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
Sleep
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.
Exercise
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.

How to live in total abundance every day

From average lifespan to per capita income, we’re living in more abundant times than ever before. Yet a scarcity mindset seems to be the default mode of the modern world: we’ve learned to focus on what’s lacking and often spend more time worrying about what might go wrong than appreciating what’s going right.
When it comes to abundance, it’s not the external circumstances that we’re living, but our perception – how prosperous we feel – that truly matters. Research has shown that it’s possible for two people to have the same amount of money in the bank with one feeling that it’s not even nearly enough while the other counts themselves fortunate.
Thankfully, an abundance mindset can be consciously cultivated: each moment gives us another chance to shift our perspective and notice more of the blessings that surround us. Begin your own adventure of living in total abundance, using our handy roadmap below…

1. Redefine abundance
For many people abundance is synonymous with money and material possessions, but blessings show up in so many ways. What are the areas of plenty in your life? Abundance can show up as good ideas, artistic inspiration, beautiful surroundings, learning opportunities, fun and adventures or work that you’re passionate about… the list goes on. Recognise each as a component of your personal prosperity and notice how much more abundant you feel. And as psychiatrist Robert Waldinger explains in this illuminating TED Talk, what contributes the most to our happiness, hands down, is having meaningful relationships. So cherish your friends and family, for they are the true wealth in our lives.
2. Become aware of abundance
With their bias towards negative news, newspapers and TV channels will dutifully report every natural disaster and crime, yet progress and human compassion are no less prevalent – they’re just under-reported. In the same way, many of us go about our lives with a habitual scarcity mindset, constantly aware of what we don’t have. But scarcity is just another set of glasses we look through – the abundance is there as well, if we consciously look for it, and once we’ve tuned into that station, it gets easier to see more evidence of it.
One of the easiest ways to keep bringing our thoughts back to the joys in our life is to keep a gratitude journal. So dust off your journal if you’ve neglected it for a while and start writing down your blessings. Practising gratitude opens us up to receiving more.
3. Accept abundance
Do you ever struggle to accept gifts or offers of help from others? Sometimes we’re inadvertently blocking the flow of abundance into our lives by feeling guilty over receiving and fearing that we don’t truly deserve these gifts. If accepting good things is an issue for you, you might want to reflect on how you’ve picked up the habit and start unravelling it by practising the opposite. Say ‘yes’ more and affirm to yourself: ‘I deserve all good things in life’. Once we feel more open to receiving, we may find that a lot more starts coming our way!
Notice also if you only allow yourself nice things when you feel like you’ve ‘earned’ them, perhaps through hard work or struggle… Could you let yourself enjoy a treat sometimes ‘just because’? An occasional fresh bouquet of flowers or a special meal with all the trimmings doesn’t have to break the bank, but could make a huge difference to how abundant you feel.
4. Share your abundance
The flipside of receiving is giving, and as counterintuitive as it may sound, giving away what we feel is missing from our lives can get us instantly into a more abundant frame of mind. When we’re low on funds, donating just a couple of pounds to our favourite charity or a few items to a local food bank will send a strong message to our subconscious mind that we’re actually pretty fortunate. And when it comes to things like love and appreciation, we’ll find that giving more to others can make us feel so good that the lines of giving and receiving begin to blur… Remember also that love is a thing we can and should give ourselves too!
5. Speak of abundance

People love to complain, there’s no doubt about that! Having a good rant can be a way to let off some steam and discussing problems can provide much needed clarity. However, when complaining becomes a habit, it can sabotage our efforts to create a more abundant mentality. Make a conscious effort to steer your conversations with others to more positive topics when you can: speak of the things you’re excited about and ask others what’s been the best thing about their week. Life will always have its good and challenging sides alike – and we get to choose which one we give more airtime.

