Offers

Win a spa break with Macdonald Hotels

Macdonald Hotels Spa Collection has launched a competition for one lucky winner to land a well-deserved spa break as part of National Spa Week 2018 (10-17 September).

It’s inviting people across Britain to nominate a friend, family member or themselves to win a spa day experience and overnight stay at a Macdonald Hotels Spa Collection hotel.

Emma Leadbeater, Macdonald Hotels Spa Director, said: “There’s no better cure for something getting under the skin than a facial! If someone you know just can’t catch a break –  if they keep missing their bus or their computer crashed, and they’ve lost a big piece of work, then this is your chance to make their day by entering our competition.”

The Macdonald Hotels Spa Collection is a group luxurious retreats, providing rejuvenation and relaxation in tranquil surroundings, where highly-trained staff use the finest professional products from ELEMIS as well offering bespoke treatments which are as individual as each hotel.

Nominations can be made by using the hashtag #CatchASpaBreak on Facebook or by emailing macdonald@bigpartnership.co.uk to explain the reasons why someone you care about really deserves a special treat.

Regular spa visits are used around the globe as an effective way to combat everyday stresses, whereas in the UK a spa treatment is still regarded as a rare treat – that’s why spas across the UK have come together during National Spa Week 2018 to provide an antidote to life in the 21st century.

Facial

On Monday, 1 October, five lucky winners will be informed that they have a free spa day in store, including lunch and an overnight stay for them and one guest.

Macdonald Hotels Spa Collection covers more than 20 locations across the UK and winners will be able to choose from any of the following participating hotels:

  • Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa, Ascot
  • Macdonald Botley Park Hotel & Spa, Southampton
  • Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, Peebles near Edinburgh
  • Macdonald Craxton Wood Hotel Spa, Chester
  • Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel & Resort, Hampshire
  • Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, Aberfoyle
  • Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa, near Stirling
  • Macdonald Manchester Hotel
  • Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa, Windemere
  • Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa, near Chester
  • Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford

Find out more here

 

Health

5 easy ways to give yourself more energy

We all know what it feels like to be exhausted, lacking energy and lethargic, now here’s what to do about it!

Dr Emma Derbyshire shares her tips for boosting energy levels:

Care-free commute – many of us face at least an hour’s commute every day, often on public transport, with delays which do nothing for our mood or energy levels. But instead of focussing your energy on getting annoyed, use your commuting time to do something just for you. Read a book, practise mindfulness or meditation, listen to your favourite music or catch up on small admin tasks. You can’t control commuting woes, so just go with it.

Natural energy release – get up and dance, do star jumps or go for a walk and create some of those feel-good endorphins. You could also try a supplement such as Red Kooga’s Natural Energy Release, which works with the body to help increase alertness and vitality, boost energy and wellbeing and ward off fatigue.

Ditch the digital –  we are a nation addicted to our smartphones and laptops. But this digital dependency also impacts our energy levels. While we play with our phones, time ticks away and we become more sedentary. Seeing social media posts from others can also affect our moods. Try to allocate certain times during the day to check social media and emails instead of all the time.

Get moving – schedule in some movement time every day. It’s easy to get so involved in your work that three hours have gone past and you haven’t so much as stood up! We might think being in front of the screen hours on end makes us productive, but actually it makes us sluggish, while energy levels drop and productivity goes down. Get up from your desk, stretch, make a round of teas, talk to colleagues and get out for a walk at lunch – it will refresh you and leave you with more energy to tackle the afternoon!

What’s on your plate? – we all grew up with the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. And it’s true – we need to pay attention to foods which are going to give us sustainable energy and satisfy our body’s nutritional demands. Rather than just grabbing at food because we have a hunger to satisfy, nutrient-rich foods such as lean protein, oily fish, fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) should be our go-to. They will help sustain our energy levels and see us through the day.

Health

Top 10 self-care tips for a happier, healthier you

Holistic self-care and wellness coach Tara Jackson shares her top self-care tips 

The term ‘self-care’ is becoming more mainstream as people realise the benefits of taking care of themselves. But what does it mean? Well, self-care means actively setting out to do something that’s good for you and can benefit your body, mind and soul – either individually or as a whole.

It can take many forms, such as regular, good sleep; healthy eating; meditating and relaxing; doing something creative; getting into nature; not comparing yourself to others; giving thanks, or spending time with friends.

Self-care isn’t selfish. It helps you maintain a healthy relationship with the most important person in your life: yourself. Making time for yourself every day is also vital for your overall wellness.

