Topic: Self care

Tapping for a cold

Snotty, grotty, sneezy, wheezy… NOT AGAIN!

I’ve got a cold. A-no-ther one. It’s only about 6 weeks since the last one.

My system has taken a hit recently and left me with less in the tank and a lowered resilience. I am not sure whether it is a post-covid immune, peri-menopause or the general over-adrenalised way of living that my body is reacting to. Most likely, it’s a combination of all three. But, it doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I need some re-building.

Re-building is what herbs, herbal medicine and medical herbalists are really good at. We have the tools, you see. That overview of you, your body, your emotional health, mental health and the way you fuel yourself and speak of yourself and more. And, subtle medicines with multiples of constituents, providing multiples of therapeutic actions. (Unlike pharmaceuticals which usually have a single intended action and then some unintended actions (side effects) which may be useful in another scenario)

Back to speaking about yourself… Recently, I have noticed that my reaction to finding myself in a room with someone snuffling, sneezing, coughing – demonstrating signs of a respiratory infection – triggers an “Ugh, that’s all I need” response in me. Why? Because I have noticed I am more susceptible currently, likely to ‘catch’ it and it’s genuinely NOT what I need A-GAIN right now.

Why is this a REALLY UNHELPFUL THOUGHT pattern?

Because, my body, the Universe – whichever higher power you recognise – doesn’t understand sarcasm. It hears that it is all I need. As though my body is actually welcoming it in. Think that’s fanciful? Semantics? Start to watch and listen to your thoughts. You may notice something similar. It might not be about your health but about things being ‘just my luck’ or ‘typical, I always get/do/forget… XYZ’ Start to notice patterns in thoughts and events which occur. It’s phenomenal how effectively we bring things to ourselves entirely unintentionally. Our thoughts are strong.

So, the next big question is… How do we shift our thoughts?

Catch the thought and switch it up. Instead of “that’s all I need”, thank your body for its efficiency. Acknowledge that, despite being exposed to a virus, it has defended you against countless viruses before. (Think how many we may be exposed to daily which DON’T create an illness) Take considered action to employ your body’s best reserves and resilience. Get good rest – have a bath and an early night. Can’t do that? At the very least don’t eat sugar or drink alcohol. Sugar almost literally feeds the virus – giving it pure shots of energy and alcohol impairs the healing deep sleep phases. Both of those things make your system more vulnerable. Eat loads of veggies, quality proteins and a little of the brown carbs.

And, the beauty of herbal medicine and food medicines is that you can take them prophylactically. Dose up on crushed raw garlic (if you tolerate it and don’t have reflux) with your meals – nature’s power house in warding off the lurgies. Taking Echinacea root – and plenty of it – can support your immune system’s improved resilience. And, consider teas such as elderberry, elderflower, yarrow, peppermint, catmint as well.

But what about that thought? I also choose to tap on it. And, whilst I am doing it, I listen to the undercurrents; the thoughts which arise from the depths and undermine the intention of the tapping. And, I tap on those too. You can do this as well. It might seem daunting but it’s a simple thing you can do which you can’t really get wrong. Honestly, you can’t!

So, I might start with statements like: ‘My body is strong and well resourced’ ‘My body can encounter viruses and fight them off’ aiming to support my body in being resilient. Whilst also tapping on the ‘truth’ that I currently feel. “That’s all I need” “I seem to catch everything going at the moment” “I don’t want to be sick” “I’m sick of feeling sick” “My immune system isn’t working at full capacity”.

To do this for yourself, capture all your thoughts, feelings and body sensations as you tune into one of the sentences above. Write them down if you want and grade them 0-10. Then tap on them all, grading each time you go round, until they feel neutral.

In a recent bath, I was tapping on the idea that ‘My body can efficiently eject this virus from my body’ and I noticed a strong resistance floating up… ‘but I want to rest’ – the idea of having a cold, being under the weather, brings with it PERMISSION to stop, to rest, to take care of myself fully. I am good at chucking the herbs about, tapping and BUSILY caring for myself but far less good at saying STOP. This is a sign to REST. A sign I need a BREAK.

This is where the beauty and creativity of tapping is so wonderful. This floating thought is key to the forward motion. So, the trick is to then tap on any resistance to that as well. Click here to follow my tapalong video.

