I have been interested in alternative therapies for years and I think this stemmed from a beauty therapy course I took when I was 16. The idea of these alternative therapies helping to promote physical and emotional health appeal to me and I am also a lover of a bit of pampering! I had been experiencing some minor hearing difficulties in my left ear with no apparent underlying medical issue and wanted to try the hopi ear candle method. Looking online, most salons were changing between £30-£55 for this treatment and it wasn’t something I felt comfortable with spending my hard earned cash on.
So I took a look online and found that my local ‘Grape Tree’ health food store was selling hopi ear candles to use at home, which come in a pack of two for £9.99 or two packs for under £20. My mum and I bought a pack each to try later that evening. Reading the instructions were a little overwhelming, I wasn’t sure how safe it was going to be as you light the candles so I was intrigued to take a look online first at some you tube videos which were really helpful.
What are the benefits of ear candles?
Ear candles are said to improve conditions relating to sinus, congestion, ear wax, ear noises and the like. The rising air from the candle is said to make a gentle natural suction which massages the ear drum and removes ear wax and toxins. The jury is out with regards to whether this actually helps – but I had seen a lot of positive reviews online.
How to use the ear candles?
For safety precautions make sure you have someone in the room with you and ideally watching/ holding the candle in place. There should be a towel around you and ideally covering your face and hair. We also used a paper plate and cut a hole in the middle to put the candle through and to ensure no ash, flame or candle wax drops onto the face or towel.
I really enjoyed this experience. It was a lot of fun doing some research and then trailing this method on my mum and then vice versa. You need to twist the candle to ensure it is correctly within the ear and to get the best benefits- our first go with my mums ears weren’t great because of this. I felt a slight pressured feeling, with a crackling sound (I heard this more in my right ear and wonder if that was because my hearing was already slightly impaired on the left?) but the crackling sound was relaxing. The candles took between 5-10 minutes to reduce down and we added some relaxing music which was free from Spotify.
I don’t think it would be right for me to send pictures of the outcome (yuck!) ha-ha, but they really do work and I was amazed with the results. Instantly, I could hear so much clearer and in a strange way my sinus’ also felt clear too. I will definitely try these candles again and would recommend others try too. It wasn’t as relaxing as I was hoping for, mainly because I was always on alert due to the candle being lit. I think the experience of this within a salon and with a trained professional would be a lot more relaxing but I am not convinced it would be worth the salon price tag.
If anyone is interested in trying these we bought the biosun ear candles and the link is here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Biosun-Hopi-Earcandles-Pack-Pairs/dp/B002F5HYF2
Disclaimer: This post is not an affiliate, sponsored or paid for post. I paid for these candles myself with my own money and wanted to share my personal experience of using a home alternative therapy.
I have wanted to write a post about happiness for a while. I think there’s a large number of us (myself included) who have felt at some point that happiness is this unrealistic and elusive continuum of being joyful, cheerful, smiley and content ALL the time. It’s not, and it is impossible to do or be those things constantly.
To chase happiness, in whatever form that takes gives us no actual guarantee that we will ever find it. We tend to see happiness as an “end” goal and not a means. By this, I mean if we get “X Y Z” we will be happy or content. This feeds into our own understanding of what happiness means and what we are shown in life by the media, TV, family, friends, public figures about what this should look like.
Up until around 2016, when a loved one became poorly, I’d previously associated happiness with luxury, holidays, having an amazing house, a new car- all the material things that didn’t lead to true happiness or contentment in the long run. I was chasing happiness in the wrong way. What is really important within this, is the journey itself to happiness. I have found this journey hugely liberating- I have a clear understanding of what makes me happy, who helps me feel happy and an understanding that ultimately it is a continuum.
Tough times come along, horrible things happen to us or the people around is- and it will continue to do so throughout our lives. We can’t control the external things such as events, incidents and traumatic events, what is important is how we respond and react to it. Happiness for me, is about taking the rough with the smooth- learning how to reframe the rough and learning to work through it. There were times in my life I would completely fixate on the rough- it is so easy to do this when we don’t have the tools or the emotional strength to reframe the bad. As soon as I accepted this It became so much easier to be happy.
