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

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

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

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

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 chemcials 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 a kit, grab my hand and lets learn together.

R x

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

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

Everything I never wanted

It is Mothers Day, and this is the first one as a mom of three that I am actually looking forward to. Last year I was dreading the emotions (or lack thereof), that I would feel when my children bundled into bed with me.

I consider myself crazy blessed as a mom of three, but I wouldn’t wish my motherhood journey on anyone. Before I had my first child I knew a little about postnatal depression and knew of people who experienced it, but I learned so much more when I actually experienced it. I had moderate postnatal depression after my second son was born.

I put my tiredness down to juggling two, I put my desolation down to long days and sleepless night. It took me five excruciating months to get professional help with my maternal mental health and medication and conversation helped me through one of the darkest times. Fast forward a few years to the adoption of our daughter. A perfect princess to complete our family, yet when she arrived, my world came crashing down once again.

Motherhood seemed to be everything I never wanted

It seemed so unfair. I wanted to feel happy and proud but I felt terrified and trapped. I wanted to cherish and treasure my babies but I was angry and ashamed. All I had ever wanted was to be a mom, yet not once, but twice my mental health suffered as a result. I had done everything ‘right’, prepared, planner and prayed, yet postnatal and post adoption depression and anxiety tried to crush me.

But it failed.

Because my God is greater.

If you are facing tough times please know that you are not alone.

God will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you feel like He has.

I spent hours, literally hours on my knees crying and screaming out to God to fix the mess I was in, to take away the pain. I didn’t feel Him but I know He was there. And now as I look at my babies, I look back and see that while I was holding on to hope, God was holding onto them.

He cradled my baby when I couldn’t.

He soothed troubled hearts while mine was overwhelmed.

He did what I wouldn’t, then when I was ready He gently handed them back to me.

Mama, if you are reading this in the wee hours of the night because you cannot sleep, or with tears rolling down your cheeks because you know how it feels to want to just run away from everyone, everything, please know you are not alone. I was there, twice. I made it through and you will too.

Check out our Facebook group Moms on Mental Health for friendship and support with other mamas who have overcome depression or are still battling through it. We are stronger together and we would love to cheer you through the dark days.

R x

Loving me

Love. Love is a many splendid thing. I can sprinkle love like confetti wherever I go, with a smile, a laugh, a hug or a gift. But loving me? I find that incredibly challenging.

I can give advice to a friend, help her with decisions, encourage her in a new venture and tell her she looks beautiful. But I can then go back home and rip strips off myself. You aren’t good enough. You aren’t strong enough. You aren’t liked enough. You aren’t successful enough. If I heard you talk yourself down like that I would take your face in my hands and plead with you to see your worth, your value, your beauty. But me? Not so much.

Why do I do it? Is it because I am British and ridiculously modest, or it is because on some level, I genuinely think I’m not good enough?

It seems so much easier for us to give love rather than receive.

No one wants to blow their own trumpet, but I think that self-love struggles are down to a lot more than self-deprecating humility. I blame a lot of things. Firstly societies perpetual need for perfection plays a major role. That coupled with celebrities splashed across social media and broken families can leave us in a spin. We are living in a reality TV bubble that is not real life, trying to Keep up with the Kardashians, then wondering why we are floundering. Constant pressure to be, to do, to achieve weighs us down. We either spend our weeks keeping up appearances on Instagram then hiding away at weekends, or we live wildly and extravagantly on Saturday and Sunday, then spend the week eating beans on toast.

We think we need to be seen a certain way, we need to do a certain thing, and then we will have joy, happiness and success. But the truth is that the only way to feel true happiness is to love yourself.

The only way to feel true happiness is to love yourself.

Loving yourself means embracing your idiosyncrasies; the figure on the scales, the wrinkles around your eyes and the moles across your back. It means seeing your insecurities and recognising them as beautiful vulnerabilities. It means learning something from mistakes, rather than dismissing them as failures.

Loving me isn’t easy. But it is a journey I have started and am committed to staying on for the long haul. If I don’t speak kindly to myself, if I don’t look after my body and carry myself with grace, how can I expect my children to do so? I look at my beautiful babies, each wonderfully unique, with awe, excited for their future. But they are already self-criticizing at ages 5 and 9. When I hear them say, ‘I’m so dumb’ or ‘I look stupid’ it breaks my mama heart.

