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There’s a lot written about stress and how to avoid it or cope with it better. How the stresses and strains of our modern lifestyles are causing our fight or flight response to activate too often or indeed never turn off and the damage to our health this causes. Today I’m focusing on why it’s crucial to relax and how to switch on your relaxation response in minutes for a Healthier Life.

Its about a 5 minute read. Here’s a brief summary.

  • Why it’s crucial to relax?
  • What is the relaxation response?
  • How to activate it?

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Why It’s Crucial to Relax

When we talk about finding time for relaxation many people roll their eyes and think:-

  • I’ve no time for this.
  • I’m too busy.
  • I’ve got a family to take care of.
  • I can’t relax.
  • Hippy dippy nonsense.
  • I can’t afford all these fancy ideas.

My no frills answer to this is ‘you have to find the time to relax as if your life depends on it because it does.’ If not your life then certainly your quality of life.

Stress is a Killer.

You don’t need much time, you don’t need any money, and you won’t be much good to your family when you’re sick or worse…

… hippy dippy nonsense or not just look at the benefits:-

Benefits of Practicing Relaxation

  • Slower heart rate
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Normalises blood sugar levels
  • Improves digestion
  • Slows down your breathing
  • Reduced activity of stress hormones
  • Increases the blood flow to your major muscle groups
  • Improves your moods and concentration levels
  • Boosts your confidence and problem solving ability
  • Reduced anger and frustration
  • Fact:- Stress Makes You Fat
  • Reduces muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Lowers Fatigue

and all this for just a few minutes of your time…

relaxing sunset

What is the Relaxation Response?

There are 2 divisions of the body’s autonomic nervous system.(click here to learn more about the autonomic nervous system.)

  1. The sympathetic nervous system. When this is activated it’s known as the ‘fight or flight response’ (click for more)
  2. The parasympathetic nervous system. This should be our normal modus operandi, our ‘rest and digest system’ When this switches on it’s known as the Relaxation Response.

To understand what the parasympathetic system or relaxation response is, it’s revealing to look at what it’s NOT.

The Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight)

When an unexpected stressful situation occurs, and hormones are released, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, which stimulates the adrenal glands, and this releases catecholamines (pronounced kat-i-kol-uh-meen) which include adrenaline & noradrenaline. 

This leads to increased blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate and slowed digestion…

This response was designed originally to help us escape dangers like running away from wild animals. Nowadays, we live in such a full on world that it can be turned on by almost anything and everything like a traffic jam, an imminent performance, a trauma, scrolling social media, your job….

The point is we need our bodies to recover and go back to operating on the parasympathetic system. They’re not built to operate constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode and unfortunately under our modern living conditions that’s exactly how many people are operating. This takes its toll on every aspect of our health – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

The Parasympathetic System (Relaxation Response)

When activated this returns the body to normal after a stressful situation. It switches off the fight or flight response and brings all bodily functions back to normal healthy operating levels.

Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, digestion and hormone levels all normalise.

How to Activate Your Relaxation Response

There are many ways to relax which we’re fairly familiar with and many of which I’ve already wrote about:- (click links to read more)

and many, many more.

But for now I want to talk in particular about the ability to turn on your relaxation response in minutes.

No matter where you are or how little time you have you can find refuge in yourself and rest in your own body.

You can find a deep sense of relaxation, a sense of being at peace, of coming home.

relaxing watching the sun set

The Breath

Listed below are a few techniques for switching on the relaxation response. They all have one thing in common. They all centre on the breath.

Actually the more you learn about healthy holistic living, almost everything depends upon and is centred around the breath. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense since without breath there is no life.

Focused Breathing

Sit or lie (or stand even) in a comfortable position and concentrate solely on the breath with your eyes closed for a few minutes until a calmness spreads through your body. Concentrate on slowing the breath down, breathe through your nose and try not to move your body. Bring a glimmer of a smile to the mouth.

There are two particular breathing techniques that I find particularly useful in this respect. Click on either for more.

  1. Ujayii breathing
  2. Buteyko breathing

Meditation

There are many forms of meditation. In it’s simplest form you are simply following the above Focused Breathing instructions, and constantly and compassionately returning to focusing on the breath when your mind wanders… which it will.

Click here for my recent blog post on meditation.

Listening to Soothing Music or Sounds

Follow the Focused Breathing instruction as above and allow yourself to float away into the music or sounds. Personal headphones or EarPods are best for this so that you are in your own world. Some sort of chill out music or the sounds of nature work best. You can find these on apps like Calm.

You can also do this in the garden with the real sounds of nature. Have you ever been lying relaxing in the garden on a summers day when everything starts to sound quieter and more distant almost like it belongs in another world. That’s you in a state of deep relaxation and meditation.

Guided Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Follow the Focused Breathing instructions above. Focusing on one area of the body at a time , tighten all the muscles then let them relax. Don’t forget to include the face which often holds stress and tension.

You can be your own guide or use one of the many on apps like Calm.

relaxing at the beach

Visualisation

Follow the Focused Breathing instructions above. Visualise yourself at your favourite place, the beach, on top of a mountain, sitting by the river… wherever it is. Concentrate on seeing everything in detail, imagine what it sounds like and even what it smells like.

Use one or multiple of these 5 simple practices to de-activate your fight or flight responses and activate your relaxation response to enjoy the phenomenal positive health benefits they bring.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, comments or questions below.

healthy dehydrating food amazingly healthy life

Dehydrating food doesn’t sound particularly healthy or sexy. In fact it brings up visions of TV dinners and Pot Noodles. But you might be surprised by the types of food that can be ‘cooked’ with one in terms of deliciousness, nutrition and simplicity. Dehydrators are relatively inexpensive and extremely simple to use. Lets dive deeper and find out how to Have Fun Getting Healthy with a Food Dehydrator.

It’s about a 2.5 minute read. Here’s a brief outline.

  • What is a Dehydrator
  • Benefits of Dehydrating
  • Eat Raw Food with Attitude
  • Care Free ‘Cooking’
  • Preserving Food
  • Recipes and Ideas
  • Inspiration

Subscribe below to receive my weekly blog post direct to your inbox. This week I’m offering my Raw Chocolate Brownie recipe (made using a dehydrator) free to all new subscribers.

What is a Dehydrator

A dehydrator works  a bit like a large hairdryer blowing hot air around your food and slowly removing the moisture.  If you put your food out to dry in the sun the end product would be similiar.

I have mine out on the shelf all the time in the kitchen,  probably in the place where a microwave oven would normally sit!!!.(yes, that’s a suggestion)  This ensures it’s not just another piece of unused kitchen equipment sitting in the cupboard.

dehydrated fruit

Benefits of Dehydrating

The main benefit  of dehydrating food at low temperatures is that even though they don’t taste raw they still are in fact  raw and maintain a  full nutritional profile.

Set your dehydrator to no higher than 46 degrees celsius , (115 Fahrenheit) and your food will ‘cook’ but still remain ‘raw’ with all of the  beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes intact.

Eat Raw Food with Attitude

Dehydrating food brings variety to your raw whole foods.  It gives them a different texture and feeling for example  chewy or crispy or  it can warm and soften  so that it can almost feel like it has been cooked depending on what you are making.

This means that you can make things that are ‘cooked’ but still have all the benefits of raw.

Click here to read my post about the benefits of eating more raw produce.

Care Free ‘Cooking’

Another great benefit of Dehydrating food is a that it’s a  bit like using a slow cooker.  You can just forget about it and do your own thing while it does its. 

It generally takes hours, even days, and you wont ‘burn’ or ‘overcook’ anything. It’s very lenient on timings.

Preserving Food

The dehydrator dries as a method of preserving food for use at a later date . For example dried fruit, herbs or vegetables.

raw chocolate brownies recipe dehydrator

Recipes and Ideas

I use my dehydrator extensively but the 2 main things I make in it, that are indispensable to my healthy lifestyle are Raw seed crackers  and Raw Chocolate Brownies. ( subscribe to my blog to receive free recipe)

The raw seed crackers replace bread or biscuits as a carrier of tasty dips, spreads and even butter. The Brownies are my sweet treats.

Here’s some ideas for healthy things that you can make in your dehydrator.

  • Raw sweets and desserts (banana bread, chocolate brownies, cookies… there’s a whole world of healthy raw sweets out there – google for inspiration)
  • Raw seed crackers (loads of recipes on the internet)
  • Dried fruit (see below)
  • Dehydrate excess herbs, vegetables and fruit for later use in stocks, soups, stews, juices and smoothies…From a glut from your own garden or that were ‘bargains’ at the supermarket.
  • Raw savoury snacks like Kale crisps and Spiced nuts and seeds
  • Raw dehydrated bread
  • Raw Fruit leathers/rollups. (click here for more and recipe )
  • Raw main course recipes (really just for serious raw foodies)
  • and much more

Drying fruit

Many store bought dried fruits contain added sugars, sulfur dioxide and unhealthy fats. When dehydrating your own fruit you know exactly what is in them which will be nothing, except fruit.

It’s so simple to do – slice fruit* put it on dehydrator shelves, set temperature to 46 degrees C and forget about it for hours. (6 hours maybe more…**)

*Fruit like berries are placed in whole.

**Dehydrating times will vary between different makes and models and the end result you, yourself are looking for but it’s hard to get it wrong.

