Health & Beauty

The Stress-Reducing Modern Wellness Trends To Know About

golden-gong-by-giselle-la-pompe-moore

Whether you tuck an amethyst crystal in your bra every day or have an energy healer on speed dial, it’s clear that the popularity of spiritual wellbeing is on the rise. It’s unsurprising, as wellness is now a staggering $4.2 trillion dollar global industry. One that’s infiltrated our local café menus, bookshelves and how we spend our Sunday nights. But why have we become so fixated by the pursuit of wellness?

The answer could well be, stress. Yes, that six letter word that’s littered into nearly every conversation. As you might know, the body responds to stress by initiating the fight or flight response, where stress hormones are secreted, our heart rate quickens, we breathe more rapidly and oxygen floods to our arms and legs. This is all well and good, as it protects us in life-threatening situations, but unlike our ancestors we end up going into this stress response more often as our lives are increasingly hectic. Over time, the more the stress response gets activated the greater the toll on our minds and body. So much so, that last year The Mental Health Foundation reported that 74% of the UK have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of stress.

When we combine that with living in troubling times filled with political uncertainty and environmental threats to the future of our planet, it’s understandable that we are all looking for some escapism. Engaging in wellness allows us to get out of our heads and to shift from the high stress of constantly doing to just being, and with spiritual wellness it appeals to our collective desire to take comfort in something that feels greater than us.

It’s easy to roll your eyes at some facets of wellness and get lost in the buzzwords and fads, but the following trends, which have often been rooted in ancient practices, have a place in modern society and right now we could all do with a helping hand.

Sound Healing

We usually associate meditation and mindfulness with silence or at least with some oceanic background music. But having sound as the core component of your meditation session is a healing practice that has been around for thousands of years. During a sound bath, gongs and crystal bowls are played as you’re led into a meditative state. The instruments create different healing frequencies with the vibrations then resonating in the body to shift your brainwaves from beta (alert and normal thinking) to low frequency waves such as alpha, delta and theta. All of which aid in reducing stress and promoting deep rest and relaxation.

Reiki

From clearing stagnant energy in our homes to trying to raise our vibrations, we’re talking about energy more than ever. One of the reasons for this is the gaining popularity of Reiki, a method of energy healing that was developed by Dr Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. Reiki promotes the body’s regenerative self-healing ability by balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. When we experience blockages in the flow of energy this can manifest in our bodies and have an impact on our overall health and wellbeing. A Reiki session will leave you feeling blissed out and help you to re-centre by allowing the energy to flow easier through your chakras (energy centres) for optimal health.

Crystal Routines

It’s pretty obvious that crystals are having a moment and it makes sense. They’re not only aesthetically pleasing but they carry within them a host of healing energies. Now you’ve built up a stealthy collection, it’s time to take your crystal obsession to the next level by really harnessing them as a tool for self-growth. Representing the element of earth, crystals can keep you grounded if you’re out of sorts and craving the need to feel connected to something universal. If your crystals have been collecting dust, create your own routines by adding them into your meditation practice, investigate how they can correspond to your chakras and look into creating your own crystal grids.

Spiritual Skincare 

Spirituality has made its way into many areas of our lives and we’ll be starting to see our skin in this way too. The mind-skin connection is a powerful one, from the effects that skin issues have on self-worth to the fact that stress can trigger and aggravate conditions such as acne, psoriasis and dermatitis. Brands will be taking more of a ritualistic approach by incorporating self-care messages and tools such as crystals, affirmations and intention-setting. Products aside, seeing the skin from a spiritual lens means taking a step back to find acceptance and peace with our skin and to work on what’s happening under the surface by slowing down our beauty routines and turning them into mindful rituals.

Astro Living

Times have changed from only reading your horoscope in a magazine once a week, to everyone knowing exactly when mercury goes retrograde. With apps like Co-starTime Passages and The Moon it’s easier than ever to live in accordance with the zodiac and to work with natural cycles. We’ve already seen this with new moon and full moon rituals, so if you’re feeling disconnected you can track the planetary movements and work with their energies in your schedule. For example, if you’re trying to do a huge clear-out of your wardrobe, check in with what’s happening astrologically as you might find it easier to do on a day when the planets are more aligned in your favour, such as when the moon is in an organisation-driven sign like Virgo.

