Another One For The Ladies

Following on from my earlier blog this week I thought I’d re post an old blog about foods that may help with PMS and some which you may want to avoid.

Now a) I’m not a nutritionist, this is all from general research I’ve done on a subject that affects me and b) I’m not saying these will stop period pain or that you should never have the things on the avoid list – just that theoretically there may be some foods you want to try and eat and others less so if you suffer from cramps etc.

Here’s the re post…

When I’m on my period I literally crave fatty, sugary, salty foods.  When you spend a lot of time trying to eat well this is pretty annoying so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time looking into why and what I can do to try and make myself feel better (because I suffer from horrible cramps most months and bloat enough to feel like I may actually be pregnant with a baby Elephant) without giving into eating 10,000 calories of pure fat and sugar a day.

Just before and during our periods our Serotonin levels lower (less feel good hormones), our stress hormones spike (not helping in the feeling good department) and our bodies use more calories making us feel hungry more often.  It’s therefore not hugely surprising we want to comfort eat- but apart from eating too much of the crap stuff affecting your body shape aims (I won’t say weight!) eating too much sugar will also cause a spike followed by a crash and burn which also doesn’t make you feel good in the long run.

I’ve therefore been making an effort to read up on what foods will help make me feel better without having a negative affect on looking after myself in general to try and implement them more into my diet .

Foods To Eat:

  1. Water – Not really food but hydrating well helps keep skin clear, prevent bloating (the better hydrated you are the less likely you will retain water) and reduce cramps.
  2. Almonds – also sesame seeds / flax seeds- these have calcium in them and calcium (but not dairy) can help reduce cramps.
  3. Dark chocolate – A little dark chocolate can help relax muscles and so reduce cramps, it will also help release some happy hormones.
  4. Celery – Full of water but not full of calories so a good option if you feel the need to constantly graze!
  5. Hummus- This one may be a bit controversial. I have read that chickpea’s can help you sleep better and also help improve mood. I have also read however that they can be classed as a Legume and cause bloating so perhaps eat in moderation.
  6. Pineapple – Help relax muscles (less cramps) and reduce bloating
  7. Bananas – Helps relax muscles (reduce cramping) also contains Vitamin B6 which can help improve your mood. Banana’s are also good at helping to regulate the digestive system, which some women can have problems with during this time.
  8. Tea – Yes it has caffeine in it, but it’s apparently better for you than coffee (which can increase anxiety levels and cause you to and retain water). Other types of tea can also help: Green tea for instance provides a little caffine still, peppermint tea can help soothe an upset stomach, Chamomile tea is relaxing and can help reduce anxiety.
  9. Spinach / Kale- These foods have Calcium in them which assists in alleviating cramps. They are also Iron rich (our iron levels can drop whilst we are on our period hence why we crave iron rich foods).
  10. Salmon – This is full of omega 3 and Vitamin D. If you can eat it the week before you are due on it may have an anti – inflammatory effect.
  11. Oranges – Provide Calcium which can help relax cramping muscles and Vitamin D (can help regulate your mood).
  12. Brocolli – Full of Magnesium, potassium, Calcium, Vitamins A, C, B6, E – Good for improving your general mood and fighting fatigue.

Foods To Avoid:

  1. Fizzy drnks – Can cause bloating.
  2. Processed foods – Tend to be high sodium – can cause bloating. Making food from scratch can reduces salt intake.
  3. Fried foods – Can elevate estrogen levels.
  4. Legumes (I mentioned this before – some things I’ve read say hummus can help, others say avoid) e.g Kidney beans, blackbeans et.c due to their bloating effect.
  5. Refined grains – refined foods can interfere with blood sugar levels and regular control of appetite, so whole grains are a better option than cookies, white bread etc.
  6. High fat foods – Can affect hormone activity and contribute to inflammation (and cramps)
  7. Coffee – Can increase anxiety / stress levels and contribute to water retention.

