Health & Beauty

Working From Home

tina-guadoin

‘I had a very interesting dream last night’, says my partner provocatively, by way of a morning greeting. I glance at the clock. 7.30 am.  Bloody hell. What’s he still doing here?  It used to be that there was no time in the A.M for discussing anything, let alone dreams. He was off on his bike for a 9 am, or an 8 am meeting if I was really lucky. This left me, in my freelance world, to make my own way peacefully into the morning – Radio 3, Darjeeling tea, and a dog walk, before starting work.

Now, in this new world of 24/7 partnerships, I have to at least feign interest. I half-heartedly prompt him for more: ‘It was about how to solve our data collection problem and it involved Plato – but the annoying thing is,  I’ve forgotten the vital bit’, he says slurping the dregs of his tea and banging the mug down on the side table.

I want to scream, but even I realise that might be a bit of an over-reaction. In any case it’s not even 8 am and the whole, sorry day, riven with angst over whether the internet can handle Zoom and simultaneous downloading , arguments over which of us speaks the loudest on the phone (him) and who left coffee grounds left in the sink (him), stretches ahead of us. Read More…

Periods – A Hot Topic

Period Products with "that time" written in red on a sanitary pad.

It seems like one of the hottest topics of last year was female menstruation. It was much discussed throughout the world and the trend looks set to continue.

But in reality will the open conversations, press coverage, documentaries and government intervention really do much to change the stigma associated with our monthly periods?

2019 saw menstruation reach giddy heights, taking centre stage at the Oscars when a group of female (obviously) filmmakers took home Best Documentary (short) entitled Period. End of Sentence, about a group of women who use a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads in a village in central India’s Hapur district. Read More…

Scalp Respect

A curled hair snippet tied on yellow background

Why you should start treating your scalp with the same respect you treat your face.

Adequately covered but never blessed with an abundance of hair I was always conscious of what should have been my crowning glory. In my 20s others would blame my ‘over’ washing as I whinged about my thin and limp locks. In my 30s they blamed the kids instead.

But five days after my 36th birthday the thinning had become thinned and the attention was totally focused on one patch. As I got out the shower and combed through my hair, I felt that unexpected chill of air touching skin.

The size of a 20 pence piece it took centre stage about two inches back from my hairline. All I can say is thank the Lord alice bands were in fashion and I could be bald and stylish!

Once the drama had taken a back seat, I was able to think logically and booked an appointment to see a trichologist I’d been recommended by a male friend.

Whilst I do enjoy telling the story of how I came to own 30 hair bands and one wig (just in case) what’s more interesting are the three facts I uncovered.

Scalp care is set to take over from skin care and not before time. For too long now we have been fed with simple information whilst the professionals try to give us a one size fits all answer to that age-old question…How frequently should I wash my hair? It’s at this point I’m thankful I haven’t got much!

So, whilst many of you pride yourselves on the length of time you can stretch out a hair wash and revel in the magic of the latest advances in dry shampoo, are you doing yourselves a disservice?

Just as we understand the detriment clogged pores have on our complexion, the same is true of our scalp. An extension of our face, if left unwashed bacteria can grow. Where bacteria grows, healthy hair cannot.

Washing your hair and massaging your scalp at least every two to three days ensures the 100,000 or so hair follicles found on the average human head are kept clean and clear.

With the market flooded with shampoos and conditioners making larger than life claims it’s never been harder to commit. But I took the plunge and went for it landing on a range that has exceeded all expectations – The Fulvic Acid Hair Trio.

As the name would suggest each product contains Fulvic Acid – a mineral compound found in the earth’s soil which activates the nutrients that feed the plants. Hailed as natures ‘miracle molecule’ it was definitely worth a try and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only has my hair never looked or felt better but the smell of the conditioner actually turned what was once a chore into something I look forward to – relishing those seven minutes in the morning the family generously allow me to shower alone, I blissfully prepare for the day ahead as I breath in the relaxing manly scent.

So back to my seat opposite the trichologist, this was number one ticked off the checklist. To say I was relieved to hear I could continue the daily hair washing obsession is an understatement! Balding and greasy felt like a far worse fate than just bald.

Number two were my blood results. With one in five of us in the UK deficient in Vitamin D there was no surprise this would be my fate. With vitamin D being responsible for stimulating hair follicles I immediately prescribed myself a week away to sunnier climbs. My trichologist had other ideas and suggested a high strength vitamin D3 supplement.

My iron levels were next on her list of things I was lacking in. As a meat eater and keen green veg consumer, we looked elsewhere for my iron demons. Menstruation and heavy exercise looked to be behind this one. Unable and unprepared to give up either of these, another supplement was recommended. Iron supplements are notoriously difficult to stomach. Curing one ailment whilst creating another is a bitter pill so to avoid constipation I did my research and found Florisene  – an effective supplement without the usual associated problems.

Lastly, we discussed hormones. As we age our hormones levels begin to fall, alongside other things, and this imbalance is largely responsible for our thinning hair. I see my mother with her “I told you so face” when I sniggered at her pill box but alas another supplement had been added to my loot and this one’s a good ’un. Superior Hair is an all-round hair hero multivitamin, also containing my daily dose of biotin and zinc – two more minerals my blood work showed I was lacking in and crucial for optimal scalp health.

So…I have been following the good advice received; washing my hair, taking my daily supplements and throwing in the odd scalp mask for good measure when I find time on my self-care Sundays. I count myself lucky that the wig I purchased was never needed. As I try and take a more optimistic approach to life (apparently stress is a big contributor to hair loss) I imagine my patch was sent to me as an early warning sign to take better care of myself both internally and externally and suggest you do the same too. Perhaps it’s time we stopped wearing our 5-day dry shampoo hair as a badge of honour and start treating our scalp with the same respect we treat our face.

How To Tune Into Your Intuition

balancing scale with heart on right side and brain left side

It is clear to see that the popularity of spiritual practices is on the rise. We’re seeing crystals lined up on desks, energy healers on speed dial and more of us are choosing to swap out post-work drinks for breath work. Whether you’re engaging in these practices or not, there’s one word that’s always mentioned and written about, but seems to escape many of us, and that’s intuition. Read More…

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.