Your essential after-sun care guide

Sunlight the natural mood booster – its bright warm rays bringing out the best in us, – so it’s no wonder that on bright summer days our parks and beaches fill up with people soaking up the sunshine, while in winter many of us jet off to warmer climes in search of sunny days. But whether we’ve just landed at the ultimate exotic destination or are catching some rays closer to home, we need to stay safe in the sun: we all know sunburn is not only uncomfortable but increases our risk of skin cancer, while overexposure to UV radiation is often the culprit behind premature skin aging.
It goes without saying that young children and people with very fair skin are most at risk of sun damage, but all of us need to take extra care between 11am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. If you’re out and about in the early afternoon sun, stay in the shade when you can, don a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and cover up with clothing or use sunscreen. You can take a bit more relaxed approach when the sun is less powerful though: sunlight on bare skin gives us a health-boosting dose of vitamin D, and research suggests that a little bit of sun is better for us than none.
If you do get burnt, get out of sunlight ASAP and follow the steps below for faster healing…

1. Cool down
Relieve the pain and heat of sunburn by taking a cool shower, or try an anti-inflammatory bath: add a cup of powdered oats or half a cup of baking soda to tepid water and soak up the soothing effects. Try adding a drop or two of an essential oil – peppermint and lavender both have pain-relieving properties – but be sure to check safety guidelines carefully before treating children.
For more localised burns, a cold compress works a treat. Wrap an ice pack (or a bag of frozen veg) in a towel and hold against the affected area, or dab with a flannel dipped in cold water.
2. Aloe Vera to the rescue
Squeezed straight from the plant or bought as a gel, Aloe Vera is your SOS skin superstar when it comes to after-sun care and for a good reason: it’s an effective moisturiser as well as a soothing remedy for inflammation and pain. Apply Aloe Vera gel to burnt or sun-sensitized areas up to three times a day until the skin has healed – you can up its cooling powers by storing it in the fridge in between applications.
3. Stay hydrated
Sunlight robs our skin of its precious moisture, and making sure we’re properly hydrated is even more important when we’re recovering from a sunburn. Aim to drink at least two litres of water per day, and snack on watermelon, cucumber and other foods with a high water content. Not to put a damper on anyone’s holiday, but it’s also best to skip cocktails and other alcoholic drinks (now that’s a reason to not get sunburnt if ever there was one)…
4. Eat your way to greater sun tolerance
It may not help much if your skin is already burnt, but upping our intake of certain nutrients can – alongside other measures – help prevent us getting sunburnt so easily. To build up your sun tolerance, go for a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (think flaxseed oil), the antioxidant lycopene (tomatoes and watermelon), vitamin E (nuts and seeds), vitamin C (citrus fruit & leafy greens) and beta carotene (bright yellow and orange veg like carrots and squash).
Processed foods and sugars on the other hand – you guessed it – make our skin more vulnerable to UV radiation.

