Discover the stress-busting benefits of books (and our top three picks for you)

Some of us learn to love books from a young age, some of us discover the pleasure of reading later on, while some of us may still not be convinced that books are worth their while… If you consider yourself a book worm, we’ve got some great news for you – and if you don’t, you may be willing to give reading another shot soon after you’ve read what we’ve got to tell you…
The many benefits of reading books
Can you guess what reduces stress more efficiently than taking a walk, listening to music or sitting down for a cuppa? Of course, we’ve already given that away… But you may still be surprised that according to research a mere six minutes spent reading a book can reduce our stress levels by a whopping 68%. And the benefits of reading books don’t stop there. As well as reducing our heart rates and easing muscle tension, regular reading is believed to stimulate imagination, develop critical thinking, sharpen memory, increase empathy, have protective effects against mental decline and even help us live longer.
How to fit books into your life
We hope the above has convinced you to make books a part of your daily life (if they weren’t already). But what if you just can’t find the time? These days (thank you, technology), books are more accessible than ever. We can download e-books and audiobooks to a device of our choice at home (sometimes even free if we make full use of library services) and have them at our fingertips (or headphones) whenever we can find a few minutes to spare. And if having hit a reading rut is your challenge, reading communities like the Goodreads will quickly guide you to your new favourite reads.
Inspired? Check out our favourite reads…
Our top three picks 

 1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This little gem of a book has sold millions of copies, and for a good reason: it’s the ultimate guide to achieving mental freedom from the past or future mindset. In simple words, Eckhart Tolle demonstrates how to live a healthier and happier life by living in the present moment. And if you’ve already read the Power of Now, then try his next, equally life-enhancing book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
Why we love it…
-It leads us to greater awareness of how our thinking habits influence our life experience.
-It empowers us to be in charge of our own happiness and wellbeing.
-It teaches us ways to surrender to the present moment that we can put into practice immediately.

2. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir is a powerful story of how one woman pieced herself back together – literally one step at a time – after the trauma of losing her mother, a painful divorce and a string of self-destructive coping mechanisms left her feeling utterly lost. She portrays her journey on foot alone from the Mojave Desert to Washington State with honesty, humour and warmth, and by the time you finish the book, you’ll feel like you too have been on a hope-renewing journey.
Why we love it…
-It shows us that there’s an endless reserve of courage within us, ready to be accessed when we most need it.
-It demonstrates that we can heal and find our way again even if we feel completely lost.
-It gives us a taste of what hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is like – without the blisters…

3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
If all you want is to be completely absorbed in a story, Sue Monk Kidd’s novel has it all and more. This multi-layered tale of a motherless girl who runs away from home and is taken in by three beekeeping sisters keeps you emotionally engaged and intrigued to the very end.
Why we love it…
-Lily’s story is beautiful, moving and totally addictive – a book to get lost in.
-It’s both funny and heart-aching.
-It’s deeply spun with the magic and mysteries of honeybees symbolising the ups and downs of life.

 

Time to switch up our seasonal skincare again!

We love the changing of seasons and how the cycles we see in nature keep life feeling interesting and fresh. Our northern hemisphere friends will be noticing the nights getting chillier and will be starting to look forward to getting wrapped up in cosy jumpers and scarves, while our friends down under, on the other hand, have the glorious spring sunshine and warmer days to enjoy. While you make some seasonal changes to your wardrobe, take some time to update your skincare routine too – be it soaring mercury or wind and snow, our skin always appreciates a little extra care when there’s a major shift in weather conditions.

Built around multi-award winning formulations, our Three Phase System is your seasonal go-to simple cleanse, tone and moisturise routine that can be adapted to reflect the changing needs of your skin– read more to find out how to adjust it with optimal formulations as well as a few other tips to keep your complexion happy.

Autumn glow
Outdoor temperatures in autumn can drop dramatically without warning, meaning sudden exposure to cold weather can come as a shock to the skin. And repeatedly coming in from the cold to a centrally heated indoor space can further sensitise our skin and make it prone to dryness and irritation.
We can help our skin adjust by upping our hydration levels: make sure you’re drinking lots of water (herbal teas count) and make the air less drying in a room by putting a bowl of water on a radiator. Be sure to also give your skin extra nourishment and protection by making the switch to more hydrating skincare formulations. Our multi-award winning Cleansing Oil Dé-Maq and Enriching Moisturiser are our top picks for autumn and winter.


