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Finding Faith for Me

Fear had its slender, manipulative fingers curled tightly around my throat. There was no air. Where was the air? WHERE WAS MY AIR? I gasped, clutching strings for breath to enter my body. But the more I tried to grasp it, the further and further it escaped from me. The electricity shooting up and down my left arm was making my whole body burn, and my heart… oh my heart was racing. It pounded so loudly, so powerfully – its speed increasing in every moment as if it were being chased by demons, with the reality being just no chance for survival.

“This is it. This is how I die.” The words repeated themselves over and over and over in my mind – this thick, black cloud of dark thoughts coming thick and fast and heavy; my mind in complete overdrive, my body running to catch up.

I’m dying.

I’m dying.

I’M DYING.

I was so, so terrified. 

I don’t remember what happened next.

In the early hours of the morning, I awoke on the camp bed I slept in besides my grandmother’s bed to an indigo, velvet sky just outside the window. I peeped over the side of the bed through my heavy eyes and could see her sitting on her armchair, her hands raised in perfect unison to the sky as she prayed her early morning prayer.

“Ya Allah,” I heard her whisper, her voice just about audible. “Ya Allah, merey Babu nu Jannat naseeb kardey.”

As she prayed for her son, my father – who had passed away on a trip back home to Pakistan just a couple of months earlier – the heart-searing pain in her voice could be heard as it bit through her whispers, while glassy tears rolled hauntingly down her cheeks. Yet somehow, with her hands raised to the sky and completely lost in the moment of connection between herself and the God she was praying to, there was this calming sense of peace all around her. It was as if she was in complete acceptance and trusted that this was how things were meant to be.

I didn’t get it. I just couldn’t understand. The pain was just too raw and too real for me. The severe panic attack that I had had the night previously was now just a normal, regular occurrence and I just couldn’t get my mind or my heart around the fact that my Dad wasn’t here anymore: that I would never, ever see him or hear his voice again. I was just 14 years old.

This was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I remember my Grandmother’s house heaving with people in the days following his death, as we awaited my father’s body to be returned to England from Pakistan. I remember people pitying my 4 siblings and I; embracing my mother and bawling at the top of their lungs. I remember everyone throwing around the words “Allah di marzi, Allah di marzi” (it is God’s will) but yet in their actions acting in the complete opposite way to the acceptance that this was God’s will.

Inna Lillahi wa Inna ilayhi Raji’un– from Allah we come and to Allah we will return. 

The religion I was born into taught, through these words, that death was the most natural, most beautiful part of life.  I see that now. Yet all throughout my life, and exacerbated even more so through the death of my father, I was shown that among my community, death was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a human being. I was taught to fear death, to fear returning to God, to fear the moment of death itself and to fear the punishment of the hell-fire and the punishment of the grave.

There was no wonder that the pain of my father’s death stayed with me for such a long time. That I suffered from severe panic attacks for over a year. That some days I would wake up and the whole world would be shrouded in darkness, days that I believed that this was the day that I too was going to die.

There was just no wonder.

(Watch out for Part 3 of this 6-part series – coming soon.)

By Sabah Ismail

www.sabah-ismail.com

Instagram: @sabah_ismail_

Facebook: @SabahIsmailOnline

Twitter: @SabahIsmail_

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DINA TORKIA by Sabah Ismail - 1w ago

Finding Faith for Me

1997

“ Whooo-ooo-ooo do ya think you are!” I belted out into my invisible microphone,
as I skipped between the playground benches, showing off my brand new shiny,
electric blue platform sneakers. I was obviously Scary Spice – it had been decided
silently yet unanimously amongst my friends; I was the one with the big, frizzy
hair after all, and the mouth to match.

My best friend Karen strutted forward, a genuine mini Sporty Spice, and dropped
to her knees as she squealed, “…do you think you a-are!”, her voice so high-
pitched that it broke off at the end. The 5 of us fell about in fits of giggles – just a
bunch of normal 8 and 9 year old girls playing out our dreams of being just like
our favourite pop-group, in the primary school playground.

