Organic living

  1. Sleep Better Naturally: 10 Easy Tricks

    It's that time of the year when clocks go forward. While it's great to get some more light during the day, these abrupt adjustments can affect one's sleeping rhythm. If you already have trouble falling or staying asleep, this clock change can really affect the amount of rest you get every night. Our bodies are amazingly resilient, but even they need time to adjust to such sudden, unnatural changes to our biological clocks.

    Maybe you're a frequent traveller who's all too familiar with jet lag. We all know how flying across time zones can affect our sleeping patterns. This goes to show how important it is for us to be synced with the nature and the ebb and flow of light in our daily lives.

    Sleep Better Naturally: 10 Easy Tricks

    Here are some easy tricks that you can use to help you to sweet, uninterrupted dreams!

    1. Exercise: A lot of us lead a sedentary lifestyle, which involves spending a lot of time in front of our computers. While your brain may be exhausted at the end of the day, you body is probably itching for some physical activity. This can make it harder to fall asleep, as your body and your mind are out of sync. One of the many benefits of regular exercise is a better quality of sleep. I remember that as soon I resumed exercising after quite a long break, I was sleeping like a baby again. Pick the type of exercise that suits you - this can be walking, jogging, running, yoga or group classes at your local gym. Action between the sheets is another type of effective exercise that will definitely raise your pulse, make you fitter and help you to a better sleep.

    2. Eat light: Choose fresh, organic produce and avoid processed foods high in sugars. Try not to have a heavy meal before going to bed, as that can upset your stomach. The digestion really slows down while we sleep. This is why you'll sometimes wake up with what feels like a rock in your belly if you've had a heavy meal quite late at night. Remember to hydrate with plenty of fresh water throughout the day. Do not drink too much just before you go to sleep to avoid having to get up in the middle of the night.

    Eat Light - Fresh Foods

    3. Relax: Sometimes all you need to do to fall asleep is relax. I know that this is easier said than done, and that finding the off switch can be tricky. If you're tense, nervous and anxious as you're trying to hit the hay, this can interfere with your sheep-counting attempts. Luckily, modern technology can help. Try the Buddhify app, which has a number of guided meditations developed specifically for insomniacs. While you're at it, check out the Sleepfulness app from the same developer, packed with guided tracks designed to improve your sleep. You'll find that you'll start drifting off well before the track ends.

    Relax - Sleepy Time

    4. Add some noise: Some of us have a hard time falling asleep if we're away from home and the sounds around us are not familiar. Or, you may be the type of person that finds sleeping in total silence too unnerving. It seems counter-intuitive, but adding noise to your ambiance could do the trick. Perhaps the sound of a busy street is what soothes you? Try a "white noise" recording or an app, which will play a selection of everyday background sounds for you. If you prefer relaxing music, have a look at the simple yet beautiful Doze app, which continuously streams calming music without any ads.

    5. Add Some Fragrance: A soothing, relaxing fragrance can do wonders for you as you're trying to fall asleep. The most widely used herb to assist with sleeping is lavender. This wonderful plant has many healing properties and its balancing and calming effects on the mind have been widely documented. You can choose any natural aroma that you like, as long as it relaxes you. Fragrances are very individual so you need to find out what suits you. Lavender works for most people, but you may prefer rose or chocolate? Rub a small amount of your chosen aroma under your nose, on your wrists and behind your ears, where the gentle heat of your pulse will help release the fragrance as you're off to the land of Nod.

    Add Some Fragrance - Lavender - Sleeping Aid

    6. Have A Cup Of Tea: Herbal teas can help you fall asleep easier, without any of the side-effects and dizziness that sleeping pills cause. You can make your own herbal tea, and a simple yet effective combination is a blend of lavender, chamomile and rose. Also try the delicious Pukka Night Time Tea. This stuff is like magic - it will gently put you to sleep. Secret bonus tip: If you have a cat, it will go wild for your tea bag, as the smell of Valerian root in this tea drives them nuts!

