Simple Ways To Manage Your Blood Pressure

If you want to live a healthy life it's important to have blood pressure within the ideal range. Blood pressure is the level of force that your heart uses to pump your blood around the body. If your blood pressure is high (hypertension), it can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If your blood pressure is low (hypotension) it can cause problems too such as fainting, feeling sick or dizziness. High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher in general whilst low blood pressure is considered to be a measurement 90/60mmHg or lower.

If you have any symptoms of high or low blood pressure it is important to get your blood pressure checked by a doctor or nurse in the first instance. I know the importance of this as I used to be a nurse. You can also get your blood pressure checked at some pharmacies too. You will then be advised on what you need to do to keep your blood pressure in check, including diet, exercise and lifestyle changes you can make. In extreme cases, you may be told to make an appointment with a doctor who can prescribe medication.

As high blood pressure is more common than low blood pressure with over 16 million people in the UK affected and it can cause more serious health problems, I will focus on simple ways to manage your high blood pressure in this article.

Managing high blood pressure

If you have any symptoms of high blood pressure such as regular headaches, nosebleeds and dizziness it is important to see your doctor. If you are over the age of 40 you are also advised to have your blood pressure checked every five years. Many people as they get older get high blood pressure and don't even realise it so it's so important to get it checked out on a regular basis. 

Eating a healthy diet

A diet high in fruit and vegetables, and low in fat is good for you and has many health benefits including helping you maintain a healthy weight which in turn will help lower your blood pressure. There are a number of food supplements that could help with your blood pressure too such as garlic and fish oil and African mango. If you are looking for an African mango supplement manufacturer check out this link. 

Cutting down on salt

A diet high in salt can cause raised blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Read up on how much salt is bad for you and check the food labels. Avoid adding salt at the table and use herbs and spices to flavour food.

Losing weight

If you are above your BMI, your ideal weight for health, you should consider losing weight. The NHS weight loss plan is one way of losing weight at a slow and steady rate. Joining a slimming club has also been shown to help motivate people and keep the weight off too.

Taking regular physical exercise

The NHS recommends taking regular physical exercise to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Physical exercise can improve the feeling of well being and is good for your heart as well as lowering blood pressure. Check out the exercise guidelines for adults and see if you can fit it into your routine.

Stopping smoking

Smoking raises blood pressure and can cause a range of health conditions and illnesses such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes. If you are a smoker there is a lot of help out there for you to stop, and your doctor can refer you to a stop smoking clinic or prescribe medication, gum or patches to help you too.

Managing stress

Stress can raise blood pressure on a temporary basis so try to tackle ways of managing stress for a better lifestyle. Avoid stressful situations if you can, delegate responsibility in work, take regular exercise, and use relaxation techniques to help. CBD oil has been shown to help significantly with stress and interestingly, may also help with high blood pressure according to recent studies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that meditation techniques could help to manage stress so it's worth looking into this if you have a stressful life.

Taking medication as prescribed

Lastly, if your doctor prescribes medication for high blood pressure be sure to take it. You may feel totally well but medication can lower your blood pressure and prevent it from getting any higher.

As always, these are just guidelines - always take the advice of your doctor. For further information also check out this advice on high blood pressure from the NHS.

*Collaborative post

How To Hold A Summery Cocktail Party In Winter

Winter is here and you may be dreaming of warm sunny days and holidays. I know I am! The cold, wet weather can really get you down, can't it? However, there are things you can do to cheer yourself up, booking a holiday for one. If you don't have the budget, another way to invoke a feeling of summer is with a summery garden cocktail party.  So here are some things you need to do to create that summer feeling and hold a summery cocktail party to wow your friends.

Cosy does it

Firstly, ensure the environment is cosy. You can do this by providing shelter, with a garden tent or add some patio heaters and firepits. No one wants to be cold. Having blankets at hand will ensure everyone is comfortable, and this brings me onto the next point - seating.

Plenty of seating

For your party, plenty of seating is great, so you can relax and chat rather than standing the whole time. A mix of garden benches and chairs works well. Sloane and Sons garden benches are ideal for this. In fact, anything you have in your home will do if you are stuck, even beanbags and laundry chests. Just be sure that people are comfy with plenty of cushions and throws if need be. 

