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10 Practical Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

10 Practical Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

There is no secret pill or magic trick: getting healthy requires a joined-up approach.

We’ve put together this in-depth article to help you better understand the various elements of good health, from nutrition and hydration to exercise, mindfulness and more.

By focusing on self-care, you can look forward to increased energy, improved immunity and sharper mental function; you’re also likely to be happier, better able to focus on the positives, with the spectrum of health benefits such a mindset engenders.

Root Cause Solutions for Optimal Health


Dealing with root causes is the only reliable way to enjoy optimum health and live a long and fulfilling life. The current ‘sticking plaster’ approach to health issues will never bring real results.

An analogy springs to mind: if you were driving along the road and the warning light illuminated on your dashboard, what would you do? Most people would pull over and take their car to the nearest garage, where a mechanic would address the fault.

Now just assume for a second that the mechanic inspected the car, removed the fuse to stop the light coming on, then told you to drive away because he had solved the problem (after all, the warning light no longer comes on). Would you consider the problem solved?

It is easy to predict the disastrous consequences of this approach, yet when it comes to human health that is the predominant method: switch off the warning light.

What is Health?


Optimal health is health in body, mind and spirit. It flows from and impacts every aspect of our being.

Although focusing on nutritional approaches is wise, for many people the origins of health problems exist at emotional levels, particularly past traumas. These permeate the physical body and often manifest in ‘disease’ of one type or another.

There are several key things we need to do to enjoy the levels of health and vitality which are possible. Adding two or three to your daily regime will be rewarding; integrating them all will have a massive impact, irrespective of your current state of health. You’ll find the list further down the page.

How Healthy Are We?


Figures show that the UK has suffered one of the greatest slowdowns in life expectancy growth among the world’s leading economies. This slowdown has been evident since 2010. It is really no surprise given the dietary habits and sedentariness typical of the modern western lifestyle.

At the risk of dwelling on such negative press, the huge growth in sub 25-year-olds developing Type-2 diabetes has lately been highlighted. This is very unfortunate but, regretfully, not surprising.

Consuming diets high in sugars and empty calories with little nutrition is beginning to take its toll. Sadly we are likely to witness an increasing number of children predeceasing their parents, and possibly even their grandparents.

No doubt the Pharma industry is rubbing their hands in glee as they see this bonanza coming over the horizon, but the human suffering cost – not to mention the economic cost for the country – will be massive if not unsustainable.

Yet despite these statistics, there is only lip service paid to addressing root causes. This is particularly sad given that Type-2 diabetes can be reversed, albeit it requires great commitment.

Pay heed to the following tips and take personal responsibility for your health. When you do, you’ll quickly notice a feeling of great empowerment. On an individual level we cannot do much for the state of the nation’s health; but we can stop ourselves from becoming statistics. 

10 Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier You

1. Drink Plenty of Good Water

Proper hydration is vital for the body. Hydration is not solely dependent on the amount of water we drink, but on the quality of the water and the electrolyte levels of the body.

We recommend water that is alkaline, possesses good structure and has strong antioxidant properties through the release of molecular hydrogen. Of course, we believe that water should be as clean as possible of pollutants. Water is not only necessary for hydration but also for detoxification. You can see the options we recommend here

2. Optimise the Gut

Without good gut health, we will never enjoy proper health. It not only affects our digestion, but every other area of our body – and in particular our immune function.

Extensive chemical use in our environment and particularly the use of antibiotics and steroids has had a massive negative impact on gut health, resulting in low counts of beneficial bacteria and many missing strains. It has also resulted in an impaired gut environment. 

Get your gut right and you’ll feel the difference physically and mentally. A balanced microbiome will improve mood, reduce anxiety and help to reduce the potential for brain degeneration.

Because of the importance of the microbiome, we introduced the Progurt range last year, comprising probiotics, prebiotics and other gut-care supplements. We appreciate the factors which make Progurt different from what’s currently available, and reviewing customer feedback, it’s clear it has massive potential to make a difference.

3. Eliminate Sugar from the Diet

Sugar addiction has been a major contributor to ill health. It is corrosive, feeds all the wrong microbes in the body and is fuel for cancer cells.

Eliminating sugar will not only help to stabilise blood sugar levels, it will contribute to balanced energy levels. Of course, not only is it necessary to avoid sugar but all the things that sugar is in.

Increasing our consumption of good unprocessed salt can help to curb sugar cravings. Many people will also benefit by removing gluten and dairy products from their diets.

4. Get Sufficient Minerals (Particularly Magnesium)

Our soils have become increasingly sapped of minerals, resulting in mineral-deficient foods. Food processing has contributed further to this deficiency.

That is why we highly recommend consumption of mineral-rich diets, which often requires nutritional supplementation. Trace minerals are vital in addition to the prime minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium etc.

Fulvic Restore, a naturally-occurring mineral complex with fulvic acid, is one to look at if you wish to boost your mineral intake. Not only does it give you a wide array of trace minerals, but it will enhance absorption and aid detoxification.

As far as magnesium is concerned, consider Revitacell Magnesium Citrate,  a combination of magnesium and citric acid which is readily absorbed into the blood stream and body tissues.

5. Expose Your Skin to as Much Sunshine as Possible (Without Burning)

Sun exposure is necessary for adequate Vitamin D levels, of course, but also for so much more. For example, sunshine nearly always elevates our mood.

Our generation spends less time outdoors than previous generations, so we either have to make the commitment to get out in the sun or alternatively supplement with vitamin D3.

More and more research is showing the importance of vitamin D not only for bone health, but also for heart health, immune health and to reduce the incidences of many types of cancer.

If this is not possible due to where you live, supplementing with D3 is a no-brainer.

6. Consume Vegetables and Antioxidant-Rich Fruit

Fruit and vegetables should be dietary staples, as they contain so many beneficial nutrients. A vegetable-rich diet is importance for optimum body pH, which is a major contributor to good health.

