Words on Relaxation

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As a reflexologist I am a huge advocate of the benefits of relaxation. I regularly share with my reflexology clients in Kidderminster how relaxation benefits their bodies right down to a chemical level. The physiological effects of the relaxation response are huge and fantastic for your well being.

I think, however, that my wonderful clients come back time and time again because of how relaxation feels. That wonderful feeling of release when you are deeply relaxed is so hard to put into words, but we love it and we want to experience it over and over again!   

I have been exploring poetry about relaxation to try and capture the feeling in words, but it seems that it is so personal and unique we would all describe it differently. Below are some of the poems I have enjoyed while exploring this topic.

The first poem: "Relaxing" is by Alison Smith and can be found on the poem hunter website.

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The second poem is from Springboard Stories and written by Reverend Robert Berd

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The final poem I'm sharing here is from All Poetry and written by Jacqueline Shukow.

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Trying to capture the essence of relaxation is difficult, we often define such positive experiences by the negative feelings they counteract. It is so easy to see relaxing as a freedom from stress and anxiety, which of course it is, but it can be interesting to develop a sense of the experience for what it is rather than what it is not.  

If you would like to find out more about reflexology or mindfulness please do contact me.

Posted on April 25, 2018 and filed under reflexology, mindfulness.

Take time to Breathe

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When I opened my therapy business ten years ago in Kidderminster I wanted a name that conveyed my intention to offer people a time and space away from the pressures of life. I chose Breathe Holistic Therapy to present my intention to give clients an opportunity to simply take a breather.  I know how important it was for everyone to take time out both emotionally and physically. 

Reflexology is a wonderful way to allow yourself time to breathe, but there are ways to introduce this into daily life.

There are many breathing techniques that can allow your mind and body to become calmer. This is a very useful way of lowering the stress response and helping to counteract the negative effects of stress both physically and emotionally.  On a recent visit to Kidderminster hospital i found a fantastic leaflet on breathing techniques. This information was aimed at children but the exercises can be brilliant for both adults and children alike. I know it is obvious but please only do these techniques when it is safe to focus on your breathing.

Bumblebee Breathing

This technique can best be used when you are in a quite private space.  Sit comfortably and gently place the tips of your index fingers in your ears. Allow your eyes to close but don't squeeze them shut. Breathe in through your nose and then gently hum as you slowly breathe out. Repeat this as many times as you choose. 

Shoulder Roll Breathing

Choose  a comfortable sitting position where you can focus on your breathe for a few minutes. Take a slow deep breathe in and raise your shoulders up towards your ears. As you breathe out gently lower your shoulders back down. Repeat this movement slowly with each breathe rolling your shoulders up and down.  Many people find diaphragm breathing difficult at first as we more often breathe with our upper chest. This technique allows you to continue this whilst also promoting calm. 

Tummy Breathing

Lie on the floor and place your hands on your stomach. If you are doing this exercise with a child they can place a small stuffed toy on their tummy. Breathe in deeply and feel your belly rise then feel it lower as you breathe out. This encourages diaphragm breathing which acts physiologically to reduce the stress response and promote the calmer section of the nervous system.

Balloon Breathing

Sit comfortably and place your hands gently around your mouth as if you are about to blow up an invisible balloon. Take a comfortably deep breath in and as you slowly exhale start to spread out your hands as if you are holding a great big balloon.  Hold your hands in position as you continue to exhale until your balloon is as big as it can be. Breathe normally as you gently sway from side to side and release your balloon up into the sky. 

With all breathing techniques it is important that you feel comfortable. For some any alteration to your natural breathing can feel difficult and almost cause you to feel short of breathe. This can be more common if you have a chronic lung condition. If you have any long term health problems speak to your health care provider about which exercises may be best for you.

 

 

Posted on March 15, 2018 and filed under reflexology, stress management, mindfulness.

Tongue Tie Treatment Worcestershire

As a reflexologist working with pregnant and post natal clients I am lucky to learn from many other maternity and baby practitioners. I recently gained some vital knowledge about tongue tie  from local tongue tie specialist and midwife Leanne Cruickshanks. 

