Eat better in lockdown

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Top Tips

Food and drink have been one of the few pleasures we have still been able to enjoy during this lockdown and although the odd treat is fine, many of us are finding ourselves eating and drinking more, and have gained a few unwanted inches.

Commercial weight loss programs don’t work long term, with most achieving limited and/or temporary weight loss. So here are a few practical tips to eat better in lockdown.

1. Build your food environment.

The evidence is the rise in obesity is linked with our obesogenic environment. Be aware of the foods around you, and what you put on your shopping list, if you buy those Doritos chances are they will get eaten!

Abi Barclay-Watt, nutritionist

2. Kitchen opening hours.

If you easily succumb to snack cravings, try and stick to 3 meals a day. If you do need a snack have something nutritious on hand. Have a big fruit salad or veg sticks and nuts easily available. Meals can then be social focal points and it will mean less clearing up too!

3. Eating speed.

It has been shown that slower eaters release less of the hunger hormone than faster eaters. So, eat mindfully with your senses and chew well.

4. Portion size.

An obvious one, try and only cook what you need. Try and fill at least a third of your plate with veg.

5. Distraction activity

Are you really hungry, or just bored or thirsty? Try drinking some water first and wait before you grab that snack. Find another activity you enjoy to fill that craving, go for a walk, get lost in a good book etc.

6. Be kind to yourself.

There is nothing wrong in indulging occasionally and it is important to acknowledge resisting what your appetite wants can be a challenge. Try applying the 80:20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time, it can make you aware of how much better you feel when you eat well but allow yourself the food you enjoy.

Find out more

For more information see my website and please do email any questions

Hypnotherapy sleep tips

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Oxfordshire-based clinical hypnotherapist Linda Flanigan has some help for anyone struggling to sleep in the current circumstances

One of the main impacts of the current situation is that it can disrupt our sleep. When we are stressed and facing dramatic changes, it can make sleep more difficult. Hypnotherapist Linda Flanigan is working to combat those sleep problems with the power of hypnosis, offering a complimentary hypnosis recording, as part of her community ‘give-back’ initiative to help people get through this difficult time. The latest recording is to help people achieve the deep, soothing, healthy sleep that we all want.

She said: “Our everyday way of life has changed dramatically and we are having to deal with emotions and fears that are causing a strain on our mental and physical well-being. As the lockdown continues and anxiety increases, many are finding they are suffering with sleep issues for the first time in their lives, while others who already have sleeping problems are finding they are exacerbated at this challenging time.

If sleep problems are not dealt with it can result in us being unable to sleep at all or to wake up several times during the night

“We cannot function properly without good, quality sleep and by stressing over the current coronavirus situation we are keeping our minds in a constant state of vigilance at night, rather than allowing restorative sleep. It’s natural to be worried but we need to look for ways to manage the stress to reduce the effects of being sleep deprived.”

Linda added: “I teach my clients hypnotherapy strategies that well help them deal with the blocks that are causing them problems. By giving them sleep techniques aimed specifically at calming restless minds and bodies, such as relaxation, focused attention, guided imagery and symptom control, I can ease the worries that are stopping sleep.

“If sleep problems are not dealt with it can result in us being unable to sleep at all or to wake up several times during the night or have more vivid or emotional dreams all leaving us feeling exhausted and irritable and unable to perform or focus the next day. Hypnosis can help with many forms of sleep issues.”

Linda advises sleep hypnotherapy as an alternative to traditional methods that perhaps are not effective with everybody or for those who prefer not to take sleeping pills.

She said: “It is a perfectly natural treatment without any side effects. That endless tossing and turning in bed creates more frustration so I can’t recommend this hypnosis recording enough if lack of sleep is troubling you during lockdown.”

As well as her recording, Linda has some hints and tips to achieve a better sleep:

1. Introduce helpful habits

We are not designed to sit all day in front of a screen, being bombarded with artificial light. Building good habits into the day will train your body to recognise when it’s time to sleep: make sure you get some natural light and exercise, eat healthily and sleep around the same time each night.

2. Let your body know you’re ready for bed

Wind down gently each night by watching, listening to or reading something fun or uplifting before you think about going to bed. Avoid caffeine, mobile phones, computers and late-night exercise – your brain wants to calm down not be stimulated.

3. Learn to switch off

It is important to calm our bodies physically and mentally before getting ready for bed. Do that in a way you enjoy. Have a long, hot bath (that also works to aid sleep as it reduces core body temperature when you get out – beneficial for sleep); do some meditation; focus on your breathing and breathe deeply; listen to some calming music; write down anything that you need to do the next day so that you can then let go of it before you sleep.

4. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep

Keep your bedroom as clear of clutter and work as you can. Keep it as a haven of comfort. Have a look around and see what you can clear out or tidy away. Sometimes just changing things around can make a big difference. Pay attention to the temperature in your room as research shows that we fall asleep a lot quicker if we are in a cool room.

