Essential Oils, Faith, Lifestyle, wellness

What brings joy?

For me, joy is found in good books, good coffee, good company, my good God and the great outdoors. So when restrictions limited contact with people, entrance to church and travel over the borders, like so many others, it hit me hard.

As a result, we have all had to get creative in finding joy in our new normal, and I began to redefine the bare bones of what I (and maybe we) really needed to feel joy.

Merriam-Webster defines joy as; ‘the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires’, ‘Delight – the expression or exhibition of such emotion, Gaiety.’

Note that top definition – emotions evoked by well-being. I don’t think I realised quite how essential being with people, being in Church and being outdoors was to my wellbeing – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As an aromatherapist and wellness coach one thing I have always been proactive on is supporting my families wellness naturally. As so many things were removed from my control, this is one area where I did have control.

I could control what we listened to, what we watched, what entered our minds. Because what you see and hear on a daily basis affects your thought patterns, affects your emotional response, and affects your immune response. Increased stress hormone = lowered immune system, and at a time like this, that is one system you want running on all cylinders.

I could control what goes into and onto our bodies. By reducing exposure to toxins, (parfum, parabens, preservatives and the like) in food, soaps, detergents, cleaners and cosmetics, I can reduce stress on our immune system. This allows our bodies to heal, repair, restore on a cellular level, rather than fighitng micro battles on a daily basis.

Why is all this important to experiencing joy? Because when we feel well, we feel able to enjoy life more.

It’s hard to be joyful with an irritable bowel. It is hard to be happy with a throbbing head. It is hard to keep smiling with insomnia. When we aren’t well, we don’t want to be out or be with others, and this further depresses our mood and lowers our immune system.

Do I have all the answers for health and wellbeing? No, only Jesus does. But I do have an arsenal of natural remedies and years of experience that give us a good starting point.

If you are at a place where you want to explore how wellbeing supports your experience of joy the drop me a message.

R x

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Faith, Mental Health, Parenting

When what now becomes what if

Hardships aren’t easy. (The clue is in the name). But I’ve seen great purpose come from great pain.

When I struggled with maternal mental health for a second time, and sank to such depths from which I thought my marriage and my family would never recover, I couldn’t see a way out. I remember crying out ‘what now?’ not understanding why a God I loved and served would let me suffer like this. I couldn’t understand why I was being broken all over again, even more deeply than the first time.

Sometimes it is only when we are fully broken that we can be fully rebuilt.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Now I can see that God turned my ‘what now?’ into a ‘what if?’. What if I stuck my head above the sand and shared my story? What if I spoke of my struffles and helped break the stigma? What if?

It is because of some of the darkest days in my life that I began to share my experiences. This led me to blogging, setting up a moms on mental health group and more recently becoming a mental health swim host.

Since my second mental health diagnosis three years ago, God has traded my shame into sharing and exchanged my isolation for community. Rather than prevent my pain, He used it to help me direct my focus on Him so that He could help me encourage others.

If I hadn’t endured mental health battles of my own, I would never have empathised and understood those who did. I certainly wouldn’t have been so proactive in supporting them. Yet here I am doing just that and I have never felt happier.

All we need is a seed of faith to grow a tree of fruit

Please know that I am no superhero. I am no saint. I am simply someone who struggled and saw a need. Someone who was willing to put her hand up and say I am hurting, this sucks, does anyone else feel the same? One thing that I have learned since walking my mental health journey is that it is a much easier road to travel when you don’t walk alone.

Pain can produce purpose

Pain can produce purpose. Do you believe that? It’s a hard pill to swallow when you are in depths, believe me. But if you are struggling and asking the same question – ‘what now?’ can I encourage you to turn the question on its head and ask ‘what if?’

What if your health doesn’t decline? Your business doesn’t go under? Your marriage doesn’t fail? What if it does but you make it through, battered and bruised? What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

It is incredibly difficult to see how hardships are anything but that – hard. If you are facing hard times today, please be encourgaed; maybe, just maybe you are in training to find a purpose of your own.

R x

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Adoption, Mental Health, Parenting

Behind The Smile

It’s not very British to air your woes, unless you are complaining about the weather of course. The ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra has continued long since the war ended and our chronic apologetic nature makes us too polite to challenge attitudes or actions we don’t like. In short, we have become very good at hiding how we really feel, and this is to our detriment.