I’d never seen myself as any different to the other ‘Spice Girls’ in my friendship
group and they’d never made me feel different to them – yet… I was the only
brown face; I was the only one that spoke three languages; I was the only one out
of the five of us who was picked up at the end of the school day by someone in
shalwar-kameez who used ‘a-salaamualaikum’ to greet me, rather than ‘hello!’.
I still didn’t see myself as any different though, until the day that everything
changed.

*

I sat cross-legged on the heavily carpeted floor in my own shalwar-kameez,
headscarf on my head, tightly tied under my chin. Four wooden benches, which
we used to place our Qur’ans onto, formed a tight square, with the mosque
‘Aunty’ sitting at the front, watching over us as we monotonously repeated line-
after-line of Arabic. ‘Aunty’ was more deeply engrossed in an Urdu book rather
than paying attention to us, so I took this as an opportunity to whisper to the
friends sitting either side of me about how excited I was to be attending my best
friends birthday sleepover in just over a week’s time,“Yeah, Karen said we’re
going to go the waterpark in Bolton and then we’re gonna stay up all night and
watch scary movies!”

They both smiled awkwardly and looked a little sheepish, as the friend to my left
muttered, “That sounds nice Sabah, but you do know we’re not supposed to be
friends with white people?”
I stopped in my tracks, the excited smile sliding slowly down my face.
“What do you mean?” I asked, genuinely confused about what she had just said.

The friend to my right piped up, “Yeah she’s right. Even my mum told me that.
We’re not allowed to be friends with people that aren’t Pakistani like us.”
I sat there, struggling to understand what she meant. Why were they saying this?
My best friend was white; my favourite schoolteacher was white; the lollipop
lady who helped me cross the road to and from school and snuck a little sweet in
to my hand every single day was white – what was wrong with white people, and
why couldn’t I be their friend?

Never one to shy away from asking questions, I put my hand up defiantly and
said, “Aunty Sakeena, I have a question.”
She looked up from behind her glasses and over the top of the book she was
reading, and smiled gently. “Yes?” she asked.
“Why are we not allowed to be friends with people that are white?”
She put down her book. Pushed her glasses back up on to her nose. Adjusted her
flowery printed headscarf. And then she spoke quite matter-of-factly and said,
“We are not allowed to be friends with Kafir (non-believers). It says it in the Qur’an.
A lot of white people are Kafir, so we shouldn’t be their friends. It is for our
betterment; it is to protect us from the hell-fire.”

I looked at her, a silent whisper of an “oh” escaped my lips as I quickly averted
my gaze to my hands, and then a single a tear – a mixture of confusion and
frustration – fell on to the open Qur’an that lay before me. My friends sitting
either side of me looked smug. And it was then that I realised, at the tender age
of just 8 years old, that I didn’t have to believe everything that I was told –
especially when it didn’t sit right with my heart.

Written by Sabah Ismail

Instagram: @sabah_ismail_
Twitter: @SabahIsmail_
Facebook: @SabahIsmailOnline

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DINA TORKIA by Shelina Permalloo - 1M ago

When I first started following Dina this was about 2 years after winning MasterChef and I noticed that she always spoke about wanting to learn how to cook. Anyway I decided to send her copies of my book and in one of her vlogs she actually went to Tesco’s and bought all the ingredients and made this recipe!! 


This is an extract from my book with a few extra ingredients added and I hope you enjoy cooking it. Its originally French inspired from the Daube region of France but ended up in Mauritius and has been livened up with chilli coriander and some paprika.  It’s the perfect mid week meal that so happens to be vegan and full of flavour. Its rich enough to make you not realise your not eating any dairy or meat and is perfectly filling. Its one of my comfort dishes and is a staple part of a mauritian table mid week as part of our simple suppers.

