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).
I've been doing a clear out recently, a big clear out. I've been going through my Reflexology paperwork and one of the documents I came across was an article written by Tracey Smith FMAR, from the Association of Reflexologists. It was an article from March 2012 - which I read at the time, but was so interesting that I kept it. In fact it was so interesting that I'd like to share it now.
Tracy quotes research by Michael Gershon of Columbia University and suggests that it has begun a deeper understanding of the role of the 100 million neurones in the wall of the bowel. There are so many neurons in the gut - roughly the same size as a cat brain when put together - that it has become known as the 'second brain'.
We've probably all experienced that "butterflies in the stomach" feeling: the uncomfortable, twitchy, nervous feeling we get when we're excited or scared. Well, that feeling is produced by those 100 million neurons in the gut, the second brain, sending out a surge of stress hormones that affect not only the stomach, but other organs of the body too.
The 'gut brain' communicates with the brain in a two-way process - receiving information from the brain and sending information to the brain. Tracy says "The brain's job description is that it controls behaviour, takes input and generates responses. The enteric [gut] brain primarily deals with digestion so that it is 'on site' rather than having to pass through the central nervous system to the main brain. However, it has other actions too, as 90% of the vagal nerve fibres pass information from the gut to the brain rather than the other way around. Electrical stimulation of this nerve has been used as a treatment for depression, so our guts really do inform the brain in relation to our emotions. It has been found that approximately 95% of the body's total concentration of serotonin is found in the gut - serotonin is the feel good hormone ..."
If you or anyone you know has ever suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and tests have come up normal it's tempting for the medical profession to assume that the root cause must be psychosomatic. However, Tracy suggests that research indicates that lack of the transporter molecule for serotonin means that serotonin remains present to continue producing the muscular reflexes.
So IBS may be a 'gut brain' issue rather than a 'brain brain' issue. But what does that have to do with Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, or any other complementary therapy? Well, one thing I know for sure is that Reflexology and Indian Head Massage are relaxing - for almost everyone - and that there are something like 7,000 nerve endings on each foot sending sensory input to the brain(s). And if that sensory input is relaxing then the 'gut brain' will get the message just as quickly as the 'brain brain' - so mind and body can come into balance. And that can't be a bad thing, can it?
It's not long until Mother's Day, and I'd like to ask; "Are you going to settle for the regular, boring gifts?" Will flowers and chocolates or a meal out (on one of the busiest days of the year) be the most your imagination will stretch to?
If you're struggling to think of something different to give your Mother, why not buy a gift voucher for a nice relaxing treatment of Reflexology, Indian Head Massage or Rejuvinating Facial Massage.
Not only will the treatments help your Mum feel good, they'll do her good. My Mum loves her treatments and at 85 she's still going strong, in fact, sometimes I think she's fitter than me.
Reflexology is a wonderful treatment for general well-being because it is holistic and relaxing and aims to bring the body back into balance. It leaves most clients feeling nice and relaxed, but also can help improve sleep, provide a light detox, give a gentle boost to energy levels and some clients find it helps reduce aches and pains. Reflexology uses finger pressure on the feet, so it's less personal and "touchy feely" than massage - perfect for those of us who are not keen on stripping off more than our socks and shoes!
Indian Head Massage is done over clothing and seated in a chair - again perfect for those of us who don't like stripping off or lying prone. It uses a variety of techniques to loosen tension in upper back, shoulders, neck, head and face. It is a gentle treatment which is extremely relaxing (I've had clients fall asleep).
Rejuvinating Facial Massage is a non-surgical treatment which uses specific massage techniques to brighten skin and improve elasticity. It is more vigorous than a beauty treatment and aims to lift and tone facial muscles and stimulate muscle memory. Although it is a more vigorous treatment, it is still very relaxing.
So, give your Mother something different this Mother's Day, give her a real treat! Book your gift voucher today by calling Doris Wylie on 07724 197627.
So, as a complementary therapist, why am I talking about a healthy mind? Simple, the mind and body are one integrated system and mind affects body and vice versa. A healthy body needs a healthy mind.
So, what is a healthy mind? Good question. Some of the characteristics that demonstrate a healthy mind would be: positivity; equilibrium; optimism; calm; flexibility; openness and of course there are lots of others.
And what are the characteristics of an less than healthy mind? Well what about: anxiety; fear; obsessive thoughts; not being able to switch off; negative emotions such as envy, self-recrimination, guilt, excessive sadness, over-excitement, etc.
One of the main characteristics that distinguish a healthy mind from one that is less so, is the speed and intensity of thoughts and not being able to switch off.
But it can be difficult to make changes to the way you think. How DO you stop thinking certain unhelpful thoughts and begin thinking other more helpful thoughts? It all happens so quickly doesn’t it? Your brain just races around certain thoughts or ideas and the faster it goes, the more difficult it is to stop. It’s like a race car.
Well, the answer might surprise you. You have to STOP before you start again.
Imagine you’re driving a car at high speed. You've got your pedal to the metal and you're racing ahead on a straight road. If you want to change direction – say you want to do a U turn - you have to stop, because if you don’t stop before you change direction you’ll crash and burn. The speed of the car will prevent your attempt to change direction. But if you change down gears, braking gently as you do so, you can stop and change direction easily.
Your brain works in just the same way. If you slow everything down gently, it will be much easier to change your thinking. And would you like to know how you slow everything down? RELAXATION. Yes, that old chestnut. Doing regular relaxation or meditation will allow your thoughts to slow down to a pace where you will find it much easier to change direction and adopt a new mindset that will serve you better. It’s about recognising that the more slowly your brain works the more conscious control you have over it. So if you want to control and change your thoughts, a bit of relaxation or meditation is just the job – BUT the only way you’ll know if this is true is to give it a try.
And if you find it too difficult to slow down under your own steam, you can always try a treatment of Reflexology or Indian Head Massage! To book contact Doris on 07724 197627. And you get £5 off your first treatment.