When I was first diagnosed with post natal depression in July 2013, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Following the birth of my second son in 2013, I had felt like an utter failure. I couldn’t juggle the demands of a baby and a 3 year old and became increasingly unable to cope. I was hugely emotional and irrational and I couldn’t seem to get my words out or process simple information. My husband noticed and said that sometimes I would just walk into a room and ramble, then walk away. He felt like a light had gone out in my eyes, and I wasn’t ‘there’.

My diagnosis felt like a relief; I wasn’t going mad, I wasn’t a failure, there was something wrong with me and I needed help. I was very open with my diagnosis and would tell anyone and everyone because I felt that if they knew what was going on they would understand why I was different. Only trouble is, I had been so good at masking the depression with all except my very closest loved ones, that no one had any idea there was anything wrong. They would say things like, ‘Oh but you always look so put together, make up on, outfits carefully chosen, kids dressed and at church/playgroup…’ I had painted on a smile, presented my family and projected the fact that I had it altogether, when really I was crumbling side.

I had painted on a smile and projected the fact that I had it altogether, when really I was crumbling inside.

It makes me so sad that I did this. Not that I should have been unkempt, scruffy and miserable all the time either, but that I felt the need to tell the world ‘I am okay, I have got this.’

Friend, it’s okay to not be okay. I’ll say it again – it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to drop the ball, let the tears fall, let your guard down and let others in. Because it is only when we reach out that we can be pulled out.

I sought professional help with both my depressions. My GP was incredible, so compassionate and supportive. I was prescribed medication both times following diagnosis. It worked brilliantly first time and I was on SSRI’s for six months, but second time round I didn’t react well to them at all. With my post adoption depression there were different triggers and it was less of a hormonal imbalance as opposed to an emotional one, therefore I sought weekly counselling which was a lifesaver, I exercised and spent time outdoors whenever possible, preferably in the woods or at the coast, and I began to use essential oils to support my emotions.

Depression is no respecter of persons, ages or stages.

Depression can hit at any time. It is no respecter of persons, ages or stages. You can be living in an ivory tower and have depression so deep in your soul that you want to leave this world. You can have the perfect family, the perfect job and still struggle with mental health. It isn’t necessarily because of what you have or don’t have, it can be the result of emotional injuries from long ago that surface due to a circumstance, it can be due to a stressful period in life, illness, hormones, you name it. We are emotional creatures, and our feelings need to be heard, acknowledged and processed, not brushed under the carpet or put back in a box.

I have shared my story ever since to try and reduce the stigma attached to mental health and encourage others that they are not alone. I began a peer support group for moms affected by mental health back in the Midlands and am now proud to be a Mental Health Swim Host here in Port Talbot, South Wales.

If you are struggling wiht mental health or know someone who is, then please reach out to someone you trust or to a mental health organisation such as the ones below:

Mind

Ask them mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options and advocacy services.

Tel: 0300 123 3393
Email: info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

Samaritans

Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You can visit some Samaritans branches in person. Samaritans also have a Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).

Tel: 116 123 (freephone)
Email: jo@samaritans.org

Sane

Offers emotional support and information for anyone affected by mental health problems.

Website: sane.org.uk

Shout Crisis Line

If you’re experiencing a crisis, are unable to cope and need support, text Shout to 85258. Shout can help with urgent issues such as:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Abuse or assault
  • Self-harm
  • Bullying
  • Relationship challenges

Rethink Mental Illness

You can call the Rethink advice and information line Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm for practical advice on:

  • different types of therapy and medication
  • benefits, debt, money issues
  • police, courts, prison
  • your rights under the Mental Health Act.

Tel: 0300 5000 927 

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Lifestyle, Mental Health, wellness

Why swim in cold water?

Swimming in cold water may not appeal to many, but it could be the key to your physical and mental health this season.

I have always loved the ocean, and will happily swim in any weather, but it wasn’t until recently that I realised the tremendous health benefits it offers. Here I share some of the many reasons why we swim in cold water and why you should too.

It can boost your immune system

When we swim in cold water our body is forced to react to the changing condition and it fires up our sympathetic nervous system to protect us. This voluntary action can, when repeated over time, help our body to activate its defences faster.

It can improve circulation

When we swim in cold water our heart has to work harder to force the blood to our extremities to keep us moving and keep us warm. As it does this, it flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries and aids the lymphatic system in expelling toxins from our body.

It can reduce inflammation

Swimming has long be known as a superb low impact exercise for our joints, but cold water swimming can go one step further. As adrenaline and endorphins are released, this can soothe or even stop joint pain and reduce inflammation over time.

