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WHY SMALL TALK SAVES LIVES

I’m a chatterbox. Always have been, always will be. Often people will ask how I find it so easy to talk to anyone and everyone but I guess it’s just part of the day job – I’m intrigued by folk and their stories. So I was pleased to discover that this trait could be put to good use on my commute into work.

A new suicide prevention campaign called Small Talk Save Lives has been launched by the Samaritans, British Transport Police and the rail industry encouraging passengers to act if they spot someone who might need emotional support – worryingly, a suicide occurs on our railways approximately every 36 hours.

The idea is that a short conversation with someone who may be struggling to cope can go a long way. This is what happened to Sarah Wilson* whose story is featured in the video above. The 28-year-old decided against taking her own life on a railway after a stranger reached out to her.

Samaritans Small Talk Saves Lives

As many as 69% of rail users understand that a simple question could be enough to break the flow of negative and despairing thoughts occupying the mind of someone who is suicidal, research conducted on 5,000 people found.

The research, carried out on behalf of the campaign, also showed that although the majority of people would be willing to act, only 44% would be encouraged to approach someone if they knew they weren’t going to make the situation worse. And nearly nine out of ten thought a person in need of support would find it hard to ask for help.

So what can you do to help?

Become aware. Look around. Take a break from your phone or tablet.

Notice if a person is standing alone or isolated, looking distant or withdrawn, on the platform for a long time without boarding a train, or displaying something out of the ordinary in their behaviour or appearance.

Although there is no single sign or combination of behaviours that mean a person is suicidal, if something doesn’t feel right, the message is to act and respond in ways that people feel comfortable and safe with, Small Talk Saves Lives suggests.

Try approaching the person, asking them a question to distract them from their thoughts, or alerting a member of rail staff or calling the police.

“Someone showing me they cared about me helped to interrupt my suicidal thoughts and that gave them time to subside,” Sarah reveals.

“The more that people understand that suicide is preventable, the better. I hope people will share the video and that the campaign will encourage people to trust their gut instincts and start a conversation if they think someone could need help. You won’t make things worse and you could save a life.”

Samaritans Small Talk Saves Lives

 

Suicide is ‘everybody’s business’, according to Samaritans chief executive officer Ruth Sutherland. 

“Any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life,” she declares.  “Research for this campaign showed 73% of the public would expect somebody to approach their loved one if they were upset in a public place… The knowledge and skills to save lives in the rail environment can be applied to many other situations. We hope that Small Talk Saves Lives is the start of a much wider conversation about how suicide is preventable.”

Professor Rory O’Connor, a leading suicide prevention expert from the University of Glasgow, suggests it’s a  myth that nothing can be done to prevent suicide.“We all have a role to play,” he insists.

I know I’ll certainly make an effort on my train journey into London tomorrow.

Last year, I hit rock bottom when my health started to deteriorate. Read the night it all began here. But I was lucky. I had my mum, my dad, my sister and a supportive network of friends around to help pull me through. Not everyone is so fortunate.

If you’re catching the train today, take a look around you.

Smile. Make eye contact. Be kind. Talk.  You might just save a life.

 

For more information on Small Talk Saves Lives visit:  www.samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives

*Sarah’s name has been changed

In the news

Gail Porter talks hair loss and hope

Gail Porter talks hair loss and hope

Gail Porter was working as a successful TV presenter filming Dead Famous in Las Vegas when her hair fell out overnight. The year was 2005 and the then 34-year-old had taken a shower when she became aware of water rising around her ankles.

“I looked down and realised it wasn’t the water, but all of my hair,” she tells Relax Ya Self To Health. “It was pretty much instantaneous.” The former lads’ mag favourite was diagnosed with a form of alopecia – a condition thought to be sparked by an immune disorder that causes the body to view hair follicles as the enemy and mistakenly attack them resulting in hair loss.

Understandably, the experience “crushed” Gail’s self-esteem and when her eyebrows and lashes disappeared too she was left feeling “rubbed out”. As part of Alopecia Awareness Month, the Scot, who is mum to Honey, 14, talks us through how she has dealt with the diagnosis, the stoic attitude of her family and how her semi-permanent tattooed eyebrows have helped restore her confidence.

WHAT TYPE OF ALOPECIA DO YOU HAVE?
I have alopecia totalis. Even my lashes and brows are affected, which I don’t think people realise. You feel as though you’ve been rubbed out when those features disappear. I have no hair anywhere on my body apart from a couple of baby lashes that come and go sporadically.

