Practising wellbeing and self care has never been so important. When uncertainty, confusion and fear enter our daily lives it is essential to look after both our mental and physical health.
As we begin a new way of life for the unforeseeable future with confinement and restrictions let's take a look at the positivity we can bring into our homes and how the simple things in life always bring the most joy.
Meditation, fitness, rest and deep sleep are just some of the things we can spend time on that our usual hectic and busy lives do not allow for. Establishing self care routines, conscious breathing and new meditation and sleeping habits could be the restart we all needed and that our bodies have been crying out for.
To begin it is important to create the right mindset and just ten minutes a day of meditation will set you up for the rest of the day. Apps such as Calm will aid you in training your mind to stress less and sleep better - it offers daily motivation and calmness to ease anxiety and provides the tools needed to take care of your mind.
With the closing of gyms and general lack of movement it is important to do some form of exercise each day. Exercise is a great stress reducer so now is the time to create your own home gym. Streaming fitness and yoga classes are ideal to do in a living room or any clear space you can find while compact fitness equipment, like skipping ropes and resistance bands, will give you an all over body workout that will improve both tone and fitness whilst also saving on costly gym membership fees!
Ensure you eat as well as you can to maintain health and wellbeing, getting a balanced diet at the moment will help maintain a healthy immune system and keep energy levels boosted. Eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables may not be possible but tinned and frozen options make good substitutes and if you are able to get supplements then Vitamin D is recommended due to the extra time being spent indoors.
Rest and a good nights sleep are essential in the fight to stay well, healthy and happy. Practising a good bedtime routine with warm baths, reduced screen time, sleep masks and cosy pyjamas will be your saviour when worry and stress start to take hold. It is important to make your bedroom a real sanctuary and somewhere calm and peaceful to retire to at the end of each day. The Smug blogs on 'From bedroom to Sleep Sanctuary' and 'In Your Dreams' can give you some pointers.
So let's embrace this era of uncertainty and use this time to look after ourselves, care for our loved ones and to reach out to neighbours. Indulge in new hobbies, tackle those chores but above all practise self care, kindness and positivity.
We are all aware of the importance of a good nights sleep when it comes to the basis of any good beauty regime. Plentiful and good quality sleep not only gives a better and brighter complexion but can help skin heal, reduce breakouts and prevent under eye dark circles.
Spending money on expensive face creams and serums may help but if we are not getting enough sleep the benefits of facials and a healthy life style could all just go to waste when it comes to improving skin. Not only does the damage from the environment get repaired at night, as the layers of skin work building new collagen, but your hair also benefits with the production of protein needed to give fuller and healthier looking locks.
So many of us have our exercise routine down, we know what we should and shouldn't be eating plus we even try to drink enough water each day but how can we ensure we get the best nights sleep possible?
There are a few easy changes and practices we can incorporate into our life but the most important thing is to keep a dark bedroom. This is key as light can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, hormones that regulate sleep. If you can invest in black out or lined curtains together with a sleep mask this will help to avoid disrupting your body’s sleep pattern.
Try to keep to a good bedtime routine, the sleepcouncil.org.uk have some useful tips and info to help get back on track plus some of our previous blog posts can help with this - ensuring you do all the preparation you can before snuggling down for the night is essential for the perfect beauty sleep.
When it comes to length of sleep the magic number falls between seven and eight hours of rest per night. However it is not only the amount of sleep that matters but the quality too. Not all sleep is equally restorative and REM occurs at some point in the middle of the night so it is recommended that even at weekends it is best to still go to bed early and then wake at the same time every morning.
Beauty Sleep can therefore be the simple beauty solution we have all been looking for! Fewer wrinkles, protection of our lashes, slowing the ageing process as well as healthier hair .... who needs any more reasons for an early night.... oh and it costs nothing!
There is no denying that eyelash extensions have taken the beauty world by storm and in recent years Instagram has been filled with images of bloggers and celebrities fluttering their perfect lashes. Whether it is for dramatic effect or a more natural look the results are certainly eye catching and can help transform any beauty look, bringing both impact and drama to the face.
If you are already a convert, or maybe you're still unsure whether to make the leap to longer more dramatic lashes, the following is designed to give you top tips when preparing to have them done as well as help maintain and prolong their life.
Firstly don't be afraid! If you have not taken the step yet to longer lashes then you can be reassured that things have moved on - they don't ruin your own lashes and are no longer seen as being over the top. Any good salon or lash artist will require you do a patch test 24 hours prior to your extension appointment. This will ensure there is no reaction to the glue, particularly if you have sensitive eye lids.