It can support and sustain mental health

Cold water swimming is by no means a cure for any condition, however our body released endorphins when in the water which gives us a natural high. This study in the British Medical Journal on a 24-year-old woman shows its effects. She had been treated for symptoms of a major depressive disorder and anxiety since the age of 17, but wanted to live medication and symptom free after the birth of her daughter. She began open water swimming each week and this led to an immediate improvement in mood following each swim and gradual reduction in symptoms of depression. A year later she was medication free.

How to swim safe

Cold water swimming is a euphoric experience, but it can be dangerous too. These are some important safety tips from the Outdoor Swimming Society:

  • Never swim alone
  • Never go out of your depth
  • Keep immersions brief – a few minutes is all you need
  • Warm up when you get out with layers, hats, gloves and a warm drink
  • Have something to eat to rasie your blood sugar
  • Walk around to raise your body temperature
  • Never have a hot shower straight after as the sudden change in blood flow can cause you to pass out.

As with any exercise, cold water immersion affects your blood pressure, heart rate, and circulation, which means it can cause serious cardiac stress. If you have a heart condition or any underlying health condition, please discuss the risks with your doctor first.

Join a cold water swim

Each month Mental Health Swims hosts cold water swim meets up and down the country. I host one here in Aberavon, Port Talbot and you would be so welcome to join us! Details can be found here. Alternatively, check out the Outdoor Swimming Society for other meets.

Happy swimming!

R x

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Essential Oils, Lifestyle, Mental Health, wellness

Travelling during Covid-19

We are just back from a week away in Devon – something we weren’t sure would even happen in the wake of Coronavirus. Although we certainly saw and felt the affects of Covid-19 safety measures, I am pleased to say that we thoroughly enjoyed out time away. Here are our top tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer.

Talk about risks

I have always believed in talking to our children and explaining the risks. You don’t need to go into major detail about Covid-19 symptoms, but it is important to explain why we need to wash hands and stay away from others, especially indoors. Giving children the facts, and some tools such as their own masks and hand sanitiser, can help them feel a little bit more in control and take away the fear of Coronavirus. It is near impossible to expect children to social distance from one another (especially in playgrounds) so also talk about that, and if this makes you or your family anxious, steer clear.

Take it slow

When Covid first hit, I was very fearful and felt extremely anxious when outside the home, leaving my mental health fragile. I feel much more comfortable now, as I have had time to acclimatise, but the chances are our children haven’t. Don’t underestimate the fear and anxiety they may have from conversations they have heard or news programmes they have watched. Talk about how they may be feeling and give them time to acclimatise to being out in the big wide world again. Observe them while you are out and about and be sure to give them opportunity to say if they feel overwhelmed (without being a helicopter parent!).

Travel happy

We wouldn’t travel anywhere without the Fab Five: Thieves, Digize, Peppermint, Purification and Lavender essential oils. We use Thieves daily for immune support in a roller bottle swiped along our feet/spines, and increase our use while travelling and eating alfresco. Our children occasionally suffer with motion sickness so we support their tummies with DiGize on their abdomens and peppermint on their wrists. Finally, we have an outdoor spray made with Peppermint and Purification to keep our legs and arms bite free and Lavender for any owies.

Avoid the masses

This almost goes without saying, but arcades, amusements, restaurants, ice cream and souvenir shops are hot spots for people. If you or your loved ones are already anxious, then being in these places may make you feel very uncomfortable. It is worth researching less touristy beaches and heading off the beaten track to find little hidden gems away from the masses. Save your pennies by packing picnics and buying boxes of ice lollies from the supermarket. Finally, why not get the kiddos to send a video postcard to relatives via WhatsApp and create magnets from uploaded holiday snaps instead of hitting the High Street.

Make it memorable

Face masks will be mandatory in shops across the UK from the 24th July, so why not invest in some cute designs to make masks more fun? Children under 11 are exempt, however don’t discount them wearing one as it may help them feel a bit more protected while out and about. You can also pop a drop of your fave essential oil to help make mask-wearing more bearable. Valor is great for those who feel very anxious or Thieves for immune support on the go.

Happy holidays!

R x

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Lifestyle, Mental Health

Chasing waves and wellness

There is nowhere I would rather be, than in the woods or by the sea. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the great outdoors, and been especially mesmerised by the coast. Dave and I have made some of our biggest decisions while walking in the woods or along the beach, and, despite loving our friends in the Midlands, we try to escape landlocked living as often as possible.

When I struggled with maternal mental health in 2013, and again in 2016, I found refuge in being outdoors. Wandering deep in the woods or walking barefoot in the waves is where I feel at home and able to breathe. There is something so soothing to my soul about the rustle of leaves in the canopy above my head or the sound of the ocean waves lapping at my feet. More than that, I feel closer than ever to God when I am in nature. When I gaze out at the kaleidoscope of colours in a sunset or feel the powerful tide surge beneath me, I feel connected more deeply to our Creator.

