Moisturisers – Your protective skincare shield

Think of a moisturiser as your dependable suit of armour protecting your skin from the outside world. Whether it’s a cream, gel or lotion it can create a veil over the skin and is multi-functional, a necessity for all types of skin.

A good moisturiser is an essential part of our skincare routine,  and can help with many things, such as:

  • Maintaining the skins natural protective barrier whilst also preventing water loss from the skin. This is hugely important when we are surrounded by things like air conditioning, central heating and the normal changes of the seasons. It’s essentially there to help balance the water and oil in our skin, and by achieving the right balance, it will help our skin to be more hydrated and look healthier.
  • Maintaining the skin’s natural moisturising factors which are made up of a mix of water-soluble salts and amino acids inside our skin cells. As these are water soluble they can easily be washed out leaving the skin feeling dry. One reason why we shouldn’t opt for a harsh foaming cleanser or rigorous toner.
  • Some moisturisers are also really effective humectants (they prevent moisture loss from the skin and can also glean moisture from the air to nourish the skin). How fab is that!
  • Amazing soothing powers to ease irritated skin, for example after shaving.
  • Protecting the skin against free radicals (environmental damage) such as pollution. If left to their own devises free radicals can be responsible for breaking down our skin’s collagen, resulting in blemishes, fine lines, pigmentation and looser looking skin.
  • Some moisturisers contain key ingredients that can penetrate to feed and nourish the skin. These may include things like peptides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin to name a few.
  • Evening out and smoothing dry areas of the skin.
  • Providing a perfect base for makeup where it stays put and doesn’t slide or disappear throughout the day.

But where does it sit in our skincare routine?

For years the message has always been to cleanse, tone and moisturise as a bare minimum and this is still the case. We are fortunate to have lots of other product options available that can be intertwined into this basic routine. Our cleanser and our moisturiser are always the top and tail of our regimen, the two book ends. Start with cleansing to thoroughly clean your skin, then tone and treat it with toners/acid toners, exfoliators, serums, oils, masks and eye products before finishing off with a moisturiser to hydrate and protect it.  If you scroll through my blogs I’ve written about the purpose and benefits of cleansing, toning and exfoliating already. I like to use the analogy of using a moisturiser being like closing our front door when we leave our house. We wouldn’t leave it open to the elements, inviting aggressors in, would you? That’s what we would be doing to our skin if we didn’t moisturise it. Our last port of call would always be sun protection which is an absolute must all year round. Perhaps this is our burglar alarm for extra security!

What type of moisturiser should I choose?

Choose a moisturiser which is right for your skin type, whether that be oily, dry, normal (with no real issues – this, by the way, is very few of us unfortunately) or combination skin (where you might have an oily nose and forehead but dryer cheeks). Any concerns that you have regarding your skin i.e. pigmentation, dehydration, fine lines, uneven surface, lack of radiance can be dealt with by using products previously applied i.e. toners, serums and oils.

Surely I don’t need a moisturiser if I have really oily skin?

Yes you do! I’d suggest going for oil free varieties or a light lotion, gel or serum containing hyaluronic acid to help keep skin moisturised but not overloaded. From my days working on beauty counters and delivering skincare training I knew lots of people who did not moisturise their skin because it was oily.  They tried to strip the moisture out by using harsh foaming cleansers, astringent toners containing lots of alcohol and then purposely didn’t moisturise for fear of replacing excess oil. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the way forward. But these actions only encourage the skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil to replace what has been lost. Therefore exasperating the situation and leaving skin very confused and often oilier than it was before. So please do moisturise if your skin is oily. It’s all about choosing the right products.

What age should I start using a moisturiser?

From your teen years onwards. Basically as soon as you hit puberty. The type of moisturiser you use will change as your skin changes. But essentially  a moisturiser is a staple in your skincare routine.  As a teen or someone in their early twenties you may benefit from using a light lotion or cream depending on your skin type. As we progress through the years always choose a moisturiser suited to your skin type.