Get the food in

Food is important especially if you are serving alcohol. Go for some easy to eat but tasty party food like sliders, pigs in blankets, mini pizzas or mouth sized kebabs. You could always think of a country, such as Spain and serve tapas and sangria or Italy and serve bruschetta and prosecco. The World is your oyster.

It's all about the cocktails

A designated bar area is a great idea. Get your equipment together in advance - a table to put the wines, spirits and mixers, perhaps a coolbox for ice, a cocktail shaker, a measure for spirits and some garnishes for cocktails. It's a good idea to stick to one or two types of cocktails to make it easy or why not create a cocktail list? Check what ingredients you need beforehand and get everything you need in and prepped. If you want to show off, practice so you know you can make a good Mojito or Tequila Sunrise. to wow your friends. 

For some simple cocktails check out the infographic below.

Infographic showing various ways of making different cocktails So here are some ways to hold a summery cocktail party in Winter. Have you ever held a party in your garden?

How To Save Money When Shopping Online

Consumerism has appeared to increase in recent times. Technology has indeed made the world a small global village because you can shop online for certain goods regardless of geographical location. The use of the internet, therefore, offers you with a wider selection of goods and services. It also offers you many opportunities that will enable you to save the pounds. Here are tips on how to save money when shopping online.

Do you need it?

Before you commit yourself to buying anything online, it is important for you to take a moment and think about it. Do you really need the item and are you getting the best price? At times it may cheaper to buy the item locally rather than buying online, so always shop around as making rushed decisions could cost you. 

Compare prices

You should look for sites that compare prices. This will help you make the best decision. There are loads of different comparison sites out there depending on the product you are looking for.  Top tip - one way is to type the product you are after into Google and go to the shopping section for the results, this will bring up prices from Google shopping.

Shipping costs

It is also important to consider the shipping costs. Some companies do not charge anything when they ship the product whilst others will charge. When buying a product online, check out the total cost with delivery added.  With free or cheaper delivery you may not get your product instantly but the discount on delivery will save you a lot over time.

Ditch the brand mentality

Another way to save money is to ditch the brand mentality. Certain big name brands charge a lot for their items and it's not because of quality. Money goes into advertising and building the brand name. If you are watching what you spend, look for cheaper alternatives. If, however, only that brand will do, spread the cost with catalogues that offer pay weekly or pay monthly credit options. If you have bad credit this may be one way of paying for a big purchase.

Shop in the sales

Shopping in the sales is a great way of saving money online. Sign up to companies email lists to be the first to know about offers and sales, so you can grab a bargain quickly before items go out of stock. 

Lastly, always think twice when giving out your debit card details online. Some unscrupulous dealers might use this information to defraud you. Do not just buy from any website just because you are shopping online. To shop safely online, you should, first of all, determine the authenticity of the websites in question before making payment. Look for the padlock symbol on the payment page for example and pay using a credit card or Paypal as you will have more protection than paying with your debit card.  Even after you have made a payment, it is advisable that you check your bank statements to determine how much you have been charged. Bring up anything out of the ordinary with your bank straight away.

So here are some ways on how to save money when shopping online. Do you know any hints or tips?

*Guest post 

Travelling With An Emotional Support Animal

For people living with a mental illness or mental disability, daily tasks as simple as getting dressed or leaving the house can become difficult to manage. More stressful situations, like travelling, can become nigh-on impossible without special support.

Luckily, there is an increasingly popular, non-medicated aid that more and more people are coming to rely on: emotional support animals. Here, I will cover everything you’ll need to know about flying with an emotional support animal, from the laws (and exceptions) to preparing your emotional support animal for travel.

What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a domesticated animal that helps its owner to deal with the symptoms of a diagnosed mental illness or psychological disability, such as anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, or depression.

Emotional support animals are a type of assistance animal (i.e. an animal that helps people), along with service animals like guide dogs or seizure response dogs. The difference between emotional support animals and service animals is that while service animals are specially trained to perform a specific task for their handler, ESAs do not need any special training: they just need to be able to make their owner feel safe, calm and loved.

In the US there are laws that apply to both service animals and ESAs, while others apply to service animals only. In the UK emotional support animals are not recognised as certified assistance animals although some airlines will allow dogs as ESA animals - Virgin, Easyjet and Ryanair namely but check in advance that this is still the case, as you will have to inform them prior to travel.