MAURITIAN KIDNEY BEAN AND POTATO DAUB

Ingredients


2 tbsp rapeseed oil or any veg oil 

2 small banana shallots, thinly sliced

2 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated 

1 inch of ginger finely chopped or grated 

2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander stalks

1 green chilli, finely chopped (not essential) 

1 tsp salt1tsp paprika 

4 sprigs of thyme

1/2 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, use only half of the tin tomatoes

2 medium King Edward potatoes, or any non-chalky floury potato, chopped into 2.5 cm cubes

1 x 400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained

400ml hot water mixed with 1 veg stock cube (use tin of kidney beans fill with hot water and add stock cube to it) 

freshly chopped coriander, to garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots for 2 minutes until just beginning to soften.

Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, chilli, salt and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, paprika and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the stock water along with the potatoes and kidney beans.

Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down (you can help this process along by using a wooden spoon to crush them).
Sprinkle over the coriander and serve hot with white rice or roti bread or couscous 

Check out more from Shelina 

Instagram – @shelinacooks

Youtube – Cook with Shelina

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This recipe is the perfect armour to have under your belt on days that you know you have no time to cook! This meal can be done from start to finish in 15 mins & is a go to mid week meal for me or a cheat takeaway version meal when I fancy a takeaway but my sensible brain tells me I can cook it quicker than how long it’ll take me to wait!    If you forget to soak the noodles the night before don’t worry about it because you can pour over boiling hot water from the kettle let it sit for 1 minute then drain it & voila its ready.    You can speed this recipe up even more by buying pre chopped stir fry vegetables as well.  I hope you enjoy this recipe don’t forget to follow me @shelinacooks on instagram and tune into my YouTube “Cook with Shelina” for my weekly easy recipe videos.  

Thai Style Salmon with Rice Noodles and Ginger

125g rice noodles soaked in cold water overnight 

For the coconut curry sauce:- 
6 cloves garlic sliced 
2inch piece of ginger thinly chopped 
3tbsp fish sauce 
1heaped tablespoon mild madras curry powder 
1 big chilli ( not very hot & optional ) 
1heaped tablespoon palm sugar (or any brown sugar) 
200ml coconut milk 
200ml water 
200g salmon fillet with skin on

Vegetables:- 
(you can use any of your choice but here is what i used) 
100g edamame beans (frozen) 
50g tenderstem broccoli 
1 medium carrot sliced 

Garnish:- 
Coriander 
Mint 
Red chilli 
Palm sugar or brown sugar 
Limes

In a large saucepan or large wok, add the water, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, chilli, fish sauce, curry powder, sugar and salmon and boil on high heat for 3 minutes.  

Add in the carrots, edamame beans and broccoli and cook for a further 3 minutes. 

Drain the rice noodles and add these to the pan, allowing all the noodles to be covered in the curry coconut sauce, cook for 1 minute. 

Remove from heat leave a lid on and allow to sit for a few minutes this will let the salmon rest and the noodles to carry on soaking up all the juices. 

Serve immediately with extra palm sugar, chilli, mint, coriander and lime juice according to taste.

Check out more from Shelina 

Instagram – @shelinacooks

Youtube – Cook with Shelina

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Since having a baby (mine is now 20 months old) I realise that EVERY minute alone is CRUCIAL. I run my own restaurant (@lakazmaman) as well as involved in other projects it means that when I get home the time I have is precious. I don’t want to labour over complicated recipes but I don’t want to sacrifice on flavour or presentation for me or my family. 

Dina thought to get in touch with me as I think we are both very similar, we are trying to keep our A games at home as well as hold up a career and its a tough call. I’ve developed a few recipes for women “like us” and I hope you like this series of recipes we’ve decided to call “Mum’s in a Rush”. Yes, yes, yes, for those Dads out there who are also trying to stay on top of their home life all props to you, you are welcome to use these recipes too but please, please, if you are going to try and help in the kitchen all us women ask is that you wash up every kitchen utensil it took for you to create this recipe as we all know well, that when you “create” in the kitchen we often feel like we need to pay a cleaner to just clean up after you! (Jokes please don’t shoot the messenger)

So with that in mind, this cake in particular is a 1 bowl recipe and what I absolutely love about this cake is that it is minimal effort and is a cake that any mum will feel like she is on top of her game when you present this to your family or take it along with you on a play date. It’s the type of cake that will make you feel a little smug on the inside but trust me, I made this recipe with you in mind, the mum that barely has time to wash her hair but will bring out this cake as if she has stepped on the red carpet!!