HOW DID YOU TAKE THE NEWS?
It was overwhelming at first. Telling my daughter I’d be coming home from America with no hair was hard. I thought she wouldn’t recognise me, she was only three at the time. I try to be strong, but obviously, it’s still hard. My self-esteem was crushed…you know, as a woman without hair. It is so difficult.

WERE YOU TOLD WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR ALOPECIA?
Well, it’s an autoimmune disease…I don’t know what caused me to lose my hair, I really don’t. Perhaps stress, but I’ve never really thought it was. I always say everyone in London would be bald if it was just down to stress. Some cases of alopecia are hereditary, which again, wasn’t true in my case. That’s quite frustrating in itself, the not knowing. I think it’s simply bad luck, and I pulled the short straw.

DID YOUR BIPOLAR DIAGNOSIS COME AFTER THE ALOPECIA?
I was diagnosed as bipolar years before my hair loss. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise as I was always suffering from manic highs and lows. I was sectioned in 2011 after a manic episode. I was feeling very low and my boyfriend at the time was worried I would do something silly. Instead of talking to me, he called the police and they turned up when I was out having lunch. I didn’t react kindly and was rather abusive. They took me to the hospital and put me in a room, where I stayed for hours. By the time the doctor turned up, I was very unhelpful and angry. They asked for my boyfriend to sign a form to section me, which he did. I had no say in the matter. I didn’t see a doctor for days and once they eventually arrived, they let me out as they didn’t believe I should have been sectioned. While I was sectioned, I was just pumped full of drugs and had no one to talk to. No help at all.

Gail Porter with microblading expert Karen Betts

HOW SUPPORTIVE WERE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT YOUR ALOPECIA DIAGNOSIS?
My family were very typically Scottish! Very stoic. My mum was pretty upset but tried not to show it. I think she felt like I had been through such a lot and she felt that losing my hair was another blow. She used to put her hand over my forehead and say “now there’s my Gail”. My brother pointed out that my dad had more hair than me. I know mum was upset as I did a documentary about my condition and when she was interviewed without me there, she cried. My dad didn’t say much. They just needed time to get used to it.

WHY DO YOU REFRAIN FROM WEARING WIGS OR HEADSCARVES?
Look, you’ve got to do whatever makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. I never really liked wigs…they were uncomfortable to wear, it just didn’t feel right. The thing that made such a huge difference for me was getting my brows back through microblading! You don’t realise how much of a difference brows make to a person’s face.

WHAT DID YOU HAVE DONE EXACTLY?
The procedure took about an hour. A tool which has up to 11 hair-fine ink-dipped microblades was brushed over my brow area and these penetrated the lower layers of the skin to create semi-permanent marks resembling eyebrows. I first had them done a year ago and recently had them topped up. I was always dubious about someone going near my face…but Karen Betts (a leading permanent cosmetic and microblading expert) is incredible. I trusted her. My eyebrows look so natural, I love them so much. I burst into tears of joy when I first saw them.

HOW ARE YOU DOING NOW AND HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED?
You know what I’m doing okay – my life has changed massively. Of course, it has. My career changed overnight. But I always say, people are in worse situations than me. People everywhere have it hard, or they’re going through something terrible. You just have to be kind to everyone.

WHERE ARE YOU AT YOUR HAPPIEST?
In Scotland. Home always makes me happy.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?
Nowadays I’m very into my fitness – I love running, I always try to drink loads of water. I’m writing my book right now so that’s been an incredibly cathartic experience for me. I don’t go on holiday much but I remember going to the Maldives and feeling so incredibly relaxed. I slept well, loved the peace and quiet and could have stayed there forever. But to be honest, I’m happy on any holiday. The west coast of Scotland is always a total joy.

ALOPECIA AWARENESS MONTH: HELP SPREAD THE WORD
According to Alopecia UK,  1.3million people in the UK today will have had, currently have or will experience alopecia areata – a condition which causes patchy hair loss and affects both genders equally. (Alopeica totalis is a more advanced form which results in total loss of hair on the scalp). The charity is seeking to tackle the stigma and embarrassment attached to hair loss and is urging people to use the #GetTalking hashtag in the hope, it will encourage those that would benefit from some peer support to reach out and start the conversation.

“We want to help give those who are affected the confidence to know that hair loss isn’t something they should feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about,” says Amy Johnson, Alopecia UK’s communications and fundraising manager. “We hope that the more alopecia is discussed, and the more awareness raised, the easier it will be for those diagnosed.

