Browsing Tag

relax

WHY IT’S OK TO SAY NO

Lean how to say no

It’s official. I’m a giver. I like to help people and can never say no.  It’s the way I’ve always been. Except I hadn’t quite realised how much I take on until this week. It took the words of my friend’s aunt with whom I’m staying in North Devon for me to sit up and take note. “You’re like a sponge Helen,” she said shaking her head. “You absorb everyone else’s problems. You’re forever trying to help people and investing all of your energy in them. When are you going to stop and help yourself?”

Auntie Chris blurted out the words after I received two texts and one email within the space of ten minutes. Each message was from a different person and each asked me to sort out a situation they couldn’t handle. AC, as I fondly call her, disapprovingly shook her head. The night before my tongue had spontaneously started to swell in front of her eyes.

You’re like a sponge

Hours earlier she’d seen me battle through an extremely stressful day work-wise. I’ve always thrived on the adrenaline of deadlines and juggling numerous pieces but the last minute demands on this particular day were off the scale. So the plan that night was to chill in bed with a book but my throat began to tighten within five minutes of settling down. “I can’t be having a reaction,” I muttered to myself. “Just have a glass of water, breathe deeply. It’ll be OK in a minute.”

Except the situation quickly worsened and when I checked the mirror my tongue was three times its usual size. I necked my medication. And swore. This is why:

  • I’d made my dinner from scratch and hadn’t eaten any trigger foods
  • I hadn’t exercised
  • I wasn’t hot
  • I wasn’t sweating

All of the above can set off a reaction – something I’ve painstakingly discovered over the past 18 months. So why the bloody hell was I reacting just as I’d hit the sack? I acted swiftly. And the meds stopped my tongue swelling any further – although it would remain grossly enlarged for the next 48 hours.

The next day AC ​sat me down in the dining room of her beautiful ​200-year-old farmhouse and gave me a stern talking to. “I think stress is a factor,” she said with a beady look in her eye. “You had a nightmare of a day yesterday workwise. I’ve been watching you since you arrived. You’re supposed to be having a break but you don’t help yourself at all. You start work at the crack of dawn. Some days you don’t eat breakfast or lunch and you’ll be sat at your desk for between eight and ten hours. That’s not good.”

Learn how to say no

“But I can barely eat anything at the moment because of my reactions,” I retaliated. “It’s not good enough Helen. Your job, by its very nature, is stressful. You’re working for lots of different publications which place numerous demands on you at short notice, you’re constantly firefighting plus you’re working on your blog until the early hours of the morning. You put loads of pressure on yourself. It’s not healthy.”

I was lost for words (unusual for me). I knew I worked hard but maybe she had a point. Then my phone vibrated. “Who’s that?” she enquired. “My cousin,” I answered. AC noticed the worried expression that fell over my face. “I need to sort this out.”  The very next minute I received an email from a work colleague who was asking for help. By this point Auntie C was ready to explode.

“You really cannot take on the world’s problems. It’s nice that you want to help people but you’ve got enough on your plate. Your body wants to heal but doesn’t know how to respond because it’s being bombarded by stress in all directions. Of course you can still help people but for the time being you need to invest time and energy in yourself, not others. You really need to learn to say no.”

Her words echoed around my head. Then I remembered something my dad always said: “Helen Gilbert. Other peoples’ messes cleared up by appointment.” At that moment everything started to sink in.

“Turn off your phone now,” AC ordered. Reluctantly, I agreed and although I went to check it three times in the hour that followed, I did not turn it back on.

Then I switched my out of office on before heading to Saunton Sands for an evening in front of the surf. I sat contemplating on that beach for 2.5 hours. And I left with a plan of action. For the rest of my time in Devon I’ll open the emails just once in the morning and once in the evening. Likewise, the mobile shall only be checked three times a day maximum.

Learn how to say no

 

Going forward, I’ll start prioritising and saying no to people *eek*.  It won’t be easy. H​ow the heck do you do this when it’s in your nature to help and worry about others? It feels bizarrely selfish. But being pulled in all directions is just not sustainable with the way my health is right now.

I’ll let you know how I get on and whether I​ experience fewer reactions as a result  of simplifying my life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you find that you spend a lot of your time sorting out the problems of others? Do people constantly offload on you but disappear when everything is going well in their life? How have you learned to say no and look after yourself?

Please do comment below or on Facebook , Instagram or Twitter. 

