Smoothie bowls are a delicious, easy breakfast full of fruit and seeds and other good things. The secret to a good smoothie bowl is to get the right balance of soft and crunchy things, and this pineapple and banana smoothie bowl does exactly that.

YOU WILL NEED:
* 200g pineapple
* 1 banana
* 60ml pineapple juice
* 1 tablespoon of honey
* Chia sees, sliced banana, blackberries, and a sprinkle of oats

There’s tired. There’s ‘just so tired’. And then there is limb-achingly, head-swimmingly, deliriously tired; the kind of tired you only experience after spending all night on homework/revision/text to a potential bae. It’s a tiredness that knows no end; that refuses to be beaten by tea or coffee even if they were being fed via IV into your bloodstream. 

So how do you cope when you feel this way? Here are a few theories, none of which involve caffeine. Obviously if you love your morning flat white, be our guest, but tread carefully with coffee, Coke or rocket fuel energy drinks like Red Bull – too much caffeine can have unpredictable effects on people, and too much caffeine is as likely to make you queasy as psyched.

Instead, look at your day. Break it down into the most bitesize of chunks, and consume accordingly, with scheduled breaks and something sweet to look forward to. Because tiredness is a state of body – but it’s also a state of mind.

1. Splash your face with cold water

And no, I don’t just mean in the morning. I mean whenever you feel the weight of sleep slowly, gently crushing your eyelids into submission. I mean every hour, if you have to – and if you want an extra boost, moisturise and mascara yourself too, or get a hydrating facial mist like this one from Superdrug. The cold will wake you; the stimulation of drying your face on a towel will get your blood going; and the mascara will both stop you from rubbing your eyes (the telltale sign of the sleep deprived) and make you feel more normal. Because whatever ‘normal’ is, it’s not face-planting your desk.

2. Eat a banana

I once met a women who ran marathons, two businesses and a family of four children. Her secret weapon? Bananas. “They are the ultimate energy boost,” she explained. They come ready packaged. They pack a punch full of sugar – fruit sugar, that is – and plenty of other nutritional good guys too, like potassium, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and C. We’re not entirely sure what they do exactly, but science tells us it’s beneficial, and my body agrees.

3. Go for a run

Failing that, go for a walk. Failing THAT, jump up and down outside for a few minutes. I know it’s cold, but that’s one incentive to move. The second incentive – if I may be so bold – is to increase your blood flow, which gets the blood into your brain and your thoughts into action. The third incentive is that it boosts your mood, your appetite, and gives you that gentle pull-yourself-together slap that only bitter, damp February air really can.

4. Get changed

Say what you like, there is something about a fresh pair of pants that makes even the weariest of days feel less weary. Even the starchy, white-whites smell of washing powder has an uplifting effect. Just as getting ready to go out can put you in the mood even when you least feel like leaving the house, so going through the motions of getting ready can perk you up. Even if it’s just changing your hoodie so you can sit back down at your desk and carry on revising.

5. Dress smart

The old saying ‘dress smart, think smart’ isn’t just a cunning ploy by adults to get you our of your trackies; it’s true, at least for many of us. Studies have suggested that for people who have to wear a uniform to work, putting it on has a positive effect on their concentration levels. You don’t have to wear your lab coat to write that biology essay (though it can’t hurt, if you feel like it) but a changing out of that jumper you spilled ketchup down yesterday might just help.

6. Let there be light

The brighter it is, the more alert you’ll feel too. Sure we might all look better in low lighting – that’s why candles are so popular – but if this essay/revision sheet/workbook is ever going to get finished, you’re going to need the lights a-blazing. And if it’s still daylight, work by an (open, preferably) window.

7. Sniff something

Not that we’re suggesting you become an amateur aromatherapist, but a quick whiff of citrus, vanilla or mint can be pretty effective at stimulating your senses – and your brain with them. No need to buy the oils (although they’re not too spendy in Holland and Barrett) – a nice fat grapefruit, vanilla stick or a handful of fresh mint leaves will suffice! Or failing that, body spray. But stop before you get a headache, you should know that by now.

8. Have a nap

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just the only thing to be done. Sweet dreams.

@finney_clare 

Image: Getty / Katie Edmunds

Ahh, boobs. You fickle funbags. While some of us might spend our teen years feeling like we’re perpetually at the back of the boob queue, others wish they hadn’t been given double helpings. Some people like Liz.