Spring radiance
In spring we’re often keen to spend as much time as we can outside, making most of the brighter and warmer weather after a long winter. But our complexion can react to the increasing temperatures by producing extra sebum, resulting in congested, inflamed and irritated skin.
Regular cleansing is a must as summer approaches. Make sure your routine includes a good cleanser and a gentle exfoliator to remove all traces of pore-clogging oils and dead skin cells. Formulations that are more refreshing are the best for spring and summer: try including our award-winning Dew Facial Wash and our multi-award winning Gentle Exfoliant in your skincare routine to brighten your complexion and to boost cell renewal.

 

Do you really want the things you think you want?

Goals: from big to small, we all have them and probably spend a lot of time and energy in working towards them – the end result is sure to be worth all our troubles, right? But how often are we running on auto-pilot, not really pausing to evaluate our goals and never asking ourselves if they’re really what we want? And how much stress are we willing to endure in the process, and what do we have to sacrifice to get there?
For Ric Elias (check out his wonderful TED Talk here), the moment he thought he was about to die in a plane crash was when he began to evaluate his entire life. His realisation? Up until that moment he had been wasting a lot of time on things that didn’t truly matter to him, and he promptly decided to change that. Thankfully for the rest of us, a near death experience is not necessary to start aligning with what feels right for us, but it does begin with some reflection…
1. The importance of setting the right goals
With so much external pressure to succeed and prove ourselves in life, it’s easy to live our lives striving to meet other people’s expectations. But how fulfilling can a life like that be? Alan Watts – British philosopher and author – spoke repeatedly about the importance of asking ourselves what we truly desire lest we end up spending our entire lives doing things we don’t really want to do. ‘What would you like to do if money were no object?’ is a question he’d often ask of his students. And while forgetting about money completely is not realistic for most, Watts has a point when it comes to making sure that we make space for the things we love. Would you rather spend all your time making money now so that one day in the future you can finally devote time to the people and pursuits you love… or would you rather invest more time in what matters the most today so that one day in the future you can look back at a life you’ve loved? Listen to the man himself speak here.
2. Our deepest desires – an exercise
Most of us would list very similar things when asked what we want in life, such as a great career, financial success, love and happiness… But we need to dig deeper than that to find out what desires are really driving our goal-related behaviour – and whether we need to change our strategy when it comes to fulfilling them.
Try this exercise by Phillip C. McGraw, and ask yourself these four questions:
-What do I want?
-What must I do to have it?
-How would I feel when I have it?
So what I really want is to feel ________(fill in the blank and start again at question 2).
In the process of answering these questions we may find that the reason we want, say a successful career, is not about the success itself but the feeling of being appreciated and accepted… Discovering these underlying desires – and going back to answer question 2 again – helps us adjust our goals so that we have the best chance of getting what we truly want in life. Perhaps feeling accepted is best achieved by learning to accept ourselves first rather than trying hard to prove our worthiness to others. And we may well find that accepting and loving ourselves first is also what ends up propelling us to greater career success…
3. Your real-life action plan
Knowing what we truly want is half the battle, but we still need to put that knowledge into action. Some things will be simple to incorporate into our lives, but what if your true desire is so out of sync with your current reality that pretty much everything needs to change? Few of us can suddenly quit our job so that we can dedicate our time to pursuing a passion. But most of us can adjust things enough to move closer towards a life that’s more in tune to what matters to us. Maybe we can make more space in our schedule for artistic exploration by cutting down on other commitments, even if we end up disappointing people. Maybe we can prioritise our spiritual practice over a perfectly clean home. Maybe we can strike a deal with our boss and work less some weeks to spend more time with our kids while they’re still little.
From baby steps to giant leaps of faith, there’s a whole range of approaches to moving towards a more authentic life. If a goal feels so big that even the thought of going for it paralyses you with fear and stops you from doing anything – maybe you want to change careers and become an artist – break it down into smaller goals, such as committing to ten minutes of sketching every day – you might just find that’s enough!
4. Live in the present moment
While we discover our true desires and adjust our goals accordingly, there’s one final piece of the puzzle that will bring it all together… How often are we so focused on tomorrow that we miss out on today? Our old friend Eckhart Tolle teaches us that future – including everything we’re working for and looking forward to – will only ever come to us in the present moment. To live fully, we need to remember to tune back in to what is here, right now, as often as we can.

