Tackling Anxiety the Natural Way

Guest Post

As a person who has suffered with anxiety attacks for almost 20 years, I regard most things which claim to solve them (or even help) with extreme cynicism.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re things that the doctor has prescribed which have pleasant side-effects like “suicidal ideation and malfunctioning penis”, or more benign, gentle things, like peppermint tea, they all seem to do the same thing for my anxiety – nix.

So when someone recommended CBD oil, I did my usual. I smiled, vowed to go and buy some immediately and walked away with precisely zero intention of ever doing so.

A time later, on a day when my anxiety was really amped up, I was feeling pretty low. The usual “I can’t go on like this” mantra was bouncing off the walls when I recalled my pal’s recommendation. I’d have a look, I thought. Even if it distracts me from this latest bout, it’ll be a good thing.

After a bit of cynical Googling I found myself eye-to-eye with some actual, honest to goodness information. Not the sort of thing chucked around by folk who prescribe crystals for haemorrhoids, either, but proper, science-based stuff. It was telling me that extensive research into CBD oil was under way and that, so far, results were encouraging.

The stuff may help with anxiety, along with a laundry list of other illnesses, and it carried with it minimal risk when compared to other medications and treatments. So, after exhaustively devouring every piece of reputable information I could find on the subject, I chose to give it a go.

Fast forward 2 months and I can say with some certainty that the stuff has changed my life. And I don’t make these proclamations lightly. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, an effusive person.

I started off on a small drip under the tongue once a day, and within a week or so I began to feel more even. It wasn’t a silver bullet effect, but day by day things started to dial down, until the invasive thoughts were less like a nagging voice and more like a barely audible echo.

Perhaps the only major drawback was the taste. To say it’s unpleasant would be an understatement. But I got around that potential sticking point by moving from a drip on the tongue to a vape liquid and electronic cigarette, which gives me the same benefits without the feeling that I was going to vomit.

I honestly cannot stress how much better I feel thanks to this stuff.

Given the costs of prescriptions, the potential damage that some pharmaceutical medications can do to you long term, and the potential side effects, it’s a no brainer for me.

The setup costs were minimal. The oil isn’t cheap cheap but it isn’t mega expensive, and a 5 minute visit to somewhere like Vapour.com to get a decent vape kit didn’t break the bank, either.

As I sit here now, typing this, I actually feel better, and I didn’t need any mad pills, transcendental meditation or expensive pseudomedicines to get there.

I don’t expect you to blindly take the word of a stranger on the internet, but if you’re on the fence, dealing with anxiety or depression and can’t think of what to do next, consider the opinion of this here cynic. It may well change things around for you.

How To: Create Valentine’s Day Cards + Content for Social Media using the Instasize App

Who said Valentine’s Day was just for lovers?! We view Valentine’s Day as a day of love – celebrating with whoever you’re lucky enough to hold close. With social media playing such an integral part of our day to day lives, avoiding the massive amount of Valentine’s Day posts that your feeds and timelines are about to be flooded with sounds impossible. So why not join in on the fun? Instasize – a premier photo editor + content creating tool kit gives you the ability to completely transform the photos you’ve taken with your smartphone into engaging content pieces that both your friends and followers will love. The app is free to download for both IOS and Android platforms: http://instasize.com

Spice your feed up this V-Day with some border love. Create custom family collages to show the special people in your life just how much you appreciate them. The app currently has two available border packs that contain a plethora of Valentine-y backgrounds.  And at the start of this week the people over at Instasize introduced a flashy new Marble Border Collection we’re obsessed with. Keep reading to find out what types of content you can be creating for your various social media platforms – all created in under 2 minutes and with the Instasize App.