    Dreamy Sunset - Natural Sleeping Aid

    7. Get Off Your Phone: Recent research has shown that blue light emitted by our electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops can impact the quality and quantity of the sleep. Experts say that blue light indicates to our brain that it isn't time to sleep. Try not to use your devices right before going to bed. You may also find that lowering the brightness or using the built-in "night mode" of some apps helps. There are apps for your desktop and mobile devices that will automatically change the colour of your display so it's more blue throughout the day and warmer at night.

    8. Set The Tone: Going to bed is your time to relax, wind down and recharge. Keep that in mind when you choose which activities to engage in leading up to bedtime. Avoid exposing yourself to upsetting things like distressing world news, angry emails and horror films, especially if you know that this affects your sleeping. You may be a huge fan of scary movies, but if seeing one late at night causes you sleeplessness, it's just not worth it.

    How To Fall Asleep Naturally

    9. Sort Out Your Bedroom: Check that your sleeping area is cozy, clean and comfortable. Adjust the position of your bed or the colours in your room so that they are conducive to a good night's sleep. Think of how the energy flows in the room and get rid of any clutter. Make sure that you have a quality mattress and pillows that provide enough support for your body.

    Wake Up Slowly - Better Sleep

    10. Wake Up Slowly: How you get up in the morning is of huge importance, as it establishes the mood for the rest of your day. I've always been annoyed by loud alarm clocks and I have found that gentle ones work much better for me. Get an app like Timely that has a Smart Rise mode, based on advanced sleep-cycle theory. A slow fading melody will gently wake you up from your deep sleep 30 minutes before the regular alarm. You may want to invest in a sunrise simulator lamp, which will gently increase the intensity of the light, emulating the real thing. Some of these devices will also have a sunset mode, which slowly decreases the light until completely dark, helping you to nod off in a more natural way.

    Sleepless nights may also be caused by depression - have a look at 10 Simple Tips To Help Fight Depression.

    I'd love to hear what tricks you use to help you fall asleep easier and to sleep through the night. What herbs, fragrances or apps work for you? Let me know in the comments!

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  2. Caring For Your Skin: Inside & Out

    We all want to take better care of our skin. Choosing mild and effective products is important, but when it comes to thinking ahead, there are some long-term factors to consider. Let's look at how best to care for your skin, inside and out.

    Caring For Your Skin: Inside & Out

    1. Genes:
    Sometimes we're born with the skin we've inherited from our forefathers. We may be blessed with easy, no-fuss soft and smooth skin, or we struggle with sensitivity, eczema or psoriasis, for no apparent reason apart from the DNA lottery. However, recently it's been scientifically proven that changes in our thinking and our environment can re-write our genes. Our DNA is not static, as we once believed. Thus, your genes can be re-programmed. Nature and nurture are not mutually exclusive, separate forces - they work together and mould our gene expression. Just as we can change, so can our genes. We have a much bigger influence on them than we previously thought. To use modern analogy, you can choose to upgrade your operating system. Our health and well-being can be our own choice if we decide so. You have the power. To make your journey easier, check out our 10 Things To Avoid When You Have Sensitive Skin, Rosacea, Eczema or Psoriasis.

    2. Stress:
    Stress can impact our overall well-being and it's been shown that the stress hormone cortisol can cause premature ageing of the skin. Because of this, relaxation is very beneficial to our inner and outer self. Some people enjoy a sunny holiday, while others meditate daily. You can take a walk in the park or the woods, listen to soothing music or play with your pet - whatever it is, if it relaxes you, it's good for you. Here are 10 Simple Tips To Help Fight Depression and bring some peace and calm to your everyday life.

    3. Healthy living:
    Smoking, heavy drinking and processed foods full of additives can affect our digestive system and our liver, having a direct impact of the appearance of the skin. Choose fresh, living, vibrant foods that your body will benefit from. Where possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables and learn to avoid foods that contain unnecessary additives. Maybe try a fresh smoothie in the morning, or add sprouts or fermented foods to your diet. Start with small changes towards healthier choices, and they will stick. See also: Three Simple Steps To Revitalise Your Skin.

