Is stress a friend or foe?

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of why managing it is not just a luxury but a necessity for your overall well-being. I’ve got some hints and tips that’ll not only inform you but also add a sprinkle of fun to your stress-busting journey.

So, picture this: stress hits, and your body turns into a chemical factory, churning out adrenaline and cortisol. Now this might sound helpful in a crisis, but when these things stick around for too long, trouble brews. Your body starts releasing glucose, prepping you for an escape, but in our modern world, it’s more likely you’re escaping deadlines than trouble.

Now, here’s the kicker – prolonged stress levels can wreak havoc on your body. Your metabolism goes haywire, storing more belly fat and making it a stubborn companion. It’s almost like stress is the unwanted guest that rearranges your furniture and leaves you with extra weight to carry around.

And if that’s not enough, this can also affect your appetite. Suddenly, you’re reaching for fast food and milkshakes instead of a well-balanced meal. It’s a craving carnival, and cortisol is the ringmaster. Or in my case, the chocolate and wine were my nemesis. I don’t do that anymore though.

But wait, there’s more! Stress isn’t just playing havoc with your waistline; it’s also giving your gut a rollercoaster ride. Short-term, it messes with your appetite and slows down digestion, while long-term stress can trigger gastrointestinal dramas like constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Talk about a gut-wrenching situation!

And here’s the twist – a stressed-out gut isn’t just about physical discomfort. It can mess with your mind too. Stress and anxiety can trigger gut symptoms, and having a digestive condition can amp up your stress levels. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario, and neither is particularly enjoyable.

when I was off work with burnout in 2011 I went from fit and healthy to comfort eating. I gained over 3 stone in the process, so I know just how damaging stress can be when left unchecked.

How can I overcome stress?

I’ve got some simple tricks up my sleeve to help you reclaim your Zen. Try diving into a yoga class, embracing mindful meditation, or indulging in some deep breathing exercises. Learn the magical art of saying “no” more often – it’s liberating, trust me.

And don’t underestimate the power of self-care! Whether it’s a 15-minute escape or a luxurious hot bath, find what works for you. It’s not just about beating stress; it’s about embracing a lifestyle that keeps stress at bay.

So, let’s flip the script on stress, have some fun along the way, and reclaim control over our bodies and minds. You’ve got this!

In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, sleep is often the first casualty of our busy lives. Stressed professionals, in particular, frequently find themselves sacrificing sleep in favor of work, meetings, and endless to-do lists. However, this relentless pursuit of productivity often comes at a steep cost. Quality sleep is not just a luxury; it’s a non-negotiable component of optimal performance and well-being. In this blog, we will explore the importance of quality sleep and offer practical tips on creating a sleep-friendly environment. As a professional coach, my aim is to help you reclaim your sleep and, in turn, your vitality, focus, and overall success.

Lack of sleep has the same symptoms and feelings as being very drunk. Not just tiredness but also the inability of the brain to function properly. Almost like a brain fog. After prolonged bouts of bad sleep the body also starts to feel achy and tired.  All in all, a very bad place to be.

The Importance of Quality Sleep

Enhanced Cognitive Function

Sleep is when our brain processes and consolidates information acquired throughout the day. It is the ultimate cognitive reset button. A well-rested mind is more alert, creative, and able to make sound decisions.

Improved Emotional Resilience

A good night’s sleep equips you with the emotional resilience to handle stress and challenging situations. Without it, stress can become overwhelming, leading to burnout.

Physical Health Benefits

Sleep is vital for physical health. It aids in the repair and regeneration of cells, enhances immune function, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Increased Productivity

Contrary to the popular belief that sacrificing sleep leads to higher productivity, consistent, high-quality sleep boosts productivity and efficiency. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish with a rested mind.

Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Establish a Consistent Sleep ScheduleWoman sleeping comfortably

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Optimize Your Bedroom

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for resting. Ensure your room is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows to provide optimal comfort and support. Make sure your pillow gives adequate neck support for the position you lie in most often.

Limit Exposure to Screens

The blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and computers can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Aim to avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. I also advise against having a TV in the bedroom. The temptation to watch it while falling asleep is too great. Watching TV before sleeping can also affect your sleep quality. It is one of the things we changed when we moved. No TV in the bedroom.

Watch Your Diet

Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These substances can interfere with your quality of rest. I find that alcohol in particular is very dehydrating so I do not sleep as well if I have had alcohol in the evening. I do drink lots of water but I can still feel the subtle difference. Also women in menopause, if you are like me, the alcohol will lead to hormone imbalance and make any hot flushes worse when you go to be, so a double reason to limit alcohol. Everything in moderation.

Develop a Relaxing Pre-Bedtime Routine

Engage in calming activities before bedtime, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practising mindfulness or meditation. These activities signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. A foot soak with some Epson Salts is also great for relaxing and helps rebalance the body. All you need is a bowl, some warm water and some Epson Salts, which you can get in any supermarket. It is a great way to wind down. You can even listen to music or read at the same time.

Manage Stress

Stress can keep you up at night, so it’s crucial to manage it effectively. Engage in stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, or journaling, to ease your mind before sleep. Journalling is particularly good as it gives the brain the opportunity to download everything you are thinking or worrying about. It allows the brain to release all those thoughts. It is also a great creative pursuit.

Get Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality. However, avoid intense exercise close to bedtime, as it may energize you and make it harder to fall asleep. An early morning walk is particularly good for resetting your body clock and helping you sleep at night. HAve a listen to Michale Mosley’s just one thing on BBC for more info. Early Morning Walk

As a professional coach, I understand the immense pressure and demands on your shoulders. But sacrificing sleep is not the solution. Lack of sleep can exacerbate the challenges you face. To perform at your best, you need quality sleep. By implementing these sleep hygiene tips and creating a sleep-friendly environment, you can take a significant step towards improving your overall well-being and professional success. Prioritise your sleep, and watch as your vitality, focus, and resilience soar to new heights. Remember, in the pursuit of success, quality sleep is amost valuable asset.

Nourishing Body and Mind with Zoe

Embarking on a journey toward better health and nutrition is a personal and transformative experience. My path took a significant turn when I discovered the Zoe Program. A comprehensive approach to understanding and optimising my body’s needs. I’ll share how this programme has become an essential part of my wellness journey, offering unique insights into my body’s dynamics and fostering a deeper connection between nutrition and overall well-being. I will do periodic updates to share what is happening, as I embark on this year-long journey to discover better health.

Understanding My Body:

The Zoe Programme is not a diet plan; it’s a personalised roadmap to better health. The programme leverages cutting-edge research in microbiome science, genetics, and nutritional analysis to provide a tailored approach to individual needs. By examining my unique biological markers, Zoe revealed a wealth of information about how my body processes different foods, allowing me to make informed choices that resonate with my physiology.

Personalised Nutrition:

One of the standout features of Zoe is its commitment to personalisation. The program doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions; instead, it recognises the diversity in our bodies’ responses to various foods. Armed with insights from my gut microbiome and my body’s ability to process sugar and fat, Zoe created a plan specifically designed to optimise my energy levels, support my fitness goals, and address any potential dietary needs.

My sugar score was better than I expected, while still a score of poor I expected it to be worse than it was.. However, my microbiome score is bad. My blood fat control is also poor. My diet assessment is also poor. Not enough fibre and not enough plant diversity. A little too much fat and too much meat that does not lead to better gut health. Now remember these are the scores for my body only and are not advice for anyone else in any way, shape or form.

Gut Health and Well-Being:

Zoe places a strong emphasis on the role of gut health in overall well-being. Through the programme, I am gaining a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between my gut microbiome and various aspects of health, from digestion to immune function. The personalized recommendations not only improved my digestive comfort but also positively impacted my mood and energy levels, demonstrating the interconnectedness of gut health and holistic well-being. I am also implementing the information further by listening to the Zoe podcasts when I am at the gym. It is helping me to deepen my understanding and look at many different aspects of health.

Educational Empowerment:

What sets Zoe apart is its commitment to education. The program doesn’t just provide a set of rules to follow; it equips participants with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their nutrition. From deciphering food labels to understanding the science behind dietary recommendations, Zoe empowers individuals to take control of their health journey, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-discovery.

Why I Started this Journey

In 2011 I was diagnosed with burn-out and was signed off work for six months. On returning to work I was so tired all the time and my brain felt like it was full of cotton wool. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Here is where my resilience journey started. Healing myself and learning to manage stress. Changing my mindset to be positive and supportive. My weight slowly went up though and I struggled to lose it. Several diets later, I discovered Zoe and decided that, like all things, sustainable change comes not from a quick fix, but from a different approach. This started with the 2 week Zoe tests. A glucose monitor and tests were sent to the lab for gut microbiome and blood fat responses. It was comprehensive.

I have all the results and now start the journey of changing the way I eat and how I view food. This morning I had a wonderful nutritionally balanced brunch of almond pancakes and stewed apples.