Really, this list is not too different to the type of foods I’d want to eat more of / avoid at any other time of the month but if you tend to feel a bit rubbish at certain points in your cycle knowing how you can help manage those symptoms (painkillers and hot water bottles aside) thinking about your diet isn’t a bad starting point.

Note- I’m not a trained nutritionists this is simply based on my own research about something that affects me- I would always recommend you see a qualified dietitian should you need advice!

Things I’ve Learnt – Re-Blog

I wrote this six months ago- all still remarkably true and relevant.

  1. You aren’t perfect.

I think I’m like most people in that when I start something new I want to be 100% perfect or I feel like I’ve failed and need to start again.  But it’s impossible to never have slip ups on a long term plan.  Getting out of the cycle of deciding a whole week was a write off become of a bad day or bad meal was one of the biggest factors to starting to see results.

  1. Day 30 (or 60 or 100 or 200) is harder than day 1.

People always talk about Day 1- and in some ways Day 1 is tough, it’s the starting something new, the first step in making changes. But by the same token, Day 1 is exciting – it’s the start of something new, when you feel all positive and hopeful.  Sticking to something once the novelty wear off or once results start to slow is the real challenge.

  1. Consistency and steady progress is boring.

Everyone loves a Facebook status or Instagram post where they can show their before and after pictures demonstrating dramatic results.  Realistically though long lasting changes take time and progress isn’t always immediately apparent.

  1. The loudest people in the gym often don’t have a clue.

When I started venturing into the free weight section alone I used to feel so inferior.  All these people claiming space and equipment and confidently broadcasting their strengths and opinions on how things should be done.  I tend to assume that if someone is loud and forward with their opinion they must know their shit- and yeah, some do.  Get comfortable in the environment and take time to look and you will see however that many do not!  Go in, do your own thing with confidence and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing in terms of training or weights.

  1. You need to eat more.

I used to try and keep my calorie intake low – the bigger the calorie deficit the better.  Really, this makes you tired, makes training harder and will eventually stop you getting results.  Stick to a sensible calorie deficit and results will come and will be easier to maintain.

  1. There is no such thing as an ideal diet.

And by ideal I mean those diets you see advertised in magazines- ‘Eat all the cake and still lose weight’ ‘Drink all the Gin and still lose weight’.  We would all like that magic diet which would allow us to eat as much of our favourite foods as often as we like and still loose 10lbs per week.  Essentially, though, if you look at them, all these diets still involve some form of restriction – eat low calorie meals through the day and allow yourself cake everyday in moderation (i.e. a small slice).  You therefore have to accept that you can eat what you want within reason but if you also want to stay within a calorie allowance and hit your Macros you will need to balance that out with sensible options for other meals. I have 4 pretty strict days to allow me the freedom to have 3 pretty relaxed days and stay within my goals.  That means for 4 days a week I sometimes have to say no to things I want in return for that relaxed weekend.

  1. Some days will be shit.

Not all training sessions will be fun, not all will bring PBs, sometimes you will feel like you have made no progress.  If every session was a great session they would just be your normal sessions.  Accept that even a tough session will bring benefits to you and don’t sweat it.

  1. Rest is important

When you start it feels like you will get more results if you keep on going and do as much as you can.  Rest allows your body to recover and prevents over training though and in the long term will improve your results.

  1. You can’t do everything.

It’s tempting to try and master as many things as possible.  Realistically though unless you are naturally talented at something the chances are you will need to devote time to things to master them.  Therefore trying to win a Strongman competition whilst also training for a marathon is probably not going to work.  Pick your thing and focus on that.  I wanted to run a second marathon but with teaching classes around my full time job I had to accept that finding time to fit the training in would not be possible and as I didn’t want to take a break from teaching I put that aim on the back burner.

  1. Weight is a bad indicator of progress.

Muscle weighs more than fat, your body is full of water blah blah blah.  At first you may be able to monitor your weight- eventually you will need to go off clothes size or pictures if you don’t want to feel completely demotivated.

Christmas Eating

It’s hard to eat well over Christmas.

Even if you have good eating habits / systems the rest of the year it’s difficult over Christmas.