If you want the step by step process head over to my instagram @shelinacooks it is in my highlights and you can see how i occupy my baby whilst I cook! 

White Chocolate, Apricot and Almond Loaf 

Easy *
Prep time 10mins 
Bake time 45mins

Ingredients:-
190g unrefined golden caster sugar
100g butter room temperature 
100ml vegetable oil 
Pinch of vanilla powder
3 medium free range organic eggs
50g flaked almonds
50g chopped dried apricots
200g self raising flour 

To decorate:-
100g white chocolate buttons
25g flaked almonds (toasted in a pan for a minute) 
25g chopped dried apricots 

For the sugar syrup:-
50ml boiling water with 50g sugar dissolved into it until all the sugar crystals have disappeared. 

Method 
Pre heat oven at 170 and pre line a loaf tin. I use the loaf liners which you can find in any supermarket. 

In a bowl mix together the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla powder until combined, crack in the eggs one by one and stir until all the eggs are combined. Throw in the almonds and apricots and mix. After that, add 1/2 the flour and fold in carefully, followed by the other half of the flour and fold until combined. You don’t want to over work the flour as you want this cake to be moist and fluffy. 

Pour out into the pre lined loaf tin and cook for 45mins until cooked. You can check by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean it is ready. 

Allow the cake to rest for 30mins before removing from the loaf tin. 

Top tip. To make the cake extra moist I like to brush it all over generously with some sugar syrup. Just use a pastry brush and brush this all over the cake and it will just soak in. 

Melt some white chocolate buttons in the microwave for around 10secs. Stir and then microwave for a further 5secs. Using a sandwich bag add the hot white chocolate into the bag and cut a small hole, you can use this like a piping tip to decorate the top of the cake with lines of chocolate. 

Top generously with more chopped apricots and toasted flaked almonds. 

Slice up, serve it up and enjoy the smug feeling which I prefer to call feeling proud! Lap up the compliments and save this recipe in your phone for the days you need to remind yourself that you are doing amazing! 

Cover in sugar syrup then icing 

Water 
Rose water 
Lemon juice 
Pistachios

Check out more from Shelina 

Instagram – @shelinacooks

Youtube – Cook with Shelina

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Giving in to stress will just lead to an endless vicious cycle of anxiety, negativity and
unhappiness. Instead of living with constant panic, learning to manage your stress can reap
dozens of benefits for your mental and physical health. As discussed before, stress causes the
release of a hormone called cortisol, which can be harmful to the body in chronic levels.
Combat the stress with healthy habits that will get you back on track. Remember, it takes 21
days to make or break a habit – don’t throw in the towel too early and stick with it.

1) Eat a healthy balanced diet:
No, a cupcake in each hand is not a balanced diet! As food is strongly linked to mood,
consuming a diet rich in fruit, veggies, whole-grains, healthy fat and protein is key to lowering
cortisol. Avoiding cortisol-stimulating foods such as sugar, alcohol and high amounts of coffee
should also be implemented to lower stress levels through diet. Not only will adopting a healthier
diet influence your stress levels, it can also help with weight maintenance and disease
prevention. It is also important to note that a healthy balanced diet does not have to be
restrictive. Enjoy the cupcake in moderation!

2) Handle everything one thing at a time:
Time management is key to maintaining a feasible schedule. It can be easy to fall into the
procrastination trap, but there are many negative consequences for leaving everything until last-
minute. Tackle everything as it comes, and break up your to-do list into reasonable chunks that
you can manage everyday. There are 24 hours in a day – there is no such thing as not enough
time. Not only will this increase your productivity, it will also reduce the panic and stress that
happens when you fall behind.

