Health & Beauty

Timewasters Inc

3d model of an hour glass icon with a nearly complete ring around it in pink on blue background

Apparently Shakespeare banged out Macbeth, King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra during a bubonic plague lockdown. Well bully for him. Since I self-isolated, I’ve managed a few cursory paragraphs of the book I’d apparently been waiting for this opportunity not to write, a couple of short articles and made a feeble, unsatisfactory attempt at finishing Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light on Audible for God’s sake!

Is it just me or has this pandemic radically shortened our attention spans? I’d like to blame the news, but I have imposed a black-out, because it made me too angry.  I’d blame box-set bingeing if I could find anything I liked enough to devote more than about 30 minutes to. And what about the menopause and mental health?  Candidly, I had made inroads into both of those afflictions in one way or another before this whole thing began, and I’ll still have them when it ends. So I guess I’m going to have to go with the trite: unprecedented times.

In light of the aforementioned, I have developed a range of displacement and time wasting activities, so honed that they would surely qualify as an art form. And so my fellow time fritterers and challenged attention spanners, I present them to you, in the hope that they might reinforce VH’s sentiment that we are all in this together. I should add that that management and I take no responsibility for you damaging yourselves or your furniture in any way.

  1. Hair cutting. Number one on the list of top time wasters:  A hairdresser would tell you not to, but unless you are trying to cut yourself an entirely new style, or a plumb line straight fringe, I say go ahead. There’s serious satisfaction to be had from snipping away at irritating layers and split ends. Make sure your scissors are sharp. On short hair or fringes, take a piece and pull upwards above your scalp and then snip down into it, rather than straight across. Pull long hair in towards your nose, chin or chest before you snip and constantly check each side as you go, measuring against where the other side falls. Position a hand mirror if you can so that you can see the back view too.   Snip gradually. Or you could do what I did last week during my brief 10 minute yoga session, keep your scissors close and chop away at the ends as your hair falls over your head towards your feet. Very satisfying.
  2. Oiling. Not the car, you. A friend who sailed around the world endorses the use of any form of domestic oil before or after a shower to keep things in good order. Try it. It’s inexpensive – I like Olive or Almond but you can as she says use literally anything – canola anyone? Don’t forget nails and hair, both benefit from an oiling up before showering or bathing. You can of course go the whole hog with your hair and crack an egg on the top and massage in (or whisk it up beforehand for less dramatic effect). It works.
  3. Makeup kit clearance. Top displacement therapy. I don’t wear much makeup, but I have recently discovered that much of what I do possess is ancient. Surely you too have a few dried mascara brushes, hollowed out blushers and crumbling lipsticks to attend to? The key is their appearance and their smell. If your mascara pongs then chuck it out immediately, if your eyeshadows are crumbly like old Christmas cake icing then do the same. Wash your brushes, sponges and that makeup bag in warm water with a drop of washing up liquid. If you’ve got stuff you have never used then try it out (see 15 minute attention span) but be prepared to jettison.  Just because Beyonce can wear gold eye shimmer, doesn’t mean you can.
  4. Un-Kondo. I’ve read the book. I’ve sorted through and given away. And I regret it bitterly. Nostalgia is sometimes the thing that ‘gives me joy’ . This has led to my buying back items I’ve given to charity shops and lamenting the things that have already been sold by the time I’ve rushed there. If you have passionately loved something, but haven’t worn it in years , now’s the moment to  get it out again and flaunt it (who’s going to see you in those sequinned hot pants?) or pack it up and store it – under the bed, in the garden shed (damp proof box naturally) or if you are fortunate in ‘the spare’ wardrobe. Do not under any circumstances waste time by putting it into your ‘charity bag’. That’s for things that you never want to see again, either because they bring back bad memories, or they don’t fit. These are, I believe, the only reasons for you to cleanse yourself of your clothes. Now and in the future.
  5. Exercise Ambush. I used to be a manic exerciser. These days not so much, in fact these days often not at all. To keep myself somewhat fit I’ve had to develop a kind of exercise via stealth approach. This means that I spring exercise upon myself when I least expect it: star jumps whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, toe touching and sit ups whilst waiting for the washing machine to finish, I’ll often seize my weights whilst on hold via speakerphone, something I seem to do endlessly these days. My neighbour does the same thing with his daughter, suddenly breaking into a jog or sit ups with her, making a competition out of it. What I’m saying here is that if exercise has become a chore (and I know that for some people it’s still the saving grace it used to be for me) then you need to go full Cato. If you don’t know who Cato is, then watching the Pink Panther movies starring Peter Sellars and Herbert Tsangtse Kwouk, will most certainly be a valuable waste of your time.
  6. Housework. Don’t do it. Kidding, sort of. When the world is falling apart do we really need to care about the dust and debris of everyday living? Far better to develop one particular time wasting mania, on the basis that doing one thing is better (marginally) than doing nothing. My own current fascination is for taps and how best to shine them. Next week it might be for wooden floors and how to clean them. This is what the internet is for people – my taps will never go grubby again. I’m adding that to my CV.
  7. Children’s TV shows. The stuff of your youth, not your youth’s youth. Think back to what you loved and look it up on what my gran calls ‘The YouTube’. This is also a valuable displacement activity, the satisfaction for which is not to be underestimated – I’ve been humming the theme tune to Flambards for weeks and Pogles’ Wood- well, I want to move there. Speaking of which…
  8. Property porn.  Both you and I know that we are not going anywhere, well certainly not for the foreseeable. But why let that stop us?  Think of the place you most fantasise about living, plug it into a property portal and pore over the delicious results. There are still lots of houses out there to fritter away time salivating over. I know this because I check daily. Sometimes twice daily…..

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…