Leanne shared her passion for helping babies with tongue tie.

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" If you are having problems feeding your baby and you know or think your baby may have a tongue tie I can help, give advice and support you. 

I provide appointments for review of tongue tie and if required for the division of your baby’s tongue tie. I provide divisions on babies up to 16 weeks of age (if baby was born early then I can see your baby up to 16 weeks from their expected date of delivery).

I am an experienced tongue tie practitioner and have been providing divisions for ten years and am a Registered Midwife with an extended breast feeding knowledge.

I aim to provide a prompt and personal individualised service that will work in partnership with you and your baby. I am happy to provide a free initial telephone consultation. Following consultation I may recommend that baby visits my clinic for further assessment and potentially has a tongue tie division.

I am not only passionate about tongue ties but also about providing, enhancing and helping my mothers, babies and their families feeding journeys. I am dedicated to giving care that considers babies and their families individually and works in partnership with them to make decisions that hopefully positively impact on them. I have a methodical, considerate approach to care based on current evidence and over ten years experience in tongue tie and 18 years experience in midwifery care. I feel privileged to do what I do and love my job and the care I am lucky to be able to provide."

For more information you can contact Leanne at www.tonguetiematters.co.uk

 

Posted on February 8, 2018 and filed under maternity.

Celebrating Ten Years Of Reflexology at Breathe HT

To celebrate Breathe Holistic Therapies tenth anniversary I am planning a fantastic community project. My mission is to raise awareness in Kidderminster, Worcestershire of the use of automated defibrillators and their locations. I have organised many reflexology fundraising days but this time I'm marking ten years with something different.

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Automated defibrillators save lives, but generally people are not aware that anyone can use them or of their locations.  I want to help my local community to learn more about them and encourage local businesses/organisations who have automated defibrillators to promote their locations. Automated defilbrillators are known as EADs (emergency access defibrillator) or PADs (public access defibrillator).

I have a passion for this as I have twice witnessed collapses and not known where to go in order to access a potentially lifesaving defibrillator.  I know in one case I ran completely the wrong way and from that day decided the community need to know where to access automated defibrillators.

There are many statistics about the benefits of early defibrillation, but statistics can't compete with seeing someone receiving CPR, knowing an automated defibrillator may save their life but not knowing where to find one.

I want to promote the display of window signs, as shown above, indicating the location of automated defibrillators. I am taking my campaign to the local council and MP to encourage the development of universal location signs to be displayed along with other town signage, e.g. sign for the nearest defibrillator with distance indicated  alongside signs for toilets and parking etc.  I would ultimately envisage everyone finding their nearest defibrillator to home and work as a routine thing just as you may notice your nearest post box.

My mission is in line with many charities such as the St Johns ambulance,  Hand on Heart, Heart Safe and BHF. The British Heart Foundation are campaigning for universal signage and a country wide data base of all automated defibrillators.  Heart Safe have developed a map displaying defibrillators to enable people to perform a post code search, but most are not listed so currently this system is unfortunately not working. The St Johns Ambulance has introduced the CARE campaign encouraging people to find their closest automated defibrillator and stressing the importance of early defibrillation. All of these and similar initiatives are brilliant but ultimately a universal method of locating needs to be developed. 

I have a twitter @mylocaldefib from which I will encourage local organisations to list their defibrillator on the heart safe map as well as displaying window signs and location signs in their building.  I am hoping local media will assist me in publicising this quest and helping me to make my community and eventually everyone defib savy!  

If you would like to become involved with my campaign please do contact me I will look forward to hearing your input.

 

 
 

Reflexology Gift Vouchers

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You can give a gift they will remember this Christmas time with a gift voucher from Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster. This gift gives precious "me time", a special opportunity allowing your loved ones to take time out for themselves. 