Despite how it sounds, none of this is particularly time-consuming – a good tapping session can be as little as 10mins. But, the key to creating a good tapping session is being forensic about those little subterfuge-laced, countering thoughts. The slightly sneaky ones which might get past unnoticed unless you’re paying attention! Capture those and you become a Tapping Don. If that’s daunting, listen in to your body and watch for tensions, sensations and shifting pains. These are as informative as those words. ‘Listen’ to those sensations and tap on them and you send your tapping stellar. Your body is talking to you and when you really ‘hear’ it, you go to deeper levels of healing.

Tapalong with this video on the very subject: https://youtu.be/8oO8aXazRC8

If you would like support with tapping and improving your immune system, contact me for a chat to see if an appointment if right for you.

Pop along to CALM CLUB my online tapping group for women: Fortnightly Thursdays 8.30-9.30pm. Free first session. £10 per person thereafter.

SOCIALS: YouTube, Facebook and Instagram

Lucy’s Heartbreak Tea – “To cherish and nourish”

Creative impulse

I created this tea for myself whilst waiting for the ingredients of my intended original recipe. It’s an accidental brilliance which came out of my own need for succour. At a time when old hurts have been re­surfacing and playing out vividly. At a time when healing those wounds is my primary imperative because I know that from now on, all else depends upon the healing of those wounds. In order to truly step forward into my full self and my full human capacity as healer, mother and wife.

A while back, doing some healing work, I had a vision of myself having constantly struggled against the restraints the impact of bearing wounds has had. Wounds which weren’t intentionally inflicted but nevertheless hurt me deeply. So deeply, I didn’t know how to feel the impact so I pushed it down. Because when you push it down, it doesn’t affect you any longer, right? I saw it as a thick band around my waist which drags at me, holds me back against the direction I want to go in. Holds me back because it is tethered to an enormous, round boulder. It’s round so it ‘can’ be rolled but not easily; it takes all my strength. Every centimetre is a life’s energy.

During the time when I created this tea, it felt so like that. Being restrained, not shackled and, ostensibly free. Free, but unable to roam. Held to the weight of the hurt held within me for many decades. Pain from old hurts. Pain from events with people who were supposed to love and care for me. And, they did. But they also hurt me.

It may sound strange to say but recently I’ve been struck very forcefully by the strong sense that I carry pain which isn’t mine, in addition to my own. I carry pain from others in my line. I know that I actively tried to carry my Mum’s very substantial pain. And that I was successful enough in taking it on, in empathising with it, that others have presumed me to have experienced the same. My understanding was so deep that I appeared to have experienced the same. But, I haven’t. And, even if I had, it would be time to put it all down. Time to move on from the shackles of pain.

It feels like it’s late to begin this, I am at midlife, on the cusp of peri menopause but maybe that’s exactly why the time is now. And, perhaps, I am afraid that if I don’t do it now, I never will. And, if I don’t, then who will? If the line of pain and hurting doesn’t stop with me, then I gift it through my learned traits, as well as my epigenetic tags, to my daughter. Who would knowingly pass on these things to their off­spring? Not any that I know.

So, then, in order to process my pains, felt in the wounds I received and the wounds I learned, I lean into my herbs. I seek out their comfort, their wisdom and their succour. And relish the beauty as it travels round my body. Knowingly gifting those things to myself. Feeling the embrace of the floral notes which dance on my tongue and weave into my soul like sistren and brethren.

I created this tea to feel like the warm embrace we all need when our hearts are sore. When we feel our hurts right up at the surface. When we ache all over from internal pain. It is not meant to replace the embrace of A.N. Other, rather to enfold you in love for and from yourself. To lavish yourself with the nourishing support needed when your heart feels like it’s in many, many pieces.

Contact me on Lucy.Blunden.Botanicals@gmail.com to order yours.

How does healing heartbreak taste?

On the first sip, I am struck by the warmth it brings to my chest region – I often drink teas cold. It has a full feeling in my mouth-round and expansive. This extends downwards into my chest and fills me with warmth, a teeny bit of hope and some inkling of love. The flavour is floral with a strong element of summery fruit – no specific fruits, just a fruitiness. This is a herb tea which has flowers to nourish, to protect and filter and to strengthen against lifes tricky bits – the bits which leave us feeling raw and undefended.

