Practicing Self Love

Page one of my 2019 Journal

After 2018, I knew I had to make some fundamental changes to my life if it was going to change for the better. But change is hard, particularly personal change.

I probably know that better than anyone. We all resist change everyday, making excuses or rationalising events as injustices, which prevent us getting what we feel we deserve.

But, often the reality is different. Mine has certainly been so this year, I’ve recommitted to my faith in god, but instead of prayer and serving others, I’ve started taking time in 2019 to practice self love. Practicing self love in 2019 has given me a way to even out the highs and lows of events as they unfold, sometimes even before they unfold.

Self love gives me a way to improve my mental health without medication and therapy. And the best part ? It’s really easy ! Losing myself in simple everyday things helps me manage my anxieties, sadness or anger, allowing me to regain control of the moment and protect myself. But it hasn’t always been easy, so I thought I would share my top three tips for practicing which have helped bring me this far in my recovery.

Start small

This is huge, I guess maybe the most important thing. When I say small, what I mean is to start with something in proportion to helping you progress from where you are. For example, when I started, I was in such a funk that I wasn’t able to get out of bed, so, it didn’t make sense setting my goal as running a marathon. So instead, I focussed on the simple things that I needed to do. In my case, getting up and getting dressed. Simple, positive and achievable. And when you do achieve them, it really helps with your self esteem and valuing yourself. Believe me !

Create your routine and stick to it

Although I’ve been clean for a while now, one of the most important lessons from that period of my life was regularity. When my mood swings became more extreme or unpredictable, setting a routine and publishing it on a wall chart really helped to take the pressure of day to day organisation off me. I knew where and when I had to be, it was easy.

Better than that, by setting regular rewards for myself through the week in response to targets that I set helped me maintain my motivation. And once a week, I made sure I checked in with my counsellor to keep me honest. If it helps, I make sure that my goals are either achievement, pleasure or relaxation oriented. I even colour them in to make them look pretty !!

Keep a mood diary

Once I’ve set my routine, not only do I make sure I stick to it, but I also keep track of how the day is going. I write a whole load of gook in there, mostly about feelings and what has happened to make me feel like that. I also write down the things I eat, exercise, all sorts.

I’ve found looking back at this diary with my counsellor really reassuring. It helps me track improvements and trends which we can dissect to give insights as to triggers which lead to coping strategies, which empower wellness.

Lastly……

Remember though, although self love can help to improve your mood and maintain a positive life balance, if you still feel depressed and you are really unwell, it is important to seek professional help.

Love always

Joanna

The gift of life

Every year, a monk who lived high in the mountains in an isolated retreat would come down to a nearby village and barter with the villagers for supplies to sustain him until his next visit.

Each year, he would bet the villagers that he could guess what any of them was holding in their hands.  The villager would wager some food and the monk would wager the gift of a blessing in case he couldn’t guess.  But he never did, and when he returned to this retreat, the villagers were left to wonder as to how he did it while thinking of new ways to catch him out so they could receive his blessing.

One year, a teenage boy came up with a cunning plan to gain the monks blessing.  He would hold a live bird in his hands and invite the monk to guess.  If the monk didn’t guess, he would receive his blessing, but if he did manage to guess, the teenage boy would ask “is it alive or dead though ?”  

If the monk guessed dead, then the boy would open his hands in front of the monk, the bird would fly away and the boy would receive his blessing.  If the monk guessed alive though, the boy would clasp the bird tightly, killing it and again, he would receive his blessing.

Pleased with his plan, the boy waited until the Autumn when the monk came to the village.  Patiently, he waited and then asked the monk “what have I got in my hands ?” when it was his turn.

The monk, looked at the boys hand and smiled “You have a bird in your hand” he said.  “BUT” shouted the boy, his trap set  “Is it alive or dead ?”  

The monk thought for a while, for he was a very wise man and understood immediately what the trap was.  In time, he smiled again at the boy and said “You have the gift of life in your hands, what you choose to do with it is up to you”.

Beaten, the boy opened his hands and the bird flew free.

Remember, Every single one of us has the gift of life within our own hands.