    Caring For Your Skin: Healthy Living

    4. Hydration
    : Drink plenty of clean, fresh water every day to allow your body to flush out any toxins and to rejuvenate and hydrate your cells. Start and end your day with a big glass of water to get that engine running on the purest fuel possible.

    Caring For Your Skin: Hydrate

    5. Steam & Scrub:
    A gentle weekly steam & scrub routine will help get rid of dead skin cells, allowing your skin to breathe, look cleaner, smoother and more even. This will also allow it to better absorb any skin products you use, and will prevent blackheads and clogged pores.

    6. Cleanse:
    Use a mild cleanser that will gently pull out any impurities, without stripping the skin of its natural oils. This is even more important if you live near a big city or in a polluted environment. Here's how to Make The Most Of Your Cleanser.

    7. Moisturise
    : If you're here, I know you're doing this right! Use a natural moisturiser suitable for your skin type to hydrate, heal and protect. The Hemp Moisturiser is great for mixed or acne-prone skin and can be used daily. For sensitive and dehydrated skin, try the Rose, Rosehip & Rosemary Moisturiser. If your skin requires something healing, calming and soothing, check out the Marigold, Frankincense & Myrrh moisturiser. You can also use any pure vegetable oil, preferably organic: olive, coconut, sunflower or jojoba all work great!

    Caring For Your Skin: Moisturise

    8. Treat yourself:
    A nice professional facial or a massage is a lovely way for you to treat yourself and be pampered, while your skin and body get that well-deserved MOT. Or, get your partner of your friend to treat you to a DIY Home Beauty Spa experience. You need it and you deserve it!

    These are just some of the things that affect the look and feel of the skin. Each of them separately is very powerful, but combined, they make even more sense and work better together.

    We do not need a plethora of bottles and jars to take care of our appearance. I am a big fan of multi-purpose products. For example, MuLondon moisturisers can be used as day or night creams, face serums and oils, eye creams, lips balms, hand creams and even as hair pomade. Our cleansers are great for washing the face or the hands and even for shaving. Having a selected few products that are gentle and effective in your bathroom cabinet should do the trick. When it comes to our skin, which products we use is definitely an important, but not the only factor that will affect its appearance.

    I hope these tips help. Please let me know in your comments what it is that you do to take care of your skin and your overall well-being!

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  3. 10 Simple Tips To Help Fight Depression

    Depression can strike at any time. For me, it's usually around this time of the year, as we slowly exit winter and start approaching spring. I am not really sure why, but I start getting sad, pensive and withdrawn and everything seems like a chore. It's like a dark cloud of heavy thoughts descends upon me and I can't seem to get out from under it.

    10 Simple Tips To Help Fight Depression

    I used to believe that going through depression would bring me some great, deep insight. Thinking that I'm just supposed to suck it up it and endure the process, I was waiting for an epiphany. I can now tell you there there is none. There is no great revelation at the end of it. What I do know is that feeling good is the most important thing for my body and my mind - and depression does not make me feel good.

    White Flowers

    Over the years, I have learned to recognise when my depression kicks in. I notice the first signs of it, and know that this is just what happens. This helps me in overcoming this period of sadness by taking action and introducing the tools I will share with you. I have gathered these over the years, and hopefully they will be useful to you, too. This is as much a reminder list for me as it is advice to you. Please see a professional if you're suffering from depression.

    1. Breathe: Take deep, slow breaths, in and out. If you can breath, you are fine. Breathing deeply and slowly will calm and ground you. That's a great first step.

    2. Meditate: If you can breathe, you can meditate. When you're depressed, you may seem like a slow-mo version of yourself - but your thoughts can be racing at a perilous pace. The best way to slow them down and get some relief is to meditate. I used to think that meditation is a complicated, mystical thing with a steep learning curve. It turns out that there's nothing easier than sitting down, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. That's it. That's all you need to do, and you only need 5 minutes. You can follow this simple meditation video, use apps like the Mindfulness App or Buddhify to help guide you, or download free meditation tracks from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. The positive effects of meditation have been confirmed by numerous research studies.