Challenges

I am in the habit of eating quite a lot of meat, which, for my body, is not so great. I am transitioning slowly to more beans and pulses. But I am also balancing cooking for my husband too, and taking into consideration his food preferences. It is not always plain sailing, but it is a learning process.

Conclusion:

My Zoe journey has been a revelation. Unveiling a personalized approach to nutrition and health that extends far beyond conventional dieting. By harnessing the power of science and technology, the programme has empowered me to make choices that align with my body’s unique needs. Leading to improved well-being and a renewed sense of vitality. If you’re ready to embark on a transformative journey toward better health, Zoe might just be the personalised guide you’ve been searching for too.

Check back for future blogs to see how I am getting on.

For more information on Zoe click here. Or for their block click here. Even if the full programme is not for you, the website contains a wealth of useful data.

Somatic movement refers to a type of movement therapy that focuses on improving the mind-body connection and releasing chronic muscle tension. It involves a series of gentle, mindful movements that aim to retrain the brain and nervous system to restore natural alignment and relieve pain.

How Somatic Movement Can Help

Here’s how somatic movement can help align the body and potentially alleviate pain:

Sensory Awareness

Somatic movement practices emphasize developing sensory awareness of the body. By paying attention to subtle sensations and movements, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their body’s patterns, tensions, and imbalances. This increased awareness is crucial for recognizing areas of misalignment and pain.

Release of Chronic Muscle Tension

Somatic movement techniques often involve slow, gentle movements designed to release chronically contracted muscles. These movements help to reset the resting length of the muscles and alleviate habitual patterns of tension that may contribute to pain and misalignment.

Neuromuscular Re-Education

Somatic movement aims to retrain the nervous system and brain to restore optimal movement patterns and alignment. By engaging in specific movements that target areas of dysfunction, individuals can improve coordination, balance, and posture, leading to better alignment and reduced pain.

Mind-Body Connection

Somatic movement practices emphasize the integration of the mind and body. By incorporating mindful attention and intention into movement, individuals can develop a more conscious relationship with their body. This mind-body connection allows for greater self-awareness, self-regulation, and the ability to make conscious choices that support alignment and pain relief.

Stress Reduction

Chronic pain can often be exacerbated by stress and tension. Somatic movement practices can help individuals relax, reduce stress, and release emotional and physical tension. By calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation, somatic movement can contribute to pain reduction and overall well-being.

While somatic movement can offer significant benefits, it’s important to note that it may not be a cure-all for all types of pain. It’s always advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or movement specialist, to address individual needs and develop a comprehensive pain management plan.

Why I Became a Teacher of Somatic Movement

As a teacher of somatic movement, I chose this path after overcoming personal stress and chronic pain. My journey began with a deep desire to find a way to heal my own body and mind. Overcome the relentless grip of chronic pain.

For years, I had been trapped in a cycle of physical and emotional suffering. The weight of stress seemed insurmountable, manifesting itself as tension, anxiety, and a constant sense of unease. At the same time, chronic pain was an uninvited companion that followed me everywhere, dictating my movements and limiting my abilities. Nearly three migraines a week! Sciatica that just would not go away!

In my quest for relief, I stumbled upon somatic movement. Through gentle and mindful movements, I discovered a profound sense of release, both physically and emotionally. It was as if I had unlocked a secret door within myself, leading to a realm of freedom, vitality, and resilience.

Delving Deeper

As I delved deeper into my own somatic practice, I couldn’t help but notice the transformative impact it had on my life. I felt empowered, no longer a victim of my circumstances but an active participant in my healing journey. My chronic pain diminished, replaced by a sense of ease and grace in my movements. Furthermore, stress no longer controlled my thoughts, as I learned to cultivate mindfulness and presence.

The realisation that somatic movement held the key to my liberation was a pivotal moment. I felt an overwhelming urge to share this profound gift with others who were suffering, just as I had been. Therefore, I wanted to guide them toward the path of self-discovery, helping them uncover the innate wisdom of their bodies and unleash their own potential for healing.

Becoming a teacher of somatic movement was a natural progression in my personal healing journey. It allowed me to fuse my passion for movement, mindfulness, and compassionate guidance into a purposeful vocation. Witnessing the transformations in my students’ lives. Watching their pain subside, their stress dissolve, and their bodies awaken to newfound freedom. Additionally, it’s a humbling and gratifying experience.

The Resilience of the Human Body

Each day, I am reminded of the incredible resilience of the human body and spirit. I am inspired by the courage and dedication of my students as they embark on their own healing journeys. Consequently, through my teaching, I strive to create a safe and nurturing space where individuals can reconnect with their bodies. I help them cultivate self-awareness, and tap into their inner wisdom.

I chose to become a teacher of somatic movement because I believe in the power of this practice to liberate individuals from the shackles of stress and chronic pain. My personal experience has taught me that true healing comes from within. I am honored to be a guide and witness to the transformative potential that lies within each of us.

Moving

I moved exactly a year ago this month. I went from being in the busy East End of London to a quiet village in Essex. Best thing I ever did! In fact, the picture you can see behind the text is the view I am looking at right now, out of my office window. I feel expansive here, there is a big sky and I have space to think. Of course I have my wonderful studio too where I see my Somatic Movement clients and stress management and resilience coaching. A year on I am so happy my husband and I took the plunge and moved. Definitely have no regrets.

Why a Village

I had a view of village life that there would be much more of a supportive, caring neighbourhood.  In London, neighbours were mostly anonymous and came and went quite regularly. Of course we had local friends but there was no sense of community where we were. So much hustle and bustle and busy days. Everybody getting on with life almost in a bubble. Especially since the pandemic. I wanted something more. A slower pace of life, cleaner air, open spaces, countryside, and probably a feeling that is more in keeping with what growing up in the 60s and 70s was like. Was I after something that was real or was it just a pipe dream?

I am glad to say it was real. We have wonderful neighbours, open spaces that are cared for and looked after, and we can get into nature by just taking a short walk down the road.

Going Local

When we moved my husband and I both agreed that we wanted to support the local economy and immerse ourselves in local village life. It was also a way to consider our own carbon footprint too and how we could reduce it. Climate change is very real for me and I want to do everything I can to reduce waste, plastic, and what goes into our water system. It was more than that though.

It is really easy to buy everything you need online these days. Everything from food and other everyday essentials to luxury goods, clothing, and everything in between. I started to think about what the price was of this convenience. What was I missing with my online shopping? The clothes I ordered online, sometimes they were great, sometimes they were disappointing. The material was not as nice as it looked in the pictures, or the fit was not great. I was missing being able to touch and feel things.

However, that was not what I missed the most. It was the human interaction that I was really lacking. While I have never been a massive shopper, I really love walking into a small local shop, talking to the owner, finding out about them and their products and services. What do they have that might be different? What do they rave about in their own store?

I am not talking about shopping in big anonymous department stores that you have to drive to a shopping mall for. I am talking about finding out what is on your doorstep. From the local corner shop to someone baking cakes in their kitchen at home. More cottage industry to businesses.

We are really, really lucky in our village, we have all the essentials. Some villages suffer these days when too many houses are bought by holiday makers and there are not enough permanent residents to support the local shops. Luckily that is not the case in Great Wakering. We have a couple of good takeaways, some great pubs, a fabulous local general store, a great butcher and some fabulous coffee shops. There are some other local shopping communities close by too. I only have to drive about 15 minutes and I can be in Leigh-on-Sea or Westcliff to shop in some wonderful small local stores.

So what are the benefits?

Surely you’re paying a premium price, aren’t you? This is the cry I hear from so many people when I talk about shopping locally. Well, maybe, but I think the little extra is worth it for a friendly face and some personal service. I also notice that the quality is often superior and the products last a lot longer. Not in all instances but certainly in many. So extra pennies spent now save money in the long run.

You cannot beat walking into a store where you know the names of the owners and employees and they know you. A friendly hello goes a very long way. They’re also getting their stock from local community, so you’re effectively supporting a whole local supply chain. That in turn keeps the village alive and the people connected.

Here are a couple of my favourites, the local shops and pubs support and provide produce for each other too:

Nanny Egg’s Tearoom and Bakery

Whether you’re looking for tasty lunch and afternoon tea, or some local produce, they have a great selection. Or even some local honey, they have it all. They also bake the most delicious cakes and will cater and deliver to your events. They are friendly and they are about local and community. Thank you to Christine Egbury, owner of Nanny Egg’s, for also agreeing to be in the photo. We do seem to have unwittingly synchronised our colour scheme.

If you would like to know more about them, here is their facebook page:

Nanny Egg’s Tearoom and Bakery

Marsh butchers

So much nicer than the supermarket meat. You will not cook and find your pan full of water and the meat has shrunk to half its size. All the meat here is traditionally reared and it is healthier for you too. (There is a massive difference between animal fat from a traditionally reared animal and an intensively farmed animal, traditionally reared being a much healthier fat).

