Living a life less toxic…

by Faith Canter


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How I Learned to Love to Blog

A year ago today, on 29th June 2013 I posted my first ever blog!

In homage to that first blog and what I have learnt as an unlikely blogger in this last year I have decided to share my thoughts and feelings about the journey.

I never thought I’d be a blogger, never wanted to be a blogger, didn’t see why people wanted to share their thoughts in blogs and didn’t understand the blog fascination. But somehow I still became a blogger!

 

So what changed?

1. When you post something to Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site it eventually gets lost in all the other posts!  So even if you say something insightful, profound or just simply interesting it’s lost to the millions of other insightful, profound and interesting posts on social networks.  However on a blog it’s always there, easy to find, share and use.

2. I had the notion of becoming an author and apparently when you become an author you need to build a thing called a platform (which is basically your following).  One of the great ways to build a platform is to blog interesting content, that people will either find when they search for topics you have covered on the internet or through blog posts you have shared on other forums.  To find out more about what this is and how to do it check out the book ‘Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World’ by Michael Hyatt.

3. I wanted to share recipes, multiple pictures and more information than a standard Facebook status or tweet.

4. It’s a good way to practice this writing lark (see point 2).  Also some of my blogs have actually become part of the chapters in my first book.  So you can re-use your content elsewhere.

5. I wanted to have somewhere where I could link all my thoughts, feelings, information and ramblings from all my other sites, pages and groups.

6. I wanted to have somewhere where I could direct future clients or publishers to see what I write about and am passionate about.

 

What have I learnt?

1. Check out at least a few of the blogging books available on the market, either before you start blogging or shortly afterwards.  I wish I had, as I struggled to understand what I was doing and to get any followers to start with.  Within two weeks of reading ‘Get Rich Blogging’ by Zoe Griffin I had doubled the followers on my blog and continue to add new followers every week since.  I have never had any intention of making money on my blog, but Zoe’s easy to follow book is a goldmine of blogging hints and tips and I highly recommend it.

2. Make sure to use links in your blog posts to other peoples’ blogs and pages and also to your own blogs and pages.  This will build your following more than anything else as Google will start to recognise your site as authentic.

3. Blog regularly!  Some people say to blog every day, but in my opinion this is a bit overkill and I personally have actually unsubscribed from daily bloggers sites.  Most other people agree on roughly three times a week.  On a good week I manage 3 times, but generally I blog twice a week and that suits me fine.

4. Think about the times of the week and day that you publish your blog.  There’s little point in publishing a blog when people are not around.  Some people might read it when they come back to their computer, but a lot of the time it gets forgotten about.  I have always got more of a response to my blogs if I publish them between the hours of Sun – Thur 18.00 – 22.00.

5. If you have lots of ideas for blogs then write these ideas down or start multiple blog drafts with the headings and add to each one as and when inspired to do so.  I generally write a few blogs at any one time and whichever one gets finished first gets published first.

6. If you have a blog idea about a particular health or environmental issue it’s always best to publish these around the date of the awareness day (look online for when these are).  This will increase you blog exposure tenfold.

7. Keep it simple!  Occasionally I do long waffling blogs if it’s something that I feel warrants it, but the general rule of thumb, is short, to the point and clear.  People generally don’t want to read lots of text and are after quick and concise fixes when they read blog posts.

8. Make sure to use the share button on your blog to share your blog posts on all your social networks each time you publish a blog post.

9. Consider sharing part of your blog post in the actual status box of your social network page.  This gets people interested and they generally click on the blog link to read more.

10. Don’t forget it’s OK to re-share your blog posts at a later date.

11. It’s great if you can get people to guest blog, as it means that your blog site will be shared between both yours and their readers.  It also gives them exposure with your readers, so it’s a winner for both of you.

12. Make sure to think about the names of your blog posts.  Long, wordy or boring blog post names mean people are less likely to click on the link to read them. Make them interesting or at the very least concise.

13. Interact with other bloggers, like, share and comment on other people’s blogs and hopefully they will do the same back.

14. Join blogging groups relevant to your own topics through online forums and Facebook groups.

15. If you think you might merge your blog and website at a later date then WordPress is the best site to go with as you will easily be able to move your blog from wordpress.com (their blogging site) to a self-hosted website on wordpress.org (for your website and blog together).  You will easily be able to move followers, pages and all information this way.

16. Make sure to have an email sign-up section on your blog.  This is a place where people can put their email address in to get a copy of your blog when you post it.  This also means if you so wished you could market to these followers in other ways in the future once you have their email address.

17. Try to finish your blog post with a question that will encourage people to comment on the post.

18. Make sure to put each blog post into a relevant category on your blog site.  This way if someone is interested in a particular topic they can find all your posts about it in one place.

19. Make sure to have links to all your social network pages permanently on your blog site so people can start following your elsewhere if they wish to do so.

 

What wouldn’t I do again?

1. I would make sure to identify my blog writing style early on, rather than swapping and changing around until I found out what worked for me and my readers.

2. Pick a blog template you are truly happy with, instead of changing your mind every few months like me!  If you’re unsure then spend some time looking at other people’s blogs and websites and make a scrap book of what you like from these and put something together that incorporates all these ideas.

3. I wouldn’t have a separate blog away from my website again.  It makes much more sense to have the blog as a page of your website, then everything is in the same place for people to find.  I am now currently in the process of merging my blog and website for this very reason.

4. I wouldn’t use photos from Google images again, as although these are easily available on the internet, most of them are actually still copyright protected. I am in the process of replaces any Google images with my own because as your blog traffic grows more people will see these images and you likely to get into trouble at some point over them.

5. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down by writing blogs, if you start to see it like a boring task then this will come through in your writing. Plan out ideas, think about how often you want to blog and enjoy the process.