“If the idea of talking to family and friends about your hair loss makes you feel anxious, consider talking to others with alopecia first. Peer support can make such a difference and can really help to boost self-esteem and confidence, perhaps allowing you to talk more widely about your alopecia at a later stage.”

To raise awareness about alopecia please SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GetTalking

If you enjoyed our chat with Gail, be sure to check out our other celebrity interviews with rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson here and wellness guru James Duigan here.

For more information on microblading and semi-permanent make up with Karen Betts visit www.karenbetts.co.uk

For information about alopecia, including details of how to find support visit  alopecia.org.uk

 

Celebrity interviews, In the news

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO VEGFESTUK

Win tickets to VegfestUK London

There’s nothing quite like getting out and about at the weekend or learning something new to wash away the stresses of a difficult week, so I’m giving away a pair of tickets to popular vegan festival VegfestUK.

If like long-standing vegetarian Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn you’re toying with the idea of following a plant based diet,  this show at London’s Kensington Olympia on October 21 and 22 will help you make up your mind.

Here you can learn about vegan twists on American fast food classics from Jakes Vegan Steaks, discover vegan craft beers and cider from Pitfield Brewery, try indulgent vegan comfort foods from LazyBoy Kitchen as well as vegan sushi options from Happy Maki.

But it’s not just about food.

There’s a cinema, comedy corner, teen zone and kids’ area as well as numerous stalls selling non-food vegan goods.

“This year is seeing us hit London harder than ever before,” Alan Lee, VegfestUK organiser said. “Our previous dates in Brighton and Bristol were a fantastic kick off to 2017, and now we’re ready to take the capital by storm with beautiful food, fantastic traders and an all-round exemplary event that everyone can enjoy.”

If you’re looking to educate yourself about the vegan way of life, there’ll be talks given by industry professionals and the event is also hosting the Environment & Food Sustainability Summit.

To be in with a chance to win the VegfestUK tickets simply comment at the bottom of this post naming your favourite fruit and veg and why. Do the same on our Facebook and Instagram pages to gain a second entry, and retweet on Twitter for a third.

The winning name will be drawn out of the hat this Sunday and winners contacted via email so please do check your inbox.

Good luck!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. The prize draw is open to those based in the UK aged 18 or over.
  2. To be entered, participants are required to do one or all of the following – if they wish to enter three times: Comment on the bottom of this blog post naming their favourite fruit and veg and why. Comment on our Facebook and Instagram page to gain a second entry, and retweet on Twitter to gain a third. In total there are THREE opportunities for an individual to enter the draw if they participate in all of the above.
  3. This prize has no cash value and no cash alternative is offered. The prize is not refundable and can only be claimed by the winner of the prize draw published on Relax Ya Self To Health.
  4. The prize is non-transferable.
  5. Relax Ya Self To Health shall not be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages or losses suffered by the entrant or third party.
  6. The winner will be selected at random from all entries. The promoter’s decision will be final and binding. No correspondence will be entered into.
  7. The winner will be notified by the prize provider by email within seven days of the competition closing date.
  8.  The closing date for this prize draw is midnight on 17th September 2017.
  9.  Relax Ya Self to Health will make all reasonable efforts to contact the winner of the prize draw. If the winner has not responded to contact within one week, we shall offer the prize to the next randomly drawn entrant.
  10. By entering this promotion you agree that Relax Ya Self to Health is authorised to contact you to arrange delivery in the event that you are drawn as a winner of the prize draw.

 

 

Competitions, In the news

7 top tips for beating stress

7 ways to beat stress

Have you ever heard of the term ‘brain fade’? No, me neither until today. Apparently, it relates to accidental habits such as putting your keys in the fridge and leaving the milk on the side – something I’ve done before in times of stress.

The poll of 2,000 adults commissioned by Rescue to mark the launch of its new Rescue Plus Dropper and Spray flower essences range, found that 94% had experienced moments like these. More than two thirds (75%) blamed a lack of sleep, 60% attributed it to trying to do too much at once and a quarter cited being busy or under pressure at work as the reason.

I’m not sure about you but I can certainly relate to all of the above. And while we all know the importance of keeping our stress levels in check, it’s often easier said than done, so I asked Dr Marilyn Glenville Ph.D., a respected nutritionist specialising in women’s health and best-selling author, for her top stress reduction tips. Below is what she had to say:

EAT LITTLE AND OFTEN
Fluctuating blood sugar levels, common in women, cause your body to release adrenaline – the same hormone that’s triggered when you are under stress. Try and keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable by eating every three hours. A Mediterranean diet – rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and oily fish – can help. Blood sugar and insulin are closely linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Many experts now refer to the resistance to insulin in the brain as Type 3 Diabetes. One large study has shown that a Mediterranean diet is linked to a reduced incidence of cognitive decline.

