Water, water … give me water!

 

                     

This summer I discovered my inner mermaid! Never did I think when I booked a week in South West Wales back in February, that I would be donning a swimming costume and taking daily swims in the glorious beaches of Pembrokeshire this summer… but I did! And it was just invigorating and bracing and made me feel more alive for the rest of the day.

Upon my return, to avoid the post-holiday blues, I promptly visited my local swimming pool and together with a friend, have visited 3 or 4 times a week since. The benefits of swimming are numerous, but the main ones for me at my stage in life are as follows:

  • It is increasing my lung capacity and helping me become more aware of how I breathe
  • It is making my limbs and torso leaner
  • I don’t ache after spending an hour in the pool (unlike other forms of exercise) or when I wake up first thing in the morning, as I used to
  • I am getting better at swimming: in my techniques, the different strokes and in my pace
  • It is MY go-to place to feel cool and is particularly wonderful when a hot flush comes on
  • I just love the feel of water around my body. I have perfected the art of wallowing and twisting, like I imagine a mermaid might. It allows me to dance and do gymnastics and point my feet like Darcy Bussell.
  • I feel utterly strong and graceful in water. Even hippos move gracefully in water.
  • I wake up motivated and want to get in a swim early on if I can. I have been in the pool at 7am on a Saturday morning! No other exercise has ever made me do that.
  • It has made me less self-conscious of my body. It has made me love what my body can do for me.
  • It makes me feel happier, more alert, more balanced for the rest of the day. The mental benefits of swimming have been a wonderful surprise for me.
  • I love how I can chunk it down in stages/lengths and set myself my own personal targets. I have progressed quickly and have moved from my early frantic 16 lengths to over 40 lengths in the same amount of time, in a few weeks!
  • I love the feeling of weightlessness when I let myself float and literally let the water take the stress off my shoulders.
  • I have realised that swimming is like massage, in that it helps us become in tune with our psychological and physiological selves.

I want my love affair with swimming to go on and on, I hope it does. I hope that once back into normal work routines after summer, I carry on for all the reasons above. To keep it interesting, I might dabble in a bit of aqua aerobics or even try out some wild swimming outdoors.

Swimming is MY therapist, re-energising and restoring me.

Why do we read?

Being given a book is something really special. Not only has the giver thought about me personally, but they have also directed me towards a new adventure. It just waits for me to open the door. This Christmas, I shall be mostly giving people books: second-hand ones and new ones. They don’t have to cost a lot and I’m a great believer in passing them on. Some of them have made a lasting imprint. Here’s why…

  

Merry Christmas and happy reading to you!

‘Fifteen Minutes With You’… simple ways to maintain balance every day.

As we are approaching the transition from summer to autumn and holiday mode back to work, the focus for September is all about physically and psychologically preparing ourselves for the season ahead. The pace and demands on our time increases, it comes as a shock to the system. You’re all relaxed after a few weeks of pootling along in your flip-flops, where a busy day might involve thinking about booking a hair appointment and baking a cake. Then WHAM! You’re suddenly expected to think about 19 things at once and it’s getting colder and you have n’t got any suitable footwear and you’ve got work targets to set and you never got round to booking that hair appointment and everyone’s eaten the Mega bag of crisps you got for packed lunches, so they’ll just HAVE to eat 3 pieces of fruit instead. So there! And before you know it, the serene, chilled-out you got left behind in August and now you’re operating on six Paracetamol and spite to get you through the day!

Our lives are constantly guided by timetables and lists at work and school, to give us structure and  purpose, yet we might not think to prioritise time for our personal well-being. Everyone can take 15 minutes to themselves EVERY day. Mini respites from busy lives. So, here is my suggestion, decide to claim at least 15 minutes a day just for you and make a timetable of loveliness. Then choose how to spend it. Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Go for a walk outside, preferably near trees.
2.  Spend some time alone, preferably surrounded by nature.
3.  Water your plants.
4.  Stare at the sky.
5.  Give your self a body brush.
6.  Write to someone and tell them Thanks.
7.  Eat an apple. Mindfully.
8.  Read a chapter.
9.  Look at a real painting.
9.  Do a mini facial massage.
10. Listen to Classic FM.
11. Soak your feet.
12. Ring someone you’ve not spoken to in a while and actually talk.
13. Draw something, someone, yourself.
14. Dance to Madonna’s Greatest Hits.
15. Sing along with Barbara Streisand!
And for those of who you who really have n’t got the time, bear these words in mind from Karate master, Hirokazu Kanazawa:

“You should take half an hour each day to sit quietly and appreciate Nature.
Unless you are busy, in which case you should take an hour.”

‘And miles to go before I sleep’ – Tips for a restful night.

Did you know that Friday 17th March is World Sleep Day? ( Psst, did anyone tell them it’s St Patrick’s Day too???) Anyway, there are lots of sleep awareness events going on in March. Apparently, March is National Bed Month too! Having suffered a couple of consecutive sleepless nights recently, it has made me review my bedtime habits. We can probably cope with the occasional restless night, but if you are frequently having interrupted sleep or none at all, there are serious, long-term risks to your health. See below.