    3. Exercise: Do you want better metabolism and muscle tone, enhanced mood and healthier-looking skin? The benefits of regular exercise have been widely documented. I know that when you're feeling down about yourself, you may not want to go and work out. Let's be honest - the act of exercising is not always fun, but the rush of positive energy and feel-good hormones you get when you're done more than makes up for it. Exercising will also help you sleep much better at night, which is an added bonus.

    4. Shower: A nice long shower can do wonders for you. I love feeling fresh and invigorated after I take my shower. It's almost as if the water cleanses your skin, taking with it some of the negative energy in the process. Taking a shower when you get up in the morning will set you up for the day ahead and put you in the right mindset for getting on with things, which then seem to have an easier flow. This is especially important if you work from home - having a shower and getting dressed for work in the morning will help you get things done even if your home is your office.

    5. Eat: Remember to eat healthy, wholesome foods that are good for you. Fill your plate with fresh, organic vegetables and make yourself a yummy juice or a smoothie, giving you a burst of energy for the day ahead. Taking care of yourself when you're depressed includes eating regular, nutritious meals. You deserve it.

    Eat More Fresh Fruit

    6. Declutter: Make room for brand new energy to flow into your life by decluttering. Both you and your dwellings will breathe easier, and the difference that can make to your happiness and productivity is huge. Start small, covering one room at a time. If you have a hard time letting go of things you haven't used or worn, imagine how happy they'll make someone who will actually benefit from them. Plus, getting rid of things you don't use or need will make you feel so much lighter.

    7. Reach out: When you're feeling down, your knee-jerk reaction is to withdraw and isolate yourself. Even though this is counter-productive, it's a very common reaction to being depressed. Reaching out to people who care about you can bring some sunshine in your life when you need it. I know what it's like to be depressed and think that nobody cares or understands how you're feeling. We tend to expect people to know that we're in need of help. The problem is that not many of us can read minds. We're all preoccupied with our own issues, dramas and problems, but that does not mean that we don't care. We just don't know what goes on in each other's minds unless we communicate that clearly. Your friends and family need to know how you're feeling in order to be there for you. Call them up. Send them a message. Write a letter. Whatever works for you, but reach out and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Saying that you're in pain and in need of support is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of great strength allowing others to carry you when you're too weak to do it yourself. Put your pride to the side, and let people into your life. Tell them how you feel and what you need from them. They will be there for you.

    8. Help others: Sometimes feeling good can come from doing something that does not focus directly on us. Do good to feel good - support your favourite charity or volunteer for a cause you believe in. Taking some focus off of yourself and being of service to others is a win-win situation.

    9. Read: There are some amazing books that have inspired me and lifted me up when I've needed it. They are full of wisdom, kindness and understanding. Try: "Ask and it is Given" by Esther Hicks (UK/US), "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay (UK/US), "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie (UK/US), and "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown (UK/US). These books have explained and clarified how my thoughts affect me and how I can change the way I react to things, giving me the strength to ride through those dark nights of the soul.

    10. Smell: Via our sense of smell, essential oils can enhance our emotional state by directly interacting with the part of the brain known as the limbic system. The limbic system controls our basic emotions and our mood. It's been proven that the more pleasing a certain fragrance is to you, the more effective it is in influencing the limbic system. Choose something that you enjoy smelling - for some people it's the aroma of white chocolate, for others it's rose, and certain people like lavender. You can also Use Essential Oils To Infuse Your Clothes With Natural Aromas, taking their effect even further and making it last longer. You can also benefit from the positive effects of essential oils by treating yourself to a DIY Home Beauty Spa.

    Smell the roses

    You can use as few or as many of these tips as you want. Try them. Put them to the test. These straightforward pieces of advice may seem simple and trivial, but that's exactly what you need when you're feeling down. It's so easy to forget what actually works when you're depressed and small steps can make a big difference. Pay attention to what makes you feel good, and then do more of that. Stay away from people, places and things that are not conducive to your well-being. If reading the newspapers every morning stresses you out, stop doing that. Sad songs that make you cry? Change the tune. Your well-being is the most important thing right now.

