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12 Self-Care Tips For Anyone Who Works Too Much

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Self-care is absolutely crucial in our busy modern lives, where we have created this culture of working as -much-as-you-can and working-as-hard-as-you-can. Thanks to technology and smartphones, we’re accessible for work just about 24 hours a day. We even feel others will look down on us or think we’re selfish if we take time off or don’t respond to email, texts, and phone calls quickly enough!

This often leads to feeling exhausted, burnt out, and becoming irritable. If you know you work too much, then it’s time to make self-care a priority.

Here are my 12 self-care tips that you can choose from to make a part of your own regular practice so that you feel good about taking care of yourself (and you get a break from your work!).

1. Listen to your body.

It will let you know when you need rest or exercise or healthy food or sleep or pretty much anything, if you’re paying attention.

2. Get enough sleep.

If you’re not sleeping enough or getting good sleep, then you’re going to be pretty cranky and other people probably won’t like being around you much

3. Exercise.

You need to move your body regularly in order for it to feel its best. Go for a run, ride your bike or join a yoga class.

4. Spend some time outside.

If you’re working hard in an office, then you probably aren’t getting much fresh air or sun.

5. Spend time alone.

It’s how you’ll really get to know how to identify your needs and figure out what makes you happy.

6. Use your Holiday time.

Don’t let it go to waste. You need time off from your job.

7. Use your sick time.

Don’t force yourself to go to work when you’re sick or not feeling great because it will be harder to recover (plus your co-workers won’t be too happy with you).

8. Read.

It’s self-care for your mind. And this doesn’t include work documents!

9. Meditate.

This is really relaxing and can be done anywhere — even five minutes of focusing on your breath makes a difference.

10. Practice mindfulness.

Allowing yourself to stay in the present and be nonjudgmental about your thoughts is the ULTIMATE self-care routine.

11. Forgive yourself.

Stop beating yourself up over things that happened in the past, because it’s going to drain your energy.

12. Forgive others.

Let go of past hurts because they are just going to weigh you down with negative feelings.

Rachel x

Retreat Announcement

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2 Night Relax & Replenish Retreat Friday 25th January – Sunday 27th January 2019 costs from £460.00pp.

Meditation, Mindfulness, Ayurveda and Crystal Healing

This interactive and fun retreat will help you to replenish your energy levels through rituals and wellness. It promises to be a restorative weekend that is perfect for anyone feeling frazzled and will offer all attendees a chance to deeply relax and re-balance their energy levels, whilst giving practical tips and strategies to enrich your day to day life and avoid that burnt out feeling.

This weekend covers a variety of topics and practices that can aid relaxation and increase overall wellbeing. Topics include Meditation, Mindfulness, Ayurveda and Crystal Healing. It is aimed at those with little or no prior knowledge or experience and also includes a goodie bag for all attendees.

Includes

2 Nights’ Accommodation

Arrival from 2pm

Programme starts 5pm

Introduction and Welcome

4 Workshops: Meditation, Introduction to Crystals, Ayurvedic Principles, Mindfulness practice

2 healthy buffet lunches, two three course dinners and a two healthy buffet breakfasts

Unlimited use of spa facilities

Up to 20 different classes per day

To book please email CER@champneys.com and include the title and date of the retreat. Alternatively please call Champneys on 0843 5611 943.

**** Please note ****
There is a minimum number of people required for the break to run. Breaks will be cancelled if numbers are insufficient 2 weeks before the start of the break.

What You Need To Know About Healthy Living In Your 30s

Turning 30 can be both joyful and perplexing. Especially if the majority of your twenties was spent partying, pulling all-nighters, and eating all the pizza you wished to, this decade can be one of transformation and acceptance that your body likely won’t recover as quickly as it used to.

Oftentimes your thirties can be a rough 10 years of mental and physical metamorphosis, until you hit your forties and the crusade continues. To make it simple, let’s break down the various changes that can happen and discuss how to support your body through this decade.

Mental health in your thirties.

