Creative Fix,  Wellbeing Fix

How to Ward Off the Winter Blues / AD

Happy new year! So, 2020 has begun and whether you believe in setting new year resolutions or not, the start of a new year can be a great time to think about how you can make small, healthy adjustments to your life. For me, it’s to make more of an effort to look after myself. My diet is the biggest factor, as eating healthily seems to go out the window when life gets busy and I’ve got a big shoot on. Junk food starts reappearing (biscuits at my desk when I’m working from home, for example – there’s no one there to make me feel I should stop at just one!) and before I know it, I’ve fallen back into bad habits.

It’s the same for the exercise. I used to think that if I was ridiculously busy there was just no way I could work exercise into my day. How wrong I was! Even just looking at how many steps I’m taking each day and trying to fit in a half-hour power walk at lunch, or getting off the tube a stop earlier to walk the rest of the way helps to up that step count. And this year I’d like to get outside more, whether it’s for a walk or a cycle (I’m not much of a runner!), so that’s a new year’s resolution that I’m actually looking forward to.

At the end of last year I was invited to a Winter Wellness Retreat event by Ricola, a Swiss family company that specialises in herbal products. You’ll have seen its herbal sweets in the shops – they’re ideal if you’re feeling a bit rundown or suffering from a cold or cough – and they taste really nice (the Honey Lemon Echinacea flavour are my favourite). I’ve been carrying a packet in my bag since the event and they really helped over Christmas when I had a horrible sore throat. Anyway, the event was held by Ricola and Balance magazine and its aim was to teach us how to give ourselves a bit of TLC during the winter months, when it’s cold and dark out, and there’s a zillion illnesses doing the rounds. It was exactly what I needed.

wellness workshop
All set up for our Balance Winter Wellness Retreat


Ricola herbal sweets in jar
Ricola’s sweets are made from herbs grown in Switzerland

So, what can we do to ward off the winter blues? Well, keeping yourself stress and anxiety-free is a big part of the wellbeing process and one way of combating those stressful times is by concentrating on our breathing. We had Rebecca Dennis of Breathing Tree at the event to go though some breath work exercises with us. I wasn’t sure what this was going to entail, but what Rebecca showed us was how we can use certain breathing techniques to help us at points when we’re feeling anxious or stressed, or to alleviate anger, frustration and fatigue. The exercises she used were super simple, but effective – you could feel the difference in your mood immediately after doing them and I’ll definitely be using them to see me through those busy shoots and long, dark days! Rebecca offers retreats and workshops too, you can check her out here.

Breathing techniques workshop
Teaching us how to use our breathing to combat stress

Yummy healthy food and drinks were served, too – a reminder that it’s important to take care of ourselves and eat fresh as much as we can.

Healthy juice drinks


Then we went on to a more mindful activity – making a terrarium. Doing something creative is a great way to keep your spirits up and bring a bit of nature inside.

Glass terrarium workshop

Plants and moss in terrarium

Now these mini tabletop gardens have become pretty popular in the last few years, but did you know that they actually date back to 1842? Yep, the first terrarium was developed by botanist Nathanial Bagshaw Ward when a fern spore in a jar grew into a plant – it caught on in the Victorian Era and became known as the Wardian Case. Anyway, I digress… we learnt how to make a terrarium and I thought I’d share the steps with you, so you can make your own one should you wish. They’re ideal if you want to perk up your indoor space, decorate a shelf or table and try out your green fingers – plus they’re nice to look at and ultra-easy to care for, too. Here’s how to do it…


How to Make a Mini Indoor Garden


  1. First off you need a glass terrarium jar. We used ones with a cork lid. You could try this one, or these ones have an LED in the cork stopper! Fill the bottom with some clay pellets like these – they only need to cover the bottom, you don’t need them too high. The clay pellets act as water drainage for the plants’ roots, to make sure any excess water doesn’t stay in the soil and rot.clay pellets in a bowl
  2. Next up, take a handful of sphagnum moss and pop it on top of the pellets. Then pat it down so it’s 1cm high. At this point, you can use a paintbrush to clean the inside of the terrarium if any of the moss gets caught on the glass.Sphagnum moss in terrarium
  3. Now add a half-inch layer of activated charcoal on top of the moss. This acts as a filter to pull any toxins and bacteria from the soil and water, keeping the water nice and fresh, and also helps deodorize your terrarium.
  4. Time to add the soil. Potting soil is an important layer and although you can use any variety, there are special ones if you’re going to be planting succulents and cacti, like this. Make sure it’s deep enough that your plants can root into it (about two-and-a-half inches is about right).adding soil to terrarium
  5. Now, it’s time to add the greenery. Choose four to five plants (ones that do well with humidity are best, like cacti, succulents and air plants). Start with your largest plant, take it out of its pot, dust/prune the roots and then make a hole in the soil large enough for the roots to go in. Nestle the plant in and move the soil around it to keep it stable. Then take your other plants, one at a time, and pop them in in the same way. That’s the beauty of a terrarium, each one is unique to you and there’s really no right or wrong.Add plants and succulents
  6. Finish up by adding some moss and/or pebbles to the top for a decorative touch.add stones and pebbles to terrarium

We were told that sunlight (place it somewhere that gets natural light but not in direct heat) and water are the two important factors in keeping your terrarium alive, so lightly water the base every two weeks or if the soil looks like it’s dried out.

Here’s mine looking ultra-fine in my living room.

glass terrarium on shelf in living room


Let me know what you think of it – and I’d love to hear your best winter wellbeing tips…

*Post sponsored by Ricola.




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