A top tip is to prepare for the appointment. On average it can take a good hour, depending on if you have a half set or full set of lashes done. Therefore wear comfy clothing, no mascara and be prepared to drift off as you lay back with your eyes closed for the duration of the appointment.
Aftercare is very important to maintain the lashes and give them the best chance of staying in place. Avoid getting them wet for the first 24 hours and try not to use any oil based make up remover. Whilst sleeping, a contoured sleep mask - available on sleepsmug.com - will protect your new long lashes, keep them in place and help them to last longer.
On average lashes applied by a professional should last 3-4 weeks and it is normal for some of the lashes to fall out during that time. If you want to keep the look then it is advised to get them redone about once a month. Maybe start with a natural look and then build up to dramatic long curls once you gain your lash confidence!
Although associated with heading back to school September is also generally a good month for new starts and returning to the routines that easily get forgotten over the summer months. With late nights and carefree holidays starting to become a distant memory it is time to focus on good health practices and in particular the benefits of a good nights sleep.
Organised by The Sleep Council (sleepcouncil.org.uk) Sleeptember runs throughout September and looks at the benefits of sleep and how you can achieve better sleep.
As well as many physical outcomes from a good night's sleep, including improved memory, the release of hormones for regulating bodily functions and the rejuvenation of internal organs, sleep can also help to improve mental health and balance emotions during periods of stress.
So we may all be starting to become more educated on the many benefits of sleep but how do we put this into practice and in particular how do we get kids ready for the new school year and back to a good bedtime routine? The sleep council have produced this great short video which will help not just get kids back on track but anyone who may have been burning the candle at both ends during the summer months.
For more practical information and advise on good sleeping habits then visit The Sleep Councils wesbite (sleepcouncil.org.uk).
According to scientists in the UK and Australia changing the sleeping habits of those who stay up late could have an important effect on their health and wellbeing.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Surrey and Monash University showed that, over a period of three weeks, making some simple changes to the sleep routine of extreme night owls resulted in lower levels of sleepiness, stress and depression and also showed their reaction times improved.
Scientists studied 21 "extreme night owls" who were going to bed, on average, at 02:30 and not waking until after 10:00. They were then given the following instructions over the three weeks to help reset the body's internal clock, also known as a circadian rhythm:
Wake up 2-3 hours earlier than usual and get plenty of outdoor light in the morning
Eat breakfast as soon as possible
Exercise only in the morning
Have lunch at the same time every day and eat nothing after 19:00
Banish caffeine after 15:00
Have no naps after 16:00
Go to bed 2-3 hours earlier than usual and limit light in the evenings
Maintain the same sleep and wake times every day
The results showed that they managed to successfully shift their body clocks two hours earlier in the day and that these simple changes in routine improved their overall physical and mental health.
Thermotherapy or cryotherapy, which is better to help relieve aching pains that are a result of muscle or joint damage?
Both hot and cold treatments have long been used to treat a range of muscle and joint issues and in some instances a combination of the two can be what is needed.
Heat therapy, or thermotherapy, can involve the use of hot water bottles, microwavable wheat bags or a warm bath while cold therapy can include the use of cold packs, a wheat bag cooled in the freezer and even a cold bath.
With cold treatments it is important to apply the cooled pack or wheat bag within 48 hours of an injury as the cold decreases the blood flow and slows the rate of inflammation. The cold will numb sore tissue and so can also act as an anaesthetic.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) are part of the standard treatment for sports injuries and a cold compress applied for 20 minutes every 4-6 hours for a few days will be very beneficial to many muscle and joint injuries.
Cold therapy can also help in cases of osteoarthritis, gout, strains and tendinitis plus a cold wrap around the forehead may help reduce migraine symptoms and pain.
For chronic pain the use of heat treatment will promote the blood flow and allow the muscles to relax - alternating heat and cold will reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
Heat can also be useful for relieving osteoarthritis, strains and sprains, warming up muscles before activity and relieving pain relating to neck and back injuries. A heat pack applied to the neck may reduce spasms that lead to headaches.
Finally it is important to remember to never use extreme heat and to never put ice directly on to the skin.
Festivals may usually be associated with music, mud and indulgence but a new wave of festivals are taking the scene by storm. Offering an alternative to the traditional hedonistic indulgences the wellness festival offers holistic and mindful activities, soulful music and an opportunity to submerge yourself in feel good living and healthy eating.
Held in beautiful locations around the world, with the focus on nurturing the mind and body, the wellness festival can offer something for everyone. Here are just a few of the best festivals on offer during 2019.