 

Health, Helen's Health, 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

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

WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU ABOUT LAUNCHING A BLOG

So much to SEA in the blogging world

It’s been one week since the launch of Relax Ya Self To Health.  So what have I learned? That I am, perhaps, the biggest idiot that ever lived.

The plan had been to use the blog as a way of charting my quest to relax. But the stark reality in the run-up to the big reveal was that I worked myself into the ground, and my stress levels went through the roof. Oh, the irony.

Every spare minute was spent working on the site. The posts. The images. The social media. The technical bits and bobs. I refused to rest.

“I resembled the hunchback of Notra Dame”

And on the day of the launch I was still tapping away at my keyboard at 2.30am – having turned the computer on at 5.30am the previous day.

Even a fool knows that a 21 hour stint is not sustainable – by the end I resembled the hunchback of Notra Dame complete with square eyes and a fried brain.

This madcap way of working is something I’ve grown accustomed to during my 17-year career as a freelance journalist, which is famed for its ‘feast or famine periods’.

Whereas once I used to thrive on juggling news shifts and five commissions landing on the same day, my recent health troubles have forced me to re-evaluate. The whole point of setting up this site was to learn how to relax.

Evidently, old habits die hard.

Yes, the toil was worth it because the blog achieved a little mention in the Daily Mail here – *yay* as well as from Oxford University’s Mindfulness Centre.

What’s more, I received some quite lovely messages from a number of people – including a couple based overseas – thanking me for my posts.

I felt privileged to hear your stories. Some of you are in a similar situation health-wise, others are going through different but equally stressful experiences. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for getting in touch. Secondly, I’m here to let you know that you are not alone.

If it helps, I’m going to share two messages I received from a couple of friends at the end of last week.

“Your work is really important, but not as important as you. You need a break.”

“Can you do one thing for me, please?,” the first started off. “At some point today book yourself proper downtime over the next few days to relax. No computers, phones or anything else. Your work is really important, but not as important as you. You need a break x”

The second one stated: “Can you listen to your own bloody blog and get yourself some rest?”

I heeded the advice. On Friday afternoon I gave myself permission to have an afternoon away from my desk, which is unheard of for me. I arranged a meeting with a PR by the sea. Technically, I was still working but I was away from my computer. The sun was shining. It felt GLORIOUS.

“It takes 66 days to change a habit.”

Of course, I’m not perfect. The next day I immediately slipped back into my old ways – putting in another eight hour performance. According to a 2009 University College London study, it takes 66 days to change a habit.

As  I’m determined to build relaxation into my life, I plan to post a picture on Instagram every Sunday with the hashtag #chilltimesunday in a bid to stay on track.

I’d love for you to join me and hear how you relax!

Please feel free to tag me in your posts or leave a comment below.

 

Helen's Health

JAMES DUIGAN: HOW TO HANDLE STRESSFUL MOMENTS

James Duigan

Wellness guru James Duigan has forged a career out of doing what he loves. It’s been a decade since the Bodyism founder and celebrity trainer began spreading his Clean & Lean philosophy.

But it hasn’t always been plain-sailing for the father of two, who counts the likes of Elle Macpherson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Lara Stone, among his advocates.

The Australian knows what it’s like to be homeless. And he “threw up every day for six months” after enduring the heartache of watching his father pass away in his arms.

Here, James tells Relax Ya Self To Health how he copes with stress and how there are lessons to be learned in every situation.

JAMES, YOU ALWAYS APPEAR SO LAID BACK. WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?
Haha. I’m not sure about that. I think I probably present a calm exterior. I’m shy by nature. I’m a human being after all so I do suffer from worry and I get anxious every now and then.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESS?
I’ve found that having a calm exterior is a great way of massaging yourself into a calm interior. My default reaction to things is to take a breath, maintain a calm face and understand that drama in a situation doesn’t help ever. This helps keep things in perspective. I’m lucky, it’s kind of my default setting. Any time I’ve ever given in to worry, overreacted or lost my temper, it’s never worked that well. There’s a great saying that goes: ‘My life has been full of disasters and calamities, most of which never happened.’

WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST FRIGHTENING MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?
I’ve been homeless, afraid and hungry. When I first got to London at the age of 21 I had 50 dollars and a sleeping bag. With hindsight, it wasn’t the greatest of plans. For two months I slept in bus stations, on night buses and searched bins for food. I was lucky though, I was just having a tough time. I wasn’t suffering from a mental illness and was able to pull myself out of it. One day I scraped together some money to buy a suit that smelled like garbage from a second-hand shop. I put cardboard in the bottom of some old shoes that I found and went for a job interview at Harrods. I got the job. It was so good to get that first pay cheque. Now, whenever I’m in a difficult situation I think at least I have a roof over my head.

AND THE MOST STRESSFUL?
My dad passing away from lung cancer.  He died in my arms and there was no way for me to make that OK or find anything good about it at all. I felt a huge amount of shame and guilt that I couldn’t save him, so dealing with that and letting it go was a big thing. I threw up every morning for six months. I just got up and did that. I was devastated by grief. At the same time, I found out that a friend had been stealing from me. I felt betrayed humiliated and stupid.

HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THAT PERIOD?
It’s a bit of a blur but I remembered the things that I’d say to other people. Be kind to yourself and let go of shame. I used them as mantras. I kept it simple. I exercised every day, and didn’t fall into abusive eating patterns, or numb myself with any drug. I thought hold steady, do these things because you know they’re good. That’s all I knew.  A couple of years later, I found a lesson and gift in losing my dad. It made me become so much more present with my own children and so much more grateful for every moment I’ve got in the world. It made me more committed and aware of my own health. It’s given me a really powerful ‘why’ and reason to stay healthy.

YOUR BODYISM EMPIRE IS EXPANDING AT AN ASTONISHING RATE.  SURELY, THIS CAN BE STRESSFUL AT TIMES?
Stress is a fact of life now. Unless we can all retire, go live on a hill and go play guitar to each other we’re gonna have jobs, we’re gonna have kids, we’re gonna have things that stress us out. For me, it’s less about avoiding stress and more about coping, dealing with it and having strategies to help. I eat foods that really make me feel good and work for me rather than foods that are addictive and poisons as this makes me so much better able to deal with stuff. I don’t numb myself with alcohol or drugs. I’m much more present to things. It’s all simple stuff. It’s funny when people question it and ask ‘Isn’t it boring without alcohol?’ I’m like, ‘Holy s*** you just don’t get it. The world’s amazing. Why would you numb yourself to it?’ Boring is having to have a drink in order to loosen up.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I exercise every day. Movement is medicine. I do yoga or lift weights. If I’m by the ocean, I’ll go for a swim or surf. The sea calms me down. When I’m in London I’ll go for a walk in the park. I also spend an hour and a half each week doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu with people who try to choke me [laughing] but it keeps me completely present because while that’s happening I just can’t think about anything else. So it’s like meditation. It’s so liberating for me.

DESCRIBE YOUR ULTIMATE BLISSED OUT DAY?
I’m grateful for every day, I genuinely am. My absolute happiest moments are with my children. They take me to a place I didn’t know existed, I just love being with them but then I get so much joy from what I do for work. That comes to this place that I create where people are treated well and happy. My job is to help people, I can’t imagine anything better. This is a dream.

WHAT IS BODYISM?
Bodyism the idea that we can change people’s lives and remind them to be kind to themselves. We nourish them through movement, through food, through how they think, and through what they say. It’s beautiful and it’s growing wonderfully. We’ve got our beautiful flagship studio in Notting Hill, London and a number of others including the Maldives. We’ve already started building Miami. It’s amazing, an absolutely breathtaking dream come true.

FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
As a kid, I read a book called The Celestine Prophecy. It spoke about the energy in the world that we don’t see and it really opened my eyes that there might be more than what we just see and feel. I loved that book. Another author who interests me is Louise Hay. She talks about physical things that might have an emotional or spiritual cause. Simon Sinek, is a fantastic guy and brilliant speaker who explains how you’ve got to focus on why you do what you do. It’s transformative and inspirational for me.

Celebrity interviews, Wellness

JONNY WILKINSON REVEALS HOW HE UNWINDS

Jonny Wilkinson
©Marius Bukis

Rugby icon Jonny Wilkinson, CBE, the former international fly-half, who kicked the last minute drop goal that would seal England’s victory over Australia in the 2003 World Cup, is widely regarded as one of the sport’s best players of all time.

The 37-year-old hung up his boots almost three years ago but throughout his career struggled with self-criticism, anxiety and depression.

Here, Jonny, an ambassador for Puressentiel, a natural healthcare brand formulated with natural ingredients, tells Relax Ya Self to Health how he has found a life of balance and contentment since retiring.

