My tan is fading fast and my lovely nails are starting to break and fall off now, but wow! What a summer it has been. I loved every minute of it and made the most of the blue skies, sunshine and long evenings. I enjoyed cycling all over the place on my bike, playing in the sea, lying on the grass and dining al fresco. It was like living on the continent but dressed by Pennys! Everyone seemed to be in great form, even those with blisters and peeling skin. Everywhere I went people were smiling, eating ice cream and striking up conversations with random strangers.
So now what? How do we keep up that good feeling since the weather has turned more "normal?" How can we ensure we are getting not just enough Vitamin D, but also that lovely feeling we all had when every morning we saw blue skies.
Well the obvious answer to that is to book a holiday to the sun for the entire winter and come back next April! Would be great but I guess that's not really practical for most of us. How can we manage to create a little bit of sunshine in our lives
Over the last few weeks I have been busy trying to find ways to lift my spirits in preparation for winter. Creating a little sunshine comes from a variety of places!
A SAUNA IN FINLAND!
I had the most amazing trip to a "proper" Finnish Sauna on a recent trip to Helsinki. My friend is a Finnish, so when in Rome..
I loved it. Instead of going to the pub on Sunday evenings everyone hits the sauna, us included. It is really sociable and just a way of life. The sauna we went to was very upmarket. Sauna Loyly, Helsinki. It had a great big bar area which was full of young hipsters. Delicious food and a huge outdoor decking area overlooking the Baltic Sea at sunset.
There are two different types of sauna to choose from. I love, love, loved the smoky sauna! If you imagine being a smoked salmon, that's the nearest I can describe it! The room was dark and quiet with an aroma of smoky oak. Needless to say it was hotter than hot and being the token Irish person I had to man up a little.
After your sauna? You jump straight into the sea of course! Would you believe the Baltic Sea was actually warm. Like us, the Finns had an unusually hot summer. We did three rounds of sauna/ sea. Had a lounge about on the sun loungers. Sat beside the open fireplace in the relaxation room and watched the sun go down over the Baltic sea. Heaven.
THE BENEFITS? I felt amazing. Invigorated and relaxed all at the same time. My skin felt incredible too. Most of all I really enjoyed the experience and the "fun" element of being in a "proper Scandinavian" sauna. My body enjoyed the deep heat, especially my joints. I can't understand how with such a damp climate us Irish have not adopted this simple way of getting heat into our bones? Maybe I have just found a gap in the market?
WHERE TO SAUNA? Most gyms, leisure centers and up market hotels have a sauna. While our Irish sauna experience will not compare to my Finnish trip I still think there are huge benefits to be gained. Remember, hot then cold.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Be warned, not everyone should sauna. Check with your GP before you sauna.
DUN LAOGHAIRE COAL HARBOUR
It is essential to our mental health and total wellbeing to be part of a tribe.
"No man is an island." - John Donne
Recently, myself and a few friends organised a fun trip to the seaside to go Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Everyone brought someone that wasn't known to the initial group, thus expanding our social circle instantly. Having an activity was a brilliant way to bond, have fun, learn a new skill and break the ice. Afterwards we went for food and drinks, the chat, laughter and slagging were endless.
No one was left out, everyone was involved and what's more we all had a really good time. It was simply just a gang of people out having a great time with no expectations of each other. We created happy memories and everyone wants to go again. I think it was the laughter and banter that really were the highlights.
BENEFITS: Fun! Meeting new people broadens your horizons. Activity gives a little focus and an ice breaker for the group. Everyone participates and new skills maybe learnt.
WHERE? A group night out can be anything that takes a common interest. Cookery classes, cinema, wine tasting, meditation, yoga or outdoor activities. Whatever takes your fancy. There is also the Meetup app that organises numerous events too. Check it out if your struggling to get the gang organised.
BORROWING A DOGGY
I love animals and would do anything to have my own pet. However, my lifestyle and small apartments restrict my furry baby cravings! However, I found a solution and it's a win / win for everyone. I borrow a friend's dog. He lives near me and he is just delighted to drag me around the park. I get out in the air, get to give him cuddles and after I pick up his pooh I drop him home. There is usually a cuppa, slice of cake and a chat there for me too which is all part of my cunning plan! The owners are delighted. My pal Ollie and I have a great time together, we chat about everything! It's not always sunshine, sometimes it's dark but it really is a great way to clear your head and forget about everything.
BENEFITS: Animals really are a huge benefit to us. They love us unconditionally, they are always glad to see you, they really do know when your not feeling great and they are great cuddle buddies.
WHERE? If you don't have a pet like me you can ask around and find a dog locally. There are services such as Borrow My Doggy which might be of help.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Food/ Diet. Anyone whos knows me knows how much I hate to cook! It's gotten worse if I am honest. Cooking for one is absolutely soul destroying. I hate it. The shops have gotten much better with high quality, natural convenience food and I have to admit, without it I would starve to death. I don't buy rubbish. For example I buy vegan one pot meals, no added anything dinners, beetroot burgers, mixed bean salads and tonnes and tonnes of fruit. I love fruit. I make a green smoothie most mornings and add in lots of extras such as wheatgrass powder, spirulina, pea protein powder, ginger and chia seeds.
I take a multivitamin daily which has Vitmain D3 in it. There is a huge range of vitamin supplements out there. Ask in your local health food shop as I really am no expert.
Eating food such as oily fish ( tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines) can help your Vit D intake. Oysters also contain Vit D, they are supposed to be an aphrodisiac too, so there might be more things to smile about.
There are foods fortified with Vitamin D such as milk and orange juice. Vegans and vegetarians should look to almond and soya milk.
Mushrooms that have NOT been grown in the dark are also said to have some Vitamin D.
BENEFITS: We all know how dark and long Irish winters can be. Try and boost your body from the inside out.
WHERE: If like me you need help in the kitchen make sure you are buying decent convenience food. There are new ranges of health foods popping up everyday. Shop around and get some variety. If you need a supplement talk to your local health food shop. They are usually pretty knowledgeable and happy to help.
So these are just some of the ways I have been trying to get that feel good factor in my life! This list is by no means right or wrong. I still do Yoga, Pilates, Meditate and Cycle like a lunatic, however I really want to do other things this winter. Variety is the spice of life, rolling stones gather no moss and all that. It's not just about doing, doing and more doing. For me it's about keeping those happy hormones HAPPY. We need serotonin, it is our feel good hormone. We need oxytocin for social bonding, said to be released when we hug someone, we need dopamine for motivation, focus and concentration. So look after your WHOLE self not just the external. Sure, we all love a pretty face but ensure you are happy on the inside too.
NEED SOME IDEAS?
Join me in October for relaxing and refreshing Yoga Spa Beak in the Hodson Bay Hotel. If you can't organise the gang you can come alone. Lots of people do. There are two yoga classes and wine tasting to help break the ice. Details
If you prefer sun and a some adventure why not come cycling in Spain? I have a trip in both October 2018 and March 2019. This trip is for "proper cyclists" looking to get training miles. We also have four yoga for cyclists classes and group dinners. Suitable for solo travellers or for large groups. Details
What do you do to create a little sunshine in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor. She has recently qualified as a Personal Development Coach. Based in both Rathfarnham and Dundrum, South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independent, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including Les Cingles du Mont Ventoux & La Marmotte Sportive. She is an accomplished audax-er having done numerous 200km and 300km routes. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.