Daily Rituals

Social media and wellness have somehow become merged with one another and it can often feel like you didn’t really “do self-care” if it wasn’t posted on Instagram. Wellness can often seem like it’s something that needs to be performed, so it’s time to go back to basics with daily (and private) rituals. From five minute breathing meditations at your desk to journaling all of the things you’re grateful for at night, this is all about finding small moments in your day to get you back into the present moment. Add in a self-massage after your shower or head out for a walk at lunch, this is all about coming back to the essence of what wellness is, it might not always be photogenic but you’ll definitely feel the benefits.

Giselle La Pompe-Moore is the founder of Project Ajna and offers one-to-one rediscovery soul sessions that incorporate reiki, meditation or tarot.

Five Nutritional Trends To Have On Your Radar

Nutritional Trends

Confused about celery juice? Tempted to try a new dairy alternative? Between the continuously changing health advice and the latest buzz ingredients we’re encouraged to adopt, the term ‘healthy eating’ can be tricky to balance. To make your life a little easier, health and beauty writer Danielle Fox has spoken to the experts and outlined the key nutritional trends to take note right now…

Celery Juice

Scroll through the hundreds of thousands of hashtags of #celery #celeryjuicebenefits pictures and posts on Instagram and you soon realise celery juice has become the latest health trend to take over social media. Made popular by the ever influential wellness warrior, Gwyneth Paltrow, who champions celery juice, guru Anthony William aka ‘The Medical Medium’ who, guided by the knowledge of a spirit (yes!) claims a daily celery juice is a miraculous healthy elixir. And the anecdotals are impressive; clearer skin, better gut health, de-bloats, gives more energy and even soothes eczema and arthritic pains, the list goes on.

But what exactly is the science behind the green stuff? “There is no science behind this at all,” says nutritionist Eve Kalinik. “Celery juice is mostly just water (to make you juice one bunch of celery and that’s it) and claiming that it has the ability to kill off pathogens is dangerous thinking.” Texan-based dietitian Ali Millard agrees and also warns that raw celery increases the sensitivity of the skin particularly for UV damage. “Stick to eating not juicing broccoli, sprouts and cabbage all which are far more potent detoxifies,” says Millard.

Oat Milk

You may be well-versed in a plethora of dairy alternatives, but there is one milk in particular that is having a real moment popping up on your local baristas menu. Some believe it’s down to the backlash against soya, the fact that it’s naturally sweeter than most alternative milk, has a dairy-like creaminess and that many of us are embracing veganism with open arms this year. But how nutritious is oat milk? “For those that can’t tolerate casein (whey proteins) oat is gentler on the stomach,” explains Millard. But most plant-based and nut milks are simply expensive water she says, and nutritionally speaking coconut milk, consumed moderately, is the only one she recommends swapping to as it is abundant in rich fats, fibre, vitamins and electrolytes.

Algae Oils

We know the extraordinary benefits of omega 3, a real hero for easing inflammatory flare-ups and also excellent for the health of the heart and nervous system. But, experts advise you do your due diligence with omega 3s as the word covers a broad range of fatty acids. Look for EPA and DHA (both found in fish) instead of ALA, which are more difficult for the body to use.

However, algae oils are thought by some to be far safer, purer and more eco-friendly. Unlike fish they don’t contain heavy metals and algae omegas are straight from the source – no fish is needed. But this school of thought is still hotly contested by some nutritionists who argue that seaweed is incredibly effective at absorbing toxins from toxic seas. “Always buy organic where possible and check out the source,” advises Millard.

Vegan Bone Broth

While the name suggests a little bit of a misnomer, yes, bone broth cannot be vegan, in a new era of liberal veganism it can certainly be adapted. Enter vegan bone broth – a nutrient-rich plant-based broth. When you break it down, the benefits of a bone broth – curbing inflammation, soothing the gut, supporting joint health and boosting antioxidants you can find many plant-based alternatives that do all of those things.

When nutritionist Eve Kalinik feels under the weather, she always makes a shiitake, leek and seaweed broth which is full of immune-boosting and naturally anti-inflammatory ingredients. “Shiitake mushroom is the star turn in this broth as not only is it a fantastic prebiotic but manages cortisol, the stress hormone too.” By adding mushrooms (B Vitamins, iron and zinc), seaweed (iodine, anti-inflammatories and B vitamins) and a vegan collagen powder to a base of onions, celery, herbs, ginger and turmeric, you have beautiful broth with all the benefits.