The plant kingdom contains everything we need to sustain life and regain vitality. In addition to vegetables, prioritise antioxidant-rich foods to combat the negative effects of free radicals, which are implicated in so many areas of ill health as well as accelerated aging.

Adding a green food supplement to your daily diet helps to compensate for less than optimal consumption. We offer several terrific options including the popular Green Vibrance Powder and the higher protein Maximum Vibrance. Both contain good amounts of vitamin D3, plus other antioxidants, minerals, trace nutrients and fibre.

7. Ensure a Healthy Omega-3 Intake

In recent decades, many people have consumed far too much omega-6 oils and too little omega-3. Unless you are eating plenty of omega-rich plant foods or a few portions of oily fish per week, you should increase your intake.

Doing so will have a beneficial impact on heart health, brain health and vision. The benefits might actually be much more extensive, particularly where inflammation and oxidative stress is concerned.

The oceans are increasingly polluted so we need to choose our fish oils carefully. That is why we stock WHC fish oils. WHC are obsessed with purity, reflected in the independent validations they have received.

There are a number of options but UnoCardio 1000 is the most popular due to its high omega-3 levels and additional vitamin D3. It has been ranked #1 by supplement aggregator Labdoor for a number of years.

8. Get Moving

There’s no easy way of saying it: we need to get the body moving if we are to enjoy good health. We do not advocate practising for a marathon, but find a way that suits your lifestyle.

Walking, jogging, cycling, five-a-side football, swimming, fitness classes, dance classes – the options are virtually endless.

Improving one’s fitness doesn’t just help with our physical health, particularly cardiovascular health; it’s also one of the best ways to improve mental wellbeing and alleviate symptoms of depression.

What’s more, exercise helps us sleep better, optimising our mental and physical energy and reducing our risk of chronic disease.

9. Make Time for Deep Relaxation

Most of us lead busy lives and consequently find it hard to ‘switch off’. This leads to increased stress levels and stress is a killer. It affects the body’s hormonal system and has very negative effects on the heart.

Yoga, mindfulness and other forms of deep relaxation will pay rich dividends. Think about it this way: if we want to go faster, we need to slow down.

Technology has many positives, but it has also brought a significant downside in increasing stress levels. We need to have a strategy to compensate for this.

10. Adopt a Positive Mindset (Think Health, Not Disease)

Positive thinking is certainly not a panacea to all of life’s problems. However, it is true that what we think about expands in our experience.

If we want to enjoy better health, think about health rather than dwelling on disease. The mind is immensely powerful and has a major contribution to make in our wellbeing. Use it wisely.

Conclusion

With any luck, these suggestions will resonate with you and help move you towards your goal: optimal health. At Water for Health, we continually strive to find and supply tools which we believe can make a difference.

We want to see as many people as possible get off the treadmill of addressing disease symptoms, and take the road less travelled to deal with the root of their health problems

Although there are many negatives in the age we live in, there are also huge positives – one being the knowledge freely available on natural products for improved wellbeing, and the availability of good wholesome products that can make a meaningful difference.

Make the necessary lifestyle changes and you’ll never look back.

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image of a twirling female, blurred from movement

Alleviating the Aches of Mind and Body with Movement

Alleviating the Aches of Mind and Body with Movement

As I sit here writing at the end of a long day, I am literally aching to move. For the past few days I've had constant cramps, both when lying still and when moving: my physiotherapist has discovered a muscle spasm in my lower back, which – because it's pinching a nerve running down to my left thigh – has put an abrupt end to my favourite activities.

I feel tense and tight, but moreover, lack of sleep has sent my motivation plummeting to new depths of the sofa. Tossing and turning in bed, sitting cross-legged and propped up, this pain and the subsequent stress I feel isn't showing signs of letting up soon.

But it has got me thinking about mindful movement.

Alchemise Those Aches


Pain, whether physical or emotional, can benefit greatly from movement and mindfulness. Bring those things together and you can alchemise aches into something more manageable – even meaningful. You see, it doesn’t have to be about exercise as such; it’s simply bringing curiosity and non-judgement to motion.

It’s usually our tendency to want to push harder and go faster, to work up a sweat and flop on the floor afterwards. It’s somewhat reminiscent of how most of us live our day-to-day lives. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But over-stimulated bodies and minds could do with the meditative quality of mindful movement: strenuous exercise can exacerbate injury, leading us to want to forgo exercise and movement altogether, whereas bringing mindfulness to your movement and syncing up the breath can really make shifts in both body and mind.

Movement not only helps general health and keeps you active, but it reduces stress, improves mood and sleep, and tells your brain to turn the volume down on your ‘pain button’. This is a vital step in rehabilitation from injury and easing physical pain.

One recent study even showed that exercise had a greater benefit than the greatest benefit in paracetamol for those with hip and knee osteoarthritis (1).

Be Present with the Body


It was Vinyasa Yoga that introduced me to mindful movement – I started practising a couple of years ago. During that time I’ve also branched into other forms of mindful movement, tasting the peaceful presence of Qigong and Tai Chi, but also the dizzy heights of Ecstatic Dance and delicious liberation of a Shakti workshop: running, dancing, shouting and stomping like a lunatic comes highly, highly recommended.

Be it gentle or wild, being present with the body is the point.

I’d always enjoyed walking, and even the occasional run, mixed in with a good ol’ dance with friends on a night out. But when walking I was usually ruminating, when running I was trying to escape the aches I felt in my legs and lungs, and when dancing – well, I was usually making my way to the disco a few drinks in.

So when I first started any sort of mindful movement, I found myself quite uncomfortable. It was a little embarrassing, somewhat strange, and more than a little irritating to have intrusive thoughts crop up in my mind as I moved. But sticking with it, I found a new level of awareness of myself – both inside and out.

Motion and Emotion


You see, the roots of the words ‘motion’ and ’emotion’ are the same: the Latin ‘Movere’ means to move, and ‘Emovere’ means to move out. Emotion is, in a sense, energy in motion – it doesn’t want to sit still and stagnate inside us, but instead to move through and out of us.

