How Do You Deal with Stress?

Stress, we all feel it and in today’s society it is sometimes a badge of honour to be worn proudly on your chest. Never mind that your mental, physical and emotional health will suffer greatly from prolonged stress. Never mind that your relationships will suffer. If you are stressed and running yourself into the ground, then you are working hard and eventually all of this grinding will pay off.

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October Book Club

When you need that little bit of extra mentoring, I believe we can find that learning and a lot more within the covers of a book. More often than not we do not listen to the advice of our loved ones and so these big life truths that we unearth in a book or story can have a bigger impact on us when we read them to ourselves, by ourselves. The words run deep as we remember and recall our own similar experiences and journeys. Through books we can understand our life and all that happens within it with greater awareness and clarity.

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My Top 10 Walks in or near Dublin

Last week I spoke about the healing power of nature and how beneficial grounding and being out in nature can be for our health on a deep level. This week I wanted to share with you some of my favourite spots to get out in nature in or around Dublin. I really feel we are truly blessed to live in this beautiful island and having travelled all over the world, very few places have held such a place in my heart as Ireland does. It is the perfect time of the year to get out, explore and be in nature.

My top 10 favourite Spots in or near Dublin

Portmarnock and Malahide coastal walk

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Many of you know about how much I love Portmarnock beach and how often I am down there. The Velvet Strand is a gorgeous beach with beautiful views and a great stretch for walking or running. There is lots of parking along the road or public parking beside Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links or Portmarnock Golf club. It is close to Dublin City Centre and served by bus, train and dart. You can start your coastal walk from Portmarnock and continue towards Malahide (approx. 4km) for more sea air and gorgeous views.

 

Glendalough – The Spinc Trail and the Derrybawn Woodlawn Trail

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Glendalough is a natural and historical haven for me and has almost a mystical energy to it. There are plenty of tracks and trails (Downloadable PDF) around Glendalough, where you can enjoy views of both the upper and lower lakes, St Kevin’s Church and round tower, Poulanass waterfall and much, much more. A favourite trail of mine is The Spinc which has a lot of uphill and steps but rewards you with magnificent views. If you prefer a flatter terrain Derrybawn Woodlawn trail is another favourite trail of mine.**

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St Catherine’s Park

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St Catherine’s park is a little gem nestled in between Westmanstown and Lucan village consisting of 200 acres of woodland and grassland with the River Liffey running through it. It also has playgrounds, skate parks, football pitches and fairy trails. Whether it is a family day out or a walk with your dog (it also has a dog run). You will love the space and tranquillity of this park.

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St Catherine’s is Rosie’s favourite.

Howth Cliff Walk

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Howth Cliff Walk at sunset is quite magical.

Howth cliff walk is a great trail for all levels of fitness and has so many places of interest and beauty along the trail that you will be spoiled for choice. It is also close to the city centre and easily reached by bus, train or dart. Howth is situated on a peninsula northeast of Dublin City and is a gorgeous fishing town with plenty of places to eat and drink. Along the trail you will have great views of Howth harbour, Ireland’s Eye, Lambay Island, Howth Castle, Howth lighthouse and so much more. I love this trail any time of the year on a clear day as the views are so beautiful.**

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The Phoenix Park  

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The Phoenix Park is notably Dublin’s most famous park and is actually the biggest enclosed park in Europe. Not only is it home to the Irish president and American Ambassador but it is also home to Dublin City Zoo and to a host of wildlife including the famous herd of fallow deer. The park is twice the size of Central Park in New York and is easily accessible from all over Dublin City. Go explore and enjoy all of the trails and activities within.

Bray to Greystones

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Another wonderful coastal walk from one bustling seaside town to another, a little over 6km each way. Both Bray and Greystones are on the dart line and so are easily reached from Dublin City Centre. With beautiful views the whole way around this walk is very popular on any day of the year. Probably more so in recent years as the Happy Pear have really put Greystones on the map. I love to start in Bray, head to the The Happy Pear in Greystones for some delicious food and then make my walk back to Bray.

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St Anne’s Park

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Another great park very close to the city centre and a relatively new favourite of mine having moved to the Northside. It is a big park of about 240 acres nestled in between Raheny and Clontarf and is steeped in nature, history and beauty in equal measure. There is lots to do and see in St Anne’s and plenty of places to wander and explore. My favourite spot to sit and soak it all in is the rose garden. There is always something on in St Anne’s from the weekly fun runs and yoga to the markets and festivals you have no excuse not to visit and enjoy it all.

Hill of Tara

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The Hill of Tara is a little further outside the city, about a 45 minute drive but I promise you it is worth it.  The Hill of Tara is one of the most important and ancient sites in Ireland and can be found with in the mystical Boyne Valley along with Newgrange, Nowth, Dowth, Lough Crew and Slane. There is lots to explore at the Hill of Tara or you can just stroll around and soak in the abundant ancient energy and peace found there. There is a lovely Cafe there also to warm up on a cold day.

