body · disability · Health · Life · self-care · Uncategorized

Have you heard of Flotation?

Have you heard of flotation? I don’t mean those big inflatable pool-floaty things or those foam pool noodles or rectangles you use to help you to learn how to swim. Turns out, floatation actually has nothing to do with swimming at all. Shows like Stranger Things brought a little more attention to floatation, but many people still haven’t heard of it or know what it does, so I had a chat with Mark Smethurst – The owner of a flotation therapy center in my little town of Stafford (the first one that opened in the West Midlands, actually!) to find out about the center and what flotation is actually all about. Spoiler alert: It’s fascinating, and I think everyone should give it a go!

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Time to Float‘s location was a little bit surreal to me, as it turns out, it’s actually in the building of an old radio station that I used to volunteer for. I’m good at getting lost, so thankfully, it means I know exactly where the place is! (Which is at 146 Marston Road, Stafford, ST16 3BT, if you decide you'[d like to give it a go!)

So what actually is flotation? It’s basically a less scary way of talking about a sensory deprivation pod. It doesn’t make you awaken latent crazy powers like TV may have you believe, but it can do a lot of other things for you; but I’ll go in to that shortly. First I’m going to tell you a little about this particular flotation center.

As I mentioned, Time to Float was the first flotation therapy location to open in the West Midlands. Flotation is gaining more traction in the world and when you understand what it can do, it’s easy to see why! The location is a small one in the Northern Quarter of Stafford county town (which has some lovely places to visit in general) and delightfully cosy with warm and welcome staff who are happy to have a good natter with you or just let you do your thing.

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So, what do you do, and what can it do for you?

Well, I won’t go in to too many details of what happens when you get there, but basically you fill out a health form, have a little tour and have the place explained to you and this introduction is tailored to you based on your responses to the health form if you have certain medical issues.

In the room is a flotation pod (it’s actually about the size of a Mercedes A Class) and a shower and a few other bits and bobs that will be explained to you before you start, and they’ll only leave you once you’re comfortable! You have a shower and get in this big-ass pod of water and literally sit back and float, thanks to the 800lbs of epsom salt! Now, its advised you close the pod and turn off the light but you can have the light on if you want or prop the pod open or whatever you like.

The water in the pod is heated to body temperature, as is the air, which is circulated to keep the flow of oxygen. Thanks to the 800lbs of epsom salt (which leave your skin feeling so soft, and you don’t look like a prune when you get out either!), you just float in the water effortlessly. (The pod water is filtered four times after each use and the room cleaned, plus the salts are a natural disinfectant too, if that concerns you at all!) Apparently, it’s so relaxing, many people simply fall asleep half way through, which is totally okay! In fact, sleeping for a short while in the pod can have the effect of several hours of really blissful sleep. The salt has a sort of anti-gravity effect, resulting in a feeling of weightlessness; this also helps muscles to get complete rest (and breakdown lactic acid) and for your skeleton to re-align in its natural position. This effect, combined with the high levels of magnesium thanks to the salt (which is also anti-inflammatory) mean floatation can actually help a huge variety of ailments and chronic illnesses, including chronic pain, sleep disorders, mental health issues, or even just being sore from a workout.

Music lulls you away and will also slowly bring you back to reality after your hour is up. You get out, shower to wash all the salt away and get changed and then there is a little recovery room with a hair dryer and mirrors and some skincare products if you wish to use them. Then it’s back through to the main area where they will give you all the water you can drink and let you chill for as long as you like. They’re happy to talk about your float or just leave you to it. Whatever you’d prefer to do basically.

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There’s way more I could go in to, but this post is already getting a little lengthy. However, chances are, if you suffer from any ailment, floatation can probably help as an alternative therapy – keep in mind though, it’s not a magic cure, nor does it claim to be! However, as someone with chronic illnesses, I couldn’t resist looking in to it and the science checks out. Though you’re welcome to do your own research or contact the center for a chat if you want to learn more. If you choose to book, they have a Float More program they can tell you about too. (that link will take you to referral by me, but if you go in person or talk on the phone or social media, be sure to give me a cheeky little mention)

Even if you feel pretty well in yourself, floatation can really have a great effect as it helps encourage production of endorphins and a reduction of cortisol, so it may just be good for some self-care or a slice of zen. I think that it’s certainly worth a go. If anything can help my pain without having to dose up on medication, that’s always good.