“It seems most girls are thrilled when puberty arrives and the bee stings on their chest blossom into lovely lady lumps,” says Liz. “I was the same. Age 14-15, I went from being basically inverted to a full B cup over the summer. I had been in high school for a year and was jealous of the older girls walking around in all their booby glory so now, life was good.

“But then my full B cups were spilling over my bra by autumn, and my new C cups soon turned into D cups and finally settled at G cups. Suddenly, I had humungo boobs; huge, big, giant, obnoxious breasts at the ripe age of 16.”

elderly women

“One weekend, I went into the brand new Victoria’s Secret that had just opened up. Heading inside with all intentions of finding a beautiful bra to make myself feel better about the boulders on my chest, I asked to be measured to find my perfect fit. The sales girl looked at my chest then looked at me and smirked, “we don’t carry your size here”. I ended up going to a specialist bra shop and getting two beige bras with thick straps. I felt 50 years old.”

Breast friends forever?

When even wearing three bras at once didn’t kill the jiggle, Liz found herself slowly quitting the sports she’d loved when she was younger. “I struggled shopping at all the cool stores with my friends as none of the tops fit. Soon enough I was dreading nights out. I could no longer count on my fingers and toes how many times I had been asked if my boobs were real (as if that’s a question that you can ask a stranger on the street!). Every conversation I had was being directed at my boobs, as if they had the ability to answer back – my face didn’t matter, the only thing that existed was my boobs.”

After enduring pack pain, bad posture and dents in both her shoulders and her self-esteem, at 19 Liz decided to take action – and it was bye-bye boobs. After several doctor’s appointments, some awkward paper nightgown action and a year of waiting, she had a breast reduction operation and went from an (OM)G cup down to a more manageable DD.

Joey boobs

“All and all, my breast reduction was a huge decision, I did not take it lightly,” says Liz. “I researched, I asked questions, I weighed pros and cons and came to the conclusion it was the right call for me. The process was scary, it wasn’t easy and it does hurt, but for me it was the best decision I could have made and I don’t regret it. Not for one second.”

The bare facts on boob reductions
  • It’s usually day surgery – you can be in and out in under 8 hours.
  • If the size of your boobs is affecting your health, you might be able to have a free breast reduction on the NHS.
  • The way your boobs look fresh out of surgery is not always how they'll stay – they might still grow, shrink and change shape.
  • As with any surgery, there are risks – so do your research, talk to your doctor and know every detail. Even the gross ones.

The biggest perks… according to Liz

1. Shopping

I can shop in regular shops and get shirts and dresses that fit!” says Liz. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many styles that just were not meant for bigger boobs but it’s a million times better than it was pre-op.”

2. Getting active

I can go to the gym, play sport and run around with my nephew so much more easily. I still double-bra but that’s for my own comfort and even some of my friends sporting the B and C cups double bra so it’s not that bad.”

3. Body confidence

“I’m happy with how I look topless. Not thrilled – I haven’t made it there yet – but I don’t feel like an 80-year-old lady when my top is off anymore.”

4. Less pain

“Yeah, back pain is a part of getting older… but if I hadn’t done something about it when I did, I might be a hunchback by now. Or at least in more pain than a young woman should have to deal with.”

5. Bras

“I can buy cute ones that don’t cost £200 and only come in boring old-lady white and old-lady beige. There is no massive indent on my shoulder and my bras last a year before giving up on life, as opposed to before my reduction, when I had a three-month window before the weight of the boobies took over…”

6. Social life

“People still stare, make obnoxious comments and oggle at my boobs; but because I’m more confident in myself and know that they’re not as giant as they were, it means I can stand proud, be less self-conscious and not feel like I’m a giant walking boob.”

7. Sleeping

“Sleeping with big boobs is ridiculous. When you lie on your back you feel like they’re suffocating you as they either roll up to you chin, or flop onto your sides like the parting of the sea. Side-sleeping isn’t much better as your cleavage goes up to your neck and gets hot and sweaty… and let’s not even talk about lying on your tum. Smoosh central. So with a smaller chest, sleep isn’t as difficult.”

8. Comfort

“I’m not saying I’m a prancing ball of comfort or anything, but straight up, I don’t struggle with my bra and clothes, I don’t lose crisps and crumbs into the deep abyss that was my cleavage, people stare less, hit them accidentally while hand-talking less, and seat belts fit comfortably between them now. Which is nice.”