10 Alternatives to going to the gym…

When we mention fitness training our minds tend to normally waver towards hours on the treadmill, waiting for your turn on the weights machine, sweating it out in a spinning class or perhaps doing some funky moves at home to the latest workout craze…but getting fit and staying in shape doesn’t have to be all about the gym with reps, and sets and timings.

It should be about enjoyment and living your life.

So I have listed out my 10 favorite alternative approaches that not only will get you in amazing shape but also offers the opportunity to learn a new skill set, make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, vastly improve your health  and generally become a more interesting person than ‘Jenny , I spend hours at the gym looking in the mirror and taking selfies more than I do working out’!

1- Mixed Martial Arts

WomensSelfDefense-900x600

MMA fighters are arguably some of the fittest athletes out there. Their style of fighting is a combination of boxing, kick boxing, Jujitsu and wrestling to name but a few. Even if you don’t have any desire to be a fighter, simply training to be one will place you in the best shape of your life. I’m not talking about doing an MMA class with your local fitness Instructor, I am talking about enrolling in an actual MMA gym and training as if to become an actual fighter.

The benefits of MMA style training include:

  • A full body workout
  • Brutal cardio sessions
  • Builds Strength & Power
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves flexibility
  • Learn to realistically defend yourself and build self confidence
  • Burn calories FAST
  • Instill a sense of discipline you can carry over to other areas of your life
  • Its fun & safe
  • Make friends and become a part of a family

Here is a little motivation if you feel like you wanna be badass!

Continue reading “10 Alternatives to going to the gym…”

10 Alternatives to going to the gym…

When we mention fitness training our minds tend to normally waver towards hours on the treadmill, waiting for your turn on the weights machine, sweating it out in a spinning class or perhaps doing some funky moves at home to the latest workout craze…but getting fit and staying in shape doesn’t have to be all about the gym with reps, and sets and timings.

It should be about enjoyment and living your life.

So I have listed out my 10 favorite alternative approaches that not only will get you in amazing shape but also offers the opportunity to learn a new skill set, make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, vastly improve your health  and generally become a more interesting person than ‘Jenny , I spend hours at the gym looking in the mirror and taking selfies more than I do working out’!

1- Mixed Martial Arts

WomensSelfDefense-900x600

MMA fighters are arguably some of the fittest athletes out there. Their style of fighting is a combination of boxing, kick boxing, Jujitsu and wrestling to name but a few. Even if you don’t have any desire to be a fighter, simply training to be one will place you in the best shape of your life. I’m not talking about doing an MMA class with your local fitness Instructor, I am talking about enrolling in an actual MMA gym and training as if to become an actual fighter.

The benefits of MMA style training include:

  • A full body workout
  • Brutal cardio sessions
  • Builds Strength & Power
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves flexibility
  • Learn to realistically defend yourself and build self confidence
  • Burn calories FAST
  • Instill a sense of discipline you can carry over to other areas of your life
  • Its fun & safe
  • Make friends and become a part of a family

Here is a little motivation if you feel like you wanna be badass!

Continue reading “10 Alternatives to going to the gym…”

How to apply your blusher

blusher.jpg

 

We had a fun email from Amy today, who wanted to learn a little more about how to apply blusher. I’m not going to go into all the details, (it was a very funny letter) but suffice it to say, she is fed up looking like a bit of a tart. (and not the scrummy type that you service with custard) Although I am not a fan of blusher personally ( I prefer highlighting and sculpting) there’s no denying that for a lot of women, it’s a make-up essential, so it seemed only right and proper that I wrote a little about how to apply your blusher correctly.
The key thing about highlighting, sculpting and blushing (was that the right way to say that ?) is to work out what your face shape is before you start. Take a look at the diagram below and then pick the one that most looks like your face shape.

What’s your face type ?