 

What am I looking forward to?

1. Engaging more with my readers and welcome new followers.

2. Allowing my readers to have a sneak preview of some of my upcoming book A Life Less Toxic.

3. Finding lots of lovely new ways to live a less toxic life, that I can share with all my readers.

4. Doing some more posts about less toxic travel.  I totally love travelling and have been all over the world and am looking forward to posting about this to my blog for all the other travellers out there.

5. I have a long way to go with my blogging yet, but I plan to enjoy the process and engage as much as possible with my readers.  If I write about what I love I know I can’t go wrong!

 

Here’s some relevant helpful hints and tips to blogging: 

Blog Buffer: 16 Tops Tips From Blogging Experts, click here.

Blogging Tips: How to Guest Blog Successfully, click here.

Blog Her: Top 10 Blogging Tips for Beginners, click here.

Goins Writers: 25 Blogging Tips for Newbies and Veterans, click here.

The Guardian: Top Tips for a Successful Blog, click here.

 

Do you have any blogging hints and tips you would like to share with us? 

 


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Healthy Travel Tips

As you might have guessed I try to be as healthy as possible and this can sometimes prove difficult when you’re on the go.  So I decided to put together a list of my top tips for healthy travel.

1. Buy a camping cutlery set.  I take mine everywhere I go, this means I can eat salads, fruits, muesli or soup from a mug in the hotel or other things like avocados.  This is my favourite and best used tip for healthy eating on the go – with one of these lots more healthy foods become edible.  It also has the added bonus of meaning you’re not using single-use (environmentally unfriendly) plastic knifes and forks (that is if the store even has these).

2. Take a large lunch box of fruits and veggies and other good foods with you.  This means at least for the first few days you’ll be a good girl or boy!  Don’t worry about the wasted space this takes up on the way back – I simply take the lid off and pack things in the box (it’s actually great for anything that you’re worried about getting damaged or leaking).

3. I take my own healthy muesli with me and some almond milk.  I have personally found that almond milk (not the stuff you buy from the refrigerated areas of the super market, but the one off the shelves) is fine to consume for brekkie with my muesli for 3 days without having to put it in a fridge.  So this is a great option for a healthy breakfast when living out of a suitcase.

4. If you pass a supermarket then always buy some fruit.  Even if you’re not hungry at the time, you will be later and if it’s close at hand you’re much more likely to eat this than go and find a vending machine or corner shop that sells chocolate and crisps etc.

5. I take my tin water bottle everywhere with me.  I top it up whenever I come across drinking water taps or fountain and it means I always drink enough water every day and that I’m not buying lots of single use bottles (better for my health and that of the environment = winner).

6. Take your own herbal teabags.  I take a small supply of organic herbal teabags everywhere I go in my handbag.  This way anywhere that has hot water means I can have a healthy herbal tea.  These days many more places sell herbal teas, but I still find I use them up, especially when staying away from home or visiting friends and family.

7. If it’s impractical for you to take your fermented foods and drinks with you (to maintain good gut health) then then next best thing it to take a really good probiotic with you.  This helps to minimise the risk of tummy upsets.

8. Decant some coconut oil into a small glass jar.  I take coconut oil everywhere with me.  It’s solid at home temperature, so does not need to go in the silly clear liquids bag when going through the security check at the airport.  It’s a great moisturiser and make-up remover, is great for stings, bites, sunburn and many other things as listed in my blog post about coconut oil (click here).

9. Pack a deodorant rock.  I don’t use antiperspirants due to the toxic load of the harmful chemicals in them, so I have tried out most of the natural alternatives and I have found the PitRock salt rock the best of the lot.  It allows you to naturally sweat without smelling.  Again it’s a solid so does not need to go into the clear liquids bag when going through security and because it’s antibacterial it doubles up for helping with spots, bites and stings also.

10. Take a set of ear-plugs in your make-up bag.  These can then be used on planes, trains and in noisy hotel rooms. A must for getting adequate sleep.

11. Before you leave check out if there is a health food store, raw, vegan or vegetarian restaurant close by, or as a last resort. a M&S or Waitrose (for their large range of yummy salads) close by.  You can wander around cities for hours and not find these when usually they are only a street or two away if you know where to look.

12. Get grounding!  The best thing for jet lag is to ground yourself once you get off the plane.  This simply means taking your shoes off and connecting with the earth again.  I rarely suffer from any sort of jet lang by doing this, it works a treat.

13. Meditate.  Use the time on the plane/train to meditate.  Not only will this help to ground you, but you’ll feel more energised, less jet lagged and more relaxed.

14. Get stretching.  I find most hotel rooms aren’t big enough for a full yoga or pilates routine but most are big enough for a few basic stretches.  This is a great way to start the day, stretches out those cramped travelling muscles and is also energising.  I’ve even been known to do a few on the plane as well; you feel heaps better afterwards.

15. And my final tip is if you can fit your smoothie maker and/or juicer in your hold luggage then do it!  This has saved me many a bad meal before.  Smoothie makers these days are quite small and you can pop just about any fruit and vegetable in them with some water (and if you’re like me then some raw enzyme protein powder) when on the go and there you have a healthy snack or breakfast.

What healthy tips do you have for travelling?

Here’s some healthy travel tips from others…

In Sonnets Kitchen: Top 7 Healthy Travelling Tips click here.

Trip It: 10 Tips for Healthy Travel click here.

The National Geographic: How to Stay Healthy on the Go click here.

My New Roots: Recipes & Tips for Healthy Travel click here.

Sick on the Road blog click here.

The Independent Traveller: Eating Well & Staying Active click here.

 


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My top Inspiring Documentaries & Films

Here is a list of my favourite inspiring documentaries and films.