NEVER DRINK COFFEE ON AN EMPTY TUM
Caffeine is a stimulant which activates your adrenal (stress) glands. Limit caffeine to one cup or avoid if possible and never drink coffee on an empty stomach. This is because it gets straight into the bloodstream, triggering the release of your fight or flight stress hormones. You don’t want them being activated in response to something you have drunk. Also, caffeine contributes to fluctuating blood sugar levels because it has a fast acting effect on the body.

GET MOVING
When stressed, our bodies expect action. The rush of energy we experience is caused by the release of adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, hormones which help us react quickly in dangerous situations. However, being permanently stressed is not a good thing as raised cortisol levels can lead to high blood pressure. Stress is also thought to be linked to the development of hypothyroidism as high cortisol levels reduce the amount of the thyroid hormone T3 and encourage your body to break down muscle to provide glucose for your brain resulting in a slower metabolism. If you’re feeling stressed go for a brisk 30-minute walk, go for a swim or find an exercise DVD you can do at home.

UP YOUR B VITAMINS
Some vitamins and minerals can help manage stress levels. B5 is good for stress relief and energy, chromium helps with blood sugar balance, while magnesium – found in bananas – is considered nature’s tranquiliser. Siberian ginseng acts as a tonic to the stress hormone-releasing adrenal glands, and L-theanine helps reduce stress and anxiety.  A good supplement I use in my clinic is NHP’s Tranquil Woman support, which contains all of the above plus more.

GET FRISKY
Sex is a mood booster. The release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, into the brain during is thought to be responsible for this benefit. A study of more than 6,800 people also showed that those who were still active in the bedroom had sharper cognitive function.

PLAY AN INSTRUMENT OR BOARD GAME
Stress is linked to cognitive decline and memory loss.  A 40+ year study of 800 women found that those who experienced the most stressful events in middle age had a 21% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s in old age and 15 per cent higher risk of developing other forms of dementia compared to those who didn’t. Unwind by reading, dancing, playing board games or musical instruments. These hobbies have also been shown to reduce dementia risk. Doing crosswords has been found to be particularly beneficial in delaying memory decline – by 2.5 years.

SLEEP BETTER
Refrain from looking at your phone, computer, or TV at least an hour before bed. The light from these devices can decrease melatonin levels which should be high in order to induce sleep. Try listening to relaxing music, reading a book, meditation or some deep breathing exercises.

I’ll certainly be taking these tips on board. How about you? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below or over on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter 

Dr Marilyn Glenville Ph.D. is the author of a number of bestselling books – her latest is Natural Solutions For Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dr Glenville runs clinics in Harley Street, Kent and Ireland  www.marilynglenville.com

 

 

 

Health, In the news, Wellness

How a bath helped me take control

How a bath helped me take control

I’ve recently rediscovered the sheer joy of taking a long hot soak in the tub but it seems I’m in the minority. Only one in four of us takes a lengthy luxurious bath, according to a survey of 2,000 Britons. The poll, commissioned by beauty products firm Faith in Nature, found that more than three quarters prefer quick, functional showers with most people choosing to browse Facebook or watch catch-up TV after a busy day.

Now, I’m guilty of scrolling through my social media feed for at least an hour every night DESPITE being fully aware that blue light can disrupt sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin, a hormone which controls our body clock. It’s a habit I’m trying to break especially as I often end up feeling ‘wired’ by the time I’m ready to turn out the light.

Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool points out we could be making better decisions about how we spend our time. “The possibilities for enhancing our lives are endless and the choices are there for the taking,” he says. “The paradox is that people aren’t choosing things to make their lives better; they’re making mundane and easy choices, which essentially aren’t making people happy. I always encourage people to make conscious choices about how to spend their time.”

“Whether you have a spare 10 minutes or two hours, think about how you would like to make the most of this time,” he continues. “Whether the choice it to go for a run, to call a relative, bake a cake, or relax in a warm bath, it’s choosing things that enhance our lives that make us feel calmer, more relaxed, and happier.”

According to Joy Parkinson, Faith in Nature managing director,  the survey results show that we have forgotten how to relax. “Modern day life is busy and fast paced,” she insists. “Most people probably know that soaking in a warm bath provides a moment of calm for the mind and body, but they are choosing other ways to spend their time. Perhaps this is a lesson for all of us that we should all give ourselves more time to do things that genuinely make us feel more relaxed.”