Dehydrating your own fruit can be especially useful if you have your own fruit trees  in the garden with excess fruit.

dehydrated fruit healthy life

Inspiration

To get the best idea of how amazing this concept is I recommend you go and eat a meal at a raw food restaurant. It really is incredible. You may be served things like ‘lasagna’ or ‘pizza’’  and they will taste like them but believe me they won’t be anything like their traditional namesakes in reality. 

What they will be is

  1. Highly nutritious and extremely healthy
  2. Totally raw and plant based
  3.  Absolutely delicious.  

This type of dehydrating is very time consuming and expensive,  It’s only really relevant if you want to be a high raw vegan and you have a lot of time on your hands but interesting nevertheless.

Summary

We all need ideas on how to make getting healthy more fun and we could all do with eating more of our fresh produce raw. It’s the best way to maximise on the fantastic nutrients it offers us. A dehydrator offers you numerous, fun, funky, tasty and dare I even say sexy ways to do just that.

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Many people exclude nuts and seeds from their diets because they think they are fattening…but quite the reverse is true. Nuts and Seeds are nutritional powerhouses that are tasty, extremely versatile and scientific research has shown them to actually help with weight loss not cause it…Let’s dive deeper and look at Why You Need More Nuts and Seeds in Your Life and Amazing Ways to Eat Them.

Its about a 5 minute read, here’s a brief outline

  • Nuts and Seeds – Nutrition
  • The Benefits of Eating Seeds and Nuts in a Nutshell
  • Amazing Ways to Eat Them

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Nuts and Seeds – Nutrition

There are lots of different types of nuts and seeds which all  contain similiar amounts of  macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) but each have differing amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) dependant on the variety.

Generally, we can say that nuts and seeds are:-

  • High in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. 
  • Low in saturated fats.
  • High in protein (a good choice for non meat eaters).
  • Contain zero cholesterol.
  • High in fibre so great for good gut health.
  • A fantastic source of antioxidants.
  • Good source of  vitamins E and some of the B vitamin group.
  • Contain minerals i.e. magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.

Common varieties of nuts and seeds to eat:-

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts 
  • Cashew nuts
  • Hazelnuts 
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans 
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios 
  • coconut (read more)
  • Walnuts 
  • Pumpkin seeds 
  • Flax seeds 
  • Sesame seeds 
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sunflower seeds 
  • Chia seeds.
nuts and seeds health benefits

The  Benefits of Eating Seeds and Nuts in a Nutshell 😁

  • Healthy and highly nutritious.
  • Help with weight control.
  • High in antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats.
  • Great Taste.
  • Satisfying and Satiating – They fill you up for a long time.
  • They are relatively inexpensive.

Highly nutritious and healthy.

Eating nuts and seeds will reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.  This is due to their excellent nutritional profile which contains much of what our bodies need to help us thrive and protecting us from disease.  There is nothing in nuts and seeds that will harm us or cause disease.

An Ace in the Whole for Weight Control

Nuts and Seeds keep you feeling full up but it’s a different kind of full.  You don’t feel bloated or stuffed and uncomfortable, there is just this lovely full satisfied feeling which lasts a long time. Being full for longer and not feeling hungry is a winner if you are fighting to loose weight. 

There has been much scientific research. Click here for more on how nuts and seeds help in weight control.

Amazing Ways to Eat Them

  • The more variety of nuts and seeds you take in your diet the better because your body will receive more variety of nutrients.  Variety is the spice of life as they say.
  • For top nutrition try to eat them raw or dehydrated but light cooking is also fine and can make some recipes easier and tastier.
  • Avoid all processed packets of nuts of any variety.

Obviously you can just take a handful of nuts or seeds and eat them and thats great but below are some great ideas for delicious and easy ways to get them into your diet.

Raw Sweets and Treats

The internet is awash with raw sweets, treats and desserts recipes and most of them contain nuts and/or seeds. Just google your favourite dessert with the word raw in front.

My ‘go to’ raw sweet treat is Chocolate Brownies. I eat these every day, they are amazing, moreish and healthy too. The main ingredient of these is almonds. Subscribe to my blog this week to receive the recipe direct to your inbox.

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are touted as a superfood, such is the magnificence of their nutritional profile.  Chia seed pudding is a regular on my breakfast menu.

My Favourite Chia Seed Pudding recipe

  • 2.5 tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • Homemade coconut milk enough to cover seeds by about an inch
  • Half teaspoon raw honey (Vegan can use coconut sugar)
  • 5 frozen organic raspberries
  • 3 organic strawberries cut up
  • 1 portion of fresh pineapple cut up
  • 5 dried sour cherries (soaked overnight if I remember)

Put chia seeds in bowl cover with milk then stir. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the honey and allow to set. (10 minutes to overnight whatever suits you) Spread the honey over the top of the pudding or stir in. 

Why It’s so great:-

  • Chia seed pudding sets so can be portable easily with the right container
  • You can make them ahead of time by soaking them overnight or you can make them with just minutes to spare
  • They are extremely healthy, in fact they are a superfood
  • They can’t help but be tasty, you make them to suit your own tastebuds. You might also want to adjust the setting time so that the texture is to your taste. Note: if you dont like the texture you can blend them to a mousse texture. 
  • Chia seeds are great for weight control, they form a thick gel which expands in your tummy making you feel full. They also contain healthy fats and protein keeping you full for longer and are low in calories.

Nut or Seed Butters 

There are some good brands on the market but homemade is best in terms of deliciousness, cost and nutrition.

My go to recipe is sunflower or pumpkin seed butter. Simply because they are much less expensive than nuts especially as I always buy organic. Besides that the seed butter is absolutely delicious anyway.

The recipe for seed butters or nuts butters are interchangeable. You can use either nuts or seeds, whatever you fancy or have in your cupboard.

Homemade Seed/Nut Butter

  • 2 cups sunflower/pumpkin seeds or Almonds
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Coconut sugar (1 teaspoon or to taste)
  • Vanilla to taste (pod, paste, extract)
  1. Spreads seeds/nuts evenly over a baking tray and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place in oven at 180 degrees celsius for around 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes some seeds are more delicate. You don’t want them to colour.
  2. Remove and leave to cool completely
  3. In your high speed blender ( I use a Vitamix) blitz the nuts using your tamper to continually press the nuts or seeds down into the blades until it turns into nut butter consistency. It will first be a paste, stick with it, it will eventually become nut butter. It may take some time.
  4. Remove carefully from blender into large bowl, it may be very hot, stir in the coconut sugar and vanilla and then transfer to sterilised jar.

Please Note: if you use pumpkin seeds your nut butter will be green.

Nut Milks

Almonds, Hazelnuts and Coconut all make amazing nut milks. You can try anything though.  Using coconut is more cost efficient which is why I use this on a daily basis. You can also use seeds which is very cost effictient but I don’t think the result is as delicious. 

Nut Milk Recipe

  • 2 cups of any nuts (including coconut)
  • Vanilla (pods, paste, extract)
  • Water
  1. Blend everything for around 3 minutes in your high speed blender.
  2. Strain through a nut milk bag into a large jug
  3. Pour into a bottle and place in the fridge ready for use

Please Note: You can if you wish sweeten with raw honey or coconut sugar and any other flavourings or spices you fancy like turmeric, cinamon, ginger etc

Seed crackers

These make an amazing healthy alternative to bread and savoury biscuits. Homemade is best of course. I make mine raw using the dehydrator. but you can if you prefer make regular seed crackers. There are loads of recipes online.

 These are a regular on my breakfast table with spicy avocado dip and my homemade seed butter. My raw crackers I make contain a mixture of flax seeds (also called linseeds) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

Sprinkle over salads, stir frys, stews and casseroles

Nuts and seeds are awesome included in main meals,  Seeds can easily be sprinkled over salads. Sesame seeds are especially delicious sprinkled over an asian style salad but you can get creative and try different things.

Raw Pesto

Pesto sauce is traditionally made using basil and pine nuts… but you can swap these out and  use nuts like walnuts or almonds, and instead of basil you can use rocket or kale.  Get Creative.  Delicious served with simple grilled meats, fish and chicken. 

Further Reading

Read a comprehensive article all about the benefits of Nuts and Seeds by Healthline

Find out more about What I eat

My recent blog post How to Eat Healthy

The benefits of eating raw.

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I would love to hear any comments, suggestion and questions in the comments section below.

Click on links below:-

How to be Happy

If you’re happy and you know it you are blessed. Everybody wants to be happy. Happiness trumps everything, it’s the holy grail we strive for our entire lives. Yet for so many people it seems to be elusive. Why do some people have it naturally or find it so easily while others struggle. What’s their secret?…whats the secret of How to be Happy? Lets find out…

Here’s a brief outline. Its about a 5 minute read.

  • Choose to be Happy
  • Happiness from the Inside Out
  • Steps Away from things that make you unhappy.
  • Move closer to the things that make you happy.
  • Be grateful
  • Be kind to others
  • Do you Really Want to be Happy>

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Choose to be Happy

Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

Happiness is a choice, you have to choose it.

Research shows that approx 40 percent of our happiness is up to us the rest is down to things like genetics and our background.

This is great news because it means we have a strong amount of control over our own happiness, we can choose to be happy…

…anyone can choose to be happy.

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude” Psychologist William James

Psychologist William James

Studies have shown that children laugh more than four hundred times each day while adults only manage seventeen times. How sad is that?