I believe it’s important to focus on health, positivity and growth rather than the negativity of much of mainstream TV and media.  My own healing path benefited hugely from watching several inspiring/spiritual documentaries each week and it is something I have found I have kept doing even to this day.  If I feel I am having a slightly negative day I pop one of these on and it soon turns my day around.  Happy viewing!

I have broken these down into rough categories, although many of these fall under several of the categories listed.

The Body

Food Matters

The honest account of the drug and food industry.  How we can cure ourselves of just about everything if we look at diet and detoxing.  A must watch!  For the trailer and option to buy the full film, click here.

Simply Raw

Reversing diabetes and other health concerns in 30 days. For full film click here. 

Raw for Life

The ultimate encyclopaedia for the raw food lifestyle.  These two discs clearly show the benefits of adopting this lifestyle. For trailer click here.

Burzynski Part 1 & 2

A completely natural way to recover from cancer that how the American Government/FDA reacted to this amazing breakthrough. Shocking at say the least!  For the whole of the first film (part 1), click here. 

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

This is a recording of one of Christiane Northrup’s talks and is the funniest item on this list, yet still manages to be packed full of tons of information – a must watch! Unfortunately you can only get this item if you pay for it, but here is a trailer of it, click here.

Super Juice Me

Explains the truth behind what’s on our plate and the benefits of juicing.  Click here for the trailer.

Heal Yourself, Heal the World

The story behind Max Gerson’s, Gerson Therapy, how to heal naturally from cancer and other illnesses/diseases and reset our body’s health and well-being.  You can only get this on DVD or through a subscription to FMTV, there are no trailers online either, but there are dozens of short clips on You Tube about Gerson Therapy. Here is one of these talks from Charlotte Gerson, Max Gerson’s daughter, click here. 

Fat Sick & Nearly Dead

One man’s juicing journey to healing himself of an auto-immune disease and how he inspired and helped others with their own healing paths. Click here for the full movie. 

The Greater Good

Vaccines, what do they really do, do we need them, what are the side effects and who’s really benefiting from them?  I like this documentary and it explains both sides of the argument.  For the full documentary click here

The Tapping Solution

How to tap, why tap and how everyone can benefit from tapping.  This is a nice, simple and clear documentary about tapping (EFT). Here’s a link to the trailer, click here. 

The Grounded

A brilliant documentary about how simply grounded ourselves every day as cure a whole host of ailments, large and small. I highly recommend this film, click here.

The Mind

I AM

This is a brilliant documentary about how are are all connected.  How our emotions, hearts and lives effects those around us, including plants and animals.  For the trailer, click here. 

Finding Happiness

This is a film about living simply and finding happiness in a spiritual community called Ananda.  It’s lovely, easy watching and inspiring (and now I want to the place ha).  For the YouTube trailer, click here.

E-motion

How what we think effects our life and how understanding, loving and listening to ourselves can create large shifts.  What we put into our body and think about our body has a huge impact on overall health and well-being.  Here’s a long trailer for E-motion, click here. 

Choice Point

I love this documentary! We all get to a point in our life where we have an important choice to make, this documentary explains how we react to this choice and how it can effect our life in amazing and positive ways. Great things can come from very hard paths and choices.  Click here for the trailer.

Feed Your Head

A great documentary about how what we put into our body effects our mental health. Click here for the YouTube trailer.

You Can Heal Your Life

I great film explaining how the way we speak about our health, ourselves and others effects our life, health and well being. Click here for the trailer.  A must watch! 

Finding Joe

This takes a little while to get going, but is worth it!  Explaining we are all in the same story but by following out bliss we can pave our own happy and healthy path. Click here for the trailer. 

Celestine Prophecy

I totally love this film, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  It really makes you think about coincidences and how we all have connected energy.  A must watch!  Here’s the trailer, click here. 

The Secret

A really interesting documentary about the law of attraction. Watch the full movie here.

The Moses Code

The thought provoking storey of how we are all one in the same, click here.

 

The Planet

An Inconvenient Truth

This is one of my favourite documentaries.  It explains climate change in detail and in a clear and easy to follow way.  It’s must watch for everyone and is a scary reminder of what will come to pass if we do not act now! Click here for the full documentary. 

Vanishing Bees

What’s happening to all our Bee’s and how it will effect the planet, our food and our lives. I highly recommend you watch this documentary, click here for the trailer and/or buy the full documentary. 

One Man, One Cow, One Planet

How teaching people to grow, eat and live organic and bio-dynamic effects health, life and takes back our choices from the big companies! Click here for the trailer and/or to buy the full documentary. 

Economics of Happiness

This is a brilliant documentary about localisation rather than globalisation and how this impacts us and the planet. Click here for the trailer and/or to buy the full documentary. 

Food Inc

This is a great, but shocking documentary about the American food industry. Click here for the trailer. 

Black Fish

This is a shocking documentary about the reality of sea-life parks.  Watch the trailer here and/or buy the full film here.  A must watch! 

The Living Matrix

This is a science based healing documentary, explaining quantum physics, belief, healing fields/web and bio-energetic principles. Click here for the trailer and/or to buy the full documentary. 

7 Days to Freedom

These dvd’s show you how you can change your life with 7 days worth of tapping/EFT.  To watch most parts of these DVD’s for free follow this link to David’s online page. 

 

Based on True Inspiring Stories

The Shift

This is a totally brilliant film about the power of our thoughts and other ignored everyday things.  I highly recommend everyone watches this film.  Click here for the full documentary on YouTube. 

Peaceful Warrior

This is one of my favourite all time films (and the book also), it helped me to completely turn my health and life around!  It is based on a true story about Dan Millman’s amazing healing journey after a terrible accident took almost everything from him.  I cannot recommend this film enough. Click here for the trailer. 