Depending on what you are cooking, they will prepare the cut of meat for you, ready to your personal specific specifications and needs. They also stock a lot of locally based products, again supporting the whole local supply chain and therefore the vibrancy of the village and surrounding area. Thank you to Kevin Booker, owner of Marsh Butcher’s, for also agreeing to be in the photo.

If you would like to know more about them, here is their facebook page:

Marsh Butchers Ltd

The Royal British Legion – Great Wakering

A great place for an evening out or just a lunchtime with family or friends. Great summer BBQ’s. Super friendly members. They also have live music on Saturday night, as do many of the local pubs. Prices are reasonable and there is a real heart of the community feel here. It is not just for ex military people anymore, albeit that I am ex military, but membership is open to all.

If you would like to know more about them, here is their website:

Great Wakering & District Royal British Legion (wakeringrblc.co.uk)

I hope you can see why I love my new village life.

What changes have you made in the last year and why?

How I managed to get rid of my lower back pain – forever!

A few years back I had been suffering from lower back pain for a couple of months. I went to my usual “Goto” fixes. The osteopath and the shiatsu practitioner. Nothing seemed to do anything more than give relief for a couple of days and then it was back. Just as bad as it had been before. I was desperate. I started searching google for some alternatives.

Why pain can be such a pain!

Pain is one of the most universal human experiences, yet it is also one of the most difficult to define and understand. Pain is often described as a feeling of discomfort or suffering. It is a complex sensation that is both physical and emotional, and it can be difficult to pinpoint its exact cause. There are many different types of pain, from the sharp, stabbing pain of a paper cut to the dull, aching pain of a headache. Pain can be short-lived or chronic, and it can be mild or severe. No matter what form it takes, pain is always unpleasant and can be a great source of distress. Causing you to feel stress! It is so hard to concentrate when you are in pain. It impacts every part of your life, not just the physical.

The secret to success

I started searching google for some alternatives. That is when I came across Somatic Movement. I just started with an online training course. I learned how the muscles travel through the body and cause pain in completely different places from where the main muscles are located. Bingo – I had my back problem culprit – the psoas muscles. It is a bit of a tricky muscle to reach. If it is tight through the hips then it can cause ridiculous amounts of pain in the lower back that can be quite incapacitating. It can be stretched but that is not usually a very lasting solution. The psoas movement in somatics is really easy to learn though and can give instant relief.

It was so life changing I qualified as a teacher of somatic movement. My back has never been better and has taken my self care to a whole new level.

Does this sound like a familiar tale to you? Do you suffer from lower back ache that never seems to resolve? Well if you would like to learn the secret of the psoas muscle release I am offering a discount until the end of august on all sessions. Take a look at our social media posts to pick up my special offer.

 

 

 

 

What is Somatic Movement?

Somatic movement is the movement of the body as a whole, or of individual parts of the body. It includes both voluntary and involuntary movement and can be either purposeful or non-purposeful. It is an important part of human development and is essential for maintaining physical health and well-being.

A Movement for healthy living

There are many benefits to incorporating somatic movement into your life. Somatic movement can help to improve your overall physical health, as well as your mental and emotional well-being. By improving your physical health, you can reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Furthermore, somatic movement can help to improve your balance and coordination and increase your flexibility and range of motion. Additionally, practicing regular somatic movements can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your quality of sleep. Ultimately, incorporating somatic movement into your life can help you to live pain-free and reverse some of the postures we typically associate with old age.

Why somatic movement is so important

The human body is designed to move. And yet, in our modern world, we often find ourselves sitting for long periods of time – at our desks, in our cars, on our couches. This sedentary lifestyle can lead to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Somatic movement is any kind of movement that is intentional and mindful. It can be as simple as taking a break from sitting to stand up and stretch, or it can be a more structured form of movement with a qualified practitioner.

The benefits are many. It can help to improve our posture, increase our flexibility, and reduce stress. It can also help to improve our cardiovascular health and increase our overall strength and endurance.

The great thing about somatic movement is that you can do it almost anywhere. So why not make a commitment to incorporating some somatic movement into your daily life? Your body will thank you for it!

Interested in Finding Out More – Special Offer

Hi I’m Alison
I help people who are in pain, feel better again. I recently moved to Great Wakering and set up my local studio, and in celebration, I am giving a special offer on Somatic Movement one-to-one sessions until the end of August.
So if you
  • Wake up tired or in pain?
  • Notice you cannot move like you used to?
  • Somatics is the answer; It goes to the root of most chronic muscular pain.

It works for everyone, both young, and old, and everyone in between! Retrain your brain to relax and release chronically tight muscles and move easily and flexibly.

Give me a call on 07768 493157 and we can have a chat about how I can help you.

 

As a female in today’s society, it is an unfortunate fact that you have to be on your guard when it comes to being out at night. With the recent reports of drug spiking being on the rise, women are trying to be more vigilant than ever. And we are all asking the same simple question: Just how safe are women in today’s society?

I’m Sophie, I work for Alison Charles and have taken on this blog to bring some awareness to the dangers of spiking. As well as discussing the issues surrounding drug spiking and women’s safety, I will also be sharing my personal experience with an unprecedented drug spiking that happened to me only a month ago.

What are the dangers of spiking?

It almost goes unspoken, the ritualistic process in which women must take in order to ensure a safe night out. Making sure that you are not walking alone at night, covering your drink at every given moment, or phoning a friend when you get home to let them know you are alive. These precautions which have shockingly become normal to us are vital for our safety. We must be consistently on the lookout for danger. Unable to enjoy a simple night out with friends in case we end up under the influence of GHB or another unwelcome drug.

In a recent survey by The Tab on Instagram, around 23,000 students responded to the question “Since the start of the year, do you believe you have been spiked?”. Of these people, 2,625 answered yes. When asked if they knew someone who had been spiked, 50% (around 12,000 people) also answered yes. The newest issue that we are seeing all over the media now is the use of needles to drug women. There have been multiple reports of girls feeling the effects of spiking with no idea what happened. Only to find a pinprick-type wound later. As women become increasingly aware of their drinks, it seems the culprits are finding new ways to target women with drugs against their will. In my case, this could have been in the almost unheard-of form. A cigarette!

My experience of being spiked

On the 15th of September this year, just a month ago, I was spiked in London. The details I have of that night have been told to me by the people I was with, as I have no recollection of anything whatsoever. I know that I was fine until my vision became very blurry, I felt confused and nauseous. Within minutes I was on the floor, vomiting, convulsing and unconscious. During some of it, my mind was completely aware, but I had no control over my body movements at all. I had paramedics and strangers in the street helping me, I never saw their faces.

After many hours, and trip to the hospital, I was able to get safely home. My mum drove over an hour to find me sat alone and shivering at a hospital. It did not end there, for the next two days I was incredibly sick, dehydrated, and nauseous. The pub I was visiting took no responsibility. Therefore, this has gone completely unsolved, and I am left with a harrowing memory of that night. And now, the added fear of enjoying a night out with friends ever again. Having experienced this, I will forever take drug spiking seriously and try to bring awareness as to how terrifying it can be. I am also horrified at the new information of needles being used, especially with the risks of contracting unwanted diseases or infections.

How to know if you have been spiked

The problem with spiking, and how to stop it, is that it is completely out of a woman’s control. It should not be down to us to stay safe when we are not the culprits. We are just the victims of disgusting, predatorial people whose end goal is both terrifying and sad. With most culprits being male, it should be down to the those around us to help ensure our safety. Make your friends aware. And if you see a woman in trouble, try to intervene or ask if she is safe. As women we can still only do the bare minimum. Stay vigilant, cover your drinks, be mindful of who you are with. Even with all those measures in place it still doesn’t guarantee total safety.

Not everyone is aware of the signs of drink spiking. It can go completely unnoticed until it has already happened. However, if you do notice anything strange about your drink, such as an off smell or taste, let friends or staff know. These are some of the effects that drugs such as GHB (Rohypnol) can have and to be wary of. Remember, if you experience any of these, let someone around you know so you can get adequate help:

  • You have not had a lot to drink, but feel too drunk already
  • Blurred vision or black outs
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of awareness or confusion
  • Lack of control over body movements
  • Unconsciousness

What can venues do to keep us safe?

At the moment, there is a lot of talk about how local venues can make sure we are safe. How many more cases do there need to be for someone to take it seriously? A petition, started by Hannah Thompson from Glasgow, has been put forward to the government with over 140,000 signatures already. This petition is asking that nightclub venues should legally search everybody on their way in. In addition to this, women up and down the nation have planned “Girls Night In”. This is a day planned for the 27th of October where women boycott nightclubs and other local venues in order to stress just how seriously spiking need to be taken.

