Posts tagged #relaxation

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.

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.

Exercise for Expectant Mums

It has been great to link up with Puddle Ducks Worcestershire this month and learn about their aqua natal classes in Kidderminster and Worcestershire. My maternity reflexology and pregnancy massage clients often ask me about other activites available for them.

I'd like to share this guest post kindly written by Clare Harris from Puddle Ducks Worcestershire

It can be hard to find a suitable exercise class when you are a mum to be. We all know that it is good to keep fit while you are pregnant but your normal class may longer be suitable or you might not feel like going to the gym. 


An Aquanatal class, is a great combination of relaxation together with cardiovascular exercise. The right class can provide a range of benefits including keeping fit, improving sleep, and reducing the aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
 

Swimming is one of the safest ways to exercise during pregnancy as the water supports your joints whilst also providing resistance work for all the muscles, strengthening your back and abdominal muscles ready for carrying your baby around!


When choosing a class it is worth checking what training your teacher has undergone. Puddle Ducks teachers must pass antenatal swimming training that is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives Trust, STA Aquacise training and our own extensive Aquanatal training. This means that you’re in the safest possible hands as you work out and relax.


It is great to be able to combine exercise with relaxation– the perfect way to unwind and enjoy a little ‘me’ time. Classes take place in the soothing, warm comforts of pools and combine exercise with relaxation activities Exercise and relaxation release your body’s natural happy hormones, endorphins, which suppress pain and help you (and baby) feel calm – not only helpful in later pregnancy, but also really important during and after labour.


If you have recently had a baby then Aquanatal classes can also be undertaken post-pregnancy, the gentle exercise helps mums’ bodies recover after birth and get back into shape gently. 
Puddle Ducks classes are held at DW Fitness in Kidderminster on Saturday mornings at 12.15 pm. You can attend as many classes as you like, throughout your pregnancy, for the one-off admin fee of £45, you do not need to be a DW Fitness Member to attend. If you would like to go to the sessions post-natally they are then £5 per class.


A great bonus for all expectant Mums attending is that you will get 20% of the cost of your first term when you sign up to swim with your new baby. Puddle Ducks run swimming classes for children from just a few weeks old through to 10 years at 10 pools throughout Worcestershire and the West Midlands. Swimming is an amazing experience to share with your little one and one of the few activities that you can both enjoy together.


If you would like to attend a class for free please call Puddle Ducks on 01905 888346 or email worcestershire@puddleducks.com, please quote the code  BTSAQ17.

For more information take a look at the website:  Puddle Ducks

Meditation in the Media

As I work with my reflexology and mindfulness meditation clients in Kidderminster and the Worcestershire area I regularly see and hear about the positive effects of meditation. I love to read articles promoting meditation, spreading the word about the benefits.

 I read with interest "10 reasons to meditate" recently in a national news paper. This brief little piece shared some great points and even covered some recent research.

  1. " It will help you relax" Meditation provides a break from everyday tasks, an opportunity to slow down and focus on breathing, free from distractions.  These few moments can allow the body to relax as well as the mind.
  2. " It might help your exam results" In a 2013 study regular meditation improved student's exam performance by boosting memory and concentration. Students saw an average of 16% increase, which really could make a difference to the final grade.
  3. "Preserve the brain" Researchers in California found that people who practiced meditation over 20 years had better preserved brains than non-meditators. The study showed their brains had more grey matter.
  4. "...or rebuild it" A 2014 study in Harvard found meditation could restore grey matter.  In as little as eight weeks changes were seen in brain tissue.
  5. "It can bring down blood pressure" Transcendental meditation has been seen to trigger the production of telomerase which is an enzyme linked to lower blood pressure.
  6. "Boost your mood" A review of almost 50 separate studies concluded that meditation can help anxiety and depression. Meditation appeared to strengthen the person's ability to regulate their feelings.
  7. "It's good for the gut" Many digestive disorders are worsened by stress. A study of women with irritable bowel syndrome found that meditation for eight weeks led to a reduction in pain, bloating and cramps.
  8. " It can help you quit smoking" A study in Texas found that smokers who meditated alongside using nicotine replacement reduced the amount of cigarettes they smoked, often without noticing! 
  9. "Shed the pounds" It is common for people to make unhealthy food choices when stress levels are high.  In 2011 a study of obese women found that meditation helped to reduce comfort eating.
  10. " And improve sleep" Meditation for only six weeks can help reduce insomnia, a study found.  The investigation found that the subjects who meditated improved more over six weeks than those on a sleep education course.

Meditation has many clear benefits for all our well being. If you would like to learn more about meditation and how it could help you then please do contact me.

 

Posted on March 21, 2017 and filed under mindfulness, stress management.

Hypnotherapy Relaxation for Exam Stress and Anxiety

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Click for a ten minute relaxation MP3 to promote calm and reduce stress and anxiety for all ages.

Exam season is upon us, from primary school SATS to A levels  children and young people are expressing how they are struggling with exam stress.

Children as young as ten are worried that poor exam performance will have a bad effect on their lives.  many children are so anxious about their SATS that they are too nervous to eat before school, a recent survey found. The survey showed a startling 72% of the primary school children felt pressured at exam time.

Hypnotherapy relaxation is one technique that even the youngest child can enjoy.

Symptoms of exam nerves and anxiety can include feeling sick, sweaty palms, sleeping problems,  loss of appetite and frequent loss of temper. As a parent you know your child best and every individual has a different response to stress and anxiety.  Hypnotherapy is a common method of helping children cope with exam stress. Visualisation techniques can encourage a child to clear their racing mind and approach the exam feeling calm.  Controlling anxiety in this way can help increase concentration levels allowing knowledge to be accessed more easily.  This can lead to better results along with calmer children! 

