A chronic neck and shoulder problem has forced me to slow down and fundamentally re-think my lifestyle. And my first thought was, "Why had it taken a physical condition to force me to slow down and start paying attention to myself?". And then I remembered, I haven't been doing my Reflexology swops as regularly as I used to.
It's often the case that the body sends little signals of discomfort and distress and we're so busy that we just ignore it, maybe put it to one side thinking we'll deal with it later. But life happens! I don't know about you, but my experience of life is that it rarely gets calmer or quieter for long - maybe a pause for the odd holiday and then it's back to the rush that is life. It's so easy to find new things to be busy with - whether it's work pressures or home or family, there always seems to be something that squeezes out the time that we have available for ourselves.
And when we get into that cycle of always having something to do, our bodies might start to speak a little louder with stronger signals of discomfort and distress. Until it brings us to crisis point - just because we've ignored the softer signals.
Since my "crisis" (thankfully uncomfortable but fixable) I've had to recognise how little time I spend just being ME. Time when I do nothing and allow my mind to listen and more importantly hear what my body is saying. I used to be quite good at that, but it has slipped over the past few years. Just because I don't get very stressed about things, I've assumed that I'm relaxed and tuned into myself, but patently that isn't true.
It's time to relax. And as I've spend more time dedicated to relaxation I've begun to notice the more nuanced signals from my body about hungry, thirsty for water (rather than the copious amounts of tea that I normally consume), getting tired and the feelings that normally get pushed down and ignored (nervous, fearful, disappointed, etc). And I've also noticed that I opt for self-care more than I used to - a cancellation now becomes an opportunity for a foot treatment or a walk.
Relaxation allows us to tune into ourselves: it allows our mind and body to communicate effectively and develop an equal relationship, instead of the mind being do dominant and ignoring what the body's saying. It allows us to notice when and what self-care is required and also to build resiliance so that we can set and maintain our boundaries - the ability to say "no" or "not now" can really help to save energy, reduce stress and help us to feel good about ourselves.
So now, as well as taking time out to relax - and by that I mean taking time out to sit and be still - I'm getting more Reflexology swaps booked in, because Reflexology helps me to relax and tune into my body and the improved sleep and energy boost are always welcome too!
If you'd like help to relax and want someone else to do the work, try a Reflexology and Indian Head Massage treatment, You can book online here: BOOK A TREATMENT .
If you're thinking about New Year resolutions, but you've not been very successful in sticking to them in the past, here are a few things to ponder:
1. Avoid "Should"
All to often our New Year resolutions consist of things we think we "should" do, rather than things that we really WANT to do and that can be a recipe for failure.
"Should" often doesn't have a huge degree of committment attached to it, so there's not a lot of energy there to push you through the hard times. It reflects more of a wish than a decision.
2. Make a Decision
And when it comes to sticking to your New Year resolutions, it's the decision that counts. You have to decide that your goal WILL be achieved, regardless of the level of difficulty and sacrifice. And if you can convince yourself that not sticking to your resolution will have a painful or very undesirable consequence then that's always a good motivator.
Moving away from something you don't want can be more motivating than moving towards something you do want - and if you can get both towards and away from motivations into the mix, you'll likely be even more successful.
3. Keep it in Perspective
All to often we choose one or two resolutions to improve our lives, forgetting about all the other aspects. It's not much good dedicating all your time to being fit and healthy if those around you are feeling neglected and ignored. Look at your life as a whole and ensure there's a good balance.
4. Be Realistic
Changing habits is better viewed as a long term prospect, because if you don't stick at it, the effort has been wasted. Keep your goals realistic and settle for a lower target that you can achieve and sustain - a small change for the better that lasts a lifetime is better than a big change that lasts a couple of months.
5. Learn From the Past
Look at the year just ending: do a quick review of what you want to bring into the new year and what you want to leave behind. Learn from past mistakes and let them go - after all, to paraphrase Einstein: the definition of madness is to keep doing something in the same way, but to expect the result to be different.
6. Be SMART in your Goal Setting
Smart goals are now part of the business lexicon, so most people are aware that goals are more likely to succeed if they are Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic and Timebound.
7. Remember WHY
Ask yourself why you want your goal because 'the why' of it really locks you into the passion and gives you the energy to push through when the going gets tough. If you're not clear why you're doing something, you'll really struggle to give it time and attention.
And if you want a more structured, planned approach to choosing your New Year resolutions as well as more times on how to stay on track you can download my FREE Supercharge Your Results in 2018 Workbook.
Written by Doris Wylie of Lothian Reflexology: therapy for mind, body and beauty. Lothian Reflexology offers holistic bodywork therapies such as Reflexology and Indian Head Massage, mind and emotional support through Stress Management and Neuro-Linguistic Programming and beauty treatments such as Pedicure and Rejuvenating Facial Massage, (because looking good helps you feel good).
With the onset of winter chills - and I'd say they've come rather quickly this year - joint pain becomes more of a problem. I've had a few clients recently with joint pain and for the first time, after 20 years of practicing reflexology, I find that my fingers are sometimes a bit sore. So I decided to do a bit of research about osteoarthritis and here it is:
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joints to feel stiff and painful. It's the most common form of arthritis and is more common in older people. Symptoms of OA can vary: joints, especially finger joints can become swollen and change shape; sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises; sometimes there is pain, but not always; sometimes moving the joint can be difficult; the joints can lose surrounding muscle and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back and neck.
What causes osteoarthritis?