You can find out more via the Time to Float website or catch them on twitter @timetofloatuk. Have you ever tried floatation? Or do you want to give it a go now? I’m interested to hear what you think!

 

Health · Life · self-care · Uncategorized

6 tips for Self-Care

Self-care is SUCH an important thing, yet many of us fail to do it on a regular basis. Life is hectic and often, we are too busy trying to be kind and help other people that we forget to do it for ourselves. So, today, I thought I’d share some of my self-care tips/activities outside of basic human functioning (maybe I’ll do another post on that?)

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Read a book – Maybe even go and read outside if the weather is nice. Your body would benefit from the dose of vitamin D. Books allow us to escape in to an entirely different world and escape from our own heads for a little while. This is one of my favourite hobbies and it benefits my mental health greatly.

Spend 20 minutes outside – As I mentioned in my previous point, the body benefits greatly from Vitamin D. Living in England, it’s so easy to be deficient in vitamin D, so it’s good to take some time and sit outside, even if you just sit there texting, have your lunch, make a phone call or whatever. It’ll give you a nice little boost.

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Drink more water – An obvious one yet so many of us don’t do it. We can often be so busy that we forget to sip water here and there. You can add fruits or cucumber or mint leaves or whatever to have infused water for a refreshing twist. Our bodies have a high percentage of water and while you may not feel particularly thirsty, even slight dehydration can have a negative effect on the body. Keep your brain-sponge full of water and you will be more prepared for dealing with your day.

Use a facemask – It’s good to stop and have a little pamper. You don’t even have to stop now with a lot of facemasks. Throw one on while you’re in the bath, reading, playing games, cleaning the kitchen; or actually lie back and just take the time to rest. Your skin will be happy for the care and it’s good to look after yourself.

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Get off social media – We’re all guilty of being a little addicted to social media. Have you ever thought about how much time you waste passively using social media; such as just scrolling through facebook and not really doing anything? There have actually been studies that show this can have a negative impact on mental health. (Sorry, if you wanna see the studies, you’ll have to google them yourself! The youtuber Boyinaband summarised my point in his video about internet addiction really well though.)

Colour in a colouring book page – You’re a grown adult. So what? Nothing compares to going back to child-like roots where you colour in or scribble with reckless abandon. The image in a colouring book is already there so there is no pressure to get something drawn; you don’t have to really think about it. It’s a good escape and it makes your brain happy. If you’re like me and still feel a bit like you need to colour perfectly and use the right shades or whatever, there’s a book called Colour Quest which is basically like a colour by numbers but they’re all tessellating shapes – you won’t figure out the image until you’ve coloured a lot of it in!

That’s it for this post. I may do another one soon if people enjoyed this. I have quite a few more ideas! If you have any fun or unusual tips for self-care, I’d love to hear them.

Remember to be kind to yourself!

body · Health · Life · Uncategorized

I’m allergic to grass!

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Allergic rhinitis. The condition when you’re allergic to Rhinos. I jest. I’m talking about Hayfever. 1 in 5 people get it and I know many joke about it when asked why they’re all nasally and blowing their nose in decent weather, they respond “I’m allergic to grass”! Though sometimes, it’s really not that funny! Severity varies person to person, and then on the current pollen count. The higher the pollen count, the more severe the symptoms – higher exposure to the allergen. It also depends on the type of pollen the person is allergic to. This is also referred to as pollinosis.

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Symptoms include; the sniffles, runny nose, sore throat, swelling, itchy eyes and more. A lot of people get it to a mild degree, getting “sneeze and sniffles” as I like to call it. This is also the way I suffer with Hayfever. I also get itchy eyes that just water and a scratchy sore throat sometimes when it’s quite bad, though I also spend a lot of time indoors with my current health so I’m not as affected as much as I would be if I were to be outside often. When I was in secondary school, I witnessed the worst hayfever sufferer I’d ever seen. Everyone seems to have hayfever to some degree but boy, this was bad! His face had swollen, his eyes had swollen in to little more than slits, his voice was croaky. He had it bad! I remember thinking how insane it was that someone could react so badly to nature.