In The US

The only way to get an ESA is to be prescribed one by a licensed mental health professional who is treating you. They will do this by writing you an ESA letter, stating that you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or emotional disability and that the animal is necessary for your ongoing treatment.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous retailers are attempting to cash in on the growing popularity in emotional support animals by selling fake, “no-questions-asked” ESA letters or offering to “certify” your pet as an ESA. Sadly, many people fall prey to these scams every year, only finding out that their ESA letters were not valid when they are refused boarding. Avoid that kind of stress by going with a legitimate emotional support animal registration that will help to connect you with licensed mental health professionals in your sta

Legal protection for travelling with an ESA

For people whose condition makes travelling difficult, bringing an emotional support animal along can make all the difference. But what about airlines that charge a fee for pets, or those that don’t allow pets in the cabin? Luckily, there is specific legal protection in place to help people with disabilities who need to travel with assistance animals: the Air Carrier Access Act.

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Acces Act (ACAA) is a piece of legislation in the US, that is in place to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination while flying on commercial airlines. The ACAA makes lots of provisions aimed at making life easier for people with both mental and physical disabilities while flying. One of these is granting them the right to travel with a service animal or emotional support animal on commercial airlines, bringing it into the cabin with them even when pets are not permitted. The Act also exempts assistance animals from pet fees.

There are a few important exceptions to the ACAA, in which case airlines are entitled to turn away ESAs: 

  1. Many airlines require a valid and up-to-date ESA letter as proof of your animal’s status. Some require this to be submitted in advance, in addition to a veterinary certificate. 
  2. Any animal that is deemed unclean, that is not properly housebroken, or that is behaving aggressively or disruptively can be refused. 
  3. Some airlines limit their definitions of what breeds and species count as ESAs. 
  4. Some refuse to carry reptiles, rodents, or insects, while others limit it to dogs and cats only. Make sure you check that your ESA will be accepted before you book!
5 Tips on Getting Your ESA Ready to Travel

1. If your ESA isn’t used to being in crowded places, build up their exposure gradually to avoid any undue stress. Try taking it to animal-friendly shopping malls, or even to the public areas of an airport. Remember to bring lots of treats to reward good behaviour and make it a positive experience!

2. Taking your ESA on buses or trains can be another way to get it used to being in transit. Practice having it sit quietly at your feet or on your lap, and, as always, make sure you reward good behaviour!

3. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian well in advance of travelling. Ask for a general check-up to make sure it is fit to travel. This is also a good opportunity to ensure that the animal has all the necessary vaccinations and to get a veterinary certificate if required. Finally, make sure you have a stock of any medication your animal will need during the trip, as well as a prescription for vet-approved travel sickness medication. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

4. Animals can sense when we’re stressed, and none more than emotional support animals. Make sure you get everything packed and ready well in advance—including all your necessary paperwork—to avoid last-minute worry.

5. On the day you travel, try to keep your routine with your ESA as close to normal as possible—especially feeding and bathroom breaks. Most airports have special relief areas for assistance animals, so check in advance where these are.

Travelling with an emotional support animal can help to ease the stress and worry of flying for people living with mental illnesses or disabilities. Of course, the support of your GP or a counselling service like those provided by BetterHelp is also important, but the support of an ESA should not be underestimated.

However, before you travel, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the rules and legislation. Not only will this help to keep your journey smooth and stress-free, but it will also make the journey easier on your fellow passengers.

*Guest post

Dealing With Sadness, Loneliness And Depression At Christmas

Depression is an awful illness, and whether it's clinical depression or brought on by circumstances, such as bereavement, divorce, or work stress, at Christmas things can feel even worse.

I used to be a Registered Mental Nurse and I know how hard it can be for people at Christmas. Although everyone is different, here are suggestions of things you can do that could possibly help, if you or others you know suffer from sadness, loneliness and depression at this time of year. 

Self-help techniques

Don't expect perfection

You may feel like everyone is having a perfect Christmas, but that's just not the case. Nobody's life is perfect so have realistic expectations. Expect some arguments if you have family get-togethers, it's only natural if you have a group of people together. It's good however to avoid trigger topics that you know always cause upset.

Avoid excesses of alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant so avoid binging on alcohol which can make symptoms worse. If you are going to have a drink, make sure you eat first so that it doesn't affect you so fast, and have soft drinks in between alcoholic drinks.

