Dress to re-connect


by Camilla Ridley

As the rules and guidelines suddenly shift and we begin to re-connect, it's vital we look after ourselves and effectively manage the stresses of post pandemic life. Health wellbeing and beauty expert and founder of Onolla Suzanne Duckett explains how.


Natural wellbeing, Onolla founder and wellbeing and beauty guru Suzanne finds her inner tranquility reconnecting with nature in her Ridley London printed floral Savanna sun dress

With the Government announcing the effective lifting of Covid restrictions on Monday 19th of July and even mandatory face masks becoming discretionary, we’re suddenly contemplating a whole new world. Many of us will be relieved by this long awaited news and excited by prospect of life returning to a pre-Covid normal. While these changes for others are a huge cause for concern, even serious anxiety. Having reviewed the press this morning, what is certain is that opinion is already divided. And with infections seemingly rapidly rising again and so many unknowns, it’s likely that this summer's return to reality won’t be all plain sailing. Despite Heraclitus’s two thousand year old insight that 'the only constant in life is change’, the benefits of the Government's pronounced social gear shift will doubtless be accompanied by a number of uniquely individual stresses and unanticipated strains, regardless of which side of popular opinion you currently occupy. So with this in mind I’m pleased to introduce you to our great friend Suzanne Duckett, whose amazing new venture Onolla specialises in providing totally personalised, holistic health and wellbeing solutions across an extraordinarily broad spectrum from accepted mainstream clinical treatments to some of the more downright whacky and controversial solutions. As Tatler’s wellbeing and beauty editor and Times Spa specialist, Suzanne spent over 30 years investigating and sampling the latest cutting edge thinking and treatments from around the world and has an unparalleled knowledge and uniquely unpartisan approach to helping us feel our very best.

Camilla: Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with our subscribers Suzanne. what’s your take on this week’s removal of Covid restrictions and getting life back to normal again?

I am definitely experiencing strange feelings of unease about the inconsistency of restrictions. Not only the unknown of how this might play out from a pandemic perspective but at the thought of getting back on that treadmill again after so long. Especially at this time of year when schools out and so many are off work. Many people I speak to are telling me that while they want some sort of normality back, they are not wanting and the pre-Covid ‘normal’ pace of life. It was far too fast and stressful, which is why, let's face it, lots of us were happy to jump off for a while. Just not this long or because of a global pandemic. It's only natural to feel anxious about picking up pace again, interacting, sticking to stricter routines (and bedtimes), starting to socialise and the politics of who, where, when and booking way ahead. It’s quite overwhelming. Plus, we are really now seeing the fallout (literally, for some) and reparation of relationships with too much or too little time spent together and enforced confinement over the last year and a half having unearthed some home truths. But mainly, there’s this underlying, unnerving uncertainty about what really lies ahead and how will I/they/we cope with the inevitable unforeseen twists, turns and setbacks in the road.


Spending time in her garden and in nearby beautiful Richmond Park is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life. Suzanne is pictured here (left|) in our beautiful floral printed Ridley London pink Betsy cotton Tarra dress and (right) in the Tara maxi dress in the green Fornesetti Liberty print 

Camilla: How can you and your team at Onolla help our readers manage this transition?

The key thing to take on board is no one size fits all. If I’ve learnt anything over my career it’s that we’re all totally unique and individual treatments work in different ways for different people. So it seems ridiculous when products and services are marketed as an ultimate Elixir. As with your beautiful made to measure floral silk dresses, we use our knowledge and neutral position to offer customers effectively personalised packages and treatments. In these circumstances, a way to help you pave your own natural roadmap out of lockdown, at your own speed; an opportunity to tune into life with more awareness of what you need to help you thrive in the modern world. As a starting point, you can book your own bespoke Silver or Gold Duckett List – silver is an enlightening questionnaire Gold is a 1-1 with me. These allows me and my team to learn about you and your needs, and get to the bottom of your health and beauty quandaries. Our team of health and beauty experts will then curate your very own, individually tailored list of recommendations including products, practices and practitioner recommendations. For fully jumping back into life, recommendations might also include things as diverse as down-to-earth self-care tips and beauty advice, to tactics on rekindling relationships and how to handle the increased, ever growing digital dependency the whole family is in the grip of.

And in light of the pandemic, can you recommend any specific treatments to help our readers boost their immunity?

Again I would recommend a call with us, as the success of treatments very much depends on each individual’s specific needs. Saying that there are a number of things we can all do to boost immunity, including dietary changes and additions as well as adding a number of natural supplements. I would immediately recommend trying Leapfrog Immune tablets which are crammed with cold-fighting, immune-supporting zinc and vitamin C, plus lactoferrin, a protein with potent antiviral and antibacterial properties. I’d add a relax tincture to keep you calm as stress can cause real damage to our immune systems. My go to is Relax Tincture from The Organic Pharmacy. I also love Wildsmith’s Ceramide Lipid Repair Balm, which repairs, restores and strengthens skin’s protective barrier to seal in moisture and prevent further water loss. Finally, with Covid back in the ascendancy, it’s important that we all continue to take precautions like washing our hands and sanitising regularly. Susanne Kaufmann Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel is excellent, while it Kills 99.9% of bacteria it also has a special formulae which prevents your hands drying out. Although this might not be for everyone...I’d also recommend invigorating icy-cold morning shower to help to boost the immune system and improve circulation. The application of heat and ice to muscle injuries has long been used by athletes to aid recovery. In many Nordic cultures, a sauna session is followed by a dip in ice-cold water, a cold shower or even the sea. The rush of the cold jets on the body increases the heart rate, adrenaline and endorphins, helping to relieve stress. It certainly wakes us up and is totally invigorating.