This is the decade in which you gain clarity about what you really want out of life. And this can be stressful as it means you must shift your habits—oftentimes taking your foot off the accelerator and putting it on the brakes. This is when you often decide whether you want to have a child or not, and you may struggle with focusing on your career but also wanting to settle down and start a family. In our thirties our lives tend to be all-around demanding: mentally, physically, and psychologically. So make a list of all the things that overwhelm you, and prioritize the ones you absolutely have to do. Simplifying life is the key. Know exactly what you want and the strategy to get there. It will take trial and error, but it will be worth it!

Weight loss in your thirties.

Depending on how well you lived your twenties, the thirties can be a decade of slow and steady weight gain, bone-density loss, and loss of muscle mass. So being physically fit is crucial; you cannot be overweight and be optimally healthy. Weight is a marker of inflammation and oftentimes leptin and insulin resistance, so exercise is a must—especially if you have a sedentary job. A great option is to work with a personal trainer until you are comfortable doing strength-training exercises to control weight, protect muscle mass, and keep you fit and active. Thyroid problems are also common in this decade, so if you’re having real trouble losing weight, it might be wise to get a thyroid check.

Breast health in your thirties.

Breast health can be an issue in your thirties, with fibrocystic breast tissue being at its peak. Avoiding and correcting any iodine deficiencies can help protect your breasts during this time. This is also the decade during which we should become more accountable when it comes to our own health; make sure you see your doctor regularly and do plenty of self-exams.

Self-care in your thirties.

Being a thirtysomething can get overwhelming—so much so that there’s a tendency to turn your focus away from the self. Be deliberate and commit to carving out time for yourself. Our skin often starts to show early signs of aging during our thirties. This is a good time to slow down the fun in the sun and ramp up your skin self-care regimen and invest in natural beauty and skin care products.

Fertility in your thirties.

Fertility is often a big topic of conversation in your thirties. And this is the time to get serious about having children if it’s something you want. Having a baby in your forties not impossible or wrong, but the risk for birth defects is certainly higher after 35. If you’re planning a pregnancy, take prenatal vitamins, and avoid alcoholic drinks at least two months before conception as it will help you have a normal and healthy pregnancy.

Sleep in your thirties.

Disturbances in your sleep can be an important marker of hormonal imbalance and the state of your overall health. Make sure you’re sleeping well (seven to nine hours each night) and not requiring any extra medication for this. If you do have trouble sleeping, avoid blue light for the few hours before bed. I also find that if you journal your most stressful thoughts prior to bedtime it can break the “looping” of these negative thoughts in the brain and help you fall asleep more peacefully.

Supplementing in your thirties.

Supplements are recommended when what we eat is not fulfilling all of our nutritional needs. And this is especially important in the thirties because stress can eat up a lot of the essential nutrients. These supplements are commonly recommended for thirtysomething women:

  • B-vitamin
  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin D
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin C

All of the above are common-sense approaches to the changes that occur during this decade and will help create a smooth transition into your forties. Women who take care of themselves in their thirties really blossom in their forties. But if they ignore this decade, it can take even longer to recover their health and happiness. Work with a GP on preventive care and a life coach or wellness coach who can help you tackle the most pressing decisions of this decade.

Rachel x

 

Why You Should Try Loving-Kindness Meditation

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Loving-kindness meditation, also known as metta bhavana, is a method of developing compassion, disciplining negative thinking and balancing and harmonising wandering minds. Buddhists and Taoists have used it for centuries and believe that it enables them to achieve a powerful alignment with the universal flow of energy and love known as ‘qi’’. It can be adapted and practiced by anyone, however, regardless of religious beliefs.

The aim is to feel and emanate a pure, unconditional and inclusive love, one of wisdom with no terms or restrictions. It doesn’t depend on whether someone deserves it or not, nor is it confined to family and friends, and there are no expectations of gaining something in return. It is a meditation of care, concern and tenderness – a feeling of warmth for ourselves and others. The practice softens the mind and heart, opening us up to a deeper level of kindness, and breaks down our internal and external barriers.