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Tissues! One of my best friends in my handbag. Okay, so I’m the type that has the kitchen sink in her handbag, but truly, one thing I can not go without, is tissues. I try and have a little pack of wet wipes in there too. Always very useful! I’m prone to sniffles in winter and Hayfever in the summer, so I always need my tissues. If you end up having to blow/wipe your nose a lot, you can rub some Vaseline or a crappy lip balm on to the side of your nostrils before you go to blow it, then instead of rubbing the skin more and making it dry and crack, you will rub the Vaseline off; so you don’t have such a sore nose! In winter, I’m permanently applying Vaseline to my nose, though if you do it and leave it in the spring/summer, you’re inviting pollen to the end of your honker; so apply it,  then blow! These have been crucial things for me with suffering from hayfever. They may or may not work for you, but it’s nice to share. I also have a nasal spray that squirts up my nose which helps too. Do you have any tips for coping with allergies?

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If you check the forecast and a high pollen count is predicted, you can nip symptoms in the bud by taking an antihistamine before leaving the house. It doesn’t work for everyone, some people are still symptomatic but less severe, others, it completely knocks them out of the ball park. Though it’s also worth keeping in mind that they can make you rather drowsy.  If you suffer severely and antihistamines don’t help, your GP will be able to help you out. So don’t be afraid to ask just because “everyone” has it. We’re all affected differently by different things and there is no shame in asking for something to relieve your symptoms! And remember, cover your nose when you sneeze!

Beauty · body · Health · self-care · Uncategorized

A Busty Girls Guide to Boobs – Fitting

As a very busty (42K) lady, I know the importance of a good bra. It’s important to strap the girls in to a bra that fits properly. So many people wear the wrong size bra, which not only affects the appearance of your breasts (quad boobs??) but it can also cause real issues. If your bra hurts, digs in, pulls on your shoulders, tries to impale your tits with its underwire, causes bulging or gapes etc, then your current bra is not for you.

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Wearing a poor fitting bra can cause a number of issues. Backache, sore shoulders, neck pain, headache, trouble breathing, skin conditions (man, fungal infections on your underboobs are a thing and they are NOT FUN), circulation problems, stress on muscles and bones, and probably some other stuff too.

Health issues aren’t the only problems a poorly fitting bra can cause. A rubbish bra can throw off your posture, but also make you look a bit… weird. Quad boob, saggy boobs, looking bulky, broader or just strange. A well fitting bra can change your entire silhouette, as well as ease any discomfort and pain.

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So? How do you know if your bra would be better off as a bird feeder? Here are some ways to tell if it is too small:

  • Thy cup runneth over/you get quad boob – your cups are too small.
  • The band digs in – you need a larger band size! A bra should be tight but it shouldn’t be digging in like the string on your Sunday pork roast.
  • The wire wants to impale you – usually this is due to cups being too small.
  • The shoulder straps cut in – this can be down to small cups, but sometimes the band can be an issue too.
  • The centre gore doesn’t want to nestle in to your bossom – if the wire is pushed away from your body, the cups are too small. The wire should not be sitting on top of any breast tissue!

What about if it is too big? Well, there are ways to tell that too.

  • It’s riding up – this is pretty common. If the band is riding up your back, then it is too big. The band should stay horizontal the entire way around your body.
  • Your cups have room for snacks – if your cups gape, they are too big. However, most pairs of breasts are asymmetrical; if one is bigger than the other, you should fit to the bigger breast. Doing this can result in one cup gaping, in which case you can try another style bra, or use a fillet to even things out if you’re self-conscious. Generally, nobody else will be able to tell.
  • Your cups dimple or wrinkle – they’re too big!
  • The band is loose enough to use as a slingshot – you should be able to comfortably slide a finger under and around the band. If you can pull it more than 2 inches away from your body, then your band is too big.

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So, if the cups are small, size them up, if they’re big, go down a size. Same with the band, right? Well actually, it’s not quite that simple. Bra sizes are relative! A 40D will have the same cup volume as a 38C. This is called a sister size. If you go up a cup size, go down a band size; if you go up a band size, go down a cup size. So, if you have an issue with your bra fit, but feel it is minor, give your sister sizes a try first or try a different style of bra. Remember, fluctuating hormones can alter breast size, so be mindful of this when fitting. Swollen period boobs, anyone?

