TEAM ZOELLA JULY 31, 2022

Everything You Need To Nail The ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ Cabincore Trend

If you too fell in love with Kya's laidback, marsh-side home and want to embody the cabincore trend in your own space, keep scrolling for the interiors additions you need to emulate her simple living energy.

You must have been living under a marshy rock to have missed the buzz surrounding the cinematic release of Where The Crawdads Sing, adapted from the bestselling book of the same title which topped The New York Times best seller list 2019 and 2020, totalling an impressive 32 weeks non-consecutively! 

Written by American author and Zoologist Delia Owens, the story follows female lead Kya, whom abandoned as a girl, raised herself in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. Her difficult upbringing doesn’t end there however, as she finds herself at the centre of a murder enquiry following the death of her former lover, of which she is now being accused of. Despite its dark and at times difficult to watch subject matter, one thing that remains captivating throughout is Kya’s cabin dreamworld, the beauty of living a life surrounded by nature, and the simplicity of the marshland. 

Whilst ‘Little House on The Prairie’ cottagecore was once the goal, cabincore is the new ‘it’ girl in the world of interiors, giving a more rustic, cosy feel that conjures up images of wood fires, soup on the stove and bringing the outdoors in. 

If you too fell in love with Kya’s laidback, marsh-side home and want to embody the cabincore trend in your own space, keep scrolling for the interiors additions you need to emulate her simple living energy.

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 30, 2022

15 Iced Drinks to Order If You’re Not a Big Fan of Coffee

We’ve done the rounds, surveying the best OG iced drinks and new additions this summer has to offer so you never have to miss out again.

POV: It’s iced coffee season but you don’t like coffee, and you don’t do fomo either. 

Girls everywhere are bundling into their cars with 16 bags and 7 chilled bevs, slurping their agave syrup and coconut milk blends on their way to work and taunting you with their ice cube ASMR. 

Enter: the no-coffee iced beverages to keep you cool this summer. 

We’ve done the rounds, surveying the best OG iced drinks and new additions this summer has to offer so you never have to miss out again. From a Colin the Caterpillar frappe to a Strawberry Acai Refresha, here are the refreshments every non-coffee drinker needs on their radar. 

Tropical Mango Bubble Frappe

Big news for 2022, Costa’s joined the bubble tea movement with this scrumptious frappe, featuring flavours of delicate coconut and mango and bursting with fruit-filled juicy pearls. Vacay mode: activated. 

Price: £4.75
Where to get it: Costa

Mango & Coconut Quencher

Like summer in a cup, this refreshing blend of creamy coconut paired with zingy mango makes for the ultimate thirst quencher. Cheers to balmy summers and chaotic attempts at stand up paddle boarding! 

Price: £4.00
Where to get it: Caffe Nero 

Colin the Caterpillar Frappe

Set to be the most ‘grammed’ drink of 2022, the Colin the Caterpillar Frappe is a blended chocolate drink, complete with chocolate whipped cream, a chocolate sauce drizzle, Colin sprinkles and – the pièce de résistance  – a chocolate Colin face. The M&S icon has enjoyed many culinary metamorphoses over the years but this drinkable creation has to be our new favourite. If you’re a fiend for chocolate milkshakes, don’t sleep on the Colin frappe. Petition for Percy to be next?

Price £3.50 
Where to get it: now available at M&S cafes across the country.

Italian Peach & Strawberry Booster

Prepare to be transported to the turquoise waters of the Italian Riviera with this refreshing blend of strawberry and Italian peach. Blended with ice and packed with fruity flavour, it’s like drinking la dolce vita. 

Price: £4.00
Where to get it: Caffe Nero 

Strawberry Acai Refresha 

The UK’s take on America’s Strawberry Acai Refresha, this is a blend of sweet strawberry flavours accented with acai notes and shaken with real strawberries. For a sweeter taste, ask for lemonade instead of water. Pure summer vibes. 

Price: £5.35
Where to get it: Starbucks

Cool Lime Refresha 

Strawberry not your thing? Order this lively blend of cool lime and citrus, shaken with real lime slices for a delicious pick-me-up delivering zesty hydration. Serotonin is served. 

Price: £5.35 
Where to get it: Starbucks 

Salted Caramel Frappe 

For something more indulgent, try this lush, creamy frappe with a rich swirl of caramel sauce, and topped with sugar crunch. Order with or without coffee, it’s delicious either way!

Price: £4.60
Where to get it: Costa 

Pink Coconut Refresha 

Finally, Starbucks are giving the UK people what they want.The Pink Coconut refresher aka The Pink Drink that broke the internet combines a creamy coconut milk base with sweet strawberry flavours. We can see why TikTok was buzzing for this thirst trap. Run, don’t walk. 

Price: £5.90
Where to get it: Starbucks 

Strawberry Lemonade

You might not have money for food or to hang out with your friends but you *always* have money for strawberry lemonade. Nostalgic, refreshing, sweet and zesty, try it once and you’ll never want your strawberries any other way. 

Price: £2.70 
Where to get it: Costa 

Peach Iced Tea 

The heatwave beverage of champs! Our cheeks feel alive at the mere mention of peach iced tea. Not too sweet and wielding just enough flavour to save it from tasting like glorified water / regret, this is a great option for anyone looking for a refreshing, energising beverage to make the morning commute bearable. 

Price: £4.55
Where to get it: Starbucks

Stranger Things Frappuccino 

It might be a ‘secret menu’ item (a network of drinks created by customers and baristas using Starbucks ingredients to create their own amazing recipes) and it might just cost you your entire life savings but we’re willing to risk it all for a ST frappe. 

Top tip if you’re in the UK, you need to ask for the set list of ingredients, rather than the ST frappe, so memorise the hell out of this: Strawberry Creme Frappuccino with mocha drizzle. Technically, it’s not totally coffee-free due to the mocha drizzle but hey, that’s The Upside Down for you. Have courage and order one asap. Good luck!

Price: POA 
Where to get it: Starbucks (supposedly)

Passionfruit Raspberry Frappuccino 

New to Starbucks for summer ‘22, this tropical taste sensation will see you through the heatwave. Featuring layers of passionfruit, raspberry and vanilla with a pop of pink berry sprinkles that will transport you to far flung paradise, it’s the perfect on-the-go bev to see you through the high temps. Hot hydrated summer starts right here!

Price: £5.70
Where to get it: Starbucks 

Banana Split Cream Frappuccino 

Starbucks’ take on the classic banana split dessert, with layers of caramelised banana sauce and mocha, finished with whipped cream and mocha drizzle. 

Price: £5.70 
Where to get it: Starbucks 

Fuzetea Strawberry Mint Iced Tea

Like a Pimm’s minus the sauce, this refreshing summer drink will go down a treat with a picky bits beach BBQ and cries of, “did anyone remember sun cream?” 