 

Dry brushing: the quick and easy way to better skin and more

Since you’re reading this blog, you probably have an interest in a glowing complexion. But how often do you spare a thought for the rest of your skin? Dry brushing is a holistic wellness practice that’s ever gaining popularity and involves – you guessed it – brushing your body with dry, firm bristles*.
if you’re new to dry brushing, you may wonder why anyone would willingly put cactus bristles of all things anywhere near their skin. However, growing numbers of people swear by this health and beauty practice and its rejuvenating effects. Even if you’re mornings are already packed, you can easily fit dry brushing into your wellness routine. It only takes a couple of minutes – and after the initial investment of buying a good quality brush (look for them in health food stores and online), it costs you nothing, is super simple to do and has benefits that go beyond a brighter and smoother skin.
Give it a go and you might find yourself in the ranks of dry brushing addicts…

* Though synthetic brushes are available, natural ones with bristles made of cactus and other natural fibres are recommended.
1. Benefits of dry brushing
Happier skin
The desire for smooth, glowing skin is probably what draws most people into trying dry brushing. Much like exfoliating scrubs, the firm bristles of the brush are very effective in sweeping away dead cells from the surface of the skin and will stimulate cell renewal too. Skin pores are cleared by the brush as well, allowing your skin to absorb nutrients from your chosen moisturiser more effectively.
And while research on this front is lacking, that doesn’t stop dry brush converts to hail in their droves about the cellulite-diminishing effects – said to soften and even break down fat deposits where toxins have accumulated beneath the skin. Not only that, dry brushing can help prevent ingrown hairs as well as smoothing rough bumps caused by the common skin condition keratosis pilaris.
An all-natural detox boost
It’s no wonder dry brushing is a popular spa technique – it can be a powerful detoxification aid, supporting the body in its natural waste elimination processes.
The skin is one of our most hard-working elimination organs – we can thank it for removing approximately a third of all metabolic waste products. By clearing the pores of the accumulated toxins, oils and dead cells, dry brushing helps skin get on with its job more efficiently.
Thanks to the stimulating effects on blood circulation and lymph flow, dry brushing can speed up the toxin removal process internally too. And since the lymphatic system is responsible for the filtering and removal of pathogens as well as cellular waste products from our tissues, regular dry brushing may have the added benefit of helping us fight infections.
Energising
Need a little extra help waking up in the morning? Next time you’re about to reach for your morning espresso, grab a dry brush instead. A lot of people who’re hooked on dry brushing, swear by its invigorating effects on both body and mind. The increased flow of oxygenated blood to the skin and organs will certainly not put you back to sleep! Follow your dry skin brushing session with a cold shower to really supercharge your day. May sound positively spartan, but if it gets us going on a dreary morning…
2. How to dry brush
Dry brushing is probably the simplest spa treatment you can perform at home. The key thing to remember is to always brush towards the heart, which is the direction the lymph flows. Start gently, and as your skin gets used to the brushing, you can start using firmer strokes until you find your own personal sweet spot. Many people dry brush daily, but experiment to find the right frequency for you, especially if your skin is on the sensitive side. Your skin will look slightly pink afterwards but should not go red or feel sore. Never brush over irritated, sunburnt or inflamed skin.
Follow these steps:
1. Using firm, sweeping strokes, brush the soles of your feet, then work up the legs, going over the ankles, calves and thighs.
2. Brush your hands, and then the arms up to the armpits.
3. Brush the rest of the body: abdomen, chest and back (a long-handled brush might be helpful here). Use less pressure when brushing over the softer skin of the chest area.
4. Once you’ve finished brushing, wash off the dead skin cells and impurities in the shower.
5. To finish up, apply a moisturiser like our Beauty Body Lotion. Your skin will be perfectly prepped to absorb and benefit from the nourishing biodynamic oils!

Invite Mother Earth into your home

Mother Earth does a lot for us, and a lot of us try to do bits and pieces to look after our planet in return. Yet with all our to-do’s, reducing our carbon footprint is often the last thing on the list… Furthermore, the words ‘green’ and ‘living’ might inspire images of self-sacrifice and inconvenience rather than fill us with enthusiasm. But don’t fret… there’s no need to turn into a passionate eco-warrior overnight or move into a yurt in the countryside to make a difference. (Though spending a weekend ‘glamping’ in an eco-yurt with a special someone would certainly make for a memorable holiday!)
Making earth-friendly choices can be surprisingly simple and, with a little repetition, new habits can quickly become (excuse the pun) second nature. Taking positive actions can also help us feel more optimistic and resilient in the face of a constant stream of gloomy news about the threats our planet is facing.
Read on for a round-up of five ways to honour Mother Earth in your own home. You could save money, get healthier, make new friends and even embark on a culinary adventure in the process… And… just maybe… you’ll find there’s an eco-warrior in you after all?