Hypnotherapy in the run up to exams can be used to increase confidence and motivation, improve concentration and lower anxiety. Learning how to relax can help children focus and revise more easily. Tackling any child's fear of failure can allow them to approach an exam with more perspective and less fear.  

There are many ways available to help your child manage their stress levels better and reduce anxiety. The NHS have advise online to assist families to cope at exam time. This includes practical considerations such as promoting good sleep routines at exam times and providing healthy food and adequate hydration. Talking to your child about how they are feeling is also important.  They suggest reminding your child that nervousness is normal and natural and not something to feel overwhelmed by.  Focusing on their achievements in life and building their confidence is also important.  Listen and support them without being critical whilst also helping them to keep the exam in perspective.  

This can be a difficult time for the whole family and you do not need to cope alone. Along with the NHS advise there are many sources of support online.  Childline have produced a leaflet full of advise for beating exam stress. If you are concerned about your child please do speak to their school or if you feel necessary consult your GP.

 

Ultimate Relaxation for Body and Mind.

Reflexology + Relaxation Soundtrack = Ultimate Stress Busting

Life for many of us is hectic, rushed and stressful. Finding time to relax is often a luxury we don't allow ourselves.  Stress management is a vital part of promoting well being.

After a reflexology treatment many of my clients say they can't remember when they last relaxed like that. They talk about how calm they feel and how they feel refreshed and revitalised. Many say they didn't realise how much stress they were holding in their bodies until they let it go. As a therapist it's wonderful to hear that you are helping people to achieve relaxation, but I would love them to be able to take the key to this relaxation home with them in their pocket.

Our bodies and mind learn to associate certain experiences with particular emotions and behaviours. You may smell bread cooking and hear your tummy grumble and feel your mouth watering.  A certain song may take you right back to the summer holiday when you first heard it.  This is a natural process, so why not use it to trigger relaxation?

I have worked with Mark Powlett Hypnotherapist  to create a calm and tranquil soundtrack to truly enhance your relaxation whilst you enjoy your reflexology treatment. This includes beautiful visualisations and guided relaxation.  The soundtrack is a calming and comforting way to optimise your relaxation. A version of this recording can then be yours to use at home.

Your mind and body will associate this soundtrack with your relaxing reflexology treatment.  When you listen to the soundtrack in-between your reflexology appointments you can easily feel that deep sense of relaxation. You really will have a key to relaxation in your pocket!

For more information on the reflexology with relaxation soundtrack treatments call: 07531121199 or e-mail me.

For Reflexology in Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199

Chicken or the egg? Negative thoughts... negative feelings... Which come first?

Experiencing stress and anxiety can lead to the distressing physical feelings .... That makes coping hard enough but there are also the frightening negative thoughts to contend with too. 

We can misinterpret the physical side effects of anxiety and find ourselves adopting unhelpful thinking patterns.  These negative thoughts then fuel the negative feelings... and on the cycle can go until you can completely loose sight of how this all started...

The trigger is biology!

A biological reaction to real or perceived danger, the fight or flight response. This stress and anxiety cycle is not a reflection on the individual, on their lives or their abilities, it is biology!!!

To break the cycle first identify the worrying thought patterns. Here are some examples:

All or nothing thinking : " I made a mistake.. I'm useless and never do anything right"

Personalisation : " Its all my fault "

Subjectification : believing bad situations reflect on you  rather than being just a bad/ difficult  event.

Catastrophising : believing one small problem will inevitably ruin everything else.

But of course everyone is individual and you may find some that relate to you and some that don't.  Changing these distressing unhelpful thought patterns is not always easy but it is absolutely possible. try to question those automatic negative thoughts...ask yourself..." Is that true"... " what would I say to my friend if they said this?"... " what are the alternatives?" continue to question the damaging thoughts.

Sometimes just distracting yourself with something mundane can help interrupt the cycle enough for you to see clearly again. Maybe count backwards in 3s or repeat a calming word silently to yourself over and over.  If you struggle with stress and anxiety trying to tackle it can seem like a mountain to climb, but take small steps and you can begin to develop stress management skills and overcome your anxiety.

 

Trying to address stress and anxiety yourself is a positive move, but if you feel your stress and anxiety is intense, long lasting and causing problems do speak to your health care provider for help and advise.

For Reflexology in Treatments Kidderminster. Please contact Jo 0753 1121199

Posted on July 13, 2010 and filed under stress management.

Stress Management - Back to basics.... breathe....

I have been studying some different forms of stress management over the past few weeks, such as holistic massage. There are many effective techniques available but what has struck me is the importance of one essential thing .... taking time to breathe!

Breathe holistic therapy was born out of this central aim to help my clients find their own time to breathe and relax, hence the name!   Revisiting stress management and overcoming anxiety this week has reminded me of the power of calm controlled deep breathing.

If you feel yourself getting stressed, try to halt those feelings in their tracks by taking deep comfortable breaths. Start by inhaling for three seconds, then exhale for a little longer. Continue this for several breaths until you feel calmer.  To help the process try to think only of the breaths

..... in....  out .... in ..... out .....

Then as you breathe out imagine you are breathing away the stress and anxiety, think about letting go of  the tension with every out breath.  This may sound too simple to work, but the effect of basic breathing exercises can be profound. Give it a try and find your time to breathe!

As always, if you are concerned about your health please do seek medical advice.

 

Posted on March 22, 2010 and filed under stress management.