Get some exercise

The benefits of exercise on mood are well documented so if you can, get out into the fresh air and get some exercise. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.

Plan for over the Christmas period

Planning what you are going to do especially on days which you know could be trigger points can help. Perhaps there is a film or show on Netflix that always cheers you up or a book that you really want to read, so sort it out in advance so you can indulge when you are feeling low. Maybe you feel better when you are around other people, so check out what family and friends are doing. Maybe there is an online support group or online friends that can help when you are feeling down so check when they are around over Christmas.

Do something for others

Doing good for others can make you feel good too. Maybe there is someone in your street that is lonely at Christmas, why not invite them around for a slice of Christmas cake and a cup of tea, or take some items to the local food bank to help others less fortunate? You could also ask if your charity shop needs any helpers too.

Allow yourself to be happy

Allow yourself to laugh and be happy. If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, they wouldn't want you to be sad, they would want you to get on with your life. It isn't easy for sure but allow yourself to be happy don't feel guilty if you find yourself enjoying some moments over the Christmas period. 

Carry on with the tablets

If you have been put on anti-depressant medication and you feel it isn't working don't stop suddenly, as you may get withdrawal symptoms, instead make an appointment to see your doctor who may review the medication, adjust it or put you on a different medication.

Consider ongoing therapy

You may want to consider therapy if you can't work through your emotions. Therapists are people who are licensed practitioners of mental health care and can help you with mental health problems, family issues and life challenges. Your GP should be able to refer you and, as well as one-to-one therapy in person, you could consider online therapy from a company such as which uses licensed, trained and accreditated counsellors.  

If you are feeling desperate

Remember it's good to talk. Talk to someone you trust like family and friends, that can offer support when you are feeling down. Men are particularly bad at talking about their feelings.

If there is no one you know that will listen, there are organisations that can help you when you are feeling like this too. The Samaritans are always at the end of a phone line, phone calls are free just ring
 116 123,  and it's open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don't have to be suicidal to talk and they offer a non-judgmental ear, someone who will listen at any time. You can also call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment and call 111 for out-of-hours support and help.

If your life is in danger, for example, if you have harmed yourself seriously or have taken an overdose, call 999 or go straight to A and E.

I hope these suggestions are helpful, I wish you a happy and healthy Christmas!

*Collaborative post

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts? Go Classy with Danish Jewellery Design

Trying to navigate through the Christmas rush in order to buy a present for family and loved ones can be quite challenging. If you are doing this last minute, it can be even more daunting. You usually manage to get something in the end, but if you are looking for something classy this Christmas, why not opt for some stunning Danish jewellery design? 

In this article, we will take a look at three top Danish jewellery designers in the world today so you can see for yourself why a piece of jewellery makes the perfect Christmas gift. We’ll also offer you tips to make sure you pick the best piece of jewellery for your loved one.

Getting a Taste of Jewellery Design: 3 Danish Jewellers

1. Sarah Winther

Oxidized Fragment Ring

Sarah has a background in fine arts and combines traditional craft with experimentation, resulting in some of the most unique, long-lasting and powerful pieces of jewellery you will ever come across. Her designs are inspired by the finer details of everyday life — her newest collection, “Formation”, for example, is inspired by worldly formations, from the smallest mineral fragments in nature to social constructs in today’s society. Meanwhile, her collection titled “Crystallography” has its roots in Sarah’s artistic work and experiments with crystallisation and its construction via geometric patterns.

Every piece of jewellery is handcrafted in her workshop in Copenhagen.

Gold Crystal Necklace

2. Goldpoets

Corpus Ring

Goldpoets founder and designer Malene Bie has a background in fine arts and an unusual and distinctive approach to her jewellery.

Each piece of jewellery created by Bie has the soul of a work of art. Inspired by the urban space and Nordic nature, the contrast between the dark winters and bright summers also plays its part when it comes to the form and tactility of each piece and the materials used.

Everything is handcrafted and, therefore, no two pieces of jewellery are the same. Every single piece has been worked on and evaluated by Malene herself to assure the highest quality and craftsmanship for her customers. For a gift that is truly one of a kind, consider showing your love this Christmas with a Goldpoet’s piece.

Dream Spinel Earrings

3. Marlene Juhl Jørgensen

White Desert Necklace

Marlene Juhl Jørgensen received the “Jewellery Brand of the Year” award at the Elle Style Awards in 2016. She is both an accomplished jewellery designer and fashion designer, known for her ability to sense the next zeitgeist.