I’ve read a lot about the damage stress can inflict on our health, are there any techniques or practices which could help our readers combat the stress of an increasing pace of life?

Different types of stress can be resolved through different techniques, whether it’s helping to reduce anxiety and panic attacks in the moment through active breathing techniques to introducing a greater sense of balance and cultivating an overall feeling of calm within our lives through ritual and simply taking time out. For me, good breathing really works. When you or any of your family start to experience anxiety, rising panic and general stress spiralling, there’s a simple exercise we can all benefit from which the psychology coach and founder of the Yeotown holistic health retreat in Devon Mercedes Ngoh Sieff, taught me. Take a deep breath and name five things you can see. Close your eyes and name four things you can feel (eg your feet on the ground, the ring on your finger, etc). Then focus on three things you can hear, then two things you can smell, then one thing you can taste. This will help rein in your mind, ground your senses and tether you to the moment instead of an imagined catastrophic future.

From a supplements point of view, I’m a huge fan of CBD oil...It really is nature’s Valium and can help treat all sorts of ills from inflammation, anxiety, stress, cravings and sleep issues. It also has two other benefits: it has highly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which make it great for calming and healing dry, irritated skin. Kloris have a really good starter kit with all sorts of high quality CBD based products including face oils, balms and drops.  I’d also recommend starting your day with some simple yoga stretches and a mood boosting breakfast. A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that those who ate breakfast daily were less depressed than the control group who didn’t. Those who ate breakfast also reported lower levels of stress. Another study found a link between the regular consumption of breakfast cereal and lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. Research also continues to tell us that while breakfast is an important meal, what’s more important may be what it’s made of. Boost the benefits of eating breakfast by incorporating some protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Nuts, yoghurt and eggs have been shown to support mental health in those who experience anxiety, for example.

Finally I would also recommend introducing a ritual de-stressing bath into your daily routine. If you are feeling drained and anxious, sad or generally rundown, the right bath can help. Orange essential oil is a wonderful mood-lifter. The oil is extracted from the peel of oranges and contains many antidepressant properties and has been scientifically proven to help reduce heart rate and cortisol levels. Our Onolla website has lots more recipe ideas and tips to help you manage stress.


Suzanne is pictured here (top right) in our beautiful floral printed Ridley London blue cotton cotton Savina sun dress and (bottom) in our cotton Savina sun dress in the amazing Jungle Trip Liberty print

Finally, the big thing everyone seems to be complaining about these days is stress induced by digital overload. What are your thoughts here?

Yes that’s absolutely right Camilla, digital dependency is one of the biggest modern problems. Let’s face it, technology has in many ways been a lifeline over the last year. But though many of them do, it doesn’t take an expert to tell you that digital devices are ruling and, in many ways, ruining our lives, disconnecting us from the very people in the room, turning real-life friendships into digital, distanced ones. They get in the way of being in the moment and enjoying or interacting with what is around us. Often, we are busier trying to capture a moment on our phone rather than enjoying it. Therapists are seeing this addictive behaviour to varying degrees now more than ever, thanks to the last year of extended periods of isolation, limited in-person social gatherings, working from home and homeschooling. It's a no-brainer – literally, perhaps, with a 'Zombie generation' emerging: kids who’ve become worryingly addicted to their screens in lockdown, with so many addicted to computers and phones that they’re ‘zoning out’ for up to 20 hours a day. And it’s not just the kids – adults are addicted, too. Loneliness isn’t new, but it’s also no longer just about being socially isolated. Ambiguous Loss is a new type of loneliness: what we feel when a loved one is physically present, but in all other ways absent from a relationship – your partner half-listening, face alight in the soft blue glow of the phone. You’re talking to them but they’re elsewhere, in the digital vortex. Or that lag on the phone when you’re talking to a family member or friend who you suspect is surreptitiously multi-tasking or checking their social media. Reconnection requires going about things a different way and one of the most powerful ways for people not to feel deeply alone is for them to feel listened to. So, put down your phone! Additionally spending countless hours on social media can have long-lasting negative effects on the body and mind, including: Feelings of stress and anxiety about being left out or missing something. Interruptions to sleep patterns and an inability to relax and unplug. Impact on self-esteem, harmful effects of cyber-bullying or perceptions we might have of ourselves. Feelings of fatigue, eye strain or reduced interest in physical activity. Back pain, joint pain or poor posture from sitting for long periods over keyboards or screens.

Technology emits EMF radiation and can interfere with our bodies’ natural frequencies and has been linked to an increasing amount of negative health effects. The Earth is full of antioxidants that allow our bodies to achieve equilibrium at the cellular level. The practice of grounding is very simple, and, better yet, it’s free! All you need to do is walk barefoot or sit in the grass, dirt, sand or even on concrete. Being immersed in nature is the ultimate antidote, boosting your mental and physical health, and provoking instantaneous happiness. Just sitting in nature has been proven to leave you feeling psychologically restored, and this happens even faster when walking in nature. So now the weather is so great, it’s the perfect time to jump into a sun dress and spend some time re-connecting with nature and ourselves.

Wow it’s amazing how many of the remedies to the stress of modern life and are actually within easy grasp and free. Clearly we all just need to adjust our priorities a little and perhaps lockdown has helped to give us all a bit of a fresh perspective. Just maybe life won’t be quite the same as it was back in 2019, especially if we all make more conscious choices about how we want to live our lives. It’s been really great to catch up with you Suzanne and to cover all of these diverse areas. I'm definitely going to take some of your advice on board and try the beautiful personalised Onolla box of remedies you've curated for me. And if anyone's interested in your services, or finding out more about Onolla everything's on your website: Onolla.com



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