Movement can help with this, if we are focusing our attention on the body and breath. Simply let the motion do its job of shifting emotion through us, while simultaneously bringing the physical benefits and pain relief exercise can bring. It’s a win-win.

But what to do to? There are many options depending on your level of ability, desired state of mind and body, interests and finances. I find it’s often good to mix up invigorating practices with restorative ones, public classes and home practice, so you’re gently pushing and pulling at polarities, depending on what you need.

Hatha Yoga is possibly the most practiced form of mindful movement in the UK, with various adapted forms on offer. The most well-known and energising include: Ashtanga (rapid sequences of set poses, linking up with inhalation and exhalation); Bikram (a series of basic yoga postures done in a sauna-hot room); Kundalini (invigorating poses which seek to release untapped kundalini energy, thought to rest at the base of the spine); and Vinyasa (an athletic, fast-paced style of yoga adapted from Ashtanga but without set sequences).

Bringing the Body into Balance

It’s important to restore balance by practising more gentle movement, too. Restorative Yoga (which, as the name implies, is a series of poses intended to restore) and Yin (a series of passive, long poses that encourage you to get quiet and meditative) are both great options when you feel the need to rejuvenate.

Qigong and Tai Chi, meanwhile, seek to improve the flow of ‘qi’ or life force: the former utilises slow and deliberate movement (raising your arms from your hip towards your chest, for example), visualisation and breathwork to restore internal harmony; the latter uses more Yin and Yang opposites, like strength and softness, calm and action, backwards and forwards to create complex sequences not unlike martial arts.

While it may be desirable to try the latest class, however, you can just as easily practise mindful movement at home: to unwind, try walking meditation by putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on the feelings that arise from contact with the ground.

To energise, stick on your favourite playlist and let the music move your body whichever way it wants to move (whether you shut the curtains is optional!). There’s nothing fancy about letting anger or joy flow through your body – and it can be a surprising and enlightening experience.

Less Pain in Body, Mind and Soul

Midway through this article I figured I should practise what I preach. And so with ruddy cheeks after an hour of freeform dance, I am a sweatier, smilier, happier woman – with a lot less pain in my body, mind and soul. *The information in this article is based on the author's experience, and it is understood that some pain may not benefit from movement, or indeed that movement may be impossible or ill-advised. If you are ever in any doubt about how to manage pain, you should consult a qualified medical practitioner, such as your own GP. Article by Sophie Gackowski.

  1. Uthman OA, van der Windt DA, Jordan JL, et al. Exercise for lower limb osteoarthritis: systematic review incorporating trial sequential analysis and network meta-analysis. BMJ 2013; 347: f5555. [PubMed]
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the word 'mindfulness' written on a sheaf of paper

Mindfulness: Our Own Medication for the Monkey Mind

It was only a year ago I realised I’d spent most of my life in a stupor. When you look that word up in a dictionary, it uses drunkenness in an example sentence: ‘an unconsciousness brought on by intoxicants’.

While I certainly used to enjoy a few glasses of the strong stuff, the stupor I refer to is one of non-presence: of being so intoxicated with reflections upon my past and thoughts (be they worries or wishes) about my future, that I was never really, truly, here.

My memories were a haze, and I saw time flying by faster than I’d like.

Seeing the Beauty in Small Things


Mindfulness made an overdue entry into my life, but how thankful I was: I began to sit in silence and surrender to what was there; scanned my body for how it was feeling; sighed with pleasure at the heady steam from sage-leaf tea.

Suddenly I saw the beauty in small things, witnessed the joy of nature, and felt deeper connection from conversation. I was also able to confront what we typically call ‘negative’ emotions: by finally facing my fears around sadness, anger or loneliness, and feeling them instead of fleeing, they loosened their hold upon me. They became smaller, more manageable, and certainly very human; I noticed that they simply wanted to be heard.

My mental health improved, physical symptoms abated, and as I freed up energy I’d put into fretting or fantasy, I found it easier to heal while accepting my state of health.

To put it simply, mindfulness was my own medication for the monkey mind. It opened a pathway to being present that made me feel calmer, freer, and above all, alive.

Of course, once upon a time in our not-so-distant past, it made sense to listen to the monkey mind. We had to conceive of the past and future to make life-or-death decisions in the present: if you spotted a large, hairy creature with larger teeth than its mouth could accommodate, you’d be wise to reflect on what it did to your ancestors, and see that it’d make short work of you too. Check cave paintings for confirmation, and the conclusion?

“Run!”

It was a means for our survival.

But we don’t have to run any more: large creatures don’t roam our streets; we can grab a panini instead of poisonous berries; we do not fight with peoples living on the next plain. Yet we still try to escape, though not from dangerous situations – now we run from the present moment, from ‘dangerous’ feelings, and the truth of what we are experiencing.

We’ll find ourselves caught in a conflict of our own invention, imagining how we’ll deal with some ill feeling that’s been bubbling to the surface. We return to reality: we’re in the kitchen, and it’s the soup that’s been bubbling over. Other times we’ll dwell in daydreams, creating a desert island to escape our sense of boredom at work. Evading what we feel is more easily done when we’re feeling blue.

Be True to What is Happening Now

The beauty of the present moment, however, is that it’s all that exists. We can’t change the past, and we cannot know the future, so as Alan Watts famously said: “worry is preposterous!” By being true to what is happening at this point in time, be it eating a delicious meal or finding ourselves in the heat of a difficult situation, we honour the truth of our experience.

In good times, we simply enjoy more; in bad times, we’re better equipped to deal with what’s happening. We also begin to develop a more subtle awareness of how we and our loved ones feel, so we can tune in to our physical and emotional needs. As we become aware of our patterns of thought, we can recognise those that are unhelpful, as well as those that may simply be asking that we acknowledge them.