A three day boutique festival held in Kent from 19-21 July. Aiming to mix the elation festivals evoke with the euphoria of a workout. Performers and athletes — surfers, dancers, free runners, mountain-climbers, all come together to look at the the way we view fitness & wellbeing. LoveFit is an escape from monotony, a taste of freedom, a place for people to explore new ways of living and moving.
Started ten years ago Wanderlust is the true original wellness festival. Set in various stunning locations around the world including USA, Canada, UK, Chile, Australia and New Zealand the festival consists of 300+ activities spread over a few days. From fitness activities and inspirational talks to organic shopping and nature hikes Wanderlust is a place for nurturing both your mind and body.
If you are looking for the perfect escape from daily life then this folky and creative festival, set around a peaceful lake, will be ideal. From the creators of Secret Garden Party, Wilderness brings together entertainment, music, food and a variety of woodland activities as well as paddle yoga, workshops, talks and even a spa. Music makes up a large part of Wilderness and headliners for 2019 include Groove Armada and Bombay Bicycle Club.
A wellbeing festival where music, yoga and holistic therapies meets glittery, festival antics and after parties. Stretch out in yoga tipis and lush Gloucestershire countryside by day and dance under the stars by night!
Live DJ classes, Sound Healing, Heated Yin, Dance, Aerial Yoga and more. Soul Circus brings wellness and fun together with artists from all genres joining to celebrate life.
2019 date is still to be announced but for the more adventurous of you this could be the wellness festival for you. Beyond Sahara takes you on a tour across North Africa over the course of a few days. By day, explorers are invited to join in the countless activities, from sports and yoga to massage and meditation. Then, under the stunning Saharan starlit skies, the evening music ranges from traditional Moroccan sounds to DJs playing electronic music into the early hours.
Wonderfruit is an annual arts, music and lifestyle festival that takes place at The Fields at Siam Country Club, outside Pattaya in Chonburi Province, Thailand in December. With an emphasis on participation and inclusion plus sustainability and social responsibility, the event features musical performances, art installations, workshops and talks, plus banquets by renowned chefs.
So if you are thinking more holistic rather than hedonistic this year and fancy swapping cider for green tea then a wellness festival could be for you .... but start looking now as tickets do sell fast!
We have talked before about good sleep habits and one of the first steps to creating a new and improved sleep routine is of course having the perfect environment to make new habits in. Whether we are aware of it or not the bedroom is the room in the house where we spend most of our time so it is important to get every aspect as perfect as we can for a relaxing and comfortable nights sleep.
1. The Duvet
We all know the difference a good duvet can make so if you're not allergic we recommend a down or feather duvet as they help regulate body temperature unlike synthetic duvets. The perfect duvet will keep you just the right temperature - opt for a 13.5-15 tog duvet for the winter months and, for summer months, you’re best going for a 4.5 tog duvet.
According to The Sleep Council hot, cold and draughty rooms can seriously impact on your sleep. Your body heat peaks in the evening and then drops to its lowest levels when you’re asleep, so a cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off.
3. Feng Shui
Shui designer and wellness coach Alexandra Lees advises that “Untidiness in your bedroom will stagnate the energy of your space and leave you feeling drained and restless - For a good night’s sleep, you must simplify, streamline and neatly organise the contents of your room. Declutter visible areas, such as dressing tables, then tidy hidden spaces, such as behind your bedroom door and inside wardrobes, as unseen mess here will still affect you. The most important area to keep clear is under your bed because of its proximity to you when you sleep.” Alexandra also suggests that you consider your bed’s location: “Position your bed with a wall behind you or add a solid headboard to create strong energy. To support relaxation, move your bed near a window for natural ventilation, but ensure that you‘re not affected by unwanted cold drafts or outside noise.”
Subtle low lighting in your bedroom will help let your body know that the day is over and it's time to switch off. Restrict blue light from phones, TV or electronic devices before bed and look at introducing a dimmer switch on the main light. Lamps and fairylights can also create an important relaxing subtle glow to your room.
An important sense when it comes to preparing the body to unwind and end the day. Whether you choose to use candles, aromatherapy oils, a diffuser or a mist the right smell is key to slowing the body down. Research has shown that essential oils and aroma can provide relief for disrupted sleep and help improve the quality of sleep. Some of the most common scents and aromatherapy oils known for aiding sleep include lavender, vanilla, rose, geranium, jasmine, sandalwood and citrus.