9. My parents

“I think the worst thing for a parent is to see your child in pain. Both of my parents felt helpless, but did whatever they could to make me feel better about what I looked like and how I felt (thanks guys). Your fam and friends go through rough times with you and we are so lucky to have these people in our lives. Mine saw me gain confidence and be a happier person because of this ordeal.”

10. Helping others

“The best thing I did for myself was following my gut and getting my boob reduction. Other girls struggling with the decision shouldn’t go through it alone. This is a major decision that should not be taken lightly as this surgery is not for everyone. If I can give just one girl some comfort by sharing my own personal experience then that is definitely one of the best things about getting one.”

If you want to find out more about boob reductions, take a look at the NHS website.

Illustration: Katie Edmunds

Period pain can be horrible, we all know that. But sometimes it goes beyond the constant, dull, throbbing ache or sudden shooting pain that can be relieved with a hot water bottle, some painkillers and a lot of chocolate.

Endometriosis is, basically, a condition where your period pain is really, really bad – so bad it affects your everyday life, even when you’re not on your period. It’s a super-complicated condition (even experts don’t fully know all about it) but it’s surprisingly common, with one in 10 women in the UK suffering from it.

Despite how unfortunately common it is, it’s really hard to get diagnosed with endometriosis. The average time it can take to get diagnosed is 7.5 years. We know, that sounds awful and quite scary. BUT that’s why we’re here! Let’s all get swotted up on endometriosis, so if you or someone you know finds themselves in this situation, you can get tested and diagnosed faster.

So how do I know if I have endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis vary, but they can include: really painful, heavy, or irregular periods that can’t be eased; irritation or pain when going for a wee or poo; being tired all the time; pain in your pelvis, or pelvic area; and back or leg pain.

Some people with endometriosis may have all of these symptoms, and some may have just one or two. Some might have completely different symptoms altogether. But the main thing to look out for is really painful and irregular periods.

How do you get it in the first place?

Here’s where it all gets really sciencey and complicated. Ready?

Endometriosis is caused by cells outside of your uterus behaving like ones inside your uterus. Copycats, right? When you’re on your period, these cells kick in too and bleed, just like your uterus. But because there’s nowhere for this blood to go, it becomes scar tissue which can cause the really bad pain.

Why do these cells do this? Nobody knows. There are some fancy theories but the bottom line is: there is no definite cause. It just happens. C’est la vie. All you can do is focus on getting yourself treated, and not worry about why it’s happened to you rather than perfect Megan from up the road. 

Is it treatable?

Yes. Endometriosis is treatable, but sadly not (yet) curable. Hopefully that will come when the experts figure out how and why these dastardly cells start to behave in their periody ways.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Endometriosis is when cells outside of your uterus act like the ones inside your uterus, causing a lot of pain and discomfort. It affects 1 in 10 women in the UK.
  • If you have super painful, heavy, or irregular periods, get yourself to your GP for testing. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about – they deal with this, and worse, all the time.
  • There are multiple treatments and you CAN find the right one for you. It might take time, but you’ll get there.
  • Periods suck. Sometimes.

There are a few treatments available depending on your age and the types of symptoms you have.

Pain relief

Hopefully your GP can help you find the right balance of pain relief methods. There might be certain painkillers that work for you, as well as physiotherapy and heat comfort (hot water bottles or a hot bath). There are also pain clinics in some hospitals that support those with chronic pain, and your GP may be able to refer you.

Hormone treatment

The dodgy cells with endometriosis respond to oestrogen, the female hormone, so you may be able to try some hormone treatments in an attempt to reduce or block your body’s production of oestrogen.

Surgery

This is obviously a more extreme option. You may be able to have surgery to remove any of the scar tissue that endometriosis has caused.

I think I might have it. What can I do?

Don’t panic. Endometriosis can sound scary, painful, and complicated, but it’s a common condition and is treatable. If you think you may have it, speak to an adult you trust – whether that’s your mum, dad, auntie, teacher, friend’s parent, school nurse or other helpful adult. They should not only be good at sorting the practical stuff, but they’re great for emotional support too. (You could be in for extra chocolate, if you’re lucky.)

Next, you’ll need a GP appointment. You can talk through your symptoms, and all the wonderful knowledge you have of endometriosis thanks to this article, and hopefully kickstart some testing.