1. Jump on the green cleaning bandwagon
Here’s a way to give Mama Nature a helping hand and improve your own health at same time: head over to your cleaning cupboard and take a look at those labels. Many modern detergents contain harsh chemicals that are not only toxic to aquatic wildlife when washed down the drain but can leave long-lasting residues on surfaces with the potential to irritate skin and lungs – the less-than-friendly line-up includes asthma, eczema, allergies and other disorders. Plenty of efficient earth-friendly products are available these days – even on the supermarket shelves – which makes switching to eco-friendly cleaning super-convenient. Many independent health food stores offer cheap refills that further cut down waste and costs.
If you have the time (a few minutes that is!), consider taking the DIY approach. Simple soap, baking soda, vinegar and a few key essential oils like lemon, lavender and tea tree will take care of most of the cleaning needs around your house and using them works out very economical. And while you’re at it, cut up some old t-shirts and you shall not want for reusable cleaning rags!
2. The green heart of your home
Kitchen is the true heart of many a home – and it’s also where a lot of the eco-friendly magic can happen. Making sustainable choices about the food we buy and prepare often goes hand in hand with eating better and saving money, too.
Supermarkets don’t make it easy for us to avoid unnecessary packaging, but we can do our bit to reduce the amount of plastic we bring home. Make a habit of taking a reusable carrier bag with you every time you go shopping and choose loose fruit and vegetables over plastic-wrapped ones when possible. If available, signing up to a veggie box scheme or buying produce at your local farmers’ market is even better! For dry goods like rice, lentils and muesli, many health food stores have their own bulk bins that allow you to refill your own containers at a bargain price.
Avoiding ready-made meals and cooking from scratch provides another opportunity to zap waste and save money. When planning your meals, take advantage of the boom in vegetarian and vegan food blogs – finding exciting veggie recipes to try has never been easier and incorporating a few plant-based meals into your week will help shrink the carbon footprint of your kitchen.
Check out The Veg Space
3. Discover your green fingers
No farmers’ market nearby? Go one step further and slash down the food miles by growing your own veg! There’s no better way to connect with nature at home and you don’t need a large garden to get started as many crops are more than happy in containers. Cherry tomatoes will merrily grow in a hanging basket, roots like carrots and potatoes can be grown in pots on the patio, beans and peas will climb up a wall with a bit of support, and herbs and salad greens don’t ask for much more than a sunny spot by the window. To add a splash of colour and provide food for you and pollinators alike, sow a few edible flowers like nasturtiums too.
Fresh food lovingly grown and picked when perfectly ripe could be the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted. As a bonus, you’ll be eating food guaranteed to be free of pesticide residues. Get the kids involved as well and they’ll learn a lot about nature – and perhaps even start eating their vegetables… Give them their own seeds to sow or a strawberry plant to look after, then sit down together to count the bumblebees and butterflies that visit your crops. You can even record your findings in a survey (such as this one by the Polli:Nation) and contribute to scientific research.
3. Become mindful about energy
Reducing energy use in our home is one of the best ways to do our bit for the environment and it’s great for our wallets too. Some of the simplest ways achieve this include unplugging our appliances when not in use and washing laundry at lower temperatures. Other methods may require some funds initially – think of insulating the loft, buying energy-efficient appliances, even installing solar panels – but if we’re able to fork out the cash, we’ll be rewarded with significant savings in the long run.
You could help our planet even more by powering your home with wind and solar energy – now’s a great time to think about switching if you haven’t already. Green energy has become more accessible as well as affordable in recent years with many new energy companies offering renewable energy at competitive prices. Switching is easy too – your new supplier will handle the entire process once you’ve signed up – making it an eco-deed you can accomplish within minutes.
5. Get into the spirit of sharing
With online stores at our fingertips 24/7, it’s easy to buy anything under the sun, whenever we want it. But what if we pooled resources instead, donated, shared and borrowed items more? We’d all likely save money, reduce the amount of clutter in our homes, help each other out and possibly even make new friends – all this while saving raw materials and keeping usable stuff from ending up in landfills.
Got a bread maker gathering dust on a shelf? A bike your child’s outgrown? There’s someone in your local community who’ll gladly take your unwanted stuff off your hands. Freecycle and its many incarnations exist for the sole purpose of moving goods locally to where they’re most appreciated. Charity shops will love your used books and bric-a-brac, and if you have a stash of clothes you don’t get around to wearing anymore, a clothes swap is the perfect eco-friendly excuse to get your friends together.
When buying things, consider if you can borrow or share first. Sharing with neighbours is a great strategy when it comes to power tools and other items that are needed only occasionally. It can also be a great way to get to know them better! Refurbished technology can be every bit as good as brand new while buying designer clothes has become a lot more affordable with online boutiques selling pre-loved items for a fraction of the original price. It’s a world of possibilities and once you get into the swing of reducing, reusing and recycling, you might even find it gets a bit addictive…