The final step is perhaps the hardest to get right but ultimately effects the whole aesthetic and ambience of your sleep haven. Choosing the right colour for walls, soft furnishings and fabrics will do masses to create a relaxed mood as soon as you step through the door. When it comes to colours that promote peace and tranquility the colours to use are white, blue, green, grey and violet. Think of these colours as you plan any bedroom interior design project and choose pieces of furniture that give you a sense of calm, soothe emotions and that you will want to be surrounded by as you rest in the quiet of your new sleep sanctuary!
The coolest 80s trends are back in a big way and we can find almost every fashionista on the planet rocking the style of fabulous animal prints in one way or another. Almost everyone from the top celebrities to the street style fashion bloggers, have embraced the animal print fashion trend in the most inspirational ways. Although there is no harm in wearing the classical leopard, snakeskin, zebra or cow printed outfits or outerwear it is the accessories in the animal prints that become totally head-turning. Here are some of the cutest accessories in animal print that can instantly boost your style from mundane to ‘’simply wow”!
A leopard print handbag is a wardrobe must-have as it looks super-stylish on almost every occasion. It is a great accessory to elevate the attraction and style of any plain outfit. It looks stunning with the solid colours and basic outfits. You can wear it with your basic coloured dress or a jeans Tee shirt combo and never go wrong with it.
Animal Printed Flats
Animal printed flats can instantly accentuate a personality from simple to super-stylish. All you need is to pair them with the right outfit and to be on the safe side get an all black outfit to wear with animal printed flats. Classy jeans with a white button down shirt also look fabulous with leopard shoes.
The chic hair bands in animal print add a touch of classy style to any outfit and they are easy to wear and pull off. You can wear them while going to the gym or for jogging to enhance the personal style statement effortlessly. The trendiest hair ties in animal print are created with flexible and comfortable material so that they hold your hair back tightly during a busy day out without any hassle.
With such a busy life schedule, the importance of quality sleep is unavoidable. Whether you are travelling or just need a nap to relax your mind you must own a high quality contoured sleep mask. The best qualities of this contoured sleep mask is that it does not smudge your eye makeup, is eyelash friendly, made up of soft and comfortable fabric and keeps your eyes safe from wrinkling while asleep. The classy leopard printed sleep mask reveals your sense of style and fashion while giving a relaxing deep sleep wherever and whenever you need.
Whether we are working too much, dedicating all our time to family or friends or generally living a stressful and busy life it is important to find moments to simply stop and relax.
Easier said than done you may say - as to fully relax, clear the mind and destress takes time that many of us just don't have. But in this fast paced world where constant communication and social media can easily take over our focus at all times of the day and where work deadlines and social pressures can be non stop it has never been more essential to find that time and prioritise personal relaxation.
No longer seen as self indulgence the art of relaxing is becoming as important to our daily wellbeing as nutrition, exercise and a good sleep routine. Whether you choose to invest in daily mindfulness and meditation or just some simple breathing exercises at your desk any technique to unwind and take time for yourself will benefit your overall mood, productivity and general health and wellbeing.
Here are a few simple relaxation activities and techniques to help inject much needed 'time for yourself' in the chaos of the modern world.
* Activities such as reading, watching a movie and taking a long relaxing soak in a bath are all quick easy ways to relax each day. Colouring books are good for taking the mind away from a stressful or worrying situation too.
* Create the right atmosphere - lighting scented candles are a cheap and easy way to make your environment calm and peaceful. Using aromatherapy oils at night, either in the bath or as a massage oil, will transport you to a tranquil space after a hectic day.
* Take time to master some simple breathing exercises - an effective way to relax wherever you are and when time is limited.
* Make the most of being outside and heading back to nature - just a twenty minute walk that takes you away from work and chores each day is a guaranteed mood booster.
* Starting the day with some yoga, even just ten minutes a day, will help with productivity and managing stress levels. Beginner yoga practices can be found on You Tube for a quick way to start.
Many other ways like cooking and baking or gardening to relax can easily be added into your day too ..... the important thing is to find things that you enjoy and by introducing them to your daily routine a sense of calm will ensue.
Resistance bands are such an underused resource. Although you might not know exactly what a resistance band is used for, they're actually really simple to use compared to the other equipment we see in the gym! A resistance band is made of strong, thin rubber and are usually looped or have handles at the end for easy use. With resistance bands, you can do just about any type of strength training exercise - chest presses, rows, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, bicep curls, and even squats - without the need for heavy weights!
Here are our 7 benefits of using a resistance band...