I heard this great analogy a couple of weeks ago, “when your stranded on a boat capsized, you don’t have time to think about how the boat capsized, you find a way to get out of the situation”. That is so true for me. It takes far more physical and emotional energy to hold on to sadness, upset, anger and resentment. I have held onto grudges dating back to secondary school, from bitter break ups and from disappoints or heartbreaks from family members. It wasn’t until I realised holding onto these feelings were not helping me progress, in fact they set me back. Why should I let this consume me when it serves me no purpose?
Our “Happy chemicals” in the brain, namely Dopamine are released when we process pleasure or positive moods through our neuro-transmitters. I’d encourage us all to look back at what previously made us happy, even as children. Colouring, sport, dancing, music or whatever it might be.. Regularly engaging in these activities or interests or perhaps a new interest we’ve been longing to take up, make us feel happy will help us to lead a more fulfilling life.
I would firstly like to thank Emma at www.emmaandthegirls.co.uk for tagging me in this blogger Q&A, I hope you all enjoying reading this and hope it tells you a little bit more about me!
1. When was the last time you cried?
About 3 weeks ago after we had to put my childhood family dog down. Lottie was a beautiful Westie who helped my mum brother and I through some really tough times. She deteriorated rapidly and we had no option but to put her down. I stayed with her when she was being put down and the whole process was/ is devastating.
2. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I think I’m a good friend - I’m reliable, honest, good listener and like to think I’m fun too so yes I would be!
3. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Yes I do, I have quite a dark sense of humour. My partner and I tend to do a banter type of sarcasm!
4. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
I think aside from the obvious physical things I see like eyes and smile/ lack of smile I really notice now how people make me feel when I am around them.
5. Scary movie or happy endings?
I am a sucker for a happy ending!! Love to see the underdog win or get their happiness.
6. Favourite smells?
Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir for my own choice of perfume and I love the smell of the seaside- fresh salty sea air 😍
7. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been away from home?
Cancun in Mexico in 2013.
8. Do you have any special talents?
Oooh, interesting one!! I don’t think I do- I am told I am good at organising parties and special occasions but is that a special talent?!
9. Where were you born?
I was born at Hillingdon Hospital, West London.
10. What are your hobbies?
As cliche as it sounds I am such a family person- I love being around my family and my little nephew. I love walking, being around nature, enjoy swimming, meditation, or anything creative/ artsy and live music- I am going to see Arctic Monkeys again in September.
11. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
This is hilarious but I remember wanting to work in a chip shop!! Haha! I would cut up paper chips and fish or sausages take a serving spoon from the kitchen and used my till to serve people!
12. How many countries have you ever been to?
15- Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Prague, Cyprus, Mexico & Dominican Republic.
13. What was your favourite and worst subject at school?
My favourite was drama and my friends/ family and boyfriend would agree I still do love the drama lol. I absolutely hated maths, mainly because I struggled with it and felt inadequate.
14. What is your favourite drink?
At the moment I am loving costa coffees watermelon and coconut fruit cooler and alcohol wise I love a frozen strawberry daiquiri.
15. What would you (or have you) named your children?
I don’t have children but definitely have some faves. For a girl I love the names Evie, Poppy and Grace. For a boy I like the names Jude, Arlo and Reuben. I find boys names a little more difficult to choose for some reason!
16. Who are your favourite YouTubers?
I don’t follow a lot of people on YouTube but I absolutely love listening to ‘the honest guys’ for guided meditation and sleep. It works a treat!!
17. How many boyfriends have you had?
In terms of serious relationships 3 boyfriends. I have been with my current partner for 7 years.
18. Favourite memory from childhood?
Holidays to camber sands or to Scotland to see my mums family.
19. How would you describe your fashion sense?
Erm.... this is dependant on Work or casual. I’d say I’m girly, bright colours and like comfort with a little bit of glamour.
20. Tell us one of your bad habits?
Being a control freak- about almost everything!
1. Get outside! Take a walk, locally, to the nearest park, woods or town centre- take notice of what is around you- what are you seeing? Hearing? How are you feeling?
8 Simple steps to a better nights sleep!
‘Sleep Hygiene’ is a term thrown around a lot in the mental health and clinical world. Perhaps this term is unfamiliar to you but essentially sleep hygiene is about a routine to assist with a better night’s sleep and routine. These steps can be used for children, adolescents and adults!
