Health & Beauty

Morning Anxiety: Five Tricks To Help You Feel Less Frantic First Thing

White Analogue Clock on Blue Background

If you’re not a morning person, you’re not alone. What most of us would give for a few more hours’ sleep during the working week. However, while most feel lethargic and a bit sluggish when their alarm goes off, there are others who wake up to quite the opposite scenario – a racing heartbeat, serious sweating and a whirring brain that refuses to slow down. Up until three years ago, I fell into the latter category, with my daily pangs of morning anxiety leaving me drained before I’d even gotten out of bed. Read More…

How To Create Wellness Rituals Using The Five Elements

four symbolic semi circular image of the elements of earth, water, air and fire

When we hear the word nature, our minds usually revert to the classic green scenes of parks, gardens and abundant forests. If our minds are in a particularly expansive place, we might introduce mental images of the beach, ocean and perhaps a little memory detour of a recent trip to a garden centre.

We rarely think of nature as the elements of earth, air, fire and water, but they serve as such a powerful way to reconnect to nature. Stemming from ancient Greece, Ayurvedic teachings, spiritual schools of thought and nature-based practices such as Wicca and Neo-Paganism — all of which extol the benefits of incorporating these elements into our daily lives as tools to optimise our health and wellbeing. It’s not only the zodiac signs that are grouped into the four elements, but also tarot cards, herbs, crystals and colours.

There is a plethora of Instagram accounts dedicated to plants, while crystals are infiltrating the high street and more yoga classes seem to be held in local parks than in actual studios. We’re all trying to reconnect and embrace nature – and you don’t need to hug a tree to do it.  If you’re ready to reacquaint yourself and reap the benefits of unplugging, here’s your cheat sheet for adding the elements to your self-care, wellness rituals and physical space.

Earth

From the soil under our feet to rocks, trees, seeds and everything in between, earth provides us with our foundation. It’s a life source and represents the emotions we have that tie into our need for support and stability. Utilising this element is really great for keeping you grounded when life throws you off balance. It’s also helpful for the times when you’re stressed about money and material goods and need to regain a sense of calm and security.

To connect with this element, you can head to your local garden centre, walk around your house barefoot and go for long walks and picnics in the park. You can also represent earth around your home with crystals such as hematite, diffusing vetiver and patchouli essential oils and having a mini bowl of natural salt on your coffee table.

Air

It only takes a moment to look up at the sky, hear the wings of a bird flapping and feel the strength of a gust of wind as it turns your umbrella inside out, to understand that air is all around us. Associated with our mental landscape and communication, it’s an ever-changing and oxygen-containing force of nature.

Working with this element is a key component in your wellness practice as its both restorative and cleansing. The obvious and easiest way to connect to the air is via your breath. Take a quick breathing break in the day for an energy boost and to detox your mind when you’re overthinking. You can simply focus on each in and out breath or follow a breathing pattern of inhaling for three counts, holding for three and exhaling for three. To represent this element in your self-care rituals, you can do a smoke cleanse to clear out any stagnant or unwanted energies with bundles of herbs such as rosemary, thyme or mugwort and allow the smoke to pass through your space.

Fire

If you’ve ever stared at a flame for long enough, you’ll know how intoxicating fire can be. It comes in equal measures of transformation as it allows us to cook and feed ourselves to the danger that it brings with it. It’s an element that needs to be treated with reverence. If you’re a fire sign (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) you’ll know that there’s an intense passion and creative energy associated with fire. It’s governed by the sun and is associated with alchemy and strength.

A scented candle can change the mood of a space in an instant and you can take your nightly candle routine to the next level by spending some time gazing at the candle flame. Protect your eyes by softly focusing at the base of the flame, spending a few minutes here to feel a sense of peace and calm. It’s a great way to meditate if you find it hard focusing on your breath alone. Bring your loved ones into the ritual with a late night bonfire where you can spend some time writing out what you want to release and let go of and burn the papers together. There’s also non-fire related ways to bring some fiery magic into your life. Carry red jasper, garnet or carnelian crystals for when you need a dose of energy and motivation.

Water

Forget the aisles filled with every variety of mineral, filtered, spring and sparkling water that we have at our disposable, and let’s go back to basics. We simply can’t survive without it and on an energetic level, water corresponds to our emotional landscape, the moon, our intuition and dreams. It’s at once calming and soothing, but there’s also a sense of release when we cry and feeling of power in the rain, storms and its ability to put out fires.