What children have, that we as grownups loose somewhere along the line is that light-hearted, curious, playful, positive and loving spirit. Click here for my recent article Playtime for Grownups: How we can Play and Why we Should.

children are always happy

Children want to be happy and so they are. Simple as that.

To choose happiness you have to make a conscious choice and then take the practical actions to move away from what’s making you unhappy and move towards things that can make you happy.

But we have to know and recognise what it is making us unhappy and what it is that makes us genuinely happy. This is a big part of the difficulty…

Happiness from the Inside Out

Happiness comes from the inside out. It can’t be found externally.

You can’t rely solely on your partner, for example, to make you happy.

Nor does it come from material possessions. True, authentic happiness can’t be bought…

Step Away from things that make You unhappy

Research has shown that having certain personal characteristics can make us unhappy. These are:-

Being apathetic. Indifferent, uninvolved and unmotivated in either your personal and working life or both.

Being Unhealthy – Unhealthy eating, not getting enough exercise, not moving enough, being overweight. Having bad habits like smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Being Stuck in the Past – Whether you’re dwelling on good memories or regrets there’s only one way to progress to happiness in life and that’s forwards. The future

Feeling Hopeless – Can lead to you standing still, isolating yourself, not participating in life.

Being Ungrateful – not fully understanding, recognising or valuing things in our lives.

If we recognise some or all of these in ourselves and work towards lessening or eliminating them we will be taking positive steps towards a happier life.

Get Closer to the Things that Make You Happy

Choosing happiness isn’t just a mental activity.

You have to do something about it.

You have to follow through with your choices and translate them into the practical actions needed to make your life truly happier.

it’s not enough to sit around wanting to be happy; you have to make the effort to change what is missing in your life.

happy smiley face


Happiness Boosters

Exercise – Yes that old chestnut… but it’s true exercise really does boost your happiness levels. To get started easily Click here for my recent blog post ‘Exercise Made Easy’

Appreciate Yourself – Below, in the ‘Be Grateful’ section you will find an instruction “Write a letter to someone you love”. Let the first person you write to be you.

Nutrition – Eat healthy food. Eating properly makes you feel amazing , when you feel amazing you look amazing and when you both feel and look amazing you can do nothing else but be amazing. Click here for my recent blog post ‘How to Eat Healthy, 3 Simple Rules’.

Nature – Getting outside in nature really makes you happy. Try it. Click here for my recent blog post How to get outside in nature more and why we need to.

Relationships – Cherish and be grateful for your existing relationships and make new ones. Humans need human connections to make us happy,

Play – Grownup playtime. Think about it as part of your self care routine. Nothing can make you laugh more than play. Click here for my recent blog post on the subject

Relaxation – You must take time to release the stresses and strains of modern life. Click here for my recent blog post ‘Mediations, Why we should do it and how.

Spirituality – The feeling of belonging to something bigger is reported to enhance wellbeing and feelings of happiness.

Challenges – Set yourself goals. Learn new things, accomplish projects, follow dreams. Click here to read my blog post on reaching your goals

Be Kind to Others – See below for more on this.

All these happiness boosters are enjoyable, inexpensive, free from side-effects, and easily available. You can do some of them or all of them and have a good time while making yourself healthier and happier.

gratitude journal

Be Grateful

Research has shown that being grateful…living a life full of gratitude makes us happier and has positive effects on our health and wellbeing in general. Click here for a page full of links to scientific studies showing the positive consequences of practicing gratitude.

We all have things and/or people we are grateful for. The more you can be grateful for the bigger the happy effect will be.

What could you be grateful for?

  • Your children
  • Your parents
  • Your family
  • Your partner
  • Your friends
  • our beautiful planet earth
  • Your life
  • Nature in all its forms
  • The food on your table
  • Your freedom
  • Your job…

The list goes on…

How to Express Your Gratitude

Write to Someone you Love that you are grateful for…

Write, text or email a letter to someone you love like your best friend, your partner, your children or any other family member.

 Tell them how much they mean to you,  for example tell them about their special gifts, how they enrich your life, how your life wouldn’t be the same without them, how happy they make you feel, how you are so grateful for  the relationship with them.

This is such a cathartic exercise.  it makes you feel great being so open, honest and authentic.  It’s freeing and  wonderful. It also makes the receiver of the letter feel amazing which in turn makes you feel amazing too, that you have made them so happy.  This also reinforces the fact that you are an authentic, genuine and caring person with great friends/family who you appreciate and who appreciate you.

Writing a Gratitude Journal everyday. Get yourself a cheap jotter or a beautiful leather bound journal, your choice… and every day take a few seconds out of your life to write 1 or 2 things that you are grateful for.

It can be anything at all from something small like your favourite song all the way up to something huge like the universe. Embellish it with the exact detail of why you are grateful for it, what it means in your life.

Start a Gratitude Jar...This is awesome…Starting on January 1st on a daily basis write something that you are grateful for on a piece of paper and pop it in the jar. (multi coloured post it notes look pretty in the jar) On New Years Eve you get to read all the lovely positive notes you have written over the year.

Alternatively, You can start this any day of the year and when you are feeling down just read over some of your gratitude notes to lift you up.

Be Kind to Others

Research has shown that being kind to others can also bring you significant happiness.

Kindness can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a compliment, a thank you, a simple gesture, or a word of encouragement.  It doesn’t have to cost anything or take much time.  What’s important is that it’s an act of genuine care and thoughtfulness for another person.

Here’s some suggestions:-

  • Donate your old things to charity
  • Visit someone who may be lonely
  • Give food to a homeless person and take time to talk to them
  • Volunteer your time for a charity
  • Organize a fundraising event
  • Get back in contact with someone you’ve lost touch with
  • Give up your seat
  • Hold a door open for someone
  • Give a sincere compliment
  • Make someone laugh
  • Give someone a hug
  • Take time to really listen to someone
  • Make someone new feel welcome
  • Let someone in front of you in the checkout lane

And so on…

happy

Do you really want to be happy?

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt to find happiness.”  William E. Gladstone

William E. Gladstone

Having more happiness in life isn’t a quick fix process but rather an intentional effort to move away from those things that create negativity in your life, and move toward the things that warm your spirit.

So if you really want to be happy, it’s not too late to start imagining it for your future and taking the steps needed to live it.

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my Covid 19 experience

I write this purely in the hope that it will help those suffering from Covid 19 at home right now to cope a little better. It’s my story, my observations and my tips on how I got through it. The things I did that definitely helped me cope emotionally and psychologically and I believe helped me make a strong physical recovery too.

The message we constantly hear on tv and media is quite rightly focused on urging people to stay home in order to save lives and I understand how crucial it is to get this message across…but when you are actually sitting at home having already caught the virus this message gives zero comfort. It’s too late for you… you’ve already caught the virus…

… You are at the very least a little frightened and very possibly absolutely terrified for your life due to the aforementioned media messages and there is very little in the way of comfort out there.

So firstly let’s just say the truth. The vast majority of people only suffer mild or moderate symptoms of Covid 19 and there are by far more people recovering from this virus than there are losing their lives from it. You must take some comfort from that…

I started writing this on day 11 of my virus ‘journey’ it’s now day 21 and this blog will be published on day 23. I can report that I am now fully recovered in body, mind and spirit.

It’s around a 9 minute read, here’s a brief outline:-

  • How did I catch it?
  • Have I been tested?
  • My Symptoms.
  • When to call for help.
  • Peoples Reactions.
  • Tips on Getting Better.
  • What do you have faith in when you don’t have medicine or religion?

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Covid 19 virus symptoms

How did I catch it?

Like most virus sufferers I simply can’t be sure. I suspect I caught it whilst travelling home from Southampton to Scotland on Monday 23rd March. I was on a coach full of people some of whom were coughing and we also made several service station stops…

It was on the evening of this day that the UK Government announced the country would go into lockdown. In fact I listened to this chilling announcement on the radio as I drew up to my home. By the Thursday of that week, just 3 days later, I was experiencing my first symptoms…

Have I Been Tested?

Thankfully no, because in the UK that would mean I was in hospital, a place I didn’t want to end up in.

However. because I was still experiencing symptoms on day 8 and my breathing was getting quite bad I did call NHS 111 who arranged for the Covid 19 unit doctor to give me a call back. She confirmed that in her opinion I had the virus.

Apart from that I just know. I felt ill, I had a cough, I had a fever and most tellingly I couldn’t breathe properly.

I will just mention here that I have had bacterial pneumonia before, 18 years ago. Because of this I did suspect that if I caught the virus I would probably get some of the uncomfortable breathing symptoms.

I look forward to getting a test, when it becomes available, to say that I’ve had the virus and hopefully that I now have immunity to it.

My Symptoms

Most of my symptoms were fairly mild except for the shortness of breath which I believe the doctors would classify as moderate and getting near to severe. It’s at this point that they take you in for assessment. It’s this near escape that’s left me feeling blessed and grateful to be alive,

Click here to discover the severity of your symptoms, The article I’m linking to describes moderate, severe and critical symptoms but also links to their article describing asymptomatic and mild symptoms. Most people have mild or moderate symptoms of Covid 19.

