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Help kids build a fairy garden

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I have enjoyed ‘grubbing’ in the garden for as long as I can remember. When I was very young my parents gave me a piece of the garden, under a massive sycamore tree.

They never made a ‘Gardener Barbie’, but my poor dolls were all dragged out and came back the worse for wear, along with copious amounts of spoons! At least children sized trowels are easily available nowadays! In any case, being outside as a child certainly made me more aware of nature, broadened my knowledge and fed my imagination.

And so, I encourage everyone to go outside with their kids! Give them a piece of the garden – as in my own case, it can be a bit of wasteland where nothing really grows; under a tree, under the playhouse, beside the shed – there are lots of ideal places.

Fairy gardens are a great way to get kids interested, and very easy to create, especially with the help of a stump or a few rocks! It can be gradually expanded to become a rockery, as alpine plants generally grow very well in areas where the soil is poor. Also, they do not grow too big – perfect for small hands.

SUITABLE PLANTS

Sempervivum is an ideal little plant, it is a succulent, which means it needs little water, and remains small. It looks a bit like a cactus and piques kid’s interest. They are also called ‘house leeks’ and are said to bring good fortune! Currently they are being marketed as ‘Hen and Chicks’, a very appropriate name as they produce small offshoots, or babies. These can be cut off, put into a pot and kept moist, where they will root within a few weeks. Sedums, which are also succulents, are as easy to propagate, just cut a piece off, about 5cm in length, stick it into a pot of gritty soil to a depth of about 2cm, and again, within a short space of time there will be roots. These are some of the first plants I ever propagated and the satisfaction is immense, as well as quick enough not to lose interest. Other plants suitable for fairy gardens are campanula, aubretia, small grasses, and helianthemums. While there are many items for sale to populate the fairy garden, it is also a fantastic pastime to make your own fairy doors and portals. Using tester pots of outdoor wood paint is a cheap and cheerful way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Alternatively, bug gardens hold a great fascination for children. A good book and a website like biodiversityireland.ie is very helpful. Again, planting and sowing wildflowers are a quick way to keep the interest alive, and building bug hotels and ladybird hostels is a productive way to spend an afternoon!

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Five tips for stress management

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness We all have stress, whether at work, at home, with family or with friends. Sometimes specific things or circumstances can make us feel incredibly stressed out. Stress is a normal part of life, but the most important thing is responding to and managing it. So the next time that […]

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

We all have stress, whether at work, at home, with family or with friends. Sometimes specific things or circumstances can make us feel incredibly stressed out.

Stress is a normal part of life, but the most important thing is responding to and managing it. So the next time that you are feeling stressed, try these five techniques for managing it:

1. Exercise regularly

Swift movement can help improve sleep and combat stress. Research shows that individuals who participated in moderate physical activity had half the perceived stress as those who did not participate. Physical activity may also cancel out some of the adverse effects of stress, including the impact on the immune system. Exercise causes the release of endorphins, so adding physical activity into your routine will also make you happier.

2. Practice parasympathetic activities such as meditation

Multiple studies have found that mindful meditation can reduce psychological stress and anxiety. Take five minutes to yourself in a quiet place to sit and breathe. Focus on the present moment. Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander to other thoughts. Simply acknowledge those thoughts and then let them go. Refocus and bring your attention back to the present moment.

3. Get adequate sleep 

Stress during the day affects the quality of our sleep at night. Even worse, insufficient sleep can affect both brain function and mood. Limit electronic device usage like smartphones and computers in the evening. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day, after 3 or 4pm. Try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed consistently to ensure adequate nightly sleep. Finally, get moving during the day! Research suggests that physical activity can improve sleep and combat stress.

4. Eat a high-quality whole foods-based diet

When we are stressed, our central nervous system releases cortisol. Research has shown that high cortisol levels combined with high sugar consumption may cause fat to be deposited around our internal organs. This is called visceral fat, and it is associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Choose high-quality whole foods which will provide you with a variety of nutrients and health benefits. Aim to consume a diet full of colourful fruits and veggies daily!

5. Transform negative thoughts

Our thoughts influence our emotions, and our feelings affect our behaviours. Reframing your thoughts around the causes of stress can help you better control your emotions, which helps reduce perceived stress. Redirect negative energy and ideas into positive ones. Evaluate your expectations and learn to accept the situations that are outside of your control.

If you need to connect with a coach to help guide you, schedule a free consultation with us today by visiting our website www.activate.ie.

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Lifestyle

Time to adjust your skincare

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio What a week of amazing weather, sunshine, ice cream and sand, and with summer well and truly here, it’s time to adjust your skincare. This doesn’t mean just upping the SPF applications. What may have worked in the cooler months might not be right for the summer […]

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By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

What a week of amazing weather, sunshine, ice cream and sand, and with summer well and truly here, it’s time to adjust your skincare.

This doesn’t mean just upping the SPF applications. What may have worked in the cooler months might not be right for the summer months, especially with the extra heat waves.

The main reasons you need to alter your skincare needs, a little like we alter our make-up trends season to season, is different weather and light.

This is particularly so this year as wearing masks during the hotter temperatures contributes to skin issues old and new. If we make small changes to our skincare routines when the weather changes, it can really help to keep the skin balanced, healthy and glowing. It may be as simple as wearing extra SPF and your cleanser isn’t removing it fully before applying serums. If we add in a face wash just before you cleanse, the results will be amazing.

IMPORTANT STEP

In my opinion, one of the most important steps is a clean canvas, or skin, in this case. It definitely starts with the right cleansers and toners. A cleanser will help to deliver more moisture properties, but using a face wash will help illuminate more built-up toxins, pollution, SPF, as we are applying it more often during the summer months. Yes, we apply all year round, but more often during summer days.

I do recommend using an exfoliant containing AHA or BHA, depending on specific needs. These are good for both anti-ageing and congested skin concerns. The point of any exfoliating treatment is to remove dead cells, product build up and encourage more rapid cell turnover. These chemical exfoliants rely on the use of alpha hydroxy acids or beta acids. They remove outer layers of skin but need to be left on the skin long enough to work their full potential. AHA is great for anyone suffering skin discoloration or poor skin colour, generally older skin. BHA works more effectively on an oily and acne prone skin type.

Using Vitamin C is invaluable when you are looking to protect the skin from harmful rays while promoting a more even skin tone. It is most effective and safely worn at night only, especially if it’s a stable Vitamin C and a high percentage. It’s by far one of the most effective anti-ageing skincare treatments on the market. It brightens complexions and helps boosts moisture to dry lifeless, dull skin. It naturally boosts collagen production and mitigates the effect of skin sagging.

The starring role in your summer skincare routine, is SPF. All over body sunscreen will work in a pinch, it’s better to get a specific face SPF 50.

Our Sothys SPF 50 is amazing for maximum protection. It’s non-greasy, anti-ageing, oil free, non-comedogenic. Don’t let the summer upset your skin, it’s a time to relish in fresh air and sunshine responsibly.

To book a skincare consultation or if you have any questions, call Jill on 064 6632966.

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