T

Most makeup artists will tell you that when it comes to applying your makeup and highlighting, Oval faces are often considered the ideal face shape. This is because they have prominent cheekbones and a forehead that is slightly wider than the chin. Heart shaped faces have a wide forehead and high cheekbones, and the face tapers to a narrow chin. Square faces have a forehead that is roughly the same width as the cheekbones and chin, while round faces are as wide as they are long. Long faces, or “rectangular” as it is sometimes called, are similar to oval and square-shaped faces. The only difference is, the face is longer and less wide. Your forehead, cheeks and jawline should all be pretty much the same width. If you have a triangular-shaped face, your chin will be narrow and pointed and your high cheekbones will be your most prominent feature. So with this in mind. How do you make the most of your features with a little blusher ? Well, the key point is “Less is more” You don’t need to apply so much that it’s visible from a distance. You want your blusher to be subtle, elegant and delicate. Now lets take a look at how to WHERE to apply it.
Oval faces – sweep your blush over your cheekbones. You can easily find your cheekbone with your fingers – aim to place the colour just above the bone rather than towards the hollow beneath it to help raise the height of your cheekbone.
Heart shaped faces – because your face can appear pointy, we need to soften the edges so it appears more like an oval. Apply blush to the outer corner of your cheekbone, starting by your ear and ending at a point below the outer corner of your eye. Also add a touch of colour by your temples, towards the centre of your forehead, to help balance the width of your forehead with your chin.
Square faces – your cheekbones are the same width as your chin, so to help define them apply your blush slightly below the cheekbone. Blush in the hairline will help soften the edges of your face.
Round faces – try not to use pearlised or highly reflective blushers as these reflect the light well and make a surface appear more round, which we want to avoid – matte blushers would be best for you. Sweep your blush from the ear down the cheekbone towards the mouth. Add a little touch of blush to the chin and blend it well to make your face appear longer.
Long faces – Apply blush on cheekbones below the outer corners of the eyes and blend well. Be sure the blush never extends lower than the tip of the nose.
Triangular faces – Blush should be applied in a sideways V on the cheekbones. Blend up from your cheekbones to your temple and then extend the blush over your brow a bit toward the centre of your forehead. This will help to balance the width of your forehead with the rest of your face.

Which is the best blusher to use though ?

Cream blusher – Apply the satin-like, creamy, non-greasy texture with fingers for an anti-ageing effect. It blends beautifully over naked skin or foundation leaving a hint of flattering colour. Perfect for all skin-types and drier skins will love it the most as it feels comfortable and non-drying on the skin.
Liquid blusher – This is probably the easiest type to misuse, as it’s easy to over-apply. That said though, the silicone in these types of product, makes it virtually rub-off proof and water-resistant.
Powder blusher – Sheer colour, some with shimmer finish. Smooth, satiny powder finish that floats over skin. Creates a soft transparency that lasts for hours.

Safe Tanning Tips

tannnigNow that summer is upon us (no honest – it REALLY is here in the UK, the rain is getting warmer !!) it’s seems a good time to remind ourselves about safe tanning.  If you’re unfortunate like I am and one of those people who seem to burn if you’re out for more than half an hour or so in the sun, then hopefully, you’ll find this guide a useful reminder of how to enjoy the sun safely.

Specifically, who needs to take care, what the risks are, sun protection factors and the all important what to do when things go wrong………..

So pay attention girls – here comes the “sciencey bit” !!!  Also – its a bit of a long one today – so you might want to settle in with a nice cuppa and a biscuit (or two)

 

 

 

 

What is a Tan ?

Did you know that a tan is actually a sign the skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself ? You’d be surprised to know that if you did, you’re in good company, nearly two thirds of the ladies in my Facebook group thought the exact opposite !!! Mist commonly quoting “You look a lot healthier with a tan – it gives you a healthy glow and makes you feel better about yourself”.  The truth is a little different though !!!  The dark pigment that gives the skin its natural colour is a substance called melanin which is manufactured in the skin by pigment cells called melanocytes.  After our skin has been exposed to sunlight the melanocytes produce more melanin in attempt to absorb further UV radiation, and so the skin becomes darker.

Why should you be careful?