I have meals prepared at home in the fridge – it would take me no effort to eat them at all, yet this last week I’ve eaten all sorts instead of them because there’s just so many temptations around.

Tuesday there was homemade Christmas cake (made by a work colleagues wife who quite frankly makes the best cakes ever), Wednesday was a working lunch in restaurant that does a brilliant crab linguine, Thursday was a pizza and chocolates lunch to celebrate a work colleagues birthday followed by a team meal in the evening (think pasta and much alcohol), Friday was a hangover in work and the work Christmas party (free bar), Saturday was hangover food and tomorrow is Christmas Eve (so all meals must be chocolate based as is the law).

In the past I would have felt guilty.  This year I’ve accepted it’s ok.  I eat well most of the time, and I’ve had some decent meals too around the less decent food. I’ve trained when I’ve been able to and let’s face it –it’s a couple of weeks out of 52 (and overall I generally eat alright). I’m not going to be in a calorie deficit, but I’m not in a massive surplus either.

So this year I feel no guilt.

I’m not saying Fuck It let’s go crazy – I’m getting better at ignoring the all or nothing mindset.  If I said that and went mad eating everything I possibly could I’d probably feel regret in the new year.

I’m just saying I won’t feel guilty for enjoying myself over Christmas.

Realistically this is not going to cause a dramatic amount of damage to my weight, certainly nothing that going back to my normal eating habits in January won’t sort almost immediately.

And mindset wise it’s going to be so much healthier for me to not feel guilty for relaxing or like I need to punish myself for it in January.

So should you follow your ‘diet’ over Christmas?  If you want to, yes, if you don’t then no and if you try to and slip up it’s ok.  What isn’t ok is making yourself feel bad for whatever decision you make.

Why you shouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

We were talking today at work about what resolutions people planned to make.

The idea was that everyone would write down what they wanted to change and hide it away somewhere and then check again in three months’ time to see if everyone had stuck to their resolutions…. or if they had failed.

A few years ago I would have been up for this.  I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions over the years, in fact normally the same resolutions year after year which I never kept.

These days I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions as such. Here’s why:

January is a shit time to make drastic changes

It’s cold, dark and everyone is depressed and skint after Christmas.  It’s a rubbish time to decide to suddenly make drastic and often restrictive changes to your life.  Result is you feel miserable two days in and give up.  Planning to give up chocolate on January 1st when you probably have a shed load of left over chocolate in your cupboards is practically setting yourself up for failure. Deciding not to drink in the most miserable month of the year so you’re left sitting on the sofa instead of going out to catch up with friends is going to become unappealing quickly.

Resolutions tend to be negative

Generally we say things like I’m going to give up… sugar, wine, chocolate, smoking.  It’s something we are NOT going to do anymore.  This means we feel like we are depriving ourselves.  Depriving yourself is rarely a long-term plan for success.

Resolutions tend to be vague

I want to lose weight, I want to get fit, I want to earn more money.  They are goals / outcomes we’d like to reach yes, but they aren’t very specific and how and when they will be achieved isn’t always clear.  How often do you make vague plans with a friend to ‘catch up soon’ only for that catch up to not happen?  It’s not because we don’t want to catch up it’s just because we’ve been too vague for anything to actually happen.  Resolutions can be a lot like that.

Resolutions end up leaving you feeling worse about yourself

The actual idea that got me thinking about this was based on hiding your resolution away and checking again in a few months to see if you have succeeded. The flip side of that is if you haven’t then you feel like a failure. Yet if you’ve hidden something away for three months how likely is it you will lose sight of it as a goal as life gets busy? You’re essentially setting yourself up to feel shit. 