A few nightclubs and bars have already acted by some having “spiking strips” behind the bar. These are strips of CYD that analyse your drink and give an indication as to whether it has been tampered with. It picks up drugs such as GHB and Ketamine. However, only a few venues offer these. But they are extremely easy to get hold of, so it might be a good idea to take some with you yourself, just in case. But again, why is this our responsibility? We can only look out for ourselves until somebody steps in.

It is important that we keep raising awareness for the many women who have fallen victim to spiking, so if you want to make others aware, please share. Hopefully one day women will feel safe enough to enjoy a simple drink with their friends without fear.

 

Over the course of six blogs, we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? We can have a much better transition if we have a better understanding of menopause. We can learn to work with our bodies and find our personal path.

In this blog we will be looking at menopause in the workplace and why it is such an important issue. What needs to change about the attitude towards menopause and symptoms in the workplace?

How menopause affects women in the workplace

Did you know that 13 million women in the UK are going through menopause at any one time? 80% of them are at work? While we all know that menopause physically affects only women, when it comes to the workplace it can affect everybody. In any job where there are female employees present, it should be taken into consideration that the possibility of them having symptoms, while at work, is very high. There are a possible 49 symptoms of menopause, and any number of them can affect productivity and performance at work.

If you think about your current job, and whether you are going through the menopause, would you say you are comfortable in your workspace to cope with it? According to a survey by Forth with Life around 90% of women say that their workplace does not offer any help to menopausal women. 72% say that changes need to be made to accommodate menopausal women in the workplace.

How symptoms affect women in the workplace

If you have experienced menopausal symptoms, then it will be no secret that they can disrupt your daily work life. 41% of those same surveyed women said that their poor concentration and forgetfulness causes them to make mistakes and underperform. Menopause can also cause difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety during work and employers can easily dismiss that too as underperforming. If your employer has experienced the menopause themselves they may be a little more uncerstanding. However, those who have not been taught how to deal with it can easily misunderstand how serious these symptoms are.

Managing your menopause is a great first step to coping. Finding natural solutions such as ones we have discussed in our Natural VS HRT blogs may really help you. Maybe you have a co-worker going through a similar experience? Could you ask anyone around you for support?

How does this affect you as an employer?

As of 2019 studies show that there is a huge rise in employment in women between the ages of 50 and 64. This is prime time for menopause to be an issue, and although some are choosing to stay in work, many feel as though they cannot cope with the symptoms and stress. This results in possibly leaving work or a rise in absence. One in four women have considered leaving work because of menopause, and according to BUPA around 990,000 already have. If a woman quits work due to unmanageable symptoms it will cost the company money. Replacing an employee can cost anywhere between 90% – 200% of what it originally cost to pay that employee. For exmaple, if they earned say £25,000, that could cost anywhere up to £50,000. This is before taking into consideration other elements such as:

  • Expertise, skills and experience lost
  • Recruiting, interviewing and training a new employee
  • The client relationships they built
  • Cultural impact
  • Loss of productivity

What can you do as an employer to help?

When it comes to the wellbeing of women in the workplace, topics such as menopause should be taken seriously. Simply talking about menopause, raising awareness to all employees and normalising it is extremely helpful. Especially when employees might feel embarrassed to address it or made to feel like it is a taboo subject. In addition, here are some things employees can introduce to better the help and understanding of menopause in the workplace:

  • Training for all line managers
  • Support groups
  • A safe place to talk in the office
  • A quiet rest area
  • Flexible work hours and shift arrangements
  • Facilities for physical symptoms such as showers, fans and clean bathrooms
  • Introduce a menopause policy

The government are currently investigating a manifesto for menopause at work. This was put forward by the CIPD in order to bring more attention to the lack of awareness and support surrounding menopause in the workplace. Bringing a menopause policy into organisations would ensure the wellbeing of employees, and help shed the negative talk surrounding it.

If you would like to stay ahead of the curve and think about your wellbeing strategy to incorporate a menopause policy now, contact Alison Charles, Wellbeing Consultant:

Tel: 07768 493157

Office: 020 3290 3157

Email: alison@alisoncharles.co.uk
Twitter: @alisonjcharles
LinkedIn: Alison Charles
Facebook: Alison Charles: Wellbeing in the Workplace

 

 

Why talk about Chronic Fatigue?

Today let’s talk a bit about chronic fatigue, what it is and how you can manage it. We spoke to Dan Thompson from Southend Acupuncture to hear his perspective on chronic fatigue and how you can include acupuncture and exercise in your routine to help with symptoms. Chronic Fatigues is very akin to Long Covid and many of the things that help chronic fatigue also have been found to help Long Covid.

I burned out in 2011. When I came back to work I knew I was really struggling to concentrate, but I did not know why. I felt tired and really struggled to concentrate. Luckily the works doctor spotted that all was not well and sent me to St Thomas Hospital for an assessment. I had a chronic fatigue syndrome called Fibromyalgia. Finally everything I was feeling made sense. From here I embarked on a journey of discover, recovery and resilience.

What is chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term illness and is very common. There is an estimated 250,000 people who are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome in the UK alone. It usually develops between the ages of 20-40, and it is recognised more in women. It is recognised by a case of extreme tiredness that is not relieved through bed rest and is not related to any underlying medical condition. Although the main symptom is fatigue, that isn’t the only common symptom. Other symptoms can include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Brain fog
  • Pain in joints and muscles
  • Headaches
  • Sleeping problems such as insomnia
  • Extreme tiredness

A range of different symptoms means there is no one way to treat or manage chronic fatigue, it cannot be generalised. It is very different for each individual, therefore dealing with the symptoms needs a flexibility and combination of things in order to help with the illness.

How can you manage chronic fatigue?

When figuring out the best solution to dealing with chronic fatigue symptoms, there are a lot of factors to think about. You must of course take into consideration your nutrition and diet, hereditary factors, constitutional factors and emotional factors. These all contribute to long term chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, trauma can be a trigger. Trauma triggers a physical response, and this can result in your body going into a fight or flight response.

When dealing with a negative emotion or unresolved trauma, our bodies will naturally go into a fight/flight state. This is where the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, starting a whole host of chain reactions throughout the body. The brain sends a trigger through the nervous system and our adrenal gland will produce adrenaline and noradrenaline. This can induce an increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating and shallow breathing. These responses are actually vital to how we learn to cope with uncomfortable or negative situations. The fight or flight response is part of our body telling us when we are in danger and preparing us to act on it. We tend to react with the options of fleeing, freezing or fighting, hence the name “fight or flight.”

However, our body cannot always tell when a threat is real or not, so even if there is not any actual danger we still respond in this way. Some people have a little more sensitivity to these situations, such as those with anxiety, PTSD or in this case, Chronic Fatigue Sydrome, which is why the fight or flight response is triggered more than usual.

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture can actually help regulate your fight or flight. By putting a needle into the right pressure point it triggers our rest response right away (The opposite of fight or flight). By having regular treatments to help regulate the fight or flight, your body will soon start regulating your other organ functions and bringing a natural order of health. It improves your sleep pattern, energy and also your mindset. By having a healthy mindset you gain more clarity and focus, and in turn brings that back to you wanting to do more exercise despite feeling like you couldn’t due to chronic fatigue. By opting to do acupuncture and exercise regularly your metabolism improves, making you want to eat the right food. All of these are subtle changes that day to day will push you towards feeling better.

Treatment is carried out with Acupuncture, based on the symptoms that are demonstrated. The needles will be used at different points at different times based on presentation, and, as all symptoms can present themselves differently, they will be used whenever or wherever required during the session.

What exercise can you do?

As muscle pain and joint pain are present in chronic fatigue, doing muscle or joint heavy exercise probably not possible. Start by walking, and it doesn’t have to be a mile long walk every day. Maybe start out with a walk around the block at first depending on how you feel! A couple of days later you could go a little further. The more you do it the better you will feel. But remember not to push yourself too far, you do not want to hit that wall of tiredness again. It is your personal journey, it is up to you to find your limits and have total control over feeling better.

For someone with chronic fatigue, just simply getting out of bed can feel too difficult. But once you do, and you take that first step to becoming more active you will feel a whole lot better. It is entirely possible to do that, and once you start to do more physical things such as walking on a regular basis, you will notice the increase in energy and motivation that you have.

What about Pilates or Somatic Movement?

I tried Pilates. It is a gentle form of exercise that can help the pain in the joints and muscles. I started slowly at first, and to be honest it really did not feel like I was doing much. Pilates is a very deep muscles level exercise but this only really becomes apparent as you become more connected with your body and more experienced at the movements.  The more I did the better I felt, the better I felt the more I did. More recently I discovered Somatic Movement and have chosen Somatic as the movement that I teach others. It is absolutely fantastic at helping regain control of the body and dissipate stuck stress.