5. Learn not to battle to get to sleep

Don’t watch the clock all night – turn it away from you. Instead of putting your focus on not being able to sleep, focus on how good it is to be simply resting: enjoy the feel of the comfy covers, your head resting on the pillow. Take yourself off in your mind to a nice, relaxing time, a time when it felt good to be relaxing. Put your focus on the positive: tell yourself “I choose to sleep” or “I’m enjoying resting peacefully”.

If you cannot sleep after a while get up and do something that is not too mentally taxing or stimulating.

Gardening tips 2

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With many of us spending more time at home, getting some fresh air and keeping our minds occupied in the current situation is so important.

So switch off from the news and take a break in your garden. Gardening is a great stress buster and it’s a good form of exercise too. 

If you’re looking for ideas there are plenty of uplifting projects to get stuck into in your garden. Why not:

> Plant a tree

Grow your own fruit & veg

Create a wildlife-friendly garden

Plant patio climbing roses

Try growing some plants from seed

Get the children into gardening

Create an edible window box

Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres believes escaping into the garden is a great way to lift your spirits to soak in the beauty if the outdoors generally and our gardens.

She said: “In times like this nature and simple pleasures, like gardening, watching the birds and looking out for wildlife, seem all the more precious and a boost to body and spirit. If you need us we are here to help you get gardening and find some outdoor relaxation and exercise.”

She added: “If you are spending a little more time at home over the coming weeks, I hope that the weather is kind and you are able to enjoy your outside space.”

Squire’s also offer a local home delivery service. Simply call your local centre to arrange delivery. Squires Garden Centres

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Gardening tips 1

Round & About

Top Tips

While having to stay at home is not ideal for any of us there are lots of things you can do in the garden and what better time than with the spring weather, here are a few more ideas, that will not only keep you occupied, but also mentally and physically active too:

> Dust down the mower and get out and tackle the lawn, not forgetting the edges which you can trim with shears. This simple task will immediately make your garden look tider.

Welcome the birds into your garden, order some feeders and birdfood to get started if you don’t already have them and the sight and sound of our feathered friends will put a smile on your face.

Do your bit for wild plants that are under threat by sowing some native plants into a window box, on a balcony or in a corner of your garden and make a mini meadow to encourage nature back.

Children can join in with nature/gardening-based craft activities to inspire and entertain them to get growing too. Why not make a den in the garden if you have room and see how ingenious they can be.

Don’t stare at a blank wall or fence, add some colour with hanging baskets or try environmentally-friendly, hessian flower bags filled with compost and planted with flowering plugs.

String up some garden lights to bring a sparkle to a tree, porch, archway or shrub.

Don’t neglect the patio or terrace when dealing with the plants, veg and greenery – a blast from the pressure washer will easily give it a new look.

For a real taste of the summer to come order some strawberry plants and get them in now with some fertilizer to really encourage the juicy sweet fruit.

Add some sunshine with some cheery sunflowers, sow seeds now, put pots on the windowsill and plant seedlings when frosts are gone.

Pot up some herbs, salad leaves, spinach, beetroot, dwarf French beans, potatoes and dwarf carrots which will all do well in containers or skip the sowing and go straight to plug plants.

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Spring clean: De-clutter

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Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Hopefully now you’ve got a clean, tidy, fresh house so the final step is to de-clutter and take care of the little things to complete that new look for spring…

Clutter


Clean makeup brushes

They’ll need 24 hours to dry so make sure you do this when you won’t be using them, just use a brush cleanser or a lightweight unscented shampoo.

Dust

Don’t just clear surfaces and straighten up ornaments, take the time to have a really good dust, bedside table, shelves etc, it will add to the overall improvement of the house.

Clean toys in dishwasher and washing machine

Put plastic things in the dishwasher and fabric in the washing machine. Remember to check what it’s made of first– you don’t want goggly eyes or loose parts falling off in the machine.

And finally… Create a space for clutter

No matter how hard you try there will always be some bits and pieces you can’t get rid off but that don’t have a natural home so create a dedicated space to store these things to ensure all your hard work and newly cleaned and tidied home isn’t spoiled by clutter again.

Spring clean your digital life

Round & About

Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

It’s not just the ‘physical’ possessions in your life that needed ‘cleaning’, do a digital clear out too… 

Digital


Clean up your desktop

A quick fix to tidy up your screen is to move items into folders, although just a temporary fix, it’ll allow time to sort through files in an orderly way.

Clean keyboards

Keyboards are often neglected but cleaning them is simple – soap, water and a cotton bud will help you get in between keys without a problem.

Unsubscribe and delete unwanted emails

Don’t let unopened emails accumulate in your inbox. You can either search ‘unsubscribe’ in your emails and find the ones you don’t want or for a more thorough job, sort your inbox by “from” and choose the sender you don’t want to hear from.

Spring clean your house

Round & About

Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

You’ve focused on the key rooms, so how about turning your attention to the house overall?