We have been on a huge wellness journey as a family over the past few years, with exercise, the great outdoors and essential oils. The effect of oils on my mental health initially and our family health subsequently was game changing. We have learned about toxins in our home and how they affect us and took steps to remove and replace them wherever possible.

The Bible says that Jesus came so that we might have life and live it to the full. For our family, that means living a healthy, active life outdoors, and it has long been a dream of ours to relocate to the Coast. God gives us desires for a reason; He wants us to fulfill them!

We have seriously explored moving to Wales for three years, and despite a prophetic word from a friend in 2017 confirming that we would indeed move, the timing wasn’t right. Anna told me that she had seen a picture of me in a boat, rowing towards a picturesque coastline but I wasn’t moving anywhere. God told her that I would get to where I wanted to go, but only when I stopped rowing the boat. True to form, (I am independent and stubborn) I kept rowing anyway. We explored the area, found a church but each time we pushed the door in 2017, 2018 and 2019, we felt them firmly close.

We finally began to settle again and and it was only when we stopped pushing for a move that God stepped in and made a way in 2020. Dave received an unexpected (but very deserved) promotion then Covid-19 happened. It was during lock down that we really got to thinking again where do we want to be? We committed it to prayer and asked God to make a way. Next thing we knew, Dave had secured a transfer to the Cardiff office, God gave us places for the boys at an oversubscribed school and we bought a house 1 mile from the beach all in the same week!

To say God has moved would be an understatement and we are incredibly excited about our new chapter, chasing waves and wellness in Wales. God willing, we will be moved by early August. Dave will continue working from home, for now, I will continue building my wellness community, educating others on the power of plants and we will keep chasing wholeness with Jesus. But this time, we get to do all this from our favourite place in the world – the coast. We hope you will join us on the journey!

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle, Music

My weapon is a melody

I was about 9 or 10 years old when my Nan bought me a guitar. I wish I could say this one pictured was my beloved original but it got left behind when I left Welwyn Garden City many moons ago.

I still remember sitting on my bed at my Nan’s house, learning chords and writing my own songs. My Nan loved country music and I think I fancied myself as a British Dolly Parton.

I lost music for a while, but in 2004 when I first stepped into church and heard worship, I fell in love with it all over again. As I sat in the rows of plastic chairs circling a school stage, I was immersed in the most beautiful sounds – melodies, harmonies, keys, strings, percussion. I was drawn in to the sound of worship and the presence of God surrounded me. It was something that I wanted more of, and when I moved to a different church two years later I joined the worship team as a singer.

Music is my me-time with Jesus


Music is so much more than just a hobby. To me it is my escape, my ‘me-time’ with Jesus. It is where I can feel close to God and truly free. I have turned to worship in celebration and in sorrow, in fear and in faith. The words I sing to lift Jesus higher would life me also.

In recent years mental health issues meant that I couldn’t sing a single note, but I could play. So I would pick up my guitar or lay my fingers on the piano keys and just let my soul pour out.

As I played I prayed. And my praise began to break through the darkness, break strongholds off my life, and break into areas of my heart that had been shut off for too long.

Praise brings breakthrough


I am living proof that praise brings healing and it brings hope. I am living proof of a loving God and over the last sixteen years worship has played an integral part in my life. Certainly at times, the lyrics ‘my weapon is a melody’ have never been more apt. Now I get to wield my weapon with a smile on my face instead of tears.

If you don’t know how to pray, or what to pray, can I encourage you to put on some worship music? YouTube, Amazon Music and Spotify are full of incredible artists including some of my favourites Kari Jobe, Natalie Grant, Lauren Daigle, Bethel, Hillsong and more. Let the music play and the let the Holy Spirit move.

R x

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Essential Oils, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Parenting

Too good not to share

Ever been in love? If so you know what it feels like to be head over heels, completely consumed by someone or something. This is how I feel about essential oils. Sound extreme? Think again.

If you knew that you had a way to help a friend feel good, help her baby sleep, or support her skin, you would share it right? I mean, we don’t think twice about texting a pal to say that the Zara sale is EPIC, so why would you hesitate if you could share more than just great wardrobe suggestions?

I am passionate about sharing how we can live happier, healthier lives. Essential oils were key in my recovery from maternal mental health. They helped me feel positive, confident and courageous (find out more about essential oils and emotions here). Their impact on me was so huge that I couldn’t not share. Medication didn’t work for me this time around, but I found a natural alternative that supported my emotions and my mental health so well.