  • Cough – yes it started off as a wet cough though and developed into a dry one by about day 3/4. My coughing symptoms were mild.
  • Temperature/fever – I had no thermometer to measure my temperature and it was , hard to tell as a 53 year old women what’s a fever and what’s a hot flush at first. As the virus got worse I soon found out the difference. My worst fever was during the night coming into day 9. I woke up soaking in sweat, and had to remove my nightie. It seems that was the peak of my fever, I started to get better after that.
  • Shortness of breath – This was by far my worst symptom. Judging from the article I linked to above I was definitely in the moderate zone for breathing. I first noticed it around Day 3/4. When I did anything in the house like going to the toilet or making some food I felt like I had just stopped moderate exercise you know kind of lumpy at the top of the breath. In the end I was getting out out of breath just taking a shower. I was fine when resting. Compared to when I had the pneumonia before though my breath wasn’t that short, I never got to a stage where I couldn’t take almost a full breath. Luckily it never got to Pneumonia.
  • Tiredness – Yes I felt tired most of the time although this wasn’t extreme for me. I normally had a nap mid afternoon. My daughter who is 21 and also had the virus felt the tiredness as her main symptom.
  • Headaches– Yes and ouch. I’ve had a notable headache which starts at the base of my head to the left side and spreads up the side of my face. It’s truly a horrible headache. When I press the base of my head I can feel it like a nerve pain that spreads up. Thankfully that’s getting less, but that pain did revisit me again yesterday which was day 11. Update: I can now reveal on day 21 that this has gone completely.
  • Heart rate increased – I was keeping an eye on this on my Apple Watch. My normal healthy and fully fit self has a resting of around 58bpm. Every day I was watching this increase a lot. My resting got to 85bpm. and then I decided to take my watch off as it was just causing me more anxiety. The night I took it off was the critical night Day 8/9 after which I started to get better. I’m on day 11/12 now and my resting bpm is 67 so I’m definitely getting better. Update: it’s day 21 now and my bpm is back to 58.
  • Grucky throat – this is how it all started for me. I wasn’t sure I had the virus then because the symptom was advised as a dry cough. One thing I did know was that it was attacking my upper respiratory system and it quickly moved down to my chest. I could feel it.
  • Nausea – On days 4-7 I was feeling a little nauseous especially on waking.
  • Loss of appetite – I made myself eat good food but I definitely had a drop off in appetite.
  • I’ve completely went off dark chocolate – 😂 I’m laughing but this is no laughing matter. Dark chocolate was my life. I ate it strong and unsweetened. Pretty soon around day 3 I stopped having my cocoa and then my raw brownie stopped because they were making me feel unwell. I think the chocolate was congesting me so my body said NO. It’s Day 11 now and I still can’t face eating it. Update: – day 21 I’m back in love with my dark chocolate😀
  • Loss of smell/taste – I didn’t lose my taste but I’ve noticed my smell isn’t quite normal. Day 21 and everything is back to normal.
  • Slight Loss of Hearing – I most definitely could not hear as well as normal. I thought maybe I was imagining it but last night day 12 I was woken in the night by my right ear popping..!!!
  • Bunged up – although there is nothing bunging you up , it’s like all your sinus and breathing tissues are swelling up, so sometimes it gets difficult to nose breathe even though there’s no mucus blocking it up.
coronavirus tips on coping

When to Call for Help

Of course YOU MUST follow NHS (or your countries official medical body) advice for this but I just wanted to point out the following:-

If your breathing is starting to struggle at all you should call for medical advice right away.

I don’t feel the literature that’s out there necessarily leads you to this conclusion. I didn’t do this because I understood the advice to be call NHS 111 if you are still suffering symptoms after 7 days and so on day 8 I called.. meaning I suffered the breathing symptoms for around 4 days without seeking help..

Calling for help doesn’t mean they will come and take you to hospital they will simply assess you over the phone and advise you further.

Even though my breathing had gotten quite bad (to the moderate stage) when I called NHS 111, they still left me at home with the instruction ‘if it gets any worse call us and we will take you in for assessment.”

Peoples Reactions

If someone tells you they have the virus please believe them.

there’s nothing worse than someone telling you ‘maybe its a cold’ when you feel like you’re life is threatened…

Tips For Getting Better

Don’t Panic!

I wouldn’t allow myself to contemplate going in to hospital. Getting critically sick is NOT AN OPTION FOR YOU. Non-negotiable, not going to happen. Throw it out of your mind, if you have to use distractions then do so.

We watched back to back Disney movies on Disney plus for 4 days in a row.

Just single mindedly concentrate on healing yourself.

Always breathe through your nose.

Even though you don’t have any mucus your nose may feel bunged up at times. It’s better if you keep trying to breathe through the nose.

  • It has a calming effect.
  • The sinus contains nitric oxide which makes it easier for our body to transport oxygen where it needs to go , it is also anti fungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and antibacterial.
  • The nose filters out bacteria and warms breath before reaching the lungs.
  • Nose breathing delivers exactly the correct amount of oxygen we need. We take far too much in through the mouth causing us to hyperventilate. We do not need to be hyperventilating when suffering from Covid 19.

Click here to read my blog post on Buteyko Breating and the importance of nose breathing in general.

Raw Honey

This may have been a placebo effect but taking a teaspoon of raw honey made me feel good. I could feel it going down my throat and it felt nice. I felt like I was actively doing something, like taking a medicine that was helping me and this helped keep my mood up.

Of course raw, unpasteurised honey is known to have medicinal properties. Of particular interest to Covid 19 patients – It’s a known cough suppressant and is an immune system booster. It certainly won’t do you any harm. Click here to read a short, succinct article on the benefits of raw, unpasteurised honey.

Important – I AM NOT claiming that raw honey will cure Covid 19, just that it made me feel better.

I buy my raw, unpasteurised honey from Amazon. The brand is called ‘Local Honey Man”. It’s the real deal and I’ve been having it delivered during lockdown with no problems. (note: I do not have affiliate links with any other company, I’m simply recommending what I use myself.)

Green (or purple) Juice with Ginger

A green juice every morning is a normal part of my daily routine but when I was sick with Covid 19 it felt like medicine. I think feeling the zing of the ginger go down my throat and into my chest was particularly helpful.

Actually when I had the virus I just happened to have purple cabbages in the house so my green juice was purple during this time.

Here’s what I put in my juice:-

  • 1 apple
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 small serving of broccoli
  • 3 inch wedge of cabbage and/or 2 handfuls of spinach or kale

Again it might have been a placebo effect but the psychological and emotional boost it gave me was helpful and that’s good enough.

It’s all about helping yourself get through and keeping positive.

That aside, eating a healthy, nutrient rich diet is on doctors orders to recover from ALL illness and medical conditions. Nothing quite delivers those nutrients like raw fruit and vegetables.

Rest and Relax but Try and Stand Up Often

You must rest and leave your body free to fix itself even if you only have mild symptoms. I suspect our own UK Prime Minister should have heeded this advice but thankfully he is on the mend now.

If you continue to work, work out or stress your body in any way during even a mild dose of any illness you risk making it worse. Your body cannot do its very best job of making you better if you give it numerous other tasks to contend with at the same time.

Let your body concentrate on just healing you.

With that said, it is also important that you stand up regularly and walk about the house. Even better a gentle walk about the garden.

Get fresh air and day light regularly too even if you just stick your head out of the window.

Keep Eating

how to eat healthy with Covid 19

You will probably have a dip in your appetite but it’s important to keep eating and to eat the best quality food you can get your hands on. Now is not the time for processed food and takeaways.

Feed your body with protein, healthy carbohydrates (click for more) and healthy fats and oils (click for more), nuts, seeds plus plentiful fruit and vegetables. I upped my raw fruit intake hugely while I was sick, it’s what my body was telling me it wanted so I obeyed. I’ve actually continued with this craving and am still eating more raw whole fruit than before I got the virus, I guess my body needs it,. Cl

ick here for a more in-depth look at what I eat

What do you have faith in when you don’t have medicine or religion?

Here’s the thing… I’d had bacterial pneumonia before, 18 years ago, long before I started my healthy lifestyle. It was bad but I did have medication that I knew was making me better at the time. I had anti-biotics to fight the bacteria and 2 inhalers for my breathing difficulties. I wasn’t hospitalised but I knew if I got worse they could take me into hospital and probably make me better.

With this virus, that option is not there. There’s no medicine and if they take you into hospital there’s a chance that they can’t make you better.

I’m not a religious person but I did manage to keep the faith throughout being sick I would say to about 99%. There was 1% of me that was absolutely sh…..g myself, I’m not gonna lie. The thing is…

… Losing it with this thing is really not a good idea. When you loose it you start to hyperventilate and hyperventilating is not a good idea when you can’t breathe well in the first place.

So without religion and without medicine where was I getting my strength and resolve from What was keeping me positive…

I Had Faith in Myself and My Body

The thing is. I knew my body couldn’t have been in any better shape to fight off the virus.

I’ve been living an extremely healthy lifestyle for around 8 years now and I took a lot of comfort in that because if that’s not enough then I dont know what is.

I’m not talking about running around being superfit and excercising hours and hours a day. That is something I did used to do as a dance teacher and in actual fact luckily I saw the light there and lessened the amount of excercise I do per week to moderate levels. An exhausted body cannot fight illness.

I’m talking about having that balanced, all round health from eating whole foods, not poisoning my body and ensuring I get the right balance of sleep, relaxation and excercise and play. In short, I’ve really been looking after myself well and so I had faith in my body and mind to fight back and defend itself.

I’d be happy to answer any questions, thoughts or comments just pop them in the comments section below or follow me on instagram or facebook and we can chat on there.