When do you find yourself drifting? Where do you drift to? What comes up most often?

Begin to observe when you are alert and yet dreaming, awake and yet in nightmare. You can make a mental note on what you were thinking when you did so, if you like, before bringing yourself back to what you’re doing right now.

With time, you’ll soon learn what areas need your attention, where your subconscious is seeking action, and what to do to soothe yourself: often that won’t be distraction, but delving into the thing you’re evading.

The magic of mindfulness is that it’s not magic: it’s a tool we can use every day, and a simple state of being that becomes easier with time. While in meditation we may bring our awareness back to the breath, a candle or a sense of loving kindness, and in yoga we may return to feelings of tightness or expansion in the body, with mindfulness we simply return to the present moment, whatever that is, exactly as it is. It may be a meditation or yoga session, but it may not: when you chop vegetables, chop veg; when you listen to a friend, really listen; when you make love, make love!

It really is as easy as that, and there are no elaborate rules to follow.

Exercising the Mindful Muscle

You’ll naturally find yourself slipping, thinking about what that text message meant, what that blind date thinks of you, or conducting another five-year plan – but you can always hop back to the present when you realise you’ve left it.

Drifting off becomes a gift to yourself every time you return. And for the record, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by how much you ruminate: I’ve giggled and gasped at how neurotic or self-critical I can be…

But the more you return to awareness, the more you exercise this mindful muscle. And as we all know, muscles strengthen with use.

So use the medication you have inside you, and experience life just as it is. When you step outside the monkey mind, you’ll find it’s often the simple things which prove most extraordinary.

Guest blog by Sophie Gackowski.

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Nick Elvery: A Transformation

Turning Things Around: From Addiction to Peak Health

This is a story about going from the depths of drug and alcohol addiction to peak performance and optimal health.

My name is Nick Elvery, and for over a decade I was addicted to hard drugs and alcohol, which seemed like an impossible trap to get out of. It destroyed relationships with friends, put families under great stress and crippled my health.

Over the years I tried on countless occasions to give up without success. Addiction has a cruel way of keeping you trapped.

A Transformational Journey

Not only was I addicted to drugs, but I also found it almost impossible to consistently stick to a healthy diet. You see, sugar fires the same parts of the brain as cocaine does. Binge eating high-sugar products had a very similar feeling about it as doing drugs did.

One thing I had on my side was the ability to never give up. Tenacity is a powerful force indeed. After years of struggle and trying one idea to the next, I came to my breaking point. Enough was enough. No longer could my life go on in this way. It was at this point that I sought professional help and started to turn my life around.

I am now proud to say that as I write this, it’s been over five years since I turned my back on that way of life. It’s been transformational and my life is now unrecognisable.

These days I use my experiences to help other people transform their lives. I’m a Peak Performance Coach who works with coaches, entrepreneurs and professionals to help them achieve new levels of performance. I’ve found that the techniques and habits that have helped me stay on the straight and narrow transfer well to helping people without addictions.

Key Factors: Meditation and Diet

Here are some of the most powerful techniques that I use on a daily basis.

Meditation has played a huge part in my life over the past couple of years especially. I aim to meditate for an hour a day and the results are simply mind-blowing. Not only do I have much greater resilience to stress but I’m way more in control of that inner voice that we all have. Everyone has an inner voice that tells us positive and negative things. Having the ability to be more in control of whether you listen to it or not is life-changing.

For those just starting out, I highly recommend starting with five to ten minutes per day by using an app called Headspace. That’s where I started and back then I remember struggling to do just five minutes. It takes practice and patience.

Next is diet. Everyone knows that we should eat a healthy diet but not so many people understand the impact of eating a diet high in unhealthy processed foods. Yes, it affects your health but it also has a huge impact on your mental performance, mood, energy and loads more besides.

Working out which foods work for you is crucial for living a life of high performance. The problem is most people have never experienced living life with good stable levels of energy and not being exhausted all the time.

Combining this with the right sort of supplements is a total game changer. I use a range of whole food supplements that make a profound difference to my energy levels, focus and cognitive function.

The Forgotten Art of Awareness

So it’s all well and good saying the right sort of foods and supplements really help, but how do we know which ones to choose? This brings me neatly on to my last technique. The forgotten art of awareness.

Self-awareness is the foundation of change. If you can’t measure something, there is no way you'll be able to change it. When you bring awareness to what you are eating and what supplements you take, your life will change dramatically for the better. Asking yourself simple questions, like how do you feel after eating certain foods, will allow you to formulate patterns.

For example, I only recently learned that coffee messes with my gut. I’d always assumed that it was sugar and gluten. Not drinking coffee makes a huge difference to my energy levels. I no longer have a bloated gut and I wouldn’t have known about this unless I had the awareness to correlate the two.

The simple question to ask yourself is, how do I feel thirty minutes to an hour after eating? Thank you for taking time to read this and just remember, never give up if there’s something in your life that you want to change. Tenacity is one of your greatest strengths. To find out more about me, visit www.DailyHabits.co.uk

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A Story of a Toxic Heart

A Story of a Toxic Heart

This is the story of a young lady who was facing a potential death sentence through recurring cancer and made a brave decision to address the underlying emotional issues that she believed contributed to her disease.

She took her own path and emerged from the process healed – physically and emotionally – through the power of forgiveness.

On Rejecting Chemotherapy

I will never forget the day when I was sitting in my oncologist’s office, wondering, “How I am going to tell him that I do not want his treatment?” because I decided instead to save myself by learning how to forgive. He had six months of strong chemotherapy planned for me, mainly because he could not believe how mild was the previous treatment they had given me four years before in Prague. That’s why it had come back. He was sure, but I was not to worry, he had a plan – and luckily for me he decided not to go ahead with the bone marrow transplant as the chemotherapy would be strong enough.