Negatives out the way – I fully believe in improving things – here’s what I think is better than making New Year’s Resolutions and why:

Change when you are ready

There’s a popular saying that if you’ve thought about it you’re ready. It’s November – if you’re thinking about stopping drinking fizzy drinks – stop now, why wait until January? If you want to start running start running – these things aren’t banned until January 1st.  I get that over Christmas isn’t the smartest time to start a diet or new training regime – that in itself is potentially setting yourself up for failure.  You could however start to make some small changes to set yourself up for after Christmas.  Start walking more, logging your food intake a few days a week, drinking more water so that after Christmas you aren’t starting from scratch and you haven’t just spent a month feeling crap thinking I’ll sort myself out next year. If on January 1st you don’t feel ready to make a change but do a couple of weeks into the year start it then, or in February or August or October, you haven’t got to wait until 2020. New Year’s Resolutions have the idea of starting at midnight on 1st January – change can however happen at any time.  How often do you think I’ll start my diet on Monday and eat a weeks worth of food over the weekend knowing restriction is coming- you ‘could’ start a diet on Thursday (well we ‘could’ not call it a diet at all but that’s another blog altogether). Generally change that happens when you’re ready as opposed to an imposed time tends to be more effective.

Choosing to make positive changes

Positive changes are easier to put in place than ‘I won’t’ type changes. I will drink more water, I will eat vegetables with every meal, I will walk 10,000 steps a day.  These are things you are going to do – so you do them and you’ve created a change.  You might have also eaten ten chocolate bars but you’ve still eaten vegetables with every meal, the change has still happened. Positive changes make us feel better and so we are more likely to stick to them.

Goal setting over resolutions

I don’t make resolutions any more but I have sat down and done some goal setting for 2019.  I have decided what I want to achieve, these are specific goals so they aren’t things like ‘I want to get fitter’ they are set things I’d like to get done, some will be quick and relatively easy others less so.  Along with these goals I have made detailed plans of what I have to do to reach these specific goals and planned out realistic timescales for taking these actions. I’ve asked for feedback from people more experienced than me on these plans and discussed goals that include other people with them so we are on the same page.  I know what I need to do personally and professionally in 2019 and how I plan to do it.  I’ve got more chance of reaching these goals than if I left I chance.

SMART resolutions

Specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time specific.  If you goal ticks all these things you’re more likely to be able to reach it.  But taking this on a slightly different tangent being smart about what you decide to try and do AND WHEN will help you succeed.  I know I’ll eat more cake and chocolate than I normally would this month. I will move more to stop me feeling sluggish but I also know I will want a bit of a shake up of my diet and training routine in January to make me feel refreshed. Yet I also know that the first week of January is likely to be an extension of Christmas for me so I won’t do this January 1st. Instead I’m committing to joining in with a programme on 9th January which I know won’t drastically change my current lifestyle as I already follow a lot of the principles but will give me a bit of renewed focus at a time I will need it.  Planning ahead, being honest and smart with this planning will help you feel good about change.

Commit to creating habits / systems instead

If you want lose weight you could think of it as working towards creating habits that in turn help work towards weight loss.  Make drinking more water, creating a calorie deficit and training three times a week a habit and you will achieve your goal but you also find it is something that starts to fit into your everyday life as opposed to something you have to work towards constantly.  The benefit of this is you can pick one small thing to work on then once that has become a habit work on something else, building change gradually.

Re-framing how you think

‘I want to be get over my ex and for them to see me looking happy.’  You could re-frame this thought process to what would make you happy?  Seeing your friends more perhaps? So instead of I want to get over my ex you could say I want to go out and do something fun with my friends once a week / fortnight / month (commitment depending here).  Instead of focusing on becoming happy or getting over someone you could just commit to doing something that has the potential to make you happy and allow feeling happy and getting over them to happen naturally – all the time your still succeeding in your actual goal of getting out and socialising.  It sounds very self help book but when you start to habitually re-frame your thoughts, you start to find it easier to make changes.

I’ve made lots of changes to the way I approach things in 2018 – old habits die hard admittedly but by looking at making changes in a more positive light you can create a you that you are happier with and start 2019 not feeling the need to set resolutions.

Supplements

For a couple of years I have limited the supplements I take to a Multi Vitamin and Omega 3 but recently after feeling fatigued I introduced a couple of additional supplements into my routine, namely liquid iron and hydration tablets.