Borders & Collages:

You can find the Valentine’s Day themed border packs within the apps border editor. After selecting a photo to edit, click on the border icon (it looks like a square within a square) and from there you can download the “XOXO”, “LOVE”, and “Marble” border collections. Here is the step by step breakdown on how to re-create the collage above:

  1. Open the Instasize App (download here: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK)
  2. Tap the “plus” sign to select which format you wish to edit.
  3. Tap the “collage” icon.
  4. Choose up to 6 images to be placed in a single collage. (we chose 3 to begin with)
  5. At the top, you may swipe left to see different layout options.
  6. Tap the layout option you wish to use.
  7. At the bottom of the editing screen, tap the “borders icon”
  8. Choose either the LOVE or XOXO border packs.
  9. Select Valentines borders of choice.
  10. Use the bar above to adjust border width
  11. Next to the “borders” icon, tap the “A” icon, meaning text.
  12. Write your desired message (we wrote “XOXO”) followed by the checkmark when complete
  13. Swipe left to choose from an array of fonts. (We love “Cute Love” font)
  14. Pinch with two fingers to move or adjust size of text.
  15. To add another text, swipe right at the bottom until you see the plus sign and tap.
  16. Next type your family’s name to complete your valentines card. (The Sorenson Family)
  17. Move Text to desired area on photo.
  18. Share with friends, family, and followers!

Valentines Card w/ Text:

These easy to make cards are the perfect addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or Instagram feed. The Instasize App comes equipped with over 30 fonts to choose from for creating themed content online. Best part? You can make add text to any photo in under a minute. GO.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose your image.
  4. Apply desired filter on top.
  5. At the bottom tap the “A” icon meaning text.
  6. Type your message “My Loves” and desired color of text.
  7. Choose font (we used Playlist Script)
  8. Position text on image.
  9. At the bottom scroll all the way to the left until you see the “+” sign to add another line of text.
  10. Repeat steps 6-8
  11. To create the lines on either side of your text like pictured above above, repeat step #9 and type — side by side to create a “line”
  12. Create two and add to each side of text “My Loves”

Unlock new fonts, filters, and border collections every month with a subscription to Instasize Premium – enjoy a free 7 day trial on us: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK

Valentine’s Quote w/ Background

Another great addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or feed are themed text posts. We’ve discovered that our borders (typically used with photos) make phenomenal backgrounds for quotes! Here’s how to recreate the above image on your own device.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose an image (it can be any image, we’ll be removing it from the frame so we can have full access to the border).
  4. At the bottom scroll to find the borders icon.
  5. Choose desired border from the “XOXO” or “LOVE” pack.
  6. Pinch your photo to make it small and slide it off to the side until you no longer see your photo.
  7. Find the text icon below
  8. Type out your Valentines message.
  9. Choose font (we used Blackout Midnight)
  10. Position text on border.

With 20 different border backgrounds to choose from there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be posting some fun + engaging content this Valentine’s Day! Tag the Instasize app on Instagram for a potential chance at being featured.
Instagram: @instasize.official

Let’s Talk About Love

Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non-starter in our house. Husband and I don’t really believe in having a prescribed day on which to love each other (although the big git always manages to buy me lovely presents for it, even though we say we aren’t going to!) so we don’t do the whole ‘romantic meal’ thing like other couples do, and one of our anniversaries is on 22nd February anyway, so it all feels a bit silly.

The Independent Pharmacy have put together a really interesting infographic to show a whole load of facts relating to love, sex and health, just in time for Valentines Day.
Sex, health, and romance on Valentine's Day.

I’m genuinely shocked that 53% of women would end their relationship if their partner didn’t get them something fancy and proudly count myself not part of this group! I also love the stat about how many babies are conceived on Valentines Day – November must be a really busy time in maternity wards across the land! All of the stats are actually really fascinating from a sociological point of view.

What’s your favourite stat from the infographic? Did any of them really surprise you? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

THE PURGE (AKA, Don’t Stand Still or Mum Will Throw You in the Bin)

Before Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a brand new sofa, and in preparation for this, I cleared every stick of furniture out of our living room and cleaned the carpet the day before it was delivered. As it turned out, I quite like having a lounge which isn’t stacked high with toys and other clutter, so much of what we moved has sat in the dining room since the beginning of December, making the room look like a huge version of Monica’s secret closet.