Summer’s great isn’t it ? Holidays, days out at the beach, picnics and barbecues.  Let’s be honest, nobody wants to spend summer indoors !!!  And, some sunshine, below sunburn level, can be good for us.  It helps the body to create vitamin D and giving many of us a feeling of general wellbeing as we enjoy outdoor summer activities.  The problem is of course when we over do our exposure which can lead to a range of skin problems.  Everyone is aware of the most serious of problems (the dreaded C word) of course, but there are a whole range of other issues including sunburn, photosensitive rashes and prickly heat. Over exposure can also worsen existing conditions like rosacea.

As I mentioned before, a number of my friends associate a tan with looking healthy.  But, the truth is that a tan is actually a sign our skin has been harmed by UV radiation and is trying to defend itself against further damage. This kind of damage can in turn increase your risk of developing skin cancer.  Its estimated that over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, and while the disease can also occur on parts of the body not exposed to sunlight, extensive sun exposure is thought to be responsible for the vast majority of cases. In more than four out of five these cases skin cancer is a preventable disease.

UVA and UVB radiation (Deep breath, its another sciencey bit)

UV radiation from the sun is transmitted in three forms, which are differentiated by their wavelengths.  Their names are UVA, UVB and UVC.  Fortunately, because UVC doesn’t penetrate the atmosphere, we only really need to protect against UVA and UVB.  UVA irradiation is most commonly associated with skin ageing. This is because it affects the elastin in the skin, leading to wrinkles, leathery skin and brown pigmentation.  UVA is capable of penetrating window glass and penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB.  UVA protection in a sunscreen will help defend the skin against photo ageing. and potentially skin cancer.

UVB on the other hand, is mostly responsible for sunburn and has strong links to malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma risk (types of skin cancer).  A sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) will help block UVB rays and prevent the skin from burning, and by association, any damage that can lead to skin cancer.

So, tell me about SPF – what’s that about ?

Sunscreens here in the UK are labelled with an ‘SPF’ rating, which stands for ‘sun protection factor’ and is usually followed by a number.  SPF is a measure of the level of protection against UVB, not the protection against UVA.   Because of this, you’ll sometimes hear people refer to it as the “Sun burn protection factor”.  SPFs are rated on a scale of 2-50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with ratings between 2 to 14 forming the least protected end of the spectrum and ratings of 50+ offering the strongest forms of UVB protection. Most dermatologists I spoke to when I was researching this article recommended going for an SPF of at least 30, with some going as high as 50 if you have fair skin.

As well as the SPF number, Most sunscreens I saw while browsing in Boots had the following table on them.  You should also check that your chosen sun protection is photostable. ‘Photostability’ means that the filters do not break down in the sun.

New Label SPF
Low protection 6   to 14   (i.e. SPF 6 and 10)
Medium protection 15 to 29   (i.e. SPF 15, 20 and 25)
High protection 30 to 50   (i.e. SPF 30 and 50)
Very high protection 50 +         (i.e. SPF 50+)

 

 

 

 

 

I see some foundation and moisturisers now have SPF ratings – is that the same ?

SPF used in moisturisers are tested the same way as sunscreens, so an SPF 15 moisturiser should provide an SPF of 15. However, these formulas are less likely to be rub-resistant and water resistant, and most importantly are likely to be applied a lot more thinly than sunscreen. They therefore are unlikely to offer the same level of protection.

A moisturiser with an SPF will help protect you against small amounts of UV exposure, such as when you walk to the car or pop outside to hang out the washing, but sunscreen is better suited for longer, more deliberate UV exposure, such as spending your lunch hour outside.

It is also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF may not contain any UVA protection and as a result will not protect against UV ageing.

How should I apply sunscreen?

Think its easy ?  Surprisingly not !!! a number of studies have found that people apply less than half of the amount required to provide the level of protection indicated on the packaging. While you might guess that tricky to reach areas such as the back would be missed, most people also miss the sides of their neck, temples and even ears !!! Like the Australian motto says “Slip, Slap, Slop” says – don’t be shy, apply it generously !!!!