She draws inspiration from diverse ancient cultures, from the Greeks and their iconic symbols to the Indian Maharajas and Sultans. She describes her pieces as “antique yet enigmatic” and “elegance with an edge.”

Several of her pieces have been worn by the elite, appearing in international films and TV commercials, as well as fashion magazine editorials.

Gold Disk Hoop Earrings

The work of Danish jewellery designers includes some of the most unique and intriguing pieces you will ever see. This makes for a great range of choice if you’re looking for something unusual and unlike anything you’ll encounter on the high street. The quality and uniqueness are unparalleled, but, still, you need to make sure you pick a piece that complements the style of the person you are planning to gift to.

How to Choose the Correct Designer Jewellery for Your Loved One 

So you’ve settled on buying your loved one jewellery this year, but where do you start? The last thing you want is to buy a piece of jewellery that doesn’t suit them and is relegated to the back of a drawer for years to come. We take a look at the things you need to get right for your gift to go down successfully.

Getting the Right Size

When it comes to size, there are two things you need to consider. The first is the actual size of the jewellery. A chunky bangle might look out of place on someone with dainty wrists, just as a grand and bold ring would look strange on someone with small hands. Think of their physique and make sure the piece you go for is proportional. Otherwise, the jewellery will stand out for the wrong reasons.

Secondly, of course, is the fitting size. There’s little more disappointing on Christmas morning than receiving a beautiful ring that doesn’t fit. Many online jewellery stores have printable size charts available that you can reference. In physical shops, some will have measurement tools for accurate sizing.

What if It’s Meant to Be a Surprise?

If you plan on buying a piece of jewellery as a surprise, you’ll need to take stealthy measures to make sure you get the right size. If you are buying a chain, it’s usually safe to opt for an 18-inch chain. This will comfortably fit many, and it’s much better to buy a longer chain than one that’s too short. If your loved one decides they want it shorter, you can always have a few links taken off after Christmas.

If you’re planning to buy a ring, try to sneak a ring out when you go shopping (just make sure it’s one they wear, not one they’ve stopped wearing because it’s too small!) A jewellery expert will be able to measure the ring to approximate the finger size. If that’s too risky, lie the ring down flat on a piece of paper and draw a circle around its inside edge. If you’re buying online, print out a size chart and use it to measure up a ring your loved one already owns. Make sure you know which finger the ring is going to go on — you do not want to use a thumb ring to estimate the size of a ring destined for the ring finger.

Determine Their Style

Perhaps most importantly of all, you need to make sure that the piece of jewellery you choose complements their style. If they prefer to wear elegant studs, they’re unlikely to appreciate bold hoops. To make sure your present gets the desired reception, ask yourself the following questions:
  • What jewellery do they like wearing the most, and what do they hardly ever wear?
  • Do you see them wear subtle or bold jewellery?
  • Do they have a favourite jeweller? Knowing what styles and designs they already like makes it easier to select something that suits their preferences.
  • Do they have a Pinterest or Instagram account? Take a look at what items they’re pinning and who they’re following — this can give you great insight into what they like.
Taking these points in mind will help you purchase a piece of designer jewellery for your loved one that they will cherish for years to come.

 *Collaborative post

Diamonds And Gold - The Luxury Buying Market

Christmas is coming, and many families have to really watch the pennies, but in the lives of the rich and famous, money is no object. Many think nothing of splashing the cash on a Rolex watch worth £50,000 or a diamond-encrusted pen and a tree topper studded with diamonds is virtually acceptable of £600,000.

On my blog today I bring you an article, in collaboration with Angelic Diamonds, retailers of white gold wedding rings looking at the market of expensive goods and investigate how some items earned their price tags.

The attraction to pricey purchases

Of course, if you are super-rich you will have the disposable income to make expensive purchases but people spend money on pricey purchases for other reasons too.

One of these reasons is to demonstrate social status. In one argument by French philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu, it was suggested that the things that consumers buy are ways of communicating a ‘symbolic hierarchy’ to others — a way to distinguish their place in society.