I summoned my courage and meekly said: “I am not going to accept the treatment, I know this faith healer and I learned with her how to forgive and how to let go, I decided...” He did not let me finish what I wanted to say and told me about the second biopsy they wanted me to have and I smiled, because at first they told me that the tumour is too big to do anything with. I remained silent and listened to his plans for me.

Unprocessed Memories and Negative Emotions

I knew he was just trying to help, but my oncologist did not know me. He knew nothing about my toxic heart; that was so traumatised, I simply could not add any more trauma to it.

I had a toxic heart full of unprocessed memories, negative emotions and secrets. I buried them deep, thinking the deeper they are, the better; the less the chance I will ever have to deal with them. I hid it well against the outside world, but the deeper I hid it, the heavier it got.

He knew nothing about my fight with God, who like everybody else in hard times asked: “Why me, God, why are you punishing me?” But the more and more I thought about my ordeal, the more I saw it as a chance to heal that broken heart of mine and get my soul back on track.

Cleansing a Toxic Heart

And so I made peace with God and saw cancer as an opportunity to heal me on a deeper level. In order to heal completely I had to heal the root of the problem, not the consequences. I somehow had to learn how to cleanse my toxic heart. And so at the age of 28, I found myself with a broken heart, dying body and tired soul and with nowhere to go, asking God for a miracle. Even I thought that is impossible!

He knew nothing about the faith healer who taught me how to forgive and who I called desperate and beaten, who told me about self-love and forgiveness, and how I wondered if something so simple could cure me of my troubles. I took my toxic heart to her and wanted her to rid me of all my troubles, without me doing a thing!

But she had a different idea, telling me, I need to learn how to forgive myself and them too! I became annoyed with her, was she not listening, I am not the one who was hurting, should they not beg me for forgiveness? “You are forgiving for your own benefit, not for them,” she replied, “because you are the one carrying the pain.”

I spent two weeks with her, going through the content of my heart day and night, dealing with my sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, shame, confusion and discomfort. I was facing things I had been running away from for years, realising that by not being willing to forgive I was letting the past hurt me again and again. She helped me find a cure for my toxic heart.

A Simple Act of Forgiveness

The oncologist knew nothing about the day when this simple act of forgiveness changed my heart at once, for I found a girl who did not want to judge them or her, who had only compassion to offer, no matter how hard or awful the crime was towards her.

This simple act of forgiveness got my soul back on track, transformed my burdens to love and made my tumour shrink the very first night I started on this voyage of forgiveness. He knew nothing about me and my journey. My oncologist could not help me the way I needed or wanted. I will never forget the day when I was sitting in my oncologist office, wondering, “How I am going to tell him that I do not want his treatment?” because I decided instead to save myself by learning how to forgive.

I will never forget the day I was facing the world with a peaceful heart. I realised that all those years I was fighting with and against what had happened to me, and therefore with the world, but most importantly I realised that all those years I was at war with myself.

By being willing to forgive I was ending all the wars I fought with everything and everybody. I was setting myself free.

By being willing to forgive, all I had to lose was a toxic heart.

I never needed the chemotherapy, as my second biopsy proved to be benign, despite the fact that the first one, done only a few weeks back, was malignant. When they called my name to tell me the result I heard one nurse whispering to the other one something about a complicated case.

But when I look back at it, I find my case quite simple. I had a toxic heart and I needed to cleanse it – that was all, pure and simple.

My name is Maria Pelisek and I am just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary experience who loves writing and telling people about the power of forgiveness. You can read more about my journey in my book The Day I Packed for Heaven or read my articles here.

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How to Have a More Loving Relationship With Yourself This 2016

How to Have a More Loving Relationship With Yourself This 2016

The start of a new year is always an exciting time. It’s an opportunity to set new goals, take time to be thankful for what you already have, and work on the relationship you have with yourself. It’s so easy to get pulled in so many directions that you forget to work on the most important relationship of all: the relationship you have with yourself. You won’t be a good parent, spouse, employee, friend, or family member if you are constantly neglecting yourself. It’s time to stop putting yourself last. The New Year is the perfect time to start showing yourself a little bit of love. The following are a few tips designed to bring you have a more loving relationship with yourself.
  1. Practice Mindful Eating
Not only will practising mindful eating help you make better food choices, it will also help you deal with your emotions. Have you ever felt like you were just going through the motions of your day-to-day responsibilities without even thinking about them? It’s easy to become so busy during the day that you become like a robot. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an eating routine. But the problem with having a strict routine is that you rarely check in with yourself to see how you’re doing. The food we crave and eat is directly related to our feelings. Show yourself some love by feeding yourself good quality foods that make you feel good about yourself. Taking the time to plan out a healthy meal for yourself is easy and does not require a lot of time. After all, if you don’t feed yourself well, who will? Enjoy every bite of your food by making time for yourself. Try packing a lunch during the day and make sure you sit down to enjoy it, even if you have to eat in your car between meals. Think about each bite you take and how it makes you feel. Be sure to clear your mind before your meal. There are so many meals in a day. Don’t ruin this time by clogging up your mind with what you have to do the rest of the day or week. Instead, focus on nourishing yourself so that you have the energy (mentally AND physically) to get it done.
  1. Be happy with your current state of being
This includes your weight, your current state of health, and the things that are important you. Appreciation is an important part of having a better relationship with yourself. You may not think that what you currently have is good enough, but it is. Your home may not be as big as your friends or family members, but that doesn’t mean it’s not full of love. Instead of wishing you were something you’re not, try focusing on what you are. Don’t compare your looks to others. You are unique in your own way. It might be helpful to write down one thing about yourself per day that you like about yourself. Your outer appearance should not define who you are. True beauty is not always something you can see with your eyes. If you are a good person to others, than you are already steps above the rest.
  1. Minimize the importance of your possessions
There are certain things you may need in life to get by: a house, a car, food, etc. When you feel like these possessions are not as good as others, remember that there are always others who wish they have what you have. The size of your house, the amount of money you make, and the type of car you drive does not even matter in the grand scheme of things. You will not leave this Earth with them, so be sure to put them in perspective the next time you wish you had more.
  1. Appreciate your friends and family
Even though they might drive you crazy, family members and friends are always a blessing. Everyone thinks that they have a crazy family. But remember that some have no family at all. If you have someone in your life that you can count on (whether they are blood related family or even the barista at your favorite coffee shop), then consider yourself blessed and try not to take that relationship for granted.
  1. Be present
Living in the moment is better than trying to document every second of it. We spend so much time on our phones or using the internet that we miss out on precious memories. Being present is a great way to bring you closer to your loved ones. Try really listening and responding to someone the next time you are talking with them. Put your phone down and play with your kids when you get home from work. Little moments can seem like the biggest ones when we make uninterrupted time for them. You don’t have to document every moment you want to remember. Sometimes it’s ok to live in the moment.
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selection of colourful vegetables on a table including pumpkin, peppers and tomatoes