Nowadays there is a vast range of different product types available, including lotions, mousses, sprays and gels. Because of this variation, it is not possible to give a set amount that you should apply that is the same for all products. Individual manufacturers can provide further details specific to the application of their particular sunscreens. When using lotions, as the bare minimum you should to apply at least six full teaspoons (approximately 36 grams) to cover the body of an average adult, which is more than half a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm and the face/neck (including ears), and just over one teaspoon to each leg, front of body and back of body. This is the amount used when products are tested for their SPF (it equates to 2 mg /cm²). Applying less will reduce the protection to a higher degree than is proportionate – for example, only applying half the required amount can actually reduce the protection by as much as two-thirds. The overall message in terms of sunscreen use is “more is better.” It is also easy to forget to reapply sunscreen as often as necessary. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow it to dry, and then again shortly after heading outdoors to cover any missed patches and to make sure you’re wearing a sufficient layer. Reapply it at least every 2 hours, and immediately after swimming, perspiring and towel drying or if it has rubbed off.

Skin types

Any article about tanning wouldn’t be complete without talking a little about the different types of skin.  Dermatologists generally divide skin types into six categories, from phototype 1 – fair skin that burns very easily in the sun and does not tan, to phototype 6, which is darker black skin that does not burn easily.  People with a darker complexion have more natural sun protection, and fair-skinned individuals are more susceptible to sun burn, skin cancer and photodamage. See our leaflet on ‘Skindex’ for more information.

The key character difference between black and white skin is that of melanin packaging and processing.  Naturally occurring biological agents in the skin absorb a proportion of UV irradiation, melanin being one of these. Melanin is a pigment molecule in the skin and is packaged slightly differently in people of different ethnic backgrounds. The type of melanin of all skin colours is eumelanin except for those with red hair and freckles, who have phaeomelanin, which is less well able to cope with UV irradiation.

If you tan very easily, as with black or Asian skin (e.g. types 5 and 6) you need less ultraviolet damage to initiate the tanning process. You do not need a sunscreen to stop skin cancer and skin ageing to the same extent as a fair skinned person, but sunscreen will still be needed during intense or prolonged exposure.
If you are of Mediterranean type skin (e.g. Type 4), you also tan easily, but you will need more ultraviolet to tan than lighter skins. You can still suffer from UV damage and although you are less likely to develop melanoma than skin types 1 to 3, your skin will age with sun exposure.
If you are very fair and cannot tan at all (e.g. Type 1), you will not tan with or without a sunscreen, but you will damage your skin badly if exposed without protection. You need to take particular care to regularly apply lots of high SPF sunscreen (i.e. 30 or above) with high UVA protection too. It is also important to remember to wear proectedtive clothing, such as long t-shirts, and spend time in the shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Recommendations regarding sun protection (e.g. clothing, shade and sunscreen) should be used in conjunction with the skin type guide. For example, the use of clothing and sunscreen applies to skin types I and II at all times in the sun, and to skin types V and VI during periods of prolonged or intense sun exposure. Darker skin types do not need to routinely use sunscreens.

Top sun safety tips

So, that’s it !! Tanning in a nutshell – so lets finish with a few tips to help you get a safe tan this summer.

  • Protect the skin with clothing, including a hat, t-shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny
  • Use a ‘high protection’ sunscreen of at least SPF 30 which also has high UVA protection, and make sure you apply it generously and frequently when in the sun.
  • The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that you tell your doctor about any changes to a mole – if your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist (on the GMC register of specialists), the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS.

Skin Care for all ages

skincare

One of the really nice things about running a social media group on Facebook and also my blog is that you get to interact with a wide range of people from a number of backgrounds.  All with different issues, constraints and questions.   It’s a lovely way to share knowledge, learn, test yourself and hopefully help some people along the way.

Take this weekend for example, I was running a question and answer session on skincare following an enquiry from an older member in the group.  Inevitably one of the younger girls felt this wasn’t an issue for her and wanted to steer the session in another direction towards her need, but with a little persuasion, we were all able to join in and talk skin care regimes, treatments and products for all ages and the benefits of starting sooner rather than later.

Take a look at where we got to and let me know what you think – does it fit in with your experiences ?  Perhaps I missed one of your favourites ?  Let me know !!! I’d love to hear from you !!!

