Sprig's Pages

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Return of the Sprig

*Creeps in slowly...*

So, er... it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that. Since my last post in which I was talking about health and fitness, I have mostly been battling with health and fitness, and losing terribly. 2010 really hasn't been my year so far which is annoying because I had very high hopes for it come a very drunken almost-midnight on New Year's Eve 2009 (a year which also sucked, to be honest). 

This post isn't to say I'm now back to full health and fit as a fiddle but it is to say I have a huge backlog of blogs to write and today I finally felt like I could make a start on them. I've especially got some lovely beauty products to talk about which have helped brighten mine (and my mum's) days during a couple of rubbish months. 

*Creeps back out*


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Skin-Deep Beauty

If you're anything like me you're easily convinced by friends who tell you this cream makes their spots disappear, or this mascara makes their lashes completely fluttertastic and even better than Cheryl Cole's false ones. If someone recommends it and I can see that yes, their skin is in fact more glowy than mine or their nails really are rock hard, then I think it's clearly going to do the same for me. Needless to say, I'm usually wrong. 

Enter, mySkin.com. A new site that promises to provide unbiased skincare advice, mySkin.com analyses your skin based on what you tell them about the products you use, your age, sensitivity and more. After you've set up a profile with ratings of products you use now or have used in the past, you can see recommendations for products which are suitable for your skin. From cleansing to moisturising, exfoliating to tanning, they really do have it all - search for your favourite brands or for your not-so-favourite products and rate them on scent, residue, and effects to give an idea of what works for you and what really doesn't. As someone with very sensitive skin, I'm hoping it'll help me finally work out which ingredients to avoid.

A little like having a good old chat with your facialist but without a hard sell, the site helps you look at where you're going wrong and what others like you have had results with - far better than asking your friend who has a completely different skin type. Plus, rather than hearing what your friend's cousin's sister-in-law used to get crystal clear skin, mySkin is backed by years of research who know a little more about what goes in that cream you put on your face every morning. 

mySkin.com works on an invitation-only basis, but they have rather kindly given me an access code to share with you all so you can check it out for yourselves. Hit 'join' and enter judyjay in the box, and you should be able to set up your profile and start your beauty discoveries. Let me know what you think!

Chewing Gum to the Rescue?

So most people have heard of or used Bach's Rescue Remedy for a bit of stress relief, whether it's to prepare for an important exam, steady the nerves for your tenth driving test with Mr Grumpy, or to deal with something life has unexpectedly decided to throw at you.

Well, I hadn't, until a couple of weeks ago. For some unknown reason, I had no idea what Rescue Remedy did, despite having worked in a chemist when I was younger and no doubt selling plenty of them come GCSE season. As someone who suffers from the previously mentioned panic atacks, you'd think I might have caught on already. Well, better late than never. 

However, while I'm slow to know the greatness that is Rescue Remedy, I am up to date with the latest in the line of stress relieving wonder products. I was sent the new Bach's Rescue Chewing Gum to try out a couple of weeks ago; chewing gum with an orange and elderflower liquid centre, that contains four drops of the famous Rescue. Designed to soothe and relax, I thought I'd give it a go. 

Did it help? I'm not 100% sure. When feeling stressed or panicky, I tried to have one of the pieces of gum to see if it made a difference - I did tend to calm down, but I think that was a result of a mixture of things. Interestingly, I think the act of chewing is good for stress; they do say it helps you think and focus, and I would say it helps get some of that frustration out (surely better than gritting your teeth!). The taste does go quite quickly, so a little like bad bubblegum you can't keep chewing for too long, but it did have a pleasant orangey taste. It does have the four drops of Rescue in, but having bought a bottle of the original Recue Remedy I found that just directly using the drops was more effective. 

Handy when you're on the move and need to be discreet, Rescue Chewing Gum is a good product to keep in your handbag but I wouldn't replace the drops with it entirely - it's more a sidekick than anything else. Plus, for days like today (the dreaded Valentine's Day, in case you hadn't noticed), Bach also now do a balm, perfect for lips or your temples... that might come in useful for first date nerves! 

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Hit the Panic Button

I've always been a nervous person. As one of the more shy girls in school I didn't like to put my hand up to ask a question, and if I had no choice then my heart would pound and my face would be red as I spoke. In the lead up to my GCSE's I was convinced I was really ill, feeling so sick every day that although I got myself to class I had to go and get fresh air all the time - my doctor assured me and my dad (who I sent in to reiterate my problem) that it was just stress. No it wasn't, I complained, I was clearly very ill. Then came July and the end of school and it was all better again. I still don't like that doctor though.

I think I know when my panic attacks started, though I find the thing that must have set them off quite trivial. I had celebrated my 19th birthday at a bar in Brighton, having hired it out in order to throw a big party. The problem with hosting your own party is that you stress about who's coming, when they're arriving, whether they're having a good time and making sure you speak to them all. So I drank quite a bit. People bought me drinks, I bought me drinks, all I remember are the drinks. Needless to say I left early feeling very ill and my then boyfriend whisked me home in a taxi to stay at his. Then in the middle of the night, I awoke feeling like something was pressing on my chest, my heart was pounding and I couldn't breathe. It scared me, and him. That was the first time.

Since then panic attacks or anxiety attacks have become a regular fixture in my life. I don't have to be consciously thinking about something stressful for them to occur, which is the most annoying thing - my subconscious mind surprises me by setting off these awful feelings of dread. I get hot, and feel light headed; I worry I'll faint, then and there, at the train station, in the bar, at work - wherever I am. This worry makes it worse. My heart pounds, heavy in my chest like it's beating me from the inside. I can't breathe normally, sometimes hyperventilate. I feel sick. Then I get the shivers. My legs go like jelly and my mind races with thoughts, both good and bad, one half of me trying to calm myself down and the other half running through all the things stressing me out and the worst case scenarios.

If you're a fellow sufferer then just reading those symptoms will probably make you feel nervous - so take a deep breath, you're OK. How to deal with these pesky panics? I'm not sure yet. Ideally, I'd run away to a desert island, spending my days relaxing, writing and enjoying the sun, away from the stresses of money, work, health and life in general. Unfortunately the penniless writer situation means I have to stay in claustrophobic London and deal with it.

So far I have learned that they're worse when I'm on my own - I panic that something will happen and no one is there to help. To make it stop I need distracting; from a Friends DVD to a friend reading to me or telling me funny stories from their day, anything to make me stop thinking about the feeling of my heart pounding will help. Courtesy of a very thoughtful person I have a few paper bags in the drawer next to my bed, with messages of keeping calm on them, if I feel I need them to slow my breathing. I tell myself to calm down, that I am absolutely fine, that I know it will pass, and think about one of my favourite movie scenes - Ally and Noah in the boat, in the rain in The Notebook. Not sure why, but it's calming.

A lovely PR has sent me a new product from Bachs Rescue Remedy - a chewing gum with flower extracts inside - to try out. Having never even tried Rescue Remedy I had no idea what it would be like but I've had three pieces of the gum in as many days (the panics have really been getting me this week) and I'm still not sure they help - but it's a work in progress and I'll do a blog on the results soon.

As mentioned in my previous post, Twitter has become a huge source of support and knowledge, and the lovely Nicola (@nic__nic) sent me a copy of Panic Away, which has already been helpful in giving coping techniques.

If you know any tried and tested tips for kicking panic attacks for good, do let me know - they're becoming quite the nuisance. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and breathe... stress is not worth stressing over.

Here's my favourite happy-moment scene that keeps me sane....

Image from http://www.isfym.com/