Tip: make your own ice lollies from blended fruit if you’re missing ice cream…

Five ways to beat flu season naturally

Flu Season: you may have forgotten all about it or it may seem like it’s the only thing people are talking about, but when you feel that first scratchy tickle in your throat, that thought snowball comes rolling in fast ‘oh no, I can’t get ill now!’ Catching a cold or flu is never on our list of ‘to do’s’, but we can take steps in advance to prep our bodies and reduce our chances of succumbing to viral attacks.Who knows, you might even be able to slip under the radar this year…
1. Start with hygiene
So basic yet oh so easy to forget, but the number one advice your GP is likely to give you (and would probably like to sing from the rooftops) during flu season is to wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water, rubbing your hands for about 20 seconds (singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in your head twice takes about that time) – and teach your kids to do the same. Be mindful of surfaces that are likely to harbour viruses too – think probable culprits like doorknobs, computer keyboards and phones – and give those a clean on a regular basis.
For disinfecting on the go, try a homemade natural hand sanitiser with aloe vera and essential oils, like these two created by the Wellness Mama.
2. Give your body the best fuel
Feed your immunity
Help your body fend off viruses by giving it a daily dose of disease-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients – research shows that they play an important role in keeping our immune systems working optimally. Both are plentiful in fresh fruit and veggies, so up your daily intake by enjoying meals like green breakfast smoothies and hearty veg-packed soups. Probiotics have been shown to offer some immune-boosting benefits as well – try eating more live yoghurt or sauerkraut – while a recent study has hailed vitamin D as a cold and flu-busting hero. Supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to make the biggest difference for those left deficient through lack of sunlight – Northern Europeans take note!
Drink up
Remember to stay hydrated too. Water keeps our first line of defence against viruses – the mucous membrane of the nose – moist and working properly. One study discovered that going from drinking only three glasses of water to downing eight glasses per day can make us five times less likely to come down with the sniffles.
3. Schedule enough sleep and exercise
Could snoozing just one extra hour per night cut down our chances of catching the common cold? A study comparing people who slept seven or less hours per night with those who slept eight hours or more found that the latter group were nearly three times less likely to develop a cold when exposed to a virus.
Regular aerobic exercise doesn’t only keep you fit but can power-up your immunity too. Five or more days of physical activity per week (as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle) can cut down the number of colds we catch in a year as well as the severity of symptoms when we do succumb. Going for a jog outside might be the least appealing thing when the weather takes a turn for the worse, but you could head to your local pool for a few laps or take up a fast-paced dance class instead.

Exercise is also a great way to relieve long-term stress – which is a significant risk factor when it comes to vulnerability to cold-causing viruses.
4. Know your remedies
So it’s happened… Despite your best efforts, you‘ve come down with the dreaded flu. But the game is not yet over. While you’re unlikely to stop the illness in its tracks, there are things you can do to feel a bit more comfortable and maybe even recover faster.
Skip the ibuprofen
Many of us rush to buy over the counter medicines at the first sign of a cold or a flu, but treating fevers and aches with painkillers may not be altogether helpful. One study showed that taking fever-reducing meds can prolong illness caused by a flu virus while another demonstrated that we’re more likely to spread viruses to others when we pop pills to bring down a fever.

Consider natural remedies

If possible , it’s usually best to let a fever run its course (it is, after all, part of our body’s natural defence mechanism) and soothe our symptoms in other ways. Various natural remedies are available and many of us have our personal favourites. Scientific evidence in many cases remains inconclusive, but some of the remedies said to shorten the duration of colds include vitamin C supplements, garlic, ginger and Echinacea.
Curcumin (a component of turmeric) has shown promise as a flu treatment in a number of studies. To test it out for yourself, try adding some to your food or enjoy a mug of turmeric latte: heat up a cup of milk (try almond milk for a delicious alternative) and mix with a teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of cinnamon and a natural sweetener like maple syrup to taste.
5. Rest your body and mind
Put your feet up
We may be eager to get on with our tasks even when we’re ill, but we’ll give our bodies a better chance to clear infections faster when we rest – trying to do too much could even make our illness more severe. So take a nap, grab a novel you’ve been meaning to read or check what’s new on Netflix, and get back to those projects once you’re fighting fit again.
Drink up – again
If staying properly hydrated is important for preventing colds, it’s also true for recovery. It’s especially important if you have a fever, so keep a bottle of water handy or sip on herbal teas. If you haven’t got too much of an appetite, go for clear soups and broths to give you some calories as well as added fluids.
Meditate for comfort
While meditation may not actually wipe away our aches and pains, it can nonetheless help us cope better with cold and flu symptoms. A study that looked at the effects of a meditation practice on episodes of cold and flu reported that people who practice mindfulness find their quality of life better during bouts of illness compared to people who don’t. (Sometimes we wonder if there’s anything meditation isn’t good for…)