How a bath helped me take control

I’m with her on this. Last year, when my health was spiralling out of control, I rediscovered the simple pleasure of lying in a tub. Back then I had numerous hospital appointments and doctors had absolutely no idea what was going on with my body. It was such a frightening time and my mind was running away with itself.

In order to cope, I needed to stay present and stop worrying about what else might unfold. Then I discovered the Headspace app. More or less every night, I’d lock myself in the bathroom and listen to the dulcet tones of co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe as part of a ten minute guided meditation session. Despite being advised to sit comfortably in an upright position, I found I could best detach by lying in a bath surrounded by candles (*do not do this if you have a habit of falling asleep or fill your tub to the brim!!).

At first, I found it difficult to meditate. No matter how hard I tried to empty my mind, thoughts would flood in but, over time, I learned to accept that this was OK – just noticing the thoughts was progress. And then one night it happened – a wonderful floaty feeling took over every fibre of my being. It may have only lasted a few seconds but I was elevated into a state of complete and utter relaxation and it was enough to get me hooked. Very quickly, the bathroom became my sanctuary. Now, whenever I’m feeling frazzled, I head there and almost always leave feeling zen a zen zen.

So, are you a bath or shower fan? And where are your favourite places to meditate? I’d love to hear from you.

You can comment below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

In the news, Wellness

Champneys unveils new Marine and Wellness Spa

Champneys Spa, Tring

I’m sitting in a room at Champneys Tring with my feet soaking in a milk bath. Two menthol-infused cotton buds are simultaneously waved in front of my nostrils.

This is not an alternative way to treat a cold, but preparation for my journey through the new Marine and Wellness Spa at the brand’s flagship premises in Hertfordshire.

The renowned health and wellness facility has teamed up with international marine spa beauty brand Thalgo to offer four new 2.5 hour pampering experiences – Wellbeing and Rejuvenation, De-stress and Revive, Detox and Cleanse and Slim and Tone – to suit your mood.

And I’m here on a whistle-stop tour to try out a number of taster treatments across all four journeys.

The cotton buds – coupled with a few deep breaths – are a simple way of clearing the mind ahead of my experience, although I’m slightly embarrassed about the state of my feet. The week before last I was on a travel job hiking up mountains in Austria and my toenails have certainly seen better days.

Champneys hydrotherapy pool

Even so, the skin softening milk bath seems to be working its magic. Others in my group are also merrily knocking back an energising ‘sea plasma’ shot. The concoction, I’m told, is easily assimilated by the body, antibacterial and great if you’re feeling tired and run down.

I’m both those things. Over the past few days I’ve worked well into the early hours trying to balance my day job with the blog – but my bizarre tongue and throat swelling reactions are happening again thrice weekly, so I pass up the shot because I have no idea how I’ll react.

Instead, I’m whisked off to another room for a Pressotherapy lymphatic drainage session and slide into what looks like a pair of padded dungarees. Air is pumped inside the trousers which cleverly massage the skin. This is said to improve circulation, eliminate toxins, helps sculpt the legs and aid muscle recovery after intense exercise.

Admittedly, it feels as though my body is being squeezed inside a giant blood pressure sleeve but the incessant hugging of my limbs and tummy is weirdly comforting and on the walk over to the infra-red heat chamber – where my next treatment will take place – my legs feel as light as a feather.

In this cabin heat is directly funnelled into the spine, which is particularly good for lower back pain and general aches and niggles. Suitably warmed, I make my way to a side room where another therapist politely instructs me to strip off and pull on a pair of disposable grey baggy knickers.

One exfoliating body scrub later, I’m robed up and ready for a spell in a pretty salt and oxygen chamber.

Champneys salt and oxygen chamber

This is where you breathe in vaporized Himalayan salt and oxygen designed help calm and cleanse the airways. If like me, you live in a polluted area or suffer from hayfever this is particularly useful – so desperate am I to fill my lungs with pure air, I resemble a discombobulated goldfish.

A float in a hydrotherapy bath – designed to increase circulation and eliminate excess fluid – follows and then I’m ushered off for a marine wrap except mine is mud.  This is because I’m on medication for my thyroid.

According to the therapist, certain marine treatments can interfere with tablets like mine because seaweed has 1,000 times more iodine than any land plants and the products used in the spa are highly concentrated.

But I’m as happy as the proverbial pig with the swap, especially as this type of mud is said to be mineralising. And when it’s finally washed away my skin is silky smooth.

Champneys energy cocoon

VERDICT:
I’m the type of person who gets bored very easily and very rarely book a beauty treatment – I get my hair cut once a year for goodness sake.