THE PURGE

Last week, I decided that enough was enough; we couldn’t live with one room that looked like one of those storage units, but the rest of the house was by no means ready to receive all of the stuff from my Room of Shame.

And so began…THE PURGE!

I started with the airing cupboard, taking out all of the duvet sets and sheets, and storing them in under-bed boxes, giving us a huge empty cupboard to use for other things. Then I moved on to the girls room, where I managed to clear out SIX black bags of clothes and two massive IKEA bags full of toys for charity, as well as four bags of rubbish, which gave us a whole bunch of empty storage in which to put all of the new things they got for Christmas. Next, I moved on to that dead space at the bottom of the wardrobes that I tend to fill up with things like old pairs of curtains and blankets which don’t really have another home, and managed to fill up two more bin bags of stuff for the charity shop.

My next job is to tackle The Room of Shame, but now that the rest of the house is so much clearer and we have plenty of space to tidy INTO, it doesn’t feel nearly as daunting – I don’t feel the need to start Googling ‘storage near me‘ anymore so that I can just move half of our belongings elsewhere!

The nice thing I’ve noticed is that the decluttering has had a really positive knock-on effect for my mental state, and our lives as a family. I’m taking more interest in other housework because the house looks nice and I want to KEEP it looking nice, and Sausage has a clear desk to do her homework on, rather than perching up at the coffee table each evening. BB has also taken an interest in helping me (in exchange for pocket money, of course!) to put washing away and do other little jobs, which is a habit I’m more than happy for her to get into. I think I’ll make The Purge a six-monthly thing so that we stay on top of it and don’t feel like we’re perpetually drowning in old clothes and toys!

Do you have a purge every now and again, or are you a bit of a hoarder? Do leave me a comment below.

Feel Good Contacts (review and discount code)

Last year, when I started going to the gym a lot, I quickly became aware that wearing glasses and lifting weights were not very compatible – there’s nothing quite so precarious as positioning yourself under a bar to do some heavy squats, only for your glasses to slide down your nose. You have the choice to either re-rack your bar and push them up (only for it to happen again as soon as you lift) or try to hold the bar with one hand while balanced on your shoulders and push them up. Trust me, neither are good options, and I realised that I’d need to give contact lenses another go if I wanted to carry on lifting.

For me, the best option was to have my eyes tested and have a contact lens consultation at a high street optician, and then use my prescription to buy my lenses online, which is what I’ve now been doing for over a year, however the lenses I’ve been using have been getting progressively more uncomfortable, so I knew I needed a change. As luck would have it, the guys from Feel Good Contacts got in touch as asked if I’d like to try some lenses from their range, so I jumped at the chance!

Feel Good Contacts packaging

Feel Good Contacts is the cheapest online retailer of contact lenses on the market and due to their Price Match guarantee, customers will not find their lenses cheaper anywhere else online, or on the high street. Feel Good can save customers up to 50% on their contact lenses. They also offer a ‘matching service’ which helps you to find an alternative to the lenses you already wear, giving you options. They also offer Next Day Delivery when you order before 7.15pm, which is amazing service!

The lenses that Feel Good Contacts originally wanted me to trial turned out to be unsuitable because I have an astigmatism in one eye and need a toric lens, but they were able to recommend some lenses for me (Coopervision Biofinity and Biofinity Toric) and they were absolutely spot on! I’ve been wearing them for almost a month and they’re the most comfortable lenses I’ve ever worn. Feel Good Contacts sent me a lens case and some solution with my lenses too, making it a perfect little package with everything I need. Delivery was really fast and everything was beautifully packed to fit through a letterbox so you don’t have to worry abut not being around when they’re delivered.

