STRESS AND DEPRESSION, mental health, CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PRENATAL DEPRESSION, ALISON CANAVAN, BE COMPLETE, DEPRESSION DURING PRENANCY, FERTILITY TREATMENT AND DEPRESSION,We often talk about postnatal depression in women but lately I’m hearing about more and more women struggling with both stress and depression when they are trying to conceive and during their pregnancy. Some women are lucky and conceive straight away, but for others trying for a baby can lead to years of stress, fertility treatments and, in some cases, depression.

According to the HSE, depression affects one in four women at some point in their life. It often occurs when women are in their 20s and 30s, when they may also be considering having children. Fertility treatment can cause you to live month to month, trying to balance and navigate a tight schedule of tests and treatments. This can be incredibly difficult even for the most resilient among us.

This journey can not only start to erode your self-confidence, but it can also affect your friendships and lifestyle, too. You can feel sad and scared, and for many life can spiral out of control, which is why it’s important to ‘mind yourself’. At times this is easier said than done, but eating well, exercising, keeping a gratitude journal, practising mindfulness and meditation, doing fun activities with your partner and spending time with friends can all help.

The most important thing to remember is to share your feelings. If you feel you can’t speak to your partner, finding a good therapist might help you to navigate your way through your emotions. Personally, I find it easier to talk to someone I don’t know who lends a non-judgmental ear, and counselling can sometimes help you to see things more clearly.

Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is very clear that infertility can affect mental health! It is possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation.

If you have been trying for a baby for a long time and you finally become pregnant but the dark cloud doesn’t lift, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Pregnancy is an emotional time when hormones are rampaging through your body and they could be causing a bit of trouble on top of everything else.

Prenatal depression can present with symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling irritable in yourself and with those around you
  • Feeling fearful of the future
  • Appetite loss
  • Being tired all the time
  • Becoming withdrawn

For other women pregnancy might be unplanned, uncomfortable or complicated so there are many reasons you might start to feel down. This isn’t helped by the myth that pregnant women should be happy all the time. Out of the estimated 33 per cent of women who will suffer from depression at this time, this myth can lead to 20 per cent not asking for help because they feel scared or ashamed, says Healy Smith, a reproductive psychiatrist.

Prenatal depression can be a precursor to postpartum depression if it isn’t properly treated so follow my rule, which is…


  • Talk to someone you can trust or call a helpline
  • Ask for help or find help for someone you love
  • Do whatever it takes to get yourself well.

There are lots of non-medical approaches you can take including acupuncture, taking a good quality omega-3 supplement such as Eskimo as a mood booster, and psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Self-care is important, too: it’s actually selfless and not selfish. A bath, some adult colouring (my current favourite), a massage or even a short walk can all help.

The question of medication, however, is always a conversation you need to have with your doctor. Clinical depression needs medicating, but a lot of the time therapy, positive lifestyle changes and stress reduction techniques will help enormously. And if you are on medication already, it’s important to ask about its safety of during your pregnancy. Throughout our lives it’s important that we figure out our own wellness formula, do our research and try new things because we are all so different. If you are looking for good quality information relating to women’s mental health and wellness, visit Kelly Brogan MD My friends in New York recommended this reproductive psychiatric specialist’s website when I was really struggling for the way she combined both medical and holistic approaches.

I have adult acne, which gets me down sometimes and during the height of my modeling career in New York I took wickedly strong medications, which worked temporarily but now I question at what cost? I have spent the past few years studying health and wellness and cleaning up my own lifestyle and health habits and even though I’m really healthy now, shock horror I still struggle sometimes!!

This is important to understand because sometimes there are no miracle cures in life for day to day life and even though I know my current breakouts are caused by hormonal imbalances I am personally not helping the situation as I am quite stressed and staying up working late but, these are areas I have promised myself I will tackle and get on top off to help rebalance myself again.

In 2015 I developed and launched my new website, I was back in college studying and I wrote my first book not forgetting my most important job as a mum. My skin is now still wearing 2015 but not for long I hope!!

I had a meeting with Virginie from Phyt’s Ireland about my skin and yesterday I had one of the best facials I have ever had called The Luminescence Facial.