We don’t need lots of different moisturisers. This is in contrast to some of the other skincare steps where it’s quite normal (although not essential) to have more than one option. You may have more than one cleanser to remove make up and SPF, to clean your skin, whether it’s morning or evening etc. Always make your decision on what to do based on what you have on your face at the time and how your skin is feeling. You may have an assortment of toners and acid toners in your cabinet too. For example a glycolic acid and a lactic or salicylic acid based on what your requirements are on any particular day. You may have a Vitamin A (Retinoid) and a Vitamin C serum among others and they should be used until they are finished rather than chopping and changing. When it comes to moisturisers you don’t need a large selection. This is the same with eye creams and SPFs too.

What type of moisturisers are there?

There are generally four types:

Humectants

These are pretty clever as they attract water from the humidity in the atmosphere and from our epidermis to nourish the skin. They can be found in lots of moisturisers. These work particularly well for oilier and dehydrated skins as they don’t clog the pores or add more oil but they will effectively hydrate the skin.

Emollients

Sometimes called lipids. The function of these is to add oil to the epidermis (the upper layers of the skin) and help to soften and smooth the skin texture. They are there to imitate the natural lipids and oils that are found in our skin and fill in the gaps within our skin cells. They are great for most skin types but are particularly beneficial for dry and sensitive skins.

Ceramides

These are naturally produced in the body and act as a skin barrier. But when we are lacking in them, we can find ourselves with dry and irritated skin. When found in moisturisers they are just like the ceramides found in our skin. They penetrate quite easily which helps to seal in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier. Great if your skin is dry or sensitive.

Occlusives

The main purpose of these are to provide a coating or film over the stratum corneum (the outer most layer of the epidermis) to prevent water loss and therefore seal in moisture. They are generally prescribed by a professional to help with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and extra dry skin. They are usually quite thick in texture.

Drop me a message, an email, a direct message on social media if you’d like to. Thank you for reading.

N x

You can also find this article on http://www.perfumeryandcompany.com a beautiful independent beauty boutique offering a comprehensive range of products and amazing personal service. I am their resident blogger writing about all things beauty. The blog I do for them is in addition to continuing to write my own content for my website and my social media platforms.

Here are some of my favourite moisturisers. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I discover new products regularly:

How to ease muscle tension and pain at home

What to do if you are missing

the benefits of your regular massage

If you have a regular massage with a Holistic Therapist hopefully it’s only a matter of weeks before you can relax again on their massage couch and reap the benefits of a wonderful holistic treatment. Some of my clients are really suffering with tight, tense and painful muscles. Especially in the back, shoulders and neck. Muscle tension is usually caused when the muscle contracts and doesn’t release.

It’s been so long since many have seen a professional. If you will be crawling your way back onto the massage couch here are some tips to ease pain and tightness in the interim (especially for the back, neck and shoulders).

Application of hot & cold

Hot and cold compresses can work wonders. Heat is great for muscle tightness, stiff joints and to relax muscles. Cold effectively reduces swelling and inflammation and can help to numb sharp pain. For hot you could use a hot water bottle (encased in its proper cover) or a hot flannel. For cold you could use a freezer ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cold flannel wrung out. If you need to treat a larger area use a folded towel that’s been in hot or cold water and wrung out. Always protect your skin, don’t put ice or a hot water bottle which is not in its cover directly on your skin. They should always be wrapped in a cloth or towel. Apply to the painful area for fifteen minutes several times a day (fifteen minutes hot compress, followed by fifteen minutes cold compress) It is perfectly normal for skin to look a little pinker after using hot and cold. Always let skin return to it’s normal temperature and colour before applying the next compress.

Hot baths

Not only will the hot water aid muscle relaxation by loosening the muscle fibres, it is also incredibly soothing for the nervous system. If you don’t have a bath at home stand under the jet of water in your shower. Aim it at any aching muscles. Remember though, do not have the water too hot.

Epsom salts

Add epsom salts to your bath. These are the mineral magnesium sulfate. It acts as a sedative for the nervous system, as well as lowering the amount of lactic acid which has built up in the muscle fibres. There are lots of varieties of epsom salts on the market that contain different essential oils too but good old fashion epsom salts are perfect.