 

15 to 25

When we’re young (yes I can remember…….) we’re predominantly concerned with spots. At this time, our skin regime is primarily concerned with controlling the bacteria and oiliness which leads to spots, rather than moisturising.  (Remembering the ingredients commonly used to treat spots can often lead to dryness)  If you have oily skin, you should look for products which contain an anti-bacterial ingredient.  Whereas if you’re suffer with drier skin you should choose a product with a low content of moisturiser so as not to block pores.  It’s also important to exfoliate regularly to help remove dead skin cells.

Another key feature of our skin regime when we’re younger is that it needs to be affordable. When I spoke to some teenage friends of mine, they explained that this was their most important feature in a product, over brand name or fancy advertising.  Denise explained “Affordable doesn’t mean cheap, it just means that I don’t want to pay more for the results I’m looking for”  Her preference is to cleanse with the Body shop Tea Tree facial wash, skip toning and to finish with a light moisturiser, her preference being  Moisture Match from Garnier .  She rounds off her routine by taking vitamins which contain Zinc Gluconate and Salicylic Acid, which help regulate the production of Sebum which is oily/way matter which lubricates and waterproofs the skin.  “Multi Vitamins are boring though” she says “So I look for Cereals which have these added as a supplement”

Denise’s favourite products are shown below which works out to about £12 per month (just click on an image to be taken to the site)

25-125-225-3

 

 

 

 

25 to 40

Once we’ve passed out mid 20s, the bodies production of Sebum starts to slow down and with it, the first signs of skin aging appear.  Therefore at this our priority changes from controlling bacteria to protecting the skin and moisturising to help prevent aging.  The importance of cleansing becomes more significant in our regime too, as it can help maintain the skins moisture balance and PH level.   The initial “fine line and shallow wrinkles” of aging will tend to appear earlier if your lifestyle choices include smoking or regular sun bathing as well as diet choices and the regular intake of water.

Claire laughs when she tell me “Looking back, cleansing has now become a more regular part of my regime, I certainly don’t go to bed without taking my make up off any more !!” “I also take more care around of the area around my eyes, as I’ve noticed this area is different to the other areas on my face, its more delicate and needs a different cleanser. “  Claires preferences for skin care are below, why not check them out ?

40-140-240-340-4

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to Claire’s choices, it’s important to keep up your exfoliation regime, because another tell tale sign of aging is an uneven dull skin tone which is caused by dead skin cells, particularly on the cheek and forehead areas. You may also find that using a primer and liquid foundation as opposed to a powder based foundation helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.  Two really good products to consider are

40-540-6

 

 

 

 

 

40 to 55

As Becky said to me recently when I was researching this article “Sweety, it’s not the years, it’s the mileage !” Scientifically speaking, what I think she meant was that at this time, we start to develop pre-menopausal skin, which is caused by a decline in the amount of oestrogen and elastin we produce.  Also, a decrease in Melanocytes leads to reduction in natural protection, which all combine to cause the skin to decrease in both thickness and suppleness.  The net effect is an increase in the skin becoming more susceptible to damage from the elements, in particular the sun and an increase in the signs of aging.

I’m not going to tell you which end of this age range I fit into (a girl has to have some secrets) but, in a nutshell, its all about moisturising, toning and exfoliating, with a little night cream thrown in too. My fave products to use are (You should try the Elizabeth Arden crème, as recommended to me by Zoe – its lovely !!!)

50-150-250-350-450-5

 

 

 

 

The reason why I take a vitamin supplement is that they help to strengthen and regenerate the skin as well as having anti-oxidant properties. All good to know !!!

55 and upwards

Speaking to Shirley, who proudly fits in the “Upwards” section of this range, she has found that as she has got older her skin has tended to become more sensitive. The science behind this sensitivity says that the skins metabolism slows down as the production of collagen and elastin reduces. Shirleys preference is therefore for Hypoallergenic products, ideally those which contain natural ingredients.  When I asked Shirley what was in her skin care locker, she told me “I love natural products and would be lost without my night cream too, but one of my favourite things to do is a body and face massage where my therapist uses an almond based oil which really helps with the dryness of my skin”

55-155-255-3

 

 

 

 

Shirley also recommends using Jojoba oil instead of a crème at night which she finds helps seal in moisture.