The attitude of the buyer also determines if they are likely to make a luxury purchase and attitudes are affected by age. By 2025, Bain & Company predicts that Millennials and Generation Z will account for 45% of the global personal luxury goods market, yet that brings challenges as they shop and think differently - many preferring experiences than objects of desire and valuing an immersive and/or online shopping experience.

Shopping online has had a revolution in the last 10 years with 70% of luxury purchases influenced by online interactions. The availability of luxury e-commerce also meant that 14% of buyers aged 18 to 24 were found to have made their first luxury purchase over the internet. So there is definitely a market for selling luxury items online as online shopping becomes normalised.

What makes certain items so expensive?

A range of things can determine the price tag of an item. Craftmanship, the quality of the item, what the item is made of and the brand are factors that can determine the price of an item. Two materials that often bump up the cost of an item are diamonds and gold — but why?

The luxury of diamonds 

The attraction to diamonds dates back hundreds of years. At one point in time, they were reserved for royalty — making them a stone owned by the rich and wealthy and sought after by everyone else.

Now, diamonds are more accessible, but price and quality still vary depending on the ‘Four Cs’. These are clarity, carat, colour and cut — together these determine how much a diamond is worth. Clarity refers to the overall appearance of the diamond, which can be affected by ‘inclusions’ and ‘blemishes’. These are often not visible to the naked eye but are found through analysis by an expert. The weight of the diamond is expressed through the carat weight, a 1-carat diamond is definitely a status symbol. Moving over to colour, a pure diamond is truly colourless and more valuable than one which has a presence of colour. Lastly, the cut of a diamond determines how well it sparkles due to its interaction with light, with a round brilliant cut diamond being the most classic and sought-after look for an engagement ring.

Diamond encrusted items can sell for millions of pounds. Take a look at the following, for example:

Potentially the most expensive pair of shades in the world are Dolce and Gabbana's DG2027B sunglasses. They have been crafted with a solid gold frame and studded with diamonds. To buy this luxury product would set you back $383, 609 (£271,472).

One dog collar was valued at an astounding $3.2 million (£2.26 million). Forbes Magazine called it ‘the Bugatti of dog collars’ and it’s clear to see why. It was encrusted with 1,600 diamonds with a seven-carat, colourless centrepiece and black alligator leather for the collar.

A love for gold

Another material which gets a lot of attention from the rich and upper-class is gold. Gold has always been associated with wealth and power and this opinion has continued to today.

Compared to many of the other elements in the periodic table, gold is one of the least-reactive. This means that it is less likely to corrode when used. The metal also doesn’t rust and is aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s versatile! We’ve seen many items crafted out of gold or fitted with gold plates to add value. Take a look at the following:

Costing $999,999 (£707,799) is the GoVacuum GV62711. Features include a 14-inch cleaning nozzle, a weight of 16 pounds and gold plating. There were only 100 of these products made — true exclusives.

Another standard product made expensive by the addition of gold is the 24-carat gold shoelaces. These cost a pricey $19,000 (£13,448) or shoppers can opt for the silver shoelaces which would set them back $3,000 (£2,123) 

Diamonds and gold are examples of true luxury materials. They’ve been popular for centuries with the rich and famous and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s clear that the addition of them to even the most mundane of products can increase the value more than a hundred times over. While the wealthy have the funds to do so, it’s likely that they’ll continue to splash their cash on things that everyone else thinks is a bit extravagant.

*Collaborative post 

Creating A Wow Factor In Your Home

If you have bought a new house or are looking to revamp your current home, you may be looking to create that wow factor in your home decor, but how do you exactly do that? How do you find that brilliant idea or design feature? Well, here I have rounded up some ideas for you on how you can create that well thought out wow factor in your home.

Create the unexpected

When you walk into a room the wow factor is often created when you see something unexpected, so this is the first thing I would consider. Don't be the same if you want to stand out from the crowd - be different. Walk into the bathroom and surprise your guest with a Moroccan vibe, or enter the conservatory and have it crammed with pot plants and flowers so it feels like a jungle!

Get a focal point

In each room consider a focal point. This could be a large fireplace or a sunken bath, a piece of modern art or a chandelier, a huge plant or a feature wall, or impressive shutters or blinds. Create that memorable focal point in each room and people will go wow.

Terrific tiles

Tiles can really add detail and colour to a room, you can even get lost in their pattern. Whether you go for a chic black and white tile, a Portuguese blue, an Arabic geometric pattern or a modern dash of colour, tiles are a cool design feature. So consider tiles to create a different look but one that won't go unnoticed. 