They may seem simple, but self-care actions are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They also help to replenish you – making you more effective and energetic. Not only that, but doing things that make you feel better physically and mentally help to increase your confidence and self-esteem.

Because it includes physical activities such as exercise, self-care can keep you healthy. Even just taking time out of your day to do something you enjoy can help you to de-stress. It can help you take a break from technology, recharge and unwind, and manage physical or mental health symptoms to live life as fully as possible.

And self-care can benefit the other important people in your life too. After all, if you’re not at your best you can’t give your best.

Friends and family will also learn from you, so setting boundaries to take care of yourself shows them what you expect for yourself which sets a precedent for the way others treat you, and helps encourage them to put themselves first and not overwork or overextend. 

Remember to change your self-care according to the seasons and your lifestyle 

While self-care is about what’s good for the self, it’s important to remember that it can change throughout the year. What feels good at one time may not be what’s needed at another. Self-care in the summertime, for example, might include spending more time outdoors, doing more physical activity and eating cooling foods. Whereas, in the wintertime, it might involve eating warm, nourishing foods, taking naps and retreating to spend time reading.

Similarly, if you are very active in your day-to-day life, your self-care might be quite different to someone who has more of a sedentary lifestyle.

Ultimately, self-care only works when you listen to yourself and do what you want or need without resistance. If you don’t enjoy meditation or yoga, don’t do it. There are many ideas and ways we can care for ourselves. The important thing is to do something that feels good to YOU and is achievable within your budget, lifestyle and time restraints.

Top 10 self-care tips

Here are my top 10 simple self-care actions, which work in any season. I swear by little and often, so even just remembering to do one or two small things each day for yourself will help you in the long run.

  1. Prioritise getting enough sleep.
  2. Drink water regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  3. Take regular breaks away from technology – TVs, computers, phones, tablets etc.
  4. Spend time in person with people you love.
  5. Give thanks – be grateful for what you have.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  7. Eat an extra portion of green vegetables whenever you can.
  8. Move your body in a way that feels good to you.
  9. Express yourself creatively doing something you enjoy e.g. painting, photography, dancing, writing or cooking.
  10. Spend time in nature.

For more from Tara, visit her website.

Health

Easy natural health swaps to beat bloating

We shed some light on what could be causing your bloating and share some easy ways – including simple lifestyle swaps – to help reduce it (just in time for the beach)

Spring officially ends today (Thursday, 21 June) with the arrival of the Summer Solstice. Yet as we bid farewell to the longest day and look forward to summer’s official arrival, many of us have already been experiencing the odd heatwave.

And, as much as we love al fresco lunches and impromptu barbecues, the sticky heat isn’t quite as much fun for those of us stuck in an office 9 to 5 – especially if you suffer from bloating, which affects a whopping 62% of us.

Sweltering in suit trousers or a skirt which threatens to cut off your circulation after your lunchtime sandwich is no fun for anyone. According to the experts, however, there are some easy lifestyle swaps we can make to help beat the bloat. But first, you need to get to the bottom of what’s causing your distended tum.

What’s causing my bloating?

According to nutritionists, bloating is usually caused by a combination of diet and external factors. In most cases, a sensible diet and lifestyle, as well as a little observation, can go a long way towards addressing its root causes:

1. Lack of fibre and constipation

Fibre is a crucial component of any diet and it’s recommended we have 30g a day. however most Brits average only 20g according to the British Heart Foundation,which explains why many of us suffer with digestive discomfort on a daily or weekly basis. Fibre helps food transit through the body. A lack of it causes constipation.

How to reduce bloating

The solution is to increase your fibre intake. Swap out white flour and pasta for healthier alternatives and include slow carbs such as oats in your diet. You should aim for the daily recommend amount of 30g of fibre a day, but if you’ve been well below that for some time, reintroduce fibre slowly, or you might make your bloating worse!

Try swapping crisps, croissants or biscuits for high-fibre oatcakes topped with a scoop of nut butter. food-3126527_1920

“Fibre in our diet is vital for a healthy gut and helping with regular bowel movements,” explains nutritionist Cassandra Barns. “When it comes to grains, the less processed they are, the better. Nairn’s Rough Oatcakes are a great choice as they’re made with coarse, wholegrain oats and are high in soluble and insoluble fibre.”

Try swapping frozen pizza for a Lo-Dough crust

For bread and pizza lovers, there’s no need to forego your favourite treat altogether: Lo-Dough is a gluten-free, low-calorie flatbread – containing only 39 calories and a huge 9.9g of fibre per piece.

“It’s ideal for anyone who just wants to eat in a healthier way this summer,” says Cassandra.