It’s anti-ageing and firming facial, tailored to each clients skin and it takes 90 minutes and let me tell you I enjoyed every single second of the 90 minutes!!


  • First Virginie cleansed with Lait Nettoyant to remove makeup, colourants, products and pollutants.
  • Then she toned with Eucalyptus to rebalance the skins pH, remove any excess cleanser and brighten the skin.
  • Some exfoliation was next with Gommage Contact+ to remove all dead cells and prepare the skin for a better absorption of ingredients.
  • Then she applied some Serum C17 all over the face, neck, lips and eyelids to stimulate, nourish, and rebalance the skin and then the Naturoderm, a natural antiseptic after extraction.

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  • Over the serum, she applied the Mask D’O (above) all over my face including eyelids and lips ( which is safe as its natural). This mask is made of peppermint and chamomile to soothe and refresh the skin A MUST for any dull, sensitive skin! This was my favorite part. The mask was calming and refreshing and felt wonderful.
  • Virginie then dampened 2 gauze pieces and applied a little toner to them. She placed the gauze in position for PHYT’S Pressure Point Technique which was so relaxing.
  • She removed the mask with sponges and tepid water, and toned with the Eucalyptus toner to keep brightening the skin!
  • Then she performed a personalized massage with the remaining Serum C17 and mixed a little Phyt’ssima with the serum for more slip and for essential fatty acids to plump and soften the skin.

Phyts facial, Virginie, v claire, harolds cross, acne treatment, natural facial, skincare, beauty, be complete, alison canavan, phyts organic skincare

  • Then it was time to prepare for my Aqua Peel-Off Mask (above), which was left to set for 10min (which is an amazingly long time for any busy mum to chill and relax for) and peel it off. The mask is made of rosemary and Aloe Vera, which helps to stimulate the skins microcirculation which results in bringing the most radiant skin’s complexion to life.
  • Finally Virginie moisturised with suitable PHYT’S Creme Reviderm to oxygenate and revitalise the skin due to its chlorophyll and plankton ingredients

Phyts facial, Virginie, v claire, harolds cross, acne treatment, natural facial, skincare, beauty, be complete, alison canavan, before and after, phyts organic skincare

These are the before and after with NO filters used. The grey and dullness was definitely lifted from my skin and we also did a lot of extraction which my skin badly needed and not only did my skin feel great but I did too.

It’s really important to take this time for ourselves. My skin has been getting me down lately but I felt much better yesterday after giving myself some love and attention.


“Alison’s skin is a prototype adult skin going through breakout due to hormonal imbalance, due to stress. I wouldn’t consider Alison’s skin oily, actually when I looked at her skin she didn’t have any blackheads on her nose, forehead and very little on the chin. An oily skin produces excess oil, which means blocked pores and blackheads over the T-zone. Most of adult problem skins should not be treated as an oily skin and DEFINITELY should not use products for oily skin.”

For more information or to book an appointment contact Virginie at or call  (01) 497 8833 Facial cost €80

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

Some tips on how to transform your stress this holiday season

We all know that Christmas is a big opportunity for stress—the combination of having to appear to be having fun, while coping with all the frustrations and extra work can be a real downer.

One of the things we need to know about stress is that it closes things down. It’s hard to feel joyful and enthusiastic when you are stressed. We tend to close in on ourselves and set up a kind of survival regime to get us through. Maybe it does help us to struggle along but it does not help us to care for ourselves, to open our hearts to others, to learn anything about the habits that lead to the stress in the first place.

Let’s take a look at some ways we could set about making connections this Christmas instead of going into survival mode.

Connecting with yourself first of all

 making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas,

Do you ever feel like this gingerbread person at Christmas—all in your festive gear but not able to communicate how you are really feeling? The holidays can be a strangely lonely time, even when you are surrounded by people.

As the lead up to Christmas gathers pace, why not take some time to check in with yourself and see what you are hoping for from the holidays.

Whether you are religious, or not you can ask yourself what is important to you about this holiday. Is it having family around and lots of good things to eat and presents to share? Or is it about having a few days off from work and routine in the middle of winter. Whatever it is, it will help you to set an intention for yourself—a kind of inspiration for the holiday.

