the smiling barista who makes your morning coffee; the quiet postman who nods a ‘hello’ to you every day; the helpful sales adviser at the other end of the phone; the timid little girl who lives at the end of the road… Do we honestly know what anyone is really going through at any particular moment?

The easiest way you can help?

Be Kind

Kindness is an underestimated quality; showing kindness to another person costs nothing, but its value can be priceless to the receiver. 

It’s important to try to be kind – in whatever situation we find ourselves. So, instead of getting angry in a frustrating scenario, try to exercise a little patience and a kind word to make a positive difference.

Reach Out 

Be mindful of those around you and keep in touch with them – friends and family, distant relatives, neighbours and work colleagues. Pick up the phone or grab a coffee. 

Listen

Listening is another underrated quality, and the simple act of carefully listening to someone who is struggling can be of great comfort to them.

Point People Towards the Help They Need

People suffering from mental health problems in the UK can contact Samaritans 24/7 on 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org and the charity Mind also provides professional support.

The Importance of Self Care

It’s wonderful to be in a position to help another person. However, it’s so important to ensure that we keep a crystal clear focus on our own wellbeing too! After all, you can’t help other people effectively if you don’t look after yourself!

Take time out for you – meditate, exercise, socialise, eat well and sleep well. Spring in the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, being mindful to the natural changes happening around you – the emergence of bright colours and floral scents.

Environment

It’s so important that you enjoy an environment conducive to health and happiness in both your home and workplace. Keeping your living space clean and tidy can have positive benefits to your overall wellbeing and quality of life. You can create an uplifting ambience in your home by diffusing Grapefruit essential oil; the fresh aroma brings the Spring season inside whilst also promoting healthy skin.

Spring Forward!

The gentle chirp and whistle of the dawn chorus; glowing daffodils with crisp, verdant stems; fresh, scented air and the cautious emergence of the sun… there are so many beautiful things to enjoy about the coming of Spring.

So – no excuses! Get out and about and encourage a friend or neighbour to join you. And bring nature inside – flowers, fresh air and natural oils to make for a healthier home. 

Above all, never underestimate the power within nature to transform, renew, heal and uplift – all throughout the year!

Are YOU Living in a Toxic Environment?

With our planet facing an unprecedented environmental disaster, governments around the world are acting to clean up the air and oceans and save entire ecosystems. Businesses are becoming increasingly environmentally friendly, and action is being taken at household level too. 

Washed up Plastic
Plastic in the Environment

The seeds of change are beginning to take root, with the quality of air in towns and cities improving and more eco-friendly products being produced. 

But whilst the external environment is beginning to improve, millions of people are unwittingly living in toxic surroundings.

A Toxic Household

You keep your house spotlessly clean and tidy. You use organic products and eco-friendly, non-toxic detergents. But your house is STILL full of harmful airborne toxins, in the form of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS).

What are VOCs?

VOCs are organic chemicals that easily vaporise and enter the surrounding air. Not all VOCs are harmful – for example, some are released by plants, allowing them to communicate with other plants and animals. 

However, many VOCs are dangerous to human health and cause environmental damage too. 

The Harmful Effect of VOCs

Unfortunately, the impact of exposure to many VOCs is not recognised until it is too late; toxic compounds rarely cause severe health problems in the short term (more often than not they are merely the cause of irritation and discomfort). 

Over 400 different VOC chemical compounds have been found in domestic environments. The effects of exposure to these different chemicals can cause a wide range of relatively mild health problems, including:

  • Eye irritation
  • Respiratory problems
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disorders
  • Memory Impairments 

However, the potential health implications of long-term VOC exposure are more alarming:

  • An increased risk of cancer
  • Liver, kidney and central nervous system damage

Groups of people at particular risk are young and elderly people, people with respiratory problems and those with a heightened sensitivity to chemicals.

Where are VOCs Found?

Over 400 harmful VOC compounds have been found to exist in domestic environments. They are most commonly found in furniture and material furnishings, toiletries and chemicals. 

So which household items should we be concerned about?

How Toxic is Your Household?

Carpeting 

Ah – that ‘new carpet’ smell. Unfortunately, the chemical composition of this smell contains around 200 VOCs. And the sheer surface area of carpet means it emits a very high volume of chemicals.

Furniture

Who would have thought furniture could bring dangerous chemicals into your living space? Unfortunately, pressed-wood furniture and sofas bring a high level of VOCs into your home.

Hair-Sprays, Deodorants and Air Fresheners

You may have heard that the chemicals within aerosol products are damaging the ozone layer. It is therefore not difficult to imagine how these chemicals could impact human health. 

Paints 

Many paints release formaldehyde – a chemical which poses a significant risk to human health. 

Other Sources of VOCs:

  • Vinyl flooring
  • Curtains
  • Dry-Cleaned Clothes
  • Shampoos and Cosmetics
  • Varnishes
  • Perfumes
  • Wood-burning Stoves
  • Building Materials
  • Candles
  • Cleaning Agents
  • Smoking

So How Can We Avoid VOCs?

  • Buy solid wood, hardboard or exterior grade plywood instead of pressed wood products
  • Buy antique furniture
  • Look out for ‘Low’ and ‘Zero-VOC’ paints
  • Use non-toxic deodorant sticks in place of aerosols
  • Use plant-based cosmetics, cleaning supplies and essential oils
  • Make the inside of your home a ‘no smoking’ zone

Although it isn’t always possible to completely avoid the use of products containing VOCs, you can manage your exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Airing

Airing newly-manufactured products can dramatically reduce the risk of exposure to VOCs. For example, unwrap a brand-new sofa, and leave it to air in a garage or outbuilding for a couple of days before bringing it into the home.

Sealing

Seal pressed wood products with varnish or paint before bringing into the home. 

Ventilating

Ventilating your home can lower the concentration of VOCs in your home – particularly if you have a new carpet or have recently painted a room. Open the windows and doors, and use a fan to direct air outside.

However, it is a good idea to keep fresh air circulating through your home on a regular basis anyway for the sake of your health.

An Environment of Wellbeing

When considering health and wellbeing, people focus their attention on nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health. It is therefore easy to miss out the quality of your domestic environment – from the cleanliness and design of your rooms, to the very air that you breathe. 

So eliminate VOCs from your life to help you and your family to become happier and healthier this year.

Find out more about VOCs here.