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Exercising can be a struggle. There are many reasons we just can’t quite get started or stay started. You may hate exercising or think you’re too unfit, too fat or too old or you might just find it boring. You may be too busy working or raising a family to find the time to fit it in or maybe you don’t have the money to join the gym…But the benefits of excercise on the way you feel and look are too good to miss…We need Excercise made easy so we can enjoy its many healthy benefits which include:-

  • Cardiovascular health.
  • Lung health.
  • Muscle strength.
  • Toned muscles.
  • Endurance.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Increases our energy levels.
  • Improves our mood.
  • Reduces anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Healthy glowing skin (click here to read more)

Special note: this blog post was written a few weeks before the Current Coronavirus crisis started. With that said most of my tips are “home based’ and so are perfect during lockdown. I myself will be ‘starting again ‘ to regain my pre virus fitness levels after suffering a moderate dose of Covid 19.

If you already love going to the gym or fitness classes this is probably not for you. It’s about a 3 minute read. Here’s a brief outline:-

  • Excercise versus Movement.
  • Getting started.
  • Making it Fun.
  • Making it easy.
  • Doubling up.
  • In a Nutshell.

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Excercise versus Movement.

So before we get properly started I just want to define what I mean by excercise.

To maintain our good health it’s widely accepted that we need to move more and sit less in general, click here for my recent blog post on this subject.

General movement will tend to be in the low to medium intensity excercise category. Please see below:-

  • Low Intensity Excercise – You can talk easily in full sentences and sing.
  • Moderate Intensity Excercise – You can talk in full sentences but not sing.
  • High Intensity Excercise – You are too breathless to talk easily. You need to take breaths between words.

Today, however, I’m talking about the more formal excercise which will normally fall into the moderate to high intensity range dependant on your current fitness levels.

There are 3 types of excercise we should be doing for all round good health:-

  • Cardio (vascular) – anything that makes you breathe harder – things like dancing, running, aerobics, cycling, Zumba, HIITS
  • Strength Training – bodyweight excercises like press-ups, pull-ups , resistance band training, weight training, Yoga, HIITS…
  • Flexibility – Yoga, stretching, Pilates. Tai Chi.
amazingly healthy life exercise at home

How Much Excercise do we Need

Common recommendations are:-

  • Cardio:- 2/3 times per week with at least 24 hours of rest before the next.
  • Strength Training – 2/3 times per week, with at least one day to rest in between.
  • Flexibility – 2/3 times per week

But if you’re just starting out put these recommendations to one side. It’s more important just to get started!!!

The first step is always the hardest!!!

Getting Started

If you’re just starting out, chances are you need to start small, really small. Set targets that are easily achievable.

If it’s more excercise than your doing now then that’s a win, if you’re achieving targets that’s also a win and great for your morale…As is tracking your progress, wether that be on paper or on your fitness watch…

Here’s what to do:-

  1. Right now this minute, make your yearly target that you will excercise on at least one day each and every week.
  2. Every week make a target for the coming week. If it’s just to excercise the one day then schedule the day, if you decide to do more then schedule that in your diary.
  3. Every morning make an excercise target for that day, no matter how small. You may decide it’s a rest day and that’s fine.

Starting Small really, really small

I’ve had to start small on many occasions when recovering from injury and now I’m about to do it again post virus.

You just don’t feel like doing it. The only thing that got me motivated was to make it so small that it took no time at all and was almost effortless then build up from there.

This works because it gets you to take that all important first step:-

Cardio – Start with 1 minute of your favourite cardio excercise. (add 1 minute the next time you do it and then another the next time and so on until you reach your desired amount, 30 minutes is a good target)

Strength Training – I would start with good old fashioned body weight training. Just do 1 rep.(repetition) of each exercise. so 1 squat, 1 lunge on each leg, 1 press-up against the wall. These 3 exercises are a good start. On your next strength training day do 2 reps. and keep adding on 1 rep. at a time until reaching the desired amount. Once you’ve reached 5 reps. that’s 1 set. (5 reps= 1 set) 5 sets of 5 reps is a good target to aim for.

There are loads of online videos to show you correct form for these excercises if you need that. My favourite strength training site is www.nerdfitness.com.

Flexibility – Fitting in some stretches after your cardio and strength training sessions will be enough. Again there are loads of online videos from experts to help you out if you’re not sure how to stretch.

… and the build up of momentum will keep you going.

love your exercise make it fun

Make it Fun

If you love it you will do it.

It’s that simple. Find something you love. This should be especially easy for your cardio.

If you love being outside, do something outside:-

  • A brisk walk, run or cycle
  • Excercise in the garden
  • Play outdoors tennis
  • Swim outside
  • More ideas below

If you love dancing:-

  • Put on some music and dance
  • Dance in the kitchen whilst working
  • Join a dance class

If you love yoga:-

  • Join a yoga class
  • Do your own yoga practice wherever you love could be the beach, your garden, or just in your favourite room in your house.

If you love sport Do it

If you love gymnastics do gymnastics…

Strength training is a bit tougher to find something you love. It may have to be a case of find the one you love the most after you’ve done it🤣 so be it…

That said, some people absolutely adore for example, lifting weights, you might be one of them and you won’t know unless you try it. I do lift weights but I’m more in love with how I feel after the session rather than during it…

Make it Easy

It seems pretty obvious to say that if you make it easy to do you are more likely to do it. So how can we make it easy:-

Doing something fun that you love (as above) will also Make it Easy.

bodyweight training at home

Use your own spaces to workout.

If you work out in your own home or garden you save time and money…You also don’t need to find that double motivation to get off the couch get yourself ready and go out to get fit.

Use your own garden to workout in. This could be

  • Walking briskly or running circuits around it.
  • Do your body weight training out there.
  • Get some TRX training equipment, find or install a bar to anchor it to or use a strong branch from a tree.
  • Do your HIIT sessions out there. HIITS are fast and super efficient (click here to read more)
  • Yoga in the garden.
  • Dance in the garden.
  • Zumba
  • Possibly you can play sports out there.

Use your own home:-

  • Body weight training.
  • Home gym, free weights, a pull up bar.
  • HIITS.
  • Yoga.
  • Dance.
  • Zumba.

Doubling up

If you’re short on time, which most of us are, doubling up on our self care and health goals is golden and can really help make exercising easier.

Here’s some examples of double ups:-

  • Strength training plus cardio – HIITS tick the strength training plus cardio boxes. you only need to do 2/3 times per week and they should never last longer than 30 minutes per session. Find a local class or do it in the house or your own garden, there are literally millions of free online classes you can follow. (click here to read more about HIITS)
  • Strength training plus flexibility (plus cardio) – Yoga ticks the strength training and flexibility boxes (ashtanga yoga and similiar can also tick the cardio box)
  • Move more plus excerise – Since we have to sit less and move more anyway we may as well double this up to include excercise. So for example plan a gentle, enjoyable nature walk to include some harder terrain which will take us into moderate/high intensity excercise. This could mean including some up hill or cross country or you could just run or walk faster for a duration of the overall walk.
  • Excercise plus outside in nature – The health benefits of being outside in nature are widely acknowledged (click here for my recent blog post on this subject ). There are a number of ways which have already been mentioned where we can combine our excercise with being outside in nature, even if it’s just in our own garden.
  • Excercise plus relaxation – Some excercise, Yoga being the most obvious one contains elements that are deeply relaxing. You could try and fit in a short meditation to end every exercise session. Its a nice way to finish. Anything from 1-10 minutes with some relaxation meditation music would hit the spot. (click here to read my recent blog post on meditation)
  • Excercise plus Play – Bringing more playtime into our grown up lives is becoming more popular mainly because of its emotional health benefits. PLAY MAKES YOU HAPPY. Excercise and play can go easily together. Many of the suggestions already listed would be considered grown up playtime. Click here to read my recent blog post all about grownup playtime for more suggestions

In a nutshell

Excercise can be made easy by making it a fun part of your life. It can be simple and inexpensive to fit in if we use our imagination and our own resources. Just take that first small step and away you go…

Further Reading

Amazingly Healthy Habits


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I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions and questions in the comments section below.

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amazingly healthy life snorkelling
Snorkelling in the Blue Lagoon, The Yasawas, Fiji.

When we were children life was all about playing, having fun and enjoying ourselves…and I’ve got something to tell you that might be a revelation…IT STILL IS. Do you really think your whole life should be about taking everything, including life, so seriously??? Yes, of course, sometimes we have to put our serious and sensible heads on but NOT ALL THE TIME. Lighten up, loosen that top button and let’s take a look at Playtime for Grownups, how we can play and why we should.

Special Note:- I wrote this blog post a few weeks prior to the current coronavirus emergency. While I realise that ‘Being playful’ might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, it’s actually now more important than ever. Maybe you are sitting in your home ill with the virus (as I currently am) or you’re just terrified by the whole situation and you may not feel like you will ever ‘play’ again but you will… We’re going to get over this.

A playful heart is a wonderful thing, I’m convinced its helping me get through….

Obviously some of my suggestions for play will have to wait until after the lockdown but there are still plenty of things you can do. They might even help you survive this thing.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Its about a 4 minute read, here’s a brief outline:-

  • What is Play.
  • Why We Should Play.
  • Ideas for Play.

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What is Play?

There are many meanings for the word play, such as when involved in a game or a sport or when an actor ‘plays’ a part or is in a ‘play’. The one I’m most interested in today is the following:-

Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Oxford Dictionary

Of course the above definition doesn’t exclude playing sports, games and acting especially ‘play’ acting for fun but many of these are also serious competitive careers so let’s just keep the above definition in our mind.