Conversions with God

Based on the true story of Neill Donald Walsch’s amazing transformation after losing everything and living homeless, his anger and then his connection with spirit. Click here for the trailer.

 

Mainstream Inspiring Stories

The Way            – Another favourite of mine!

Seven Years in Tibet

Pay it Forward            – Another favourite of mine!

A beautiful Mind

The Green Mile

The Pursuit of Happyness

Captain Philips

The Matrix

Avatar

 

What’s your favourite inspiring or spiritual film or documentary? 

 

Here’s some links to some of people’s favourite films or documentary:

The Positivity Blog: 9 Uplifting and Inspiring Movies for a rainy summers day click here.

One.org: 10 Inspiring films on social change click here.

Personal Excellence: 12 Inspiring movies with important life lessons click here.

Adventure Travel Blog: 10 Inspiring travel movies click here.

BuzzFeed click here.

Top 100 Most Inspiring Film click here.

 

 


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Speak, Write & Promote 2014

If any of you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you will have noticed my feeds have been mostly about the Hay House Write, Speak & Promote event recently.

DSC_1566What is this Write, Speak & Promote thing all about?  Well it’s a yearly event that Hay House organise for any budding authors, writers or anyone wanting to work as the face of their brand or company.

Why did I go?   I’m one of those budding authors I’ve just mentioned!  I want to be able to help and share my findings with more people than just my clients and workshoppers alone.  I always assumed that by being dyslexic and not the most confident of people that this was an avenue not for me.  But then last year something happened to change this.

What happened?  I was an exhibitor at an event last year and one of my favourite authors, Dr David Hamilton was there as a speaker.  He had unknowingly helped me through some of my darkest times with my recovery from ME/CFS.  I had read all his books, listened to him for hours on You Tube and CD’s and tried to implement as much of his guidance as possible into my own life.  Anyway, my husband forced me to go and talk to him as he knew what a difference he had made to my recovery journey.  So after I had got over my complete and utter tongue-tiedness I realise (and sorry for this bit, David) that he was actually only human and not any different from me or anyone else.  I hadn’t realised before but I was still having some rather toxic thoughts about myself and my own abilities and still saw famous people like himself as being better than me, when actually they really are only human beings like the rest of us.

Why am I mentioning this story?  That day was a turning point for me; it suddenly became clear that if David could go out there and help all these people with his work that I could also.  Once I made that decision that I was going to write a book everything else just seemed to fall into place.  Within two days I saw an advert for the Hay House Writers Workshop (that I attended last year).  The book idea, name and basic content came to me and I started seeing a client who had been a proof reader.  What also happened was that without a shadow of doubt I all of a sudden knew that Hay House would be publishing my book.  I still do not doubt this and never have, it may not be right now or even this year but they will! …..look out Hay House! ha

What happens next?  So since the Writers Workshop last year I have been working on my book ‘Living a Life Less Toxic’.  This covers the topics of toxic thoughts, foods, home and body care products and our toxic environment.  It shows people cheap and easy things they can do to benefit their own health and that of this beautiful planet.  With this book almost finished and wanting to learn more about promoting myself and my writings I booked myself on to the Hay House Speak, Write & Promote event early this year.

The Workshop:  I have attended several of the Hay House events now, covering many different topics and I always found them invaluable.  Not only do you get to meet lots of lovely like-minded people but you learn from the best whilst there.  They always have some of their top authors speaking at these events, as well as their CEO Reid Tracy attending many of them.  They are a mine of information, really motivating and totally inspiring and this event was no different from the rest!  There was also an added bonus that there were several of their new authors at this event, this was great because it inspired us all that we could be in their shoes someday soon.  There were also plenty of laughs, some tears and lots of new friendship and connections made.

DSC_1585I was lucky enough to have lunch one day with the founder and editor of a wellbeing magazine called Wellbeing World.  If you haven’t heard of this magazine, you can check it out online for free.  It has tons of wonderful article about health and wellbeing.

DSC_1593I had a little ego trip, i.e photo op with Cheryl Richardson, one of the first ever coaches in the States, who had written several empowering books and helped many people (some famous) to achieve goals and results they were only dreaming about before.

I was also very happily surprised to find out that Janey Lee Grace was in attendance and would be doing a little speaking slot on the Sunday afternoon.  As well as being one of the hosts on Radio 2, she used to sing (back in the day) with Wham and is an author and PR specialist herself.  What makes her so fascinating to me is that two of her books DSC_1586have been about looking good the natural and healthy way, so she’s a woman after my own heart.  It was lovely to chat to her for a bit of our lunch break and she was kind enough to sign my book and let me take this below photo (another ego trip, sorry, ha).

So what’s in it for you?  If you have any books ideas or aspire to being any sort of public figure/speaker then I highly recommend one of Hay House’s writing and/or speaking events.  You will come away with an idea of what’s holding you back, how to address this, how to get started on this journey and what to expect from it all.  If in doubt I highly recommend you give their workshops a go.  Not only this, but at each of their speaking workshops Hay House run a competition to award one of the attendees (who submits a book proposal to them) a publishing contract!  That means that you have a one in (around) 200 chance of being published by them rather than a one in several thousand chance (if you submit to a normal publishers in the normal way).

What have I learnt?

You really can achieve anything you put your mind to; it’s only those toxic thoughts holding you back, so why not give it a go!  Plus you can have lots of fun along the way.

The journey is just as important as the goal, if not more, so enjoy the learning/growing process.

Learning to laugh and cry and share some amazing stories, memories and love with a room full of complete strangers is something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.


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Top Tips for Better Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep seems to be one of the hardest things for us to do these days.  People are always complaining of too little sleep, but never too much!