Pillows

Look at your pillow. Try to stick to a small, flat, firm pillow if possible to keep your neck in a neutral position whilst sleeping.

Keep moving

Move your body regularly. When experiencing pain there is often a tendency to reduce movement, due to fear of causing more pain. But gentle movement can certainly help mobilise muscles. If you are sitting down a lot for work, try to make a concerted effort to get up every hour and move around for five or ten minutes. Walking is a very effective form of movement. Pair this with some simple stretches and small movements. If you scroll through my blogs you will find a piece I wrote about stretches to specifically help back, neck and shoulder pain with accompanying illustrations.

Muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique to help ease muscle tension. Breathe in and tense each muscle group in turn (for example the gluteal muscles of the bottom) and hold for five seconds, then breathe out and release the muscles quickly. You could do this from the bottom of your body and work your way up to your shoulders. Repeat this as often as you feel you need to.

Mini massage

Massage temples with fore fingers and middle fingers in circular motions or in a figure of eight movement. Use your fingers to massage your scalp, tug at your hair. Massage your neck and shoulders with your finger tips.

Stretch

I mention above about a blog I previously wrote about stretches for back, neck and shoulder pain. Scroll through to find it. Be sure to hold each stretch for at least thirty seconds. Opt for yoga, meditation, pilates as these can help to relieve tension and stretch the muscles out as well as lower stress levels. Use resistance bands to help further your stretches or make the stretches a bit easier.

Stress

I talk about the effects of stress quite a lot. If possible try to reduce some of the stress in your daily life. I’ve written an article sharing some stress busing tips in a previous blog. Scroll through my blogs to find it. Stress can inadvertently tense up the muscles, especially those in your back, neck and shoulders.

Posture

Try to stay aware of your posture throughout the day. Do you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone? Is your laptop/computer at the right height/angle? Do you wear your shoulders as earrings? Actively try to lower your shoulders down away from your ears and avoid a hunched posture.

Avoid muscle overuse

Try not to overuse your muscles if you are aching or in pain. Avoid high impact activities until the pain goes away. Opt for more gentle forms of exercise – walking, stretching, yoga, pilates, swimming.

If you are in pain I really hope that at least one of these tips above will help you.

As a Holistic Therapist I am really looking forward to getting my hands back onto my clients.

N x

Tips on sleeping well – How to get to sleep quicker and improve your sleep quality

Over the past few decades good quality sleep and the amount of sleep we get has declined. Our lives have become fast paced and our stress levels have increased.

A good nights sleep is as important as eating well and staying active

Sleep problems and their repercussions may include any of the following (it’s important to stress I’m not talking about sleep disorders here):

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Laying awake for long periods throughout the night
  • Waking several times during the night
  • Waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep
  • Night terrors
  • Feeling tired on waking up
  • Experiencing low mood, feeling irritable
  • Feeling hungry and snacking more
  • Weight gain
  • Dull skin

I have so many conversations about sleep problems that I wanted to share some proven ways to encourage a better nights sleep

Increase exposure to natural sunlight

By getting outside, preferably in the first few hours of waking, we are helping to keep our circadian rhythms healthy. These are our 24 hour cycles that are part of our body’s internal clock. It is constantly running in the background carrying out essential functions and processes. One of these is the sleep-wake cycle. If we expose ourselves to as little as twenty minutes outside each day this has the potential to improve our sleep quality and the amount of time we are asleep. There is research to say that using an artificial bright light devise or bulb can also help.

Go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day

Where possible be consistent with wake and sleep times. I understand this might not always be feasible, with shift work or having a new baby etc. But where possible, try not to go to bed much later on the weekends as this can disrupt sleep patterns. By doing this we are teaching our bodies to sleep better. Try to avoid napping unless it’s for thirty minutes or less. Anything more can also disrupt our sleep. After a few weeks it may get to the point where an alarm clock is no longer needed.