I have enough lenses to last me until the beginning of April, but I will 100% be using Feel Good Lenses to buy my contacts when I need to get some more as the combination of the price, the delivery and the customer service has all been amazing. If you’re thinking of making a change to your contact lens provide, I can highly recommend Feel Good Contacts and as an added bonus I have a discount code for Mum’s the Word readers to use, giving you an additional 12% off of – just enter STAYCOMFI12 at the checkout. Oh, and do come back and leave me a comment to tell me what you think of Feel Good Contacts, too!

BabyMel Changing Bag Giveaway (in association with Sudocrem and the Baby Changing Room Awards )

It’s crazy to think that in 2017, there are still public places with totally substandard changing facilities, but it’s a fact. Although both of my girls are well beyond the nappy phase, I still notice these things when we’re out and about and I’ve given more than one sympathetic eyeroll to a struggling Dad who doesn’t know whether to balance his kid on his lap to attempt a bum-change, or brave the ladies toilet where the ONLY changing facilities have been inconveniently placed. One place I never fail to be impressed by is our local IKEA. Not only to many of them have HUGE family toilets which have ample space for buggies and wheelchairs, their family loos also have an adult size toilet and a kid sized on in the same room so that everyone is catered for in one special space.

Sudocrem Baby Changing Room AwardsFive years ago, Sudocrem launched the Baby Changing Room Awards to celebrate exactly that – spaces which have been designed with ease and inclusiveness in mind, and this year’s nominations are now open. The awards aim to recognise the fact that “changing” is about SO much more than babies, and that there are children with complex needs who’s parents need adequate facilities to make their lives easier.

Parents like Laura Rutherford, whose son Brody, 5, suffers from GDD, epilepsy, hypermobility and hypotonia, is forced to change her son on a toilet floor. “Life beyond a baby changing table when your child is doubly incontinent means constant exclusions when you go out as a family. It’s heart breaking for us as parents and this is an issue that will sadly become harder and harder as he grows up. He is different not less. Time for change.”

Jenny Miller CEO of PAMIS explains, “We are thrilled that Sudocrem have recognized the needs of children with complex needs as they grow too large for baby changing facilities. Children and young people who require these facilities are often prevented from taking part in their communities by the simple things that we take for granted. In 2007 we cofounded the  Changing Places Consortium and campaign to develop accessible facilities for the most disabled people in the UK. The Sudocrem award scheme is a great idea and we’re confident it’s going to make a big difference!

If you would like to nominate a changing room for the award, then let us know which changing room, why you want to nominate it and preferably include a photo on Facebook via the Sudocrem website www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub or by emailing   competitions@satellitepr.com.

To promote the awards, Sudocrem is giving one lucky Mum’s the Word reader the chance to win a beautiful Babymel Frankie Tweed Nappy Change Bag worth £58.00.

Win a BabyMel changing bag with Mum's the Word and SudocremTo be in with a chance of winning, just complete the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and don’t forget to nominate your favourtie changing space in the Baby Changing Room Awards!

A New Sofa for Christmas #mydfs, #toogoodtogoout

It may be the case that I’m a 33 year old woman who’s lived in her own home since the beginning of 2006, but I have a little secret…I’ve never owned a new sofa! When Husband and I moved in together almost 12 years ago, his sister had just moved and gave us her old suite, then after getting Chuck and then two babies, buying something new seemed like a bad move. And to be fair, we were right – I’ve lost count, over the years, of the amount of mud, food, juice, sick, pen, baby poop and many, MANY other disgusting things we’ve had to wash off of our sofas in the past decade and a bit!

So, you can understand my absolute delight when DFS got in touch a few weeks ago and asked if we wanted £1000 to spend on a new sofa from their ‘Delivered Before Christmas’ collection. Husband and I spend HOURS looking at the selection on their website, before deciding that we needed to get up close and personal with them, so we went to out nearest DFS showroom to put our bums on the seats.