It’s important to remember that chronic fatigue does not come on overnight, and neither does recovery. It will take time to recover, it is a marathon not a sprint! As long as you are feeling like you are on the right track to feeling better in yourself then you are on the right track. Just take one step at a time!

Thank you to Dan Thompson from Southend Acupuncture for sharing his expertise with us. If you would like to know more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine, you can visit Dan’s website or contact him here.

Over the course of six blogs we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? We can have a much better transition if we have a better understanding of menopause. We can learn to work with our bodies and find our personal path.

In this blog we’re talking about natural ways to deal with menopause vs HRT. We spoke to acupuncturist and Shiatsu practitioner, Dan Thompson for his experience with using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to manage symptoms.

What is HRT and Natural Therapy?

How much do you really know about treatment in menopause? It is safe to say that there is a lack of education when it comes to why, when and what different remedies we can use for managing menopause symptoms. Menopause tends to blindside women when it hits because they know very little about it. So what is HRT? HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) simply replaces the oestrogen and progesterone that our bodies are no longer producing so much of with synthetic substitutes. It’s best known for managing hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. There are many forms of HRT such as tablets, skin patches or gel. These can only be prescribed by a doctor.

However, according to the Women’s Health Concern (the patient arm of the British Menopause Society) 95% of women would rather try natural alternatives over taking HRT. Although not risk free, it is most likely because there are fewer risks involved in natural treatment. It could also be that as menopause is a natural process, women like to get through it with natural or alternative medicine. Natural remedies do not replace hormones like HRT does. It relieve symptoms by balancing the hormones at their new lower level. Types of natural medicines for managing menopause symptoms include Herbalism, Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Naturopathy.

How do people feel about HRT?

The main concerns women have surrounding HRT are the risks and side effects that could possibly derive from it. Side effects can be anything from migraines to weight gain. The newer bio-identical hormones delivered through creams and patches are gentler on the system. It can take a little while to find the right dosage for an individual.  How your body reacts to it is important when deciding whether to carry on with the treatment.

When deciding to go down the path of HRT, a GP will take into consideration a persons medical history, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, liver disease and previously having or being at high risk of breast cancer. Although a very rare occurrence, HRT has been linked to women developing breast cancer.

Women who take HRT for more than 1 year have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who never use HRT. The risk is linked to all types of HRT except vaginal oestrogen. “The increased risk of breast cancer falls after you stop taking HRT, but some increased risk remains for more than 10 years compared to women who have never used HRT”. For Further information in this area see the link about HRT on this NHS Website.

Many women are scared off by these risks. But with good professional advice it can be a solution to managing menopause symptoms. HRT is a generalised medication. A single solution for a possible 49 different symptoms. It is not tailored to the individual, meaning that it may help some symptoms and not others.

Are there risks in natural therapy?

Just like HRT, natural medicine can be very hit and miss without professional guidance. While many women opt for natural solutions to manage symptoms, it could take some trial and error to find exactly what it is we need. How many of you have turned to google when looking? Who has self-prescribed evening primrose oil or  some herbal remedies? However, what works for one woman may not work for another. Ultimately, so much trial and error could ultimately end up making symptoms worse or lead to women giving up and turning to HRT. For instance, there are 551 possible homeopathic medicines for hot flushes alone. Finding the right one involves a complex case-taking process by a professional homeopath.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncturist Dan Thompson told us that he sees many women turning to Acupuncture and Chinese medicine to manage perimenopausal symptoms. Hot flushes, fatigue and irregular periods are just some of the many symptoms that people use Acupuncture for. It is a practice in which thin needles are placed in certain points of the body for a number of beneficial effects. Acupuncture is about stimulating the right pressure points with needles based on symptoms or diagnosis.

In Chinese medicine, the general aging of both men and women can be referred to as ‘Kidney Yin Deficiency’. Certain symptoms may also present as a depletion of Kidney essence. According to the Yin/Yang principles, Yin encourages the cooling process and Yang provides the warming function. Both Yin and Yang play a significant part in health, therefore diagnosing and treating signs and symptoms is prevalent in menopause. Stress and aging can cause disharmonies and depletion of our yin which can induce symptoms like insomnia leading up to menopause. Through this important stage of life, both yin and yang need nourishment to maintain a healthy balance of all symptoms during the menopause.

Why should we use them?

Our bodies and hormones are in a natural state of flux throughout the aging process. Symptoms will present themselves because menopause is a natural process. We have to go through it regardless! Managing naturally might come with a sense of accomplishment. But it is important to look after yourself with nutrition and exercise too. We have to adapt our health and lifestyle habits as we get older. The needs of our bodies change so it is important to change with it. So using different management methods that suit our individual experience with menopause is really good for us.

We should also keep in mind that symptoms are not just physical! Emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression can also be associated during this time. Managing emotional health goes hand in hand with looking after our physical health. One of the goals of using Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is to regulate hormones and reduce excess symptoms. Utilising all of these natural therapies to treat menopausal symptoms creates a healthy balance physically and within our mind.

Thank you to Dan Thompson from Southend Acupuncture for sharing his expertise with us. If you would like to know more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine, you can visit Dan’s website or contact him here.

Next week we will be looking at menopause from a scientific point of view.

menopause

Over the course of six blogs we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? We can have a much better transition if we have a better understanding of menopause. We can learn to work with our bodies and find our personal path.

In this blog we’re talking about natural ways to deal with menopause vs HRT. We spoke to natural menopause expert Sarah Davison.

What is HRT and Natural Therapy?

How much do you really know about treatment in menopause? It is safe to say that there is a lack of education when it comes to why, when and what different remedies we can use for managing menopause symptoms. Menopause tends to blindside women when it hits because they know very little about it. So what is HRT? HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) simply replaces the oestrogen and progesterone that our bodies are no longer producing so much of with synthetic substitutes. It’s best known for managing hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. There are many forms of HRT such as tablets, skin patches or gel. These can only be prescribed by a doctor.

 

However, according to the Women’s Health Concern (the patient arm of the British Menopause Society) 95% of women would rather try natural alternatives over taking HRT. Although not risk free, it is most likely because there are fewer risks involved in natural treatment. It could also be that as menopause is a natural process, women like to get through it with natural or alternative medicine. Natural remedies do not replace hormones like HRT does, but instead relieve symptoms by balancing the hormones at their new lower level. Types of natural medicines for managing menopause symptoms include Herbalism, Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Naturopathy.

How do people feel about HRT?

The main concerns women have surrounding HRT are the risks and side effects that could possibly derive from it. Side effects can be anything from migraines to weight gain, thought the newer bio-identical hormones delivered through creams and patches are gentler on the system. It can take a little while to find the right dosage for an individual.  How your body reacts to it is important when deciding whether to carry on with the treatment.

When deciding to go down the path of HRT, a GP will take into consideration a persons medical history, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, liver disease and previously having or being at high risk of breast cancer. Although a very rare occurrence, HRT has been linked to women developing breast cancer. Many women are scared off by these risks, but with good professional advice it can be a solution to managing menopause symptoms. HRT is a generalised medication. A single solution for a possible 49 different symptoms. It is not tailored to the individual, meaning that it may help some symptoms and not others.

Are there risks in natural therapy?

Just like HRT, natural medicine can be very hit and miss without professional guidance. While many women opt for natural solutions to manage symptoms, it could take some trial and error to find exactly what it is we need. How many of you have turned to google when looking? Who has self-prescribed evening primrose oil or  some herbal remedies? However, what works for one woman may not work for another, and so much trial and error could ultimately end up making symptoms worse or lead to women giving up and turning to HRT. For instance, there are 551 possible homeopathic medicines for hot flushes alone. Finding the right one involves a complex case-taking process by a professional homeopath.

A professional practitioner can help you find the right solution for your symptoms. Sarah offers a deeper look into homeopathy for menopause on her website, which you can access here. https://thrivehomeopathy.com/homeopathy-for-menopause/

Unfortunately I had not met Sarah when I started with my perimenopausal symptoms. I did not try over-the-counter medication. I went to Neal’s Yard in London, and they put together a herbal remedy for me, based on my symptoms. Not quite as tailored as Sarah’s offering, but I was lucky, it helped me manage my hot flushes. And when they came back, following and oophorectomy, I consulted with Sarah who dealt with them homoeopathically.

The importance of the liver in menopause

Another thing we must take into consideration when looking to treat menopausal symptoms is the function and state of our other organs. Menopause symptoms are not always caused by a drop in sex hormones, some can be caused by issues with tired adrenal glands (which produce our stress hormones), a congested liver, a low thyroid or an unhappy gut.

The liver is something that can greatly affect the way our bodies function during menopause. For example, if someone has spent their life not looking after their liver, perhaps consuming too much alcohol and sugar, then it can cause issues such as fatty liver. The liver gets rid of old oestrogen, it’s like the dustbin of the body. If it is not working properly, then it will retain that old oestrogen and exacerbate the hormonal imbalance, making symptoms harder to manage. This is why seeing a professional, perhaps a homeopath like Sarah, is really beneficial towards managing menopause properly.

