Posts tagged #overcoming anxiety

Mindfulness in a busy Kidderminster Car park!

I may not have been on a beautiful beach, but a busy car park in Kidderminster provided me with an opportunity for calmness.

Mindfulness can mean different things to every individual who explores it but for me the essence of mindfulness is quietening my busy mind. Before I began mindfulness I believed I simply could not meditate or clear my head, it was just too full of thoughts! But now I have learnt that by focusing on the experience of being in a moment, rather than trying to clear my mind, is profoundly calming.

Last week I was waiting for a lift in Kidderminster, perched on a wall. I was initially frustrated as I would normally be independent and drive myself but  due to a back problem (now resolved)  I could not drive. I had arrived early so I didn't need to rush so I had 25 minutes on my hands. At first I did what I often do, reached for my phone and checked my emails, then I checked my schedule in my diary, thinking of lists and work to do.  Still over 20 minutes to wait. I could feel myself starting to ruminate on the issues of the day, churning over thoughts and feelings. 

I decided to put some mindfulness into practice. Firstly I focused on the sounds I could hear, just listening and not judging or hoping to change anything. Simply bringing my attention to the sounds around me. When my mind wandered, as it naturally did, I just bought it back to the area of focus I had chosen. The great thing about mindfulness is there is no self criticism involved as you can not get it wrong. It simply is whatever happens at that moment.  I found myself listening to the constant sounds then noticing the intermittent yet regular sounds. I could soon pick up on noises I had not been aware of before. 

I next took my focus of attention to my internal experience. Taking time to experience the sensations of my body, not thinking about what they meant but noticing the sensations and no more.  My mind did wander away from my chosen focus but without tutting at myself I gathered it up and focused again.  

This episode of mindfulness felt like a few minutes but when I checked my watch I realised my lift was actually late and  25 minutes had gone by. I am pretty sure if I had continued with my mind churning and ruminating I would have by now been pretty frustrated with my wait, but I felt calm and content. 

There are many aspects to mindfulness but my experience in the Kidderminster car park was a simple exercise in mindfulness. I spent my time simply being within the experience and switched off my doing busy mind. It was a lesson to me in how making plans and ticking boxes is not always the best way to feel on top of your day.

More on stress management and understanding stress.


Posted on April 27, 2015 and filed under hypnotherapy, stress management.

How does relaxation change your body?

Relaxation explored.

Most people would agree it feels good to truly relax, we can feel there are positive changes as we sink into a calm state of relaxation.  I’m often talking about the benefits of relaxation with my clients in kidderminster, but what does relaxation actually mean for our bodies? 

According to the dictionary relaxation is defined as   "the state of being free from tension and anxiety". 

Relaxation in many ways counteracts the effects of stress on the body. Although the physiological and biochemical changes that happen during the acute stress response have been thoroughly studied, the contrasting changes of the relaxation response are less understood. The relaxed state in basic terms results in your heart and breathing rate slowing, your blood pressure goes down, your production of stress hormones decreases, and your muscles loosen and relax. The relaxation effect may also increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, a chemical in the body that positively affects emotions and thoughts.  Blood pressure reduction is among the changes most consistently observed during studies of the effects of relaxation on the body.  This alone can have a positive influence on many health conditions but is one reason why it is important to tell your therapist if you have clinically low blood pressure.

When relaxation occurs the nervous system is affected.  The sympathetic branch which is heightened by stress slows down and the parasympathetic branch takes over.  This part of the nervous system is concerned with restful activities: - the body and mind calm and the metabolic rate slows. When truly relaxed your body requires only  very low energy, similar to the low metabolic rate in deep sleep. In a sustained state of relaxation, oxygen requirement of our body tissues falls lower than during normal sleep. The blood lactate level falls significantly up to three times faster during therapeutic relaxation than a normal restful state. Lactate is the chemical that enters the blood through the metabolic activity of the muscles and is responsible for muscle fatigue.  It appears certain that while relaxing you are helping your body to recover from the negative effects of everyday stress.

The term, ‘Relaxation Response’ was first used by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute.  He studied the effects of this relaxation response on the body.   In his book The Relaxation Response, Dr. Benson describes the scientific benefits of relaxation; he explains that regular practice of relaxation can be an effective way of managing a wide range of stress-related disorders.  The changes can occur from the first time someone enjoys therapeutic relaxation. Research looking at subjects brain activity has shown the there are observable reductions in cortical arousal, meaning heart rate lowers breathing slows and muscle tone relaxes.