Then at the other end of the scale, try to see what it is that triggers stress for you. Take a moment to sit quietly and then ask yourself these questions:

  • At what times do I experience a high level of frustration over relatively small events?
  • How does it feel in my body?
  • What do I do about it?

Going through this exercise will help you to identify the times when stress can creep up on you, so you can prepare for it and hopefully, avoid it. Allowing yourself to use your body like a stress barometer shows you the effect that stress has on you. Spending time thinking about how you deal with stress helps to get you off the survival treadmill and really consider how you can ease your stress.

Connecting with the present moment

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas, cake

So often when we are busy our minds are just rushing away with us thinking ahead of all there is still to do. That’s particularly sad at Christmas when there are so many enjoyable rituals in getting ready—like making the cake.

So one way we can ease a feeling of stress is to connect with the present moment. For example, instead of hurrying to make the cake while worrying about the mince pies, a present for grandma and whether you have enough wine in the house, try focusing on simply sorting your ingredients for the cake, weighing and adding them in the correct order and mixing it all to a delicious consistency. Take time to smell the fruits and the brandy. Allow yourself to enjoy the texture of batter. Remember to make your wish and just be with the making of the cake. When it is in the oven, you can go on to the next task and approach it in the same way. 

Connecting with a sense of enjoyment and celebration

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The more we can get our stress into perspective, the more chance we have to enjoy some of the magic that there can be around Christmas. We said earlier that stress closes things down and one of the first things to go is any sense of enjoyment and celebration.

Allow yourself time to look around you and see the things you enjoy. I am a big fan of Christmas trees both indoors and out in the open. There is something about all the lights and glitter on a dark winter evening that just says home and love to me.

What is it that you enjoy most at Christmas? 

Connecting with family and friends

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Probably if we are honest, one of the biggest sources of stress is how the family is going to manage together over the holidays. It can get complicated with all the in-laws and the extended family. We all know that awful tense feeling that can come when uncle George manages to come out with the opinions that we know will drive our teenage daughter to distraction, or when grandma insists that we don’t know how to out on a Christmas like they did in her day. You dread the moment when your sister-in-law, who always manages to make you feel like bargain-basement wife, arrives for dinner looking as if she just stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine, along with her two immaculate children. You, on the other hand, hot and bothered from the kitchen feel less than glamorous.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind while the family dinner is underway.

Everyone around the table wants to be happy—just like you do. None of them want to be anxious, or worried, or miserable and yet, inevitably they all have times when they are—just like you. Chances are that each one of them have their own insecurities about the family gathering—just like you do. Perhaps some of them are even intimidated by aspects of your behavior–what a good cook you are, how you juggle family and career—who knows? It can help so much if before your irritation arises you can put yourself in the shoes of the person irritating you—perhaps they are more like you than you think.

Connecting with the rest of the world

making connections, awareness in action, stress free christmas, maureen cooper, be complete, alison canavan, mindfulness, christmas time, top tips for a stress free christmas, As well as closing things down, stress makes us loose perspective. Whatever is going on with us seems so much more important than anything else that is happening in the world—which in the scheme of things, really does not make sense.

During the holiday period you can counter-act any tendency to feel that getting the lights working on the tree is more important than, say, global warming by consciously allowing yourself time to think about what is going on for everyone else in the world. Many millions of other people are celebrating Christmas around the world, with traditions that may be very different from your own. There are also millions who are not celebrating Christmas and it is just another ordinary day for them. Then there are the millions who whether or not they wish to celebrate Christmas are not able to because of poverty, or war, or persecution. Keep them in mind also.

So, a very merry stress-free Christmas to everyone!


Maureen Cooper is the author of The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress. She combines more than thirty years of experience as a professional educator and senior manager in a non-profit organization with a hands-on education in Buddhism. In 2004 Maureen founded Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

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Christmas is a wonderful time that most people looking forward to but it can also be a very stressful time of year for many. If you’re feeling stressed out doing last minute shopping or struggling with indigestion after your Christmas dinner, essential oils can provide a welcome relief. Diffusing essential oils like clove, cinnamon, douglas fir and nutmeg are a great way to set the festive mood and make your home smell wonderful when family & friends visit.