For me Playtime is simply part of Self Care and Self Love.

It is extremely beneficial for our overall health and wellness alongside our existing self care activities:- healthy eating, relaxation, movement and excercise.

Play can be the following and more:-

  • Just Goofing around.
  • Rough and tumble.
  • Creative arts -drawing, painting, sculpture…
  • Board games.
  • Games.
  • Sports.
  • Dancing like nobody’s watching.
  • Playing a musical instrument for fun.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Indulging and enjoying a playful state of mind so being frivolous, cheeky, flirtatious, curious, grateful…

I have a bee in my bonnet about the lack of support we were given when young for things like sports, art and music. If we didn’t show potential for professional greatness, we were discouraged, or at least certainly not encouraged to do it.

art for fun
A self portrait. I enjoyed drawing it and that’s all that matters.

We should do these things just for the sheer joy they give us!!!

Dr Stuart Brown founder of The National Institute for Play and a specialist researcher on the benefits of Play identifies 5 main types of play as following:-

  • Rough and tumble play – Tug-of-war, tag, play fighting…
  • Ritual play – Chess, board games, sports with set rules…
  • Imaginative play –  Storytelling, painting, drawing, colouring, crafting, play acting, dress up, comedy and improv. classes…
  • Body play – Yoga, Pilates, hiking, whitewater rafting, riding roller coasters, mountain climbing, surfing, and snorkeling…
  • Object play – Lego, Jenga, building things like sandcastles, dens, Wendy houses, and snowball fights…

Why We Should Play.

Play is crucial for childrens’ development and is extremely beneficial for adults continued development, wellbeing and happiness.

Research on the benefits of grownup playtime is limited but has shown that playful adults:-

were more likely to be good at observing, see things from new perspectives, be more innovative and have lower stress levels.

https://neurosciencenews.com/stress-playful-people-5918/

At some point between childhood and adulthood we stop playing. But the stresses and strains of adulthood is exactly the time when we really need the relief that play can give us.

Do we forget how to play or are we just embarrassed to be playful for fear of looking childish?

I fear the latter may be the case although for me I’m heading in the opposite direction…What’s wrong with being childish?

…Children are great, they have great attitudes towards things. They have beginners mind so are curious and open to learn. They don’t think they know it all. They are delighted and enraptured and awestruck, they are joyful, and always laughing… I Rest my case.

playful performance shona hagan amazingly healthy life
a playful performance, sharing the joy with the audience

Laughter is the best medicine.

Did you know that there is a UN Statute defending childrens right to play, We need one of those for adults too.

Why we should play in a nutshell:-

  • It’s fun
  • Keeps You Young :- We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” (George Bernard Shaw)
  • Relieves stress – play releases endorphins, our natural feel good chemicals that relieve stress.
  • Self worth and confidence.
  • It gives us that wonderful freedom we enjoyed as a child
  • Self expression – develop new ideas for creating or about ourselves
  • We can enjoy experimenting without fear of failure, reprisal or criticism.
  • Our sense of self (to know and understand ourselves better).
  • We can let our imaginations run wild.
  • Emotional wellbeing – helps with depression. It’s down to those endorphins again. Also the social interaction of playing with others helps.
  • Improves brain function – games like chess, puzzle solving and memory games help this.
  • Sharpens your problem solving skills. Many play activities involve problem solving.
  • Helps develop and enhance social skills – Through social interaction and team building during play. Also just improved mood and self confidence makes you a more sociable creature to be around.
  • Improves your career prospects. A happy worker is a productive worker.

If I had to sum up what play means to me I would use 2 words

Fun Freedom!

grownup playtime on a rollercoaster
me and the hubby on a roller coaster ride

Ideas for Play

A little bit of play goes a long way, We don’t need to be constantly playing to reap the benefits. Even if you can only manage 5-10 minutes per day it’s a start. Taking the first step is always the hardest.

Even better, if you can develop and nurture a playful frame of mind. You can take it with you everywhere and always…

Ideas for Playing:-

  • Do anything that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Be with anyone who makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Go anywhere that makes you laugh out loud and/or happy.
  • Think hard about what you loved to play as a child and do it.
  • Creative arts just for fun. paint, draw, colour, paper mâché, make a puppet, make candles…
  • Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Dancing, classes or just put on your favourite music and dance. (one of my students (Hi Ellen 👋) once said that my bellydance classes were like kindergarten for adults. 😂
  • Act goofy with your family, friends and even your pets or just by having conversations with yourself.
  • Play with your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
  • Play sports like tennis, crazy golf etc but remember its all about the taking part not the winning 😁.
  • Build sandcastles on the beach.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Climb trees or play on a climbing frame (be careful).
  • Get your partner or friend and play hide and seek.
  • Just grab your friends hand and run as fast as you can. (this will probably end up in you collapsing in giggles.)
  • In the summer play rolly polly down a hill.
  • Go down the beach and jump over the breaking waves like you used to when you were little. Feel your bare feet connecting with Mother Earth.
  • Get your wellies on and go paddle in th stream or jump in the puddles during a rain shower.
  • Go out in your garden whilst its raining in your bikini and just dance around. (naked even if you can get away with it🤣)
  • Make a Daisy chain and wear it on your head.
  • In the summer start a water fight in the garden with your partner, kids or friends.
  • Get a friend and do a dressing up photo shoot. Strike lots of ridiculous funny poses and photograph them. Share them on Instagram if you dare!!!
  • Play harmless pranks on people you love.
  • Flirt outrageously.
  • Wear bold clothes that make YOU happy.
  • Go to a theme park and ride the roller coasters.
  • Always be awestruck by all things nature, the forest, the woods, rainbows, the beach, sunsets, sunrise, the moon, the stars and go out of your way to see them regularly.
  • Take a nature walk and put sticky willows on your partners bum in secret.
  • Take a nature walk and moo back at the cows or baaaa back at the sheep.
  • Hold your friend or grown up Childs hand and start skipping down the street with them.
  • Play ropes.
  • Have a game of hide and seek.
  • Sing out and loud especially if you can’t really sing.
  • Build a snowman.
  • Go sledging.
  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Get a pet and have fun playing with it.

I was giggling and itching at the bit to do them just writing some of these. 🤣 Of course this is just some ideas there is so much more you can do. Some of these will make you giggle until your tummy hurts some will simply fill your heart with joy.

I would love to hear some of your ideas for play in the comments section below.

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Further Reading

Amazingly Healthy Habits

amazingly healthy life meditation

Meditation has shed its hippy, new age image. It’s now enjoyed and endorsed by all…celebrities, top business moguls, the military, professional athletes… click here for an A List of the rich and powerful who meditate… And it’s not surprising. Meditation offers such rich rewards for so little time an effort. Lets dive deeper and look at what is meditation, why we should do it and some ideas on how!!!

Meditation is a huge subject, we’re just skimming the surface today. Enough to hopefully get you meditating which is what it’s all about…

Its about a 6 minute read, here’s a brief outline.

  • What is meditation?
  • Why should we meditate?
  • Some ideas on how to meditate.
  • Some tips on meditating.

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What is Meditation?

the beauty and zen of stones

What is meditation? Here’s the Wikipedia description:-

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

Please note in this definition the word ‘practice’…

…Meditation is a practice not a theory!

It needs to be done not talked about, theorised, planned and prepped for, just done! That’s important.

 There are many different kinds of meditation so you can experiment and choose the one that works best for you according to your needs and personality. You can do more than one kind of course:-

  • Mindfulness meditation (originates from Bhuddism and most common in the West)
  • Moving meditation (yoga, tai chi, gardening, walking…)
  • Metta or loving-kindness meditation. (often done in the ‘Daily Calm’ on the Calm app.)
  • Guided meditation. (i.e. in a class or with your Calm or Headspace app)
  • Transcendental meditation (click to read more)
  • Mantra meditation (click to read more)
  • Spiritual meditation (click to read more)

They can roughly be divided into 3 styles as below:-

Concentration: focusing attention on a single object, internal or external (focused attention meditation)

Observation: paying attention to whatever is predominant in your experience in the present moment, without allowing the attention to get stuck on any particular thing (open monitoring meditation)

Awareness: allowing awareness to remain present, undistracted and not engaged with either focusing or observing

http://www.liveanddare.com

If your mind is blown, don’t worry, it’s easier to practice it than theorise it.

It might help to think of meditation as strength training for the mind and soul.

Like strength training it needs to be done regularly for best results.

In the case of meditation, a daily practice is best.

meditating

Why Should We Meditate?

Here’s what I personally feel I gain from my daily practice:-

  • It helps me remember who I am and makes me feel more me.
  • It’s helping me bring my best self out, to develop the very best me.
  • It makes me feel comfortable and safe in my own skin.
  • I’m more at peace with myself.
  • I need nothing else but me and my breath to have a safe haven to relax, recharge and recuperate.
  • Proper relaxation means a sharper mind when I need it.
  • I just focus on the tasks I need to do with more ease.
  • I experience much less stress and anxiety. When I’m in a stressful situation I always use meditation to help me out.
  • It helps me maintain a very positive view of the world. I’m very content with the world and my place in it. I can only control what’s within my own power.
  • I’m much calmer under pressure.
  • I don’t have many personal dramas any more, I seem to be able to take charge of situations and deal with them.
  • I can remain detached from other peoples drama and so better able to help.
  • It plays a big part along with a healthy diet, exercise etc in my overall good health.