2. Poor gut health and inflammation

The BBC reported last month that only 43% of the cells which make up our body are human. The rest is our microbiome: bacteria and other organisms. These microbiomes have a huge impact on our immune system and digestion. But that balance can be disturbed by a steady diet of processed food or something unavoidable, such as a course of antibiotics when we’re sick. In some cases, an imbalance in gut bacteria can cause a serious condition called SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).

How to reduce bloating 

The solution is to make sure your diet regularly includes probiotics (beneficial bacteria and yeasts). Your go-to should be fermented foods with live cultures. For example, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are teeming with beneficial bacteria that will sort you out and slim you down.

Try swapping Diet Coke for a bottle of Kombuchakombucha-1074594_1920

“We’re learning more and more about the importance of the ‘friendly’ bacteria and other microbes that live in our gut,” says Cassandra.

“They’re thought to influence our immunity, mood and weight, as well as our digestion of course. Traditional fermented foods such as kombucha can be a key way to maintain the healthy bacteria in our gut – in fact, some research suggests that they’re much more effective than taking probiotic supplements for this purpose.”

To reap the probiotic benefit, be careful to only select unpasteurised kombucha with active cultures, such as Equinox Kombucha (available in four delicious flavours).

Do you normally reach for the olive oil or sunflower oil when you start cooking? Stop right there, because these ingredients may promote inflammation when used to cook food at high temperatures. Try switching to organic ghee, which has a higher smoke point and is suitable even for the lactose-intolerant.

Try swapping butter and cooking oils for ghee 

Ghee is a form of clarified butter, which contains butyric acid. “Butyrate acts as a fuel for the cells lining the large intestine, helping to keep the gut lining healthy,” explains Cassandra.

“Butyrate may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in the gut. On the other hand, vegetable-cooking oils such as sunflower oil may actually have the opposite effect on the gut, promoting inflammation. Try GHEE EASY, available at Sainsbury’s.”

3. Dehydration and fluid retention 

If you had one too many glasses of wine after work last night, your body might be holding onto water for fear of not having enough. To avoid fluid retention, make sure you’re always sipping on something, especially in hot weather. This, paradoxically, will communicate to your body that it’s okay to let go of some water.

How to reduce bloating

Drink more water and, if you find yourself forgetting to hydrate, you can download an app to remind you at regular intervals throughout the day.

Try swapping coffee for herbals teas and water, water and more water!bottle-2032980_1920 (1)

4. Food sensitivities

Another culprit for bloating? Food sensitivities and allergies. Many people have reactions to gluten, eggs, and lactose, but eat all three regularly. It might be worth eliminating them from your diet one at a time to see if this helps.

How to reduce bloating 

With the free-from market exploding, there are tons of gluten and dairy-free alternatives to experiment with. Reduce the quantity of other foods that are known to cause bloating.

Try swapping normal beer for gluten-free, naturally carbonated Celia Lager

If you want to eliminate or reduce your gluten intake, Lo-Dough (mentioned above) is a great option, as is Celia Lager, an organic beer that’s specifically designed to be safe for those on a gluten-free diet. It’s also traditionally brewed to allow natural carbonation to occur, meaning it can be gentler on the digestive system than a highly carbonated lager.

Try swapping crucifers such as kale and broccoli for spinach and rockettop-view-1248955_1920

You can get too much of a good thing: ingredients you may want to limit without eliminating from your diet entirely. Cruciferous veg such as broccoli, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts have lots of vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds known as glucosinolates – but they cause wind, so avoid in the 24 hours before a beach outing, first date, or job interview.

Try swapping full-dairy chocolate for probiotic-rich, raw treats such as Ombar Chocolate Bars

Avoiding lactose isn’t as difficult as it used to be: there are loads of amazing nut milks in every supermarket, and if you miss butter, you can use GHEE EASY on toast or for baking. You don’t need to limit yourself to mouth-puckering dark chocolate, either. Ombar is made from raw cacao, with coconut cream that more than makes up for the lack of milk (bonus: the raw cacao may have a variety of health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and supporting heart health).

5. Stress 

Waking up and downing a cup of coffee before jumping on the tube? Gulping down lunch in front of the computer? Staring at screens all day?

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, but our bodies will respond by flooding us full of the stress hormone cortisol. This can lead to a gain in belly fat and an increase in bloating. Additionally, eating in front of a screen can mean we gulp our food, introducing unwanted air into our stomach.

How to reduce bloating 

Small changes to our routines can have a huge effect on our stress levels. “Exercise is a great stress reliever”, says Cassandra. “Take a brisk walk to stimulate anti-anxiety effects, this helps to clear your thoughts and feel more relaxed upon returning to the office.”