3) Simplify and declutter:
Instead of packing your schedule with unnecessary activities that you can do without, reduce
the stress by cutting back. Whether it is an extra hour a day to yourself, or a few days a week,
having some time to kick back and relax can relieve stress and improve your energy levels.
Whether it is cutting back on work hours, or squeezing your gym schedule in your lunchtime
instead of using up your evening, shifting around your schedule will support effective stress
management.

4) Stay active:
Fitting in a few sessions of moderate-intensity exercise per week can significantly improve
mood, manage stress and optimise general health and wellbeing. Exercise has a myriad of
benefits, and mental health is definitely one of them. Not only will you feel more self-confident
and energised, exercise stimulates the production of ‘feel-good’ hormones that can support a

healthy mindset. Not only is it important to implement an exercise regimen, it is also vital to get
as much activity in your day as possible. Whether it is a 10 minute walk during lunch time or
using the stairs instead of the lift, there are many things you can do to stay on your feet and be
more active.

5) A positive mindset goes a long way
The most important tip of all – being more positive can make such a difference to your stress
levels. If you adopt a can-do attitude, nothing can stop you! Start your day on a good note by
thinking of 3 things you are grateful for, and 3 things that would make today a good day. Just 5
minutes of self-reflection can give you the boost necessary to carry on and seize the day.

Written by Salma Dawood – @salamidawood

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DINA TORKIA by Coverd - 2M ago

TOO FAT FOR SPACE

Disclaimer: I will use the term ‘fat’ freely throughout this post. I am reclaiming a word that for centuries has been used to degrade women, in an attempt to eradicate its negative connotations. It’s time we started being comfortable with fat.

space
/speɪs/
noun
1. a continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied.

I don’t know if you’ve realised, one look outside your window will show you, but men take up a lot of space. Taking up space means being assertive, dominating and territorial, all things listed in the Essential Handbook of Being a Man by one of the world’s most prominent authors, Mr. Patriarchy (not actually a real thing). The Essential Handbook of Being a Woman involves quite the opposite. Society tells us that women do not have the capacity to be assertive, dominating or territorial. Instead we must be docile, fragile and compliant. As Queen Chimamanda Adichie famously said “we treat girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller”. Fat women are therefore going against one of the fundamental patriarchal rules. We are not shrinking ourselves to fit (literally) into the male gaze. There are numerous reasons why society has a problem with fat women, and this is just one of them.

Taking up space as a woman is hard enough. Taking up space as a fat woman is even harder.

As a fat woman, navigating space can be extremely tough. Few places do we ‘fit in’, often sticking out like a sore thumb and desperately trying to not be seen too much. So much of how we view people comes from observing how they operate on a day to day, and a big part of this is how they occupy space. As a fat woman, almost every way we take up space is linked to our weight; from our experiences of travel, to our experiences of dating and everything in between. The way we occupy space is always viewed through the lens of our size. I am not just running. I am a fat girl running. I am not just eating. I am a fat girl eating. This can make existing pretty exhausting. I deserve to be both seen and heard for all matters of my being without being reduced to just my weight. As Jona Kottler once said “I cannot define value by the amount of space I take up in a given moment, I cannot speak to myself in that language anymore.” Space means the opportunity to be occupied, therefore it is important that women, especially fat women, are allowed to collectively occupy safe spaces. Because so much of our time is spent being demanded that we shrink into boxes that do not belong to us. But we are not here to accommodate you.

Institutionalised misogyny places value on women’s looks above anything else, and we are seen in terms of our convenience and how we can contribute to the benefit of men. When women fit a man’s conventions of beauty, they are usually allowed space, but only to kneel to their gaze. The patriarchy’s list of things that involve being an acceptable woman does not include being fat. When women are given space to fill, it is because they are deemed acceptable to unleash gently onto society. Always being defined by our convenience to men. Not too big, not too tall, not too heavy, not too loud. Not too much of anything. Still manageable. Easier to control and more likely to be tamed. Never overshadowing the man. Fat women pose a threat to this, so our use is ambiguous. Man’s biggest inconvenience. But we are not yours to be used, a disposable being that can be thrown away after one use. We are permanent, with infinite resource. Our resource extends beyond catering to your needs. You say space is free, so give me the freedom to occupy it however I desire.