Feature walls

Feature walls can work well, so don't be beige and boring instead go for bright colours or a vinyl wrap around. Custom wall prints by Vinyline Graphics are an excellent way to create an individual feel to the space you are looking to fill. The only restriction is your imagination, perfect for home or a business environment. 

Sometimes less is more

Sometimes less really is more. Large luxurious homes and condos have a large amount of space to artfully place your furniture. Check out the homepage here of one such place, but even if you have a small apartment you can really get that wow factor. Place furniture carefully, instead of cramming the furniture into a room, consider one or two items of furniture aesthetically placed. This works particularly well if you have an amazing view or modern minimalist furniture in the room. In this photo above the view is doing the talking.

Quality is best

Poor quality items do not get a wow. Instead, invest in well made design-led furniture or vintage and antique items that you upcycle and are unique. Different is good and different will give you the wow factor and make a home memorable.

Large-scale lighting

Lighting that wows and is a talking point can really add to a room. Go old school with a large chandelier, or unleash your inner Scandi designer and go for Swedish minimalist light.

So here are some design features that will create a wow factor in your home. Tell me, what do you think of these ideas?

*Collaborative post

YNot? Suitcase Review

YNot? is an Italian fashion accessory brand that makes handbags, purses and suitcases. They contacted me recently to see if I wanted to collaborate with them, and when I saw the designs that were travel inspired I was keen to take part. 

YNot? was established is 2003 and opened its first branded shop in Milan, in June 2016. Located in the heart of Milan’s fashion district, the boutique’s design is inspired by the aesthetic philosophy of the brand. 'Why not?', typifies the attitude to life of fans' of YNot? bags and fashion accessories. The typical customer sees life as an adventure in which you have to try everything once. 
 You can now find YNot? in over 800 shops across Europe.

So when I was looking at what to choose I decided to review a cabin size suitcase. I use my small suitcase a lot as it is perfect for a few days away.  As I needed a new one I decided to pick one from the range of YNot? at Our Bag Online.

The cabin size suitcase I chose was called the Yes-Fixy suitcase,  in a design called Blue Rain. Blue Rain is a black and white design of Paris with vivid colours over layed. 

When it arrived it was well packaged and had a fine film to protect the design. Immediately I thought the design looked great and the suitcase appeared sturdy and well constructed.

The suitcase comes with a TSA approved lock. The TSA are the agency that deals with travel security in the US. If you are travelling to the US, the TSA requires access to luggage without the passengers being present. Staff have an approved master key that can open and relock your case without having to break the lock. This suitcase has a Travel Sentry Approved lock, a lock that is extremely secure and is approved by the TSA.

To set the lock was easy, just follow the clear instructions above and you are good to go. Simple.

The inside of the case was well thought out. On the right is an area with the luggage ties and on the left is a zipped compartment of the same size. This also has two smaller zipped areas too, perfect for putting charges and cables perhaps. 

I took the suitcase away for a weekend and it was the perfect size for a weekend break. I managed to get all my clothes in as well as toiletries and my laptop and camera. 

I would recommend the YNot? cabin size suitcase. It's a perfect size for a weekend break and to carry as hold luggage, measuring 54 by 34 by 20 CM. It has a packing size of 33 litres and a weight of 2.5KG. It feels sturdy and is easy to wheel around.

If you are looking for a stylish cabin suitcase that won't break tomorrow I can definitely recommend one of the suitcases from 
YNot? They offer free delivery to the UK on all orders over £50 as well and qualifying orders over £100 for EU and USA delivery. I really like my new cabin size suitcase, it's stylish, it's easy to use and it's great for a weekend stay. Recommended. 

Overcoming The Fear Of Flying

For many of us flying is a necessity, a way to travel for business or for pleasure, for some it is even a delight, they enjoy the excitement of the whole experience, however, for many people a fear of flying fills them with dread and anxiety. A fear of flying is a common fear these days, and I have to admit it affects me too, but I try not to let it stop me travelling.

For some people, it may not stop them travelling but their fear of flying can make them tearful, upset and anxious, maybe even have panic attacks. However, for some people, it can get to the extent that it makes them avoid planes or travelling. If you are affected, here are some tips on how to overcome your fear of flying. 

Why are you afraid?