Price: £3.60
Where to get it: Costa 

Mint Chocolate Chip Frappe 

A creamy drink with mint and choc chip frappe, topped with cream and Belgian chocolate drizzle. Who said mint choc was for sad girl autumn only? 

Price: £4.70
Where to get it: Costa

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 29, 2022

8 Maxi Dresses You’ll Want To Live In For The Rest of The Summer

Reliable, failsafe and dependable no matter how last minute the plans, this wardrobe staple means your outfit is sorted in one fell swoop and you can concentrate on the more important summer decisions: frozen Margarita or Aperol Spritz?

The worst of the heatwave (aka feeling like your bedroom is an actual oven) may be out of the way, but if you’re still seeking easy, breezy outfits that feel like you’re wearing as little as possible then look no further than the humble maxi and midi dress. Reliable, failsafe and dependable no matter how last minute the plans, this wardrobe staple means your outfit is sorted in one fell swoop and you can concentrate on the more important summer decisions: frozen Margarita or Aperol Spritz?

Dressed up or down depending on if you opt for sandals or trainers, gold hoops or a string of colourful beads, these 8 maxi dresses work for both day to night, taking you from family BBQ to last-minute beachside cocktails with ease- who doesn’t love a multitasker!

From H&M and Weekday to Sleeper and Sezane, these 8 longline dresses make stress-free dressing possible on all budgets…

Zoe’s Summer Brunch Style

I’ve recently purchased this Sleeper dress and I love it! It’s quite a statement piece and has the floral pattern and puff sleeves which means I tend to dress it down a bit with more casual accessories like a sandal and straw bag combo. I also loved this necklace and thought it made the colours in the dress pop!

Liberty London, Sleeper Atlanta Pansies Print Linen Midi-Dress, £250
Arket, Leather Trimmed Straw Bag, £79
Arket, Woven Leather Slides, £135
Mango, Clay bead necklace, £19.99

Danielle’s Smart Summer Dinner Look

I’m still not over this shade of green, to be honest! I would pair these gorgeous Dune accessories with a really simple black dress featuring some really fun cut-out details for a smart summer dinner either on holiday or in boiling Brighton! I’d finish off the look with sunnies, this gorgeous gold Mejuri ring (with another pop of green) and a summer red lipstick!

H&M, Balloon-sleeved cut-out crêpe dress, £29.99
Dune London, Dempsy – Green Small Woven Cross Body Bag, £120
Dune London, Licorice – Green Leather Sandals, £75
& Other Stories, Chunky Rectangular Frame Sunglasses, £27
Space NK, Nars Lipstick, £23
Mejuri, Signet Pinky Ring Chrome Diopside, £88

Maddie’s Garden Party Vibe

When it comes to beautiful maxi summer dresses Sezane is always my go-to. There’s something about that French aesthetic that I’m always drawn to, it’s so understated yet elegant. I love the washed-out inky blue flowers and bohemian layers which would make this such a comfortable summer’s day piece. I would definitely pair this with some classic Castaner wedges (a staple summer shoe IMO) to give me a bit of height, a delicate necklace and an oversized raffia tote.

Sezane, PHILY DRESS Blue Flowers, £185
Net-A-Porter, CASTAÑER Carina 80 canvas wedge espadrilles, £85
Mango, Raffia tote bag, £79.99
Mejuri, Floating Sapphire Necklace, £88

Lily’s Sunset Drinks Style

Although my usual go-to dress length would be a mini or a midi, I am currently OBSESSED with linen. I would pair this linen maxi number with a black sandal/flipflop. A beach bag (my current LOVE is a beach bag/tote) to compliment the shoes, and also some cute retro sunglasses. Including, layering some jewellery to help dress up the outfit!

Zara, Linen Blend Dress, £32.99
H&M, Platform flip-flops, £17.99
ASOS DESIGN macrame knitted tote bag in black, £19
H&M, Three-strand necklace, £9.99
H&M, 9-pack rings, £9.99
Weekday, Cruise Squared Sunglasses, £18

Lareese’s Summer Event Look

I’m living for this Olivia Ruben style colour block maxi from ASOS – the washed-out pastels lend themselves perfectly to al fresco summer events from wine tasting (every vineyard is a catwalk) to garden parties or a day at the races. Style with strappy heeled sandals and a headband and it’ll make for a cracking wedding dress outfit or a dressy weekend fit, too. I’ll be saving it for the cooler temps when the breeze is back, ‘cos we all know satin in a heatwave is not the one!

ASOS DESIGN balloon sleeve colour block maxi dress, £50
Mango, Heel strips sandals, £49.99
& Other Stories, Ruched Alice Headband, £17
ASOS, My Accessories London co-ord satin frame clutch bag, £22

Charlotte’s Summertime Dream Dress

I’m personally rather partial to a mini dress, but even I can admit there’s something magical about a maxi dress and being able to get dressed in one simple step means I go back to them again and again. Who doesn’t love easy, breezy dressing in the summer months?! This pink number from Urban Outfitters is giving me big Olivia Rodrigo vibes, and in my humble opinion, any item that ticks that box is a big yes from me. I’ve styled it with a crossbody bag (this Eastpak one is a good substitute for the TikTok viral Uniqlo version!) which is perfect for summer days when you need an endless list of items- be it suncream, a portable charger and a mini deodorant- without being weighed down by a big tote bag. Finished off with some chunky sandals and some simple jewellery and this outfit is a summertime dream.

Urban Outfitters, UO Olivia Mesh & Lace Slip Midi Dress, £49
Warehouse, Chunky Double Strap Sandal, £79
Carrie Elizabeth, Slinky Herringbone Chain In Gold Plating, £100
Urban Outfitters, Eastpak Black Springer Bum Bag, £24

Darcey’s Heat Wave Hero

I love a simple black maxi dress on a hot day, this one from Weekday I think is especially nice with the open back which elevates the look a lot. I’ve paired it with some classic Birkeys and gold jewellery to complete the look and I absolutely LOVE this green shopper bag, so good for the beach or running errands!

Weekday, Sophie Open Back Dress, £36
Schuh, BIRKENSTOCK black arizona sandals, £65
Missoma, Squiggle Wavy Large Hoop Earrings, £115
Urban Outfitters, HVISK Loop Net Shopper Bag, £41

Liv’s Cowgirl Dream

I am living in midi and maxi dresses this summer, they are my uniform. This long-sleeved number from H&M is offering a perfect amount of cover-up and comfiness and I can see myself wearing it both dressed up and down. I am obsessed with cowboy boots at the moment, I’m also having a moment for red shoes, so combine the two and you have the boots of dreams.

