Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mission to Sleep

I'm on a mission! That mission is to sleep and sleep well! I want to fall asleep more easily, have a good night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and rested.

To give myself the best chance I've got a few natural sleep aids. Today me and my husband went to the garden centre and we bought...

Peace lilies: these plants are a natural dehumidifier and absorb some impurities in the air making it easier to breathe which in turn aids sleep and helps with relaxation. They look lovely in our bedroom too. We placed the larger plant on our dresser on my husbands side of the bed and the smaller one is on my bedside table. 

Wild Rose and Gardenia Reed Diffuser by Wax Lyrical: aromatherapy is a natural way to help you relax. Rose essential oil has been linked to helping insomnia, headaches, menstrual cramps, stress and can give a relaxed and calming effect. Gardenia promotes sleep and relieves anxiety. This is on my bedside table and smells amazing. We live in a small house and as soon as you start walking upstairs you can smell it.

I have also purchased...

OTeas Wellness Sleepwell Tea: Drinking one cup before bed is supposed to help you drift off more easily. The ingredients are ginger root, orange peel, green rooibos, lemon verbena, chamomile, spearmint leaves, fennel seed, liquorice root, peppermint, orange and lemon essence oils. I'm drinking my first cup as I type this and I'm really enjoying it. It's a very nice scent and flavour and nothing too strong. Each ingredient has benefits for sleep, calming, comfort and relaxation. To reduce my caffeine intake I have also decided to not drink caffeinated tea after 6pm and I don't like coffee.

My 5 Rules For Better Sleep:
  1. no caffeine after 6pm and one cup of OTeas Wellness Sleepwell tea before bed
  2. no refined sugars after 6pm
  3. no social media or laptop after 10pm (I'll struggle here!)
  4. choose one relaxation technique before bed: meditation, bubble bath, reading, facial
  5. get into my bed before 11pm
I also have cotton sheets which help control your body temperature and have thrown out any sleepwear that isn't comfortable. I'm hoping I can fall asleep by midnight and get up at 8am which will give me my 8 hours sleep and enough time to get ready for work. Wish me luck!

What are your top tips for a good night's sleep?

Much Love,
Becky xx

Find your OTeas Wellness Sleepwell tea at:
Find your Wild Rose and Gardenia reed diffuser at:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Half Empty- Guest Post