House


Remove carpet stains with an iron

Vacuum the area, dampen any spots or stains with a towel soaked in a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water. Place the moist towel over the stain and use the iron to heat the towel, it should lift the stain into the towel.

 

Banish bad smells

Open your windows to let in some fresh air. Check your fruit bowl for worst-for-wear fruit and take the bin out. A cup of vanilla extract in the oven to heat for an hour will make your home smell like a bakery. Fresh potted herbs in the kitchen (mint, rosemary and basil) are also a great way to freshen things up.

 

Rearrange furniture

Not only will it feel like you’ve got a new room, it’ll also help you clear away clutter and dirt in the process.

 

Wash the windows

The best time to do this is on a cloudy day as sun dries them out too quickly, causing streaks. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water and spritz away, making sure to rub it in quickly and fluidly.

 

Create a donations box

Place a box, bag or bin somewhere handy for unwanted items, drop in one thing per day that you don’t wear or use anymore. It will soon fill up and you can then donate or sell the collection when the box is full.

Spring clean your kitchen

Round & About

Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

It’s time to tackle probably the most used room in your house which is likely to be the most in need of a spring clean – the kitchen!

Kitchen


Fresh smelling bin

There’s no excuse not to clean your bin when there are so many ways you can do it. Hose the inside and wipe it down with an anti-bacterial spray or wipe to start with, a sprinkling of baking soda will help absorb any moisture. Line the bottom with newspaper before fitting a bin liner and a few drops of tea tree oil will add a pleasantly clean fragrance.

Clean the oven

Sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then spray or pour vinegar over it and leave overnight. Simply wipe clean in the morning and you’ve got a sparkly clean oven ready to use.

Sanitize sponges

Hands up who uses just one sponge for everything? It’s a hygiene disaster but there is an answer – microwave a wet sponge on a high setting for a minute or two and this will kill most of the bacteria in the sponge. Don’t keep your sponges for too long – you should use a new one every month or so.

Steam clean the microwave

Microwaves attract dirt from explosions or spillages, but you can clean your microwave the easy way by adding lemon juice or white vinegar to a bowl of water and heating it on full power for about five minutes. Wipe it down and you’ll be left with a shiny clean microwave, without any scrubbing.

Remove watermarks from stainless steel

Simply halve a lemon and use it to scrub the steel, it’ll make your kitchen smell great too! 

Spring clean your bedroom

Round & About

Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

Today how about giving the bedroom a spruce up!

 

Bedroom


Duvet & Mattress

Wash and whiten your pillows and duvet in the washing machine, and air your mattress – you’ll be guaranteed a better night’s sleep when you do it in a truly clean bed.

 

Try the hanger trick in your wardrobe

We’ve all got clothes in our wardrobes we haven’t worn for years, but are you just hoarding them? The hanger trick was made for you. Hang all your clothes so the hangers are backwards in the wardrobe, then, when you use them, put the hangers on the rack the right way. Do this for about a month and you’ll soon appreciate what you wear and what you don’t. So if you have a dress you love and can’t bear to part with it, then wear it!

 

Fold and stack clothes vertically

Organise your clothes drawers by folding and stacking clothes vertically and not horizontally. This makes it really easy to see all your t-shirts/jumpers in one go and will even minimise creasing.

 

Vacuum seal non-seasonal clothes

Don’t cram heavy coats into the wardrobe during the middle of summer or have to dig through flimsy dresses in January. Use vacuum seal bags to store clothes you want to keep but know won’t get any wear for a few months.

 

Store sheet sets in pillowcases

Don’t lose a pillow case, keep sets & their matching sheets in one of the pillow cases – it will keep it all together and be much neater in your cupboard.

Spring clean your bathroom

Round & About

Top Tips

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

Let’s start with one of the most used rooms in the house:

Bathroom


Fresher smell

Make your bathroom smell fresh by simply adding a few drops of essential oil to the inside of your toilet roll.

 

Remove tile mould

One of the best ways to revamp your bathroom is to get rid of the mould and discolouration on tiles, try a mixture of baking soda, distilled white vinegar, salt and essential oils. Mix them up, spritz on to your tiles, wait 10 minutes and wipe off.

Clean the toilet

Baking soda and vinegar are also essential ingredients if you’d rather not use toilet bleach to clean the loo effectively. The soda and vinegar combination are effective at removing hard-water marks, and rust stains. More unusually, you can pour cola down the toilet – it’s thought to work well at removing rust rings.

 

Clean the shower head

Keep the baking soda and vinegar handy for this, fill a sandwich bag with the mix and tie it around the shower head with an elastic band, leave it overnight to soak. In the morning, use an old toothbrush to remove the scale and debris and you should find your next shower will be a much better, more refreshing one.

 

Wash shower curtains and bathroom mats

Shower curtains can get pretty nasty and are prone to mould. Put your shower curtain in the washing machine (along with the bath mat), then hang it back in the shower to dry – simple as that!