Regularly enjoying therapeutic relaxation can be effective in improving day to day wellbeing, and result in an increased control over the body's response to stress. A recent study (2013) also discovered that the relaxation response also affects the way our genes influence body systems including the immune function, metabolism and insulin control.  This requires further research but suggests that the relaxation response may have a positive effect beyond that of counteracting the stress response.

There are many ways to elicit the relaxation response. I advise clients to try different methods that can be included in their day to day lives. Reflexology and massage are great ways to feel the full body effects of relaxation but few people can include these treatments in daily life. There are a number of methods to encourage deep relaxation such as:

  • Breathing techniques can be easily learnt and included regularly in your life.
  • Yoga poses are renowned for relaxation benefits.
  • Art therapy such as colouring in or sewing can be beneficial  as you become absorbed in the activity and allow stresses to be forgotten.
  • Meditation can be hard to begin with but is an ideal way to promote the relaxation response.

The physiological changes caused by relaxation may not have been as fully explored as the negative effects of stress but it seems clear that the benefits go beyond just counteracting stress. If you'd like to experience deep relaxation through reflexology then please do contact me 07531 121199.

Listen to a free relaxation MP3 here.

If you are concerned about your stress levels and the effects on your body then please contact you GP or health care practitioner.

Posted on October 24, 2014 and filed under stress management.

Introducing Massage at Breathe Holistic Therapy

One of the best ways of lowering stress levels and staying happy and healthy is by having a therapeutic massage.  Massage can help you manage stress by relieving anxiety and tension, promoting relaxation, increasing your energy, improving sleep, reducing muscle soreness, and decreasing pain.  Reflexology is a specialised foot massage which promotes relaxation and can lead to a wonderful sense of calmness and tranquillity. At Breathe Holistic therapy back massage or body massage is now also available.

What is massage?  Massage is a manual therapy that uses hands-on manipulation of the muscles and other soft tissues. Techniques include rubbing, kneading, tapping or otherwise manipulating the soft body tissue with the hands or with some instrument designed for this purpose. Massage relaxes tense muscles, eases stress, relieves pain and can help you get to sleep.  Although massage affects the whole body, it is especially therapeutic for the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems.

Treating yourself to a massage can really help you to feel calmer and ease your aches and pains.  A back massage is a great introduction to massage and is a lovely addition to a reflexology treatment. Reflexology and massage can help you to feel healthier and happier. 

Reflexology in Kidderminster. Please contact Jo 0753 1121199

Overcoming anxiety - first spot the signs.

Most people are aware that their lives can at times be stressful, and not all stress is bad, but when our bodies physical response to stress builds up over time it can have a negative effect on us physically, mentally and emotionally. Stress effects different people in different ways, we are  all unique, and we all have different ways of coping with stress but there are some common signs and symptoms to be aware of.

  • difficulty sleeping
  • difficulty concentrating
  • altered appetite
  • frequent crying or outbursts of anger
  • restlessness and twitching
  • muscular aches and pains
  • digestive problems

Many of these symptoms can themselves cause you to feel stressed and anxious, leading to a frustrating viscous circle.  If you feel you are experiencing any harmful effects of stress and want help with overcoming anxiety  or are worried about your health then speak to your  G.P.  who can recommend various stress management techniques for you to use whenever you feel anxious.

You can also incorporate a variety of methods to help overcome anxiety into your lifestyle.  One way to help counteract stress and anxiety is through massage. When you are stressed your muscles often become tense and over time muscular aches and pains can develop.  Massage and complementary therapies like reflexology can help counteract this leaving you feeling looser, calmer and more comfortable.  Its lovely to treat yourself to massage but you can help loosen tense muscles yourself. simply shrugging your shoulders a few times and shaking out your arms and legs can ease tension in the  body, or try a relaxing bath to ease stress and overcome any anxiety from the day.

Stress can be damaging and it's important to know your limits, keep in touch with your body and watch out for any of the signs that stress has switched from helpful to unhealthy. maybe ask yourself ... " am I in control of stress or is stress controlling me? " ....  With this insight you can take action to bring your life back into balance.

Reflexology Treatments Kidderminster. Please contact Jo 0753 1121199

Posted on April 26, 2010 and filed under stress management.