Clontarf / Bull Island

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Bull Island is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and so if you are a nature lover this is the place to go. The special flora and fauna of the reserve attract plenty of wildlife. It is a great place to be within nature and go for a dip while still seeing the famous landmarks of Dublin City – Poolbeg towers, North & South Bull Walls and Howth Head. Right beside  busy Clontarf and newly refurbished Clontarf Baths there is any number of places to eat or grab a coffee after a nice walk. My favourites are Bay, FishboneKennedys  and Happy Out

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A gorgeous shot of the famous wooden bridge to Bull Island by Philip Mulhall

 

Lough Dan, Lough Tay and Knocknacloghoge

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Another stunning area right beside Dublin in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. We really are spoiled for tracks, trails and stunning scenery in this part of Ireland. This area is a place I love to get lost in for a few hours and breathe in the breathtaking views and at this time of the year I think it is at it’s most beautiful.  Here is a guided walk around the area, this is definitely one not to be missed. Check out Video showing the stunning views.of the area by a wonderful photographer Ciarán Cassidy. **

**Always be careful when venturing out in nature, make sure you have the right equipment and tools to stay on track and are safe on your trail. There are lots of guides and groups that you can join and learn from. Don’t be silly and put yourself in danger.**

The Importance of Grounding

Have you ever sat in nature and felt your whole body untangle? Felt the tensions, stress and knots in your muscles just melt? Felt happy and content?

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National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in Autumn

That is the healing power of nature. I simply love the outdoors, walking, hiking, strolling, swimming or just sitting and taking it all in. This is my favourite time of the year. It really feels like there is magic in the air. The extra crisp mornings and evenings showcasing the most beautiful and multicoloured skies at dawn and dusk. In this autumnal air it is like Mother Nature is putting on one last show of beauty and magnificence before the short evenings set in and we nestle down to hibernate for the winter.

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Portmarnock Beach at dawn 2018

It is often with a change in season that people are inspired to get out in nature. If we think back to spring when we were falling over our own feet to get out after a long, cold winter. Then again when the warm summer days graced us for longer than we are used to here in Ireland. Amazing shots from all over our stunning little country flooded our social media pages and everyone was grateful and proud to call it home.

Many people can think of a time, when their emotional state and mood shifted significantly just from being in nature. For me this happens every time. It’s the peace and quiet, the birds chirping, the hills and trees and the ebb and flow of the tide that syncs and reconnects me to Mother Nature and to the present moment also.  I feel the rhythm of nature has the familiarity and peace of our own heartbeat and it brings us back to a place within ourselves that we can be content and truly connected.  We forget how connected we are with nature and the cycles held within. We see ourselves as above or better than nature because of our advanced technology and evolution. We ignore that nature has had it all figured out long before us. In truth, we are one in the same, nourished by earth, facing the sun and living in cycles and seasons.

It is not just a better feeling we get from being in nature, continued research has proven the positive impact nature has on our whole body. Being in nature can reduce stress, improve fitness, increase connection and happiness, quiet the mental chatter, bring more mindfulness and clarity to us while encouraging us to take time away from technology. It can also benefit our sleep, a day’s hiking or breathing in the fresh sea air is a sure way to sleep well that night.

2018-05-04 16.58.51Grounding and earthing literally is reconnecting with the ground beneath us and drawing energy from the natural and physical world we live in. The simple act of walking barefoot at the beach or through the grass can have huge benefits to our health.

Grounding helps us to slow the monkey chatter in our brain and to let go of some or all of the stresses of modern-day life.  In a world that encourages us to stay in our head 24/7, stay switched on to work, to emails, TV, Social Media and a litany of other demands, we need grounding more than ever.

 

 

Significant research has been carried out on the more intricate health benefits of grounding and earthing. Connecting with the earth can have profound impacts on a deeper energetic and cellular level. Our bodies use energy in different ways for different functions.

“In the body, thermal energy helps us to maintain a constant body temperature, mechanical energy helps us to move, and electrical energy sends nerve impulses and fires signals to and from our brains. Energy is stored in foods and in the body as chemical energy”. Ms. Ashley Koff, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics

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Wicklow Mountains

Grounding and earthing can help us to neutralise the free radicals (unstable molecules that cause damage and inflammation) in our body and has been proven to reduce inflammation which is the cause of most disease within the body. It can also improve and enhance blood circulation, giving us more energy, more access to nutrients and greater efficiency at eliminating waste from the body. If you think of the electrical wiring in a plug, there is a grounding wire that protects the appliance from surges in electricity that might otherwise be dangerous. In grounding our own electrical circuits, within our bodies, we can prevent inflammation and damage from occurring.

To learn more about the benefits of earthing and grounding watch this trailer from the documentary The Grounded , the full version is also available on You tube.