    I'd love to hear how you fight depression. What works for you? What makes you feel better? Let me know in your comments below!


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  4. Have Yourself a Frugal Little Christmas: Secret Vegan Barley Roast Recipe

    Ho ho ho! The holiday season is upon us. Whether you choose to celebrate or not, we all seem to allow ourselves to overspend at this time of the year. Well, it does not have to be that way. You can have a happy and joyous holiday season, while at the same time being moderate, compassionate and frugal. It's easier than you think!

    Not so long ago, most people in the UK followed a plant-based diet on a daily basis. This was more due to the high cost and scarcity of meat, but it allowed people to become creative with what they had. When Britain entered the war in 1939, British farmers switched from producing meat to growing wheat and potatoes, as it made no sense to waste energy on raising animals. Ten acres of land could feed only 12 people if used for livestock, or up to 400 people is used for wheat or potatoes.

    Secret Vegan Barley Roast Recipe

    The legend has it that this delicious yet simple barley roast recipe came about during the war period. It has been handed over through generations, and since I got it from a friend, it's been a favourite Christmas dish in our household. I know that the combination of these few simple ingredients sounds a bit plain to be a treat, but trust me on this - you'll be surprised! I was sceptical at first too, but this barley roast rocks. I have slightly adapted, simplified and veganised the recipe.

    Here's what you'll need (organic preferred if available):

    200 gm barley
    200 gm grated vegan cheese (I use 1 block of Cheezly from VBites)
    100 gm of olive oil
    4 onions
    1 teaspoon of sage
    salt & pepper to taste


    Cook the barley in 1 litre of water for 90 minutes, or until tender. Peel, chop & brown the onions and add to drained barley together with grated vegan cheese and seasoning. Place in a greased baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes at around 180C. Serve with baked potatoes or freshly cut vegetables.

    The gluten-free and vegan barley roast keeps really well, so you can easily make a bigger batch to last you a few days.

    Enjoy! ♥

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  5. 5 Quick Winter Skin Care Tips

    During the winter your skin requires more protection than usual. Here are a few simple tips that you can follow to make sure that you get through the winter looking and feeling your best.

    5 Quick Winter Skincare Tips

    1. PROTECT: Use a heavy-duty balm like the Organic Marigold, Frankincense & Myrrh Moisturiser applied more liberally during the day to protect your skin. At night, indulge in the yummy Organic White Chocolate Truffle Moisturiser for sweet dreams! Oil-based moisturisers are not only more concentrated, but they also provide a more robust physical barrier that additionally protects the skin.

    2. HYDRATE: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will replenish your cells from within and combat the drying effects of central heating. It can be easy to forget to hydrate - but if you make a habit of having a small bottle of water nearby, your body will be naturally drawn to have frequent sips as you go about your day.

    3. EAT RAW: Even though we associate summertime with eating salads, it's important that we remember to consume fresh fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts during the winter. Raw foods are packed with enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients which are needed even more at this time of the year. Try a delicious fresh fruit and nut smoothie for an instant energy blast!

    4. GET SUN: Moderate sun exposure can do wonders for your skin. Even a daily 15 minute walk in the park during seemingly cloudy and grey winter days will infuse your body with enough sunlight to help produce vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for a strong immune system and our skin health.

    5. HAVE FUN: Enjoy the winter! Even though short, cold and dark days can be a drag, there's lots of fun to be had. If you get snow where you live, go out and play in it during the day, and maybe even make a snowman. Winter allows you to cosy up to a good book, catch up on your favourite TV show or enjoy a candle-lit dinner in the evening. Take a bath and allow your body to relax. Nurturing a positive outlook during the winter will have a direct effect on your overall well-being, and in turn - your skin health.

    BONUS TIP: Rosacea, eczema and psoriasis tend to flare up during the winter season. For tips on how to deal with them, see 10 Things To Avoid When You Have Sensitive Skin, Rosacea, Eczema or Psoriasis.

    What do you do during the winter to keep your skin looking healthy? Let me know in your comments!

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