 

Here is a link to some useful tips to promote a good night’s rest. Some may be obvious, but it’s always good to remind ourselves.

My own tips:

  1. Relaxing bath.
  2. Gentle stretching and deep breathing for a few minutes.
  3. Making a list of what’s on my mind.
  4. A few drops of Lavendar Essential Oil on a tissue, under the pillow.
  5. Bed socks, when it’s cold!

Don’t forget the Restore ‘Beauty Sleep Evening Slumber’ Treatment. Check it out under the Holistic Spa Treatment section.

 

 

Amazing EMMETT Techniques – for the relief of muscular pain and tension

EMMETT is a gentle form of easy muscle management, which can offer pain relief and reduce musculardownload-2-jpg-emm-tech stiffness and tension, by resetting the muscle memory.

A fortnight ago, I pulled a muscle, just by turning sideways, as I bent down. It resulted in a deep pain in my left-side lower back/glutes and rendered me incapable of standing up straight. I searched for solutions unsuccessfully: heat packs, stretches, self-administered massage, some palpation and NMT, a failed attempt to see a GP and pain killers. No relief. The pain was visible in my face. It affected me lying down, standing and walking,  but in particular, when transitioning from sitting to standing and when driving. I spent a full week in this state, struggling on and nearly cancelled a training course. Thank God I did n’t.

I turned up to my Emm-Tech course looking to develop my skills set to help clients, but also, to see if I could find some relief for my present condition. It was amaaaaazing! After a few simple switches to re-set the muscle memory in my hip and thigh area, I could stand fully erect and sit without feeling any pain! I still can’t quite believe it. But all I can say, is, I entered the building like Mrs Overall and left, with the deportment of a ballet dancer! I even went high-kicking to my Body Combat class the next morning, something I’d not been able to do whilst incapacitated.

What I practised and received was gentle finger pressure applied to specific points (Emmett points.) The sequence of muscle activation points used in the Emmett Technique can unlock muscle memory. This activation gives the brain the opportunity to set up a new state of homeostasis and provides an opportunity for re-alignment of the body.
Whilst I am developing my knowledge and skills in these techniques, I am keen to trial them alongside my other therapies, for free. If any clients suffer from: poor balance, swollen ankles, numbness down the side of the leg, hip pain, difficulty bending and straightening the knee, difficulty squatting and walking upstairs, difficulty and tension in lifting the arm, pain down the side of the back, tightness in the chest, difficulty reaching behind, elbow/forearm/wrist weakness or restricted neck rotation, then book in with me for a massage treatment and trial these simple, effective EMMETT techniques.

‘Good is good enough’: keeping afloat in the new term.

September signals the start of a new term. You commence with good intentions. You are conditioned into getting yourself smart again. The summer braids are painstakingly removed and exchanged for a crisp new crop. Flip-flopity hobbit feet are squished into shiny, clippity-cloppity brogues. And the desk, adorned with every possible piece of useless stationery you can think of, sits waiting, in an orderly fashion, like a good class: a manifestation of your internal  preparedness. Perfect. You’re going to be on top of everything this year. Oh yes, you’ve got it sussed. This preparation malarkey.

Until week 2. When things start to unravel. A million and one things to do and remember. And you’re just not as prepared or smart or perfect, as you want to be. And the desk looks like you’ve been burgled.

Well good. Good for you. Because this is the time you start to realise that ‘perfection can be the enemy’. I read this statement in Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ this summer. And it was a 14117873_1969163446643320_3501960677626491349_nrevelation for me. There are tons of identifiable ponderings and anecdotes about living a creative life, but a few ideas stood out for me. In particular, ‘forget about aiming for perfection.’ Sometimes you need to settle for ‘making a start and getting it finished.’ I’m not talking about being careless or slap-dash. It’s just that often the pursuit of what you think is perfection, can paralyse us. It can be unobtainable. It can stop us sharing our creativity with others. It can stop us living a balanced life. It can lead to living too much in the head and not enough in the heart.

Which leads me onto another new concept I learned over summer: heartfulness. Have a read here – a short article from Psychologies magazine. Taking just 10 minutes a day out of your busy schedule to do some mindful meditation actually creates more time in your day, giving you clarity of thought and a ‘sanctuary from an over-taxed mind.’ But ‘heartfulness’ takes you further. I’ll let the article explain.

So, if you’re already feeling frazzelled, make time for yourself, accept that ‘good is good enough’ and possibly, book in for a relaxing treatment at Restore!

 

Run For Your Life!

I’ve taken up running. At my time of life. I know! I love exercise, but since my teens, I’ve always preferred team games or exercise classes: aerobics, Body Combat and Zumba. Whenever I’ve tried running in the past, it was usually short-lived because:

  1. It was boring doing the same thing over and over again.
  2. I started too hard/fast and made myself so stiff the following day that I could barely roll out of bed, never mind bend over to tie up my trainers!
  3. I had no plan or way to to see if I was improving.