I suffered from varying degrees of insomnia for almost 15 years so believe me when I say I have completed a lot of research about this subject.  I’ve tried all sorts of weird and wonderful lotions, potions, pills and regimes to trick that elusive sleep fairy into granting me a good night’s sleep.  So I wanted to share with you what worked for me and what finally cured me of my insomnia for good!

 

Here’s my Top Five: 

Meditation!  I cannot stress strongly enough how important daily meditation (even the guided sort) is to sleep.  There is a great deal of research out there to indicate that daily meditation reduces all of the following: stress and anxiety levels; helps our busy brains not be so busy; grounds you; reduces blood pressure and balances blood sugars and makes you feel more balanced.  And as all of these things disturb our sleep patterns you can see why it helps so much.   Also if you listen to a mediation when you’re ready for sleep it can even help you drift off.

Always get to bed by 10.00 pm, so that you fall asleep before 11.00 pm as this is when your body gets it’s second wind due to our circadian rhythm (which is our body’s nature cycle) and falling  asleep after this time becomes much more difficult.  Out optimum time for falling asleep is actually 10.00pm as this is when the levels of serotonin in the body are highest, but as long as you are asleep by 11.00pm you’ll find it a lot easier to get to sleep and stay asleep. According to much research any time asleep before midnight is twice as beneficial and any hours asleep after midnight.

Deal with underlying stresses and anxieties.  If you have past issues that you run over in your mind time and time again or you worry a lot about the future then consider things like EFT, Bach flower remedies or hypnotherapy for dealing with these.  It’s important to remember these things won’t go away and will interfere with sleep and general health and well-being until you address them, so you might as well do it sooner rather than later.

Believing you can sleep!  I know this sounds a little odd or maybe even obvious, but if you lay there thinking ‘I won’t sleep’ or ‘I can’t sleep again’, then that’s exactly what will happen.  However, if you think to yourself ‘at least I’m still resting, which will be benefiting my body’ or ‘I’ll drift off to sleep very soon, I just need to relax all my muscles (and then work on doing that), then your body and mind are in a much better state to rest and then sleep.

Learn not to get stressed about not sleeping.  This never helps and only makes the ‘not sleeping’ worse as your mind and then body becomes stressed, tense and anxious and produces the stress hormones associated with this, which are usually produced for the body for the exact opposite of sleep, so will not promote you dropping off any time soon.  Try listening to some relaxing music, reading a boring book or the best thing is doing a guided meditation like the Body Scan (you can find hundreds of these on YouTube and other similar sites).  If you cannot get off to sleep, or wake in the night then listen to one of these (most people never get to the end of it before they are asleep).

 

I also found these items helpful:

Start to get ready for bed ‘winding down’ at least 2 hours before bed (some people put off going to bed later on because of the effort it takes to get ready for bed when they are already tired).

If you’re feeling particularly wired in the evening then take a soak in the bath with Espom salts and lavender or chamomile and get ready for bed straight afterwards.

Use Rescue Night, a Bach flower remedy (you can buy this online or from places like Boots and Holland & Barrett), click here for more information about this product.

Use Neal’s Yards Aromatherapy Night Time roll on, click here for more information on this product.

Remove or drastically reduce caffeine and processed sugars from your diet.

Eat healthy, well balanced and regular meals.  This helps stabilise blood sugar levels, so try to eat every 4 hours and try to avoid foods and drinks high on the GI Index.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  This not only helps reduce the stresses and strains that might be keeping you up at night but it also helps when actually trying to get to sleep.  Just tap on how you’re feeling at the time and it will help shift these feelings and emotions.

Turn the lights down low in the evening.  This helps the body start to get into sleep mode.

Stop watching TV, using computers and playing on phones and tablets etc at least two hours before you want to be asleep.  All these items stimulate the brain and also make it believe it’s still daylight.  If you must use them then turn screen brightness down, use a screen diffuser or use from Low Blue Light Glasses, click here for more info on these.

In the evening drink herbal teas that promote sleep, like lavender, chamomile, valerian or the Night Time blend by Pukka Teas.

Don’t read anything too stimulating at night time, so ditch the exciting novels just before bed in favour of something heavy and non-fiction.

Try attending a yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Pilates class a few times a week.  These classes are very relaxing, balancing and supportive of body and mind and promote good sleep patterns.

Exercise regularly, even if it’s just going for a 10 minute walk every day.  It is worth mentioning that high intensity exercise can interfere with some people’s sleep because of the additional hormones (particularly cortisol) it produces.

The bedroom should be a technology free zone.  Each electrical appliance around you emits an electromagnetic field.  These fields then interfere with your own electromagnetic field.  This then disturbs sleep, mood, hormones and creates a whole host of other health concerns, click here for more info on electromagnetic stress.  Remove all the electricals you can; the ones you simply can’t do without switch off fully (not standby) and put them the other side of the bedroom (do not have them next to you whilst sleeping, or trying to sleep).

 

Here are some relevant links you might like:

Wikinut, Five main reasons why we must go to sleep early, click here.

Karen Kingston’s Blog, Electromagnetic Stress Blogs, click here.

Sleepio Blog, click here.

Snoozester, click here.

The Sleep Lady, click here.

Psychology Today, Sleep Newzzz, click here

 

If you have any additional items you find are helpful in promoting sleep please feel free to share them in the comments section below. 


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My Top Tips for Managing ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

As some of you will know I have recovered from ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), after struggling with it for over 6 years.  So to raise awareness of International ME/CFS/FM Awareness Day on 12th May and the many millions of people struggling with ME/CFS/FM throughout the World I have decided to put together my tops tips for managing ME/CFS.