Make your mornings magical: five tips to reinvent your routine

Having a difficult and taxing day? Chances are it started that way. When we drag ourselves out of bed feeling stressed and tired, then skip breakfast and rush about in order to get out the door and to work on time, it’s more than a little likely to have repercussions on how we handle the rest of the day. Creating a health- and happiness-boosting morning routine can go a long way towards smoothing the path ahead and helping us feel our best. And while our tips may not instantly transform you into a morning person, we’d bet that making the first moments of your day a time to nourish your body and mind will help you feel more grounded, calm and productive – and you never know, you might just look forward to it again the next day.

  1. Make time for self-care

 

Habitual snooze-button presser? Barely manage to get dressed before running out of the house? We know dedicating some time for building healthy habits and getting into a positive headspace first thing in the morning can seem like an insurmountable task. Yet creating a morning routine just for you could be your ticket to a more relaxing start to the day. Begin by setting your alarm for just 10 minutes earlier and increase the time gradually. Sounds unlikely? If you’re getting enough sleep but still struggling to get out of bed, try waking up to a dawn-simulating alarm clock. Research shows that by balancing the hormones that control our circadian rhythm, wake-up lights can help us emerge from our slumber feeling more refreshed and alert.

You can also create more space for a nurturing self-care practice by prepping for a more efficient morning the night before: pick your outfit, pack your lunch if you’re going to be eating on the go and put anything you need to take with you somewhere visible by the door.

  1. Set the tone for a brighter day

Now that you’ve made that extra time for yourself, ease yourself gently into the morning by taking a few moments to start your day mindfully. Focus on your breath for 5-10 minutes, follow a guided meditation or tune into your body by noticing any physical sensations, such as the way the texture of the bed sheets feels against your skin. If time is of the essence then the shower can be the most magical mindful wake-up, just focus on how the water sounds and feels on your skin.

Then, before the habitual thought patterns get a chance to carry you away (we recommend ignoring the notifications on your smart phone too – Facebook, emails and depressing news can wait), outsmart any anxious and worrisome thoughts by putting your focus firmly on something positive. Try reading your favourite motivational quote (you could put up a post-it note beside your bed), make a mental list of things you’re grateful for or look forward to, listen to an episode of an inspirational podcast, put on some uplifting tunes or give your loved ones or pet a cuddle. It’s your routine, so do the thing you enjoy the most and know will help you get into a happier state of mind!

  1. Get energised

Feeling more calm and optimistic? Brilliant. It’s time to give your body a morning lift too. A brief burst of exercise early in the day is one of the best ways to help you feel more invigorated and motivated to tackle the tasks ahead. Just 10 minutes engaged in a physical activity you love, from bouncing on a rebounder to hitting the yoga mat to ‘salute the sun’ (find a beginners’ guide here), will get your blood flowing, energising your brain as well as your body.

And if you can bear it, end your morning shower by turning the temperature of the water to its coldest setting for 30 seconds or so. Cold water not only refreshes like nothing else, but studies indicate that it can also banish stress, support the immune system, provide pain relief pain and help us shed extra weight.

  1. Pamper your skin

Having a beautiful glow can do wonders for our confidence and mood as we get ready to step out into the world. So while you’re in the bathroom (no doubt raring to go after your cold shower!), show your skin some love and take a moment to cleanse, tone and moisturise for a fresh and nourished complexion. Our Morning Beauty skincare routine is ritual designed to renew, rebalance and replenish your skin with our award-winning formulations. All you need to do is follow the steps in order for the best results!

