Enjoy the sound of silence
Many of us are so used to the assault and battery of 21st-century noise levels that we don’t question them. Apart from the irritation, the bigger problem, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is that noise can seriously harm our health. Excessive noise can cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, as well as impair hearing, reduce performance at school and work, and provoke stress responses that lead to physical illness.
WHO cites transport noise as the biggest cause. Many people simply can’t get away from it so the only solutions are double glazing windows, wearing earplugs at night or investing in ‘white noise’ machines that use sounds such as waterfalls or wind blowing through trees to divert the brain from intrusive sound.
Enjoy the sound of (near) silence by popping into a quiet park or church, or sitting by a river for a few minutes.
Actress Poppy Elliott is the managing director of Quiet Mark (www.quietmark.com), a not-for-profit trading arm of the Noise Abatement Society, which sprang from the volume of complaints to its helpline about the cacophony from everyday technology, from hair-dryers to washing machines: ‘One person complained their new fridge sounded like a hungry alien,’ she says.
Quiet Mark has approved a range of everyday products to reduce the stress of noise pollution. Some are big investments, such as Lexus cars, but others are more affordable.
Poppy loves the Russell Hobbs Serenity kettle, £39.99, and her Bio Ionic Whisper Light hairdryer, £125 (buy via www.quietmark.com)
CARRY ON, CHAPS: HOW TO SOLDIER ON WITH WINTER SKIN
Elizabeth Arden’s classic Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant is a legend among its millions of fans for year-round use on all skin problems from wind-chapped ‘skiing’ skin to sunburn.
The beauty balm counts some unlikely devotees including the Walking With the Wounded (WWTW) team of former soldiers who took it on their recent expeditions to the North Pole and Everest. Despite some initial manly scepticism, the team found that the cream worked on frostbite and blisters and prevented rubs forming on skin grafts and amputated limbs.
Private Jaco van Gass, who lost his left forearm and had severe shrapnel wounds to his left leg and torso, was first offered it in hospital: ‘It stopped the skin grafts drying out. It’s fantastic stuff. I used it on our expeditions – it made all the difference for frostnip on nose and cheeks.’
WWTW are now organising a multinational race to the South Pole in November and December 2013 (see their website www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk for details) and once again the participants will be relying on Eight Hour Cream. Available nationwide, £20 for 50 ml at www.beautyexpert.co.uk - buy here
GIVE IT UP FOR A GOOD CAUSE
We like the Dry January campaign by Alcohol Concern, which is doable and practical. As the website (www.dryjanuary.org.uk) points out, if you give up alcohol for a month, you will feel better, save money, ditch hangovers and reduce your waistline.
You could get people to sponsor you and raise money for Alcohol Concern, which will go to raising awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol and for research. As a one-time alcoholic, now 34 years off drink and drugs, I can promise you will have just as good a time with soft drinks and natural highs.
SING FOR YOU SUCCOUR
As we know from the wonderful Gareth Malone, singing enhances your life. Community choirs provide support for military wives, people with dementia and strokes (www.alzheimers.org.uk), and also for those affected by cancer.
The Tenovus Sing for Life Choir pilot study was set up in South Wales with 30 participants, including people with cancer, carers and friends or family. Dr Ian Lewis, associate director of Research at Tenovus (www.tenovus.org.uk) says, ‘The increasing incidence of cancer means we need to find “survivorship programmes” not related to a person’s illness, in their own communities.’ Results of the study showed improved vitality, social function, mental and emotional health, and also pain relief.