Opinions, hopes, dreams and discussions – on every topic from health to welfare, me to you, politics to parenting. Ready for some conversation?
Trust Me- I’m Google – can we rely on medical evidence on the internet? Online pharmacies and medical databases are enabling individuals to bypass doctors. Is the democratisation of medical practice progress? Can patients be trusted to self-prescribe, or is medical authority necessary for our health?
Last year at the How the Light Gets In festival at Hay on Wye, off-Hay Festival, in reality, I took part in a panel discussion with hosted by Ben Hammersley with Mark Salter, a consultant psychiatrist based in London’s East End, specialising in risk, untowardness and media portrayals of mental distress, and Matt Jameson Evans, founder of HealthUnlocked.com and Remedy UK, which lobbies Parliament on medical issues. I interviewed Matt about his work with Remedy UK not long after – read it here
The arguments were lively but did we reach any conclusions? Watch and see!
PS – Lunch was good too:
Mindfulness is the new zeitgeist way of looking at mental health, I learned from Ruby Wax last week – she told me about it in an interview for the Daily Telegraph last week (with lovely pics by Tania Dolvers). The comedian has just been awarded an MA in mindfulness and cognitive therapy from Oxford University, and written a book Sane New World. She uses it as a tool in her own life, to keep depression at bay, and led a workshop at the NOW festival, part of the larger Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire.
It’s not often you get to take something away from an interview, but Ruby very generously gave me personal advice and tips on using simple focusing and breathing to reduce the stress of modern life – to bring down levels of the flight-or-flight hormone cortisol – not to mention the heart rate. ‘Everyone’s brain is being torn in so many places. Find a place, put your feet on the floor. Learn to cool yourself down.’
Adds Ruby: ‘I use it every day; I like to feel plateau-ed.’
As a concept, mindfulness is already endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation as a way of reducing stress – you can take their test and find out if you need help. Its roots are in Buddhism; it was really popularised through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
It was also good to meet the founder of NOW - Jana Stefanovska. Based in South East London, NOW’s approach is to create synergy between the worlds of the arts and well-being, creating events and festivals which surprise and inspire. She says: ‘Drawing on the concept of mindfulness, NOW Festival 2013 invites the audience to take part in a range of arts and wellbeing activities with over 60 of the UK’s most thought-provoking artists, writers, poets, musicians, actors and thinkers.
It is the first ever festival to fuse mindfulness and ‘carpe diem’ – one of the most famous visions of the roles of the arts ever. From literature, theatre, visual arts and dance to feasting, gardening, mindfulness and yoga, NOW Festival 2013 allows you to Disconnect, Stop & Reconnect.’
Information about new events can be found at the NOW website or following @NowFestivalUK
Just enjoyed a preview of new Thai spa range Erb at a pop up shop at Harrods where its being showcased until August 24. The luxury skincare range is only available in Thailand or now online but anyone heading to London can get a taster here first.
Created by young fashion designer Pattree Bhakdibutr in 2000, the Erb range includes body serums, creams, tonics and scrubs scented with jasmine, bergamot and ylang ylang – evocative of Thailand and warm tropical nights. The products are certified organic; a comparable European brand might be L’Occitane. Prices are mid-range: Eastern Treat Shower and Bath Cream is £18; Spice and Shine Gel Body Scrub is £37.
Worth noting the company’s assurances: Products are formulated with natural and certified organic ingredients; Against animal testing; Dermatologist tested; No Parabens; No mineral oil and no petroleum derivatives; No harmful chemical ingredients; Earth friendly product and packaging
There are 16 products on show this month including my favourite the unusual Up in Arm range for deluxe cleansing of your arm pits – certainly the first spa treatment (home or salon) I’ve seen for that area of the body! (Priced: £17 for the detox mask; £16 for the toner).
PS: To celebrate luxury Thai skincare brand Erb and their involvement with Harrods festival, Thailand, a Celebration of Colour and Light, they’re offering guests the chance to win over £350 worth of Erb products. To win, simply take a picture of yourself outside the Erb pop-up window (along the Brompton Road), or inside the Erb pop-up shop and tag Erb UK on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/erbunitedkingdom), Twitter (@erbasia) or Instagram (erb_uk) for the chance to win . One lucky winner will be selected at random and will be announced on 26th August.