A fear of flying or aviophobia affects between approximately 3 and 6 per cent of the population at any time and there are usually a number of factors involved in someone being scared to fly.

A lack of control is one aspect. In a plane, you are not in control, and when the doors shut you can't get out, which makes it claustrophobic for some. That is one reason why people hate flying. In fact, this is why I hate it myself!

Also with 24-hour news and media these days we see more plane crashes than ever before reported. However, flying is so much safer than driving, with many research articles pointing this out, and you are actually 15 times more likely to be hit by lightning than be involved in a plane crash. 

Another reason you may hate flying is if you do not like heights. In some respect, this is a natural fear, a 'fight or flight response' to keep you safe. However, if it is affecting your ability to take a flight then this needs to be looked at further. 

Self-help tips

1. Plan everything in advance

Plan everything in advance so you feel you are in control. If you live a distance from the airport, consider booking an airport hotel the night before, this will avoid any traffic hold-ups on the day and give you less potential for being stressed.  Booking an airport lounge is also a relaxing way to start a trip, as the lounge will generally provide food and drinks as well as free Wi-Fi in a relaxing comfortable area, away from the general bustle of an airport.

2. Book an upgraded seat

An aisle seat will give you more of a feeling of space and stop you feeling hemmed in. I always do this or upgrade my seat to exit row, premium or if its a special occasion, business class. The extra space of these seats cannot be beaten and in my experience definitely helps with claustrophobia. 

3. Keep yourself busy

I like to check out the plane beforehand to see if there is an entertainment system, with TV, films and music to keep me occupied. On short-haul planes, this is less likely so I make sure I have films and music downloaded on my laptop beforehand. I also take work with me to do on the plane as well.  A point of note, try to avoid programmes on plane crashes and media coverage of such things especially in the run-up to a flight. I must admit I was shocked that one well-known airline had the film Flight that starts with a plane crash on their entertainment system last year!

4. Use relaxing music 

Make a playlist of relaxing music and download it prior to the flight so you can listen to it whilst you are on the plane. 

5. Practise relaxation techniques

Before you get on the plane, research relaxation techniques. Even simple breathing exercises can help if you feel panicky. You can download audio or video content to help with relaxation techniques.

6. Avoid caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant so avoid caffeine as it can make you jittery. Instead, drink soft drinks that aren't carbonated as fizzy drinks may make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. 

7. Adjust air vents

Turn on the air vents as soon as you get on the plane. I also like to take a hand-held fan in case it gets warm. Anecdotal evidence and personal experience does suggest that having cool air on your face makes you feel anxious. Try it, and let me know what you think.

8. Beware of alcohol 

Alcohol can take the edge off the fear for some but be careful not to drink too much, and especially be careful if you are mixing alcohol with medication, such as travel sickness tablets or anxiolytic mediation as this can enhance the sedative effect. Alcohol can also make you dehydrated so be sure to drink plenty of water during a flight. 

9. Be careful with medication 

If you find your fear is getting worse, visit your Dr, they can help refer you for counselling (more of that later) and prescribe medication for short-term use, usually 6 or 8 tablets of Diazepam or other similar medication. Some people do not like the effect that anxiolytic medication has on them, so it is useful to try out a tablet before you go if you have never tried them before. 

10. Positive thinking

It's always good to focus on the destination you are going to and visualise yourself there perhaps lying on the beach or relaxing with a glass of wine over a meal in your destination. 

Do you need counselling? 

If you feel that your fear is getting out of control consider counselling. Counselling can be in person with a trained counsellor or online from a site that uses accreditated and trained counsellors like Better Help Often, a fear of flying starts after a big life event. Counselling can help get to the route of the fear of flying and the triggers to your anxiety. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is one such technique they use to help you conquer your fear for example.

What about fear of flying courses?

Fear of flying courses are worth considering especially if your fear is severe. Often these involve an educational session about how a plane works, what the noises mean and how safe flying is, with relaxation techniques and support from airline staff.  British Airways run a Flying With Confidence course, and Virgin Atlantic run a  Flying Without Fear course too. Many people have been helped with these courses every year and the group setting can help you feel less isolated as other people feel the same as you. 

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As you can see there are a number of things you can do it help you overcome your fear of flying. I hope this article has been useful to you.

For more information check out this post on how you can overcome your fear of flying from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

*Collaborative post