Remember, there’s nothing to be scared or embarrassed about when speaking to someone about your body problems. We all have bodies and they all do crazy things. You definitely don’t have to suffer with your problematic period and unruly uterus alone.

@louisejonesetc 

I am about to break a silence that has lasted some eighteen years. I am about to tell you something I have never told my best friends. I have never told my mother. I have never told a doctor.

Are we all ready?

When I was a teenager, for a while I had a bad thing happening in my nipular area. I don’t know how long it lasted, all I remember is that it felt like years.

Here are the basic details:

I have had eczema all my life. When I was a kid, it only ever showed up in my elbows and behind my knees and the doctor told me I’d probably grow out of it. Oh, doctor. You sweet, naive fool, if only you had been right. I think of that alternate-universe Janina, from time to time. The Janina who can buy moisturiser freely and without fear, experimenting with joy instead of sticking with that one brand that seems to work consistently most of the time (Aveeno, by the way). She must be so happy.

While the rashy patches on my legs and arms did fade, they were replaced by weirder, more painful, less predictable rashes literally everywhere else. When the weather is hot, for example, I get pompholyx on my hands and the soles of my feet. This particular brand of eczema consists of tiny, itchy blisters that recently saw me tear my shoes off mid-exercise and clutch my feet in agony. My shoulders, neck and back are popular sites also, which can make wearing a bra downright painful.

But nothing has ever been so bad as the Year of the Nip.

It started slowly. A weeping crack here, a weeping crack there. First the left nipple, then the right. Eventually, the peaks atop my boobs were more weeping crack than nipple. Literally a pair of open sores on my chest.

It was unpleasant.

They would dry onto the fabric of my clothes and I’d rip them open every time I got changed. So I put plasters on them, obviously. But friends, my nipples were too much for your common-or-garden plaster. I had to find an upgrade.

It is at this point that a doctor might have been able to help me. Doctors are good at helping with this kind of thing. But I was young and embarrassed and I couldn’t figure out how I would tell anyone what was happening in the secret confines of my underwire.

So I MacGyvered a solution. I chopped a sanitary pad in half, and put a half in each cup. I slathered them in emollient cream and prayed for salvation. It wasn’t perfect. They would slide around sometimes. I would find one making an escape towards my cleavage, and be flooded with fear that someone had seen it poking out from my t-shirt.

The thing here is, that it was happening elsewhere as well. Specifically, to my lips. I’d had to take a full two weeks off school, because my face had basically exploded – I had conjunctivitis, a cold sore that made my jaw swell to three times its size, and lip-eczema that had left my lips so raw they had – brace yourselves – scabbed themselves shut.

You would think that, given all the highly visible grossness that was happening one floor up, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to say, ‘oh, hey, also my boobs are revolting right now!’ But sometimes it’s difficult to talk about boobs, in that kind of way.

We can talk about cleavage and cup size, of course, we can talk about plunge and balcony and lace and underwire, and how few people wear the right size bra. We can talk about how to feel for lumps – in theory, at least. But talking about things being really wrong in that area is scary. Or if it’s not scary it’s shameful.

There is one thing every teenage girl knows to be true: boobs are important. Apparently. They mean you’re growing up, they are the most obvious thing that might make you desirable – if something goes wrong with them, does that mean you no longer are?

Added to that is the fact that we only hear about things going wrong with boobs if it’s really serious, so when you think about boob health, the first, terrifying, thing you think of is cancer. But little things can go wrong too. No one talks about the infected ingrown hair they once had on their left breast, or all the other small problems that might seem huge at the time.

The happy ending here is that, eventually, my disgusting nipples healed. I am still scared they’ll come back, of course, but if they do I think I might just be brave enough to go to the doctor about it.

And for a silver lining, after all that, periodically plucking out long black nipple hairs doesn’t seem like that big a deal at all.

@j9andlf

Let’s go back to basics! What actually is a period? Here are some answers you will probably get from your over-sharing aunt and your weird school nurse:

“It’s when you become a woman.” Bleurgh.

“It’s a miracle.” Oh please.

“It’s your body’s way of showing it’s ready for a baby.”

WHAT?! Doesn’t my brain get a say? I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHERE I PUT MY MATHS HOMEWORK.

Breathe. Here’s the actual science.

Period blood isn’t like the blood that comes out of your body when you cut your elbow making an awesome save in football, or graze your knee tripping over a doormat. We call it ‘blood’ because frankly that’s less hassle than referring to it as ‘menstrual fluid and womb lining’, but that would be a bit more accurate.