H&M, Open-backed dress, £39.99
ASOS, Free People Brayden western boots, £268
Ray-Ban, Round Metal Sunglasses, £184

All the products on this page have been hand selected by our team but some are ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 28, 2022

What’s Your Toxic Friendship Trait?

Much like romantic relationships received wisdom tells us that we are supposed to be looking for ‘the one’. Our BFF. Our ride or die. A person who we (ideally) meet in primary school and remain tight with through all the highs and lows life will throw at us thereafter.

This is a guest article written by Natasha Devon, for content pitches please email [email protected]

At some point, most of us realise that we have picked up some kind of damaging belief about the experience of falling in love from cartoons or fairy stories. We realise that ‘and they lived happily ever after’ is an extremely unlikely outcome. We apprehend that you don’t have to be traditionally beautiful to be worthy of love (often after some self-esteem issues from having taken in that conviction in the first place) and that it doesn’t usually appear in the guise of Prince Charming on a noble steed.

But what about the messages we absorb around friendship? Well, much like romantic relationships, received wisdom tells us that we are supposed to be looking for ‘the one’. Our BFF. Our ride or die. A person who we (ideally) meet in primary school and remain tight with through all the highs and lows life will throw at us thereafter.

As sweet as this idea is, the lifelong BFF can only work in reality if either you don’t change throughout your entire life (which would be unhealthy), or if you and your best mate happen to grow in ways that complement each other (which is rare).

Natasha Devon

Another common misconception that many of us pick up is that when friendships end it’s because one person is right, the other is wrong and everyone around them should pick a side. When we’re kids, we learn that the world is divided into heroes and villains and we’re told stories where good triumphs over evil. But, as we get older, we start to realise it isn’t that clear cut. The world is full of flawed people, who are mostly doing their best, but often make mistakes. Sometimes, two people create a toxic dynamic between them not because either of them is trying to hurt the other, but just because they’re not compatible.

That’s one of the messages I explore in my debut novel, Toxic. The story centres around a young woman called Llewella, who becomes platonically infatuated with the new student at her sixth form college, Aretha. When their intense friendship turns sour, the anxiety disorder Loo thought was cured resurfaces, forcing her to confront some demons from her past. Whilst Aretha treats Loo appalling at times, there are good reasons why she is resentful towards her. Like all the best narratives, I wanted my anti-hero to be someone you’d have sympathy for, if you could see what was happening through their eyes.

I also wanted to challenge the idea that short-lived or finite friendships represent a ‘failure’. All friendship has the potential to teach us something valuable, even if it’s just where our boundaries are.

When I’ve had friendships become dysfunctional, it’s taught me a lot about how I behave when I feel anxious or threatened. I tend to push for a quick resolution, even if the other person is still mulling things over. I can’t bear unresolved conflict, so I’ll bug someone until they tell me what they’re thinking. I’d rather rip a plaster off quickly, but that often means I escalate situations which could have been worked through more calmly and productively if we’d all taken some cooling-off time.

Knowing how you behave when things spiral out of your control won’t just help you with your friendships, but is applicable to other areas of your life.Natasha Devon

I think that’s my toxic friendship trait and it’s something I’m trying to work on by learning to sit with and process my feelings, even when they’re painful or uncomfortable. Yet, I’d never have learned that about myself if I’d given into the temptation to think I’d behaved perfectly and everything that happened was the other person’s ‘fault’. Knowing how you behave when things spiral out of your control won’t just help you with your friendships, but is applicable to other areas of your life. Earlier today, a plan changed for a work-related project. I was really annoyed and my first instinct was to send a strongly worded email to the person responsible, to ‘pierce the balloon’ of my anger. But then I thought: ‘What would that achieve, actually?’ and reminded myself not to fret about things out of my control.

So, my challenge to you is to reflect on the less palatable aspects of friendship in your life – The arguments you’ve had, the people you’ve dropped and been dropped by – to forgive yourself (because these experiences are all part of life’s rich tapestry) and then to ask yourself, without judgment, ‘what is my toxic friendship trait?’

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 27, 2022

The Best of ButterTok, From Black Truffle to Pesto Pistachio Butter

Whether you can’t take your eyes off a classic garlic and herb combination or are dreaming of some freshly baked bread covered with a layer of pistachio, pesto deliciousness, keep reading for a selection of the best that ButterTok has to offer…   

Butter is taking over TikTok, and we’re not mad about it. With over 289 million views on the #ButterTok hashtag (we promise only 200 million of them are us…), the Internet is going wild for all things flavoured butter.  Be it garlic, truffle, pumpkin or cinnamon, the viral videos currently doing the rounds look particularly mouthwatering and surprisingly easy to make. What’s not to love?

Whether you can’t take your eyes off a classic garlic and herb combination or are dreaming of some freshly baked bread covered with a layer of pistachio, pesto deliciousness, keep reading for a selection of the best that Buttertok has to offer…   

Bloody Mary Butter

London chef, author of Food You Want To Eat and King of Buttertok itself, Thomas Straker is the original creator of the ‘All Things Butter’ series on TikTok, and it’s safe to say he makes a great case for incorporating butter into every meal. What he doesn’t know about butter simply isn’t worth knowing. 

Coming in at the number one spot of ‘things we want in our mouth immediately’: Bloody Mary Butter. This spicy, salty and tangy take on the classic cocktail is one for all the bottomless brunch girlies out there, offering something a little different to serve to guests who love any excuse for a drink, and aren’t afraid of a little *kick*. Deliciously creamy and perfect served in the sunshine with a freshly baked, toasted slice of sourdough, surely this is as close to heaven as any of us are getting. 

Steak Flavoured Butter

For the carnivores out there, steak-flavoured butter is possibly as meaty as it gets…

The juices of your steak form the basis for this butter, combined with the holy trinity of garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary to create a creamy, delicious and moreish addition to your dinner. Once you try it, you won’t want to eat your steak any other way. Don’t blame us, blame Thom.

Butter Confit Garlic

@poppycooks

Butter confit garlic is OFFICIALLY my new favourite thing 🧈🤤 #garlic #confitgarlic #butter

♬ original sound – Poppy O’Toole

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls smell of garlic at all times, and you’re sure to be stinking of the stuff after a portion of this butter confit garlic that is surely the definition of *chef’s kiss* 

Garlic, rosemary, chilli, salt and a whole lot of garlic roasted with clarified butter is all it takes to create this dish sent from the heavens, and let’s just say shop bought garlic bread will never be the same again.  Warning, do not prepare if you wish to be in close proximity to someone within 3-5 working days. You have been warned. 