Why Mindful Eating and Mindful Meditation Are The Only 2 New Year’s Resolutions You Need

Why Mindful Eating and Mindful Meditation are the Only 2 New Year’s Resolutions You Need

This year, try making a New Year’s resolution that focuses on the steps needed in order to make a change instead of the change itself. Focusing on the change itself, such as losing weight, without any real support or direction makes it hard to follow through. A New Year’s resolution is seen as a promise we make to ourselves about something we want to change. But although we have good intentions, the cold hard truth is that most of us don’t keep those promises to ourselves.

One study showed that over a two year period only 19 percent of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Of that 19 percent, approximately 53 percent admitted to slipping at least once. Today we will discuss how the only New Year’s resolutions you’ll need this year are how to mindfully eat and meditate.

New Year’s Resolution #1: Mindful Eating

Even if your goal this year isn’t weight or health related, you should still consider making mindful eating one of your New Year’s resolutions. Here’s why. Everything in your life, including the way you treat people, your physical health, work performance, and relationships, comes down to your emotions. When you master your emotions or simply learn how to channel them, the quality of your life improves.

Eating when you’re bored, stressed, sad, or fearful teaches the body that food can be used as a coping mechanism. But in reality, this is not the purpose of food at all. Food should nourish your mind and body, giving it energy to perform at its best. For example, many people turn to food for comfort or if they are bored.

One of the first rules in mindful eating is checking in with yourself before indulging. Ask yourself if what happened earlier that day (your co-worker made an offensive comment or your child resisted being dropped off at daycare) is affecting your mood right now. If it is, resist eating and understand that hunger is not the main force driving you to eat. And if you’re not hungry, what good will eating do? As you certainly cannot enjoy food like it is meant to be when stressed.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Mindful Meditation

Stress is the driving force of everything negative. It causes you to say hurtful words or take things out on yourself, miss out on sleep, over-think, and a host of other non-productive situations. As the saying goes, “worry changes nothing.” But most of us worry because we don’t know how else to channel our feelings.

Meditation teaches us how to cope with feelings, including uncomfortable ones. If your vice is that you turn to food when bored or stressed, be sure to practice a few minutes of quiet meditation time before taking a bite. During that time, focus on your breathing. You may even want to slowly repeat a word over and over, such as “relax.” Also try picturing a favorite memory from your last vacation or something that happened to you recently.

Whatever you focus on, make sure it’s positive, constructive, and helps you relax. The next time you feel stressed and think to reach for food, take 5 minutes to meditate quietly to yourself. Chances are at the end of those 5 minutes you will no longer feel the need to eat.

This exercise works great for anytime you feel stressed. Closing your eyes for a few minutes and taking a few deep breaths may help you realize that stress and worry is not productive. Stress does not help any situation nor does it do anything for your health except harm it.

When it comes to keeping your New Year’s resolution (or any goal in life), stress works by derailing you. When you’re stressed, you make poor decisions or fall off the band wagon.

The goal of meditation is to calm your mind and body, easing stress and clearing your mind so that you can make the best choices possible, including better more nourishing food choices. Incorporating these Two New Year’s resolutions only benefit you short term. However, learning the skills needed to master your emotions and deal with stress are coping mechanisms that will come in handy for the rest of your life.

There will never be a period in your life where learning how to cope with stress or poor eating habits will NOT come in handy. Start by writing down everything. Keep a journal or a pad of paper nearby wherever you go. Write down your emotions throughout the day as well as what you did to cope with them. Maybe you’re unaware that you reach for food during times of unpleasant emotions. If that’s the case, keeping a diary or list of your habits will help you improve them.

You may even want to practice meditating first thing in the morning when you get up each day. Go over your day in your head and anticipate how you would handle any stressful situation that comes up. You might just find yourself better prepared and more confident to say no to mindless eating!

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Looking to Resolve Mental Health Problems Naturally? How These Suggestions Could Make Antidepressants Your Last Resort

Looking to Resolve Mental Health Problems Naturally? How These Suggestions Could Make Antidepressants Your Last Resort

Every few years, the Health & Social Care Information Centre publishes a survey of the psychological problems the British public experiences. 

Approximately 25 per cent of people here experience depression, anxiety, or mixed depression and anxiety every year.

Most of us either grab at a synthetic antidepressant or simply suffer through it in silence. 

Before feeling compelled to adopt one of these two approaches, you should try some natural strategies first that may help you combat depression.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness sounds like a new fad, but it is actually a centuries-old approach that many mainstream Western psychologists have just examined and found to be effective. The idea is taken directly from Eastern meditation practices. It involves sitting quietly and focusing on the present. You can start by concentrating on your breathing. Feel how the air feels when it moves in and out of your lungs. Listen to your heart rate. Flex your muscles and count all the different sensations of this simple movement. Can you taste anything in your mouth? If you sit in a quiet room, you will be astounded at how many sounds you can still hear around you. Count them. Pull your attention straight back to present sensations when you feel your mind wander.

Why Mindfulness?