Over the course of your menstrual cycle, progesterone causes the lining of your uterus to grow thicker with extra blood and tissue, making it extra cosy and snug in case a fertilised egg shows up and wants to become a baby.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Over the course of your menstrual cycle, progesterone makes the lining of your uterus grow thicker with extra blood and tissue, in case a pregnancy occurs.
  • If it doesn’t, as your hormone levels fall, the extra blood and tissue fall away and leave your body as your period. Wooo.
  • Just because your body is technically ready to have a baby, it doesn’t mean you have to be ‘a woman’ anytime soon.

If that hasn’t happened by about the 21st day of your menstrual cycle, your hormones will decide it’s time for their monthly clean-out. Then the lining of your womb comes away and leaves your body through your vagina. The bits of tissue can make things look less like tomato ketchup and more like chutney, if you get our drift….

Part of getting your period is your body showing that it’s able to have a baby. So if you are going to have sex and don’t want a tiny screaming person to take care of nine months later, you need to make sure you always use protection (condoms are also pretty crucial for preventing the spread of gross diseases).

But obviously, just because your body is ready, it doesn’t mean the rest of you is anywhere near. After all, you’ve still got your maths homework to find.

Moral of the story?

Don’t let your over-sharing aunt and your weird school nurse freak you out. But if you’re confused it’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust, even if it’s just to ask about what products they use.

Also, we give you full permission to roll your eyes at anyone who says your period is a miracle. I mean, it kind of is – but there’s no need to get sappy about it.

Image: Kate Forster

This week a betty girl has written in because she’s worried about her discharge. Dr Yaz is on hand to talk about what you should and shouldn’t be worried about, and what you should do if your discharge changes.
Got a question for Dr Yaz? Email dryaz@betty.me

Growing up I used every excuse under the sun to get out of exercise. From worrying about the way my body looked to complaining I wasn’t any good at sport, I wiggled my way out of PE, after school clubs and even walking to the corner shop (“muuuum, can you give me a lift?”).

But now? Now, nothing will stop me trying out new gym classes and pushing myself until I’ve sweat so much I look like I’ve jumped in a swimming pool. Gross. But kind of amazing.

So what’s changed? In short, my attitude. I have the same body, of course, but it’s stronger, fitter and more adventurous – I’ve just changed my mindset. And I’m not the only one. According to recent figures from Sport England, more than 7.2 million women now play sport and do regular physical activity. Female sports participation has never been so high.

Sport England’s ground-breaking ‘This Girl Can’ campaign is partly responsible for that, as the numbers have increased by more than 250,000 since the advert first aired.

The adverts – which showed all different shapes and sizes, huffing and puffing – spoke directly to a nation of women and girls who have been brainwashed into worrying incessantly about what their bodies look like, forgetting that it’s what their bodies can do that really matters.

Too many women and girls associate exercise with burning calories to attain a certain body type. This, I think, is unhealthy. Then exercise becomes a chore or punishment, rather than a way to make yourself feel good both inside and out. In January we’re bombarded with negative messages about weight loss, diets and fitness, when really you should work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.

So, as a once-upon-a-time lazy girl, here are my top tips to help you learn to love exercise…

1. Find the right exercise for you

Whether that’s gym classes, joining a sports team or taking up hobbies you had when you were a child. The key is to enjoy what you’re doing. Remember: everyone is different, so just because your bestie loves being on the hockey team, it doesn’t mean you will. Don’t be afraid to try new things, or revisit old passions. Did you love climbing trees as a kid? Try rock climbing. Always cartwheeling in the playground? Yoga might be for you. Pummelling your little brother until your mum had to separate you? Boxing might be your calling! No but seriously. And if you were amazing at running away from your parents when you got into trouble, a free 5km race with Park Run is the grown-up equivalent…

2. Don’t count calories

Exercise should be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, not a diet or workout plan that restricts you or punishes you. Also, not all calories are created equal – a few biscuits and an avocado might have the same amount of calories, but their nutritional value couldn’t be more different. Follow this pro nutritional advice instead and exercise a few times a week, but hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. Eat the pizza and ice cream, but also make sure you don’t forget your greens.