Pistachio Pesto Butter

@deansheremet

Pistachio Pesto Butter. Use on fish, veg or slather on toast. #easyrecipe #snack #dinner

♬ original sound – Dean Sheremet

Pistachio Pesto Butter, that’s it, that’s the tweet. Creamy, fresh and perfect for summer soirées when a crowd pleasing dish is top of the agenda, add it to fish, veg or crostinis and you just bagged yourself the position of star baker (read: butter maker). You’ll need a food processor for this one, but consider it a purchase well made because we guarantee you’ll be recreating this green dream on a weekly basis. Bellissimo!

Red Wine Butter

This 3 ingredient red wine butter is one to grab from the recipe book (aka TikTok saved folder) when sophistication is on the menu- perhaps you’re cooking for a date or hosting your annual family get together for the first time, whatever the occasion, this recipe has you covered. 

Perfect served with lamb dishes, goat’s cheese or duck, this rich and creamy butter makes for a delicious addition to warming recipes in the winter or to add a kick of flavour to lighter summer meals too. Spoiler: don’t wear white whilst whisking it. 

Garlic Jalapeño Butter

For those who live for that extra bit of *spice* in life, this one’s for you. Once again heavy on the garlic and just as good both on a slice of toast or melted over a tray of crispy new potatoes, this garlic and jalapeño butter is as easy as it gets when it comes to a simple recipe guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Enjoy alongside a glass of jalapeño rosé for those really committed to the brand, and voila, consider your hot girl spicy summer activated…

Pumpkin Butter

Craving autumn during the heatwave? This recipe has your name written all over it. For lovers of cosy nights, fluffy pyjamas and hot chocolate in bed, this recreation of the famous Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter is undoubtedly going to be your newest obsession. Although *technically* not actually a butter, this rich, moreish spread is filled with pumpkin, vanilla, lemon and honey and makes for the perfect topping for toast or pancakes for the most decadent brunch of all! 

Spicy Butter

If you opt for Nando’s ‘hot’ when ordering your butterfly chicken, then consider this spicy butter one you’ll be adding to all your meals for the foreseeable future. Using habanero chillies, harissa, parsley and Dan-O’s spicy seasoning, this butter is not one for the fainthearted. Pair with a cooling margarita on the side to balance it out and your dinnertime is guaranteed to be giving vacay vibes. 

Black Truffle Butter

One for those with some time on their hands or lovers of the finer things in life, this black truffle butter is one of the most indulgent condiments of all. Serve with steak, mashed potato, grilled vegetables or a fancy slice of toast and consider your meals levelled up x1000. Truffle isn’t exactly cheap, but this one is perfect to have on hand at the end of a bad day – sometimes food solves everything. 

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Butter

@kaicooking

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Butter 🧈 This will elevate all of your food! #CookingTips #Butter #LearnFromMe #Cooking #Homemade #ChefsofTikTok #EasyRecipe

♬ Like Butter – Vandolizm

Anyone else find themselves dreaming about Pizza Express dough balls and garlic butter in moments of extreme hunger? Same. Recreate their deliciously garlicky, herby dip with this roasted garlic and rosemary butter, perfect with homemade dough balls or served with seafood, steak, chicken, or once again on toast (the elite). This super simple recipe is one you’ll be making for years to come. 

Vegan Butter

Vegans, you don’t need to miss out! This super simple yet creamy butter recipe is one to keep in your fridge at all times. Whether you choose to spread it in a sandwich or use it as the base for a creamy sauce, Lisa of @okonomikitchen has perfected this everyday recipe to a tee. 

Cinnamon Honey Butter

@mxriyum

Cinnamon Honey Butter 🎞 from Texas Roadhouse <3 my absolute favorite

♬ Coffee Shop – Late Night Luke

Another recipe recreation on the cards, this time in the form of Texas Roadhouse’s iconic Cinnamon Honey Butter, which the American steakhouse is somewhat famous for. Taking less than 10 minutes in total to make, this addictive, sweet spread goes perfectly with buns, muffins, banana bread and, you guessed it, your morning toast!

Wild Garlic Butter

Wild garlic has definitely had its moment over the past couple of years, and this vibrant green butter recipe is the perfect way to let its fresh, delicate flavours do the talking. Balanced with parsley, lemon zest and a pinch of salt, the wild garlic is the star of the show in not only flavouring this butter with its distinctive garlicky taste, but also colouring it a beautiful, pistachio-like green. Y-U-M. 

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 26, 2022

Suffering with Heavy, Painful Periods? A Herbalist Shares Her Hacks!

From reconnecting with your cycle to understanding the impact of chronic stress on your hormones, here Natasha gives her expert insight, practical tips and herbal hacks for managing heavy and painful bleeds, with a little help from mother nature. 

A stress-free period doesn’t exi… 

Tricky periods, meet your match! As a trained medical herbalist specialising in women’s health, Natasha Richardson has helped hundreds of people suffering with PMS, painful periods, persistent fatigue and chronic stress to reclaim their menstrual wellbeing. 

After suffering with prolonged period pain which seriously interfered with her life and being ignored by the medical profession, she discovered the amazing pain-alleviating properties of the botanical pharmacy right on her doorstep. 

Natasha has since gone on to create Forage Botanicals, a business aimed specifically at helping people with periods alleviate and manage the stress and symptoms of period pain and other menstrual cycle issues through health coaching, education and natural remedies.

Her powerful guide Your Period Handbook draws on her personal experiences of crippling period pain and her clinical expertise to educate you on everything you never knew about your period, whilst providing a comprehensive overview of relevant herbs and their uses. 

From reconnecting with your cycle to understanding the impact of chronic stress on your hormones, here Natasha gives her expert insight, practical tips and herbal hacks for managing heavy and painful bleeds, with a little help from mother nature. 

Q: Hi Natasha! First up we’d love to hear more about who you are, what you do as a trained medical herbalist and why you started Forage Botanicals?

Hi! I’m an intersectional feminist, mother and to-do list junkie. I trained in herbal medicine at Lincoln University, qualifying in 2010 after 3 years of training and 500 hours of contact time with patients. Recently, I graduated from Oxford after studying for a masters in Design History where I researched medical objects that have changed the modern woman’s body, such as the speculum and the contraceptive pill. I struggled with very painful periods when I was first at university, through my studies with herbal medicine I was able to get myself pain-free within 6 months, results I then later repeated with my own patients. I started to see clear patterns among my patients, similarities in triggers and herbs that were beneficial. Over the years of seeing results with particular herbs, I decided to bring the blends I was creating to the market, which is how Forage Botanicals was born. We now offer products alongside one-to-one treatments with professional herbalists. 

Q: What are your top tips and natural home remedies for period pain? 