  1. Hydrate and nourish your body

It’s no secret that giving our bodies proper fuel helps us get the most out of our day. If you’re already clued up on healthy morning eats – bravo! However, if the sum total of your morning sustenance is reaching for a shot of espresso or a mug of tea, it may be time to make some changes. Try switching your caffeinated beverage of choice with hot lemon water, or at least down a glass of it before you have your caffeine fix. Why lemon water? We’ve all heard of the importance of hydration – getting enough water keeps our digestive system operating smoothly to name just one benefit – but chucking plain old water can feel like a chore sometimes. A refreshing lemony flavour can make downing a glass a lot more enticing. Lemon also provides an added dose of vitamin C which can help us dodge infections as well as stimulating our collagen production for a more youthful complexion. Making lemon water couldn’t be easier: squeeze half an organic lemon into a mug of hot water and sip away. (If you’re worried about the acid damaging the enamel of your teeth, use a straw.)

In the spirit of switching things up, try a green smoothie instead of or in addition to your usual brekkie and you’ll be well on your way to getting your five-a-day in one delicious serving. By blending mineral-packed leafy greens like kale and spinach with fruit and berries for sweetness and added vitamins, you’ll also be upping your intake of antioxidants and fibre. For an extra nutritional boost, try adding a pinch of powdered superfood like maca, acai berry or hemp protein into your smoothie. (You can find more detailed advice on how to make a perfect green smoothie on this blog post.)

Bite-size wellness booster: the health podcasts you’ll want in your life

We all want to live as healthy and happy a life as possible, but there are times when we’d benefit from some expert advice and a motivation boost to get us there. And while health and wellness info is easier to find than ever, we can feel bombarded by the amount that’s out there, struggle to find the time to watch the latest documentaries or get around to reading those online articles we bookmarked ages ago.

Enter podcasts: no matter how busy your life is, you can get your daily dose of wellness inspiration anytime, anywhere. Think of them as a free online audio library accessible from your laptop or mobile device, covering pretty much any topic you can think of. Use any podcast manager to find the channels that pique your curiosity and you’re set to enjoy stimulating and informative content on your morning commute, in the gym or while taking care of the daily chores at home.

From speedy expert views on latest food trends, to guided meditations and discussions on the hottest wellness topics of the day, we’ve rounded up some of the best body and mind podcasts you’ll be glad to have added to your daily wellbeing regime. Start here and see where the journey takes you!

  1. TED Talks Health

Who doesn’t love TED? The global community is known for their viral content in the form of groundbreaking expert talks that aim to spark conversation and change lives. Faithful to the short and sweet TED format, the TED Talks Health podcast comes as powerful presentations in 18 minutes or less. The episodes feature doctors, researchers and other thought leaders who present their insights and discoveries in thought-provoking and entertaining videos. From breakthroughs in medicine to emotional first aid, the reasons we laugh to living passionately at any age, TED Talks Health will keep you inspired and up-to-date on the latest from the world of health. We recommend you start by checking out Sandra Aamodt’s talk on ‘Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work’ (because life’s too short to quit biscuits for good)!

And if you can’t get enough of TED, there’s also TED Talks Education and TED Talks Art

  1. Breaking Down Nutrition

While we’re bombarded with nutritional info on a daily basis, making sense of it all is perhaps harder than ever. What on earth is FODMAP? Is chocolate good for us or not? Hail or not hail the latest celebrity endorsed food trend? If the jargon and all the contradicting blurb makes you want to give up and reach for the doughnuts, take a moment to listen to Dr. Susan Mitchell’s podcast on what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to food and diet. Susan is a registered nutritionist and her podcast gets to the point quickly in mini episodes in which she dispels myths, examines the latest food trends and shines the spotlight on healthy eating heroes from turmeric to avocados.

Want more nutrition tips from mindful eating to optimising your breakfast? Look up The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous.

  1. Beauty Inside Out

If a podcast could give you a ‘glow’ it would surely be this one. Beauty Inside Out is the podcast adventure of Kimberly Snyder, a celebrated nutritionist, beauty expert and author of the New York Times best-sellers The Beauty Detox Power, The Beauty Detox Foods and the Beauty Detox Solution. Her podcast is designed to empower us to make better choices and boost wellness in all areas of our lives, helping us feel healthier, happier and more gorgeous. Packed with nutritional advice, beauty tips and spiritual inspiration, Kimberly’s advice on healthy living is delivered in a joyful and down-to-earth style. Expect lively conversation on a wide range of wellness topics such as Ayurvedic practices, seasonal eating, gratitude and aromatherapy, FAQ sessions as well as exciting interviews with today’s top healthy living luminaries from Deliciously Ella to Deepak Chopra.

Love Beauty Inside Out? Check out The Ultimate Health Podcast for more ways to take your wellness to a new level.