In a scientific literature review of 39 studies with 1,140 participants who received mindfulness therapy, Dr. Stefan Hofmann from Boston University found in 2010 that most studies concluded that mindfulness was an effective treatment for anxiety and mood problems. Even better, the effects seem to last with mindfulness having a lower relapse rate than most other psychological therapies. The effect is primarily explained via the depression sufferers' ability to take control of their thinking. Depression is easily exacerbated when sufferers focus on depressing events. They dwell on their mistakes, on all their perceived shortcomings, on the emptiness of their current lives, on the meaninglessness of their jobs, on distressing past events, on the luxuries that they cannot afford, and so forth. The more they reflect on these issues, the more depressed they become. Mindfulness breaks this cycle by teaching them to pull their attention away from these depressing issues back to the present.

Combine Mindfulness with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Once depression sufferers have learnt to control the focus of their attention, another good step is to alter the negative beliefs that they hold about themselves and their lives together with some of their behaviours. For example, if they believe they are unlovable, they can learn to alter that belief together with the behaviours that may make them difficult to live with. This deliberate alteration of beliefs and behaviours is called cognitive behavioural therapy. It works well precisely because most of people's negative beliefs are basically false or at least greatly exaggerated. When mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy are combined, it is an effective treatment against depression that cuts the risk of relapse from 78 to 36 per cent for severely depressed people who have had three or more episodes in their lives.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

It is not only psychological therapies that work, however. Nutrition is also important. After several researchers found that the blood and tissue of people with depression were low in omega-3 fatty acids, they became a topic of interest in psychiatric research. This study found that it was a good treatment for major depression, this one found it to be effective for moderately severe borderline personality disorder, and this one for bipolar (also called manic depressive) disorder. In a review of the scientific literature, two academics found in 2005 that five of six double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in schizophrenia, and four of six such trials in depression found omega-3 fatty acids to be effective. Of the two main types of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, the effect seems to stem primarily from EPA rather than from DHA. It should also be noted that most of these studies gave the omega-3 to people who were already receiving a course of antidepressants that they believed was ineffective. In other words, people on antidepressants who also received omega-3 improved, while people on antidepressants who received a placebo did not improve.

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If EPA and DHA are the more important omega-3 fatty acids to help combat depression, you want to stock up on fish oil and fish oil supplements. Anchovies, fresh water trout, sardines, tuna, salmon, herring, and mackerel are the best fish, while marine algae and its oil can supply vegetarians with some of their required omega-3. UnoCardio 1000 is a great omega-3 fish oil supplement for those who do not consume enough fresh fish every week. Vegetarians can also consume ALA, a plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid, found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil. While the conversion is not particularly productive, some people can convert a small amount of ALA to EPA and DHA. Organic Flax Seed Oil is a good omega-3 supplement for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamin D

The human body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight. As people spend more time indoors and cover themselves in sunscreen when they go outdoors, vitamin D deficiency is gradually becoming more common. Like with omega-3, some studies have found that vitamin D deficiency occurs more frequently in people with anxiety and depression. Based on these findings, other researchers decided to test whether vitamin D supplementation could relieve the symptoms of depression. This appeared to be the case. In 2008, a Norwegian research team gave 441 subjects different levels of vitamin D supplementation and discovered that those with the highest levels were also the ones who experienced the most relief from their depression symptoms. Nine years before that, some physicians already understood that a vitamin D supplement could help people with seasonal affective disorder, a condition that renders sufferers depressed during the winter and fully functional during the summer. As not enough can be obtained from food sources, vitamin D must be taken as a supplement.

Magnesium

In an article in the journal Medical Hypotheses, two Texan researchers presented the case histories of some severely depressed people who recovered rapidly after being given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime. They speculated that a magnesium deficiency may result from the fact that 84 per cent of the magnesium found in whole grains is removed when it is refined, and that magnesium has been removed from most drinking water supplies. A well designed 2012 study on 402 Iranian postgraduate students studying in Malaysia, a group prone to depression, found that higher magnesium intake mediated the risk of depression. A coral calcium and magnesium and supplement may help with daily magnesium supplementation, while a good alkaline water filter can add a bit of magnesium to every glass of water you drink.

Vitamin B12

While the scientific literature is not unanimous, some researchers have concluded that people with depression have lower levels of vitamin B12 in their blood. In fact, according to another study, the subjects with vitamin B12 deficiency were 2.05 times as likely to be severely depressed as were non-deficient subjects. There is also some literature that shows that subjects given vitamin B12 supplementation experienced an improvement in their depression symptoms, while those whose B12 levels remained the same did not improve. Luckily, it is easy to consume enough vitamin B12. If you do not eat meat and fish, in which it appears in abundance, most tofu is fortified with it. Many brands of almond milk and cereals are also fortified, and you can also occasionally eat some yeast extract spreads, like marmite. Keep this latter to the minimum, however, as such spreads are acidic and high in sodium.

Exercise

Do not overlook the benefits of daily exercise. This does not have to be painful. Spending just half an hour per day outside in nature can be beneficial. That is one of the greatest benefits of dog ownership; you feel bad when you skip your daily walk!

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Why Not Being Perfect Will Help You Love Your Body (And Live a Happier Life)

Why not being Perfect will Help you Love Your Body

Body image is just as important as proper diet, exercise, and adequate rest when it comes to overall health. But that’s a hard thing to achieve, especially when we see images of seemingly perfect bodies every time we open a magazine, scroll through the internet, or go to the gym. It’s enough to make a person question their own body.

Accepting your mind and body for what you are is a beautiful experience. However, just like everything, it takes time and practice. It helps to know that even the most confident of people we know struggle, too. Your body is something you will have the rest of your life. Here’s why you owe it to your health to love it just the way it is.

Body Image and Health

Body image is strongly linked to overall health. Stress, anxiety, depression, and poor self esteem may increase chronic inflammation in the body, which is linked to many serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. Low perceived body image may also make current diseases seem worse and decrease the effects of treatment.