Limit screens in the bedroom: If possible, don't have a mobile, tablet, TV or computer in the bedroom at night, as the light from the screen interferes with sleep. Having screens in the bedroom also means you’re more likely to stay up late interacting with friends on social media. Try to have at least 30 mins screen free time before bed. I use my phone as an alarm so I ensure my phone is out of reach both physically and to ensure the light does not disrupt my sleep.
Exercise for better sleep: It's official: regular exercise helps you sleep more soundly, as well as improving your general health. Exercising out in daylight will help to encourage healthy sleep patterns, too. I have found when I walk to and from work I have a much more peaceful sleep.
Cut out the caffeine: OK, ok I can feel and hear the gasps in horror at this one!! I am a self-confessed coffee addict but I am also aware of the impact caffeine can have with getting to sleep. Perhaps try decaff, hot milk or a herbal tea. I am not saying cut out caffeine altogether but try to reduce intake 4 hours before bedtime.
Don't binge before bedtime: It’s so easy to get the late-night munchies, I am guilty of this myself. But I know that if I do this I will suffer. I will feel uncomfortable, bloated and too alert to sleep. Try to avoid eating too much or too little before bed.
Have a good routine: Doing the same things in the same order an hour or so before bed can help them drift off to sleep. Try to avoid TV, social media or anything too interactive or engaging an hour before bed. This time should be used to wind down therefore try a relaxing bath, having a warm drink (no caffeine!!) or reading a book.
Create a sleep-friendly bedroom: Ensure you have a good sleeping environment – ideally a room that is dark, cool, quiet and comfortable. It might be worth investing in thicker curtains or a blackout blind to help block out early summer mornings and light evenings. You might find white noise or background noise useful. Personally I set 15 minutes play on an audio book which helps me to drift off easily..
Talk through any problems: If you can’t talk them through, jot them down and this can be a helpful tool in offloading. Similarly, talk to your teenager or child about anything they're worried about. This will help them to put their problems into perspective and sleep better. You could also encourage them to jot down their worries or make a to-do list before they go to bed. This should mean they're less likely to lie awake worrying during the night.
Avoid long weekend lie-ins: As much as you may feel the need to lie in or oversleep it is crucial to build up a routine around sleep. A structured bed time and wake up time is useful in ensuring you’re not laying wide awake at night. Particularly for teens, late nights and long lie-ins can disrupt your body clock and leave you with weekend "jet lag" on Monday morning.
Some of these tips are pretty obvious and straightforward, but, sometimes I need to take myself back to basics to get back into the swing of “self care”, when life gets in the way at times. Have a read through and reflect on whether you are actively doing these things- if not, lets try again and if you are; is it working? What could be improved?
These are 5 easy and sustainable tips that have been tried and tested
1. Healthy eating- We all know the importance of eating healthily and making better choices but sometimes life gets in the way. I for one, will be the first to reach for a microwave meal or grab a takeaway but it leaves me feeling lethargic and sluggish! So, how about batch cooking on a Sunday in preparation for the week ahead? Have more healthy snacks readily available, such as fruit, veg etc. Notice how your body feels when you make unhealthier choices, these are enjoyable as an 80/20 rule but there is strong evidence to tell us that food/diet can impact hugely on mental and emotional well-being.
2. Exercise/ getting outside: Think about what type of exercise you enjoy, it might be vigorous, it might be challenging or you might simply hate exercise! One way I have managed to up my exercise is by walking more, driving less (we have one car between us) so I walk to and from work. Also, I walk rescue dogs voluntarily which is great fun.
3. Sleep hygiene: Keep your phone on silent and try to avoid using your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Try to turn off all technology and if you are left overthinking the day or worrying then write down your thoughts. If you feel you have things left to do, write them down and tackle them the next day. Consider using mindfulness techniques or reading a book to help you unwind. If you need more tips or struggle with this please read my 5 TIPS TO A BETTER SLEEP blog.
4. Boundaries: Start to say no to things you don't want to do; social event? doing a favour? That extra project at work that is going to be unmanageable? Assert yourself and learn to say "that's not going to work for me". It is ok to say no and it is not selfish. Boundaries are part of self-preservation and you cannot do or be everything to everyone ALL the time. If you feel you need more advice and support in this area then read my blog on "Saying no and feeling ok about it".
5. Social media: Delete accounts or people that make you feel crap. Social media is a show reel and it isn't real life. Pay attention to how you feel seeing certain posts or people posting, have a cull and notice that shift in mind-set when scrolling through the show reel of social media!