There are pros and cons to both conventional and alternative treatment, and the different options each one offers. Being educated and informed is vital to making the right decision for our own bodies. We don’t need to suffer!

Thank you to Sarah Davison for the contribution and information. Sarah can be reached at thrivehomeopathy.com.

Sarah offers a free perimenopause assessment that allows you to check how many of the 49 possible symptoms you have. Click here to take the assessment. You do not have to suffer alone! You can also follow her on social media at @naturalmenopauseexpert

Next time we will be looking at menopause from an acupuncturists point of view.

This month we invite guest bloggers Fola Ademoye and Narayani to talk about taking care of your own health.

If there is just one thing we learned in 2020, it is just how important being and keeping healthy is. Yes, that means looking after you! According to Public Health England, many women have suffered from mental distress as a result of covid and accompanying increases in workload.

So, we asked Soroptimist East London wellness experts Fola and Narayani for their top tips for taking care of you (without spending lots of money or time) in 2021 and will write them up in a number of blogs. First, we talk with Fola and Narayani and explore their top tip 1: get outside – even if it’s just stepping out the front door! 

Top Tip 1: Get outside, start your health and fitness journey!

After the events of 2020, it’s become evident now more than ever just how much good the outdoors can do for you. Especially if that time is used to do some exercise.

Fitness and Pilates instructor Fola Ademoye suggests: Get outside and keep physically fit!  She explains that even if gyms are closed, or access limited, there are still plenty of ways to gain or maintain a reasonable level of fitness and have fun at the same time. She suggests trying interval walking – with or without a friend.

Interval walking is simply where you walk at your normal pace for, say, 3 minutes and then do a quick burst of walking fast for 2 minutes. You only need your normal walking shoes and a watch with a second-hand. It is quite fun to see how many of these you can achieve over a few weeks. For example, you might do 5 blocks on day one (one block = 3 minutes walking normal speed and 2 minutes walking fast).  You will have accomplished 25 minutes without even noticing. Ideally, says Fola, increase your blocks by adding just one per day. Within a week you could be doing a 60 minute interval walk. Even if you added one block every other day or every third day, you would make significant progress.

“Set yourself a challenge and see how you get on” says Fola.

Get Outside and Shift Your Focus, Shift Your Mood!

girl walking Yoga therapist Narayani agrees that getting regular exercise is a great way to counter stress.  She suggests if you don’t feel up to interval training how about a walk around the block or to your nearest park. There’s plenty of research showing that just being in nature is good for our health. But even if there’s no green space near you, being outside you’ll get some vitamin D from the natural light.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, Narayani suggests that one helpful technique is to focus on your feet as you walk. As you step forward with your right foot, mentally say “right” and then mentally say “left” as you step with the left foot. As a result, this simple walking meditation technique can help refocus your mind from worries to what is practically happening in your body at the present time. It can be very grounding since you are focusing on the feet.

When we’re feeling blue, just getting out of the house, even for 5 minutes can be great medicine. If a walking meditation doesn’t appeal or is not accessible to you, how about a quick “looking meditation”? Take 3-5 minutes and look around you, notice the colours, the shapes. If it’s helpful, imagine you are like a tourist visiting for the first time – who knows what you might see!  Narayani explains, many people are strongly visual so what they see can impact on how they feel – for example,  think about how you feel if you see a baby or a puppy. Looking at something different may temporarily distract you from worries. It will give you a break, and you might see something which makes you smile.

Narayani says there are many forms of meditation. Meditating on a regular basis even just for 5 minutes can help maintain our centre when life feels rocky. And remember, it’s not selfish, it’s necessary, to spend time taking care of you.

Want more wellness tips?

If you’d like more tips about getting & staying well, contact Fola or Narayani.

Fola originally started teaching fitness classes in 1985 and has continued teaching virtually non-stop. She spent most of her fitness career working closely with groups and individual clients to develop personalised health and fitness plans for them, including programmes for weight loss, muscular gain, and rehabilitation etc.  Contact Fola at fola.ademoye@gmail.com and check out her website here!

Narayani is a yoga therapist (C-IAYT) with over 15 years’ experience. She helps people find ease in their bodies, peace in their minds and happy, useful lives even in tough times. She teaches group and individual classes with a focus on health concerns and building resilience and coherence in life. Contact Narayani at yoganarayani@gmail.com and like her on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Interested in Soroptimist East London?

Soroptimist East London is a women’s organisation that empowers women for positive change and sustainable development in East London and around the world. We do it through volunteering, mentoring and advocacy. We work in partnership with other organisations and Soroptimist clubs near and far. Members come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and live, work or have personal connections to East London. We’re part of Soroptimist International a worldwide women’s volunteer organisation. We have clubs in 121 countries around the world and consultative status at the United Nations.  You can find out more about what we do and how we do it by reading our blog “What Does Soroptimist East London Do?” and check out the rest of our website too!

If you’d like to find out more or join, please contact us by clicking HERE!  We’re a vibrant and friendly group and new members are welcome.

 

Good Hydration Today lets take a look at hydration how it can benefit your mental health and wellbeing.

Many people reading this are under lockdown due to Covid-19, so many of us are rediscovering the big outdoors.,How many of us remember to take water out with us and remember to hydrate as much as we should?

Why should we hydrate?

Scientific reviews have researched the effects of mild dehydration on cognitive function in both men and women. These studies found that women were more likely to be dehydrated than men, with women reporting headaches and confusion while being mildly dehydrated. Men are affected too though. If you are experiencing feelings of tiredness, headaches and are perhaps struggling to focus it might not be just the current situation and the stress of it all. It might be that you are dehydrated, so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Perhaps you are not used to drinking much water, so if you suddenly start drinking two litres a day you might find that you are running to the bathroom rather too frequently.  If you garden at all, think about what happens if you forget to water a pot plant.  The compost dries up.  The first few times you water the plant, the water goes straight through. Then after a few times of a good soak, the compost slowly expands again.  Well the body works in a similar way. But you might want to slowly increase every few days, starting with a pint of water and building up from there.

Good Hydration

Good Hydration

 

Is water just too boring to hydrate?

I speak to many people that think drinking water is boring, but what could be better that pure, clear water to hydrate with? Still not convinced, well lets jazz it up a bit.  Get a nice jug, add your water and put some slices of lemon or a bit of mint, or even both. Leave in the fridge to chill and you have a nice refreshing beverage. It looks so nice too and feels more like a treat.

Taking time over presentation of what you eat and drink can totally trasnform how you feel about it. The benefits of adding lemon is anecdotal but it could also give you added vitamin C, be good for your skin and may wake up your digestive system.  Good to have first thing in the morning. Mint is also considered a good digestive aid. Vitamin C also boost immunity.  Boosting immunity is also a key to staying health both emntaly and physically.

If you want to vary it maybe add orange, limes or cucumber, with of without mint.  For a bit more flavour add tumeric or cinnamon and if you want a little bit of sweetness, add a little raw hone, which may also boost immunity. Make sure it is raw though.

If that does not float your boat how about adding some fresh fruit like strawberries or raspberries?  You can even freeze them and add them for some extra chill as the weather gets warmer.

If you want a bit of a tang add some raw apple cider vinegar. Again health benefits are anecdotal, but certainly it adds flavour and does no harm.  If it gets you drinking more water then totally worth it.

Add some fizz to hydrate

Lastly how about a little fizz.  Either using natural carbonated water like Perrier or San Pelligrino or using something like a soda strea, without adding the sugary sweetner. Carbonated water works just as well with all the above to hydtrate, and has the added benefit of making you feel full, may improve swallowing and has benefits of digestion. Carbonated water may have beneficial effects on your cholesterol, inflammation, and blood sugar levels, potentially reducing your risk of heart disease and boosting immunity. However, more studies are necessary.

So enjoy the sunshine and go make some liven up you water.

HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE

Why exercise?

Today let’s take a look at exercise and how it can benefit your mental health and wellbeing.

Many people reading this are under lockdown due to Covid-19, and let’s face it, exercise can be a challenge. Dashing around people, motivation, missing the sports and gym. But we all know it’s good for us don’t we!! Finding a way to keep up the exercise is a must and for many people is a first, forced by the need to just get out of the house. I do hope that those that have just started will keep it.

Well if you need to change it up for a variety or just want some fresh ideas here are a few.

1. Cardio and Aerobic Exercise

Make exercise fun

Make exercise fun

Cardio exercise is about increased heart rate, while aerobic exercise entails increasing oxygen intake. However, many activities achieve both of these at once. So how can you incorporate running, jogging, walking, bicycling, swimming, gardening or dancing into your routine and why is it good for your mental health?