3. Don’t try to run before you can walk

Literally, take baby steps. Set yourself realistic goals and alter them as you go along to keep challenging yourself. There is no point signing up for a 5km race if you haven’t run an inch since that time you you nearly missed the last train home. You’ll get there, you just need to pace yourself. If you’ve got a dog, take it for a brisk walk in the evenings. Don’t have a dog? This is a perfect time to beg your parents for one (which might also work up a sweat, depending how much drama you can muster).

4. Stretch

Make sure you stretch thoroughly after working out to avoid injury or aches and pains. I’d recommend stretching for about 30 seconds with each stretch. It might feel like a long time, but your body will thank you for it. (Top tip: do it in front of the TV as a distraction if you’re bored.)

5. Get to know your body

Get to know what feels good (and what feels bad) for your own body. Shock horror, exercise needn’t be torture. Of course, no one likes rainy PE lessons doing cross-country, but when you call the shots there’s no need to make it unenjoyable or, even worse, dangerous. If something hurts, stop. If you’re tired, just wait and exercise the next day. Be kind and go easy on yourself, but also push yourself when you feel able – and one of these days, you might just realise you’re loving it.

@Brogan_Driscoll

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Eating breakfast is good for you, but in the rush of wrestling with your hair and sneakily finishing your History homework it can be hard to find time to make something delicious. Overnight oats take five minutes to make and as you prep them them the night before, you’ve got no excuse to tuck into a healthy breakfast of oats, dairy and fruit before you head to school.

This video shows you how to make overnight oats and gives you four recipes to try – which is your favourite?

APPLE AND PEAR
50g rolled oats
100ml milk
1/2 apple, grated
1/2 pear, grated
A pinch of nutmeg to taste

MANGO AND COCONUT
50g rolled oats
120ml coconut milk
100g mango chunks
Two tablespoons of chia seeds

RASPBERRIES AND CHOCOLATE
50g rolled oats
150g natural yogurt
Handful of frozen raspberries
A sprinkle of chocolate chips

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA
50g rolled oats
120ml almond milk
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1 sliced banana

We know there are loads of reasons why you might feel a little stressed. Whether you forgot your maths homework, your period started and made you feel really grumpy or you’ve woken up with a bunch of spots and have a party to go to at the weekend. Or all of them. At the same time. Sigh.

There’s that saying your nan comes out with sometimes: “When it rains, it pours.” Really does seem to be true sometimes, doesn’t it? And often that feeling that there’s just so much going on can make the best of us feel stressed out. Some people get snappy, some find their chest feels a bit tight and it’s difficult to breathe properly and others just feel really, really sad.

Well, unfortunately we can’t do your homework for you, stop your period from showing up or magically make your pimples disappear (we really wish we could too). But what we can do is share some of our top tips for dealing with things a little better when life gets OTT.

And it all starts with a technique called mindfulness.

You might have heard the word before, when people talk about meditating. But don’t worry. You don’t have to get out incense and a yoga mat and start chanting. There are way more doable (and not to mention way more fun) ways to help you chill the hell out.

What mindfulness means, simply, is that you pay close attention to what’s going on. Whether that’s thoughts, sounds or just what you’re doing. Sounds simple, right? Here are five ways to use mindfulness as a secret superpower to combat your stress:

1. Breathe. More. And deeply.

Sure, it sounds like silly advice to breathe more. Everyone breathes, right? But often when you’re feeling sad or like you have too much on your mind, you tend to either breathe too quickly or even hold your breath. You know what this does? It causes your body to freak out. It thinks something bad is happening and makes you feel light-headed, your palms sweat and everything feels way less manageable.

But we all have control over our breath. Even when it feels like we don’t.

A good place to start is breathing in for five seconds. Holding your breath for three seconds. Then breathing out for five seconds. It sounds so simple. But just by counting your breath you’re shifting focus from feeling sad to breathing deeply, so your body doesn’t go into panic mode. Let’s call it the 5-3-5 trick.

2. Get back to nature (or whatever’s outside)

You probably already know that taking a walk outside when you’re feeling stressed can help you. It takes you out of whatever irritating situation you’re in and gets you moving. But next time you go for a walk, really pay attention to what’s around you, as well as how your feet feel.

Yep, that sounds funny but if you can notice ten things about your walk and name them, like ‘rusty red leaves’ or ‘black cat’ you’ll find yourself focusing on that and not feeling as stressed. We’ll call this one… walking for 10. For 10 minutes. Finding 10 things. We bet that’ll be all it takes for you to get your thinking back on track.