Many scientific studies have show meditation to be very beneficial to our health, particularly in the following areas:-

  • Stress reduction ( including stress related illness, IBS, PTSD, Fibromyalgia)
  • Anxiety and all its associated problems and conditions.
  • Mental and emotional health – decreases depression, enhances self image, promotes a positive outlook.
  • An increased self awareness and an enhanced view of the self.
  • A sharper mind – ability to stay focused, creative problem solving, less worrying about things we have no control over.
  • May reduce age related memory loss
  • Encourage you to practice kindness, patience and empathy towards yourself and all living beings, even your enemies!!!
  • Can help with addictions. (click more for an interesting read)
  • Improves sleep the ability to relax deeply and quieten the monkey mind quickly will undoubtedly improve sleep. For more on sleep cick here to read my recent blog post.)
  • Can help control pain.
  • Can decrease blood pressure which in turn helps prevent heart disease. Blood pressure decreases both during the act of meditation and is shown to be decreased in general in regular meditators.
  • May boost immune system. Click to see study.

If you want to read about even more benefits click here to read the article 76 Benefits of Meditation.

Some of the benefits of meditation are immediate and some may take time to develop. Remember, it’s always the journey that matters not the destination. Dont be in a rush to get somewhere just enjoy the ride, that’s where the fun and the discovery are.

Your motivation to meditate may change over time. You may start out because you want to be healthier, you need to de-stress, sleep better etc. This is all fantastic, but eventually you will be motivated by the meditation itself. Because you love how it makes you feel…

My motivation now is to enjoy the simple and peaceful joy of meditation.

How – Some Ideas on How to Meditate

You can do as little or as much as you need. It’s probably best to start off small. Ten minutes is great but less is also great if that’s all you can manage.

There is an old Zen saying which I first heard from Max Strom (His book ‘A Life Worth Breathing’ is well worth reading)…

‘Meditate for 20 minutes, if you haven’t got 20 minutes meditate for an hour’

Here’s some ways to fit meditation into your life:-

Get Yourself a meditation app like Calm or Headspace. Very inexpensive, well worth the money. They have a menu of meditations to choose from depending on what you fancy or need at the time. I’ve heard these types of guided meditations called ‘the junk food’ of the meditation world but I don’t agree.

They are a great start. A fantastic introduction to the world of meditation. An absolute godsend. They make meditating available to all.

There is something for everyone from calming anxiety to loving kindness to Winnie the pooh meditations (my favourite). They also include unguided meditations of varying lengths with just an occasional bell to bring you back to the breath (which should quieten the ‘junk food’ critics.)

Do your Daily Calm from the calm app. This is my choice. Daily Calm is a 10 minute meditation that appears on the Calm app every day. I don’t need to think about it I just get what I’m given.

Every day is a different message, a different something to reflect on. It takes 10 minutes of my day.

I do it first thing in the morning before I even get up, instead of turning over and snoozing, I play the Daily Calm. Right there lying down in my bed. No special position, no special clothes, no fuss. I just do it!!

I do this every morning without fail. Then later on in the day if I can find the time I will fit in an unguided meditation, sitting in silence, using an unguided meditation from the Calm app for the bells or perhaps with meditational type music. More tips below for just meditating.

meditation outside
mediation garden bangkok

This type of meditation is what we think of when we think of meditation but there is meditation in other activities giving the same or similar benefits. Here’s some I use:-

Ashtanga Yoga – a moving meditation which unfies ujaii breathing with movement.

Walking in nature – A form of meditation, just concentrating on breathing and a steady pace.

Gardening – Working with and becoming absorbed in nature…bliss…

Meditating to music – especially after a workout session I always take 10 minutes to just lie and be, concentrating on some appropriate music. The album I love listening to is…

‘Yoga and Mindfulness, music for Bhuddist Meditation and Transcendental Meditation, Spa Relaxation and Healing Music Therapy’. – Various artists. I know, quite a mouthful. It’s stunning… I can’t recommend it enough. It’s available on Apple Music.

I’ve read literally hundreds of books on meditation. Undoubtedly I learned something from each and everyone of them but there is one that stood out. ‘Guided Meditations, Evoking the Divine Ground of Your Being’ by Adyashanti. I learned a lot from him that I still use to this day.

peace peace perfect peace lily

Tips for Meditating

On a practical level, you will want:-

  • To be somewhere reasonably quiet and comfortable.
  • To be sitting (or lying) in a comfortable position you can maintain for the duration of your meditation.
  • Eyes closed is most people’s preference although not strictly necessary.

Detailed Tips:-

  1. Concentrate on the breath
  2. Compassionately return to the breath.
  3. Commit to stillness.
  4. Observe don’t react.

Notes on the Tips:-

  1. I find Ujjai breathing to be the best during meditation This is the breath used in Ashtanga yoga. Sometimes called the ocean breath because it sounds like the ocean when done. Click for a link to a short video tutorial on how to do it. I tend to begin my meditation with Ujjayi then resort to just my normal breath.
  2. This means if you find you have stopped concentrating on the breath and your mind has wondered you should go back to the breath without judgement on yourself. Show yourself compassion after all, we are all just human including you. We all have ‘monkey minds’ even the Zen masters. You will never get to a place where your mind won’t wander, this is not the goal of meditation.
  3. Don’t move, commit to stillness, it’s probably harder than you think. If your nose is itchy don’t scratch it, If you notice your hair is on your face dont reach up and move it. The discomfort will soon disappear, How can we hope to settle our minds when we move at every sign of discomfort. Outer stillness allows inner stillness to happen and that is a beautiful thing.
  4. Contrary to popular belief we’re not trying to clear our minds of all thoughts during meditation. We’re simply detaching from the thoughts, observing them without becoming involved. Realising that we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are not THE TRUTH, they are simply our thoughts. AND REMEMBER, if you do become involve in your thoughts, which you will, just gently and compassionately return to the breath.

I like to end all meditation sessions with the following affirmation. Depending on where I am I will say them out loud or in my head.

Let all beings be happy

Let all beings be at peace

Let all beings be free

Om Shanti shanti shanti

Peace Peace Perfect Peace

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I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestion, comments and questions in the comments section below.

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Further Reading

How to Get Outside Nature More and Why We Need To

Amazingly Healthy Habits

I came across Buteyko breathing about 5 years ago and Im not exaggerating when I say that it has genuinely and drastically improved my life. For this reason alone I want to share with the world. I’ve seen a few bashings of this breathing technique but I want you to give it a fair hearing. It may transform your life too. Mouth Breathers, snorers, those with asthma and other respiratory problems and sleep apnoea sufferers in particular should read on.

Its about a 5 minute read, here’s a brief outline.

  • What Is Buteyko Breathing?
  • How Can It Help Me/Why You should try it.
  • The Benefits of Nose Breathing.
  • The Many Problems of Mouth Breathing.
  • Asthma.
  • How to Do It?

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What is Buteyko Breathing

Buyteko breathing is a way of breathing developed by Russian medical scientist Prof. Konstantin Buteyko. He believed there was a strong link between our breathing patterns and our general health.

He believed breathing well = being well.

Beginning in the 1960’s he conducted research and published results that proved changes in breathing patterns could hugely improve conditions like asthma, hypertension and associated conditions. This non-medicinal approach was and in some cases still is shunned by many. (the drugs companies😌) Click here to read a full history of the beginnings of Buteyko breathing.

How Can It Help Us?

The main lesson to be learned is this:-

‘The nose was made for breathing, the mouth was made for eating.’

breathe through the nose

The Advantages of Nose Breathing

  • The sinus contains nitric oxide which is essential for good heart health and so much more. It makes it easier for our body to transport oxygen where it needs to go and is also antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and antibacterial. It is therefore great for avoiding infection. They put this  stuff in heart disease medicine. Click here to read more
  • The nose filters out bacteria  and warms breath before reaching the lungs.
  • Mouth breathing can alter our physical appearance.
  • Mouth breathing causes dry mouth,  Nose breathing retains the saliva which washes bacteria away thereby guarding against tooth decay, gum disease, throat and ear infection etc
  • Dry Mouth and resulting bacteria will also cause bad breath.
  • Nose breathing delivers exactly the correct amount of oxygen we need. We take far too much in through the mouth causing us to hyperventilate.
nose breathing is healthy

The Many Problems of Mouth Breathing

Firstly, I want to talk about how Buteyko has helped me personally.

I was a mouth breather. I’ve always known this but what I didn’t understand and what Buteyko has taught me, was the number of health issues this has caused me over the years. I’m also now aware that further down the line it could have, if I hadn’t discovered Buteyko, caused me to develop things like sleep apnoea and heart problems.

When I was a child I had or developed many of the chronic conditions Buteyko believes to be caused by over breathing or breathing through the mouth: I DID NOT have asthma but I did have the following:-

  • Chronic and very bad colds
  • Chronic sinus problems
  • Chronic sore ears (as a child, as a teenager they became less common but were replaced with chronic throat infections)
  • Chronic throat infections.
  • Snoring from a very young age

I haven’t had a cold, sinus, sore ear, throat infection since I started Buteyko, although I have to say that I contribute equal weighting for this to my very healthy diet. I also no longer snore or at least not very often and if I do it’s very lightly.

Buteyko also believes that the constant open jaw position of a mouth breather causes maldevelopment of the jaw resulting in a certain look, a dental overbite and often a crooked nose. Click here to read more about this.

