Eco-friendly Valentine's Day

With Valentines’ Day around the corner, why not make yours an eco-friendly day? Here are some ideas to impress your partner from dawn till dusk!

Breakfast in bed. Nothing like waking up to a cup of freshly brewed organic coffee and a kiss, followed by a full English Breakfast, using free-range bacon and eggs fresh from the farm, some freshly baked sourdough bread and some organic tomatoes.

Valentine’s gift. Surprising your partner with a gift is always a winner on Valentine’s Day, but instead of buying freshly cut flowers, why not buy a potted plant, or plant a tree? Or why not order an ethical gift box to be delivered to your partner at work?

Relax. After work, why not set the scene with some natural candles and treat your loved one to a relaxing massage using some lovely essential oils and natural skincare products?

Eat in. While your partner is still on cloud nine after their massage pour them a glass of organic/vegan sparkling wine whilst you get cooking! Spoil them with only the best organic vegetables, free-range meat or prepare a vegan feast!

Pop the question? Now is the time to pop the Big Question with a beautiful ethically sourced ring or just show your love with a stunning reclaimed silver bracelet.

Snuggle up. Watch a romantic movie together and tuck into some organic or Fairtrade chocolates to finish off a perfect day!


To find your local, ethical, planet-friendly businesses, search the Livewell Directory


How can we manage stress in our daily lives

This modern life generates stress reactions through the fight or flight responses which were designed to keep us safe when the going gets tough¹. But, the go, go, go culture of today with its non-stop approach to being sees us accessing these stress hormones to get through every-day existence. And of course, if you have life events or issues outside of the every-day, whether that be trauma or one-off experiences we can easily be tipped over the edge.

Stress is a natural response to our modern lives, but unmanaged stress can take a real toll on your physical and mental health. This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the U.K. and the focus this year is on stress because stress is causing real problems in our society.

You’ve probably had someone say to you at some point, ‘You look stressed’ and this comment might have made you want to react with, ‘Of course I am!’ and then to list the hundreds of reasons why that is. The job, the money, the household chores, the kids, the caring for a relative, the business demands, the need to maintain a perfect body, and so it goes. Modern life has myriad demands and of course issues, and the stress response is activated because we find ourselves constantly pushing through.

And if you’re a woman and it seems like you are more stressed than the men in your life, you’re probably right. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has found that women consistently report higher levels of stress than men in workplace settings. In fact, there are almost double the number of women aged between 25-54 years reporting stress and anxiety. Now despite this being focussed on the workplace and the causes being identified within those settings I’m going to take a punt on saying that this is probably coincidental with all of the other things that an employee has on their plates outside of the workplace too. It is no coincidence that the age range where this is most prevalent coincides with women during periods of life when they are most likely to be caring for others.


Prioritising self-care is a great way to get ahead of stress, addressing it before it begins to have a negative impact on our sense of well-being. Since stress is constantly coming into our lives, it’s important to understand the real benefits of investing in caring for ourselves. You should make self-care the same as brushing your teeth, and although some practices might be more of a time demand there are daily things you can do that will only take a few minutes and those minutes are heavily outweighed by the long-term benefits. Here are a few:

1. Learn how to breathe mindfully. I am breathing in, I am breathing out. Stopping between tasks and allowing the breath to come to a settled place has incredible benefits to the nervous system. Do it when you stop to change task, have a cup of tea, or wash your hands.
2. Unplug yourself. When you stop for a few minutes resist the urge to pull your phone out of your bag or pocket and start checking social media. Just stop. Up to ten minutes each day of just sitting, no stimulation, let your brain rest just like the times you put your feet up to rest them.
3. Move your body. Find the exercise that works for you, whether that be cycling, running, walking or a class at the gym. Exercise has a powerful effect on the body-mind system. If you find yourself overwhelmed then dance it out, play a fun song and dance like you’ve never danced before!
4. Eat well. Tiredness and stress will make us reach for comfort foods which are possibly high fat, high sugar. Keep healthy snacks about you so that you can nibble on these and keep your blood sugar balanced.
5. Give yourself a break. Caught on the ‘must do’ loop? Then get off. Give yourself permission to have a whole day off where you only do that which you feel like doing, and none of that you feel that you must, and smile about it (because you’re worth it)!
6. Try different things. Explore what is going on in your area and do something different. Go to a class, have a massage, do a workshop. Find something that works for you, maybe something new each week. Take an hour, just one hour and make it all your own.

If you find it hard to build these things into your life find a friend who you can do it with, or maybe get a coach, but do start even with one little daily practice and I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Deb Cartwright is a co-founder of Livewell Directory and a leader in the charity sector, yoga teacher and personal coach. You can follow her on Twitter for more goodness @soul-full-life

Browse the Wellbeing listings on the Livewell Directory

Yoga benefits

You have probably heard about the benefits yoga can bring – increased strength and flexibility, and a sense of calm and relaxation. But by developing a regular practice for yourself, outside of the classes you may attend you might find the effect spreading to unexpected areas of your life.

In my own experience, I have found the power of practising yoga regularly transformative.  I feel healthier than ever before, with plenty of energy.  It has had a calming effect which allows me to tackle life’s daily challenges in a much more positive way, and professionally it has opened up new and exciting opportunities that I may not have had the courage to pursue.

The good news is that developing a regular home practice doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.  Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salutations are the perfect starting point – a sequence of just 7 poses which flow together to create a moving meditation.  The movements are synchronized with the breath allowing the mind to find stillness.  The sun salutations will help you to build strength and flexibility, which in turn will allow you to start to deepen the practice as you feel ready to add in more poses.

According to Yoga Journal in a recent study by The International Journal of Yoga, it was found that “Just 20 minutes of flowing through Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) have tremendous effects on wellness and can even get you out of a mental slump”.

So find a space to roll out your mat, on your bedroom floor or in your living room and find just 20 minutes to dedicate to your home practice. You might be surprised by the results!

I teach a gentle vinyasa flow style of yoga in Folkestone and Hythe, join me to hone your Sun Salutations.

For class times and venues visit: Happy Healthy Yoga – Cheriton