Treating  your loved ones and yourself to some time out can improve the whole festive season. It's such a busy time for everyone so you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the shops and treat your loved ones to a gift voucher for a relaxing treat in the new year, and book yourself in for a treatment with the time you saved!  You really can put your feet up and relax with reflexology and mindfulness while you finish off your Christmas shopping at the same time!

Are searching for a present to show someone how much you appreciate them? There is no better way than focusing on their well being than with a  wonderfully relaxing reflexology treatment. Maybe you love reflexology yourself?  Sharing this fantastic treatment with a gift voucher can introduce the benefits of reflexology to friends and family enhancing their well being.

Gift vouchers can be purchased for either for a cash amount or a specific treatment such as reflexology . The choice is yours. You can be sure you friends and loved ones enjoy a treat that's just right for them. This gift allows them to enjoy some "me time" when they may not usually take precious time out for themselves.

Do you know a new mum or mum-to-be? You can treat them too! Gift vouchers are available for maternity reflexology, pregnancy massage, baby reflexology or post natal treatments. A lovely relaxing treatment to look forward to in the new year, what an lovely present to receive.

It is easy to buy a voucher, you can contact me by text, phone or email and I can arrange it all for you. Payment can be made by online banking or cheque and I can post the voucher straight out to you with no delivery costs.  But don't leave it too late as I can not post out any vouchers after 18th of December 2017.  
 

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

Posted on November 16, 2017 and filed under reflexology, stress management, mindfulness, maternity.

The Relaxation Response Revisited

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When I established Breathe Holistic Therapy back in 2008 my aim was simply to give my clients time to breathe. A break from their lives, time just for themselves to relax and recharge. I love all the benefits of reflexology but for me the relaxation response and its value for well being is key.  I explored the relaxation response in a post a few years ago so I thought is was time to revisit how relaxation effects your body

The relaxation response is a powerful skill you can  use to increase your well being.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S.A recognises the relaxation response as having a wide variety of health benefits including the reduction of pain and restoration of sleep.  In addition, research on the relaxation response has shown that this simple technique can: increase energy, decrease fatigue as well as increase arousal from a drowsy state.  It can increase motivation, productivity, and improve decision-making ability.  The relaxation response lowers stress hormone levels and lowers blood pressure.  Their are many research papers available on the NIH site for example a study finding the relaxation response was a viable treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

There are many was to trigger the relaxation response such as enjoying reflexology or meditation, but you can learn to include this in your daily life in between your appointments.
 
Relaxation Techniques 

What is the Relaxation Response? The relaxation response is defined as yourability to make your body release chemicals and brain signals that cause your muscles and organs to slow down and increases blood flow to the brain. IN many ways the result of this response is the opposite to the stress response. The Relaxation Response is unfortunately not achieved by  laying on the sofa or sleeping! It is a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed.
 
There are many ways of achieving the relaxation response. Some of these techniques are called: ➣ Progressive Muscle Relaxation (tense & relax) ➣ Visual Imagery ➣ Deep Breathing ➣ Meditation ➣  Yoga ➣ Biofeedback
 
We will look at one technique for simulatingthe relaxation response and the benefits will grow with practise.
 
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Tense & Relax Technique)

Everyone has a resting level of muscle tension.  Some people have a high level of tension at rest, others less.  When people are under high stress, their muscles tend to have higher levels of resting tension that can be painful and fatiguing.  After you tense and relax muscles, the tension level not only returns to the original level but automatically drops below the original level, producing even greater relaxation to the muscles.    

Start the exercise by getting comfortable.   You can keep your eyes open or shut.  Most people prefer to close their eyes. Try not to fall asleep, I know it is very tempting and sometimes you will drift off but try to stay awake.   As you perform this exercise, you will tense different muscle groups,  but you need not tense to the point of pain – simple tensing for 2 seconds is generally enough.   Focus on how the tension feels.  Then, let the tension go.  Focus on the sensations of relaxation. During the exercise it can be tempting to hold our breath, but do remember to breathe!  If you experience any discomfort during the exercise do not continue to tense those muscles and if you need to change position that is absolutely fine. Please speak to your health care provider if you are concerned about your physical or mental health.
 