Try swapping lunch “al desko” for a quick stroll

Every hour, remember to get up from your desk and move around. Introducing even 10 minutes of exercise a day can have a powerful effect.

Try swapping late nights for lots – and we mean lots – of kipwoman-2197947_1920 (1)

Make sure you get sufficient sleep (at least 8 hours), and don’t drink coffee the minute you wake up. If you do love caffeinated bevvies, use them as a pick-me-up later in the morning.

Tried everything and still wondering “what’s causing my bloating?”

In some rare cases bloating can be the sign of something more serious. If you notice anything unusual such as a fever, vomiting, or hives, make sure to see a GP and discuss your symptoms.

Health

Is your mattress doing you more harm than good?

Sleep is incredibly important for us all. It doesn’t just make you feel more refreshed, but also proves advantageous to both your physical and mental wellbeing. However, as the average person spends more than a third of their lives in bed, could our precious sleep be put at risk without knowing it, simply by what we’re sleeping on?

Here, Michal Szlas, CEO of bed-in-a-box mattress retailer OTTY Sleep, takes a look at the life of a mattress and explores whether it’s actually doing us more harm than good.

According to reports by industry experts, a mattress should be replaced every seven to ten years. Anything longer, and you’re likely to suffer from a number of issues that will negatively affect your health and wellbeing.

But, despite the warning, we often encounter people who have become personally attached to their mattresses, and despite its longevity, they just haven’t got around to changing it, or in some cases simply aren’t ready to replace it.

As old mattresses begin to wear out, they can start to sag in places or develop bumps and lumps, which reduces the support the mattress provides, often leaving you to sleep in an awkward, uncomfortable position. This will ultimately result in pressure being applied to incorrect areas of the body, and time goes on, it leaves you suffering from a host of pains and niggles – especially in your back and neck. Quite a few people put these aches down to their own age; not many correlate the pain to the inadequate support given by the mattress.[8587]_OTTY_Matrass_Roomset_[MAIN_02]_v2_01_CR_UK

And even if your mattress looks ok from the outside and still gives you a relatively decent night’s sleep, the chances are it’s not all right on the inside.

Without trying to put you off your mattress for life, the average person sheds a pound of skin per year, with the average adult losing almost 300ml of moisture per night. As you’ve probably guessed, your mattress attains most of this, with the moisture making your mattress the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of nasties, including forms of bacteria and allergy-triggering dust mites.

While these are unlikely to cause you life-threatening harm, they can often lead to a number of illnesses ranging from skin infections to an exacerbation of asthma conditions, which would prove hugely problematic for the 21m asthma and allergy sufferers currently residing in the UK.

Away from pains and ailments, an old mattress might just simply give you a bad night’s sleep. Most mattresses are specially designed to give you a restful night, and often regulate your body’s temperature to keep you cool and comfortable, even in the hot, stuffy months.

Over time, older mattresses become compressed due to wear and tear and prevent air circulating throughout. Ultimately, once compacted, you become prone to a sweaty sleep, which disrupts your sleeping pattern and often results in a struggle to get the required eight hours. While you think a lack of sleep might just make you feel a little grouchy the next day, recent studies have linked a lack of sleep to an increase in stress and mental health illnesses.

Research conducted by the University of Glasgow looked at data collected from more than 90,000 UK-based people, and concluded that a disruption to your circadian rhythm can lead to an increased possibility of developing mood disorders and lower levels of happiness. If this occurs on a regular basis, it can put your mental health at risk.

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Michal Szlas of OTTY Sleep

A lack of sleep is also linked to a rise in stress levels. Sleep and stress may be a chain reaction-like bond with the latter causing a lack of rest, but a good night of sleep halts the production of stress hormones – consequently, if we don’t get enough sleep, our body will continue to reproduce these hormones.

Again, a small study in 2009 saw 59 people tested after spending 28 nights on a new mattress. Results proved that stress levels significantly decreased following the four-weeklong test, as the participants felt less worried, less nervous and less restless as a result of a better kip.

The rise of the internet and the increase of online retailers, such as OTTY Sleep, has made purchasing a mattress easier, and more cost effective, than ever before. Mattresses bought online often come with a ten-year guarantee, and a 100-night trial, allowing the sleeper to test the mattress before making the final decision.

But, despite the mattress purchasing process being easier and simpler than ever, there’s still a few out there who don’t fully understand the importance of a new mattress, and are unaware that making the switch could prove crucial in helping you in getting a good night sleep, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.