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Coping with Christmas

1 Dec 2010 17:29:21

As much as Christmas time may be joyful and a time of celebration it is also a stressful time for many. The pressure we put on ourselves to find the right gift, to say nothing of the shopping experience itself, is bad enough. This is also the time of year when we gather, or are expected to gather, with our families and friends; this can highlight the difficulty we have in our relationships and make loneliness more keenly felt. With these challenges in mind I would like to offer some advice on relaxation for the challenges of the season.

The stress response, or fight or flight response, causes many physiological changes and over time immune function is impaired as well as the bodies ability to heal. The relaxation response is the opposite. This first exercise may be done anywhere where you can stop and close your eyes for a moment: Take time to breathe…

• Rest one, or both, hands upon your belly and try feel yourself breathing into it. Inhaling, the belly expands and exhaling the belly pulls in.
• When that becomes comfortable, begin to count during the breath. On the inhale count up to a number which feels comfortable, and then exhale whilst counting down from the same number.
• Continue this for as long as you like, slowing the breath down as you become more comfortable with it. Try to work up to an inhale and exhale of six to eight seconds each.
• When you have begun to relax, and are ready to carry on, open your eyes and go about your day.

Want, of all kinds, is often more keenly felt at this time of year. It may be a material desire or the want of companionship and love. Sometimes, the antidote for want is to reflect on gratitude. Something to be thankful for…

• Begin with the breathing exercise mentioned above, visualizations and meditations always work better after a period of relaxation.
• When you are ready, allow yourself to reflect on something, or someone, for which you feel grateful. For example: if you are sad because you feel a lack of love or friendship, picture a friend or loved one who is in your life.
• Allow the feeling of gratitude that comes from focusing on that person, or thing, to grow and fill you. Stay with it for as long as you like, or as long as you can.

At first glance, this exercise may seem facile; but the emotions that we focus on define our mental state. Naturally, for some people finding anything to feel grateful for may be impossible.

Finally, in caring for ourselves we must not forget the impact of stress on our bodies. Long hours walking or standing causes blood to pool in the legs and lower back tension. Everyone likes to put their feet up when they get home; the problem is they do not put them up high enough. Put your feet up…

• Find a place against the wall where you can lie down on the floor with your legs extended up the wall.
• Lay on your side with your bottom about a foot from the wall, further back if your legs are tighter.
• As you roll on to your back extend your legs up the wall, your lower back should be flat against the ground.
• Rest here for 5-10 minutes whilst you do the belly breathing mentioned in the first exercise. These practices are intended as simple ways of reducing stress, however; stress is often anything but simple.

If you have need of further support or have any questions about counselling at So Organic please call me for a free consultation.
David Lefebvre Sell - Counsellor Saturdays 2pm-6pm 07840 529829

0 Comments | Posted in General Sustainable Living By Stuart Burlton

Stu and I were lucky enough to be invited to a wonderful event last night. It was the launch party for the new green bond from Ecotricity and their wonderful new wind powered car; the Nemesis.

Ecotricity are an amazing and truly inspiring company, they see that it’s not enough to sell green power but that we need to invest in increased capacity and the ability to produce more green energy otherwise there just won‘t be enough available to make the kind of different that we need to.  Ecotricity nemesisThey invest in wind turbines and produce electricity from them which is where the “wind-powered” bit comes from. This electricity goes into the grid and is used to power everything from boiling the kettle for your morning cup of tea to charging up your electric (“wind-powered”) car!

Ecotricity have spent two years working on the car which looks fabulous and is a great way to show that being green doesn’t have to be boring. With a top speed of 170mph and 0-100mph in 8.5 seconds, it’s great antidote to the myth that you can’t get great performance out of an electric car. Apparently it's great fun to drive too, the meanies didn’t let me have a go so I can’t vouch for that though! ;o(

Lucy Siegle who writes on green issues for the Observer was there filming the car and the amazing reaction to it so hopefully you should be able to watch the film via the Ecotricity website soon.

The Ecotricity eco bond is a way for you to invest your money to get a better return that you would at the bank (7%) and because you’re investing directly with Ecotricity you enable them to invest even more in building capacity to product more green energy quicker. It’s a definite win: win situation.

If you’re looking for simple ways to go green and really make a difference without it affecting your life (other than giving you a nice warm fuzzy feeling that you’re doing your bit), then switching your electricity to Ecotricity is a great step. They invest far more than any other energy company in new sources of green energy, which is what we need to do if we want to reduce our reliance upon fossil fuels and make a sustainable change for the future.

Ecotricity don’t charge any more for their energy either, and price match with the 6 main electricity providers so when there’s no premium for using green electricity, what other excuse can you think of for not using it? We can’t change the world overnight, but we can make a difference by working together to take steps in the right direction. Switching to Ecotricity is a very easy first step. We’ve changed over, and I hope you will too. Switch now….

Soil Association Organic Fortnight, is the UK’s biggest celebration of all things organic. This year they are encouraging you to try something organic every day.

Get involved during the fortnight and discover why organic is good for your well-being and your planet, is kind to animals and wildlife and allows us make a big difference - simply through the way we shop.