After much deliberating, costing up and measuring to make sure it would fit in our house, we chose the Vivid collection, in Teal (my favourite colour) – for just over the £1000 budget (£1049, to be precise) we managed to get two three-seater sofas, an armchair and a footstool in a gorgeous co-ordinating pattern.

The process of ordering was so straightforward – the lady on the phone went through everything, explained the process and then between ordering and delivery, we received several emails and text messages, keeping us up to date with when we could expect delivery and all the other details. If you need a new suite before Christmas, I can imagine the process being quite stressful without all of the added customer care that DFS includes in the process. At NO point was I worried about when our sofas might arrive, or left feeling in the dark about even the most minor detail. We even received a letter containing a swatch of the fabric from which our sofas were being made so that we could match up any accessories or decoration to them. Such a fabulous detail for DFS to think of!

Sofa delivery day! #dfs #toogoodtogoout

Now that we’ve got the new sofas and a proper grown-up living room, we basically don’t want to leave the house – DFS were SO right when they called this campaign Too Good to Go Out! In terms of quality, the sofas are amazing; super comfy, really sturdy and well made and they look even better in real life than they did in the showroom. We’ve spent basically every evening since having movie nights at home, enjoying our comfy, cosy new living room furniture and the chance to spend quality time together as a family. Here’s us, enjoying a pre-Christmas viewing of one of our family favourites – Elf!

If you want to see the other people taking part in the #TooGoodToGoOut campaign, head over to DFS Twitter feed or their Instagram page for some brilliant lining room inspiration.

Is Your Car Ready for Winter? #TestYourTreads

I don’t know if it’s just me, but after a pretty mild Autumn, it feels as though winter has sneaked up on me out of nowhere! Christmas is less than a month away but we’ve only just started wearing proper winter coats and boots and I think this year has been the latest we’ve ever put our heating on too. Living in the countryside means that we have to do certain things to prep for winter; we’re off the grid for gas, so we have to make sure we’ve had a delivery of LPG to last us, and we also use a log burner for heat which means making sure our wood is well seasoned and checking whether we might need to have more delivered.

Obviously, living remotely means that our car is really important to us, too, as we’d be stranded without it, so there are a few things we check there like anti-freeze, low-temperature screen wash and also our tyres. TyrePlus is urging everyone to #TestYourTreads to remind them that tyres which are worn below the legal limit can be even more dangerous in the winter.

Their experts say “Tyres aren’t just those great big rubber things that carry you from A to B. They’re a lot more sensitive than they look which is why we want you to help us spread the message about the importance of giving your tyres the TLC they need. They might look tough (and indeed they are) but deep down, they need a fair bit of looking after. Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who think The 20p Test is something you might find at a fairground amusement arcade.”

“This handy little test actually requires you to pop a 20p coin in the grooves of the tyre and if the outer band of the coin is visible at any point, the treads are below the legal limit. Carrying out simple checks like this one on a regular basis will keep car safety in check, reduce damage to vehicles and help eliminate unnecessary road accidents.”

A lot of people take it for granted that if their MOT is up to date then their tyres MUST be legal but this isn’t always the case, so performing the test above could really help to keep you safe. Also, take a look at any advisories on your last MOT because if your tyres were worn close to the legal limit and noted on your test, there’s a good chance they need replacing.

Obviously, the risks of having unsafe tyres are potentially fatal, so I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate how important it is to check them. What are you waiting for? Check them NOW!

Taking the Horrid Out of Horrid Henry

There’s no denying that Sausage and BB are very different in their personalities; Sausage has always been one of those kids who’s almost too well behaved and Husband and I have wished in the past that she’d been a little more outspoken so that she doesn’t just go with the flow and have her opinion disregarded. BB, on the other hand, is NOT the sort of kid to ever let her opinion go unheard and largely her strong personality is something we cherished (albeit through slightly gritted teeth at times!). Just recently though, we’ve seen a bit of a change in her personality and we couldn’t work out where it was coming from. Her normal strident approach to life was turning into a downright stroppy one, and it’s something which was impacting all of us.