 

Here are some ideas to get more grounded;

  1. Go for a walk in nature – the woods, mountains, in a local park.**
  2. Stand in your bare feet in the grass/ soil/sand for 5-10 minutes per day. Be present and soak in the whole experience.
  3. Stand with your feet in the sand and allow the water to lap around your feet. Go for a swim in the sea if you are brave enough…I promise it is worth it.
  4. Hiking – Ireland is known for its beauty and although the mountains are not high on a global scale there is no denying that the views are epic. **
  5. Find a spot you LOVE surrounded in nature and preferably close to your home/ work. Go there as often as you can and simply be one with nature and your breath.
  6. Grounding Meditation  -Try this 10 minute Grounding Meditation.

 

**Always be careful when venturing out in nature, make sure you have the right equipment and tools to stay on track and are safe on your trail. There are lots of guides and groups that you can join and learn from. Don’t be silly and put yourself in danger.**

 

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Spinc Trail, Glendalough

September Book Club

I still love to get lost in books as an adult and I also love to learn more about life through reading.  I have read so many books that have brought so much meaning to experiences and situations in my life and others that have helped me understand myself and gain insight deep within my being. Other books were like reading about truths that I had long forgotten and as I turned each page, little by little,  I remembered the biggest truths of all.

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How to Live a Happy Life of Meaning & Purpose

There is so much to gain from writing out your thoughts about anything and everything or about something more specific. The words flow, the mind, heart and soul release simultaneously and together in some beautifully intertwined dance. The mind understands more, the heart heals deeply, and the soul gently says, ‘you have all the answers, you know the way’.

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3 Steps to start a Daily Mindful Practice

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Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness or meditation doesn’t mean sit there and think of nothing. It is simply a practice of awareness. In the practice you bring your awareness to your breath, to your body to whatever thoughts or emotions are floating around and instead of being consumed or overwhelmed by them you just observe as they pass by like clouds.

snowglobe-nail-artThink of a snow globe, when you shake it the snow goes everywhere, and it is hard to see anything except the snow. When the snow globe is placed back down, eventually the snow settles and it is easy to see again. When we are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed it is hard to have clarity about the situation or life in general. However, when we slow down, breath and allow all the thoughts or emotions to settle we can see clearly again. Our mindfulness practice allows us to do this.

There are so many benefits of practising mindfulness, here are few;

  • Less stress and anxiety. Felt not only on a mental and emotional level but felt on a physiological level from the nervous system first and then the other organs.
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Makes us feel better, happier
  • Increased patience and compassion
  • Lowers blood pressure and regulates our heart rate
  • It calms and balances us in mind, heart and body
  • Increases our energy levels
  • Increases the strength of our immune systems

Apart from the health benefits on a physiological, emotional and mental level mindfulness practice can realign us with who we really are. Most people are running and racing from one activity to the next, never slowing down or pausing to check in with themselves. They become accustomed to stress, anxiety, ‘busyness’ or switching off in front of the TV for hours as a part of modern day living. They see and believe that they will feel better when they get over what happened in the past or reach the point in the future that will make them feel better.

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This way of thinking however is not very helpful or beneficial to us. When we think like this we are like a boat floating without a rudder in the middle of nowhere. Sure, we may be staying afloat and moving but we have no real direction or destination in mind.  Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present moment, to respond instead of reacting unnecessarily to things that bump off the side of our boat. It helps us to settle the boat when the water is rough. It fine tunes our awareness so that we can see the big waves coming towards us and instead of trying to fight the wave (that is coming either way) we let it pass and say, ‘surf’s up’ or get ready for a ‘wipe out’. It also allows us to take control of the oars or the wheel again and move toward the destination we want.

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3 Steps to getting started

  1. Commit

The first step in starting any new skill or habit is to commit. Commit to yourself first. Maybe even sit with your thoughts on this for a few minutes. Why do you feel drawn to this? What is your intention for this practice, what do you want to get out of it? Less stress or anxiety, more peace? Then tell a friend or a loved one about the challenge you have set yourself so that they can support and hold you accountable (in a non-judgemental way – if you feel you have no such person then you can share with me in the daily posts)

  1. Prepare

You don’t need any special equipment to start your mindful practice. You just need somewhere to sit comfortably with a straight spine (on a chair, in lotus position, on a cushion or bolster) where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. You can set the timer on your phone (then turn it on aeroplane mode) and bring your attention to your breath. If you want to light a candle or play some relaxing music this can help to get you into a relaxed state.

  1. Pick a time that will best suit your lifestyle and routines and try to stick that time as best as possible. Of course, things will get in the way but if you pick a time that is least likely to be interrupted it will be easier to establish and maintain the practice for the month and hopefully after.

Remember as with everything in life the practice is an informance not a performance, informing us of where we are at that particular day on that particular time.

Join me on my instagram page for the Mindful March  challenge and take 5-10 minutes each day for yourself to establish a mindfulness practice and reap the benefits in mind, body and soul!!! I will be sharing lots of tools and techniques each day to help you to create a practice that suits you best!

Love and Light,

Mel