3. Think with your feet

The same goes for how your feet feel. Ever thought about how your feet feel when you walk? [Bear with us…] Feeling the way they touch the ground. Paying attention to the heaviness of your feet and even counting your steps is a great practice in mindfulness too. Taking you out of your own head and doing something else with that awesome little brain of yours, rather than worry. Feel those heavy feet. Really, f e e l them.

4. Do something really, really slowly

You don’t need to space out to relax. Or to take a walk. Or even to breathe (although we recommend you always do keep breathing, please). You can just get on with your normal daily routine, but pick one or two things to really focus on.

Whether you’re making tea or eating a chocolate button, next time you do it don’t just do it automatically or in a daze. Take a deep breath and do it slowly. If you’re making tea, watch the water pour out carefully. Count how long it takes to pour it. If you’re holding a chocolate button, feel it in your hand first and even smell it. Try and notice ten things about what you’re doing instead of letting your mind race. Do things slow. Reeeeal slow.

5. Listen to your favourite song

Music can have such a powerful affect on us all. A jolly track can send us into a happy, bouncy state. But a sad song can make us feel a bit mopey and weepy. Whatever music you choose to listen to, we recommend being really mindful about it.

Put your favourite song on and pay attention to it. Simple. Think you already pay attention to it? Think again. Notice all of the lyrics, the beats, the rhythm, the different instruments. Imagine you’re in a music class and you need to pull out all of the different bits of the song. It’ll keep your mind nice and focused. Pull that song apart. 

Dance to it, if you fancy. Stress? What stress?

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Getty

We’ve all been there. The good intentions, the 12 minutes of exercise and then… the sweat.

Whether it’s the telltale drip-drip-drip down the small of your back that you know is about to go full touch-and-reveal on your new t-shirt, or whether it’s just getting up from some equipment in the gym and seeing your own butt imprint left in sweat, the wet stuff can really be a buzzkill.

Kat Jennings sweat patches

Whether you’re trying to exercise, dancing like a maniac at the weekend or simply… enjoying a sunny day, sweat can feel like a sneaky shaming pal, dobbing you in just when you thought you were going to have a good time. Except it isn’t a false friend. It’s actually clever, useful and kind of amazing – it’s just that we have convinced ourselves it’s the stuff of evil.

Ok, so no one wants to be wandering around looking like they’ve just been hosed down by a fireman, and no one wants to stink all afternoon just because they took their bike to the shops, but to know sweat is – if not to love it – then at least to fear it a little bit less.

So what’s the (g)lowdown on sweat?

Basically, sweating is our body’s way of regulating temperature. We each have 2-5 million sweat glands dotted around our bodies, and they release the damp mixture of proteins, salt and water onto our skin. The process of this liquid evaporating is what cools us down – as you’ll know if you’ve ever got off a crowded bus and felt your top clinging to you like an ice sheath as you hit the cold outdoors.

Despite what we think, there aren’t more sweat glands in, um, ‘moist’ places like our armpits or our groin – it’s just that those areas are harder to get air circulating around to evaporate the liquid. And not all sweat glands are the same, either. Most are ‘eccrine’ sweat glands, which are kicked into action by excess heat, but some are ‘apocrine’ ones, which are stimulated by emotional responses like stress or excitement. Weirdly, that sweat actually smells a little different from the stuff prompted by eccrine glands.

sweating yoga

But the weirdest fact is that sweat itself doesn’t actually smell at all. Ok maybe if you had 10 garlic cloves in your dinner you might smell a bit like a French bistro in the morning, but the smell we associate with sweat is actually the bacteria on our skin breaking down the acids in our sweat. Its medical term is bromhidrosis and it’s totally normal. But if you want to get rid of the sweaty pong, the simplest way is to get in the shower: if you’ve got the post-sport sweat off your skin within an hour or so of exercising, that bromhidrosis isn’t going to be wafting around after you all day. If you wait till bedtime to get clean, it just might.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

What else can we do to master this soggy mistress? Well, not that much, but perhaps that is because we need sweat.

And we really do. Why else do we feel so great after a good run, a dance-off in our bedroom or even a chance to sit in the sauna at the gym? Because sweating flushes out loads of the crud on our skin’s surface, cools us down so we don’t pass out at the gym or on the bus, as well as letting us know if something serious is up in terms of illness.