Embrace the beauty of aging

Yes, yes we know – Western culture has a major problem with aging. But knowing it and not letting it get to us are two different things. Everywhere we look – the big screen, TV adverts and magazines – we’re bombarded with messages that growing old is bad news, especially for women. From cosmetics and hair dye to botox and plastic surgery —we’re becoming time-terrified and programmed to keep aging at bay for as long as possible…

And while obsession with youth is not the norm around the world (elders are highly respected in Korea and India, for example), in the Western world we face a very real challenge of accepting ourselves in an environment that would have us believe that we’re ‘not enough’ once wrinkles appear and our hair begins to turn grey. We cannot stop the clock, and by fuelling our obsession with youth we just feed fear rather than embrace the new… so here’s how to reclaim your beauty and self-confidence, beginning with our own attitudes to aging.

  1. Focus on wellbeing

Cameron Diaz is best known for her glamourous acting career, but she’s also a bit of a science buff and our latest pro-age guru…Take a leaf out of her new book The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time‘ (or better yet, read it!) for her uplifting and empowering view on aging.

We love her two main messages…

Adopt a positive attitude

Aging is inevitable, but how we feel about it is ultimately for us to decide – and Cameron encourages us to embrace the process as natural and normal instead of trying to resist it. Adopting a positive attitude towards our changing bodies is a key to looking and feeling our most radiant at any age – being happy in our own skin beats botox every time…

Healthy, happy, beautiful

For Cameron, aging goes beautifully hand–in-hand with living well and taking great care of ourselves, and she’s all for shifting the focus from measuring ourselves against some unrealistic beauty standards to prioritising our health and wellbeing. Healthy habits don’t only prolong and improve quality of life, they also have a huge impact on how we age and feel in the process. Her top wellbeing tips? Eat a nutritious diet, minimise stress, keep fit and try to get those vital seven hours of sleep every night. And finally, enjoy life because that’s what we’re here for…

  1. What’s beautiful to you?

We may not be able to convince the mass media to rethink beauty (not overnight, anyway), but we don’t need to personally subscribe to the narrow definition we see. There are so many different ways to be beautiful regardless of age, shape or size, and we can be advocates of diverse beauty by actively looking for and appreciating it in others as well as ourselves. And beauty is not all about physical features either – qualities like courage, wisdom, and kindness can be very attractive.

  1. Turn to positive role models

Paradoxically, while we’re supposed to be at our prettiest in our early 20s, this is also often when we feel our most insecure. Some women find that it’s not until they’re much older that they blossom and find the confidence to be proudly who they are. And all these women who never got the memo that we’re supposed to stop being attractive as we get older make for fab role models for the rest of us still learning to love our changing looks. Take for example the vivacious models featured in the work of the photographer Ari Seth Cohen whose project Advanced Style celebrates the beauty and style of people over 60. These people are living proof that there’s no expiry date for expressing yourself and being gorgeous.

We leave you with the words of Joyce, 79, featured on Ari’s blog:

“I don’t want to look younger, I want to look as great as I can at any age.”

  1. Meditate, be present

Feel as great as you can with a bit of omming… a growing body of evidence suggests we can slow down the ageing process at a cellular level with regular meditation, by extending our telemores (part of human cells that affect how we age).

  1. Look after what you’ve got

While there’s no need to strive look and feel younger than you are, it’s absolutely great to look and feel as good as you can at every age! So skip the chemical-laden anti-aging creams, skin-stressing peels and botulism face-freeze and nourish and cherish what you have by harnessing active gentle products for your skin.

Make criticism work for you

Ever wondered how a single negative remark can so easily overshadow multiple positive comments? Or why having someone criticise us can cause such a strong emotional reaction? It may all come down to the primitive parts of our brain and our drive to belong: receiving criticism could have been a real threat to our place in our tribe. Fast forward to the 21st century, and being criticised may not be a danger to our survival, but let’s face it – it’s still pretty hard to take…

Thankfully, dealing with negative feedback is a skill we can practise. And there are ways to lessen its impact – and even better: make it work for us not against us.