Where I don’t see myself as a severe case of these I can certainly recognise myself in it and it did make me cry the first time I read about it. Everything just clicked in a sort of Ah moment…It still makes me sad that I didn’t learn about this sooner…

We’ll look at how to do Buyteko breathing further down but suffice to say here that Buteyko is ALL ABOUT BREATHING LIGHTLY AND SLOWLY THROUGH THE NOSE.

Buteyko UK state that correcting your breathing to Buteyko breathing can help with the following:

  • Snoring/Sleep Apnoea
  • Asthma
  • Allergies/Hayfever
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Anxiety/stress conditions
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
  • Hypertension (High Blood Presssure)
  • Sinusitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME
  • Migraines
  • Chronic HyperVentilation Syndrome (CHVS)
  • Panic Attacks

Asthma

It’s primary use, at least in the beginning, is for the cure of asthma for which it has undeniable positive results. If you have asthma or you have a child with asthma, I would urge you to look into this further.

Buteyko breathing is now accepted as a valid and valuable cure for asthma by the British Medical Community:- Below is from the website of Buteyko Uk:-

breathe properly for health

Buteyko is now recognised by the BRITISH THORACIC SOCIETY as a valid intervention for Asthma, category B.

This means Consultants, GPs and nurses can refer patients to take the Buteyko course with us. No other complementary therapy has this category relating to Dysfunctional Breathing. The Buteyko Method involves taking no additional medication and can be safely used by people over the age of 3 years and well into their eighties.

I’m aware that there is so much more to say on Buteyko but alas I would have to write a book and I’m no expert on the subject. I’m including many links to experts, websites and resources I’ve personally used to help you out should you want that.

How To Do It

There are several techniques to be learned from Buteyko. The main one is just continually try to go back to breathing very lightly through the nose throughout the day.

I also use 2 other Buteyko techniques:-

Breathe like a little mouse. I learned this exercise for breathing from a Russian expert of Buteyko from a Youtube Video. She is still out there, I will provide a link below.

How To do itBasically, breathing solely through your nose, imagine you are a little mouse hiding from a cat. You don’t want it to see your breathing or hear your breathing. You take small, slow, silent little breaths through the nose.

Why Do I do this? To calm myself and destress or to get to sleep fast. This turns on your para sympathetic system calming you down fast or sending you to sleep, whichever you are after.

Night Time Mouth Taping. I’ve seen ridiculous articles about this online where they have pictures of someone with their whole mouths taped horizontally and the article suggesting that they may suffocate themselves or their children.

This is absolute nonsense. The tape is there to gently encourage your mouth to stay shut. It is still possible for you to mouth breathe, it’s just less likely to happen especially if not sleeping on your back.

How to do it:- Get yourself some micropore tape (its medical tape) , you can buy it from chemists or online for around £1. Take a small piece and gently place it over the middle of your mouth vertically.(as demonstrated by me above in the lead photo of this post) That’s it until morning. Be prepared to wake up fully refreshed, with a nice moist mouth.

Why do I do this? To stop me from mouth breathing and snoring. Both of which will negatively affect my sleep and help me avoid numerous health problems, some of which have already been described. Apart from that I just wake up feeling awesome…

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Links and Further Reading

Official Buteyko site in Russia

Buteyko.co.uk

Click for the link to the Russian lady who taught me the breathe like a little mouse exercise. It’s a bit noisy but there are subtitles. She now has many youtube videos to learn from.

Amazingly Healthy Habits

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions in the comments section below.

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tree hugging and  forest bathing for amazing health benefits
Tree hugging during a nature walk in St Lucia, The Carribean.

We spend far too much of our time indoors, busy at work or working in the house. There are so many things enticing us too stay indoors:- busy-ness, lack of time, lack of money, the weather – too cold, too wet, too sunny, too hot, too windy… As humans we are not designed for this indoor living. Recent reports have found amazing health benefits to spending more time outside in nature. Lets dive deeper and look at how to get outside in nature more and why we need to…

It’s about a 3.5 minute read, here’s a brief outline.

  • The benefits of being outside in nature.
  • Ideas for getting outside more

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The Benefits of Being Outside

Getting outside has so many positives which are beneficial to our physical, mental and spiritual health:-

  • It de – stresses us in many ways
  • We get to breathe in fresh air
  • Connect with the world (rather than 4 walls)
  • Connect with other people
  • Connect with Nature
  • Sunshine, we all need sunshine for Vitamin D
  • Daylight ( we all need daylight to keep our circadian rythym strong) Click here for more on circadian rhythm and healthy sleep.
  • Excercise or ‘move more’ (if you’re outside there’s a good chance you’re walking) Click here for more on why we need to ‘move more’.
  • Looking at things of great natural beauty flowers, birds, views, plants, trees, sunsets…

Recent reports have shown many significant health benefits to spending time outside in nature.

Being in green areas – i.e. forests, woods, parks, gardens – has shown to be especially beneficial.

Having a shower in the rainforest St Vincent, The Caribbean.

Research by the University of Easy Anglia has shown that being in green spaces such as these has wide ranging health benefits. The research looked at over 140 studies including 20 countries and 290 million people. It compared people with regular access to green space with those who didn’t. I’ve quoted there findings below, click here to read the whole article.

“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.

“People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress.

So just to list those benefits again for you:-🤓

  • reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • reduced risk of premature death
  • reduced risk of preterm birth
  • improves sleep (good sleep is crucial for good health)
  • reduces diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress
  • reduces levels of salivary cortisones- a physiological marker of stress

wow!!!

being in green space is healthy

Researchers involved in the study hope that the findings will encourage healthcare professionals to consider prescribing more time outside in green space for some ailments.

Scientists are unsure of the exact causes of these findings however research from Japan has some suggestions.

  1. Improved Immunity – The Japanese pastime of forest bathing has been researched. They have found that just standing in the woods (forest bathing) boosts your immune system.

This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncides, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncides seems to actually improve immune system function.

https://qz.com/1258538/just-being-outside-can-improve-your-psychological-health-and-maybe-your-physical-health-too/

2. The microbiome of dirt may act as an anti-deptressant

As the importance of the human gut and microbiome to our good health is becoming increasingly recognised, it’s now becoming probable that the microbiome of the natural world can affect us greatly too.

Research on dirt seems to be strongly suggesting a link with good mental health… Digging, playing and breathing in the dirt, it appears, is very good for our health…

While the scientists are trying to fathom out the Why’s I suggest you just do it. With health benefits like the above, it’s a no brainer…and no harm can possibly come from you spending more time outside in nature.😉

walk in nature for health benefits

Ideas for Getting Outside More

It’s great to read the scientific research on the benefits of being outside in nature. However, if you’re like me and already spend time doing just that, you’ll already know this instincively.

You can FEEL how good it is for you, you get a real ‘feel good factor’ from it. A sense of wellbeing, an overwhelming joy to be alive. Its difficult to pinpoint what’s doing it, probably a combination of everything.

The fresh air, the natural beauty, the daylight, the wider horizon, the feeling of freedom, the feeling of connection, the feeling that all will be well…the dirt microbiome and natures essential oils…!!!

Here’s some easy and mostly free ideas to get you outside more… Remember to spend at least 30 minutes outside without sunglasses on to allow natural daylight in.

Although we do need the sunlight and daylight, there are benefits to be had by being outside at all times of day. So don’t rule out night time nature happenings either.

Exercise outside:- If we need to exercise and ‘move more’ plus we need to go outside more why not put them all together?

  • Walking in the countryside/park/beach/hills and mountains.
  • Running in the countryside/park/beach/hills and mountains.
  • Cycling in the countryside/park/hills/ mountains
  • Outdoor swimming. Preferably in natural organic water like the sea.
  • Outdoor Sports like golf, surfing, kayaking, orienteering, paddle boarding…

Exercise in Your Own Garden

  • Working out in your garden – bodyweight training, circuits, hiits, trx training, dancing, yoga, tai chi, pilates… Even weight training if you have the space and inclination.
  • Gardening in your garden (dig up and breathe that dirt microbiome)
  • Walking or jogging in your garden.
  watch the sunset

Just BEING Outside

  • Take your morning coffee or tea outside in the garden. (or to the park).
  • Take a pre work nature walk around your garden.
  • Do your daily meditation in your garden or at a place of natural beauty.
  • Walk or Cycle to work.
  • Cut your commute short and leave yourself a 20 minute walk to get to work ie park 20 minutes away from work or get off the bus a few stops early.
  • Eat your meals outside, weather permitting.
  • Go out and marvel at the stars and moon at night. (connect with worlds beyond our own 🤓).
  • Go outside to watch the sunset every night.
  • Go outside to watch the sunrise every morning.
  • Go outside and marvel at the clouds on a rainy day.
  • Put on your wellies and raincoat and go out and enjoy the rain. Paddle and dance in the puddles and streams.
  • Build a snowman, have a snowball fight go sledging etc when it’s snowing.
  • Go fishing, apparently you catch more fish in the rain plus you will have a healthy wild caught fish for dinner. What could be better?
  • Fly a Kite somewhere natural and beautiful.
  • Forest bathing (standing in the woods).

What are you waiting for. Get Outside!

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I would love to hear your own ideas and suggestion for getting out more in nature in the comments section below.

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Further Reading

If we get outside more we sleep better. Click here to read my recent blog post all about sleep.

Amazingly Healthy Habits