  • In particular – liquid iron (specifically Spatone) 

Adequate iron levels are important for the body to function properly whatever you do day to day and Doctors have often suspected my iron levels to be low (although blood tests have always shown otherwise – I think I’m just very very pale!).  More relevant for me though, from my own reading on the subject recently (because before I start using supplements I like to do some research), ensuring the levels of iron in your body are adequate can have a positive effect it can have on your fitness goals in several ways.

Some things taking an iron supplement may improve (note I’m not massively sciencey and this is just my understanding of what I read):

Energy Levels Ensuring iron levels are not low can help reduce fatigue during workout as without sufficient iron less ATP can be produced (part of the reason why those lacking sufficient iron can feel tired and fatigued).

Performance in the gym – One thing iron does is ensure oxygen saturated blood is able to efficiently reach the areas that need it thus assisting your performance.

Recovery – That same nutrient filled blood pumping efficiently into muscles can also aid recovery after training.  In addition low iron levels can reduce the efficiency of our immune system, which could also make it harder to recover from a tough week of training.

  • Hydration Tablets (specifically ORS)

Hydration plays an important role in sports performance (and every day human being functioning).

Most of the time I still just drink water (and I average about 4 litres a day) but when I have been feeling run down I’ve been adding a hydration tablet to my pint of water a couple of times a day to perk myself back up. Adding a hydration tablet into your water can help you get the right balance of water and electrolytes needed to replenish your body after training. The theory therefore is that you can hydrate more efficiently after training by drinking a hydration solution to just water. The advantage to these over sports drinks is the tablets are lower in sugar and calories.

As little as a 2-3 percent reduction in body mass via water loss can have a significant impact on your concentration and muscle power so potential benefits to remaining hydrated:

Reduced chance of cramp, muscle fatigue and joint pain. As the core body temperature and heart rate can be regulated more efficiently.

Reduced fatigue. Helping making training easier.

Improved concentration. Being well hydrated can maximise the speed at which messages are sent from the brain to the muscles, resulting in a better performance for longer.

Avoid Dehydration When exercising, your body loses water and essential salts through sweat.  If not replaced, this can result in dehydration – this obviously is not good.

Obviously you can’t replace good nutrition with supplements but knowing what your body needs and making smart use of supplements to ensure you get it can be a good thing.

Most People are Kinder to Others – Discuss

This week I’ve only trained twice (about 30 minutes both times) and I’ve only taught three classes.  This isn’t because I’ve been lazy (well not totally), I had a trip mid-week and whilst I could have fitted in a couple of extra sessions I decided to listen to my body and get some extra sleep.

I’ve also not really paid any attention to my eating.  Some meals I’ve prepped and taken with me to work (perhaps 60%) but whilst travelling I didn’t really think about what my body needed and have largely eaten what was convenient and I wanted.  Normally I do four Paleo based days a week and this week I haven’t done this at all.

These two things combined have left me feeling a bit sluggish.  Logically I know it’s stupid.  I’ve still done about 3.5 hours exercise over five days and statistically I’ve eaten vegetables more times than I’ve eaten chips.  But I’m very much an all or nothing person.  One bad week won’t undo months of hard work in the same way one good week won’t immediately turn you into an Olympic Athlete.  The brain, however, isn’t always a muscle that reacts logically to events.

When I feel like this I often instinctively think, right I need a really ‘good’ week next week and I’ll do every training session planned and eat perfectly and not eat cake and so on and so on.

But, this isn’t good for me.  We are only human.  We need to know that when we have weeks where we do a little less or eat a few too many calories it’s ok as long as we don’t let it continue for too long.  I know that if I feel ‘fat’ because I’ve not had a perfect week of eating or training then there’s something wrong with my own mindset towards my body.  Nobody can be perfect all the time and trying to be sets you up for failure (and there we have that never-ending circle of feeling bad about ourselves)

Of course this is easier said than done and writing this doesn’t mean I suddenly feel great and healthy and happy with how I look today.  Knowing something isn’t logical and not letting it bother you are two different things and overcoming those little demons in your mind isn’t always easy and even when you do overcome them sometimes they can creep back in!