Since that first huff in the summer of 2017, I was hooked and have been on an oily journey ever since. The phrase ‘once you know better, do better’ rung true on a whole new level for me as I explored how and why we use essential oils. As a family, we are now well on the way to eliminating as many chemicals as possible from our home, filling our air with life-giving plant oils not putrid perfume and petrochemicals.

Our kids don’t cough like they used to. My skin doesn’t itch like it used to. We don’t get sick like we used to. Coincidence? I think not.

Since we ditched the chemicals and switched to plant based, natural products we have been the healthiest we have ever been. Coughs and colds have been few and far between, illnesses rare and rapidly recovered from. Teething smoother, tantrums shorter (mostly!), periods easier. You name it, every system in our body has benefited. And you can too.

I am on a mission to empower YOU to make a difference in your family health. You are the gatekeeper to your home. You control what comes in through your doors and goes on to and in to your body. Start turning over the products in your bathroom cabinets and kitchen cupboards. Read the ingredients on the labels in the brightly coloured sprays that you use on your babies highchair and on your body. Many of these products contain known carcinogens, known toxins that pollute your atmosphere and damage your organs. When you know better, you do better, and I would love to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.

Want to know more? Grab your oils, grab my hand and lets learn together.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Just Another Manic Monday?

Monday’s are the toughest day of the week for many. Statistically, it is the day with the highest number of heart attacks and suicides. At some point our mind or our bodies gives way to mounting pressure, at work, at home, at school, at university.

I used to dread Monday because that was the day Dave went back to work and I was left all alone with three kids. It was a time when I was struggling to love myself much less anyone else, and my mental health left me reeling, afraid and anxious. If you had told me two years ago that I would be healthy, happy and homeschooling I would have laughed in your face.

But God. 🙌🏻

He never left me and I know He won’t leave you. Even when I felt like I was crawling through Monday on my hands and knees, even when I felt alone, even when I wanted it all to end, to run away and start again, when I look back now I know that He was with me.

No matter what has happened, no matter what you are facing, know this: you are loved by a creator who finds such joy every time He lays eyes on you. And friend, He never takes His eyes off you. Not for a minute.

Progress can be painful, change takes time, and life can seem like a struggle. But I want to encourage anyone who is gong through something that you are also growing through something. God doesn’t leave us foundering, He can make a miracle out a mess. I can say this because I was there, and He has brought me here today.

Write down where you have come from and what you have been through. I promise you, the seeds you have sown, the toil that you out in, and the tears that have watered it, will bring forth growth. It may be slow and steady but it will happen. Shoots will spring up and buds will form. Even if you can’t see the growth right now, rest assured that just like a spring bulb wrestling in the dirt to find the light, there is movement happening in the darkness.

One day you will read your story again and see God’s love, grace and provision woven through every page. There is a plan and a purpose on your life, just sit still in the Son and trust God to get you there.

R x

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Lifestyle, Parenting

Dear Harry and Meghan

Two days in to being parents, congratulations! The adrenalin is still running, hormones flowing, body aching and heart bursting. You are besotted with your beautiful boy and cannot bear to take your eyes of him for fear of missing something. Netflix has nothing on watching a newborn sleep.

Any parent will tell you that raising children is the most exhilarating and exhausting, beautiful yet bewildering role they have ever had. Being a mother was, and still is, my greatest ambition and my greatest achievement. But it has not been without its challenges, namely around maternal mental health, which was overcome with a lot of love, faith, prayer and communication.

I want to encourage you both that you have a winning formula to start your new role as parents. When we watch you in public, we see warmth, love and respect, a genuine affection for one another that overrides the world around you. This love, this bond is your greatest source of strength as you navigate your new normal.

To any new parents I say this; keep checking in on each other. Sleepless nights can strain solid marriages, teething tests a mother’s bond to breaking point and tantrums can make the most patient parent tear their hair out. These seasons of motherhood are messy and miraculous.

It’s normal to find the days long and the nights longer. It’s natural to go into survival mode as the days blur from one to another in the early weeks and months. My advice to all new parents is to keep looking at one another. Keep locking your gaze and speaking words of love, encouragement and understanding through your eyes in the way that only couples can. Talk often and openly about everything and anything.

Be patient with each other, hold hands, hold your tongue and hold on for the ride. And above all, trust God as you embark on the best role there is.

Enjoy every minute.

R x

Photo Credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
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