Fat women are always too much but somehow simultaneously not enough. Not enough to be given the space we deserve. But still too much for occupying more than the allocated space assigned to us. You may tut as I squeeze past you, just trying to get from A to B. So hyperaware of my hypervisibility. The anger may rise inside you as I continue to demand more. Larger dress sizes, longer seatbelts, more room in the backseat. All of this catalysing an irrational anger in a way that it doesn’t when it involves a man. Being fat means being larger. Which means taking up more space. Which means being more visible. Which means competing with a man for the world’s attention. You may think I am too big and therefore too much to handle. But I am not yours to handle. I am mine and I will infiltrate every space I touch upon until I suffocate those trying to diminish my presence. Maybe then you will realise that I am worthy.

I am not too fat for space.

Written by Maria Christodoulou  – @MaaazC28xo

Illustrations by Kat Muir  – @km_illustrations

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Struggling to concentrate on that important assignment? Breaking up with your bed in the
morning feeling more tasking than ever? Ever thought what you choose to eat can have an
impact on mood, cognition and energy?

Nutritional choices, amongst other lifestyle habits, can dramatically influence mental capacity,
cognitive performance, energy and emotional processing. Although many perceive eating a
chocolate bar as more tempting and satisfying than an orange, it is important to acknowledge
that not all food acts the same once it reaches your stomach. Immediately after eating a
chocolate bar, you may feel on top of the world – but what occurs internally is not so great. (And
I’m not referring to your waistline)

Recognizing the underestimated power of wholesome nutrition on your mental health can
encourage you to boost your energy levels and ease the stress.

If you’re unsure where to begin, follow these tips for a mental pick-me-up:

Tip #1 Don’t give in to the sweet tooth:

For some individuals, stress and anxiety can increase sugar cravings, causing you to indulge on
sugar-laden food and drink. However, gulping a can of energy drink may feed into the vicious
cycle of stress, instead of relieving it. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

You succumb to that urge and inhale a decadent chocolate bar oozing with a river of caramel.
Things are going great; you’re buzzing from that sugar rush and your fingers are typing as fast
as they can. Twenty minutes later, you suddenly feel burnt-out and ready for a snooze. What
just happened is the typical energy roller-coaster you get from eating a glucose-rich food (or
sugar). You quickly utilize the energy, and when blood glucose levels drop, your body begins to
crash. These highs and lows can negatively impact your productivity, mood, energy levels and
cognitive performance.

Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar when you’re stressed, opt for a healthy fibre-rich snack
instead for sustainable energy release. This could be a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit,
vegetables and hummus, or a pot of low-sugar yoghurt. Not only will you physically and mentally
feel better in the interim, reducing refined sugar from your diet can reduce the release of stress
hormones in the long-run.

Tip #2: Wishful thinking – Feed your brain with omega-3s:

Controversial ‘low-fat’ diets have left a negative imprint in may minds – but we now know that
cutting fat out is not so beneficial after all. There is a reason why fat is a major required nutrient
– it is necessary for cell membrane production, hormonal production, and more. Instead of
eliminating fat, focus on incorporating healthy omega-3 fats into your diet, found in oily fish, nuts, olives, seeds, and avocados.

Omega-3 fats are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits,
which can help protect the brain against inflammatory damage and oxidative stress. In fact,
more than 30 trials have shown benefits of consuming omega-3 fats on mental health,
depressive symptoms and anxiety. Aim to consume 2 portions of oily fish a week for a good
quality source of Omega fats. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can introduce a high-quality
omega-3 supplement to promote cognitive function.

Tip #3: A Gut feeling: Fermented foods:

Your gut is packed with 100 trillion bacterial cells – that’s about 10 times the amount of cells
found in an adult’s human body. While many think having a balanced gut microbiome is
important for digestive health, science has established the presence of the gut-brain axis – i.e.
the gut and the brain have a direct effect on each other.