That’s how God sees you. When you say I am too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too thick, too scared, His Father heart breaks. He sees beauty, wonder, creativity, humility, gentleness, kindness, goodness and boldness. I imagine God swooping down, taking my face in His hands and saying, ‘Baby girl, you are everything I created you to be, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know every hair on your head and every word on your tongue. I have a purpose and a plan for you.’

When I find loving me too hard, I don’t try, I just let God.

He designed me just as I am, my perceived flaws are His fingerprints, my imperfections His indentations. I am not a failure, and I am not an accident. I am loved by God unconditionally, and you are too.

R x

How to cope this Christmas

So the Big Day is just weeks away, but it is not an exciting time for all. Christmas can actually be an incredible stressful and anxious time for many people. Perhaps you feel completely overwhelmed with juggling overexcited kids, Christmas shopping, organising nativity costumes and all the things. Perhaps you were made redundant and this year you simply cannot afford a Christmas like the year before. Perhaps this is the first Christmas since a loved one died or your marriage separated. Perhaps this season marks the anniversary of a child in your care being removed from their family.

There are a whole host of reasons why we can feel anxious and overwhelmed during the festive season, and our emotions are incredibly powerful. So much so, that they actually affect our physical wellbeing. What we say and what we think can be as damaging as a physical injury, and by continuing to brush our feelings under the carpet we are causing more harm than good. If Christmas is a time that you dread, fear or avoid altogether, then maybe it is time to explore why that is with a therapist. In the meantime I would love to share a few tips on how we use essential oils to support emotions over the festive period.

What are essential oils?

Essential Oils can support our emotional health as they effect our emotional state. They can help us to feel more balanced and calm, and their use is referred to as ‘aromatherapy’.

Essential oils are the lifeblood of the plant, compounds which work to repair, restore and regulate the plant, and they can massively benefit us too. Essential oils are ‘volatile’ which means they quickly evaporate and are easy to inhale them either from a bottle, on fabric or on the skin. When inhaled, these minute essential oils molecule travel past our olfactory system, cross the blood/brain barrier (something very few medicines can do) and enter the limbic system of the brain. This is the area of the brain that controls our emotional response.

How do they work?

Smells are so important when it comes to considering emotional health. Our brain uses smells within our memory bank, and certain smells will trigger a response and take you right back to the memory of a time or place in your past. These can be both positive and negative.

Emotions are stored in our cells, and because essential oils are so tiny, they can enter our cells and help us process emotions on a cellular level. There are approximately 40 million trillion molecules in one drop of essential oil, which is approximately 40,000 molecules for each cell in the human body. So a little goes a long way!

Here are my top five essential oils for emotional support this season:

Valor

This is my go to oil when I feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This is a blend of Black Spruce, Blue Tansy, Camphor Wood, Geranium, and Frankincense and smells quite woodsy. I mainly use it topically to help with feelings of strength, courage and security, particularly if I am facing a tough day. It is also great if you are feeling alone or abandoned.

Stress Away

This exotic blend was created to combat normal stresses that creep into everyday life. Stress Away contains Lime, Copaiba, Lavender and Cedarwood and Ocotea essential oils and vanilla essence. We roll this blend on every day before school to uplift our mood and calm the mind, especially before a busy day or school tests. It also helps calm small people in new environments, or those who may be struggling with being away from home.

Bergamot

This is a sweet citrus scent that lifts the mood and helps with feelings of confidence. Bergamot is also widely known to help support those who are grieving or processing loss. I would diffuse this oil with Stress Away or apply topically to my skin with carrier oil.

Orange

We call this sunshine in a bottle and it is one of my all time favourite oils because, like other citrus oils, it is so uplifting.  I pair Orange oil with Joy or Valor for a gorgeous perfume that I can roll on throughout the day.  It is perfect for use on grey days, when you are feeling a bit down or sad, and it also supports your immune system too!

Frankincense

Thank Frank. Not only is this oil already famous because of baby Jesus, it is also incredibly grounding. It is a high frequency oil which supports your whole body physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you are looking for an oil to aid prayer and meditation or something to help the kiddos calm down in the chaos of Christmas, diffuse this with Lavender and Orange.

If you want to know more about essential oils and emotions then check out my video on YouTube or message with your questions. You can order any of these by creating a free account with Young Living. Simply click here!

R x