But I’m not fat – a ‘bad’ week hasn’t made me fat.  I’ve put a little weight on recently, yet in comparison to a few years ago I’m fit, I’m healthy and I’m in a much more positive position than I was.  It’s ok to have a little wobble at times but we need to be kinder to ourselves in terms of our own expectations.  Because if someone else outlined my week to me as their own I’d be pointing out all the positives, but because I’m looking at my own week I’ve focused on all the things I haven’t done.  Most people are kinder to others than they are to themselves I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person reading this to need to be reminded of that.

We all have mental health

10th October is World Mental Health Day.

I have suffered from (do still) depression and anxiety.  It’s an important topic and I’d be happy to talk to anyone – whether they need someone to talk to or want to just gain a greater understanding.

BUT

Mental health isn’t just depression or anxiety or any one singular condition. Mental Health is something we all have – it’s how we deal with life, how we feel.  You might feel great that’s still mental health.  We all need to be aware of how we take care of ourselves, to keep ourselves well mentally and much as physically.  Self care isn’t only for people with illnesses – it’s soemthing everyone needs to practice.

Every year there is a specific focus of World Mental Health Day–This year being “young people and mental health in a changing world”.

According to WHO “Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Our focus is on building mental resilience among young people, to help them cope with the challenges of today’s world.”

One challenge highlighted is the impact of technology in people’s lives.  This topic can go beyond young people however, there will be few people of any age who do not find themselves increasingly relying on various forms of technology in all aspects of their lives (if you’ve lost your phone recently you will probably have realised just how much this is the case).

Social media is probably one of the most obvious ways in which technology has changed the world in a matter of years. The expanding use of social media undoubtedly brings many benefits to our lives – we can develop social contacts and business relationships regardless of location.  However, the same technology can also bring additional pressures into our lives, as connectivity to virtual networks at any (ALL) time of the day and night grows and becomes the norm.  Being ever connected and seeing more aspects of other people’s lives in a way we previously would not have can have a profound effect on our own mental health and how we view our own situations.

Only this morning I was having a conversation with a member at a gym I teach at who recently removed themselves from Facebook for this very reason.

They have been away studying at university and seeing pictures of friends from home together every week, having fun together as a group, whilst this person was miles away and couldn’t be with them produced negative emotions. Despite speaking to them and knowing that these Facebook posts were not the full picture (during the week these friends barely get a chance to speak and it’s not all constant socialising) the emotions the Facebook posts created wasn’t positive and since removing themselves from Facebook they feel happier.

We all know social media posts create a version of our lives whether we mean to put a filter on things or not it’s inevitable that it happens.  Whether we present something as glossy and amazing or terrible – we have decided how it is presented to the world.  The world then views it from their own prism and puts their own spin on what we’ve said.

All this sounds like I’m anti social media but I’m not.  I use Facebook, Instagram (occasionally Twitter, never really got the hang of Snapchat) and obviously I blog.  I have got work from and made business connections through the advances in social media.  It has so many benefits and can add value to your life as long as you are aware that it can also add new types of pressure.

So here are a few ideas of things you can do to protect your own mental health and help create a healthy relationship with technology:

  • Keep social media buttons organised together in a folder on your phone and keep it away from your home screen so you don’t feel like a slave to the sometimes endless notifications popping up.
  • Decide when you will look at messages and emails (maybe once or twice a day) and ignore all incoming things in between these times – if it’s urgent people can call you!
  • Try not to look at your phone for the first hour after you wake up. Getting some fresh air and thinking about your day without seeing what others have posted can change your outlook on the day completely.
  • Try not to look at your phone for an hour before you go to bed. This allows you time to unwind and relax before you go to sleep which will probably help you get to sleep quicker.
  • If you use a sleep app which tracks your REM cycles they often mute all social media notifications once turned on which helps if you struggle with self control on reducing message checking.
  • Just like parents do with their kids – give yourself maximum daily screen times. Don’t let yourself mindlessly scroll through social media platforms.  Give yourself a limit each day and once it’s been exceeded stop mindlessly scrolling through your feeds.
  • Call people sometimes. Having a chat can be great for your mental health and takes away the anxiety that can be created via the misinterpreting of a text message.
  • Actually arrange to meet up with people too when you can!
  • Remember that what people post isn’t always 100% what you think it is- those pictures of smiling people don’t show the argument they had 10 minutes beforehand because someone forgot to put the bins out.
  • If you find yourself getting annoyed by someone’s posts there are a variety of ways of muting them whilst remaining their friends
  • If you enjoy using an app – use it. If you start to feel it adds stress – stop.  I use Facebook and Instagram and enjoy interacting with people on it.  Snapchat just stressed me out so when I got a new phone I just didn’t install the app.

As much as technology may cause some increased stresses to our mental health it also allows people to talk about it more openly about the topic of wellness and to a much wider audience so there are lots of positives to our changing world.

Talking about and being aware of the potential issues arising from change can help us work though them and stay well.  We all need to be aware of our mental health and develop systems to help us maintain a happy healthy life as our surroundings change.  That’s not easy- believe me I know – but days like today and discussions like the ones created by days like this can all play a part in helping work towards better mental health.

Buddy Box Review

Earlier this month I received the September Buddy Box in the post.

Buddy Box is one of those subscription boxes a product which has grown in popularity recently often boxes filled with the latest beauty products – that you get in the post once a month, filled with products you don’t know you’re getting until they arrive.  The appeal here coming from not knowing what you will receive ahead of time, and getting to try new and different products you may not otherwise.

These boxes have a different purpose however.  They are designed to promote self-care, with each months box having a theme related to looking after yourself and taking some time out for you.  You can buy the boxes on a subscription basis or as a one-off box.

I first came across the company, Blurt, a couple of years ago when I was going through a period of severe depression and a friend gave me a subscription to these boxes – now every now and then I buy one and it gives me a little push to look after myself a bit more than normal.

Blurt, in their own words “exists to make a difference to anyone affected by depression. Being diagnosed can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to learn and plenty of prejudice to battle. Telling people is tough, and not everyone will understand. That’s why we’re here for you, whenever you need us, for anything at all.”  One of the ways they do this is by their subscription self-care boxes.

https://www.blurtitout.org/

This is what I got in the September box:

https://www.blurtitout.org/product/grotty-times-buddybox/

  • Bath bomb for the shower – I’ve not tried this yet but the Lavender smell is designed to help you sleep – something which can help you feel better when you’re stressed and down. I’m not a huge fan of baths so I like he idea of  a bomb for the shower.  I’m saving it for the next time I want a chilled early night – possibly this weekend.

  • 54 Self Care Idea Cards – A set of 54 cards- each with a self-care idea on them. The idea is when you need to take a moment for yourself you can pull out a card at random and try the idea on the card.  I’m not sure how well this will work if your already feeling unmotivated but I like th idea of small actions creating self care and it does take away the need to have to think of what to do away from you- which during low periods can help in iself.  These might live on my bookcase so I can grab them as and when.

  • How To Grow Your No map – A map guide of how to learn to Say No! Not sure how I’ll use this but it’s an interesting little guide into how you can build up slowly to saying no when you really don’t want to do something – a great tool for those who suffer from anxiety and find themselves saying yes a lot.

  • Peopled Out Door Hanger. Pretty self-explanatory but a cute little door hanger to brighten up a room.

  • 365 Days Self Care Journal – This is Blurt’s second book. A journal which you can use in any way you wish with the idea that every day you jot down how you feel to help you work through any low periods. I’ve not started using it yet but plan to get into the habit in spending a few minutes each day jotting to see what impact it has.

  • Magazine and Postcards – little extras to read / use as you wish.

If you’re looking for a little pick me up, or even a nice gift for someone else who could do with a bit of a mental pamper these make a great buy – whether it be a subscription or one-off purchase.