1. Know you’ll attract criticism whatever you do

Criticism is as inevitable as bad weather. Whatever we do, there’ll be grey days when it rains sideways. Likewise, whatever we do, there’ll always be someone who thinks we’re doing it wrong, whether it’s our work, our creative pursuits, or our style of parenting… But we can practice dealing with criticism so that it won’t ruin our day any more than a downpour does.

And knowing that criticism is a given can help us take it less personally. Count each incident as part of your personal ‘criticism quota’ if you like… And keep doing what you love. There’ll always be storms and there’ll always be those who dislike what you do. Your gifts are not for them anyway.

2. Separate the wheat from the chaff

A lot of the negative feedback we encounter in our lives has very little to do with us, and a lot to do with what is going on with the other person. From jealousy to misunderstandings, many things can distort people’s opinions. Also, when negative feedback doesn’t offer any value – how we could improve, for example – shrug it off, and move on.

At the same time, stay open to receiving honest feedback. When criticism is appropriate and fair, and given with good intentions and comes from a genuine will to help, it’s a gift that can propel us further forward than praise.

3. Make criticism work for you

Robin Sharma (author and leadership advisor) wrote:

“Negative feedback can make us bitter or better.”

Go for better. When you receive thoughtful criticism from someone, mine it for the gold: look at the feedback like an instruction manual with the most relevant bits highlighted just for you – and use them to your benefit.

Then let it go and move on. Remind yourself that everyone is constantly learning and improving and give yourself praise for your ability to grow.

4. Use mindfulness to deal with criticism

So, we’re all set to use criticism to our advantage, but there’s still the matter of that fight-or-flight response triggering every time we’re told we’ve fallen short of expectations… We want to do this right, but stress hormones are circulating, and the primitive parts of our brain are sending out urgent signals to shut down, to put up our defences or even to lash out in retaliation. Needless to say, we’re not at our most receptive to taking feedback on board…

If possible, put some space between yourself and the source of criticism. Walk away from your computer or [Read more…]

Boost your money mojo & create abundance in just four simple steps

Happy with your finances? If your answer is a resounding ‘no’, you’re not alone. Few of us have a completely stress-free relationship with money, regardless the size of our bank balance. But whatever our starting point financially, it’s possible to change our relationship with money for the better. And once we begin to feel more at peace around the whole topic – and pair that ease with a greater appreciation of all the non-material riches in our life – we may notice that not only are we wealthier than we thought, but abundance of all sorts begins to find its way more easily into our lives.

Sound good? Without further ado…

 

1. Believe in abundance

“If the thought of lack – whether it be money, recognition, or love has become part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack. Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack.”
— Eckhart Tolle

When we have a hard time creating abundance in our lives, it may have a lot to do with the beliefs we picked up somewhere along the way. We all have our ‘default settings’ that guide our actions and influence how we see the world. Are yours based on abundance or scarcity? Think about it…

Spend some time writing down your thoughts on money and abundance. When you’ve identified your beliefs, ask yourself: Where did this belief come from? Is it 100% true? How does this belief guide my actions and affect the decisions I make? Does thinking this way serve or hinder me?

Our beliefs could be stopping us from asking for a pay raise, charging enough for our work, or even noticing the blessings coming our way… By challenging the beliefs we hold about money and abundance, we can begin to unravel the obstacles that stand in our way to greater prosperity.

2. Zoom out to see your wealth

When we think of abundance, we often zoom straight in on money. But even millions can’t make us truly rich unless that money also contributes to our happiness. So, what if we deliberately thought of abundance more in terms of all the things that make up a rich life – including loving relationships, a sense of purpose and spending time doing the things we enjoy?

Try this experiment for a month: After covering the essentials expenses, challenge yourself to spend as little money as possible. Get creative and make your own birthday cards instead of buying them and come up with non-material present ideas. Visit free museums and parks and look out for free events to keep the family entertained. Cook simple meals and try homemade picnics with friends instead of eating out.
De-emphasise the cash-side of things for a bit, and all the riches that money can’t buy come more clearly into focus. Whoever wrote this ancient proverb was onto something…

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy”

3. Money worries? Meet money mindfulness

Bills, taxes, loans, savings, investments… Our relationship with money can feel like a never-ending juggling performance. But whatever we’ve got going on financially, mindfulness can take much of the stress out of the picture. The simple act of slowing down and being present with what’s happening can also give us the clarity to make better decisions.