The Tense & Relax Exercise: 
 
Preparation 1) Make yourself as comfortable as possible in a seated position 2) Try and sit up straight with good posture with your hands resting in your lap 3) Remove your glasses if you wear them, some people prefer to remove their contact lenses
 
 1. Relaxation of the feet and calves:  Flex your feet (pull toes toward the knees)  Contract calf muscles and muscles of lower leg. Feel the tension build and hold the tension  Take a deep breath  and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go. If the word relax doesn't feel natural to you then try others such as "calm" or " ease".
 
2. Relaxation of the knees and upper thighs:  Straighten your knees and squeeze your legs together. Contract your thigh muscles and all the muscles of your legs. Feel the tension build and hold the tension .Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
3. Relaxation of the hips and buttocks, tense and relax the hips and buttocks in the same was as above.
  
4.  Relaxation of the abdomen: Observe your abdomen rising and falling with each breath Inhale and press your navel toward the spine then tense the abdomen. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
5. Relaxation of the upper back: Draw the shoulder blades together to the midline of the body and contract the muscles across the upper back. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and ss you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
6. Relaxation of the Arms and Palms of the Hands: Turn palms face down and make a tight fist in each hand then raise and stretch both arms with fists.  Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
7.  Relaxation of the Chin, Neck, and Shoulders: Drop your chin to your chestDraw your shoulders up toward your ears. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and asyou exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
 
8.  Relaxation of the Jaw and Facial muscles: Clench your teeth together and tense the muscles in the back of your jaw. Turn the corners of your mouth into a tight smile and Wrinkle the bridge of your nose and squeeze your eyes shut. Feel the tension build and hold the tension. Take a deep breath and as  you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go
  
9. Take a deep breath. As you exhale say the word “RELAX” and let the tension go. Finally  become aware of your surroundings (location, people, noises)  -  Move your feet, legs, hands, arms, rotate your head– open your eyes feeling re-energized, refreshed, and relaxed

This is one type of relaxation technique and there are many more to choose from. I believe their is a technique to suit every one so do experiment with techniques to find what suits you best. Do not be put off if your first attempt is not what you expect. It can take some time to feel familiar with a technique and begin to feel the benefits.  If you have any questions about the technique please do not hesitate to contact me

Posted on October 18, 2017 and filed under stress management, mindfulness.

Mindfulness techniques for you

I am passionate about mindfulness and see how it enhances both my own and my client's lives. It can however be difficult to begin incorporating mindfulness into our lives. It is often true that the busy doing aspect of life just gets in the way. In this blog I am sharing a couple of techniques that can help you to begin to use mindfulness daily, developing your "just being" mind, regardless of how busy you may be.

The first technique is known as the RAIN method.  This enables you to focus your attention on the moment in a structured way. As your mindfulness develops you will probably move away from the structre but it is helpful to start with.

RAIN 

R - Recognise

A - Allowing

I - Investigating

N - Natural awareness

 RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

R   -  RECOGNISE WHAT IS HAPPENING

You can awaken mindful awareness simply by asking yourself: “What is happening inside me right now?” Call on your natural curiosity as you focus inward. Try to let go of any preconceived ideas.

A - ALLOW LIFE TO BE JUST AS IT IS

Allowing means, “Letting be”, the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you discover. You may naturally feel a sense of aversion to any difficult feelings or sensations that arise.  Wanting unpleasant feelings to go away is a response which has become a habit for most of us.  However, with some practise, you will become more willing to be present with, 'What is', and a different quality of attention will emerge.

Allowing is intrinsic to healing, and realising this can give rise to a conscious intention to “let be.” 

I - INVESTIGATE INNER EXPERIENCE WITH KINDNESS

Investigation means calling on your natural interest.  Simply pausing to ask, “What is happening inside me?”, might initiate recognition, but with investigation, you engage in a more active, pointed, line of enquiry.   You might ask yourself:

“What most wants attention?” “How am I experiencing this in my body?” “What does this feeling want from me?”