Hot water bottles are my go-to, the most simple and most effective. We have a product in the range called Moon Time Belly Balm, which we created for period pain, using cooling peppermint and majaroam which helps with cramps and they are great to use together. If the pain increases, an orgasm can bring instant relief and the natural endorphins work wonders. Also, taking anti-inflammatory supplements like evening primrose oil or fish oils can help too, we recommend taking them daily for at least a month to make a difference. 

Q: Can holistic remedies help manage conditions such as Endometriosis, Fibroids, PCOS and Adenomyosis? 

Yes, I treated all of these conditions in my practice, working to manage triggers and symptoms. Typically Fibroids and PCOS  take 6 months to treat and once you know how to manage the condition you will see continued results. Whereas, with our Endo and Adeno patients treatment is often required longer-term as the condition can be reactive and flare up. 

Q: How can we reconnect with and reclaim our menstrual cycles? 

The number one way is to simply track your cycle. Not only track your bleed but also how you’re feeling, along with the day of your cycle so you can look for patterns month on month. Studies have shown that simply tracking symptoms can improve them because it helps people see any patterns and understand they are transient. 

Q: How can we have a ‘better’ period?

The best way to have a better period is to work hard at relaxing. Schedule time to do nothing. Literally, block out time in your diary time where you’re going to say no to social engagements. It’s a miracle worker. Our bodies need physical, emotional and sensory rest. If this is challenging and it is for so many of us with work and family commitments, help your body out with herbs that support your unnatural stress response, adaptogens like Ashwagandha and herbs such as hawthorn and oat tops which we blend in our Rested Resilience chai latte help to regulate the nervous system and promote rest.  

Q: What causes heavy periods (medically known as menorrhagia)? 

There are many causes but the most common is DUB. DUB means ‘dysfunctional uterine bleeding’ and sadly nobody knows what causes it. If you’re told your heavy periods are because of DUB it can feel like a big question mark. There are also perfectly natural reasons for heavy periods, like perimenopause which is important to talk about. However, just because heavy periods can be caused by something natural doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything about it. Iron supplements can really help, this is because when we have low iron levels we can be prone to bleed more, which then also reduces iron levels again, it’s a vicious cycle. Another reason for heavy flow is fibroids, these are relatively common and can be diagnosed through a scan. Fibroids tend to be more common later in life and will most likely dissipate when periods stop.

Q: What would your advice be for anyone suffering with particularly heavy or painful bleeds? Can a natural remedy help? 

Anyone with particularly heavy periods should try an iron supplement like Floradix. I also created our Aunt Flo drinking chocolate to boost your iron levels during and after your period, a chocolate that’s good for you, what more needs to be said? Painful periods also need long-term stress relief, an anti-inflammatory diet and on-the-day pain relief. 

Q: Our cycles can often provide the best insight for what’s going on with our overall health and wellbeing. What are some period ‘red flags’ to be aware of when tracking your cycle?

Any sudden changes are a big red flag and we recommend booking in to see your GP. 

Q: In your book The Period Handbook, you explore the effects of stress on our hormonal balance and wellbeing. How much does stress impact our periods and how can we ensure we’re living in a way that works with our cycle, rather than against it? Have we really become out of touch with the concept of relaxation?

In ten years of working with patients, stress is the number trigger of painful periods that we see time and time again. High and prolonged levels of cortisol in the body can impact everything from delayed periods to exacerbating PMS symptoms and worsening period pain. Our bodies are struggling to keep up with our busy lifestyles in ways we’re only just beginning to realise. Fortunately, herbs can help better equip our bodies to adapt to stress and reset, but ultimately we also need to redefine rest. Our bodies not only need physical rest but also sensory rest away from screens and devices to recalibrate. Good quality sleep is also incredibly important because it’s where we reset the whole body and heal from the day. Rest can be one of the hardest things to do for ourselves with daily demands and productivity guilt but we really need it. 

Q: There’s a long history of dismissing women’s pain in the medical industry, it’s routinely underdiagnosed and undertreated and we know you’ve sadly had first-hand experience of that. What can those going through something similar do to advocate for themselves? 

I sometimes joke that the best thing to do is bring a white middle-class male with you to do all the talking but it absolutely should not be the case. In order to advocate for yourself, you first need to have boundaries and knowledge about what you think is and isn’t acceptable. To adhere to those boundaries you’ve got to feel strong in the moment and sometimes, when you’re in pain, haven’t slept etc. you can’t do this for yourself, so bring a friend to an appointment for support. Also taking notes, logging symptoms and cycle tracking can arm you with the information that your doctor may ask you for. 

Q: We realise it must be like picking a favourite child but… do you have a soft spot for a particular herb / flower? 

Lady’s Mantle has to be my favourite, it has such a rich history in women’s health and first opened my eyes to the power of hormone-balancing herbs. 

Q: What’s your ultimate period self-care routine? 

Mine, without a doubt, is resting and having time to myself to reflect on life. I like to do that in the bath, or on a walk in nature. 

Q: What does menstrual wellbeing mean to you? 

I’ve made my mission of raising awareness around menstrual well-being shape my entire life so I guess it must mean a lot. Personally, I’ve found that menstrual well-being forms the very centre of my healthy lifestyle and that helps me keep on track with the habits I put in place.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 25, 2022

Behind the Magic of the Costume: We Spoke to a Real Life Mickey Mouse… 

From the intense audition process to the emotional reactions from parents and children and the reality of life behind the giant fuzzy costume, here’s what a once-upon-a-time Mickey Mouse had to say about their time in the parks. 

Ever wondered what it’s really like playing Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck at Disneyland? We spoke to an anonymous former fur character to find out! 

From the intense audition process to the emotional reactions from parents and children and the reality of life behind the giant fuzzy costume, here’s what a once-upon-a-time Mickey Mouse had to say about their time in the parks. 

Q: Which character did you play and which Disney were you located in?

I worked at Disneyland Paris for a year and was friends with a whole variety of characters! (Translation: being friends with a character is Disney speak for portraying a character). These included Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Timon, Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, and Piglet – these were the main ones, however, you used to get trained to be friends with additional characters if they needed them for special events or occasions. For example, Thumper used to meet during the Christmas season so you would have an afternoon of training to add him to your pack!

Q: What’s the hiring process like?

So, you attend an audition, which is usually held in London or Leeds. Once you enter you get measured – this then determines what characters you can be friends with. Everyone does an animation round which is a lot of improvising as different characters to show that you actually can act! People are then cut and a dance round begins. You’re taught a short piece of choreography that is still character-based so then you can show your dance skills whilst still portraying a character. After this, you’re then split up into two groups, those who can be friends with the characters and dance on parade and those who are only sticking to character sets – this is decided by how well you scored in the rounds.