Whether it’s the complicated social interactions at this time of year or the stress of the mounting costs of all those presents, there’s no denying Christmas brings its own share of headaches and stresses. Inhaling wild orange or lavender before guests arrive can help you feel calm minded and less anxious. Citrus oils are uplifting and provide a great mood boost. Mixing lavender or roman chamomile with Epsom salts in a bath is a great way to rest weary muscles after a hectic day of running around the shops.


It’s the time of year for colds & coughs so to avoid spending Christmas day sneezing into your turkey, give your system a boost by using oils like clove and lemon to help ward off threats and improve immunity. If you’re unlucky enough to catch a cold or flu then oils like Eucalyptus and Peppermint will help to open up airways and help to clear a stuffy nose.


For the kids watching out for Santa and refusing to sleep on Christmas eve, diffusing calming oils can be a really effective way to ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep. Roman chamomile, lavender, marjoram and Ylang Ylang are some good choices for calming busy minds.

Over Indulging

Christmas dinner & pudding followed by turkey sandwiches and chocolates – suffice to say most people spend Christmas night suffering with indigestion. Essential oils like peppermint and ginger will help with bloating and digestive discomfort. Most social interactions at this time of year also include alcohol so applying peppermint to your temples will help with the following day’s headache. Taking lemon and grapefruit essential oils internally can help with hangovers by assisting your liver to detox and inhaling them will provide a nice lift when you’re feeling unwell.


‘Santa’s Sleepy Blend’

1 drop Bergamot

1 drop frankincense

1 drop roman chamomile

2 tbsp fractionated coconut oil

Combine essential oils with coconut oil & massage onto soles of feet


Essential oils can be used aromatically to affect mood and open airways; topically for quick absorption into the body through the skin, and internally for immune & digestive support. It is important to select therapeutic grade oils free from synthetics.

Essential oils are a great way to improve your health easily and quickly. Drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about using essential oils or where to purchase 100% pure oils.…

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental health

Is breathing good for you? Well of course it is we need to it to keep us alive but have you ever noticed in situations that are stressful our rates of breathing change and some of us even hold our breath without even realising it!

Down through the years I have struggled to find something that really works for my depression and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong I have found lots of things that have worked temporarily, but I was sick of being on a roller coaster and simply craved consistency in my moods and my ability to cope with everyday life.

Regular meditation practice has given me the just that! Through meditation I have received the most precious and priceless gift of peace both in myself and also in the world I live in. It helps me to cope with stress, depression, anxiety and the everyday challenges that come with daily life.

In a study called: The effects of Mindfulness based therapy on anxiety and depression, Published by The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, they found that mindfulness based therapy was moderately effective for anxiety and mood disorders and the results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations. Their meta-analysis was based on 39 studies totaling 1,140 participants who received mindfulness-based therapy for a range of conditions, including cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and other psychiatric or medical conditions.

But too be honest the clinical evidence backing meditation and mindfulness now is plentiful and hard to argue with. The reason I actually chose this study was because the results said moderately effective. Sometimes people expect miracles but in my opinion the miracle is the ability to cope with life a bit better.

If we do a lot of little things that are moderately effective imagine how powerful they would all be when they work together?

I really wish I had been given the kind of prescription in this picture when I was a teenager rather the usual pill filled kind we have become so used to today.

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental healthDon’t get me wrong I know that there’s a place for medication but there is no way we need the amount of medication being prescribed today. I have swallowed or drank my emotions for well over half my life and making changes is hard, in fact it is very hard at times, but the thing is those changes are so worth it in the long run even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

It costs nothing to try meditation and if you are struggling to sit still and focus on your breathing try some guided meditations from websites like Zen 12 or Omharmonics I find these great if I’m very hectic and stressed or in an airport, on a plane, bus or train.

But try my simple “first steps” approach and see how you get on:

Meditation can be done anytime and anywhere and the busier you are the more you need it.

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Sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight

Start to notice the natural flow of your breath

Inhale and exhale slowly and keep repeating

Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead just observe them and let them go by almost like watching a motorway and if your favourite car drives past, let it go and don’t follow it!!

Start small and build – so even a couple of minutes a day building in more time each week. This way you will be able to incorporate it into your routine without you even noticing.

Finally Enjoy it!!!