If your heart is shattered and in need of re-gathering, this is the tea for you. Contact me on Lucy.Blunden.Botanicals@gmail.com to order yours.

Knee pain

After intending to be more active this September, embedding routines in more firmly, I find myself hindered already!

For the past few weeks, I have had an intermittent right knee pain. I have not injured myself nor done anything knowingly. It has woken me in the night, disturbs me whan I am sitting working at my desk and when I am cooking or going about normal chores, the pain can swell in magnitude that it brings me close to tears. And, like a wounded beast, wanting to lash out. Wow.

So, what’s it about?

In true Lucy-style, I recognise that my body is capable of a powerful resonance of my internal workings. The idea that our bodies reflect our emotions has always been resonant with me, even before I began to see it occurring in myself.

This is why to view emotional state as distinct from physical state is something I cannot comprehend.

This is also why I believe that the medical profession is generally omitting something really important – and missing a trick – but recognise that it’s something which can’t be addressed in a 10min appointment.

My body powerfully somatises my emotional world. When something is happening in my emotions, it happens in my body too. I am not usually aware that this is the case initially. And, I don’t seem to have any control or influence over it, but, as I grow in my ability to turn and face my emotions, I hope that the need for my body to alert me quite so strongly will lessen. It is certainly true that during my recent deeper explorations into the feelings I have had buried deep inside of me for decades, that my body has become louder and more outspoken. Severe neck pains, more pronounced muscular tensions and pains, aching joints – such that it’s hard to know whether it is lowering oestrogens or reverberating somatisation that I am experiencing!

I frequently refer to Louise Hay to gain a greater insight into the possible root of my most recent physical experience.

So, to Louise I did turn after a couple of days where this didn’t seem to be abating. I looked at the following ideas:

  • Joints – representing changes in direction in life and the ease of these movements
  • Knees – pride and ego
  • Knee problems – Stubborn pride and ego. Inability to bend. Fear. Inflexibility. Won’t give in.
  • Right side – giving out, letting go, masculine energy

Not everything resonates. Why would it? I am not a textbook and this is the reflections of one woman’s experience working with other humans. BUT, so much of it feels relevant that therefore, it is worth exploring.

I began to tap. Tap on the statements and the corresponding affirmations which Hay suggests are the antidote. [I am not always a fan of affirmations believing that we often respond with some form of ‘Yeah, right’ which undermines their efficacy.] But, the beauty of tapping is that the somatic expression of the process draws heart, mind and body into a single collective, allowing the release of the negative and space for the positives to begin to take root.

Was it easy? Yes and No. Yes, because I understand that the path may not be as I anticipate and I have taken those paths on many occasions. No, because the paths can be rockier, hillier and feel, at times, treacherous. Is it worth the risks and the treachery? Absolutely.

Did I wake with knee pain last night? No. Is it still there? Yes, but much less. Might it have been less anyway? Maybe. The point is that I have a tool I can call upon in my hour of need. I can take a positive action which will soothe my physical and emotional distress.

Do you recognise this? Does it allow you to slot together pieces of a puzzle? Would you like to explore your somatisation? To find out whether your bodily sensations are alerts to a deeper, perhaps more private experience than eg a joint pain, digestive discomfort or more? Get in touch with me to see whether our joint alchemy will be the way forward for you.

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall?

I’m British and I like Autumn but the blog heading will get you singing and that’s all good.

Oh my goodness what a productive day it has been! Clean-Slate September here we come… Not only have I completed the tasks I intended to complete, I have fit more in too! Wowsers.

Now, based on previous experience, I am anticipating hitting a low tomorrow. The excited new-start feelings and Summer of my menstrual phase will plummet and I will slide off the testosterone-fuelled turbo back into the mire of self-doubting, questionning and halting normal.

Or will I? I really hope not. I usually feel like I have no control over these extremes. But, perhaps I have more than I think.

In my aims to combat this, I am setting out my next self-employed work day in my planner, ready to grasp the nettle. So, after a walk in the woods to set up my day, during which I will tap on any creeping self-doubts, I hope to continue in this productive vein.

However, whilst those things are important, what I think is mostly key, is the need to measure my energy. I view energy like money. If you spend what you haven’t got, you have to work harder to pay it back. To climb back up to zero again. When I am keyed up and excited, I spend frivolously and copiously.