 

WHY IS RAISING AWARENESS AROUND MENTAL HEALTH SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I’ve suffered from depression throughout my life. For me, there is no such thing as weakness or strength in talking about feelings or problems. In fact, there is only one thing that is important, which is living life to the full and being able to fully express yourself.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL?
For me, this means joy, peace, passion, connection, inspiration, spontaneity, challenge, opportunity, revelation, learning, and growth. If there is anything that is stopping me from living life this way or any time that I feel the opposite then I definitely seek help by talking about it and challenging it in order to find helpful perspectives and different interpretations that get me back to my best as soon as possible.

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE JONNY WILKINSON FOUNDATION?
I am building a foundation that aims to reduce the negative stigma attached to the apparent ‘weakness’ involved in talking about feelings and support people in uncovering their true potential. Saying that, I know that, at its worst, it is in no way just as simple as asking people to talk about their issues and feelings. Sometimes that can make it a lot worse.

HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING?
The key for me has always been a lack of judgement from others. When people have space in their own values and being they can offer pure unconditional support. In my eyes, offering your own beliefs from your own reality to ‘correct’ someone who is struggling so badly in theirs was and always will be a dangerous game. The Jonny Wilkinson Foundation aims to positively impact the cause, treatment, prevention, understanding, education and support of mental health issues and those affected. We are in the process of researching and refining the philosophy at the heart of the mission and developing the delivery strategy to ensure we make the greatest difference to as many people as possible.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?
An amazingly powerful relaxation technique I use is slow walking. I often head out into the countryside. Slow walking makes it almost impossible for the mind to work quickly and shifts my energy vibration. It’s a phenomenal way to rebalance and find a higher perspective. By relaxing joints and muscles and just letting the arms hang, I gain a sense of control and suddenly helpful solutions to any problems just seem to appear. I use the same state of being when I sit down to eat. This relaxation allows for greater digestion and cellular function. When I was playing I used to eat standing up or moving around whilst packing my bag, thinking about the game etc. I don’t think this brought out the best in me or my performance.

WHY DO YOU LIKE THE OUTDOORS?
I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors and sunlight is hugely important for me for Vitamin D production, boosting mood and for synchronising biorhythms throughout the body. It’s not surprising considering the role the sun plays in the survival of life on our planet that we should be connected in such ways. However, the risks of too much powerful sun exposure are well documented and need to be hugely respected.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER TECHNIQUES YOU’VE FOUND USEFUL FOR STILLING THE MIND?
Guided meditation. This simply means that you’re in some way talked through the process in a certain direction. Meditation can help better organise inner energies which can get a bit all over the place when you are not used to sitting quietly. Meditation takes me beyond my beliefs about myself and into the space of pure potential where I can consciously choose the way I prefer to feel and live in any situation regardless of expectations, desires and outcomes. In this space, there can be no such thing as stress.

DID YOU MEDITATE DURING YOUR CAREER?
I used to meditate before games but I was unable to embrace the difference between being at peace or trying to be at peace. As a player I probably allowed winning and other external factors, such as how others perceived me, to make being peaceful seem out of my control. I now understand that how I feel is my choice.

HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR DIET?
Very. My wife Shelley is training to be a naturopathic nutritionist and does everything from making her own yoghurt from compassionately, ethically farmed raw milk to soaking and sprouting nuts and grains, and making sourdough bread. Healthy concoctions including smoothies, juices and raw protein bars are commonplace around our home. There is so much to be experienced and learned from food and nature and preparing things in the most whole and natural way. We are, after all, just a result of everything we have eaten and drunk.

WHY HAVE YOU TEAMED UP WITH PURESSENTIEL?
I have a huge respect for nature, as does the family behind Puressentiel. The brand is a perfect fit for me. I think we might be well served by continuing to listen and learn from our bodies and nature. There is a place for medicine for sure but, for me, it needs to support and assist the body, not try to dominate it. Quick fix solutions in medicine sometimes scare me especially when they alter or disturb natural processes. I have found that essential oils have a strong role to play in maintaining skin, hair, muscles and vitamins and minerals through diet and supplementation are great ways to ensure balance. Nothing beats open stress-less living though!

Jonny Wilkinson is brand ambassador of Puressentiel’s Muscles & Joints range. The French aromatherapy and natural skincare brand is the official partner of World Rugby until 2019.

Celebrity interviews, Wellness