People are then called up who potentially could be friends with face characters (princesses/villains) and are closely inspected and asked for any additional information like visible tattoos. If they’re successful they then go to another room for fittings to see if they’re able to be friends with the characters in mind.

Everyone else signs forms to say when their availability is and if there’s anything people should be aware of like asthma or being claustrophobic.

Q: Do you need to do a character study or go to Disney School?

Once you arrive you do a class called Traditions, this is where you learn about the Walt Disney Company and all about the parks. You then do a week of training which includes all the information you need to know about working there. You also do animation training and learn your friends’ autographs – need to see if you actually have eligible writing and can make your handwriting look different! After the week, you then are given a friend and you head out into the parks to see if your training has paid off – if not, you’re then sent home.

Q: What are the physical requirements for the role?

Face character roles revolve around your height and your look massively – after all, you are having to portray some of the most loved characters out there and children aren’t afraid to point things out! There’s such a wide height range between all the characters though so there is something for everyone. 

Q: How did you deal with the pressure to maintain the ‘Disney look’ you’re hired for? 

It differs between parks with this one. Some parks are ok with you having non-visible tattoos but other parks will give you a straight-up no and the same with coloured hair! It’s all changing a bit now as well with the Walt Disney Company bringing in inclusion as one of their keys (they call their brand values ‘keys’) so some of the Cast Members, especially in the States are truly portraying this now – a friend of mine met a male Cast Member on her recent holiday who was wearing glittery eyeshadow which I just LOVE!

Q: What experience do you need to land the part?

A lot of the Cast Members have had either acting, dance, or musical theatre training and that’s how they’re so quick on their feet with improvisation and are able to dance on the parades. However, a few people I knew just went to an audition on a whim and were naturally good at improvising so got the role! 

I’d say that improvisation is the biggest part though. You have to be so quick on your feet to think of your next move – pointing out people who have your characters’ faces on or dancing with little children. It’s important that each guest has a different interaction as they can all see you in the queue so you want to interact with them in a way that’s special to them!

Q: Is it true that you have to fit into costumes that already exist?

Yup! Your friend’s costume is shared by the whoooole company so if you don’t fit (even when you’re already backstage!) then sorry, it’s time to pack your bags.

Q: How long does it take to get into character before a shift?

This varies between your role. If you were friends with fur characters, you’d usually come in with your hair ready and bare-faced, find out your shift allocation and then get your stuff together – they allow you 30 minutes prep for this type of shift before your taxi comes and gets you.

If you’re friends with face characters, you’re given extra time because of having to sort out cosmetics etc. & before the parade everyone who is on has a run-through at a certain time of their routine a) so they know you can do it and b) so they know you still look good doing it.

Singers in the shows will do warm-ups to help them prepare as they tend to do multiple shows per day.

Q: Is there a certain amount of guest targets characters need to hit?

Nope! You’re on set for 30 minutes and the goal is to just keep getting the queue down whilst giving the guests a fun and memorable meet! If you’re too slow though it will get picked up on – same if you’re too fast!

Q: Did you have to practise your official Mickey signature?

You have to practice all your friends’ signatures to make sure they’re as close to the original as can be! & if they’re not, people will snitch on you for a bad signature!

Q: On a scale of 1 to FIRE, how hot is it under the costumes?

In the Winter it can be quite cosy! But in the Summer it can get pretty sweaty! However, when it reaches over a certain temperature they’ll lower the meet and greet times and cut choreography on parade for health and safety. When it’s too cold, they’ll also swap out characters so characters like Donald and Daisy will stay indoors because their legs are on display whereas characters like stitch will be able to go out and play!

Q: With fur characters, you’re using your body language to react and mime, how was that element of the role?

Yes, you’ll often see people asleep backstage! And it’ll also depend on who you’re friends with, as some are incredibly energetic (like Stitch) but some are tamer like Scrooge McDuck. You have to adjust stances as well so if you’re friends with Scrooge, you’re a weak old duck do have to adjust your stance to an elderly person which can then hurt the next day as you aren’t used to it!

Q: What’s the team energy like?

Depends who you’re on shift with! If you score lucky and end up with your friends you can have the best shifts ever but if you get people you don’t really know and there’s a language barrier it can be a pretty lonely day.

Q: How long are you guaranteed to be ‘friends with’ a certain character?

You could be friends with a new character that’s in your pack each day! Sometimes you would already know who you’d be friends with from what your timetable says (it would say a location) but if you were on character dining then it could be a gamble on who you would end up with.

Q: What’s the best / weirdest reaction you experienced from a guest?

There was a lot… I guess the most common one would be children when they don’t know where they’re putting their hands, so that’s something you have to manage!!

The best interaction would be an evening dining shift I did and there was a child who just wanted to cause mischief and of course, Donald Duck wasn’t going to say no. So Donald and this child spent some time sneaking up on other characters and scaring them, playing hide and seek, and getting up to all sorts! It’s those shifts that really do make you realise what joy you’re bringing to people’s lives.

Q: Does anyone ever try to get you to break character?

Absolutely! People try to tickle the characters to make them laugh, they try to sneak up on them, attempt to trip them up – no idea why!

Q: It’s pretty cool to make someone’s day! How was that side of the job?

It’s rewarding but it can be very emotional and hard. A lot of children use their Make a Wish experience to come to Disney and ask to see a specific type of character. As heartbreaking as it is, I’m also grateful that these moments can fulfil that child’s last wish. 

Q: Was anyone ever disastrously fired whilst you were working there? 

There actually wasn’t – the most excitement was people kicking off when they didn’t get the shift they wanted.

Q: Did it pay well? 

Yes, in terms of the fact that your rent was like 400 euros per month, including your bills!!! So it felt like you had lots of spare money because you weren’t paying normal rent!

Q: What was the best and hardest part of the job?

Best was definitely seeing how truly happy the characters make the guests. Whether it was on parade or in a meet and greet, the smiles the characters got back were magical to see!

Hardest was being away from friends, family, and partners. As much as everyone says ‘we’ll come out and see you’, the reality is they can’t because it’s expensive! Some days you work awkward shift times so it’s hard to catch up with people but thankfully you make lifelong friends whilst you’re out there to distract you.

Q: Biggest misconception about working as a friend of a Disney character?

That it’s easy work! A lot of people think anyone can do it and that it sounds like a dream life but it’s incredibly hard work! A lot of mental and physical energy goes into it and it can get quite testing at times.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 24, 2022

Zoe’s Clothing Favourites for Ottilie This Summer

From independent stockists on Etsy to the best of the high street, these easy, breezy summer picks are just a few of the adorable new additions Zoe has added to Ottilie's wardrobe for the warm months ahead.