But a 2.5-hour experience like this has definitely changed my attitude. The different elements kept me interested. As funny as it sounds, I was more relaxed because I knew the experience would not eat into an entire day.

I was also impressed by the knowledge of the staff both in the spa and the restaurant – where I stopped for a spot of lunch. The head chef bent over backwards to accommodate my allergies . I can barely eat anything at the moment but nothing was too much trouble, which is good to know when you feel nothing but a pain.

There are four different experiences to choose from:

Wellbeing and Rejuvenation
‘The ultimate feel good experience for all round health and wellbeing’
Treatments include: collagen and hyaluronic anti-ageing supplement, mineral and vitamin algae foot soak to stimulate circulation, infra-red cabin session, marine scrub, salt room session, warm marine wrap, application of a moisturising balm and a serenity marine tea featuring silver lime and bitter orange extracts

De-stress and Revive
‘Relax and ease tensions, energise and uplift’
Treatments: energising sea plasma shot, milk bath foot soak, body scrub, salt room session, aromatherapy steam, application of a moisturising balm, a serenity marine tea featuring silver lime and bitter orange extracts

Detox and Cleanse
‘A mineral and vitamin rich experience, draining and detoxifying’
Treatments: algae and plant infused Activ’Detox shot, algae foot soak to stimulate circulation, infra-red cabin session, fully body marine scrub, salt room session, hydrotherapy bath, detoxifying marine gel wrap, an organic blackcurrant leaf marine tea

Slim and Tone
‘A firming and toning experience for heavy legs and stubborn cellulite on hips and thighs’
Treatments: vitamin and mineral infused marine shot, algae foot soak, marine body scrub, either a slimming marine wrap or an anti-cellulite Frigo-Thalgo leg wrap, Pressotherapy lymphatic drainage, organic blackcurrant leaf marine tea.

Each journey costs £129 per person

For more information visit Champneys Tring.

 

 

 

In the news, Wellness

Is this the most stressful job at Wimbledon?

Wimbledon: Stringer Glynn Roberts talks us through his hectic schedule

Glynn Roberts knows a thing or two about tennis rackets. The 40-year-old Briton spent a decade working as an on-site stringer at Wimbledon before joining Priority One – a stringing business that counts Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic among its clients – in 2008.

Here Glynn talks Relax Self to Health through his hectic Wimbledon schedule and  how he manages to stay calm under pressure.

Glynn, you always seem as cool as a cucumber yet your job is quite demanding. Can you talk us through a typical day? 
If one of our players (Priority One also takes care of Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis) has a match, we’ll wake up at either two, three or four o’clock in the morning to start stringing rackets. We tend to look after two players each at Grand Slams. Here, I’m stringing for Andy and Novak. On match days I can end up stringing between 20 and 25 rackets, on training days it can be anything between ten and 12.

Crikey, how long does it take?
I allow around 30 minutes per racket. That includes everything – replacing grips, stencilling strings, and popping them in the plastic bags. Our days our shaped by how many rackets we’ve got. And at smaller tournaments we may have one stringer for three or more players. If I have to start work at two or three in the morning, I’ll try to get to bed by 10pm the night before but that’s not always possible.

That’s not much sleep. How do you maintain your wellbeing?
With lots of naps during the day. It’s not uncommon for me to have a three or four hour kip. Dinner time is usually work time for us too. Sometimes we’ll start stringing at around four or five in the afternoon to work through our allocation. There’s a saying that stringers are very fast eaters. If we do go out for dinner we’ll finish very quickly because we’re always thinking that we need to get back and finish work so that we can get some sleep before getting up early the next morning! It’s a tough habit to get out of. Even when you’re not working you always end up finishing your meal before everyone else.

Do you find time to exercise during Wimbledon?
With our schedules, it’s tough to work fitness in but here there’s lots of hill walking! We stay in a house just off Wimbledon Common. It’s about a 20 minute walk to the All England Club and at any one time I could be carrying up to 30 rackets on my back. Each one weighs 300 grams or more. That’s a lot of weight. So I guess that counts. [Laughs]. I’ll do a drop off in the morning, wait around for the players to finish practising, collect the rackets again, walk back up the hill and then it starts all over again. If a player doesn’t finish play, say because it’s been rain-delayed or they didn’t get on because of long match, I’ll still need to restring the rackets because they lose tension. So I can be up and down the hill three or four times during the same day!

Are Grand Slams the hardest tournaments workload-wise?
Grand slams are probably the easiest because they’re held over two weeks and the players get a day off in between unless, of course, it rains. When that happens everything goes out the window. With the one week Masters events the matches are back to back so they tend to be a little bit harder.