So here they are: 

  • Learn to relax properly (through meditation, visualisation &/or relaxation techniques).  Remember it’s not a proper rest if your mind is still buzzing with thoughts!  These practices also have a lovely side effect of helping sleep patterns.
  • Eat healthily & regularly!  This should be every 4hrs to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and release a steady flow of energy rich foods – not processed foods, sugars, or caffeine based foods.  Food really is our fuel, so plenty of slow releasing carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes are a must, plus plenty of vegetables and good fats and proteins with each meal.
  • Try and have a fresh juice or smoothie each day.  These are great ways to get lots of much needed nutrients into your body.
  • Use your energy for fun things, not just chores.  We all need some ‘me’ time and some ‘fun’ time, saving energy for just chores doesn’t make you feel very fulfilled or happy, so split your time between the two (the dust will be back tomorrow anyway).
  • Only do half of what you think you can do.  This one was so important to me.  On days when I felt better I would do loads of things to make up for the other days, but this never helped and always made me feel worse again afterwards.
  • Have the things you use the most close (on your bedside table or coffee table).  I know this seems simply but it really helps to place anything you feel you might need for the day close by so you don’t have to keep trying to get up.
  • Consider buying a small folding table to go on your bed.  I had a little laptop table on my bed, which was a great as it meant things could be close by if I wanted to use them.
  • Make a flask of tea (or whatever hot or cold drink you prefer) at the beginning of the day that will last you all day and save having to get up more often than you want/can during the day.  My hubby used to make me a flask to drink during the day before he went to work, this would last me all day and sometimes I would have another flask with soup in it for lunch as well.  This will also help to keep you hydrated.
  • Put a pillow under your knees when laying in bed or on a sofa as this can relieve the pressure and pain in your legs.  I found this really helpful for my heavy painful legs and surprising comfortable to sleep with.
  • Do your shopping online if you can.  The great thing about this is, if you feel tired you can just save your basket of goods and go back to it another time to finish your shop.
  • Consider taking up a craft or art project.  I know this sounds daft and also hard work, but it really helps to give you a sense of achievement (you can monitor) when you can’t do much else.  I started knitting a patchwork blanket.  I couldn’t hold my arms up each day for longer than one line at a time when I started it, so each patch would take me weeks, but over the months and years I produced many patches and loved the fact I was still able (if very slowly) to create something beautiful.
  • Cook batches of healthy food when you’re feeling more up to it and then freeze them down for worse days.  This includes batches of rice, quinoa and even jacket potatoes.
  • Use a stool or high chair in the kitchen instead of standing for long periods of time.  You can get a shorter stool for the bathroom also.
  • I know it’s hard but try not to give yourself a hard time, it doesn’t get you anywhere and only expels even more energy and effects your adrenals and your sympathetic nervous system.  It took me a long time to form this new habit, but it really helped.
  • Learn to meditate.  I mentioned this above in the learning to relax part but learning to meditate was invaluable to me.  It helped to reduce my stress and anxiety, helped me actually sleep at night and get much longer and a better quality of sleep and with guided meditations I started picturing myself well, happy and healthy rather than constantly focusing on the negative stuff in my life. This in-turn helped build and reinforce new positive pathways within my brain and gave me hope for better health.  Meditation also grounds you, so helps people feel a little less like their head is in the clouds.
  • Practice Mindfulness.  This is when we are mindful of our activities rather than thinking of dozens of other things.  This helps to calm the mind and body and also helps us appreciate what we are doing.  For instance, when we are mindful whilst brushing our teeth we absorb ourselves in the motion and feeling of the toothbrush, the water and how wonderful it is we have these things and are able to use them.
  • Put a sign on your door saying ‘no doorstep sellers, canvassers or junk mail’ to minimise the amount of times your doorbell might get rung during the day and then you have to struggle to get up only to find it’s someone trying to sell you something you probably don’t want.
  • Use natural herbal oils etc for calming, relaxing and sleeping.  Lavender, camomile and rose-bud, valerian and such can me found in ‘night-time’ or ‘relaxing’ sprays, oils and even teas that you can pick up in most health food stores and will help sleep.
  • Use Bach Night Remedy & Neal’s Yard Night Time Roll-on.  Also their relaxation & energy roll-on blends are great as and when you need them for additional support.  Neal’s Yard even do a study roll on, which I found helped when I knew I had some forms to fill in or something important to concentrate on.
  • Try to give up or at least minimise caffeine,  sugar, processed foods and white foods like white rice, white flour & white potatoes (these effects your blood sugar levels and you’ll only feel worse for it in the long run.  They also allow you to think you have more energy than you do, so you over do it without realising it.
  • Plan trips out in advance, looking on google maps and planning places to rest or to easily get home from is invaluable.
  • Get fresh air – even if it’s just sitting in the garden.  This helps your Vitamin D levels and also makes you feel like you have actually left the house!  I would quite often sit or lay in a garden chair/sun bed and read a book, meditate or simply do nothing.  I would be wrapped up in blankets and such like but still enjoy just being outside.
  • If you cannot get outside then sit at a window and absorb the beautiful outdoors through the window, appreciate the fact you are able to take this all in rather than buzzing around with stress related blinkers on like everyone else out therein the world!
  • Try to deal with underlying stresses and anxieties.  Being constantly in that stress cycle effects sleep, mood, rest, the sympathetic nervous system, the adrenals and overall energy levels.  I found Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT/Tapping) and Bach Flower Remedies really helped me deal with past traumas and issues and gave me a few less negative things to focus on.
  • Join some online forums or groups for people with ME/CFS/FM so you don’t feel so alone and so you can chat to people that understand what your going through.  I felt no one around me understood what I was going through, so this really helped.  Although some of these sites can be rather negative (don’t allow yourself to get drawn into the negative one, delete these straight away if you can), on a whole most people are really supportive and understand what your going through.
  • Read every recovery story you can (even if not ME/CFS/FM related), these were not only great reads but gave me hope and inspiration.
  • Carry sunglasses everywhere you go, even in the winter if the sun effects your eyes like it did me.  Who cares if know one else has them on, no one else needs them on (pretend you’re a movie star)!
  • Take baths with Epsom salts.  This helps draw out aches, pains and toxins from the body as well as allowing you to absorb some of the magnesium in them, which helps calm your sympathetic nervous system and eliminate toxins.
  • Try natural pain killers like White Willow Bark and Ginger, they not only help with pain but also reduce inflammation.
  • Try taking some supplements and/or teas for detox.  Most of us have far to many toxins in our bodies, which is another thing we  struggle with and need energy to deal with.  Milk thistle and magnesium help with this, plus the items in the section below.
  • Drink plenty of water and herbal teas (a number of herbal teas help with healing and supporting the body, bitter teas (like nettle and dandelion) help with detoxing and peppermint and ginger teas help settle to digestive system.
  • Try writing a gratitude or happiness  journal.  This helped me to focus on the good bits of my day rather than how terrible I felt all the time.  Even little things like ‘hubby bringing me my supplies for the day before he goes to work’, rather than saying to myself ‘I’m so alone and no one understands’.  I was surprised how this helped my day to day thoughts.
  • Watch at least one inspirational film, documentary or YouTube video each week.  I used to find watching and reading the news and soaps could trigger me feeling low, so I started watching more positive stuff instead and this really helped.
  • Focus on what you can do, (even if only tiny) to get better, I spent a lot of time and energy looking into why I was ill, why the NHS/Doctors didn’t want to or couldn’t help and why more research wasn’t being done.  I realised later on that this didn’t get me anywhere, other than making me feel more upset, more negative and more alone.  Instead I started to focus on little things I could do to help my health every day, the energy that I wasted on chasing a cure or a proper diagnosis for people with ME/CFS was then spent on positive steps for myself.
  • Do skin brushing whenever you feel able to, I used to try to do this after every bath.  The idea is that you run your hands or a brush up (always up) your body towards your chest.  Then on the face you rub or brush down towards the chest.  This helps stimulate the lymphatics and helps eliminate toxins as well as helps shift lactic acid in the body (which is some of the reason for the pain in your muscles).  This made me feel worse to start with but really helped with my muscle pain after that.
  • Start using and getting others to use natural and toxic free beauty products and household cleaners.  Not only will these stop more toxins getting into your system that your body has to try and deal with but also they won’t smell so bad, which is a bonus when you’re sensitive to smells etc.  It’s surprising what a mixture of white vinegar, water and a couple of essential oils can clean and kill in your home (plus it’s cheaper and better for the environment = bonus).
  • If and when you can manage it try light Yoga, Tia Chi, Pilates, Rebounding/mini trampoline (even if sitting down to do these), they help stimulate the chi (energy) within your body and also make you feel more grounded.
  • Reduce stress in any way you can, otherwise this will only lead to more energy being expended than you have.  Sometimes this means reducing or removing certain people or events from your life for a while.  Learn to be selfish, you really do matter!