Half Empty- A Letter to my Ex Self

Dear you,
I catch sight of you sometimes. Those sunken eyes of yours are suddenly back in my mirror if I get flu. Or, when I’m tired, that weird lisp you had from the blisters and ulcers in your mouth slips back into my voice. In the cold, when my fingernails turn violet and my knuckles redden, I think of you and how your hands looked like this constantly.  
Of course, some parts of you have never left. These days my blood sugar levels crash about like a remote-controlled car, meaning I can be fine one moment, then drenched in sweat, trembling and dizzy the next. The edges of my teeth are translucent. My stomach is permanently swollen from internal damage caused by years of inducing vomit multiple times a day, thirty laxatives as a standard dose (to think, you told yourself that was the only way you'd ever have a flat stomach) and losing then gaining the same eighteen pounds over and over. My knee-jerk reaction whenever I see or hear anything about weight loss, calories or eating disorders is aggression and distress- the legacy of existing in a mental impound so tiny and dark, I don't know how you didn't break down screaming with claustrophobia. Why did you put yourself through it, day after day, telling yourself you loved it and this was your true self? 
I know why, really. I know you couldn't stop, even though you were scared. I know you believed completely that being thin would protect you- from cruelty, from expectations, from failure. But sometimes I'm furious with you- sixteen years, wasted. The youth that could have been mine, the things I could have done with that time, and you trashed it.
I don’t give advice unless I’m specifically asked to, and even if I could somehow communicate with you, you were convinced you knew best. You'd never ask anyone for advice. But, in memory of you, I'll share some things I've learnt that I wish you'd known- or, more accurately, that I wish you’d paid attention to, as they occurred to you throughout the years. 
August 2010, pacing around your apartment, you pleaded with yourself to wait another hour before you threw up again- another hour makes it three hours, the risk of an esophageal tear or ruptured stomach reduces*, if I give my gag reflex a rest it won’t hurt as much, just another hour, please try. You pace and shake and throw up less ten minutes later, blood spraying the toilet, because you simply can't not do it. In order to resist that need, you'd have to be someone else and for now you are entrenched in your own sick, obsessive self. 
Transforming yourself isn't an act of pure will or brute force. You smash a glass of water on the floor, it's still water. But actually changing it; boiling it into steam, or freezing it into ice- giving it time to happen is the non-negotiable part. 
February 2007, jittering with hunger on the third day of your usual raw spinach and cigarettes regime, you find a massive bag of stale rice forgotten in the back of your housemate's cupboard. A humming sensation spreads through your body, wordless instincts in your brain rise up, and, moving like a sleepwalker, you pour about a kilo of rice into a pan, boil it into sludge and ram it into your mouth with your bare hands. But I want to be thin. It's not even been three days. I want to be someone with willpower. I hate rice. None of this matters at this moment- you didn’t decide you were going to 'break your diet' so much as become another being who could hear your thoughts but wasn’t interested in them.    
What you're doing is against nature. Nature is older than you, cleverer than you and every time you go head-to-head with her, you are fucking with the original queen. Do you really think she's going to stand for your goal-weight, thigh-gap-test bullshit?
Late December 2013, your house-share empty for the holidays. You're really trying to get better now; tomorrow it will be three weeks since you last purged. Surely you can hang on for that? But you're lonely and have nowhere to go for Christmas and you feel so fat it seems impossible you could ever be peaceful in your skin, so why keep trying? The sound of retching ricochets through the silent house. Then, to punish yourself for being weak, even though it's dark and snowing outside and you, stupid girl, are right at the bottom of your overdraft, you run to the corner shop- blotchy face, puke in your hair- to spunk thirty quid on junk food you throw straight back up.   
For you, hating yourself was a kind of laziness. It was easy to say; ugh, you're pathetic. You're stuck this way and it's all your own fault, you've got nothing else left now anyway, so you may as well just do it again. Go for it. This is your life now, aren't you proud of yourself?  
It takes so much more willpower to quieten down and softly say to yourself; hey. You really tried that time. I know you did. Nearly three weeks isn't nothing. You can try again. 
And this is how you became me. By giving the transformation time to happen, learning respect for nature- both your own nature and the laws of nature- and doing the hard work of, bit by bit, convincing yourself that you could become someone who deserved better. This April 12th, it will be three years.  
Thank you for getting this far.


*Author's note- this isn't true! It was just something I convinced myself of at the time. There's no way to be really safe when purging.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Frazzled Book Review

Before I Read Frazzled: I attended Ruby's Frazzled Tour which is based around this book. I was already a fan of Ruby Wax and interested in Mindfulness beforehand. I ordered the book that same night and couldn't wait to get started.

Overview: Ruby uses a light, chatty tone with comedy and wit to deliver something more serious and scientific. The book is not intimidating to read or patronising to the reader. It's very easy going throughout. The book gave me an endless stream of "yes!" moments about my own mental health journey and thoughts in general. The book does not scream "self help here" which makes it enjoyable, whether you want to begin to practise mindfulness or not it helps shed light on the mystery that is our mind.

My Take: The first chapter looks at how much stress we have created for ourselves in this modern age. We are always busy but with no purpose and always chasing a goal but not sure why. Ruby speaks of how hard we are on ourselves which we base on fiction, presumption, vague facts and unrelated incidents. It appears that not many people are happy being themselves even though they're not sure who they are or you else they'd want to be! We don't know what we want, who we are, where we're going but we keep striving on causing ourselves more stress which our brains are just not designed for.

Ruby then explains the basic concept of mindfulness. It is learning to observe, focus, slow down and be kinder to yourself. The practise will help you to accept things as they are without sugar coating it, exaggerating or distorting the facts. It's not about having a perfectly calm and uneventful life or wandering around in your own little world oblivious to anything bad around you. Ruby takes away any doubts or fear of starting mindfulness practise with honesty and humour.