We have to begin by loving ourselves, because without having experienced this unconditional love and acceptance on a personal level it will be difficult to extend it to others. From this point, we can then include those who are special to us and eventually all living things. Over time, the visualisation and meditation blend into the actual experience – the feeling of loving-kindness.

Take a comfortable and relaxed posture and bring your focus to the solar plexus (your chest area). Breathe in and out from the heart centre and anchor your mindfulness on the sensations coming from there. Recognise any areas of mental blockage, numbness, self-judgement or self-hatred and try to generate a kind feeling toward yourself. As you keep breathing in and out, repeat affirming phrases, such as ‘may I be happy’ and ‘may I be healthy and strong’, either in your head or out loud. Choose five that resonate most strongly with you, and after saying each one several times, move on to someone in your life who invites the feeling of pure unconditional loving-kindness (usually a partner or close relative). Repeat the phrases you used for yourself for this person (e.g. ‘may she be safe and protected’) while continuing to breathe from your heart centre.

Next, do this exercise for someone neutral whom you neither strongly like or dislike followed by a person you have difficulties with and who generates hostile feelings and resentment within you. This will no doubt be the hardest part of the meditation, but you will be surprised how much better you feel once you start directing positivity toward them. If negativity starts to arise, return to your first person of choice and let the loving-kindness flood back then try again. Practising this on a daily basis will bring you great benefits, both on a personal level and in your relationships, and should help you to cultivate a compassionate and loving mindset in work, rest and play.

Rachel x

Organic September: What is Organic?

Organic food is food as it should be

All organic food is fully traceable from farm to fork, so you can be sure of what you’re eating. The standards for organic food are laid down in European law so any food labelled as organic must meet strict rules. Unlike non-organic food production, which makes wide use of manufactured and mined fertilisers and pesticides, organic food is produced with natural fertilisers from plants, less energy and more respect for the animals that provide it.

Organic farming and food production is not easy and takes real commitment and attention to detail, and is backed up by rigorous, independent inspection and certification.

In the face of climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and protect wildlife grows more acute by the year. There is no magic bullet to tackle the challenges that face us, but the buying decisions we make every day are a simple but powerful form of direct action.

Organic Always Means

  • Fewer Pesticides
  • No artificial colours and preservatives
  • Always free range
  • No routine use of antibiotics
  • No GM ingredients

All organic farms and manufacturing companies are inspected at least once a year and the standards for organic food are laid down in European law. Getting organic certification isn’t easy and when you buy an organic product you know what you’re buying really is what it says on the tin.

Why choose organic?

Organic means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife.

Whatever you’re buying – from cotton buds to carrots – when you choose organic food, drink or beauty and textiles, you choose products that promote a better world.

Organic food comes from trusted sources. All organic farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year and the standards for organic food are laid down in European law.

Why does organic sometimes cost more?

In an ideal world, organic wouldn’t need to be more expensive. A big part of the problem is that the true cost of our food isn’t reflected in the price, both the positives and the negatives. So food that is produced in ways that may contaminate our water, or lead to antibiotic resistance in people, may seem cheap in the store, but the real cost can be very high indeed.

Where there is a price difference, you are paying for the special care organic farmers place on protecting the environment and improving animal welfare. As the costs of farming with oil-based fertilisers and chemicals increase, the price gap between organic and non-organic is closing.

While organic food is sometimes more expensive than non-organic, staples like pulses, pasta, rice and whole grains often only differ in price by a couple of pence, and when you can, buying directly from farmers like through box schemes, helps too.  Organic sales are up in the UK (and across Europe and US) and more and more shops are offering a good range of organic.

Look for the logo

Going organic is easier than you’d think. Food, health, beauty and textiles products that hold the Soil Association organic symbol have been produced to the highest possible animal welfare and environmental standards.

It’s easier than you think to choose organic 

Switching to just one extra organic item really can help contribute to changing our food and farming systems for the better. Demand for more organic food means more organic farms. More organic farms mean fewer pesticides, more wildlife and more animals raised under the very highest standards.

Going organic doesn’t have to break the bank. Many organic products are the same price or cheaper than branded non-organic and most retailers also have their own organic range.