If you are in a state of gut imbalance, it may trigger or exacerbate stress, anxiety and
depression. Therefore, enhancing the quality of your gut microflora can promote mental
wellbeing. You can do so by consuming fermented foods – which are rich in beneficial bacteria.
This includes yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. If you’re not a fan of these foods, you
can choose to supplement your diet with viable bacteria to promote gut and brain health.

Conclusion:

Just like you need food for physical energy, your brain requires the correct nutrients to function
at its best. Implementing a dietary regimen that is rich in fruits, vegetables, omega-fats and
fermented foods can help you build the foundation of managing stress and relieving cognitive
impairments.

Written by Salma Dawood – @salamidawood

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It’s Sunday evening. As you glance at the time, the to-do list flashes in your mind yet again.
Having only accomplished the tip of the iceberg over the weekend, you start to panic. From
sorting out your bills to finishing up that dreaded assignment and promising to catch up with a
friend, it all begins to feel heavy. Instead of getting down to business, you reflect on what you’ve
done all weekend – binge watching the 17 episodes of Stranger Things wasn’t worth it after all.
You promise yourself you’ll have a better week, but the vicious cycle repeats itself again and
again.

Panic. Anxiety. In the distance, sirens.

The struggle is very real. Let’s face it, everyone feels on edge every now and again. Due to
today’s fast-paced environment, we put ourselves in many intimidating and stressful scenarios,
whether it’s in a social, university or work setting. While some stress and anxiety is normal,
going through phases of chronic stress is silently damaging your health. In fact, a little bit of
pressure can boost your productivity, increase your focus and enhance your concentration to
finish the task. However, when stress and anxiety become a daily occurrence, this is when things
begin to crumble.

Types of Anxiety:

More than one in six British adults have experienced a neurotic episode in the last week alone.
Anxiety is an extremely common, and often disregarded as a serious condition. Although there
are many common triggers, anxiety is an umbrella term that encompasses an array of different
conditions. The most common types of anxiety include the following:

● Generalised anxiety disorder: This condition affects your day-to-day life, and may
manifest into depression if not treated. You worry about general life events and activities,
and often suffer from disturbed sleep and feeling on edge.

● Social anxiety disorder: Instantly feel nervous when you walk into a room filled with new
people? Profusely sweating from the thought of having to go on that first date? You’re
not alone. It is also common to experience an increased heart rate and shakiness.

● Phobia: Whether you are afraid of heights, spiders, or horror movies, having a phobia of
an object, place, situation, feeling or animal is very common.

● Panic attacks: Having frequent episodes of panic attacks can be frightening and
overwhelming. For many, a panic attack may occur without a specific trigger, and can
cause chest pain, fear, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and more.

While there are many other types of anxiety, it is important to realise that their effect on the body
is the same. When stress, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released in response,
which are often known as the flight/fight hormones. To allow the body to get rid of the insult, this
biological response is really essential. However, when this response doesn’t shut down due to
constant stress and anxiety, it can lead to many health complications.

The Science: The Dangers of Chronic Stress

In an ideal world, the cortisol only comes out to play when we need that sudden burst of energy
to combat a stressor, and then returns back to normal as soon as we are ready to relax. For
many suffering with constant anxiety,, that is usually not the case. The cortisol ‘alarm’ does not
turn off, leaving us with high cortisol levels lingering around our bodies for longer than required.
This hormonal imbalance can affect every biological system, causing everything from adrenal
fatigue, weight gain, skin conditions, weakness, difficulty concentrating, and impaired immunity.
If the stress is not dealt with overtime, this can eventually progress to increasing your risk of
developing chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and more.

If you want to take control of your health, learning how to cope with stress and anxiety is critical.
A healthy mind makes a healthy body, and your mental triggers should not be dismissed. If you
are worried about your anxiety and stress levels, there are a multitude of mechanisms and
lifestyle changes you can adopt to take control of your triggers and combat your stress once and
for all.

Written by Salma Dawood – @salamidawood

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