How the UK economy is proving to be good for your health and wellbeing

The UK has seen one of the most turbulent times in political history over recent years. During this time we have witnessed a downturn in the economy, with enforced austerity measures in an effort to aid economic recovery. With shops closing along the high street, spending has been down across the country.

However, during this time one area has not suffered and has, in fact, boomed, with sales of organic fruit and vegetables actually increasing.  Although people are watching their money more closely than ever, it would also appear that they are placing more value on their health and what they are eating than ever before.

Organic vegetables hold many benefits that can contribute to improved health and wellbeing. So, when you buy organic foods you’re doing more than buying tasty ingredients.

Organic foods are less likely to have been treated with pesticides. These chemicals can penetrate, or remain on the skin, of the food we eat.

Organic foods mean that you could be contributing to your local economy and helping smaller businesses grow.  Organic food needs to be purchased fresh, as it is not treated with preservatives and is, therefore, less likely to have travelled very far. Look to local farm shops and high street greengrocers who can source the best, local seasonal fruit and veg for you and your family.

Organic foods are better for the environment. Farmers who produce organic crops or raise organic livestock aren’t washing chemicals into the ground. Also, as with our previous point, the food doesn’t need to be transported by aircraft, that signifacntlyy contribute to pollution levels.


As well as food, this pattern of saving and spending is also seen in other sectors. It is reported that there are increases in charitable donations during austere times, particularly within some of the most disadvantaged populations. A kindness showed to others, giving what little you have to help despite our own problems, actually goes a long way to helping your own well being. Giving to others releases serotonin, the feel good hormone, so no matter what challenges you may be facing, knowing that you are helping others in need, helps to lift your mood and make you feel happier.

It is interesting to see that although the population is experiencing some of the toughest financial difficulties for decades, principles, values and the pursuit of improved wellbeing and lifestyle are enduring in the face of it all.



Clean sleeping: An eight hour miracle cure?

A new buzz word entered the common consciousness this year, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow extolling the virtues of clean sleeping. Cue people who have previously been requesting an extra day in the week to get things done, wondering how they would begin to fit a full eight hours of quality sleep into twenty-four hours packed with daily workouts,  a ‘clean eating’ schedule, an eight-hour working day, school runs, homework, dog walking…in effect, turning something that is aimed at promoting relaxation and proper rest, into yet another thing to stress and worry about.

But wait, don’t panic! On closer inspection, it would seem that clean sleeping isn’t really anything new. Just a trendy name attached to a series of common-sense, achievable behaviours, that most of us aim to do, or are at least aware of anyway.

With a full night sleep linked to better weight management and increased productivity at work, at Maple Health Group we’re all about lightening the load and minimising stress. We know that a good night’s kip is so very important to you, so we’ve rounded up our favourite tips to debunk the myths surrounding your slumber:

  1. Avoid alcohol

Many people believe that having ‘a nightcap’ is a sure-fire way to drift off to dreamland. Whilst the immediate effects may have the desired outcome, the presence of alcohol in your system can have the opposite effect and lead to a restless night. Alcohol stimulates cortisol production and is also a diuretic

2. Switch off, tune out 

In the busy modern world, it’s hard to escape the screen. From a computer monitor in work to the smartphone in your hand, more and more of us are finding it hard to drift off because we take Twitter to bed with us. Allow yourself at least thirty minutes tech-free time before you set your morning alarm, to give light-sensitive sleepy hormones a chance to settle, giving you the chance of an uninterrupted deep sleep.

pexels-photo3. Sanctuary 

There’s a reason why cliches become cliches. It’s because they ring true for so many of us. So when we say ‘a tidy house, a tidy mind’, it might be time to grab the vacuum and pick up some clothes and give your bedroom some TLC. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary, designed specifically for peaceful sleep. It is a work-free zone. Don’t bring the stresses of the day into a space that should be dedicated to relaxation.