All of these are things you can do right now. Well, maybe a little chilly for swimming. The sea is still a ways to go to warm up enough for most people. You know the saying, dance as though no one is watching.  Even in the smallest space, you can turn up the volume on your favourite jam and dance around the room. Maybe with headphones on if you want it really loud or you live with others.

Cardio and aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce both anxiety and depression by doing the following:

  • Increasing blood flow to the brain
  • Endorphins are released into the body, helping reduce pain and improve mood
  • Positively affecting parts of the brain that impact motivation

Getting outside is excellent for your mental health in a variety of ways. It’s surprising how a gentle stroll surrounded by nature can give you a completely new perspective. Sometimes it’s simply the change of scenery that helps. Here are some reasons why getting outside is beneficial for the mind as well as the body.

Vitamin D

Make exercise fun

Make exercise fun

According to Public Health England, adults and children over the age of 1 should have 10 micro-grams of vitamin D every day. Getting outside in the sunlight will give you a much-needed vitamin D boost. Vitamin D is connected to your mood, and if you’re lacking in it, your mood may be affected.

There’s a reason why people feel happier in the sun because it can really improve your mood. So, if you look outside and the sun is shining, like today, pop out for a bit to soak up some rays (but make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen, even at this time of year you can still burn and remember to moisturise the skin afterwards). We are allowed now!

The fresh air helps too. Fresh air helps to send plenty of oxygen through the blood and allows your lungs to work at full capacity. Plus, oxygen to your brain = more brainpower.

My husband and I have taken up running here and there but walking is our favourite at the moment.  It is amazing what beautiful places we have discovered on our own doorstep that we did not know were there.  Normally we would drive somewhere like RHS Wisley.

High Intensity

Simple High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is also possible at home. Great for a quick workout with maximum benefit. There are lots of different ideas available but I have found one of the simplest and most effective was one promoted by Dr Michael Mosely on his Truth About Getting Fit series:

2. Strength Training

If you go to the gym regularly you are probably, like me, missing it a lot.  You already know that high you get from a good workout. Of course, a stronger body helps release muscle tension, increases strength and helps reduce pain. There are some simple exercises you can do at home to increase strength that are good for beginners and advanced alike.  Try Yoga or Pilates. There are many online resources you can accessand apps you can download. Also, many gyms and gym instructors are providing virtual classes via zoom. That way you can still get the personal support and have your posture checked.

Many of us are sitting a lot more than normal. Working from home brings many challenges. Are you sitting on uncomfortable for long hours? Are screens are ergonomically placed?  This is leading to stiff back and back and neck pain. Targeting the muscles with strenth exercise will help, either more traditional strength training or postoral based training.

I love Somatic movement for reducing tension and relaxing the body after sitting at my desk but I still do some pilates and yoga moves as well.  I love variety. What is your preference? I also take a break every hour and move around. This is also good practive.  Pain and tension will reduce your ability to focus.  Most people can only focus for a maximum of 90 minutes, so take a break before you max out.

Not to worry if you dont have any equiment at home.  A tin of beans can double as a light weight for many exercises. There are also many cheap items that can help, like exercise bands to provide resistance. Have a look on your tube too for inspiration.

3. Flexibility and Stretch

Flexibility is good for overall health and is achieved through stretching.  The jury is out about whether to do this before exercise and after, however every training instructor will advise you to stretch to release tension.  Performing stretches on a regular basis may improve your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness.

Hopefuly I have inspired you.  I am remember an old TV show that was on when I was a child.  “Why Don’t You!”

Why Don’t You? or Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?

 

How important is your health to you, more specifically your physical health? Now what do we mean by physical health? Well physical health means that you’re free from illness or injury.

Physical health is critical for overall wellbeing. Some of the most obvious and serious signs that we are unhealthy appear physically. Addressing physical health is crucial for sustaining overall health and wellbeing.

While physical health consists of many components, here is a brief list of the key areas that should be considered:

  • Physical activity – includes strength, flexibility, cardio vascular and endurance
  • Nutrition and diet – includes nutrient intake, fluid intake, and healthy digestion
  • Rest and sleep – includes periodic rest and relaxation, along with high quality sleep
  • Hydration – keeping the body hydrated with fluid

Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.

Physical activity

Most healthy people should be active on a daily basis. This should be a mix of both leisurely physical activity and structured exercise. Examples of leisurely physical activity include gardening, housework, hiking, biking, dancing and walking. Examples of more structured forms of exercise include strength training, running, and swimming.

If you are new to exercise then do find someone that can help you plan a routine that is good for you.

The best form of exercise is the one that you enjoy doing.  Nutrition and diet

A well-balanced diet should contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Hydration is a key component of physical health and mental acuity and should be. Water should be consumed throughout the day. Meals should be regular and portion sizes should be sensible. Restriction of sugar is recommended and consumption of food in it natural form rather than processed.

And it can be quite hard, when you’re feeling stressed, to think about eating healthy. You just want the quick hit; you just want something to be easy. It can be quite difficult to look after your physical health when you’re in a high-stress work environment, but when you’re highly stressed, that’s when you really think about good nutrition and getting exercise and fresh air. That is what will support you back to balance.

If you are really busy then one of the best things you can do is sit down and plan your meals.  Maybe cook several meals on the weekend that you can take out the fridge or freezer and reheat. It helps move you towards a healthy diet.  Also, plan your breakfast and maybe think about things that you can prepare the night before. Keep it simple.

Like everything, experiment, have fun, find out what works best for our body, whether that is a high protein diet, vegan, high fibre, etc.

Rest and sleep

Too little sleep has the same influence on brain as too much alcohol.  You can end up feeling groggy and have trouble co-ordinating and concentrating.

While regular activity is essential for physical health, allowing the body to rest is just as important. Spending time relaxing or taking short naps can help rejuvenate the body. Sleep should take place in a quiet, dark environment and should last approximately 7-9 hours. Sleep, quality as well as quantity is really important.

Hydration

Hydration is important for the body to function. Lack of hydration affects mood, energy levels, reaction time, memory, co-ordination. Make sure you drink water or eat foods that also hydrate you.

Making Changes

Massive action can feel overwhelming. Making small changes are much easier to manage and will help you towards your health goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, 80% of your results will come from making just 20% of the changes. Reducing sugar is key change. Make some small changes to your sugar intake. If you want to improve your fitness get  off the train or bus a stop early and walking a little each day. You will be amazed at how invigorated you feel.

“Uninterrupted sitting constitutes a substantial risk to physical and mental health,” according to a study by Dr Alexander Mussap. Take regular breaks and walk around.  Get out in the fresh air if you can. It will help you feel energised, help you sleep better and help improve your mood.

Focus on building up fluid intake slowly too.  If you are not used to hydrating throughout the day, then it is a bit like watering a flower pot that the soil has dried up.  It just goes right through the pot! Taking electrolyte hydration can help the body absorb fluid and rehydrate the body.

Remember, progress not perfection is key!

Written by Alison Charles and Reyhana Jano

 

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. There are various activities around the world.

What’s the campaign?

The campaign is a joint collaboration between the World Health Organisation, the World Federation for Mental Health and the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
Working Together to Prevent Suicide is the theme this year, which will be retained for WSPD in 2019 and 2020. The theme was chosen as it “highlights the most essential ingredient for effective global suicide prevention – collaboration”.

Every 90 minutes a life is lost to suicide in the UK. Globally a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Therefore many have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has attempted suicide.

It touches the lives of people in every corner of society – from builders to doctors, actors to the unemployed and homeless. It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 and men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

“It’s rarely talked about, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice”.

Unfortunately, my own cousin committed suicide 28 years ago.  I still feel sad when I remember him. I still feel said when I think of him. He was a gentle soul, taken from life too early. The aftershock on family, friends, colleagues is very traumatic.  What could we have done differently we wonder.  It is just as important to get help and support of you have suffered a loss and are struggling.  It is important for you to talk to someone too and also ask for help.

There are a number of different organisations that can help from your GP and local charities with qualified professionals.

How can you help?

When stress, depression and anxiety hit so hard that someone feels suicidal, reaching out and asking for help can be the hardest thing in the world to do. So we have to continually reach in. Just reaching out to someone and offering a helping hand and some comfort can make a difference. So many people worry about what to say or that they may say something that makes the situation worse.  However, in reality, the listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope.

Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community could change the course of another’s life. A family member, a friend or a stranger, just reach out.

What to look out for

We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family &  society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.

What can companies do to help?

Today is a great day to remind people of what help and support is already available to employees. So perhaps an Employee Assistance Programme, a chat with HR or their line manager or a wellbeing programme. Think about what can help the most. Have a variety of options available.

These are all ongoing activities, not just ones that are focussed on for Mental Health Awareness, Stress Awareness and Suicide Prevention Day. Remember to focus on it all year round.  While the focus is on suicide prevention, in social media and on the news, it is a good time to raise awareness.