And then I run out. Then I hit Winter, regardless of my menstrual season.

I find it really good to know when the days of menstrual Spring and Summer are here and when it is Autumn or Winter instead. Those seasons are the days for looking inwards, planning and creating rather than putting it out there like the energy of spring and summer.

Do you know your Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer modes?

You don’t have to be a menstruating woman to feel them. They might be phases of each day. It might coincide with the moon. Times when you are buzzing with new-day energy or are slower and more reflective. Maybe it’s after physical exercise that you find your outwards, Summery energy? Maybe it’s after a long, nourishing nap or meditation? Knowing these things in yourself are the key to getting to the best bits of you at the right times and not forcing it when it’s not there.

Spend your energy wisely. It is your currency for life. Feed your energy well and it will nourish and serve you as well. Rest times in the day. Pauses with nothing in them. Not scrolling. Just being calm and present, breathing and resting to reset your body, nervous system and more.

It’s hard, though, isn’t it? I’m not sure why, but it seems to be hard for us all to find a few moments of calm contemplation. I presume it’s because we’re all, on some level, running from ourselves. Running from our feelings, driving through on adrenaline and pushing at all our limits.

I have been doing this for decades.

Pushing myself, through and on until I am forced to stop by a minor illness with strong fatigue, and usually a bit of fever – what I now recognise to have been a mild form of burnout. I might also experience strong overwhelm, that I can only rest in bed and then migrate to the sofa for non-challenging TV dramas for a few days. Doesn’t last long and then I’m back into pushing and full-on drive again.

The last time, the fatigue and feeling of emptiness lasted a lot longer than a week. It went on for a couple months with about 1 month at the level of nothing in the tank + brain fog. Word recall was really hard. Memory was non-existent and energy for anything other than basic routine absent. I had to cancel a lot of things. Work. Social engagements. Family life.

So, after coming through this, I am aware that each time I drive myself with adrenaline, I am risking pushing beyond my personal limits. Into the zone where there is nothing in the tank but I’m still going.

Does this resonate with you? Would you like help to navigate a thriftier you who spends (their energy) within their means? My unique combination of Herbs and EFT address the underlying emotional drivers which make it so hard to find a new path by yourself and nurture the body back into its natural balance.

Get in touch to explore whether this combination suits you and whether we will make a good team.

The feelings are there anyway

It’s OK to feel your feelings… but then what?

I have long been struck by how much we try not to feel. How much I try not to feel. How we are surrounded by things which orchestrate, choreograph our feelings and yet, we aim to avoid feeling. Or, we passionately express our feelings in peculiar places like on the social media post of someone we’ve never met or rant at the bus driver.

Recently, I read this from Elisabeth Brooke’s book Herbal Therapy for Women (a book to which I turn often to guide me on using herbs to support a patient from an emotional perspective).

In our culture, we are not encouraged to express our feelings – it is more acceptable to remain cool and logical and not rant and rave.

Elisabeth Brooke, Herbal Therapy for Women (1992)

Since the writing of the book, I think that this has changed and now we are bombarded with images of people overwhelmed with emotion in times of extremity – reality TV is full of emotive scenarios and people being plunged into places which expose them to their fears. I am not sure this counts. These are large feelings in usually unreal situations such as swimming under ice or dropping off a cliff with some elastic around you. These are the choreographed spaces where you would be fool NOT to feel terrified, as it goes against every grain of our survival instinct to do these things.

But, what I think Elisabeth is talking about, are the day-to-day feelings which we push down in order not to be seen a certain way, or to appear miserable/complaining/negative… there’s a long list of the things we’d rather not be seen to be. But, they are all very real daily experiences, some of which are messages which need to be heard.

‘Messages which need to be heard’. Messages which we often try to ignore, push down or hope will just go away. Messages from our bodies. Messages from our hearts. And, this is what Elisabeth goes on to say:

From a health point of view, this is a disaster as the feelings are there anyway, whether they are expressed or not.

Elisabeth Brooke, Herbal Therapy for Women (1992)

This is what struck me so forcefully; “…the feelings are there anyway…” Those feelings are there anyway. You have those feelings whether you choose to acknowledge them or not, whether they are expressed or not. Whether we express them appropriately or not. Whether we dish them out to whichever poor soul gets in the way or not. They are there anyway.