Let’s face it, baby clothes are 10/10 cuter than adult sizes, and that’s a fact. Whether it’s an adorable summer dress or a teeny, tiny knitted romper, shopping for clothes for little ones- be it your own or those within your family or friendship group- is one of the most wholesome activities of all. Who needs a massage to relax when you can look at a tiny pair of socks and suddenly feel like everything is right in the world?!

From independent stockists on Etsy to the best of the high street, these easy, breezy summer picks are just a few of the adorable new additions Zoe has added to Ottilie’s wardrobe for the warm months ahead. Be it to catch some rays on Brighton beach or splash around in the paddling pool at home, it seems Ottilie’s always dressed to impress (and already way cooler than we’ll ever be).

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 23, 2022

Happy Hormones and How To Hack Them

The phrase ‘hormone hacking’ suggests that we hold the power to drastically change both how we feel and our body’s reaction to different scenarios, but what does it really mean to influence your hormones, and is it truly possible to change them in the long term? 

Whether it be viral TikTok videos or Instagram infographics, hormones are a hot topic on the Internet at the moment, and for good reason…

The phrase ‘hormone hacking’ suggests that we hold the power to drastically change both how we feel and our body’s reaction to different scenarios, but what does it really mean to influence your hormones, and is it truly possible to change them in the long term? 

We spoke to Functional Medicine Doctor and founder of the Lantern Clinic, Dr Margarita Kitova-John, and Marisa Peer, world-renowned therapist, best-selling author and developer of the therapeutic method Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT), to find out more…

What are hormones? 

“Hormones are essentially chemical messengers in the body,” says Dr Margarita. 

They travel around and affect different organs and tissues, working slowly and over time affecting various physiological processes including:

  • Mood
  • Growth and development 
  • Metabolist: how the body gets nutrients and oxygen 
  • Sexual function and reproduction.

“Hormones are produced by endocrine organs, which are groups of specialised cells, situated in different locations across the body. The endocrine glands include the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas and sexual organs such as testes in men and ovaries in women. 

“Hormones are powerful substances! Even a small quantity of hormones can trigger a big reaction in cells across the body. For example, Insulin, produced by the pancreas is a response to food ingestion. It facilitates the digestive processes and controls the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream, into each human cell that needs it to function.” 

So, is it really possible to control or alter our hormones?

“While technically hormones can’t be controlled, certain lifestyle choices can influence them strongly,” says Dr Margarita. 

“For example, intermittent fasting has been scientifically proven to be an effective way to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, by reducing the release of insulin. A raw diet, higher in protein content and lower in processed carbohydrates, is also beneficial for lowering Insulin, as well as the stress hormone, cortisol. 

“When cortisol and adrenaline are high due to stress, their levels can be brought down effectively by deep breathing, cold water immersion, laughter and meditation. These interventions activate the rest and digest mode via the parasympathetic nervous system.

“While attempting to influence individual hormones with specific foods or activities, we must remember that hormones typically rely upon and play off each other. Rarely can you influence one hormone in isolation, without having an impact on others, since they work in an orchestrated way. Imagine the domino effect!” 

Whilst all hormones are necessary and helpful in our human experience, some undoubtedly feel nicer than others…

“Survival hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released when we are scared or in an intense situation, putting us in a “fight and flight mode”. Sweaty arms, butterflies in the stomach, high blood pressure and pulse and shallow breathing are all good signs that our body is getting a jolt of stress hormones. We are meant to experience these symptoms of “mobilisation” for short periods. In today’s 24/7 society, most of us function in a permanent fight and flight mode, leading to a multitude of biochemical changes, leading to diseases,” says Dr Margarita. 

One group of hormones are nicknamed “the happy hormones”, because of the happy and sometimes euphoric feelings they produce in us. Introducing: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. 

Marissa Peer, best-selling author of Tell Yourself a Better Lie and world-renowned therapist and relationship expert, has spent much of her career exploring the ways in which we can individually create positive emotions by stimulating the happiness and love chemicals.

So let’s break down what these so called happy hormones are, and the times in which our bodies create them… 

Oxytocin

Known as the love hormone, oxytocin is produced when we have physical contact not only with a partner but also when our skin is caressed or touched, such as during a massage. Oxytocin is also an important hormone linked to childbirth and breastfeeding. We also create oxytocin when we stroke a pet and it’s responsible for that warm fuzzy feeling that also helps to combat stress. It creates a sense of trust and bonding.

Serotonin

As well as helping with sleep, it also affects your mood, your digestion and your ability to learn. If your serotonin levels are low, you can feel anxious or depressed, have trouble sleeping or constant fatigue as well as potential problems with your digestion.

Dopamine

Known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone, dopamine is associated with your motivation, your reward for that motivation and self-affirmation. If you had promised yourself the last scoop of ice cream once you’d done your chores only to get to the freezer and find someone’s beaten you to it, that could lower your dopamine levels. Dopamine plays a role in all sorts of the body’s functions from your response to stress, how you process pain and even your heart and kidney function.

Endorphins

Endorphins help boost happiness as well as acting as a natural pain reliever and means to cope with stress. They work in a similar way to opioid drugs and a reduction in endorphins can cause depression.

“You may think you can never have too much of a good thing but like life generally, maintaining a balance is always the best thing and the same is true of hormones. Your body is like a finely-tuned instrument so too little or too much of any hormone can have a negative impact on you,” says Marisa.

“Doing things to support the production of your happy hormones and trying to avoid stress or, being realistic, learning coping techniques, is the healthy way to approach life.”

So what can you do to positively support your body’s hormone production?

Exercise – aerobic exercise that gently increases your heart rate is a great mood enhancer, especially if it involves getting out into the fresh air and letting Mother Nature lift your mood. Swimming, dancing, group exercise classes and yoga are all great ways to contribute to a feeling of well-being.

Eating – pack plenty of healthy protein into your diet including oily fish like salmon and mackerel, nuts and white meat. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also good but especially dark leafy greens. Fermented foods are another good way of boosting your body including kombucha, homemade ginger beer and kimchi. 

Laughing – laughter is one of the best ways there is to produce happy hormones. It lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your abs, boosts special immune cells called T-cells and reduces stress hormones. Swap out gruesome true crime shows for something funny and make time for laughter at work with your colleagues.

Sex – as well as being great aerobic exercise, it will give your body a boost of oxytocin. “I call orgasms nature’s face cream as it helps women combat ageing as well as making them feel good,” says Marissa. 10/10 advice if we ever did see it.

Sleep – when we’re asleep our body produces less cortisol, the stress hormone. However, our bodies also work in sync with the amount of light we’re exposed to which is known as our circadian rhythm and functions over a 24-hour period. Our bodies like consistency so unless we get a regular night’s sleep at roughly the same time every night, it can knock our endocrine system out of balance.

