Keeping Health In Mind

If you see my #fattytofitty updates on Twitter and Facebook you’ll know I’m working hard on my physical health. But, what about upstairs in the mental department?

With a history of bouts of clinical depression and my recent chronic migraines, it’s no wonder I still suffer with brain fog!  There’s also the ongoing battle I have with anxiety…Oh, and the tiredness; always such tiredness.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying a couple of ways to remain relaxed while achieving alertness. One is Korean Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba Tablets from Red Kooga.

Red Kooga Korean Ginseng & Ginkgo Biloba

As someone who struggles to take anything in tablet form, these had me won over from the start with their actual size image on the box. Such an obviously simple idea, why don’t more brands do it? red kooga

The size and shape is comparable to Nurofen and easy to swallow. I was so pleased as I’ve heard good things about these and was very keen to give them a try.

I’m taking them with breakfast, as, despite any amount of sleep, the debilitating sluggishness I suffer with is making this one time ‘morning person’ very frustrated indeed!

Better give you the science bit before I tell you how I’m getting on:

Red Kooga Korean Ginseng & Ginkgo Biloba is formulated to help promote mental alertness and to help support healthy circulation to the extremities

  • Ginseng is a clever little herb that helps promote vitality and maintain mental alertness
  • Red Kooga supplements contain high quality Panax Ginseng which has been used in the orient for thousands of years. Each ginseng plant matures for four to six years before being considered for use in Red Kooga.
  • The Ginkgo Biloba extract is standardised to guarantee the content of important glycolides and terpene, which are thought to provide beneficial effects
  • Ginkgo Biloba helps maintain circulation to the extremities

So far so good. I’m still suffering with tiredness a lot, but, when I’m not too tired to think I am thinking more clearly. I still hate numbers but I’m making fewer mistakes in the office – that is especially brilliant! Also, the numbness and tingling I can get in my hands and feet has gone away.  This could just be that I’m in recovery from the dizzy migraines, but maybe not.

With our lives getting ever busier with more distractions, finding a natural way to stay focused when working or studying can only be a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?

Red Kooga Korean Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba are available from Holland & Barret priced £10.99

Feel Stress Free by Thrive

But, what about after those focused work days? Maybe you’re not just tired, maybe you’re stressed. I was recently introduced to the Feel Stress Free app and though it seems strange to use your ‘phone to ‘switch off’, this could work! feel stress free

Two years of development and research went into finding this new way to proactively prevent and manage your stress and anxiety. Feel Stress Free teaches you tried and tested techniques to cope with a hectic life.

Feel Stress Free has been delightfully designed and is a pleasure to navigate. Island-hopping under a blue sky; very nice indeed.

You’ll notice on the screenshot above that some markers are still greyed out. This is because different sections of the app get unlocked as you progress with your therapy. A good idea in general as it will stop you running before you can walk. Personally, I found it frustrating that it took so long to unlock the Zen Garden island as that was my favourite activity. feel stress free


A little background:

The Yerkes-Dodson Law explains the relationship between performance and stress, indicating that an optimal level of pressure needs to be applied to get the best from someone. However, once that optimal level becomes too much for a person to handle, performance decreases significantly. The management of stress and anxiety is imperative to us living a healthy, happy life.

Each of the clinical interventions used in the app have years of research behind them, and we’ve featured all of this within the app itself, as well as below. We have also carried out clinical research trials at the University of Roehampton, with another commencing in April 2016.

I didn’t do anything with the Mood Meter island so can’t really comment on that but I am finding the Calm Breathing section particularly useful:

Calm Breathing

This is the simplest technique, one that you can learn in the app and practice anywhere you are. It is based on the fact that increasing chest pressure by taking very slow and deep breaths, and then reducing by slowly breathing out, triggers a reflex. This reflex slows down your pulse and gives you a relaxed feeling in your body. As body and mind are connected this then results in relaxation in your mind. Give it a go for 3, 5, 7 or 10 minutes!

The evidence

Deep slow breathing is an essential technique incorporated in many relaxation exercises. It has been extensively examined in the literature in different setting. A good review of the evidence behind it and its uses can be found in General Principles and Empirically Supported Techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Chapter 14 by Hazlett-Stevens and Craske.

This is something I was already trying to get to grips with as it will be so very useful in my yoga practice too. I had been trying and failing when I felt panic attacks starting during dizzy spells so I’m hoping to progress further with this.

I didn’t do much of the deep muscle relaxation and the self-hypnosis was of little interest but I’m sure there are benefits to be had if you persist with them.

The other important part to me was the meditation. I’m useless at it, but, I really want to not be useless at it!

The vocal instructions  are soothing but almost too quiet for me…this may be because I didn’t use headphones as recommended. I would suggest you do. I’ve only avoided them as I had so much pain with my ears during the vestibular migraines.


Simple to learn but hard to master this is quite a powerful technique for relaxation.  It requires dedication and practice but if you persevere it can bring about the most benefits. You will need a quiet space and to achieve a sensation of comfort. You will be able to develop a passive attitude that allows you to just watch your feelings, sensations and thoughts as they pass through your mind. You will also use word or phrase to help you refocus.

The evidence

This is probably the technique that has received the most attention recently. It requires practice to master but everyone can use it if they devote the time to learn it and practice it. There is a complete review and meta-analysis of all the evidence of meditation in the management of anxiety published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2012.

The app isn’t free but there are 3 pricing levels of commitment to it so there’ll be one that suits you. There’s also a very useful questionnaire you can complete first which will tell you if you’re likely to benefit. I’ve also done this for the arachnophobia app that’s also available from Thrive.

What do you do to stay alert? And, do you need help to wind down at the end of the day?

Let me know your techniques in the comments.


* I was provided with a pack of the Red Kooga supplements and a month’s free trial of the Thrive app in order to produce this article. All opinions are honest and my own.

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