The wonderful thing about this element, is that it’s so easy to add in to your everyday routines. Indulge in a ritual bath and pay attention to how the water feels on your skin and fill the tub with your favourite bath salts, oils and dried flowers. Of course, swimming and taking a soak in the ocean is a preferable option but your local pool is also a great way to utilise this element if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to self-soothe. Another way to turn water into a ritual is by going all-out on your next cup of tea and doing a herbal tea meditation. From the moment you boil the kettle to the very last sip, just take your time and treat it like a mindfulness practice. Notice the sound that the kettle makes as it boils, savour every sip of tea, paying attention to how it tastes, the temperature and how it makes you feel.

Spirit

The bonus fifth element is everything that we’re made of and everything that’s around us, we’re all energy and we’re all connected, so as great as all these tools are, you’re the one who brings the magic. To give all of these elemental rituals a bit of a super-boost, deepen the relationship you have with yourself first. Take the time to add some stillness into your daily life by closing your eyes so you can open up your third eye (the centre of intuition and insight), even if you only have five minutes. Tune into your intuition by regularly checking in with your mind and body before making decisions. Do you get the same filter coffee every morning? Check in and ask if that’s actually what your body wants and trust your gut to guide you. Whether you’re working with crystals or doing a smoke cleanse, you need to set an intention first as that’s where the real power and benefits come from.

Giselle La Pompe-Moore is the founder of Project Ajna and offers one-to-one healing sessions that are rooted in spirituality, mysticism, wellness and self-care.

Can Taking Antidepressants Affect Your Skin?

Blue eye with a large tear filled with tablets driping down cheek

Antidepressants treat all sorts of illnesses, and can be beneficial for people with mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder. And while for most, the potential side effects are outweighed by the opportunity to feel better within ourselves, these types of medication can in some cases affect our skin and bodies in unexpected ways.

First and foremost, it’s important to point out that everyone is different and will experience antidepressants in a completely unique way. While some people may experience a couple of side effects, others might not have to deal with any. The prospect of side effects relating to the feel and appearance of our skin should certainly not be undermined, but they should not stop those who need help from trying this form of medication.

In most cases, the positive impact antidepressants can have on a person’s mood and mental health far outweighs any minor side effects they have to contend with. In fact, in some cases, antidepressants can even aid our skin. “There is a close link between the mind and the skin,” confirms New York dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “Stress is a common trigger for acne and this may well improve with an antidepressant.”

However, some side effects are more serious than others, and even those that don’t seem too overwhelming deserve to be addressed and should never be tossed aside. Physical effects such as those that change our skin can impact our confidence as well as our appearance, so they are just as important than others. But how exactly can antidepressants impact the skin?

One of the most common things people may notice is increased dryness in the skin on the face, as well as on the body. “Some antidepressants cause dry mouth and lips because they can block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the production of saliva which lubricates our mouth and lips,” explains Shabir Daya, pharmacist and co-founder of Victoria Health. This opinion is also echoed by Dr King, who says that, “in some cases, antidepressants can lead to general dehydration, making your skin, lips and the rest of your body cry out for moisture.”

Perhaps surprisingly, given that dryness is common, one of the other biggest physical side effects of antidepressants is an increase in sweat. Dr King even reports that approximately 20% of people taking antidepressants are affected. And as well as distressing night sweats and increased, unwanted daily sweating, this side effect of medication can inevitably have an impact on the skin on the face and body, sometimes leading to unwanted breakouts.

Breakouts are also a possible side effect in their own right. Certain antidepressants such as Lithium (used to treat Bipolar depression), are more common in resulting in spots than others, and can have “a particular tendency in some individuals to trigger very unpleasant acne,” explains Dr Mervyn Patterson, Cosmetic Doctor and Skin Expert at Woodford Medical. Patterson also says that those who suffer with conditions such as acne or eczema may find that their problems are exacerbated with certain medications.

The best thing to do if you find yourself suffering with outbreaks of acne, dryness, excess sweating or any other side effect, is to talk to your doctor. Together, you can make a decision about whether the side effects outweigh the improvements you may be feeling in your health. It may even be worth trying a different type of medication to find the best solution for you. In the meantime, opting for a pared-back skincare routine is optimal, particularly if you are suffering from excessive dryness, eczema, or acne. Products by brands such as Ameliorate, which are tailored to suit sensitive skin types, can replenish the skin’s moisture levels without provoking further damage. Their Intensive Lip Treatment is particularly effective at soothing sore, chapped lips.