How long are you on the road for? 
We each do at least 100,000 air miles a year. We work the four Grand Slams, nine Masters tournaments, plus I’ll do at least two Davis cups a year as well as additional tournaments like Dubai, Doha, Queen’s, and Basel.

So, how do you handle long journeys?
On a flight I put on Bose noise cancelling headphones and am asleep before take off. Once there was a fire in the cockpit on one of our flights and it had to be diverted to Hawaii. I didn’t know a thing about it until we landed. 36 hours in Hawaii made up for the inconvenience.

What stresses you out about your work?
In our job surprises are bad so we try and keep it as boring as possible and eliminate potential issues. We make sure we get up early enough so that if anything goes wrong for whatever reason, we’ve factored in enough time to correct it. Missing machines cause stress. It’s happened before – where a machine has taken two days to arrive at the hotel. We always show up a week before the Slams so if the machine doesn’t turn up for a couple of days in the practice week it’s not so bad. Back to back tournaments are obviously tougher to work out logistically.

Can you recall a very stressful moment?
There was one time when a camera crew wanted to film us stringing and the machine decided to misbehave. On that day I was trying not to freak out in front of the cameras. I was calm on the surface but not inside.

What do you do to relax?
Close my eyes. As soon as my head touches the pillow I’m asleep. I also watch NFL and support Everton, although I’m not sure how relaxing that is. This season coming should be fun. If my schedule allows, I’ll go to a concert here and there – I highly recommend Welshly Arms. I also take pictures of the city or place I’m in. I enjoy editing and trying to make something good out of the pig’s ear of an image that I’ve just taken.

If rugby’s more your sport, be sure to read our interview with Jonny Wilkinson here, or if you’re a fan of A-list fitness trainers check out our chat with James Duigan here. 

celebrities, In the news, Tennis

Win VIP tickets to an ‘adult playground’ in London

Adult playground

Can you remember the last time you played on a swing or whizzed down a slide? Or, an occasion where you fell about laughing after doing something silly?

If the answer is no, then it might be time to inject some fun back into your life.

According to Richard Wiseman, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, every adult could ‘benefit from an afternoon in a giant playground’.

“Giant swings, slides and see-saws”

“Research shows that being playful makes us happier, more open-minded, gets the creative juices flowing, helps us bond together and can even help those suffering from depression,” he explains. “Humans are hardwired to play, and this doesn’t stop in childhood.”

Well, now you have a chance to step away from your screen and have a jolly good time recreating the memories of yester-year because seed food brand 9Nine is setting up The Playground, a play area for adults with giant swings, slides and see-saws. Yes!

“Play is in our DNA”

The free event is being held at London Fields in Hackney between 29-30 July and will give grown-ups an hour on the equipment, as part of a move to raise awareness around the benefits of play on happiness and wellbeing. There’ll also be DJs, refreshments and 9Nine snacks.

“In a world where our actions are usually dictated by what we have to do, we wanted to provide a place where people could come and let go and feel happy and free without any stress or rules,” explains 9Nine marketing director, Kerry Collinge.

“Happiness is at the heart of our brand and while we feel we have nailed the nutritional side of things, we wanted to do something that gave physical presence to a topic that we believe needs more column inches. Play is in our DNA – we’re simply bringing the right tools to the table.”

“We grow old because we stop playing”

The event runs between: 11am-10pm on Saturday 29 July and 11am-9pm on Sunday 30 July

But Relax Ya Self to Health has a pair of tickets for the exclusive VIP launch night on Friday 28 July.

To enter the competition, please comment on this post naming your favourite childhood game and subscribe to my blog here so that I can contact you should you win.

The draw will take place on 12 July. Good luck!

As George Bernard Shaw once said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

For more information visit: http://9ninebrand.com

 

 

Competitions, In the news, Wellness

Win a skincare hamper worth £100

Wimbledon, The Championships

Who’s excited for Wimbledon 2017? I certainly am.

So, I’ve decided to mark the occasion with our very first competition. And it’s a good ‘un.

We’re serving up an ace box of summer essentials designed to protect your skin and keep you feeling fresh should the temperature start to soar.

Our Champion’s Chest, (RRP: £103) contains:

  • Ladvial Sun Protection (in three different SPFs)
  • Solero Cooling After Sun Lotion x 2
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Lip Balm
  • Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner
  • Dr Organic Aloe Vera Wet Wipes
  • Soft & Gentle Cool Boost Antiperspirant
  • Miaroma Citronella Pure Essential Oil

Only one lucky winner will walk away with this fantastic prize but as this is our first giveaway  – and we’re mad about tennis – we are giving you SIX opportunities to enter this fantastic draw.