We're offering 10% off with code CELEB to all customers old and new to try and encourage more people to try organic products.

Also we'll be posting an organic tip every day on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Finally if you're in the London area come and see us in our Greenwich store for free refreshments and 20% off this Saturday 11/09/10 between 10-12pm!




0 Comments | Posted in Eco Issues Sustainable Living Events Organic News By Michelle Gregory

Staring out the window to a small green garden abundant with life in the middle of Santa Cruz I wonder what it must be like to live in this cute flat for one. Six small birds to each seed house, two six foot tall, orange flowering aloe vera plants, hydrangeas, a meandering possum, a skunk on a jolly jaunt, a weeping willow look-alike tree and an array of other Californian greens I’m unfamiliar with, it’s a small garden of Eden amongst many, I suspect, in this part of the world. But there’s a few things in this Santa Cruzian flat that are a little out of the ordinary.

Look a little closer and you’ll notice low door knobs on all the cupboards and a bicycle-like contraption. Foster Andersen has been a quadriplegic for over 30 years. He had a motorcycle accident at age 17, suffering spinal cord injury that has left him temporarily bound to a wheelchair since. I write temporarily because Foster is no average person. You name it he's done it, from skydiving, bungee jumping out of a hot air balloon, canoeing, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, rock climbing... the list goes on.

What's so impressive is that he did it all after his accident, wheelchair bound... until he gets in that parachute of course. 15 years ago Foster started the not-for-profit organisation, Shared Adventures, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with disabilities. It's based on the belief that 'recreation, fun, challenge and access to the outdoors are an essential part of a healthy and fulfilling life'.  Foster trained as a computer graphic engineer however spends most of his time working on the events hosted by Shared Adventures. Day at the Beach and Day in the Sky are two of the annual highlights. In addition to the list of things Foster himself has done, the organisation offers a whole range of activities for people with disabilities including camping, horse riding, sailing, flying planes and plenty of social gatherings like the Halloween Dance Party, Frozen Yoghurt Sketch Circle and Bowling by the Boardwalk to get the local community involved. He's also the regular Santa Cruz'ian celebrity. Take one look at his office wall and you'll see articles that span the state, all featuring Foster's achievements from his early 20's until now. He is without a doubt one of the most inspirational people I've ever met and... if one can be so bold... one of those 'ideal' members of society that we would do well to follow his example by for living a full and giving life. For more information on Foster and Shared Adventures visit

It’s a fairly accurate assumption these days to say that most corners of the world have been touched by the eco effect. Whether you agree, disagree or choose to ignore what´s happening to our planet you´ve at least heard about it in some shape or form. Mexico is no different. The latest in eco developments is underway in the hotel resort paradise of Cancun.

Phase one of this beautiful 5 star resort is already complete so bookings are being snapped up before you can say ‘may I have an organic margarita por favour?’  Why? Well to begin with it is the epitome of luxury and in the location to boot situated 30 minutes drive from Cancun on a clear tranquil beach amongst jungle and ancient Mayan ruins.

I was lucky enough to take a tour of the first complete part of the resort the Hacienda Tres Rios and it lived up to all expectations.

As you enter the resort you are greeted by a beautiful light reception, with stylish Mexican décor and white baby grand piano. Being a 5 star hotel you can dine or receive room service 24/7. With twelve restaurants in total in the Hacienda alone you will not be stuck for choice. There is also a business theatre, patisserie, theatre, spa, gym (including top rate yoga classes) and equestrian and polo centre. The resort covers 150 acres of land. It has 18 rivers (filled with fish) in total with three main ones that snake around the resort and lead into the ocean. You can take a kayak or canoe out for the day and paddle around these beautiful rivers and also get a unique view of the resort. The forest has a number of exotic wildlife like the toucan, cougar, peacock, parrots, flamingos, deer and monkeys. The long-term vision of Tres Ríos includes a marina and yacht club, a convention centre, an equestrian centre, and a fully developed nature park. But how is it eco friendly? The buildings are quite discreet and are only up to three stories high. The rest rooms use ocean water cleaned by one of the local native plants that is able to extract naturally the salt from the water to clean it for usage. Thought the soil is too sandy to grow their own produce on site (explains why the coconuts are only small) the resort does buy local and their meat, I´m told, is organic. The resort is one of the only in Cancun that does not use plastic straws or cups which are excessively used in the hotel filled region.

The ecology mission of Tres Ríos is “to be the leading model for sustainable luxury tourism in the Mexican Caribbean, to guarantee the enduring, intelligent and responsible use of the property’s jungle, mangrove, dune and marine ecosystems and to guarantee the long-term preservation of the ecosystems’ environmental functions, flora and fauna.” One of the wonderful things they´ve done for the region already is reforest 10,000m2 of mangrove, planting more than 50,000 mangrove trees of three varieties. The developers of this plush resort last year donated all of their profits for October to the second biggest killer in Mexico, Breast Cancer. I’m not sure if they advertised the slip slop slap sunscreen to their sunbathing guests but it’s a good start isn’t it? On arrival you can request at the concierge a tour of all the eco features of the resort so that you know exactly what your eco heart and green dollars are buying. For more information about the hotel visit