This is obvious and logical. But, for some reason, it has struck me as new. And, it has given me ready pause for thought. Each time we fight down our feelings, or they subside, or we squash them out of existence, we are not releasing them, we are not healthfully acknowledging them, we are trying to pretend they are not there.

This. This is what’s so important to me. As, it is my strong belief that those squashed down feelings are not lying passively in a forgotten corner, they have not become benign because they are ignored. I believe that they are on many levels creating a kind of chaos in physical and emotional health. And this is the crux of how how I want to be supported in my journey. And, it is the way I aim to support the people who come to me. To release those things which are creating internal havoc in our systems. Whether it is a light, ‘niggly’ symptom or a swathe of raw emotion, they almost invariably have come from a place within our psyche. We are all one. There is no mind, body, spirit. It is all one.

So, in our defense, we set up all kinds of protective mechanisms against re-feeling or re-experiencing whatever it was which caused us that first pain. This is normal and a predictable response – we are programmed for survival. And, whilst they worked and served us well for that instance, they rarely do, once it is over. But, we fiercely protect ourselves against pain and keep those protections in place because they worked that first time.

I feel. I feel deeply and often. It’s sometimes overwhelming. It’s sometimes cathartic but it’s always there. Day-to-day feelings as well as feelings from old experiences and protections. I think this is normal. Am I more attuned to my feelings? Some of them but certainly not all of them. Do I try to push down and ignore my deeper, more hurt parts of my self? Of course. Does this work out for me? No, not really.

But, just like you, I am often afraid of my feelings. And, it’s all very well being told it’s OK to feel them, but what if they overwhelm me, create more trouble, are too much, will destroy those around me or I can’t cope with them? What then?

And, you can feel it coming, can’t you? The moral of this story.

Well, I am not sure I have one. It’s a journey I am still on. A journey I anticipate will be with me the rest of my life. But I am trawling the murky depths. I am exploring what it is like to feel my feels. And, I am finding out that they don’t destroy me or anyone around me as long as I don’t act out on them. And, that’s the key. I have learned that feeling is one thing. Acting out and trying to give them to someone else is quite another!

So, what do I do? I think. I feel. I tap and I use herbs. All of these things have the power to shift and change my experience of the old, the new and the current space.

And, I am exploring new modalities, ways of thinking and being, ways of understanding our inner world and this is a wonderful journey.

I am not going to stop you being too afraid to face your feels. I don’t have that power but if you are ready to take that first step towards lifting your life out of those old feel patterns get in touch.

Serve up Love for you

What is the best possible love you can give to yourself? How can you invest in you?

I am beginning to think that the most radical form of self love is in what we put in our mouths. When I hold myself accountable to my future self, the food choices I make are infinitely better than when I go with ‘a bit of what I fancy’.

We know that choosing food when we are hungry makes us far more likely to choose instant fix, dopamine boosting easy foods. There are studies which show that when we pre-plan our meals, we make much healthier choices than when we buy hungry. And, if you’ve ever had to squeeze in a supermarket trip before lunch you’ll know that you come back with very different things to usual! Different’s not always a bad thing but in this instance, it usually is!

Lucy’s Saturday lunch

My lunch yesterday looked like this and today, it was pretty similar just with brown rice and lentils rather than Mortadella.

I know that when I eat like this, my energy is better, that I am contributing to my health in all the forms it’s possible. I have green veg and artichoke for my liver, tahini for calcium for my bones, beetroot and olives for my cardiovascular system, chick peas and butter beans for protein, raw fermented kimchi and raw garlic for my digestive system, avocado and olives for a lot of tastiness and good fats…

That was a power plate. And when I look to my future, I want to be in the best possible health. I want to be around for my daughter in a supportive state (if she wants it!)

I believe I am contributing towards a positive future. We all have much longer life spans than our ancestors but what about a long health span? I intend to be as fit as I can for as long as I can. And then I can enjoy my life for longer, I won’t be a burden on anyone. If we all ate well, it would change so much about our health! And, just think how much more resource the NHS could funnel into other areas of health if it weren’t overburdened by lifestyle diseases.