I would love to connect and discuss the topic further. Perhaps you have a particular issues you wish to discuss.

Here’s my calendar link to make finding time easy.

 

 

What is the verdict about 28 days of juice?

This is a personal journey of a month of only drinking home made juices and smoothies. Of course plenty of healthy avocado,  spinach and other nutritionally balanced ingredients Juicemaster style. 28 days later and how do I feel?

A key component of mental wellbeing is physical wellbeing and nutrition plays a key role.  Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is a vital element of a healthy and productive business.  Just how much of a part does nutrition play though?

What I noticed in my own body is that nutrition and exercise have a massive part to play, so this year, by way of self-experimentation I want to see exactly how I feel when changing gear to a new level of care of my physical health.  I want to see exactly how that effects my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

It has been a month since I did my 28 days on juice.  The whole point of this experiment was to be able to see what effect diet had on health generally, stress levels and mental acuity.  I noticed a massive difference in energy when I was juicing and this is still true.  My energy levels continue to be pretty good.

Was 28 days on juice worth it?

After 28 days of juicing I was very happy to be eating again and the transition to food was great.  I focussed on smaller portions, less coffee, limiting myself to just 2 cups a day, healthy soups and salads and very little alcohol.  As time has passed and my diary has been really busy and lots of lunches and dinners, at least 4 per week sometimes more, I have made some sensible choices and some unhealthy ones.  It is very much about balance for me.

Whilst the juicing might have stopped, regular visits to the gym continued, combining Pilates, cardio and some classes at our local gym, Third Space.

What I learned from 28 days

What has been really interesting is that I am much more clued in to what my body has to tell me about what I am eating. I am able to feel exactly what my body wants and what it considers to be unhealthy.  Some things I eat and feel great, others I eat and I can feel the effects. I had scampi and chips one day and the chips were floured before cooking to make them crisper.  The following day my knees were really achy and rheumatic.

This last week I have been eating a larger than usual amount of bread.  I do feel bloated and heavy.  Also, being away, I have not been to the gym.  Did the change of diet really make the difference or was it the reduced exercise?  Don’t know is the honest answer, but probably a little of both.

I also note that a little bit of sugar as in chocolate or dessert seems to be ok but a couple of days in a row and the sugar cravings start to come back really quickly.  I also notice that if I overindulge then I feel quite tired and struggle to wake up the following morning.

Craving some healthy juice

Interestingly, I do find that I am craving healthy juice, so I have planned in 3 days of juicing next week.  Perhaps I should do a quick top up of home made vegetable juice.

I am experimenting with my diet to see what longer term changes work for me.  I am seeing how different foods affect me.  Not only how do they affect my mood but what other changes do I notice like motivation, focus and energy. It is going to be a journey over the next 12 months and I will be mentioning progress periodically.

All of this, at the end of the day is to see how food and nutrition plays a vital part of overall wellness, both physical and mental.  Its all about balance and finding what is right for you.

Certainly my conclusion so far is that good nutrition plays a critical role in mental health as much as physical health.  Just from the differences I have noticed within myself when I have no stress, it is clear that food plays a key part in both mood and energy.  If you are stressed the temptation can be to comfort eat, which actually will make you feel worse.  If ever there is a time to have a good healthy diet to support yourself, it is in times of stress and difficulty.

I have kept the weight off, but more importantly the health benefits have continued.

 

 

This is a personal journey of a month of only drinking home made juices and smoothies. Of course plenty of healthy avocado,  spinach and other nutritionally balanced ingredients Juicemaster style. I have to say, I feel juiced!

A key component of mental health is physical wellbeing and nutrition plays a key role.  Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is a vital element of a healthy and productive business.  Just how much of a part does nutrition play though? Can you get juiced too?

What I noticed in my own body is that nutrition and exercise have a massive part to play, so this year, by way of self-experimentation I want to see exactly how I feel when changing gear to a new level of care of my physical health.  I want to see exactly how that effects my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

What can I say I am physically and mentally juiced. I feel great.

I did actually have a small meal part way through the week. Being out at a business meeting early and there all day, I had not taken the time to plan properly. I had my breakfast smoothie and then ran out thinking I would find something for lunch that was suitable. I didn’t, it was an important lesson in planning! Good health, like everything else, takes time, effort and planning. I am beginning to realise that when I plan my business week and my personal dairy that meals and exercise are an integral part of that plan. I am going to start doing a meal plan that can be flexible to suit my business diary, and keep me moving forward with my health goals. Still feeling juiced though.

This week also highlighted that life is about choices. Having a goal is great. Sticking to that goal needs commitment, and that may require a little more effort than is desired at a particular moment in time. Taking the easy choice might mean that your goal takes a little longer. It is up to you which option you take, but which ever choice that is, live with it. Complaining you did not achieve that particular milestone that week when you made choices that could have made a difference, will not help. Take it as a lesson and move on and do it differently next time. Juiced will have to wait!

This is a personal journey of a month of only drinking home made juices and smoothies. Of course plenty of healthy avocado,  spinach and other nutritionally balanced ingredients Juicemaster style.

A key component of mental wellbeing is physical wellbeing and nutrition plays a key role.  Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is a vital element of a healthy and productive business.  Just how much of a part does nutrition play though?

What I noticed in my own body is that nutrition and exercise have a massive part to play, so this year, by way of self-experimentation I want to see exactly how I feel when changing gear to a new level of care of my physical health.  I want to see exactly how that effects my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

I am really feeling the difference now. After the Pilates class on Monday I really felt that endorphin rush, I felt completely invincible and ready for anything. I can’t actually remember the last time I felt this good. Still sticking with just juices and smoothies, four a day in total. I can honestly say I have not had a single hunger pang so far, having sat though business lunches dinners, happily drinking my smoothie of juice and hydrating with water. I am beginning to realise that I really do not drink anywhere near as much water as I should. After a day of juice I am thirsty so I am ensuring that I am now including more water. I feel that as my body is more hydrated it is more able to absorb the water.

I am beginning to notice some really interesting side effect now. When I sit down to write everything seems easier. Words seem to flow and I feel really calm. Writing has sometimes been a bit of a chore, but it would seem that good health means I am much more in flow and therefore in touch with my creativity. How wonderfully unexpected!

I also have a great bonus that I really look healthy on the outside too. I am not seeing the usual ravages of winter weather and indoor heating. My skin is really glowing and looks nourished. It feels softer too.

A key component of mental health is physical wellbeing. Nutrition plays a key role.  Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is a vital element of a healthy and productive business.  Just how much of a part does nutrition play though?

What I noticed in my own body is that nutrition and exercise have a massive part to play, so this year, by way of self-experimentation I want to see exactly how I feel when changing gear to a new level of care of my physical health.  I want to see exactly how that effects my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

Well the fact that I have lost 10lbs already is awesome, but what is truly amazing is how differently I feel. My brain is more awake. I am not a morning person but I am now getting up with out issue. I feel more focussed, more energised and lighter. No I am not referring back to the weight but it is a sense of emotional lightness of being and a sense of freedom.

It was time to start working out at the gym this week too. That was a bit of a shock to the system. First week was hard. Started with Pilates on Monday in the studio, using the Pilates machines. That was great. Tuesday tried the Pilates mat class. That was considerably more challenging, and the fact that I had trained the day before made it more so. Wednesday was some gentle cardio and Thursday was a circuit training class. Wellbeing on track!

After I left the Army I truly would have laughed at anyone that said I would voluntarily do another circuit class. I have to say thought that it was really fun. Well who would have thought it? Mind you, today is Sunday and I am still hurting. Onward and upward!! My own wellbeing is worth the effort.

 

This is a personal journey of a month of only drinking home made juics and smoothies. Of course plenty of healthy avocado,  spinach and other nutritionally balanced ingredients Juicemaster style.

A key component of mental wellbeing is physical wellbeing and nutrition plays a key role.  Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is a vital element of a healthy and productive business.  Just how much of a part does nutrition play though? Could juice be the answer?

What I noticed in my own body is that nutrition and exercise have a massive part to play, so this year, by way of self-experimentation I want to see exactly how I feel when changing gear to a new level of care of my physical health.  I want to see exactly how that effects my mental health and my overall wellbeing.

Started the year with a 28 day detox “Juice master” style.  I am one week in and doing ok.  Actually it is a lot easier than I expected.  The first few days detox headache were pretty nasty but they went soon enough.  I made sure I hydrated and exercised and kepth healthy.  I did have rather a lot of over indulgence towards the end of last year to make up for too and had particularly noticed that I was feeling sluggish, was suffering a lot of indigestion and had put on a few pounds.

I should mention at this point I am not doing this with the intention of then suggesting this to clients.  I am not a nutritionist and would advise anyone wanting specific help to see someone qualified.  However, if this blog inspires you to take action in your own life or maybe change your direction then great.  Do let me know.