Popular Now

10 reasons to go back to health and beauty basics

December 10th 2014 / Anna Hunter

gtg-back-to-basics-main.jpg

Getty Images

Work, nutrition, exercise, skincare, relationships...most things important to us can benefit from a fresh perspective. These changes, inspired by Clinique’s #StartBetter campaign, are simple yet lifechanging…

Ever tried to enter your house with your Oyster card or panicked about losing your phone while...on the phone? I’m guilty on both counts; “multitasking” has its downsides. I know I’m not the only one to let life get on top of me at times, and overcomplicating everything from work projects to what to have for lunch is a recipe for stress, brainfry and burnout. There’s a lot to be said for stripping things back, starting afresh and focusing on the fundamentals- in short, don’t sweat the small stuff, just start better. Whether you’re aiming to eat healthier, master a simple skincare regime or knock stress on the head, these expert tips will become your mantra. Print them out, stick them to your fridge, go forth and prosper.

1. To be full of beans, breathe right

gtg-meditation.jpg

As taking things back to basics goes, inhale-exhale may seem overly simplistic, but everything from tight clothing to anxiety to eating too fast can disrupt our breathing pattern and stop us from performing at our peak. Breathing deeply and freely has many benefits beyond the obvious, as London’s leading Bower practitioner and founder of Just Breathe Caroline Kremer highlights:

“Good breathing technique calms the body and mind by triggering the parasympathetic (rest and digest) aspect of the nervous system. It lowers blood pressure and heart rate, increases the efficiency of the lungs and ensures optimum oxygen transportation throughout the body, which in turn increases energy. When you breathe effectively, the front of the rib cage lifts away from the breastbone, which instantly improves your posture and makes the body feel lighter. Not the mention the fact that breathing well makes you look younger- your skin will be receiving a great supply of oxygenated blood”

Talking of simple skin boosters…

2. Great skin can be simple, no matter what your age

gtg-clinique-products.jpg

Clinique’s Guiding Dermatologist Dr David Orentreich may be responsible for the glowing complexions of the likes of Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell, not to mention millions of Clinique devotees worldwide, but he insists that the groundwork of good skin is a basic formulae:

“No matter when you begin, it’s never too late to start looking after your skin. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16, 36 or 56, a healthy diet, exercise and good, clean skincare will protect you against skin damage. Following a daily skincare routine of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising is the easiest way to maintain healthy skin that looks younger and more radiant. It’s also really important to remember that skin that is cleansed well, gently yet thoroughly, is better prepped and primed for whatever targeted product you apply afterwards”

I’d suggest giving the Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush a whirl, £79, before heading down to Clinique’s Great Skin Lab if you can make it to London. A skincare haven in the heart of Covent Garden, you’ll be able to find out how you will age and how stress, the environment or other factors are affecting your skin, not to mention the fact that bespoke skincare and lifestyle advice is on tap, as are supplies of custom-fit skincare. It makes the modern maze of skincare options a piece of cake to navigate. Hold that thought about cake…

3. Choosing a wholesome diet can be easy as pie

gtg-wholesome-diet.jpg

Nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton’s food philosophy is practical, manageable and guaranteed to make you healthier:

“If you can’t pick it, dig it, chase it or catch it, think twice about eating it. This doesn’t need to include expensive or faddy so called ‘superfoods’ or protein powders. It simply means cooking from scratch where possible and enjoying the process from soil to plate”

That being said, according to Henrietta, ‘kale isn’t always the healthiest choice...’:

“We can simplify the relationship we have with food by relaxing the good/bad eating mentality that so many of us are caught up in. There are ‘better’, more nourishing options than others obviously (think shop-bought sausage roll vs. homemade beef burger), but even the most healthy food can be compromised if we eat it with guilt, shame or under stressful conditions"

Stress can be a bigger health hurdle than many of us appreciate, making it all the more important that we get to root of what’s causing it…

4. Health is wealth, so stress less

gtg-stress-less.jpg

Stopping the stress cycle needn’t be a headache. Dan Roberts trains many a pro athlete or model under pressure; he knows a thing or two about the effects of stress and how to nip tension in the bud:

“Understanding what a healthy body is for you is worth spending time thinking about (as a healthy body definitely is not the same for everyone!). After defining health, reducing the biggest causes of ill health is important- ditching drugs, smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Lack of sleep and poor nutrition are bad too, but not as bad for you as stress”

“Stress manifests itself in the body in various ways- it could be inflammation, constant ulcers, tension headaches, IBS...it’s never good. Stress is all about perception and attitude, and managing it is so much more important that people realise. If you have a better strategy, ‘if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same’, you’ll go far. Putting less toxic stuff into the body and moving more comes into this. Even walking is great! Not bringing any bright screens to bed with you too is a good idea- night time is rest time”

In addition to being one of the most in-demand trainers across the globe, Dan is also remarkably well read. Check out ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling to gain a little perspective (not to mention a moment’s peace). Then do Dan’s Methodology X workout for a no stress at-home solution to frazzled (often missed...) gym trips. He brings fitness down to earth while ensuring it’s challenging and engaging- stress and pressure don’t feature, but neither does boredom. A killer core on the other hand…have we tempted you to #startbetter yet?