All you have to do is name the players you think will triumph in the  Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles.

It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong  – as our draw takes place on Saturday 8 July – during the first week of the tournament.

This is just a little fun to get you into the Wimbledon spirit.

And if festivals are more your thing, that’s OK too – as you can see, the hamper is ideal for gig-goers too, as well as seaside day trippers.

Remember, you can enter the draw up to six times to be in with a chance of winning this fantastic hamper of summer essentials (RRP:£103.00)

GOOD LUCK!

HOW TO ENTER

Each of the below counts as one entry.

  • Comment at the bottom of this blog post
  • Visit our Facebook page here and share the competition post
  • Comment underneath our Facebook competition post
  • Visit our Instagram page and comment underneath the competition picture
  • Tweet us your answer
  • Subscribe for free to Relax Ya Self To Health by popping your email in the box underneath my bio which is to the right.

 

Competition closes: Midnight 8th July 2017
This Prize Draw is open to residents of the UK aged 18 or over.
Click here for full terms and conditions

Competitions, Health, In the news, Tennis

5 SIGNS YOU’RE ADDICTED TO YOUR PHONE

Phone addition: 5 signs to be aware of

Are you forever checking your devices?

Recently, I wrote a piece on six ways to calm the mind, after Bupa research revealed that only 5% of the nation takes a break during the day, compared to 60% back in 1997.

Worryingly, the poll found that most of this time is used to check social media, emails and catch up on WhatsApp conversations – so it’s no surprise that so-called digital detox events are surging in popularity.

This Sunday 25 June marks the third National Unplugging Day, which urges parents around the UK to #GoGadgetFree.

The event, which is being held at the Riverside Cottage and Yurt in Barton Stacey, near Winchester in Hampshire, encourages families from Hampshire and the South East to reconnect offline by taking part in fun and exciting activities.

Dr Richard Graham, technology addiction lead and consultant adolescent psychiatrist at London’s Nightingale Hospital, asserts that there is an ‘unhealthy dependence’ when children (and adults) display severe distress and agitation when separated from technology.

“When people feel an uncomfortable sense of withdrawal when not online, we know that the relationship with technology is not being managed properly,” Dr Graham says.

“It is important that we can find the right balance between maximising the benefits of new technologies without forming an unhealthy dependence. When electronic devices start to have more influence over behaviour than anyone else or anything else, that is the moment when really you need to start changing things.”

He urges parents to ask the following:

“5 signs of phone addiction”

  • Does your child argue with or feel criticised by you for the amount of time they spend online?
  • Does your child ignore and avoid other activities to spend more time using devices?
  • Does your child constantly ask when they will be allowed to go back online when they are offline?
  • Does your child feel tense or bad if they can’t get online – a feeling which noticeably disappears when they are allowed to reconnect with technology?
  • Does your child hide or become defensive about what they do online?

Nightingale Hospital has a free online test that determines whether technology use is abnormal or problematic.

Personally, I can testify to the benefits of taking a tech-break. Back in 2015, I gave up my mobile for an entire weekend when I went on a digital detox retreat with Push Mind and Body for a newspaper article. I had a comprehensive Nuffield Health body MOT before and after to monitor changes in my stress levels and body.

The results were impressive – you can read the feature here.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by tech, why not make a conscious effort to do something about it this weekend by following Dr Graham’s top tips below:

“5 ways to go tech free”

  • Tell everyone that you are doing a digital detox, since the more people you tell about your detox, the more people will be watching you – and the less you will want to fail.
  • Create fun offline activities which can distract you from feelings of technology withdrawal and enable you to actually look forward to detox days.
  • Abstain from technology for 72 hours before reintroducing devices in a controlled manner. Establish a maximum daily time allowance for periods spent on your gadgets.
  • Store phones and tablets in a different room to your bedroom overnight. This will stop you using them before turning in for the night and immediately on waking. Also, turn off all screens two hours before going to bed.
  • If necessary, lock your devices away.

Fancy giving these suggestions a try?

I’d love to hear from you if do, once you’re back online of course!

Feel free to leave a comment below or tag someone who might find this article helpful.

Alternatively, feel free to share the post by clicking on any of the social media icons below.

And, if you’d like to subscribe to my blog (it’s free) simply click here and pop your email address in the box underneath my picture and bio.

 

Health, In the news, Wellness