  1. The Daily Meditation Podcast

The idea of meditation seems simple enough: close your eyes and focus on something that helps quieten your mind. But if you’re someone who struggles to fit meditation into your life, would like a bit more guidance to get the most out of your practise or are interested in trying out new techniques, Mary Meckley’s The Daily Meditation Podcast is for you. As a certified meditation teacher, Mary is passionate about helping more people manage the stressful aspects of modern life by making meditation a natural part of the day. Drawing from multiple traditions, Mary guides us through a diverse range of approaches to meditation from various breathing techniques to mantras and walking meditations. Each week is focused on a specific topic, so whether you want to manage stress, boost your confidence or foster self-love, there’s a 7-day series of meditations to help you. With hundreds of episodes delivered in Mary’s soothing voice, incorporating meditation into your life has never been easier.

Want even more ‘Om’ in your life? Try 10% happier with Dan Harris, the meditation podcast by an ABC newsman and a former meditation sceptic.

  1. Katy Says with Katy Bowman

Moving better makes you feel better, and according to Katy Bowman, biomechanist and bestselling author of ‘Move Your DNA’, healthy movement isn’t about making sure we get enough exercise to compensate for all those sedentary hours spent at our desks. Rather, it’s about tweaking how we move (or not) on every day to make sure we get the full spectrum of ‘movement nutrition’ our bodies are craving. How our ancestors lived (and moved their bodies) is a far cry from how most of us live today, yet it’s something we can begin to change, and Katy’s holistic approach to movement not only keeps our bodies fitter but can also help us prevent and recover from many modern ailments. Old or young, movement matters to everyone, so join Katy and movement geek Dani Hemmat as they talk minimal footwear, swinging on monkey bars and setting up a dynamic workstation to get our desk-based work done in a more body-friendly way.

Enjoying Katy Says? For more content on natural movement and beyond, listen to the Liberated Body Podcast.

  1. The Rich Roll Podcast

With over 21 million downloads, The Rich Roll Podcast is one of the most popular wellness podcasts out there. And while you might expect Rich – a passionate vegan endurance athlete and author of ‘Finding Ultra’ and ‘Plantpower Way’ – to focus on fitness and nutrition, he doesn’t stop there in his quest to help people become their personal best. In each episode, Rich has a stimulating (and sometimes provoking) conversation with one of today’s brightest entrepreneurs, athletes, artists and spiritual leaders, with an intention to help us move over the mental and physical hurdles on our path to living our most authentic lives. And it doesn’t matter where you are on your wellness journey – Rich was unhealthy and unfit until he turned his life around in his 40s – you can begin to shift things around right now, and this podcast will give you a motivational boost once a week.

Inspired? Head over to the Bulletproof Radio podcast by Dave Asprey for similar content.

5 ways to boost your intuition

Think of the word ‘intuition’ and you’re likely picturing a sudden stroke of inspiration, a ‘sixth sense’ guiding you toward the right choice, an ‘aha’ moment that seems to come from nowhere or that gut feeling that turns out to be right… But where does intuition come from, do we all have access to it and should we trust it? Intuition is a well-researched psychological phenomenon: our intuitive ability to pick up patterns and make accurate judgements in a flash hails from prehistoric times, when our brain’s primary task was to keep us alive and out of danger. And although nowadays we’re unlikely to be fending off saber tooth tigers, those ancient areas of our brain continue to operate alongside the newer, conscious parts. And this channel to our subconscious knowledge keeps supplying us with valuable insights – whether we pay attention to it or not.

So how can it help us today? Many well-known entrepreneurs credit following their inner guidance as a source of their success. Steve Jobs urged us all to trust intuition over intellect:

            “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

And he‘s onto something. Besides upping our business world brownie points, intuition can help us make better decisions in all areas of life – from choosing a spouse to buying a home. Sounds good, right? But what if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a very intuitive person? The great news is, we all have the potential to tune into our inner knowing and there’s a lot we can do to strengthen that connection. Consistent practice pays dividends, so tune in and start applying our five intuition boosters today.