Resistance bands are inexpensive whilst still extremely convenient. Don't worry if you can't fork out on a hefty £50 a month gym membership, you can do a full-body workout at home for just £25 with a SMUG resistance band.
Perfect for home or gym workouts, a resistance band is easily transportable so it's also great for those wanting to keep fit during business trips, flights, and other long journeys. They are extremely lightweight so easy to just stash in your suitcase or hand luggage when traveling!
3. Good For Stretching
A resistance band is great for improving your flexibility and mobility. Using a band along with your regular stretches can help you get the extra boost that you’d get with partner-assisted stretching, but without having to have another person there.
4. Perfect For A Full Body Workout
As per the last point, although resistance bands are fantastic for stretching, many people believe that's all they're used for. But boy are they wrong! You can actually use a resistance band to challenge virtually every major muscle group in your body.
Who'd have thought that such a small piece of equipment would be able to effectively target your whole body!
5. One Person Weight Training
You should never lift heavy weights without someone assisting you, but resistance bands are also assistance bands and are safe to use alone. You can use them easily at home without having to have a personal trainer pushing you!
6. Can Be Used With Other Equipment
Although resistance bands are a great alternative to using all the traditional gym equipment, you can still take yours along to the gym and use it to assist or even make your workout more difficult! They can really help you push yourself to your limits. You can attach a resistance band to a pull-up bar to assist you with your pull-ups, or you could attach it to a barbell to increase the resistance throughout the lift.
7. Can Be Used Instead Of Weights
Don't own weights? No problem! Resistance bands can replace the weights you use for biceps curls, or can intensify your push-ups. You'll be surprised at how much using resistance in your workouts can benefit you.
So there we have it! The 7 reasons why a resistance band is an absolute must-have for your gym kit.
Sleep! Most of us are not getting enough and this lack of it effects our productivity, quality of life, general wellbeing and can even contribute to more serious health issues like cancer, diabetes and alzheimer's.
Therefore it's time to take a serious look at our sleeping habits .... it's time to tackle any issues with sleeping routines and it's time to join the sleep revolution!
According to a recent report published by Public Health England the physical and mental health problems caused by lack of sleep cost the UK over £30 billion annually due to loss of work place productivity. It is no surprise then that Google reports are seeing a steady increase in searches relating to insomnia and 'how to sleep better'.
As well as nutrition and exercise we need to be including sleep when we talk about our wellness and wellbeing. Although long standing bad habits won't necessarily change overnight the below advise from Nancy H. Rothstein (The Sleep Ambassador®) may help you make a start on your very own sleep revolution:
•Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary. First step: Take all tech devices out of your bedroom. If your smartphone is your alarm clock, invest in an inexpensive clock without an LED display. Charge devices elsewhere so you can recharge with quality sleep.
•Turn off all technology(computer, smartphone, TV, etc.) at least half an hour before going to sleepfor a week or so, then increase to one hour. Just do it! Look at this as an experiment so you can actually evaluate if there is a difference in your ability to relax for sleep, fall asleep and sleep better.
•In the 2-5 minutes before falling asleep, think positive thoughts. What do you want to see in your life? Make affirmations. No negative ruminations about what you're unhappy about or what went wrong during your day. This precious time is an opportunity to program your subconscious, which is about to take over as your conscious mind gets a break during slumber. Think of your subconscious as a computer into which you are programming what will be downloaded during sleep. What do you want to be processed there?
•If you awaken during the night, do not look at the clock.Doing so activates your brain. You know the inner dialogue: What if I can't fall back asleep? I'll be so tired for my meeting tomorrow. And then there's the counting of how many hours of sleep are left before it's time to wake up. If you have other electronic devices in your bedroom with a visible time display, cover the screen.
•Consider keeping a sleep diary. This helps you gain awareness of your sleep habits, both good and bad. From here, you can assess what you need to change and monitor experiences and sleep improvement.
•Reading is a great way to unwind and transition to sleep.Read a printed book vs. on a tablet.
Don't pressure yourself for perfection. Look at your sleep crusade as a journey that will have diversions and setbacks along the way. But you'll have a roadmap to help you return to good sleep habits and experience sustainable improvement. You'll know that when you sleep well, you're more awake for life. Be sure to congratulate yourself along the way for joining the sleep revolution!
Note:If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless legs syndrome, be sure to schedule a visit with your doctor or a sleep specialist. Getting diagnosed and treated will make your sleep revolution all the more effective, and enhance your health and well being.
Credit: Nancy H. Rothstein, MBA - The Sleep Ambassador®, Director CIRCADIAN® Corporate Sleep Programs™