Chapter three shows us the science behind our brains and how mindfulness can help us achieve a healthier mind and body. It's a great insight into how we think and why we think like that. This supporting evidence is easy to take in and comforting as you can see that we are not the awkward loner or unique freak our minds might trick us into thinking we are. We are all very similar but some brains takeover in less helpful ways than others.

Ruby then opens up to a very honest chapter to talk through a struggle of her own. This sobering chapter makes mindfulness seem more real. It's no longer all sunshine and rainbows or 'the cure' it's real. It shows that it can work but that we need to harness it. It won't make us superhuman or immune to mental illness or stress but it will arm us to take it on. Having said that there is still trademark wit throughout this section.

The next chapter is Ruby's take on mindfulness with a six week course to work through. I'll leave this for you to discover without my input.

Now that we know how to keep ourselves mindful the book moves onto mindfulness and others. Firstly looking at relationships and how we react and respond to different social situations. It looks at how we all yearn for that sense of being included and acceptance and how not over analysing and worrying about these things can bring us that better chance of happiness.

Chapter 7 and 8 for me are brilliant. They focus on mindful parenting from babies up to the teenage years. With my background in Early Education and childcare I would agree that the exercises and tips given are very beneficial. I have used a lot of the techniques and games that Ruby mentions and have seen the effect they can have on calming young children and helping them to focus. I also used to meditate and do something very similar to mindfulness in my karate classes (10 hours a week) as a teen and think without this I would have had a mental breakdown at a lot younger age, or possibly smashed up a classroom! As Ruby reminds us it needs to start with ourselves, so no skipping to this bit mummies and daddies! This part isn't just for parents and would be a great read for childcare providers, teachers, grandparents, older siblings, teenagers or anyone just interested in psychology.

Frazzled ends with a look at Ruby's own journey of mindfulness during her visit to a Welsh retreat. This chapter makes the whole idea seem a lot more human! Mindfulness can sometimes seem to be one of those zen states of mind that sounds amazing but unattainable for many. Ruby let's us see that it's not an easy ride but it's worth it. Backed up with science we see how much Ruby gained from her experience and understand why mindfulness is now a part of her daily life, as it can be for us too. It's not just for the super laid back, chilled out, happy-go-lucky among us, it's for everyone of all ages.

My overall view: read this book! If you aren't going to start practising mindfulness you will have a chance to understand your mind and why it does all the stuff you've never quite got your head around. It will bring you an understanding of people around you and if you're not interested in any of those things... it's an easy and enjoyable read full of humour.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled can be found at:
Amazon: Audio Book Paperback Copy

Let me know what you thought of Frazzled in the comments section below.

Much love,
Becky xx

Friday, February 17, 2017


Escapism: seeking distraction and relief from reality, searching for entertainment, creating or searching for fantasies

We all use escapism. Whether it's imagining lying on a beach somewhere, envisaging yourself to look differently, pretending your shower is a recording booth for your first studio album, planning where you'd go on your first date with your favourite celeb... It's something we humans do that animals don't. A creative mind, daydreams, thoughts of what might or could be. It sounds amazing right? But when does escapism become a problem?

Mental Escapism
To mentally escape we try and block out what is in our minds. This might be that because we are worrying about a job interview we pick up a book, play a game, speak to a friend... whatever it takes to take our mind off the matter. Sometimes it can be good to not think about a situation like when you're having an injection or watching a boring movie but we all need to remember that as much as we daydream that doesn't face a problem or solve anything. Dreaming you're the next top model isn't going to pay your electric bill in time! Try to tackle problems and if it becomes too much take a break and go back to it. Fully absorb what is on your mind and how it is making you feel.

Physical Escapism
When we engage our senses our brain concentrates on processing them and puts less effort into thought and the mental noise we have running through our minds. We have positive ways of engaging our senses to relax and escape; having a massage, eating comfort food, lighting a scented candle, visiting a beautiful area, listening to our favourite song. Then there are negative ways; promiscuity, self harm, violent behaviour. When you are doing things that are damaging to your health, mental state or make you feel guilty, upset or confused afterwards then these are not right for you.