Rachel x

 

 

 

Running tips for beginners

Running is free, you can do it anywhere, and it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise.Image result for running

Regular running can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

I have put together this guide to make running a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and to provide you with tips on how to stay motivated.

Before you start

If you’ve not been active for a while, you may want to build your fitness levels gently with walking before you move on to running.

Running requires little equipment, but a good pair of running shoes that suit your foot type may help improve comfort.

There are many types of trainers on the market, so get advice from a specialist running retailer who will assess your foot and find the right shoe for you.

The shoe’s structure weakens over time, especially with regular use. Running experts advise replacing running shoes every 300 miles (482km).

Women should also consider using a sports bra, which is sturdier than a regular bra and provides additional support.

Plan your runs. Work out when and where (the exact route and time) you’re going to run and put it in your diary. That way, it won’t slip your mind.

If you feel out of shape, or you’re recovering from injury or worried about an existing condition, see your GP before you start running.

Starting out

To avoid injury and enjoy the experience, it’s essential to ease yourself into running slowly and increase your pace and distance gradually over several outings.

Start each run with a gentle warm-up of at least five minutes. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs.

Start walking for an amount of time that feels comfortable.

When you first start out, try alternating between running and walking during your session.

As time goes on, make the running intervals longer until you no longer feel the need to walk.

Give yourself a few minutes to cool down after each run by walking and a doing few stretches.

Regular running for beginners means getting out at least twice a week. Your running will improve as your body adapts to the consistent training stimulus.

It’s better to run twice a week, every week, than to run six times one week and then do no running for the next three weeks.

The NHS have a great programe called Couch to 5K which is designed to get just about anyone off the couch and running 5km in nine weeks.

Staying motivated

Set yourself a goal

Whatever your level, setting challenges is useful to stay motivated. Training for a race, such as a 5K, or a charity run is a good way to keep going. Join local running events or groups such as parkrun.

Run with a friend

It really helps to have someone about the same level of ability as you to run with. You’ll encourage each other when you’re not so keen to run. You’ll feel you don’t want to let your running partner down, and this will help motivate you. Find a running partner on realbuzz or JoggingBuddy.

Keep a diary

Keep a diary of your runs. Note down each run, including your route, distance, time, weather conditions and how you felt. That way, whenever your motivation is flagging, you can look back and be encouraged by how much you’ve improved. Check out realbuzz’s running blogs.

Mix it up

Keep your running interesting by adding variety. Running the same route over and over again can become boring. Vary your distances, pace and routes. Use realbuzz’s route planner to find, record and share your favourite running routes.

Join a club

A running club is the perfect way to commit to running regularly. Most clubs have running groups for different levels, including beginners. Clubs are also a great way to find running partners to run with outside of club sessions. Find a running club near you using RunTogether.

Rachel x

 

 

*Disclaimer: Recommendations and links in this post are my own and I have not been asked our paid to make any recommendations.

What Does Your Thyroid Do And How Do You Know If It’s Functioning Properly?

So what does the thyroid actually do? Well, everything! When the gland isn’t functioning our metabolism decreases and this causes problems with temperature control, mood, low energy, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, poor fertility and memory, to name a just a few.

What does your thyroid do and how do you know if it’s functioning properly?

It’s a gland that sits at the bottom of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It’s a butterfly shape as it has two side lobes, connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle.

An individual problem
Conventional medicine diagnoses an underactive thyroid based on blood tests which show raised levels of TSH (the hormone secreted by the brain to stimulate the thyroid to work) and low levels of T4 (the hormone produced by the thyroid gland). T4 has to be converted to T3 to work. Blood levels of T3 are often not checked in the routine screen for hypothyroidism as it is assumed that T4 is being adequately converted to T3, although I think we should be checking T3 as not everyone converts T4 to T3 as well as they should.