There is a strong connection between the body and mind. We can either make ourselves sick with stress and worry, or healthy with positive thoughts.

Recent research has indicated that stressful thoughts and situations can diminish white blood cell response to viral infected cells and to cancer cells. Moreover, vaccination is less effective in those who are stressed. Stress also prevents wounds from healing as quickly.

Strength in Numbers

To say that body image only affects adolescents is false. The truth is that everyone struggles, even well into adulthood. A study conducted on students from two universities, one from the United Kingdom and one from Denmark, showed that 53.7 percent of students perceived themselves as being too fat. Students that considered themselves too fat were more likely to be from the British University, to be females, to be older than 30, to report stress due to their financial situation, and were less likely to have a high quality of life.

Be Kind to Others

One of the best things you can do for others (and others can do for you) is to love and accept yourself. Remember that your behavior is contagious. If you are stuck at work with someone who is unhappy, complains all the time, and who puts themselves down, chances are your mood will reflect the same. When you display a confident amount of self respect, you encourage and set the example for others to follow.

According to a 2011 study, positive thinking fosters the factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish. Our ancestors who used positive thinking to play and explore were more likely to have access to personal resources. For example, when faced with threats to life, those same ancestors who exhibited positive thinking experienced greater personal resources that would have translated into greater odds of survival, and, in turn, greater odds of living long enough to reproduce. Fear, or low self esteem, is linked with the anger and the urge to escape. You are more approachable when you exhibit positive emotions.

Learn to Let It Go

The beauty of the human body is that no two persons are alike. Imagine how boring this world would be if everyone were the same. If you had no challenges, there wouldn’t be anything to overcome, and chances are you wouldn’t grow or develop as a person. Diversity is what makes you special. It’s what people will remember you by.

Letting go of impossible standards is the first step to achieving a better body image. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and exercise, can be helpful. Set aside time for you every day, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes at a time. Spend this time exercising, listening to music, or meditating. Whatever you do, spend this time either feeling good (blast your favorite music while exercising) or thinking of all good things about yourself. Do this again at night before bed. Think of all the ways you have helped others and how good it made you feel.

Finally, feed yourself properly. This doesn’t mean you have to lose weight. But you should concentrate on eating foods that make you feel good. The following foods may help lift your mood:

  • Beans and whole grains

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Nuts

  • Lean meats and fish

  • Dark chocolate

Keep in mind that even if you can’t see it, everyone has something they struggle with. It’s very unlikely that any one person has it all. But it is possible to make the most of what is currently on your plate. Remember that if there is something in your life that you don’t like, you have the power to change it.

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tips to lift your mood

Practical Tips to Uplift You

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Anthony Fleming - an experienced motivational speaker and life coach who has very kindly offered to share some of his wisdom with us. If you have any questions about this post, or you're interested in learning more about Anthony's unique approach to obtaining lasting spiritual wellbeing, you might want to head over to his personal website. (www.passion4life.org)

Here are a few simple but powerful tips that will improve your mood, your health and your life

Start by choosing just one or two and do them every day. Your motivation will increase as you begin to notice the way you feel.

Be Nice

Think of a nice thing to do or to say to someone. This could be as simple as a compliment to a work colleague such as "That's a great tie." or "That was a great presentation you gave last week."

This is a win/win. Both you and other people will feel good. Try it just for one day.

Reframe (Different Perspectives)

Practice reframing your thoughts and take a different perspective on situations. For example, a driver cuts in front of you and you feel angry. Consider that the driver has an emergency - perhaps a sick child - and is in a desperate hurry to collect his child from school.

Feels better already, doesn't it?

Drink Water

Slowly drink a glass of water with fresh lemon juice in the mornings and while drinking think to yourself "This is magical and health inducing water. It is washing away impurities and filling me with health and vitality."

It tasted different, didn't it?

Upbeat Music

Uplift your mood when you are alone at home or while driving your car. Listen to one of your favourite upbeat songs loudly and sing along OR say to yourself repeatedly "I believe in you!" "I believe in you!" "I believe in you!"

You couldn't help smiling, could you?

Simple Exercise

Start a simple exercise routine (aerobics, shadow boxing, yoga, tai chi...), preferably in the mornings, and while doing your routine repeat positive words and expressions such as: "Health!" "I feel good!" "Vitality!" "The Universe is my friend!" "I am full of energy!" "Inspiration!" "Confidence!" etc. etc.

You will feel much more alive and ready for an amazing day!

Find some 'me' time

Find time for yourself. Everyone needs some "me" time. There are many ways to do this and I will list a few to get your creative imagination working: #Take a short stroll alone at lunch time. #Go to bed 15 minutes before your spouse. #Get up a little earlier in the mornings. # Pull over in your car for 15 minutes and listen to some soothing music or just sit quietly.

Do this and everyone around you will benefit as you will be happier and less stressed.

Start your day well

Do something uplifting in the morning in place of watching or listening to the news. This will have a dramatic effect on your mood and your outlook on life as you will be starving yourself of your usual morning/evening stimulus of bad news.

Let's be realistic here. Is there ever any good news on the TV? This will obviously make you feel more positive and optimistic as your focus of attention will gradually be drawn towards the many, many good things life has to offer.

Feed your soul

Feed your soul by reading a short passage from a Holy Book or Scriptures OR if you are not religious, read something you find inspirational and uplifting.

Do this every day and you will feel the difference within 7 days.

Ponder on good things

At the end of the day sit quietly and think of (or better still write down) 10 good things about your day. This might be a challenge for the first day or two, but by the third day you will amaze yourself how easy it is to pick out the good things in your day.

Do this for just one week and I promise that you will notice more and more great things about life.

If you would like to drop me a line and let me know how you are getting on with these tips I will personally reply to you within 5-7 days.

I wish you well.

Anthony

(Anthony@passion4life.org)

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