Meso-Dosing

Having recently crept across the pond, the latest US wellness trend to hit our shores is meso-dosing. The term —which literally means “middle dosing” — refers to the in-between nutrients that you might be missing in your everyday diet. These meso-nutrients are the active compounds and antioxidants within superfoods such as the highly potent catechins found in matcha green tea. The likelihood is that we’re not always ingesting enough quantities of these actives from our daily diets to really reap all of the benefits. For example a turmeric latte while it may give you a macro dose of turmeric, won’t give you enough of the curcumin, the meso-nutrient, so in these cases you should turn to a supplement.

While the experts are still out on this wellness trend, nutritionist Eve Kalinik believes we should just keep it simple; “always turn to a food source first to get your nutrients, eat like our grandparents, go organic where possible, eat a varied diet full of grains and starch vegetables.”

The Menopause, Cardigans And Me

Close up of black and white cardigan

For most women three things are certain: Taxes, death, and the menopause. At the moment I know which one I would give almost anything to avoid.

When I was young and foolish (I’m still one of those two things) I used to say that when I no longer needed my womb I’d get rid of it. I always assumed this would be straightforward. Particularly in Manhattan where I was living,when I determined that I was definitely ready to be rid of the thing that was facilitating my gruesome, long term menorrhagia.

When I put this suggestion to my OBGYN (American for someone who deals medically with everything vagina related), she looked horrified. ‘That’s a terrible idea’ she said. ‘The womb, as I’m sure you know is constantly in direct communication with the brain. Oestrogen is important to  almost all the tissues and cells in the body. We don’t want to stop that conversation unless we really have to’.  I had to concede that I hadn’t really thought about it that way. ‘No’ said the OBGYN grimly, ‘most women don’t until they get to menopause.’

In an ironic twist of fate, I didn’t reach menopause with my womb intact. It turned out there was a reason for all of that heavy bleeding (pre-cancerous cells). And so, aged 50 I was womb-less and staring down the barrel of early onset menopause. There was a hope that my limp ovaries which had been spared, would recover from the trauma and produce enough oestrogen and progesterone to keep my reproductive ‘female’ system ticking over. If this happened then my body would be fooled into thinking that I was still ‘viable’ and worthy of the kind of things that oestrogen and progesterone prompt and provide: sleep, the power of concentration, libido, skin elasticity, hair growth, metabolism stability and equanimity of mood.

At first it seemed that the trick had worked. Four months out of my hysterectomy  (for which read brutal, major surgery – that bit gets glossed over too by most gynaecologists male or female) I was, I thought back to normal. I was running again (not as fast as before), I was thinking again (though it was all a bit foggy) and my scar was healed.

But then I began to get sick. The jury will always remain out on whether or not the op kicked off my auto-immune disease, but alongside this development, my menopausal symptoms began to creep up on me. Because I was on huge doses of steroids for my autoimmune disease, it was at first hard to know what was causing what. But as the years have progressed I’ve come to understand which symptoms are menopause related – hot flushes and no sleep are definitely the menopause, foggy brain, fuzzy hair and osteopenia could be either, as could utter exhaustion, but more likely my AI.

My local GP was bent on prescribing me the dreaded menopause ‘tablet’, which I associated with non-bio identical hormones and a higher cancer risk (that theory as with so many others of mine turned out to be nonsense). But in those days I lacked perspective and frankly had more available cash than I do now, so I did what everyone else I knew was doing: I went to see one of only two Harley Street menopause ‘experts’ available at the time.

These ‘experts’ were making a name for themselves by prescribing so called ‘bio-identical hormones’ which were derived from plants and thus, it was assumed, better for you. The female was busy for months, so I reluctantly went to see ‘the bloke’, who talked to me as though he was fixing my car, not helping me through one of the most traumatic periods in a woman’s life. ‘It’s mud at a wall really this menopause stuff. We still don’t know very much,’ he said cheerfully (well, you would be cheerful given what he was charging).

What was true then and remains true today, is that every woman is different and we all have varying degrees of symptoms and react differently to the treatments on offer. In an ideal world, we would all have tailor made HRT prescriptions. But given that our hormone levels vary so radically at different times of the month, this, even if you have untold funds and are prepared for weekly blood tests, would be almost impossible.