Wellness warriors we admire

In need of an attitude boost or a good dose of ‘I can do it’? There are few things more inspiring than real life stories of people who have transformed their lives, turned adversity into opportunity and ignored limitations. We’re shining the light on some of our favourite wellness warriors – we challenge you not to feel uplifted by their stories!
1.Tao Porchon-Lynch
The autobiography of Tao Porchon-Lynch, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, is a tale of wonder. Born on a ship on the English Channel, Tao made splashes in her early life by marching with Mahatma Gandhi, helping Jews escape during World War II, modelling for Coco Chanel and performing in cabarets as well as on the big screen alongside Elizabeth Taylor.
What this amazing lady has done later in her life is no less awe-inspiring. Aged 98, Tao is showing no signs of slowing down. Living by her motto “There is nothing you cannot do”, she’s a Guinness World Record holder as the oldest yoga teacher in the world, a competitive ballroom dancer and a wine connoisseur. If you’ve ever wanted solid proof that age need not define us or how we live our lives, remember Tao and her secret of living a joyful life:
“In my head I’m still in my 20’s, and I have no intention of ever growing up.”
2. Jody Shield
Jody Shield’s life changed for good when she boarded a plane to South America in 2009 having quit her well-paid job in advertising. Her journey ultimately led her back to the UK and to becoming a well-loved speaker, author, wellbeing consultant and a meditation ambassador dedicated to helping people heal their emotional wounds and lead more joyful and fulfilled lives.
Jodi’s book LifeTonic draws from her training in multiple self-development techniques to help us overcome negative patterns. Having banished inner demons of her own with the help of the tools she calls tonics, Jodi is an inspiration to anyone who longs to change their life but feels nervous about taking the next step.
3. Kris Carr
Looking at her radiant smile, it’s hard to believe that Kris Carr has lived with a rare incurable stage-4 cancer for over a decade. This prolific author and speaker turned her scary diagnosis into the beginning of a health journey that has been an inspiration to countless people. She calls herself a cancer thriver, and with their message of optimism, her ‘Crazy, Sexy’ books and documentary have reached a worldwide audience.
Kris believes that living with an illness and being healthy don’t have to be mutually exclusive and advocates a balanced approach to healing that includes both Western medicine and lifestyle changes. She is enthusiastic about what she calls a plant-passionate diet and is no stranger to juicing greens, but her core message is to practice regular self-care and live as joyful and full a life as possible – a message we’ll happily get behind.
4. Jessamyn Stanley
Clearly a fabulous force to be reckoned with, Jessamyn Stanley became a yoga starlet and a body positivity advocate by accident. After she started posting photos of her personal progress on the yoga mat, she found to her surprise that her pics had gone viral – people were loving the positive example she was setting. As a plus-sized yoga enthusiast, Jessamyn is showing us that the benefits of yoga are for everyone, regardless of body shape and size.
She now teaches yoga classes and spreads her empowering message through her book Every Body Yoga. She credits her yoga practice for her ability to have broken through many mental and emotional barriers and urges us all to focus on how we feel rather than how we look when we hit the mat – sound advice, we think.
5. Sophie Gray
Self-love is a topic close to our own hearts, so we’re excited to bring your attention to the work of Sophie Gray. Sophie hasn’t always loved herself or enjoyed looking in the mirror, but over time she has found practical tools that have helped her become kinder and more loving towards herself. Now her simple daily wellness habits are helping others do the same.
If you’ve ever felt that you’d be able to love yourself more if only you reached a certain goal (be it related to money, weight or relationships), Sophie is here to tell you that that there’s absolutely no reason to delay appreciating and adoring ourselves – in fact, it’s a must for living our happiest, healthiest life. Becoming your own best friend may not be the easiest task to take on, but it’s one of the most worthwhile goals we could set for ourselves.