 

Top Tips from others: 

  • Keep in mind things that you can do at different energy levels. Do the tiny things on low energy days. I’ve found this really combats the “I can’t do anything ever” feeling.  By Nadine Steidl from Facebook community from From ME to Recovery.
  • Keep a change of lounge wear within reach at all times to deal with nightsweats– also towels to put on your pillow and so on.  By Nadine Steidl from Facebook community from From ME to Recovery.
  • There is a time where exercise is a definite no no, especially with severe M.E as I’ve had but when the time is right swimming is the most gentle form if exercise for aiding recovery even if it means starting at a few minutes each visit and very gradually working your way up.  By Lorna Cameron from Facebook community from From ME to Recovery.
  • Linseeds/Flaxseeds are a great source of omegas and anti inflammatory amongst other things.  By Lorna Cameron from Facebook community from From ME to Recovery.
  • Keeping hydrated is a big one and may seem obvious but when very ill it can be more difficult.  By Lorna Cameron from Facebook community from From ME to Recovery.

 

Some additional tips that made the world of difference to me: 

  • Read the Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.  There are loads of books that helped my recovery, but this book and then DVD made me realise even if I couldn’t do much I could still appreciate what I had, it inspired me and gave me hope for better health. Click here for his website.
  • Read David Hamilton’s book It’s The Thought That Counts.  This book and many of David’s teachings explain in a detailed and sciency (but easily readable) way what our thoughts do to our bodies. Click here for his website.
  • Read the book Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson, or at the very least take the quiz on his website and have a nose around whilst you’re there. Click here for his website.
  • Once you start to feel better read one Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way – Robert Maurer.  This is a great way to make and monitor tiny little improvements in your health.  Click here for his website.
  • Most importantly – NEVER, ever, ever give up hope for better health! 

 

Here are a few related articles, blogs and links that might interest you:

Jess’ ME/CFS Blog, click here.

The ME CFS Blog Roll, click here.

My Journey Thru M.E, click here.

CFS Warrior, click here.

World has Teeth / Just my Life, click here.

 

That’s all for me, but if any of you have any other tips you’d like to add to this list I’d love to hear them, so please comment below.


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Top Tips for Living a Less Toxic Life

I’ve had many requests for my top tips for living a less toxic life.

So there they are:

1. Meditate daily.  Even if you feel you haven’t got the time to meditate regularly try a short three minute guided meditation instead (you can find loads of these on YouTube and such like).  When we bring ourselves into the ‘now’ through meditation we stop the toxic thought processes of running over the past or thinking about what will often never happen in the future.  Here’s a blog post of mine about meditation for more information, click here.

