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When I was 20 years old I had a health breakdown.

What’s a health breakdown, you might ask?

It’s basically when your body says “No, more!” and your immune system stops functioning in the way a healthy system should.

I was studying full-time, finishing my matriculation examination, working in pharmacy part-time, participating in a modelling contest. I had a lead role in a theatre production where we were performing 3-4x a week.

You see how much time there is left over for sleep, rest, eating etc?

That’s how you manage this thing called life, right? By saying yes, being perfect and looking effortless whilst doing it? Well, that’s what my 20-year old self thought at the time.

The results were an ill-functioning immune system, chronic colds & a bleeding ulcer.

Since then, I built my system back up and started putting more focus on my health, both physical health & mental health. There was literally no way around it.

Trying to find the right balance can take some time. Sometimes you will think you have it figured out and sometimes you won’t. You are not going to get it perfect every time and that’s ok. But it is important to know the stressors that affect your mood and well-being the most and look for ways to manage the stress that arises as a result.

For me, if I’m not mindful when stress creeps into my life then my stress behaviour includes forgetting to eat, skimping on sleep, forgetting to drink water and drinking too much coffee. That usually results in weight loss, a bloated stomach, bad digestion, blotchy skin and general irritation.

How I manage stress on a regular basis:

  • I try to eat regularly, when I’m hungry. I make sure that my meals are nutritious and balanced. I find that following a diet that is mostly plant-based (I’m not vegan nor vegetarian) keeps me fulfilled, nourished, light & happy.
  • I sleep at least 7 hours a night.
  • Mindfulness Meditation everyday. Some days I only manage 3 minutes or just catching a breathing space and on others I manage more. Regardless of the time I spend on meditation each day, it helps me manage daily stress & strain, communication with my family and contact with people in my daily life. Research shows that meditation in general has a positive effect on both mood and stress-management/stress-reduction.
  • Exercise. I do Pilates, yoga, walking running/cycling. I exercise 6 days a week. Even if I only have 10 minutes, I try to fit it in. Exercise boosts endorphins release and your mood as well as playing a big role in stress-management.
  • I listen to music that boosts my mood. Check out the playlists “Mood Boosting Tunes” or “Hawaiian Kids Music” on Spotify.
  • I do work that gives meaning and value to my everyday life. I do nutrition consultation, I work with people & children, I write, I keep educating myself within the fields that I’m interested in but also push boundaries with creative education like signing up for a course in conversational Italian (I don’t speak Italian b.t.w.).
  • I spend time with my family.
  • I take time alone as well. Perhaps just 5 minutes or 30 minutes that day or week but time alone gives me the chance to gather my thoughts, relax, breathe or put on a face mask.

And in the words of Alice Herz-Sommer who lived to the great age of 110 years: “I know about the bad but I choose to look at the good.” 

Tip! Instead of downing that extra double-shot espresso when you need the energy to complete a task try an energizing & balancing tonic like Dragon Tea.

Edited version published on Skyn Iceland´s website April 15th 2016

Trying to find the right balance can take some time. Sometimes you will think you have it figured out and sometimes you won’t. You are not going to get it perfect every time and that’s ok.