5. For enhanced wellbeing, use your nose

gtg-essential-oils.jpg

Do you incorporate aromatherapy into your daily routine? Chances are that you don’t, or perhaps you do but don’t realise you’re doing it. If you’re not already a devotee, it’s time to become one. Aromatherapy Associates co-founder Geraldine Howard has been using and blending oils herself for over 30 years- as coping methods go, using your nose couldn’t be easier, or more effective:

“The sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses and is linked to the deepest parts of the brain which govern basic instincts, memories and emotions. Aromas of essential oils work on a physical and emotional level to improve the general state of health and wellbeing”

Wondering which oils to choose to give yourself a lift? There’s a blend for almost every mood or situation…

Stress- “I’m a real believer that much of our stress starts with our state of mind. If stress is a problem, frankincense pure essential oil is really effective at grounding the emotions and providing support during hectic times. It helps to relax the diaphragm so that we can breathe more deeply. Keep a bottle of frankincense at hand for moments of stress and take a few deep inhalations- it will focus the mind and calm your thoughts”

Fatigue- “Go for citrus oils- they will wake up your mind. Pink grapefruit is stimulating and refreshing. Ylang-ylang is also a fantastic pick-me-up before an evening out, or when energy levels are flagging”

Illness- “Essential oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint and pine are very effective at boosting the immune system. They are antiviral and antibacterial and can really help to support your natural defences. To use at home, diffuse the oils with a home fragrancer. When out and about, keep a bottle of oil in your handbag for on the spot relief. I put a couple of drops onto a handkerchief and inhale”

Muscle Soreness- “Rosemary, ginger and black pepper are incredibly effective at easing localised muscle tension, aching limbs and reducing inflammation. Try combining this gel and oil to soothe and ease stiffness”

6. Don’t underestimate the power of pen and paper

gtg-pen-paper.jpg

Put the iPhone down and scroll through your internal mini feed instead for instant zen. Life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Jacqueline Hurst recommends getting back in touch with your state of mind on a regular basis:

“The most basic thing to do to start feeling better is to check your thoughts. The easiest way to do this is to write them down using good old fashioned pen and paper. Start thinking about what you are thinking about. Work out if you’re choosing thoughts that are creating good feelings which will generate good actions or if you’re dwelling on thoughts that are negative, for example, if you are thinking ‘I have to get this all done today’ you will be creating stress. Looking at that thought it is not helpful. Choosing a different thought that feels better, something like ‘I will get as much as I can done and there is ALWAYS tomorrow’ takes the feeling of stress and pressure off and gives you back some feeling of control and empowerment”

Being choosy with our thoughts can also benefit our waistlines…

7. The one occasion when sitting back can make you slim…

Sitting it out both physically and mentally can, in fact, have its perks. For optimum nutrition, be at ease and heed Henrietta Norton’s advice:

“Don't eat your emotions. If you are feeling emotional and are tending towards eating, see if you can first acknowledge and express your emotions rather than eating them. Also, if you can't sit down and eat, don't eat - eat in a setting where you feel relaxed. If you are eating in the car, in front of a computer doing work, or on the phone, you are not able to give full attention to eating, and, as a result, you produce less digestive enzymes leading to bloating and lowered nutrient absorption. It can also trick you into eating more”

8. More pillow time, more power to you

gtg-sleep.jpg

#StartBetter and make sleep sacred. If you find yourself tossing and turning, holistic therapist Katie Light has some pre bedtime meditation and breathing exercises, along with a nighttime nip that trumps hot cocoa:

“Try playing a meditation or simple relaxation recording before bed to help to switch off the mind. Focusing on your breathing can also help- breathe from the stomach rather than from the chest, pushing your tummy out when breathing in as if you had a balloon in your abdomen. Take it up to the chest and slowly breathe out through the mouth. Try to cut out alcohol where possible to prevent nighttime sugar spikes- swap a hot toddy for a glass of almond milk. Almonds are a great source of tryptophan, which balances hormones and supplies you with a source of protein throughout the night. This should soothe you, but keeping sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating a low GI diet can also make it easier to nod off”

Don’t be too strict with yourself, mind. Break out of a beige food rut for extra vitality…

9. For more energy, eat the rainbow

gtg-eating-the-rainbow.jpg

Basic and close to nature is good, bland is bad. Henrietta Norton assures us that the health gold is most definitely found at the end of the rainbow:

“Eat a rainbow everyday. Many people eat only one or two colours in their meals. Instead of lacklustre, monotonous eating, try to sample all the colours of food that you can, including red, orange, yellow, green, and purple, to ensure that you get enough of the important phytochemicals that have health benefits”

Skittles don’t count, but you already knew that. It’s also a great idea to look to how other cultures approach the ‘basics’:

“Sample a variety of flavours. When we don’t eat all of the variety of flavours at a meal – salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, and savoury – we may come away from the meal feeling like we are “missing something” and ultimately, food cravings can result. By getting small amounts of all the flavours of food, a practice common in other cultures such as in Asia, we may feel more fulfilled and desire less food after a meal”

10. To regain control, be kind

To yourself, not just to others. Jacqueline Hurst explains how letting go and cutting yourself some slack is the ultimate step to empowerment:

“Taking a break from your mind is very important. Slow down, write it down and ask yourself if you would be putting that much pressure on your best friend- it’s doubtful! So pull it back, change your thoughts and create feelings of ease and calm. No matter how heavy the storm feels, you can always choose calm”

How do you intend to start better, either tomorrow, next week or next year? For more inspiration watch these expert #StartBetter videos created in partnership with Clinique featuring Jacqueline Hurst, Calgary Avansino and Madeleine Shaw. Tell us how and why you’d like to start afresh in any area of your life below, or express yourself on twitter or instagram. From nailing the perfect skincare regime for you to scoring a new job, the opportunities areendless (and out there!).

This feature was written in partnership with Clinique.

Post a comment

Login to add a comment

Agile web development by Byte9