Have you got Spring fever yet?

As the snowdrops delight us, the daylight hours are longer and the green shoots of spring are all around us, our thoughts turn to outdoor activities. That could be brushing the dust off the bicycle, finding the golf clubs, or looking for your trusty gardening gloves. What you choose means engaging a set of muscles that you probably haven’t used for quite a while. So what are the top tips for easing your way back into outdoor activities after a long winter layover?
1. Be kind to yourself – the weeding / sweeping doesn’t have to be achieved in one day nor the 50km bike ride on day one! Little and often is the golden rule!

2. Plan the activity – it’s more fun with someone else whether it’s walking a new route, or turning over the soil in the garden – listen to music if you’re on your own or catch up on a podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to!

3. Warm up first before commencing – start with some gentle stretching and make it a routine part of the activity. You will regret it otherwise and will soon become familiar with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenous exercise.

4. Try something new – it’s never too late to take up a new sport or activity – joining a club means that there are other newbies learning and it’s more fun too.

5. Enjoy yourself – whilst there is the “no pain – no gain” theory of pushing yourself to achieve, being outdoors for most of us should be joyful. The positive gains of being in the fresh air are bountiful – surrounding yourself with negative ions (those are the good ones) from the Earth’s natural enery – particularly abundant near water and trees. Your mental health will also benefit – movement at any level creates a more positive mindset and that will impact on your relationships, your work and your purpose. Go figure!

6. Remember to hydrate before your start your exerise, during to keep those hydration levels up and afterwards to flush away the build up of any lactic acid you may have generated. Stretching afterwards will help stimulate circulation, increase flexibility and relieve tension. This helps bring more oxygen to your muscles which can help reduce lactic acid production and rid your muscles of an accumulation of lactic acid!

Lastly, if you do ‘over do’ the exerise, as an advocate of wellness, I would encourage you to find a natural way of managing the pain – there are plenty to choose from such as essential oils and magnetic therapy. Certainly a better option than an pharmaceutical one!

What’s your Spring fever going to be?

blue city bike beside brown wooden fence

How to Get the Best Night’s Sleep

If you’re tossing and turning all night, hitting the snooze button more than once, then loading up on coffee in the morning, you might be among the many people wishing for a better night’s sleep. Sleep issues have become a common problem in our modern society. Over 68% of the UK population report that they have a bad night at least once a week and a quarter of them say that they experience poor sleep most nights. That’s a lot of missing sleep!

Maybe you’re wondering if you struggle with insomnia. How can you tell? The general definition of insomnia is that it’s an inability to fall asleep easily and/or stay asleep easily all night, even when you have a restful environment for sleep.

Everyone gets insomnia occasionally. Sometimes before a big test or important interview you might have trouble sleeping, and that’s pretty normal. But if you have issues sleeping on a regular basis, especially three or more nights per week, and if it’s been going on for months or even years, you probably have chronic insomnia.

When you don’t get enough sleep, the next day is usually pretty rough. You’ll typically feel drowsy, have trouble thinking clearly, have a hard time concentrating, and lack energy. You might even get irritable and angry easily, which doesn’t bode well for relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Chronic insomnia can also lead to serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.

So how do you get back to sleep and move to a healthy sleep cycle? Here are some of the best tips to help you slumber peacefully all night, every night.

alarm-clock-1193291

Top Tips for A Great Night’s Sleep

Tip 1 – Turn off the TV and all electronics an hour before bed. The blue light coming from the screens of your television and devices suppresses the release of melatonin with is an important hormone for sleep. Keep your electronics out of your bedroom, if you can, and definitely make sure all electronic lights are out at night. Most people don’t realise that using electronics before bed can affect their sleep. Consider removing your phone from your room and not using it for your alarm. If you must keep your phone in your bedroom, be sure to turn it on “Airplane Mode” and turn off the Wi-Fi.

Tip 2 – Take some time to relax before bed. Good choices for relaxing activities include meditating, reading a calming book, or listening to peaceful music. Make sure your pre-bedtime activities are relaxing and make you feel sleepy.

Tip 3- Exercise every day. It can help you sleep better at night, so make sure to include at least a brisk walk in your daily schedule. Just make sure you don’t exercise at night, as it can “amp” you up causing you to have a hard time settling down for sleep.

Take sleep promoting supplements and herbs. These include magnesium, melatonin, and valerian (a herbal tea). Try them out to see if they’ll work for you and adjust the dose as necessary. ( Look for a good holistic store or health shop for advice ).

Tip 4 – Create a dark bedroom. Your body takes cues from your environment, so your bedroom needs to be dark in order for your brain to believe that it’s time for sleep. Train your circadian rhythm again to get back to a healthy schedule by ensuring that your room is always dark. If you can’t make it pitch black, wear an eye mask to block out the remaining light.

Tip 5 – Find out what’s causing you stress. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time thinking about your worries while trying to fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night. Try writing a sleep journal right before bed to get it all out on paper, leaving your mind free to relax for the night.

Tip 6 – Review your pain relief. Are you taking unnecessary prescriptions? When was the last time you reviewed your daily / weekly intake of pain medication? Have you considered alternative therapies to manage your physical pain? When the body is stressed and/or in pain, it is much more difficult to relax and therefore sleep. Consider magnetic therapy (a magnetic eye mask also helps create the perfect calm and dark environment) hypnotherapy, Reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, Bowen technique, and aromatherapy using essential oils.

Tip 7 – Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine may be the cause of your insomnia, especially if you ingest it in the late afternoon or evening. Reduce your intake and keep it to a morning routine. Then you’ll give your body enough time to wind down in the evenings for rest. Alcohol is known cause of insomnia too. Consider your daily / weekly intake and make adjustments accordingly. Increase your hydration to at least 1.5 litres of still water per day. Try magnetising your water for maximum absorption and the right pH balance.

Create a bedtime routine. The human brain and our circadian rhythms love routine. By creating a routine, you’ll signal to your brain that sleep is coming soon. Keep to the same bedtime hours, if possible. After a while, you’ll notice your body is immediately triggered by the routine and starts to feel sleepy.

Tip 8 -Take a warm bath. Include it as part of your bedtime routine, adding in lavender essential oil to increase your sense of relaxation. Add in a little meditation and you’ll start to feel sleepy right away.

Tip 9 – Sip a cup of relaxing, warm tea. If you love tea, stock up on some that is known to promote relaxation, such as chamomile. An hour or so before bed, brew yourself a cup and sit in a calm place to sip on it. Make sure it’s caffeine free though. It might be a great thing to do whilst writing your sleep journal or taking a bath.

Tip 10 – Get help if you need it. If you’ve tried all these things and you’re still struggling to get to sleep, reach out to a holistic doctor, practitioner, or wellness coach. They can help you find out what is causing your insomnia, such as an imbalance of cortisol, adrenal, or other hormones. They can then help you find the solution to get back in balance and get back to sleep.

Sources:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org

https://sleepcouncil.org.uk

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-sleep-better

https://wellbeingliving.co.uk/2019/01/11/its-dry-january-yet-you-need-to-drink-more/

sleeping woman jan 19 blog

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.