2. Learn to belly breathe.  When we breathe in our normal way, we often don’t expel all the toxins we need to.  Normal breathing is shallow, and we need to breathe into the bottom of our lungs to breathe more effectively.  Belly breathing is when you push your belly out when you breathe in and bring your belly in when you breathe out.  It can take some getting used to.   Also try a few deep belly breaths if you feel stressed or anxious as this will help calm you down and also helps with fatigue, as more oxygen in the body means a healthier and more energised body.

3. Adopt a good posture.  By doing this you lessen the levels of toxicity in the body, as all your organs, including the lungs work more effectively because they are not squashed up.  This helps you expel more toxins.  Sit or stand with your weight evenly over your hips and when carrying things carrying them evenly over both sides of the body.

4. Gratitude is the best attitude!  Looking for things to be grateful for in your day helps form new habits of positivity instead of negativity.  This reduces our toxic thoughts about ourselves and our lives and when we do this it not only makes us happier, but these sorts of thoughts have chemical reactions within the brain, creating new positive and less toxic pathways rather than reinforcing old negative pathways and thoughts.  Try listing 21 things in each of your days that you are grateful for (anything from your hair or health to family and pets), do this every day and see what a difference it makes to our life and those toxic thoughts.

5. Drink plenty of fresh clean water and get plenty of fibre in your diet.  Water includes herbal teas and vegetable juices and should ideally add up to 2 – 3 litres a day, more if you are exercising.  This will help you flush toxins from your body.  In the same respect making sure you have plenty of fibre in your diet will help you maintain regular bowel movements, which is one of the body’s main ways of eliminating a lot of toxins.  If you do not have regular bowel movements you will be holding onto a lot of additional toxins, so this is a must to address for detoxification.

6. Swap the white foods for brown. White rice, flours, breads, pastas, potatoes and sugars should ideally be swapped for wholemeal and brown versions, and sweet potatoes eaten instead of white potatoes.

7. Go organic. I know going organic can be expensive, so if you can’t afford it fully then go organic with the dirty dozen (the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of toxins on and in them).

THE DIRTY DOZEN (try and eat organic versions if you can):

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes

8. Eat plenty of colourful vegetables every day.  Colourful vegetables like peppers and beetroot are packed full of antioxidants as well as being highly nutritious.

9. Introduce some fermented foods into your diet.  Fermented foods and drinks like kefir, kombucha, unpasteurised sauerkraut and other fermented fruits and vegetables are packed full of healthy yeasts and probiotics, they help balance the gut flora and eliminate the toxic yeasts and bacteria from the digestive system.  They are highly beneficial for digestive disorders and for overall health and well-being.  Here’s a recent blog post of mine about one of the fermented drinks I favour the most, kefir, click here.

10. Lose sugar, sweeteners, processed foods, gluten and MSG from your diet.  In my opinion not only are these full of empty calories (meaning they are high in calories with little benefits), but they are all also toxic to the body and affect the development of our brain and body in a negative way, as well as our body struggling to eliminate them and often storing them in body fat.

11. Replace toxic beauty products with natural ones.  Due to the fact we absorb up to 60% of what we put onto our skin, it stands to reason that beauty products should be as natural as possible otherwise we are taking on board lots of additional chemicals every day.  You can buy a natural alternative to all beauty products these days or you can make you own, very simply and cheaply.  Coconut oil is a great replacement for many beauty products.  To check out my blog about coconut oil for me info, click here.

12. Replace toxic household cleaners with natural ones.  In the same way we absorb beauty products, we can also absorb household cleaners that touch our skin.  Not only that, but we also breathe in the toxic chemicals from the fumes they produce.  Again it is really easy and cheap to make your own natural cleaners.  Check out my blog about making your own natural cleaners by click here.

13. Replace toxic air-fresheners, candles and other home and car smellies with natural ones.  Toxic air-fresheners are some of the worst chemical products within our homes because we absorb all these nasty toxins through our respitory system.  Watch out for future blogs about how to make your own air-fresheners and in the mean time here is one about making your own natural eco tea-cup candles, click here.

14. De-clutter your home.  One of the items greatly overlooked when living a less toxic life is clutter.  Not only does clutter create mess and dust, but is also often prevents us from moving on with our life as it allows us to dwell in the memories of the past that the clutter reminds us of.  When we live in clutter we don’t make room for new things both physically and mentally in our lives.  By letting go of clutter we generally feel less suffocated,  more energised, less stressed and we become open to new things happening in our lives.

15. Return to Nature.  Electromagnetic stress effects us all, but even more so with people who already have existing health conditions.  This is when the electromagnetic field of electrical appliances interferes with our own electromagnetic field.  This causes a whole host of health issues, but can easily be addressed by spending as much time as possible in nature.  Not only does nature ground us, it makes our normal body rhythms work correctly, it helps the body develop and helps with sleep.  Because of all this, it also helps us eliminate toxins and by being out in nature you’re hopefully also breathing better quality air and getting some much needed vitamin D as well.

So as you can see, living a life less toxic, includes mind, body, home and environment and helps our own health and wellbeing and that of our beautiful planet too!

 

Here’s some more reading for you about reducing toxins in your life:

MindBodyGreen: Four Toxic Triggers That Drain, click here.

Dr Mark Hyman: How to Detox from Sugar, click here.

Lauren Conrad: Fit Tips How to Detox from Head to Toe, click here.

Miss Nutritionist: Top 10 Detox Tips, click here.

The Healthy House: Detoxing Tips for General Good Health, click here.

 

Do you have any tips you want to share about living a life less toxic?