When we manage our money mindfully, we’re constantly steered towards the choices that truly enrich our lives. Try it out the next time you’re about to make a money-related decision. Take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself. Does this contribute to my wellbeing, health and happiness? The ‘yes’s’ point us towards those things that give us the maximum returns in terms of living our best life.

4. Love your numbers

Are you keeping track of your finances on a regular basis? If not, arrange a money date ASAP (you don’t need to take your accounts to a fancy restaurant, though a glass of wine could be nice). Taking the time at least once a month to jot down all the numbers can eliminate much of our money-related stress and help us stay on top of our finances (as well as on the same page with our significant other).

Committing to a monthly money date is also great way to stop thinking about setting goals and jolt us into action. Use your session to identify the next baby steps – and don’t forget to celebrate the progress you’re making!

 

You’re spiritual but they’re not? How to make love work

That moment… when you’ve just fallen head over heels in love only to hear your new ‘soulmate’ say something that’s in direct conflict with your worldview. Or have your beliefs diverged from those of your long-term partner or spouse so far apart over the years that it’s created tension in your relationship? ‘Well it just won’t work’ we hear you cry… or will it? While fitting our lives together with someone who doesn’t share our spiritual interests can be tricky, it’s definitely doable and even – inspirational.
Consider the following four approaches to heal the thrifts and deepen your love…
1. Accept each other
We’ve all heard it: if love is to thrive, we need to love our partner as they are and not try to change them… We’re all moulded by the life experiences we’ve had, and our partner may be as passionate about the beliefs they hold as we are about ours.
In the best scenario, both partners are able to talk about their worldview and be listened to with respect and an open mind. But if your discussions turn into debates more often than not and you’re not comfortable with it, establish some boundaries and try the ‘agree to disagree’ approach…
Achieving that balance not only maintains harmony in a relationship but is also a beautiful way to demonstrate to any children involved that there are many ways to see the world and that people can love each other and co-exist peacefully despite holding different viewpoints.

2. Don’t ask them to be everything for you
Our partner may have promised to love and cherish us, but after all, they didn’t sign up to be everything for us. If you yearn to discuss your spiritual practice with other people and your partner isn’t interested, seek out like-minded folk who share your interests. You still have much to share with your partner: all those interests that brought you together in the first place and the passions that you’ve discovered together since – not to mention the love and support you give each other.

3. See your partner as your teacher
We may think it would be best to share our life with a person who shares our beliefs. But in the end, we may experience far more growth sharing our life with a ‘non-spiritual’ partner than someone who never challenges us. Every time you clash, take it as an opportunity to get deeper into your practice. After all we can’t become masters of mindfulness or build our spiritual muscle without [Read more…]

Love who you are: avoid the comparison trap

Comparing yourself with friends and strangers becoming a near-constant habit? Well you’re not alone – with Facebook and Instagram providing us with ample opportunities to contrast our lives with others it’s no wonder we constantly feel that just being ‘me’ isn’t enough. The habit may even be hardwired in our brain if the social comparison theory has it right. But while making comparisons may feed us a temporary ego boost, more often than not we’ll end up feeling worse about ourselves and resenting others.
The ‘ugly’ truth is, it’s extremely hard to ‘win’ when we play the comparison game: thanks to mass media and the internet, once we’re on the lookout for people who’re prettier or more successful or more popular, we’re bound to find scores of them (thanks to photoshop, good lighting, smart posing… you know the score)… But we’re not doing any justice to our unique gifts and contributions by stacking them up against what we believe others to have.
But what are we to do if looking at other people’s glamorous holiday photos or hearing about yet another friend receiving a promotion makes us feel like our successes and achievements pale in comparison with those of our peers?
Kick the comparison habit and start appreciating your own value more by making the following five adjustments…