While there can be some upsetting skin-related side effects that come from taking antidepressants, it is important to talk to your doctor to work out which medication is best, and even to see a dermatologist for a personalised skincare routine to suit you and your medication.

A Guide To Summer Self-Care

Heart made with pink rocks

When we think about self-care we usually associate it with colder weather. Conjuring up visions of comforting rituals, journalling under a blanket with a warming cup of herbal tea and soaking in a hot bath filled with detoxifying salts. So understandably, self-care is usually the last thing on our minds once summertime comes around – bringing with it a schedule filled with rooftop cocktails, spontaneous barbecues and weekly weddings. Read More…

My Life With Rosacea And What I’ve Learnt So Far

my-life-with-rosacea-and-what-ive-learnt-so-far

My naturally rosy complexion is so normal to me that I’d never considered it a problem. Waking up to an angry, bumpy breakout or stepping out of a hot shower with a bright red face was just normal. It’s what I did every day and I’d never given it a second thought.

But I’ve been on a strange journey over the past year or so. I started sharing my rosacea online with make-up free photos and was amazed at the volume of messages I got (and still get!) from women saying “your skin looks like mine”, relieved that they can relate to me. I was also surprised by the amount of people who have messaged to say how brave I am for sharing something as trivial as a photo of my face before applying any make-up.

BUPA research suggests that 1 in 10 of us in the UK are living with rosacea. Yet, we’re constantly bombarded with perfect images on social media. Hence why my bare skin has become quite the controversial subject matter.

Last month I visited Dr. Stefanie Williams at Eudelo in South London and she diagnosed me with two different types of rosacea. There are four variations, which cause redness and flushing in the skin. My diagnosis is two-fold: one equates to bumpy skin flushes, and the other, a firm degree of redness even in a calm state. The main thing to note about rosacea is that a level of acceptance is needed; you’re always going to have it. However, there are steps you can take to managing it, and identifying what causes it to go bananas.

Initially, there is a lot of work you can do around identifying triggers within your lifestyle. When you document your skin alongside your habits, you’ll start to notice patterns. For me, spicy foods, sugary foods, wine, stress and extreme temperatures (hot or cold) are total redness triggers. But life is too short to cut the indulgences out, so really it’s about being clever.

Personally, I’ll avoid venturing out into the freezing cold for a bottle of wine and some chocolate cake the night before a special occasion. Lex from Talonted Lex blog has created a number of resources that you can download to effectively track and analyse your rosacea patterns.

Then there are the changes you can make to your beauty regime. For me, the first rule was the hardest: flannels are the devil. Any kind of abrasion to your skin can initiate the redness equivalent of World War Three, so removing make-up and cleansing your skin need to be simple and gentle – ideally with a cream cleanser like Cetaphil and your hands. Massage the formula into your skin gently to remove make-up and SPF, which you should be wearing every single day in as high a factor as possible. Your entire routine should ideally be fragrance-free and fuss-free.

Moving onto your make-up, nailing your coverage is key. For me, the ultimate remedy is the IT Cosmetics CC Cream, which gives a completely flawless finish but looks like you’re barely wearing anything because it has a dewy sheen. The right brush when applying will also do the work for you – work it in with the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, taking circular motions all over and then patting product on to build cover in those extra-angry areas.

I’m on a journey with my skin and am still learning new tricks. It still impacts how attractive I feel in myself, especially when it flares up. When it comes to sharing make-up free photos with like-minded women in the name of challenging the perception of what we see as normal, I’m all for it. But sitting make-up free in front of a guy I am dating? At this point in time, it is something that is never going to happen.

For now managing my triggers and taking pride in my make-up is a confidence boost, and in time I hope I will grow to love what is an everyday part of my appearance.

Follow Rose’s journey on Instagram @mixedgemsbeauty. For more help and advice with dealing with rosacea, read Shabir’s guide: Rosacea Uncovered.

What I’ve Learnt From 14 Years Of Living With IBS

Scrap book with citrus cover design

Living with IBS comes with a wealth of emotions. Before I was diagnosed I felt embarrassed, confused and disgusted at my body. Immediately after my diagnosis I felt relieved that what my body was experiencing had a name, but I still felt frustrated and isolated. Nobody I knew spoke openly about their bowel habits. Now 14 years on, those emotions look completely different. I’ve come to love my body. I understand it and I know, for the most part, how to show it the compassion it so desperately craves. I feel hopeful. No longer isolated or lonely but full of respect. My IBS doesn’t define me. Read More…