Welcome to #MindfulMonday and this week I’m introducing my theme for December which is #betrue to you and others this holiday season.

December is a month that fascinates me for so many reasons primarily because most of us let ourselves get so stressed, burn the candle at both ends and we tend to leave ourselves depleted both mentally and physically that by the end of the month which is the end of the year, we can’t wait to ring in the new year so that we can overhaul our lifestyle and get thin, happy and healthy!!

Sound familiar? Well the paragraph above certainly has two extremes in action but unfortunately that’s how most of us live our lives these days. But extremes don’t work and as someone who has either been too high or too low for most of my life I now realize that true contentment comes with balance.

You can still have fun, spend time with friends and family, enjoy the holidays and keep balance in your life. Having balance is not boring in fact it’s a very exciting place to be because when you have balance in your life happiness and contentment usually follow and flow.

The first step to achieving balance in our lives is to change the conversation in our head with ourselves and that’s all I want you to do this month – watch how you speak to yourself! It might sound simple but it can actually be quite challenging because we are all so used to putting ourselves down that it’s not until we pay attention that we realize this.

I promise you when you try this you will see major changes and understand just how powerful it is. Pick an affirmation and every day set alarms on your phone, put a post it on your computer, write it on your mirror and keep repeating it over and over to yourself.

I am strong

I am capable

I am worthy

I am loved

I am enough

Or choose a positive affirmation you are comfortable with and one that relates to you and your current situation.

The reason I am asking you to do this is because Christmas brings up a lot of emotional issues for people because it’s a time where we examine ourselves more deeply, reflect on our year, miss loved ones and it can also be an incredibly lonely time for so many leading us to be quite tough on ourselves unnecessarily.

We tend to be very hard on ourselves anyway in life and most of the time this is down to the fact that most of us very simply just don’t think that we are good enough.

On top of that over the holidays we spread ourselves very thin to please everyone, overspend, drink too much, eat too much and the list goes on so I came up with the #betrue hashtag because this month I would love you to try and be true to YOU and your hopes, dreams, feelings and needs this holiday season.

Try and be honest with yourself and others and take time for yourself when you need it. You don’t have to go to every party and if you can’t be in three places at once on Christmas day speak up and say so.

So this Christmas try and STRESS LESS and watch everyone around you stress less too. Take little breaks and make 10 minutes just for you each day.

DECEMBER, MINDFUL MONDAY, STRESS LESS, BE TRUE, BE COMPLETE, ALISON CANAVAN, MOTIVATION FOR DECEMBER, INSPIRATION, STRESS MANAGEMENT, **Christmas is also a really important time to give back and help those less fortunate. If every family that could afford it helped even one family have a better and less stressful Christmas imagine the difference it would make???? Give presents, toys, food, clothes or whatever you can to your local charity like Society of St Vincent de Paul or even donate your time. Every little helps and it is very much appreciated.








Matcha tea is becoming more and more popular and rightly so because it has so many of its many health benefits it’s actually kind of hard to ignore! I first discovered it when I was recovering from PND (post natal depression) and my anxiety was quite bad. I found it incredibly calming and it didn’t give me that awful nervousness that coffee can.

As I began to research matcha more I realized through Kevin from Koyu Matcha that the reason it works so well for anxiety is because of its L-Theanine it contains. L-Theanine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that’s found in green tea. More and more studies are being done on L-Theanine these days and one study from The Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that L-Theanine not only reduces anxiety but also attenuates the blood-pressure increase in high-stress-response adults.


In another STUDY, the combination of L-Theanine and caffeine was found to improve cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. I find it really great for my concentration especially when I spend long hours in the office and it’s fast becoming a popular stress reliever too.

We need to start finding natural alternatives to everyday problems and with stress being one of the biggest killers of our time why not try and switch up your coffee for a matcha latte?

Here’s a really simple way to make a nice matcha latte!

Use you nutribullet or blender and put in ½ teaspoon of good quality matcha from Koyu Matcha tea (put in the code ‘ali’ at the checkout for a discount)

Then add half boiling water and some almond milk and whiss it up in the blender for a frothy anti stress calming latte. What’s not to love? You can use any milk of your choice: regular, rice, almond..

Then simply sit back, relax and enjoy