Master your inner critic

We all know it….. that niggly little voice in our head… just as we’re about to try something new or step out of our comfort zone… there it is, twittering (or sometimes even growling) in our ear: You’ll fail. You’ll be laughed at. Who do you think you are? They’ll find out you’re not up to the job. And so it goes on… And oh how our inner critic loves reminding us of all our past shortcomings, giving us derogatory labels and ’reminding’ us of our flaws. And if we hand the reins over to our inner bully, those persistent negative thoughts can keep us stuck: too scared to reach for our dreams or unable to break free from unwanted circumstances. Before we know it we regularly doubt and neglect ourselves, experience constant anxiety and play down our own accomplishments while we put other people on a pedestal.
There may be no way to eliminate our inner critic completely, but we can definitely lessen its power over us with a few nifty tricks.
1. Get to know your inner critic
When our thoughts run on autopilot, it can be difficult to stop and question them. In order to counter our inner critic’s attacks, it’s helpful to be more conscious of its presence. Look for the feelings – like anxiety and fear – that often accompany the assaults, and pay closer attention to your thoughts in those moments.
The inner critic loves to make sweeping comments like ‘nothing ever works out for me, so there’s no point in trying’, and instead of looking at a situation at hand, it will present everything as evidence that we’re not good enough: instead of thinking ‘that presentation today didn’t go that well, maybe I could have prepared for it a bit better’, our inner commentary goes ‘I’m completely useless’.
When we become more aware of the language our inner critic uses, we may start to notice patterns. There are probably a handful of things it loves to repeat over and over again – take a note of these for later.
2. Understand your inner critic
Our inner critic would have us believe that its intervention is the only thing standing between us and endless bad decisions. It tells us that it’s really there to motivate and help us better ourselves while it gets busy tearing us down. Though its methods are anything but supportive, in its own twisted way, our inner critic is trying to help us. Having grown from the emotional wounds we experienced growing up, it tries to keep us from risking more hurtful experiences – failure, humiliation and disappointments – with its negative chatter.
Knowing that our inner critic is essentially a hypersensitive pain-avoidance mechanism fuelled by fear, we can begin to take its messages with a pinch of salt. Instead of trying to fight or silence the tirades, try listening with compassion. Ask your inner critic what it’s trying to protect you from and thank it for attempting to help you. Offer your reassurance that you’re able to handle your life and that you now know that even disappointments offer opportunities for growth and learning.
3. Put its critical messages into perspective
Though our inner critic is likely to be a permanent fixture in our lives, we can diminish its hold on us by putting its feedback firmly into perspective. Since our inner critic grew out of our most painful experiences, we know that it’s only one part of us and offers only one point of view – and probably not the most reliable one at that. Many of our inner critic’s fears and concerns are outmoded and don’t reflect our current reality. We can choose whether we take its evaluation of us on board or not.
Next time your inner critic tries to frighten you with a worst case scenario, ground yourself by remembering that there’s also the best case scenario and everything in between… Soften the blows by reframing them: if you catch yourself thinking ‘I can’t do anything right!’, pause and remind yourself that on the whole you’re doing pretty well and that absolutely everyone makes mistakes. And instead of retreating from a challenge when your inner critic tells you’re not up to the task, let it know that you can only find out for sure if you try.
4. Build yourself up
Finally, we can build our resilience against our inner critic by feeding our mind with supportive messages.
Use affirmations
Affirmations work the best when we make statements that we can truly belief, especially when we use them to counter the scything remarks of an inner critic. Note down any criticisms that your inner critic keeps repeating and match them with a positive affirmation. Try countering ‘I’m so lazy’ with ‘The better care I take of myself, the more productive I am.’
Enlist an inner champion
How would someone who loves and values you talk to you? They would likely speak of your strengths and remind you of your successes. However quiet it’s kept lately, we all have a supportive inner champion (or a cheerleader or a mentor, if you like). Whenever your inner critic starts to put you down, ask yourself ‘what would my inner champion say about this?’ While our inner critic is quick to urge us not to risk making a fool of ourselves, our inner champion will point out the times when trying new things really boosted our confidence. Turning to our inner champion may feel alien at first, but if we persist, its reassuring voice can begin to tip the balance from fear-based living to greater confidence in ourselves.
Don’t forget your real-life champions either: accept compliments and praise when they come your way and believe your friends when they tell you that they believe in you and your talents!
And when you get the jitters again despite all your efforts to believe in yourself… remember that fears and doubts are universal, and that even some of the most successful and influential people from the former US First Lady Michelle Obama to the celebrated British actress Emma Watson have spoken of their struggles with insecurities – yet it hasn’t stopped them from achieving great things.