I belive that food is fundamental to all of this. It isn’t the only factor as we also need to get good sleep, take herbs to address health issues, truly relax so that our nervous systems can replenish and exercise to faciliate and keep mobility.

Start by serving yourself a plate of self-love this Valentine’s.

A-ha moments

Of all the things I value the most highly, it is the discovery of a greater understanding of what makes me tick. Over the years, I have explored many different mind and body techniques, EFT-tapping, counselling, therapy, CBT, Alexander Technique, Shiatsu, massage, osteopathy, craniosacral and more.

The moments of “A-HA!” which I remember the most clearly are the ones I have unearthed myself.

The first moment of a-ha

When I learned from Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz that I am an Obliger, it seemed incredible to me that all those years of therapy had failed to reveal to me that the reason I struggled so hard with taking up a new habit or actually getting round to creating my own website was not laziness. Falling into the ‘Obliger’ tendency which makes me an excellent employee as I respond primarily to external motivators. And, new habits are not externally driven and, clearly, neither was my website (although I got there in the end!)

I couldn’t believe that after all this soul searching, naval gazing and analysis, that such a simple facet of my personality could be new to me. It was a huge relief to find that there was a driver behind it and knowing about it helped me to find effective strategies to get round it. PHEW!

I ask all my patients and clients to take this quiz as it is really helpful knowing what drives each person to make changes. With Ogliber patients I am more likely to say ‘do this X times per week by the next time I see you’. If I said that to a Rebel or a Questionner, I would get nowhere! With a Rebel I sow a seed with choices, with a Questionner, I would ask them to research a few different options and then plump for the one they prefer. With upholders, I have to be careful not to ask too much and that what I ask of them doesn’t clash with their own requirements of themself.

I love this framework and have found it really interesting working with myself knowing this aspect of myself.

The second a-ha moment

This one is all about clutter. I have been untidy all my life. I have been a very effective medical secretary and administrator with fabulous systems in place but incapable of keeping my own spaces tidy. Strangely, although this one is still at the stage of unfurling, I know that once I can take on board the fullness of the implications, this will change my life (and my partner’s – a minimalist who hates clutter…) The root of it is that I need to have things right in front of me. Those intensely detailed filing systems which I love -in theory- because they appeal to my very organised and methodical brain simply don’t work for me because I need things to be out. The things I use day-to-day need to be in front of my eyes.

I learned this from Cassandra Aarssen’s Clutter bug quiz where I came out as a Butterfly! I was really shocked. I love the systems of a cricket but I never stick to them and it would appear that this is because I need things simple and right in front of me. Put it tidily away in a drawer? It’ll never been seen again. A truly out of sight, out of mind person! Who’da thunk it?

Actually, I am still not sure I believe it but, I am quite excited about adapting my ‘tidying’ styles to this more visual approach to see what happens. And, I have already arranged my pretty notebooks so that I can see them rather than trapping them in a drawer and forgetting which one is for which project.

What have you discovered about yourself which felt revolutionary/revelatory to your life? Email me at: lucy.blunden.botanicals@gmail.com to let me know

Joyous practice

Do you have a hobby or regular activity which brings you true joy?

I’ve always loved playing the violin but particularly playing chamber music. The close connection between the instruments, the interplay of each written part and the bond of shared joy in certain pieces of music and composers all adds to the joy of playing the instrument. Before lockdown, I played for 4 months in a local orchestra and our gig was fabulous but it just didn’t hit that deep soul place which rewards me quite like chamber music does.

Since lockdown, I have hardly played at all. So, it has been quite a re-build to get back into it in preparation for a concert in a church and a very special weekend away. (I talk more about that in my blog on

I felt once again so honoured to be invited stay in a friend’s beautiful farmhouse in the most northerly part of Yorkshire with views across to Ingleborough. She is a gloriously hospitable host and her house is luxurious and it’s like staying in a 5* hotel. I’m seriously grateful to be invited and it’s all part of the experience but, I think I’d gain just as much joy from the music-making if we slept in a barn!

There is a deep connectedness which springs up between players, a need to listen very closely, attend to the slips of another when we get out of place and blend our voices together. When I describe it, it sounds like the kind of harmony we require in our human relationships as well as our musical ones.