However, I recently discovered ‘C25K’ aka ‘From Couch to 5K’, thanks to a friend of mine, who 13781694_10154355325964467_7695384430197281394_nhas just completed it. It’s a 9 week step-by-step running programme by the NHS and I’ve just completed Week 2. For the first time ever, this feels different to me. I like the small stepped approach so I don’t frighten my body into shock. I like the way my legs are feeling stronger already. I like the way I am steadily building up my bouts of running each week. I like the way I feel during the rest of the day. I like the way the woman on my earphones coaches me on, as if she is my own traing buddy. I like the meditative quality of doing something repetitively straightforward in the open air. I really look forward to the runs. I am determined to see this through. People keep telling me I’m looking really well, radiant even. But that could just be down to the hot flushes!

Anyway, if you are interested in doing this, then check out the link here. You can find out more and download the app to your phone. Good luck!

 

Focus – How to boost your concentration.

Homer - exam funny-quotes-quotes-funny-quotes-pictures-funny-quotes-and-sayings-funny-jokes-Favim.com-557465Here are some suggestions for those of you who might be entering a period which requires deep mental focus, whether it be studying for exams, looking to change jobs or completion of a major project. I read once, that ‘Focus is more important than intelligence’. I think there is truth in that. Focus is n’t just about concentrating, it’s about being selective about what you want to concetrate on. For set periods of time, we have to shut out distractions to fully engage and process what we are learning. Time alone well spent. I’m not going to list revision tips. I’m going to share some tips on creating an environment in which to focus.

  1. Put a few drops of Rosemary essential oil on a tissue and sniff at regular intervals to aid concentration. I like it mixed with Lime.
  2. Get your eyes tested. I’ve just got my first pair of reading glasses. And it’s a revelation!
  3. Keep well hydrated. NYR organic have a range of herbal teas that can help if you are bored with water. My favourite is Echinacea Plus.
  4. Spritz your face with White Tea Facial Mist to revive your concentration, when flagging.
  5. Take regular breaks  – 5 minutes every hour.
  6. Get some fresh air. Look up at the sky. Breathe.
  7. Change how you look at the revision topic/exam/job/project. It’s not a hurdle. Imagine it needs your help. Try to understand it … bit by bit. Speak out loud what you think it is saying. By doing this, you will start to process what you are learning and identifying where you are unclear.

einstein-clarity

Good luck!

 

Top Tips To Better Sleep!

Sleep … nature’s balm for tired, weary minds. Many of my clients come for treatments in order to combat their insomnia. All of them feel the Sleeping Lem24benfits of relaxation during the treatment and most of them report that they always sleep better that evening. But what can you do to promote good sleeping habits over the long-term?

Well, there’s no ‘one-size fits all’ answer. What suits one person, might not make any difference to another. However, I thought I would gather a few suggestions that have worked for myself, friends, family and clients over the years. Here are some favourites. Perhaps you might like to try them and see.

  1. Do 5 minutes of simple, slow stretching before getting into bed: neck and shoulder rotations, arm and hand rotations, hip and ankle rotations and a few ‘sun salutations’.
  2. Make a list. Get your next day’s thoughts onto paper and out of your head.
  3. Dip into a warm, aromatic bath. Cliche but true!
  4. Enjoy the ritual of making a cup of calming tea. Then sip slowly.
  5. Lie down. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply for 3 minutes. Focus completely on your breathing in that time.
  6. Take regular reflexology treatments!
  7. Create an uncluttered, restful bedroom.

You might also take a look here for further suggestions for a restorative sleep from NYR.

Happy snoozing everyone!

Pet Therapy … learn how to live like a dog

Sparkle hot water bottle 12670332_1862276713998661_2004905325799376241_nmindfullness 334_Image

 

 

 

 

Is there anything more joyful than playing chase with your dog? Or more restful than than having them slumber, like a furry hot- water bottle across your lap in the evening?  You could have the worst day at work, feel fed up with your family or stressed at your spare tyre, but your dog will always lift your spirits. Here are a few reasons why they are good for our health:

  1. Walking the dog is the best kind of quality time. Less damaging than drinking wine and scoffing chocolate, they get you out, in all weathers, pacing the streets, breathing in the fresh air and away from our gadgets.
  2. Dog are social magnets.They help us connect with others we would never otherwise talk to.
  3. They have a positive impact on our mood and lower our blood pressure (unless they snaffle your husband’s Sunday dinner, when he’s not looking and then THAT is very stressful.)
  4. They encourage us to show kindness, care and affection.
  5. They are brilliant at listening to our darkest secrets. And they never tell!
  6. They leave you less pre-occupied with everyday worries.
  7. They show us how to appreciate the simple things in life … eating, walking and enjoying a stroke. Dogs love a massage!

If you want to learn how to relax and don’t own a dog, get to know someone who has… and learn to live like a dog.