We need to offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces. Avoid the natural habit of wanting to change thinks or find solutions, just be with the answers that arise. Investigating with open non-judgental curiosity.  

N - NATURAL AWARENESS

The first three steps of RAIN require some intentional activity. The ’N’ of RAIN, expresses the result; a liberating realisation of your Natural awareness. There’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN.   Realisation arises spontaneously on its own.  We simply rest in Natural awareness. Not trying to get anywhere and not trying to change anything, just "being" with whatever you have discovered.

 Sixty seconds meditation

Sixty seconds meditation

The second technique requires just sixty sessions.  It can be practised whenever you are in a situation which does not require your full attention ( so not when driving a car for example!!)  If you have a timer on your phone then set it for sixty seconds, close your eyes and focus solely on your breath. Bring your attention to the movement of the breath as it travels in from the mouth or nose all the way down to the chest. Then follow the exhale in the same way.  There is no need to breath in any special way.  When your attention wanders simply escort it back to the breath.

This may sound very easy, just 1 minute concentrating on one thing. Or you may be thinking that your mind is far too busy to focus on something you normally pay no attention to?  Whatever your initial thoughts try to enter the meditation with an open mind and see what you discover.  By meditating in this way you allow yourself to insert a pause into your day; a moment to just be with your breath and see what develops. Taking time to allow yourself to take a  break from your "doing" mind in this structured way will help you to develop a mindfulness approach to many aspects of your life.

I know it may see like a contradiction to learn techniques which allow you to develop mindfulness when the practise itself is about non-doing rather than doing techniques and exercises!   We do, however, need guidance to develop our own mindfulness and techniques can really help.  Most importantly remember to be kind to yourself and know that you do not need to strive to be good at any technique, just doing them is the key.

If you would like more information please take a look at mindfulness meditation

Posted on September 6, 2017 and filed under mindfulness, stress management.

Beautiful Bump Photography Worcestershire

As a maternity therapist I have the pleasure of working with many beautiful mums to be at Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster.

I am privileged to watch my maternity reflexology and pregnancy massage client's bodies develop as they go through their pregnancy. Many couples now choose to celebrate this with a pregnancy photography session. I know a lot about pregnancy but nothing about photography so I have asked a local photographer to share some advise on maternity photo shoots.


Hey! I'm alex, I'm a local photographer in Worcestershire - I specialise in newborn, bump to baby and family. 

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Wow so you're a mum to be!! 
Having a child myself I know all the changes that happen to your body during that wonderful 9 months - what a great adventure you're on. 
I remember the stage " your really glowing " I never saw it myself, but now photographing pregnant mumma's I see it! You look absolutely breathtaking. There you are with a life inside you waiting to enter the big wide world, it's truly amazing!

My maternity sessions are very relaxed and comfortable, being completely led by you; would you like to be gracefully nude? Would you prefer to be a completely natural shoot of you bump and partner? Studio or location? 

These are just some of the questions we will talk through and see what exactly you want. 
If you change your mind last minute and think "ah no... I cannot bare to show anything"... again the session on the day is completely led by you. 

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Are you thinking what do I wear to a maternity session? How do I dress?... I always say go with what you're comfortable in. The jeans with a casual shirt is a nice look - dresses are great for showing the bump proudly. I recommend all colours, bright, dark and graceful white.

 

Makeup and hair, again that's your decision, you know your best look and what you feel best in.  I also here at Alexandra Creative Photography have set out photographic pregnancy dresses that can be used if you choose to do so. 

A lot of mums-to-be say they couldn't believe how comfortable they were in my presence on the first day we met. I recommend pregnancy sessions from 30+ weeks, with booking your pregnancy session at 12 + weeks.

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Please take a look at my work feel free to call/email to discuss further. http://www.alexandracp.com/

www.facebook.com/Alexandracreativephotography

Posted on May 8, 2017 and filed under maternity.