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If your bra is miles off, I highly recommend getting fitted by professional.

I hope this helps any tangled titties! This is by no means a professional or comprehensive guide. I’m just sharing my experiences as a plus sized, well endowed woman. If in doubt, go and get fitted.

P.S! If you’re wanting to check out a lingerie blogger who has a wealth of information as well as recommendations, I highly recommend checking out the beautiful George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust.

All images in this post are stock images as I’m not comfortable with sharing my own undercrackers with the world.

disability · Health · Life · Reading · Uncategorized

Why Kindle is superior to the Paperback

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Ooo, that’s right, I said it, I went there! Kindle > Paperbacks.

For many moons, or well, just the one moon, technically, but, it’s been a while; people have argued that paperbacks are, and will always be superior when compared to the sinful e-book. Okay, so I’ll admit, I hands down prefer having a physical form of book, the delight of a paperback in my hands, over my e-reader. There’s the weight, the feel of the pages, the sound when you turn them, that book smell and just… there’s a beauty to it, I’m sure you know what I mean. However, my Kindle is far superior – for some reasons, you may not have even considered.

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There are some obvious perks to an e-reader. They save space, they allow you to take an entire library while traveling while occupying only a sliver of the space, e-books are often cheaper, have 99p/introductory offers or some are even free. There are also some less obvious perks. After discussing this with numerous friends, they admitted they’d not really thought about them.

One word. Accessibility. Yeah, paperbacks are great. When was the last time you saw a large print version of a new release by your favourite author? That’s right. Large print books are often more expensive and have far less variety and availability compared to a standard print edition. An e-reader eliminates this worry because not only can a kindle books font size be increased, but the font can be changed to one of a variety that a visually impaired person may find easier to view and at no further cost to them.

Speaking of fonts; what about Dyslexia? Some dyslexic people find it very difficult to try and read a book. An e-reader helps in many ways. As well as being able to adjust the font size, margins and line spacing can be adjusted to change the format of a page which someone with dyslexia, cognitive dysfunction, a learning disability or other impairment may find incredibly beneficial. As well as this, I can’t speak for other e-readers, but the newer versions of Kindle have a font available called OpenDyslexic. This is a special font that adds weight to the bottom of lettering in an attempt to help ease some of the difficulties someone with dyslexia may experience while trying to read.

All these options make reading more accessible to those who may not ordinarily be able to read, or experience great difficulty in doing so. I adore reading, there is nothing like diving in to a book and immersing yourself in an entirely different world, but when your brain isn’t keeping up, it can be really difficult. Okay, so it’s not traditional and it doesn’t have the same charm as a paperback, but what’s the point in all that charm if you can’t enjoy it?

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So, reconsider an e-reader. Users of e-readers may love books just as much as you do, maybe even more so. If you love books that much, surely you want as many people as possible to enjoy the books you love. If an e-reader helps them do that, then surely that’s a wonderful thing?

What do you think? Do you use an e-reader? Physical books only? Have I changed how you perceive e-readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Health · Uncategorized

Cervical Comb-over

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So, I had my very first smear test, or cervical cancer screening test. Yeah, it was weird and I decided I wanted to share the experience with you, start to finish, because I know many young women are apprehensive about having the procedure.

So, first thing is first. Booking the test? Well, you get a letter in the post. I got mine earlier on in the year, even though I was still 24. I kept putting off booking my test because I needed to see a nurse for bloods and a pill check as well anyway. I decided I would do it when I got back from a trip away. I actually got a second letter, this one had a leaflet with more information about the procedure, what happens afterwards, and requirements prior. You start getting invited around the age of 25. It is worth noting that you do NOT have to have the test if you don’t want to. It’s ultimately your decision, but please don’t use embarrassment or anxiousness as a reason to avoid it.

To book the procedure, you just call up and book in with the nurse once you’ve had the invite – the letter does tell you all this, but I’ll tell my experience regardless so you know what you can expect. Now, when I booked in, the receptionist didn’t actually tell me about the things you need to do before-hand (or rather, the things you need to NOT do). They ask that you book the test for the middle of your cycle, basically, it’s better if you’re not on your period for the test as they can get a clearer reading. They also say to not have a bath the day before and to avoid sex the night before – specifically to not use spermicide, lube or a barrier method of contraception. It’s probably just better to avoid it all together to save having to maybe need the test re-doing. If the sample is inadequate, they will call you back in three months time to take another sample. The test itself? The only thing you need to do is undress your lower half. If you wear a lose skirt, you can keep that on. The test itself only takes a few minutes.