1. Realise that comparisons are fundamentally unfair
The problem with the comparisons we make between ourselves and other people is that most of the time we’re comparing what can’t truly be compared. We’re all unique: no one has the exact same combination background, life experiences, challenges we’ve faced, influences and so on… How could we expect everyone to ‘progress’ at the same pace or ‘accomplish’ the same life goals at the same time, when everyone is walking a one-of-a-kind path?
Many times, we also end up overestimating other people’s strengths and underestimating our own: we may see idealised versions of other people and make unconscious assumptions about them, forgetting that everyone has their share of flaws and difficulties. True, the ‘highlight reels’ we see on social media often make people’s lives look amazing, but while most of us wouldn’t share struggles and difficulties publicly on social media, it sadly doesn’t mean they’re not there…
2. Transform comparison into inspiration
See someone living the life you want? Instead of taking it as evidence that you’re ‘behind’ in life and using their accomplishments as a stick to beat yourself with, look at their achievements as signposts: find inspiration from these people and learn everything you can about how they got there. You’re looking at a living proof that what you want is indeed possible, achievable and potentially within your reach.
3. Examine your motivations
If you haven’t ticked a particular box in ‘life’s to-do list’ while everyone else has, could it be that you’re actually not that passionate about it? Sometimes when we examine closely all those life goals we’ve always thought we wanted to achieve, we realise that some of them reflect somebody else’s wishes or society’s expectations more than our own desires.
Perhaps your true calling is to step away from the well-trodden path. Perhaps that long detour you took didn’t slow you down and take you further away from your goals, but instead allowed you to discover new goals that are more in alignment with who you are?
4. Compare if you must… against your past
If you find it difficult to quell the urge to compare, use it to your advantage and evaluate your achievements the fair way: against your past self. Not only does seeing how far we’ve come allow us to feel good about ourselves, but we don’t need to think less of anyone else to get the boost.
So celebrate each time you overcome a challenge or meet a personal goal – regardless of how your achievements stack up against those of others. Keep the focus on doing the best with what you’ve got, and set goals that align with who you want to be. Then [Read more…]

Clear negative energies from your home

Our home is a place where we expect to feel safe and nurtured, a sanctuary where we can retreat to when the world outside overwhelms us. But sometimes even our home environment can begin to feel ‘off’… Read on for some of the reasons we may sense negative energies in our living space and steps we can take to restore harmony.

1. Break the emotional ties to your clutter

Are there corners, shelves or cupboards in your home that you tend to avoid? Clutter doesn’t just get in the way of keeping our place tidy and organised – unused and unloved ‘stuff’ can also feel like a massive drain on our energy. And while the solution seems simple enough – get rid of the items you don’t need ‍– it’s rarely that easy because of the emotional attachments that we have to our belongings. We may hold onto books and magazines that we think we ‘should’ read when deep down we know we never will. We may keep gifts that we can’t find a use for because we fear we’ll hurt the giver’s feelings. We may cling to old art supplies or instruments because they represent the dreams and aspirations of our past selves, even though our interests have changed and evolved. Or we may be reluctant to give away an item we’ve barely used because we spent a lot of money on it…
Identifying and acknowledging the real reason we hold on to an item can be an effective first step in breaking its hold on us. And once the clutter’s gone, we’ll likely notice a massive shift in how our home feels.

2. Look after your relationships

Few things disrupt the harmony in our home as effectively as resentment between people who share a living space. We don’t always even notice the tension building until we suddenly snap at our significant other or the kids… If you’re feeling increasingly irritable, check in first with yourself. Being overworked and stressed out can make other people’s behaviour seem far more annoying than under normal conditions. If this is you, prioritise rest ASAP.

Sometimes there’s a genuine problem that needs addressing though in order to clear the negative energy. Nonviolent communication with its emphasis on communicating our needs without blame or criticism makes a great framework for working through conflicts. Starting a sentence “I’m feeling…” rather than “You always…” is far more likely to elicit a favourable response. Check out Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life to learn more.

Frequent hugs and “I love you’s” are also a great tool in keeping a home feeling loving and positive.

 

3. Indulge in a ritual to ‘reset’ your home energetically

Humans have used rituals to mark significant events since prehistoric times, and research has shown that performing a ritual – even a small and private one – can have very real and tangible effects on our wellbeing whether we’re dealing with loss, disappointment or a life change.

A ritual can help us shift the energy in our home too, be it after moving to a new house that doesn’t feel like ‘our space’ yet, or when we still feel stuck in the past after a significant change in our lives.

Make it fun or serious, elaborate or simple – what matters most is that your ritual feels meaningful to you. Be inspired by traditional energy cleansing methods such as sage smudging or singing bowls, incorporate crystals like clear quartz and black tourmaline, rearrange your furniture according the principles of Feng shui or simply light a candle in each room and meditate on your intentions, visualising your home filled with healthy, free-flowing energy.

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…