4. Exercise

Wonderful, wonderful exercise, is there anything it can’t do (except clean the house)? Perfect for a stress busting, energising pick me up when you need it, it also means that later that day you’ll be snoozing to your heart’s content. Avoid exercising late in the evening, however, as you might find yourself restless from the feel-good endorphins rushing around your body.

5. Early to bed 

The hours achieved by getting to sleep before midnight can be more beneficial than the hours slept after midnight. Try pushing your bedtime half an hour earlier, as see if you feel more refreshed in the morning.

Try adopting these tips, even just one or two, to help improve your bedtime routine to achieve that longed-for, quality sleep, without worrying so much about the number of hours your head spends on the pillow, and you’ll wake up with a spring in your step and a productive, happier day ahead. Sleep tight!

MHG Tip: Combine your new bedtime ritual with a soothing sophrology exercise for an ultra effective sleep system



Are you ready? New ways of thinking about new year resolutions

As each year draws to a close a period of reflection starts to kick in, like an internal review of successes, achievements and the things we’ve enjoyed. And then we shift, we start to focus on the things that didn’t go so well and start planning how we can make changes to improve or prevent a repeat from happening in the new year.

Whether it’s a goal to try something new, improve your health, learn a new skill, at this time of year it is often something else that is driving us to make changes. The pressure of starting afresh as the first of January rolls around may help to focus your thinking, but all too often resolutions are abandoned within the first few weeks, if not the first few days (or even hours).

But don’t worry or feel like a failure. With the best will in the world, you just might not be ready…

assess-your-readiness-for-changeReadiness for change can be measured over six stages:

Pre-contemplation – This is not the time to sign up for a £100 a month gym membership. Here you are barely acknowledging there is a problem. This is the early December ‘it’s Christmas’ excuse. Ignoring the inevitable weight gain, or just not even being aware anything is wrong or lacking, most of us are sitting in a pre-contemplative state most of the time (we just don’t realise it yet).

Contemplation – Hooray! You made it. That little seed has been planted, a tiny nugget of truth, an epiphany. Maybe it’s an unflattering photograph or possibly a rejected CV, but something gets the ball rolling. You start to think about changing.

Preparation – You’re hanging on in there and showing some willing. Did you google gym opening times, visit the travel agent or did you order that college prospectus? Things start to spice up a bit here. Maybe you’ve bought a new pair of trainers or ordered a new passport, all to prepare you for the changes ahead of you.

Action – Well done! You’ve taken action. You stepped out the front door and ran/walked a mile. You swapped the chocolate for low-fat yoghurts. You sat at the back of your new class. Bought the plane ticket. Change is afoot.

Maintenance/Recycling – this part is crucial. You’ve done it once, you’ve got to keep doing it now. Repetition, habit forming, ingraining new behaviours into your cognitive processes. Keep turning up to that lesson each Wednesday after work. At this point, it’s also important to allow for adjustments, to help keep you on track. So, maybe the February marathon was a little ambitious, but don’t stop now, try a 10K in March instead. The cake and wine you had on Saturday night, fine for a one off, but tomorrow walk a little further or swap your roasted spuds for some extra parsnips with your Sunday lunch.

Change – CONGRATULATIONS. You’ve done it. You’ve made the change. You’ve stopped doing what you don’t want to do anymore and started doing something positive. By now, it’s second nature, you might not recognise the person you were before, but celebrate and congratulate yourself, what you’ve achieved hasn’t been easy, and there’ll be a tonne of people proud of you and some you’ve inspired to take their own journey too.

You might find now you’re back at the pre-contemplative stage. You might be blissfully enjoying your new job, or got into that outfit for ‘the wedding’, but don’t be surprised if you start thinking about taking another step to a ‘new you’. And you know what? You can do it. Just don’t let a ticking clock force you into making a half-hearted promise that will lead to disappointment. The date that you decide you’re ready to take that first step is the most important date of all.

If you’d like some support with making a change, whether it’s weight loss or setting a new life goal, contact Maple Health Group to talk things through with our qualified team. When you’re ready, we can help you achieve your dreams.