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The nurse will ask you to lay down on the bed – I was given some of that paper stuff to put over my lap. You go spread-eagle and she (or he! you can request that a female perform the test when booking if you’re concerned) will insert a lubed up, scary looking contraption in to your fanjo. It’s called a speculum and it’s not actually scary. This basically dilates your vagina, opening it up so the nurse can see the cervix. Then she uses a little brush like pictured above to swab some cells from the cervix. This is what is sent off for testing. For me, the opening of the speculum was uncomfortable, a little painful in fact. The tenser you are, the harder it is for them to get on up there but if you’re anxious, tell your nurse. If it hurts, tell your nurse. They’re happy to take their time or to stop if you need it. It only takes a moment to collect the cells. While the speculum itself was weird and uncomfortable for me, I honestly couldn’t feel the brush. I dunno if it was because I was focused on the fact there was this woman all up in my junk and the pressure kinda made me feel like I need the loo or if it’s something you genuinely can’t feel but that was it. Brushy brushy, then she gets on out of there and you can put your junk away.The nurse advises that I may experience some spotting later on and if it happens, to not be concerned. Personally, I didn’t get any, but my ladyparts did feel a little weird for a while.

A little embarrassing? Perhaps, but it’s worth it to monitor your cervical health and potentially reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

Once the sample is taken, you will get a letter back after about two weeks with the results. If the sample was adequate and completely clear, you’ll get called back again in three years. If the sample was not adequate, you will get recalled in a few months – there are loads of reasons the sample might not be adequate so don’t worry about it. Anything else? They’ll tell you in the letter what will happen. I’ve not had my results yet or anything so I cant really speak on that part.

If you want some more technical information, you can check out the NHS page on Cervical Screening. This post was a bit longer than intended but I hope it puts some of you at ease about the test.

Beauty · self-care · skincare · Uncategorized

Manuka Honey Masque by Vitamasques

Hurrah, my first ever review on my new blog. And you’re readi- wait, no, don’t leave, what are you doing?

Still here? Cool. Now let me talk to you about my favourite sheet masque in existence.

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I discovered this face mask thanks to Glossybox and I fell in love with it. Initially, I wasn’t overly excited by it as I’d never heard of the brand before and sheet masks usually are a terrible fit on my face. The holes in all the wrong places, y’know? I tried it, loved it. I’m a cheap git, so almost had a coronary when I saw they’re £3.99 per masque; but then a discount code from Glossybox turned up in my inbox and all was right in the world. Alright, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I was pleased none the less and ordered myself a packet as well as one of their other masques to try.

So what is it? The Manuka Honey Masque by Vitamasques is a Korean sheet mask with triple layer technology to enhance the moisture content in the mask and help the skin absorb the goodies it holds inside. At the risk of being captain obvious, that would be extracts of Manuka Honey.

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The instructions say to apply the mask after having cleansed your face and to leave it on for 20 minutes. If you got the Glossybox this was featured in, the products all went together pretty nicely, in the case of my skin anyway. However, now I opt for a good buffing using Lush’s Ocean Salt scrub and my Magnitone brush before applying this mask.

Unlike every other sheet mask I’ve tried, this one was actually a decent shape and fit for my face – the holes were in the right places and everything, which is rare in my experience and masks usually require repeated re-jigging as they slide around as the time passes. After the 20 minutes were up, I wiped my face with the masques limp corpse before doing the suggested “patting” of the face afterwards. I hate the feel about ten minutes after though, so I tend to proceed to wipe my face off and apply my usual moisturiser. I found improvement to the texture of my skin and a more plump appearance thanks to the more intensive hydration than the level that my standard skincare regime provides. A much needed boost after good ol’ winter dryness!

The Manuka Honey Masques retail for £3.99 or you can buy a four pack.

Have you tried this facemask before? Had you heard of the brand prior to it being featured in a Glossybox?