One of the phrases which had mysteriously entered her vocabulary was “IT’S NOT FAIR”, which was usually accompanied by some sort of pout and throwing herself bodily onto the nearest soft surface, and I just couldn’t work out where it was coming from…until Sausage mentioned one of BB’s recent televisual favourites…Horrid Henry.

It wasn’t until Sausage mentioned how often Henry utters this phrase that we realised the direct correlation between BB watching the show and this phrase becoming her go-to protest. With age-gap kids, there was no doubt we’d face a bit of attitude from BB purely because Sausage is given a little more leeway and responsibility than her little sis – it’s normal; Sausage is nine, BB is three. However, the push-back has been so much worse of late and I’m definitely laying some of the blame on Henry!

I must confess, I’ve always been hugely sceptical when people blame things like TV or video games for kid’s behaviour. I’m a child of the Eighties, Husband of the late Seventies, so video games feel like they belong to OUR generation and I’ve seen far more evidence-based studies which prove positive effects of TV and computer games than the negative ones. We’ve always been pretty chilled out with what we let them watch and how much screen time we let them have, and with Sausage it never seemed to be an issue, but sometimes we forget that with BB, we’re not parenting Sausage Mark II, we’re dealing with a totally different kid…that and the fact that Sausage never watched a TV show, the entire premise of which was of a bratty little shit who no one actually likes!

So, in a somewhat unprecedented move for Husband and I, we’ve put a temporary ban on all things Horrid Henry for now, and if it makes a difference it will probably become a permanent ban. Instead of allowing BB to watch it when she’s using Netflix, we’re guiding her to shows where the characters aren’t mean and nasty all the time, where there’s no cries of “IT’S NOT FAIR” in every episode and where the main plot lines don’t revolve around mean-spiritedness. I never thought I’d be THAT mum, but it seems I am. And, after just a cursory search, it seems that we’re not the only ones either – I’ve found DOZENS of tweets from other parents about how they’ve banned Horrid Henry from their houses, making me feel a little bit less like Mary Whitehouse.

Horrid Henry Banned Tweets Horrid Henry Banned Tweets 2

Have you ever banned your kids from watching a TV show because of the effect it had on their behaviour? Did it make a difference? (we’re only 24 hours in and it already seems to be making a difference to BB but that could be a fluke) Do you think that it’s all nonsense and that TV doesn’t really affect the way they behave? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on this so please do leave me a comment below.

Help Stop Companies from Robbing the Poor

Most of my readers know that I have strong socialist values and feel really strongly about equal rights for all people. Our current government has created a culture of keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, which has perpetuated food bank usage in the UK, huge levels of homelessness and the highest levels of child poverty in hundreds of years. What you might not know is that the huge tax-dodging companies which operate in the UK have a huge effect on poverty in other countries too. Companies dodge approximately £78 billion in tax in poor countries annually, stripping them of funds for vital services. Oxfam reveal that just a third of this amount would be enough to cover the healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children. Oxfam has created a powerful video to show what’s happening:

Showing it in such stark, literal terms of patients being directly deprived may seem provocative, especially when we see the part with the baby in an incubator, but the cold, hard facts are that this is exactly what happens when companies refuse to pay their taxes.

It makes me sick that even the lowest paid workers are expected to pay income tax and tax on almost everything they buy, but companies which turn over billions in profit get let off. I can’t even begin to get my head around how unfair that is and it’s time that we started demanding that the Government make changes.

Oxfam has started a petition and is asking people to follow this link and add your name to a list of people who wants to see changes happen NOW. It will take two minutes of your time and could make a difference, not only to us here in the UK, but also to people living in enforced poverty all over the world.

Do leave me a comment below if you have anything to say about the campaign or just to let me know you’re adding your name to the petition. I’m heading there to sign my name right now.