  1. Quiet your mind to notice the signals

Tune out… tune in… Intuition often comes to us as subtle signals – be it physical sensations, emotions, mental images or words – and it may take a bit of practice to be able to recognise them. More often than not, we’re so distracted by our internal chatter that the intuitive messages have trouble getting through. Overthinking – that blight of modern life – lures us into obsessively analysing our options instead of pausing and listening to what our inner voice is trying to tell us. The solution? Any practice that helps us slow down and tune out distractions opens a space for our intuitive thoughts and feelings to bubble to the surface where they can get our attention. Give your mind a breather from the chaos of day-to-day life by meditating or practicing mindfulness – even just for a few moments each day. Physical activities and creative pursuits that put us into a relaxed state of focus are also brilliant at strengthening our receptivity to spontaneous bursts of inspiration – yoga, running, climbing, painting and knitting are all great options. Or turn to our favourite way of creating space for inner guidance: a long soothing soak in the bathtub…

 

  1. Access your intuition through a journal

Are you after a more direct way to access your inner wisdom? Try some ‘stream of consciousness’ writing. Grab a pen and a notebook and begin by writing down a question – it could be something specific like ‘Should I accept this job offer?’ or something generic like ‘What do I need to be aware of?’ – and then start writing whatever pops into your head. (You can set yourself a timer or decide on a number of pages you will fill before you stop.) You may find that something that has seemed irrelevant up until now suddenly surfaces in your writing in a way that shines new light on your situation.

Your journal is also a brilliant place to record and reflect on moments of intuitive insights. Write down any you can remember from the past. How did intuition speak to you? Did you follow the guidance at the time? How accurate was your ‘hunch’ in hindsight? Write down any new ‘aha’ moments you experience as well – you’ll be more likely to remember and make the most of them.

  1. Use sleep time to boost intuition

When we sleep, we’re fully immersed in the realm of the subconscious, the source of our intuitive insights. Experiment with setting intentions at bedtime: ask to be shown answers to your questions while you sleep, or simply request to see something that will be of benefit to you. As soon as you wake up, jot down any thoughts that come up or doodle pictures in a Dream Diary. Remain open to receiving insights throughout the day even when nothing relevant immediately jumps at you.

Exploring our dream worlds can also give us powerful intuitive glimpses into our circumstances. Rather than consulting a dream dictionary, you may get better results by trying a more personal approach. The Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés (author of The Women Who Run With The Wolves) recommends the following simple method of dream analysis:

  1. Write down your dream as a story
  2. Pick out all the nouns (the places, the people and the things) in your story
  3. List any personal associations you have with each of these dream symbols
  4. Choose what feels like the strongest association for each symbol and rewrite your dream story

For example, a dream about following a dog into your childhood home could, for you, mean being led by your desire to feel safe and protected back to the comfort of old and familiar habits.

  1. Feed your intuition with new experiences

Older may not just mean wiser. Elderly individuals seem to have the edge over youth when it comes to following gut instincts as well – and it may have a lot to do with the wider range of experiences that come with having lived longer. All new experiences give our subconscious mind something novel to chew on, boosting our potential for intuitive breakthroughs at the same time. Therefore, while we’re learning to listen to our intuition better, we’d do well to feed it a varied ‘diet’ of experiences too. Have fun exploring new places in your city and further afield, try out a new hobby and read books you normally wouldn’t. Even shaking up your daily routine by taking a different route to work or eating your lunch in a new café could spark a new insight or two.

  1. Practice acting on your hunches

Finally, becoming an expert at noticing our intuitive guidance doesn’t do much good unless we’re also prepared to act on our hunches. Admittedly, that can be scary. Many of us have learned to do the opposite of trusting our intuition by actively ignoring the signals or dismissing them as irrelevant. When faced with decisions, we may have trouble believing that intuition can truly lead us in the right direction and instead write lengthy lists of pros and cons or turn to friends, books or Google for answers. But if we want to partner up with our intuition to make better decisions and solve problems more effectively, we need to begin to trust our gut feelings – and ourselves – more.

Begin to break through the discomfort by acting on your hunches when the stakes are small. If you suddenly think of a friend, give them a call or send them a message. Or maybe you find yourself inexplicably drawn to certain places, activities or ideas? Take time to explore them and see where it leads you. As you try out these new habits, keep track of any positive outcomes that following your hunches leads you to. Then, as your confidence in your intuitive abilities grows, allow your inner wisdom to guide you through bigger decisions too. By trusting our gut feelings we’re not abandoning all logical thinking – we’re simply adding another powerful tool to the mix. And the more airtime we give to intuition, the more likely we are to see great results in all areas of our lives.