No-one knows exactly what causes osteoarthritis. It used to be called wear and teat and was thought to be part of the ageing process, but now it's thought that it may be due to: repeated small injuries that happen as part of daily life and which don’t heal completely; an after effect of sporting injuries; genetics (it can run in families); being overweight which puts extra strain on the weight-bearing joints, especially the knees and hips.
Inside the affected joints there is quite a lot of healing and repair going on: cartilage - which acts as a shock absorber - is lost and new bone is formed which can cause joints to change shape. This formation of new bone can contribute to some of the pain and stiffness.
Can we do anything about osteoarthritis?
I would highly recommend having a look at the Arthritis Research UK website, from which most of this information has been gleaned. I spent a lot of time looking at research papers, particularly for natural remedies for osteoarthritis and I have to say the Arthritis Research UK website provided the most complete and useful information for a non-scientific readership. The website provides information for Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I'm disappointed to note that Reflexology is not one of their listed complementary therapies - it's my belief that the relaxation provided by Reflexology can help dampen down inflammation, relieve pain to some degree and stimulate the body's own healing resources.
From my research the following supplements may help:
Fish oil provides an anti-inflammatory effect which is well documented and provides benefits for osteoarthritis as well as supporting heart health. As part of my Reflexology continuous professional development I sat in on a nutrition webinar by Marilyn Glenville. Her professional view of supplements was to be very careful and do lots of research - fish oil quality can depend on the process of extraction, the type and part of fish used (fish liver is likely to be the most toxic part of the fish) and the quality control of the company. Also look out for the
GLA (y-Linolenic acid)
There is some evidence to suggest that Borage Seed Oil also helps fight inflammation and improve pain and swelling (https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/42/5/652/1784589). This paper compiled the results of a number of studies to determine the benefits (or not) of a range of herbal remedies in treating Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Capsaicin is extracted from chilli peppers and can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints. There seem to be no major side effects although when applied topically it can cause skin blisters and must be kept well away from eyes, mouth and open wounds to avoid irritation.. It's available on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters. Most trials have used either 0.025% or 0.075% of capsaicin gel applied to the skin four times a day.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a chemical compound found naturally in your body and laboratory studies suggest that it has some painkilling activity and stimulates cartilage production. As yet there's insufficient research to be clear how SAMe works. It's available as a nutritional supplement, but mostly from US suppliers. Side-effects, which are usually mild and infrequent, include: nausea; restlessness; headaches; a dry mouth; stomach upsets.
SAMe can also increase the activity of antidepressants and severe side-effects of anxiety and mania have also been reported in people taking anti- depressants. People on anticoagulants, you should take SAMe under a doctor’s supervision because it might increase the risk of bleeding.
It's unclear what's the best dose of SAMe is, but most studies have used daily doses of 400–1,600 mg.
Indian frankincense is an Ayurvedic remedy that can be purchased over the counter in capsule form. It can prevent the production of inflammatory substances in the joints. Current evidence, based on four RCTs, suggests that it might have some beneficial effects in treating participants with osteoarthritis of the knee which might last for a period of time after treatment is stopped. It prevents the production of hormone-like substances in your body that act as triggers for joint inflammation.
Trials have used a daily dose of 1g which seems to be safe, but studies are not extensive and interactions with outer medications haven't been well studies. High doses have been shown to have a serious effect on the liver.
Frankincense can also be used topically by mixing the "pure essential oil" (ideally organic) with a carrier oil (jojoba) or unscented body lotion and rubbing it on the affected part to reduce pain and inflammation. But beware, essential oils can be extremely powerful and a little goes a long way. Frankincense oil can also be used in a bath. Frankincense oil should not be used by people taking anticoagulant medications and may cause minor skin rashes, nausea, stomach pains (and in my case too much gives me a headache).
If you're going to try any of these remedies, I'd strongly suggest you try them one at a time and do your research. Supplements vary in quality and efficacy - and of course price - and if you try more than one at a time and get a benefit (or no benefit) you'll not know which one worked or if they cancelled each other out. Most of these remedies have an anti-inflammatory effect and I don't know if too much anti-inflammatory is a bad thing.
This link provides more information about Capsaicin, SAMe and Frankincence:https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis.aspx
And of course, I'd definitely recommend that you give Reflexology a try because you never know, although it's not listed in the research, it might just work for you! You can book a treatment here: http://www.lothianreflexology.co.uk/book-a-treatment.html
I've decided to take my own advice this month and banish winter tiredness by doing less - such as writing an original blog. After all, why reinvent the wheel! So, here's some great advice from the NHS on how to stay healthy this winter .....
"It may be cold outside, but winter needn't be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family.
Here are five ways to make sure that, even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather's like.
Banish winter tiredness
Many people feel tired and sluggish during winter. This is due to the lack of sunlight, which disrupts our sleep and waking cycles.
Try these tips:
Eat more fruit and veg
When it's cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food. However, it's important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day.
If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
Read more about how to get your 5 A Day.
Find recipes for 10 warming hot meals.
Drink more milk
You are more likely to get a cold in winter, so make sure your immune system is in tip-top condition.
Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of:
Read more about milk and dairy foods.
Read more about healthy eating.
Try new activities for the whole family
Don't use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity –maybe ice skating, or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach or through the park.
Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
Read more about different types of exercise for you and your family.
Have a hearty breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn't just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre.
These foods give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
Make your porridge with semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk, or water, and don't add sugar or salt. Add a sliced banana, berries or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit your 5 A Day target.
Get more ideas for healthy breakfasts."
And here's the link to the page with the original article:
And of course, some Reflexology won't hurt either. To book a treatment go to http://www.lothianreflexology.co.uk/book-a-treatment.html