Diagnosis
Even then, diagnosis is not straightforward, because the range of thyroid tests that conventional medicine considers to be normal is very wide. In America, the range of normal TSH references has been reduced from 0.5-5 to 0.3-3. This unfortunately is not the case in the UK where a TSH of up to five is still considered normal. Then add to this that some people function best when their numbers are at the upper end of the population range anyway! This means that if you are told your results are normal but you still feel you are suffering from hypothyroidism, request the exact values and take them to a practitioner who pays close attention to your symptoms and uses a multi-factorial approach to treat them.

So let’s dig deeper and look at the top signs indicating something is wrong with your thyroid:

1. Weak bones

If you have weak bones, have your thyroid checked. Abnormal thyroid function can decrease bone mineral density. Serum calcium will typically be in the “normal” reference range with hypothyroidism, but outside of the functional, optimal range.

2. Gut problems

Low thyroid function can reduce the movement of your intestines, which is essential for healthy digestion. The ability of your body to absorb nutrients is also altered when your thyroid isn’t working well. Healthy thyroid function dampens gut inflammation, and low thyroid function is linked with gastric ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.

3. Low sex drive

Many people think their low sex drive is due to aging, when in fact it may be a symptom of a bigger hormonal problem that’s anything but normal. Thyroid function affects the metabolism of estrogen and testosterone in the body. Hypothyroidism in men is linked with erectile dysfunction and low libido in both men and women.

4. Weight gain

When your thyroid hormones are low, your body will be less able to break down fat, making you resistant to weight loss. Years of fad diets and grueling hours in the gym won’t fix the underlying problem. Weight gain isn’t the cause of your problems, but a symptom of something not being addressed. You have to get healthy to lose weight, not the other way around. When you deal with the underlying hormonal problem and heal, weight loss is the natural byproduct.

5. Low energy

In addition to slowing your ability to burn fat, hypothyroidism will also decrease your energy, causing debilitating fatigue.

6. Blood sugar problems

When your body is in a low thyroid state, it decreases your body’s ability to absorb glucose or blood sugar. You need glucose to get properly in the cell to create ATP, your cellular energy source. Despite sluggish glucose metabolism, many people struggling with low thyroid hormones can feel hypoglycemic, like they have low blood sugar. Because the cells are not getting the glucose they need, you can feel like you are hypoglycemic even with normal looking blood sugar labs. This vicious cycle of hormonal dysfunction can lead to metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.

7. High cholesterol and triglycerides

A sluggish thyroid hormone levels decreases the breakdown of cholesterol, leading to elevated total cholesterol and triglycerides. While high cholesterol alone is a poor predictor for heart attack and stroke risk, elevated triglycerides is an accurate marker for increased risk factor.

8. Adrenal fatigue

When you have hypothyroidism, it puts stress on your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Because of the lack of glucose and energy getting to the cells, the brain-adrenal axis pumps more cortisol in attempts to get more energy to the cells. This further complicates your hormonal health, leading to HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue.

9. Toxin overload

Poor thyroid health will lead to your liver and gallbladder not working very well. This can significantly decrease your body’s ability to rid itself of toxins, and may also cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. I commonly see impaired detoxification pathways in patients dealing with thyroid problems.

10. Estrogen imbalances

Estrogen comes in the form of three metabolites: Estrone (E1, estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estrogen balance is essential for your health. When your thyroid isn’t working well it can unbalance your estrogen metabolite ratio.

11. Brain problems

Hypothyroidism is linked with poor neurotransmitter expression and an increased risk of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. This is due to the fact that a predominance of thyroid receptor sites are found in the brain. One 2014 study found that people with depression had higher rates of thyroid conversion impairments, or low T3 syndrome.

12. Hot flashes or being cold

When your thyroid hormone levels are low, it affects your body’s temperature control. This can cause you to feel cold all the time, or have night sweats and hot flashes.

13. Hair loss

Since the thyroid determines your metabolism and absorption of nutrients, when your thyroid hormones aren’t functioning optimally this can lead to hair loss. Making sure your levels are optimal is essential to regaining hair health.

What To Do Now

As you can see, thyroid health is essential for you to feel and be healthy. Many people instinctively know that they have a thyroid problem despite “normal” labs. If this is you, educate yourself on the thyroid problems that won’t show up on standard labs.

Rachel x

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