So while we needn’t commit to a lifetime of honking up every small room we enter, we shouldn’t be ashamed of the odd bit of sweat either. After all, look at how many advertising images have artfully sprayed ‘sexy’ sweat onto both men and women, how proud athletes look at their sweat as they finish an event – or even how nice it feels to know that our body, without even being asked, is doing exactly what it needs to.

Now if only we could do the same for our feelings, we’d be sorted.

@Hemmo

Oh, spots. You enigmas.

We can squeeze you, prod you and ignore you – but we just wish we could understand you. If we could only sit down for a good heart-to-heart, here are a few of the burning questions we might ask.

1. “Why?”

The first word that springs to mind the moment you catch sight of the monster staring belligerently at you in the mirror. Just why, you ask desperately – and for a while, this bleak three-lettered word is really all you can think. Facts about sebaceous glands, stress and hormones can’t reason with it.

But eventually the blind panic subsides into more nuanced questions like…

2. “Why me?”

It’s hard to answer. Spots are caused by all sorts of complex reasons – see above – but if there’s one thing we can assure you of, it is not because the universe hates you. It seems that way right now, but this has everything to do with chemicals that everyone has – and nothing whatsoever to do with you personally.

Pimples (a slightly more technical term for the little terrors) appear when oil-producing glands become clogged and infected. This could be hormones causing you to produce more oil; it could because your fingers or a hat or scarf you’ve been wearing has been irritating your face. It’s unlikely to be a product – most are tested for that these days – and probably not your diet either, whatever certain people in your family and friendship circles might tell you.

3. “Why now?”

Because, hormones. They’ve the starring roles in the film Period – and if you’re feeling them, chances are it’s heading to a cinema near you shortly. Testosterone levels are generally higher in puberty, and as that’s believed to increase oil production, it means you could get spots any time. Rest assured this has nothing to do with the fact you’ve a date tomorrow night, and it doesn’t mean said date is automatically doomed either.

4. “Are you as obvious to other people as you are in my head?”

Is Vesuvius erupting on your forehead? Is there real lava and people running away you screaming? Then no, he (spots are always he) isn’t.

Other people probably haven’t even noticed it. But that won’t stop you capturing every conceivable angle another human could see your face at in the mirror and on your phone camera, and begging friends, “but what about the south south west-facing aspect of my chin??”, of course.

volcano

5. “When will you make for good pick?”

Officially, of course, the answer to this is ‘never’. But we know that no sooner has the offending spot appeared than you are assessing his fitness for picking: prodding and stroking, dreaming of past victories, and comparing their colour and feel. Weirdly – grossly –  it’s actually a very similar process to that of feeling if a fruit is ripe: you will know innately when the moment comes. The challenge is holding off until it then. Strike too soon, and you’ll blow your chances of great picking for good.

6. “Why did you pretend to be ready when you weren’t?”

He looked so promising and pickable! Now he’s just a messy, painful blob. Ow. Liar.

7. “Can I hide you?”

The sensible seventh question one can only arrive at having wailed one’s way through the first six – to which the answer is that it varies according to the spot you have. If you leave him bare, he will heal quicker – but provided the spot is not, in the least gross possible way, leaking, then if you want to cover up with some concealer (or a big scarf) go for it. Just ensure you choose your product wisely…

scarf

8. “Why the hell won’t you just stay covered?” 

In short, not all concealers are born equal. Indeed, some are so ineffective they succeed in creating more of a blemish than the one they’re supposed to be concealing: all too vividly do I remember one teacher telling me that I had “a splodge of mud, dear, on the centre of your chin.”

So do your research: ask friends, family, magazines, the woman at the make up counter, what they recommend for your blemishes. You’ll cut not just the amount of time you have a spot, but the amount you spend checking, and thinking about checking, and – after you have checked – obsessing about the way the spot is blooming though your cloudy concealer like a full moon.

9. “How long are you here for?”

You beg to know, every single time you meet it in the mirror. There is no clear answer, but one’s thing for certain: the longer you pick, prod and fill him with rubbish concealer, the longer you’ll be having this conversation. Like so many bullies, the best way to deal with a spot is to not engage.

10. “Is this it for the rest of my life?”

Now for the good news. Though you will probably run into the odd one from time to time, once puberty’s done and dusted the most offending spots will plague your younger siblings (who’s laughing now, brother?) and leave your skin in peace.

peace

See ya, tiny pal. So glad we had this chat.

@finney_clare