For a while the treatment HRT man prescribed – oestrogen in the form of Estrogel applied topically – seemed to be working. Or maybe I was imagining it..? But three months later I found myself back where I had been, with all of my symptoms re-emerging. To cut a very long story, very short, after months of research and trialling various options, including additional progesterone, testosterone, oestrogen patches, various herbal remedies, folic acid,  (and another expert – this time a woman – new to the scene) I gave up. I began to grow worried about my already vulnerable body, which was by then undergoing chemotherapy for my AI, taking another hit with these hormones.

For the last two years I’ve been HRT free and in full-on menopause. I’m still being treated still for my AI, which has meant I’ve had to find alternative ways to cope. Here’s what I know.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true that if men had the menopause we’d be well on our way to effective treatment. We really are at the beginning of the research cycle on menopause, which needs greater funding and attention.

See a female doctor to discuss any symptoms or treatment: Men can’t, don’t and won’t know about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. Even a young female doctor will have likely seen her mother go through the symptoms and will have a level of understanding and hopefully empathy, which a male doctor will be lacking.

Don’t take no for an answer: If you are experiencing symptoms, then you are entitled to HRT. The all-singing, all dancing HRT pill prescribed by most GP’s seems to be as safe as anything else out there and it also contains hormones which are identical to our own (and it’s regulated). But bio-identicals which are derived from plant oestrogens (and might make us feel better about taking the drugs) are also available on the NHS – ask your GP.

Don’t be embarrassed: Talk about menopause at every available opportunity. Without bringing it out into the open and making it part of everyday conversation the stigma and lack of research and empathy will continue.

Exercise: Even a little will help the symptoms. Walk, swim, jump up and down on the spot, lift cans of tomatoes instead of weights. Don’t feel bad about not getting to a class or the gym. The way menopause can make you feel it’s a miracle you got out of bed this morning.

Cardigans: People this is big. Cardigans are your best friend during menopause –  they can be swiftly and neatly discarded or buttoned up, depending upon your thermostat, without messing up your hair or causing a commotion in a meeting.

Always carry a handkerchief (see above): A swift mop of the brow can be reassuring. And sometimes even chic.

Fragrance: I’m going to recommend Chanel No 5 here. It’s not my favourite, but the aldehydes which make it fizz and sparkle when you first put it on may have a similar effect on you. I said may….

Lubricant: No, not for there, well alright also for there, but generally speaking your entire body is running out of moisture – apply liberally – everywhere. Obviously face cream should not be used below the neck…

Hair: I don’t care how much you have or if you don’t have any and are wearing a wig. Take care of it. Moisturise, cut, colour. I’ve tried the going total grey route. It didn’t work for me. I’m not saying it won’t work for you, but an hour spent at the hairdressers is an hour on your own without anyone bothering you.. You all know what I’m talking about.

Could ASMR Be The Key To Easing Stress?

four pink soap bars

If you haven’t yet heard of ASMR chances are you’ve at least come across it whilst scrolling through cyberspace. Technically it stands for ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ but loosely speaking it’s those oddly satisfying videos of people unwrapping boxes, cutting up soap, or, moving into pure ASMR territory Read More…

Common Foot Complaints

medicine cabinet wide

You would be utterly surprised at the number of “everyday” skin conditions which can affect the skin and nails of the feet and with this in mind I have been working on the formulation of a new Hygiene Cream for feet to address many of these everyday conditions.

The hygiene cream launch coincides with the celebration by Margaret Dabbs Clinics of ‘World Foot Health Awareness Month’ in May and is a must-have in any bathroom cabinet. It is particularly good for feet that suffer with bouts of Athlete’s feet, or feet that have damaged and discoloured nails. If hygiene is an issue it is an excellent tool as a treatment measure as well as helping to prevent recurrence of the Athlete’s Foot. For sweat prone or sports feet or for people that swim often and can be affected by the chlorine in the water it can be a great help. I have found that it is great for teenagers, and helps to prevent the occurrence of bacterial infections of the skin.

I have found that females especially can be afflicted on the skin of just one foot – with the skin of the other foot being absolutely perfect. This can be the result of medication, injury or illness affecting the circulation, alcohol intake or just purely hereditary. Read More…