Damaging Escapes
There are times when we feel the need to escape and will turn to a substance or activity for that release; alcohol, comfort food, drugs, herbal remedies, sex, extreme sports... Now in some instances these things can be beneficial for example hitting the gym after a stressful day at work or having a few drinks with friends to unwind after you've decorated your living room. But they can become a problem when they are used incorrectly. When they become addictions or consuming. When they become a distraction to completely avoid situations that need your attention. We all need to relax, unwind and escape from reality at times but within moderation. We still need to face the here and now and prepare for the future as well as dealing with the past.

Running Away
When we feel threatened our Fight, Flight, Freeze mechanism kicks in to help protect us. Sometimes we experience things that causes us to flee/take flight. This may be leaving the room, walking away from an argument, putting down the phone to avoid a conversation but for a minority of people it can be to physically run away. Walk out of their home or job and literally disappear for a period of time. When someone does this with no plan of action, no direction and without letting anyone know it can be extremely dangerous especially when their mental state is already shot.

Let me know your thoughts on escapism and the positive ways that you escape.

Much love,
Becky xx

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Complimentary Science

"You are beautiful." 
"Your work is amazing." 
"You've achieved so much." 
"Good job." 
"I like your top." 

Anybody getting uncomfortable yet or are you just enjoying these?! Today I'm setting you a mini challenge: say out loud a compliment to yourself and then compliment someone else.

People who are motivated will achieve more, complain less, feel a pride in their work and generally feel more able to complete tasks, whether they be at work or school or just generally in daily life. Compliments are what our brains see as social rewards, they are like a payment for your contribution. We all know when we are doing something well and receiving a compliment affirms that and shows appreciation of our efforts.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo, Nagoya Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Physiological Sciences found that when we receive a personalised and individual compliment whilst performing a task that we will perform better than those that don't. Teachers and tutors know this works well too. Leaving an individual comment on pieces of work or a positive comment can help both children and adults to have a boost in confidence and focus on their work, as well as building relations and giving them a little buzz of happiness.

So whether it be your staff, children, partner, workforce give them a personalised compliment to show your gratitude and acknowledgement of their good work.

Boost Mood
By complimenting others or the things around us we automatically give ourselves a mood boost as we are noticing the good, positive and beauty around us. BUT when our compliments are knocked back e.g. you: "your hair looks great" them: "it's not the colour I wanted, can you see it's all dull" then this takes away any positivity. It leaves us feeling negative and in a way makes us feel as though we are wrong or made a poor judgement. If we still believe we are right it can feel confrontational.

Giving and receiving compliments is a social skill that can build relationships, so next time someone compliments you smile and say thank you or even better compliment them back. Absorb the compliment. Someone might say something lovely to you and inside you want to respond with "I don't think so" but don't. Leave the negativity silenced, take in the compliments and feel the positivity. 

Build Relationships
If you have a friend, partner, child, colleague that's unconfident or can be negative to themselves make a big deal of complimenting them on themselves and the things they do. Small children love positive reinforcement and that doesn't change much as we grow older.

It's just nice too! When people are sincere and say something nice to us we automatically feel drawn to them and more comfortable. OK so we've all had a creepy compliment or one that's made us uneasy but that's not the majority.

Be Positive
Feelings of low self-worth, negativity, low self-esteem, lack of trust and feeling a pressure to live up to others expectations are all reasons why some people can find receiving a compliment so awkward. If they are upset about the appearance of their home and somebody says it looks nice it feels like a lie or sarcasm, they also might of wanted to not have attention drawn to it. So how do we overcome this? 

Compliment yourself! Each morning when you brush your teeth think of one thing you like about your appearance and one thing you like about your home. When you go to bed think of one thing you did that day that you thought went well. No matter how small these positive comments will build up and give you that little bit more confidence. You can also do things that you know you are good at to give you that little boost. If you are a brilliant singer then sing and focus on how it makes you feel knowing you have done something well. We all have strengths and weaknesses and if you can feel good about your strengths you are more likely to challenge your weaknesses.

Much love,
Becky xx