I was also deeply moved by the music itself. To have been almost music-less for so long and then to slide back into the familiarity of place with musicians I’ve played with for 15 years and create the joy of Schubert and Brahms, Purcell, Strauss and Lawes literally brought me to tears. It’s like Heineken, it reaches into parts of me that other things simply do not.

I’ve come home feeling enriched, that my cup is up to the brim and filled with a deep satisfaction. I am determined that I won’t take so long to find this space again.

What do you do which brings you true joy? How often do you experience something which fills your heart, makes it soar and feel like it will burst?

Can you think of something which you could cultivate into a joyous practice? It doesn’t have to be high-brow, difficult to master or anything other than joyful. It definitely needs to be absorbing. It needs to bring you out of yourself and your busy brain space and into a different zone.

I’ve heard others reflect that kitchen dancing brings them deep joy. No special training required for that one!!

Food Plate

Working with my patients on their health, I always look at their food choices. I say that the herbs are like your dominant hand – really effective on its own at getting things done all day long – but when you bring your other hand (food!) along to the party then that’s when we really make a difference to your health. And, those differences are the ones you are empowered to continue by yourself.

What we think we eat and what we actually eat are often quite different. We also tend to think we eat pretty healthily but once we examine it, the things we’ve put in our mouths e.g. after temptation (shop tills, TV adverts), stress and comfort eating and so on have come our way, it can turn out to be quite different to the things we have intentionally put in our mouths.

5-A-DAY? It’s just not enough. And, many of us don’t even achieve that. Aim for 8-10 instead with only two of those being sweet fruits.

My favourite way of thinking about what to eat is based on rainbows! Eating a daily rainbow of fruit and vegetable colours is a great way to get a good variety of the nutrients we need. The BHF talk about it here but mostly we don’t eat 5-a-day let alone the much more ideal 8/10-a-day. If counting portions isn’t your thing, imagine your lunch and dinner plates are 50% covered by colourful veg. Then you will hit that target. It doesn’t have to be 50% steamed veg, it includes pulses, beans and a whole heap of fun, tasty and exciting ways to eat veg like in warm or cold salads.

In my opinion, the NHS eatwell plate is not the best balanced version. I much prefer the Alliance for Natural Health plate instead (there is a different one for children under 6 years old). Look at how differently it is balanced with a strong emphasis on vegetables, low emphasis on fruit and only gluten-free grains, plenty of protein and fats and a good wallop of spices and herbs thrown in for good measure.

A wobbly screen shot of the ANH food plate!

Just think of all the wonderful meals you could eat and feed your family with if you ate like this! Does your diet look like this?

HOW I DO IT: Currently, most of my fruit eating goes on my breakfast with stewed apples (sweetened with cinnamon), some berries or dates if we’ve neither of those in the house. Lunch is often a big salad with a slice of homemade brown Spelt bread with seeds and a protein – tuna & beans, smoked salmon, occasional mortadella/salami/ham etc. We have been experimenting with recipe boxes and the veg portions in our evening meals are generally too few but as I get to know the recipes better, I will be padding them out with more veg or beans.

Sleep part 6 – Sleeping soundly

Do you sleep well?

I used to. I used to sleep so many hours and so easily. And then, I started to share a bed and, even worse (for my sleep!), became a mother… both of which seem to have interfered with my ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and remain that way until the alarm wakes me.

My sleep got broken!

How do you fix broken sleep? After all, it should be so natural, right? We’re born to it and whilst it can take a few years, we usually sleep really well as children – deep, peaceful, restful and undisturbed sleep. Not always, of course, because life happens as well, but generally, it’s that way.

I think I have fixed my sleep…

What did I do?

I have been using the most unlikely practice.

I am using ‘sleep tape’ at night. No, it isn’t an old fashioned way of talking about pre-recorded music on a cassette, I am putting medical tape over my mouth at night! Sounds weird, huh? I started 3 weeks ago and my sleep is transformed. It’s really as simple as that.

The full glory of sleep taping…

I have had the best sleep in years since I started doing this peculiar thing and I hear from others that they are experiencing the same.

CAUTION: this is not suitable if you have sinus congestion or a cold

However, there are many, many scenarios in which this may improve your sleep too!

Are you game to give it a go? What have you got to lose?

Let me know if you experiment with sleep tape and how you got on.

With thanks to Ben Wolff and James Nestor for awakening me to this idea.