Pets – once the stressful part of pet ownership is over (particularly the demands of puppies or kittens), they can support our mental well-being simply by their presence. When we stroke an animal or engage with them, we produce oxytocin.

Massage – whilst massage is a great way to relieve aches and pains as well as get our lymphatic system moving, the very fact of being touched by another human is one of its greatest benefits. It releases oxytocin and endorphins which is the reason we feel relaxed after a massage.

Get creative – whether it’s listening to music and having a dance or trying your hand at something new, letting go or challenging yourself in a different way will see your happy hormones dancing along with you.

Dealing with the downers

Focused breathing – when we’re feeling stressed, a great way to get those feelings under control is through focusing on our breathing. This will help reduce cortisol levels. Box breathing is one such approach where you breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four and then hold for a further four before beginning the exercise again. Make sure you breathe deeply into your diaphragm but don’t overdo it otherwise you risk hyperventilating. Breathing like this helps to turn your focus away from the stressor and create space to let go of the flight or fight instinct and look at a problem in a more considered way.

Natural light – getting out into the natural light, but especially sunlight, makes us feel good as it helps in the production of dopamine. Obviously it is important to adhere to the guidelines when we’re in direct sunlight. Come autumn and winter, many of us are noticeably aware that our mood alters when there is less sunlight. Getting outside whatever the weather will help but it’s also worth considering a specific light to help tackle SAD.

“There is plenty we can do to affect both the happy hormones and the ones that make us feel stressed. However, it’s probably better to try getting your happy hormones working harder for you as that way you’re making less room for stress to get in your way. Having said that, don’t expect miracles if you try something once and it doesn’t work for you – incorporate these positive approaches in your daily life for at least a month until they become habits. This will certainly bring the most benefit,” says Marissa. 

The bottom line 

“Hormones are involved in every aspect of human health and well-being and the body requires very specific amounts of them to function optimally. Hormone imbalance may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions. While the factors that affect the hormonal balance are beyond our control, we can take several steps to help manage the hormonal levels. Consuming nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and engaging in other health-promoting behaviours such as meditating may go a long way toward improving our hormonal health,” says Marissa.

Happy hormone hacking!  

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 21, 2022

How To Build a Better Relationship With The News

Having a healthy relationship with the news is tough in times like these. But our friends at The Know are *total* experts on the subject. In this piece, they help you break the doom-scrolling cycle so you can stay informed without trading in your peace.

This is a guest article written by The Know, for content pitches please email [email protected]

Let’s set the scene…

You’re watching TV on a Sunday morning, and decide to flip to the news channel. Immediately, flashing banners warn you that breaking news is on the way. The presenter speeds through a seemingly endless list of horrors. A scrolling bar at the bottom updates you on issues you didn’t even know existed. You turn off the TV to take a breather, and half-consciously start scrolling on your phone.

Social media only makes you more overwhelmed. Your habitual Instagram scroll feels like an obstacle course, filled with urgency, sensationalism, and negativity (accompanied by jealousy-inducing photos of your high school friends’ glamorous summer holidays, of course). You’re interested in some of the news you scroll past, but the stressful language and echo-chamber comments make you wonder whether it’s any good.

It’s overwhelming to say the least. Some headlines remind you of all the things that you’re already anxious about. Other headlines introduce people and problems you’ve never even heard of: anxiety yet to come. You lock your phone, turn it face down next to you, and declare once again that trying to keep informed is wrecking your mental health. You decide to break up with the news once and for all.

Sound familiar?

You’re far from alone. A recent report By Reuters and the University of Oxford found that almost half of Brits avoid the news. You can’t really blame them – who wouldn’t want to distance themselves from a constant barrage of negativity? 36% of people say that the news negatively impacts their mood, which makes it a hard sell – especially with our own financial, family, and mental health issues to deal with. 

But we also know that staying informed is extremely important (which might explain the bit of guilt that hangs around when you quickly scroll past a BBC post). We simply can’t work towards a better future if we are totally out of the loop. We need to understand the world we live in – after all, how can we vote on important issues if we don’t know much about them?

At The Know, our goal is to help people stay informed without getting overwhelmed – so, we’re basically experts on this subject (if we do say so ourselves). That’s why we know it’s truly possible to have it all: you can keep aware of current affairs, curate informed opinions, and still stay as stress-free as possible. 

How, you ask? We’ve got some tips! Here’s what we’ve found works for us and our readers as we build a healthy relationship with the news…

1. Choose sources you trust and limit the amount of time you allocate to them

The number of news sources competing for your attention can feel completely overwhelming. Pick two or three outlets you trust (and that don’t cause you too much anxiety), whether it’s a news app or a digestible daily newsletter. Build some time into your routine that’s dedicated to getting caught up (we recommend reading on your commute or while you drink your morning coffee!). Limiting news exposure to an allocated time will prevent the never-ending doom scrolling.

2. Take an axe to your Instagram feed

Unless your preferred method of keeping up with the news is on your socials, unfollow the news accounts that trigger your anxiety. Social media is already hard on our mental health – try to make it a more positive space by following upbeat or purely informative accounts, and leaving your actual news reading to other platforms. 

3. Seek out solutions and positive stories

While it’s certainly important to know about the not-so-good things that are going on in the world, it’s equally important to protect your mindset by finding the bright side of life. Traditional media tends to favour doom-and-gloom sensationalism, but some news outlets, like The Know, spotlight positive stories and the solutions that exist. It’ll help you remember that things aren’t *all* bad. 

4. Take part in your community

With a global news cycle, we can sometimes forget to focus on the issues that are under our nose – but the truth is, you’re much more likely to make a meaningful impact in your own town or neighbourhood. That’s because you know the needs and norms of your community better than any other – plus, you can see the positive impact first-hand and stay motivated to keep making change. Seek out Facebook groups that organise community-building activities, or look for opportunities to get involved on websites like Do It Volunteer.

5. Ditch the idea that you need to be an expert on everything. 

One of the fallacies that can make the news so overwhelming is that you need to know the ins-and-outs of every single issue. But the truth is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to become an expert on every story. Make intentional choices to block out some of the noise that feels less essential. As for all the other stories – trust us, you won’t be quizzed on them.

But above all, remember not to be too hard on yourself! If you’re a total news junkie (like us!) it might be hard to break your consumption cycle, even if you know it’s doing you no good. Have some grace and remember that everyone can handle a different level of engagement – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

If you’re looking for a digestible way to stay in touch with current events, check out The Know’s free 5-minute daily newsletter. It’s easy to understand, extremely entertaining, and we start every day with a positive news story, guaranteed. 

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