Stay active

Try to move every day, whether that be walking, running, cycling, yoga, pilates, high impact interval training etc. Whatever you enjoy. It has been shown to reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep, reduce anxiety and increase the total time sleeping. However, it has also been shown that rigorous exercise in the evening is not always conducive to a good nights sleep, so opt for slower forms of activity if this is when you normally exercise.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed & generally reduce fluid intake

It’s recommended that we stop drinking caffeine around 3pm-4pm each afternoon. It takes 6-8 hours for our bodies to process caffeine. If you have problems sleeping try to stick to decaffeinated tea and coffee. But bear in mind that the decaffeination process doesn’t remove all of the caffeine although it will remove most of it. I switched to drinking Clipper Decaf Tea ( http://www.clipper-teas.com ) a couple of years ago after Juls at The Body Retreat ( http://www.thebodyretreat.com ) explained how most tea bags are bleached and contain plastic. This tea of choice is naturally decaffeinated with plant based biodegradable teabags. Another alternative evening drink are herbal teas and I love the Night Time tea bags by Pukka Tea ( http://www.pukkaherbs.com ). Warm milky drinks are also a good choice.

Drinking alcohol in the time leading up to when we go to bed may give the illusion of helping us full to sleep but it prevents us reaching a really deep slumber. This can result in broken sleep and waking up still feeling tired (hangovers aside!)

Reduce your fluid intake one to two hours before going to bed. If you normally visit the toilet through the night try not drinking anything for a couple of hours before going to bed.

It’s also important to note that eating a large meal close to when we go to bed can have a detrimental effect on sleep as our body is working overtime to digest it all and as a result our hormones can be disrupted.

Create a relaxing bedroom environment

There are several elements in a room which can make it conducive to good sleep. Having a dark, quiet and cool environment will help in falling asleep and staying asleep. Dark curtains or blinds, a quiet room (I know this is not always possible), an optimum temperature of 20 degrees celsius and a clean and tidy clutter free space are positive steps to take. A comfortable bed, mattress and pillows can help reduce back, shoulder and neck pain and create a comfortable space to lay. It’s suggested to replace mattresses and pillows every eight years or so.

Numerous studies have found that technology in the bedroom has a detrimental effect on sleep. If you currently use your phone as an alarm clock, invest in an old school alarm and charge your phone in a different room overnight (check out http://www.johnlewis.com, http://www.argos.co.uk). Avoid iPads too. The blue light exposure in the evening can affect our circadian rhythm tricking our brain into thinking it is day light and reducing the hormone melatonin which helps us to relax and go to sleep. If you have a TV in your bedroom try to avoid watching it in bed and falling asleep whilst it’s still on. This could become a habit whereby you need to have the TV on in order to get to sleep.

Lastly, try not to obsess over what time it is throughout the night. Turn the clock face away from you. My alarm clock face fades when the room is dark so it doesn’t display the time ( http://www.lumie.com ) I purposely try not to check the time on our other alarm clock if I wake up. I used to, I’d be calculating how much time I had left in bed before having to get up, and then would lay awake worrying about this. Not any more.

Introduce a relaxing evening routine

An hour or two before bed think about winding down from the day and preparing for bed. This could include a number of things. Studies have show that not using our phones during the two hours before bed has a really positive effect on sleep. This is definitely an area I need to work on.

Have a bath with a relaxing oil and face mask. Giving yourself a facial massage, hand or foot massage (check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for video tutorials on these). Practicing some simple breathing exercises (one of my previous articles was on breathing techniques) You could follow these whilst doing your massage. Listen to some chilled music, trying a guided meditation or guided visualisation (there are lots of sleep playlists, meditation and visualisation playlists on Spotify http://www.spotify.com ). You could spritz your pillow with a calming pillow spray (a favourite of mine is This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray http://www.thisworks.com ), although it’s important to not become dependant on sleep aids like this as ultimately you want to train yourself to fall asleep naturally.

Unless I am really tired I always read in bed even if it’s just a few pages. I don’t choose anything too taxing. I save these for during the day. I always fill out my gratitude journal which is a great way of evaluating what’s happened during the day and ending it on a positive note (I use The One Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan).

Dump your worries and thoughts

If you tend to lay awake worrying about issues, keep a notebook by your bed and before you get in, write down any worries, thoughts for the next day, ‘To do’s’ etc. You can then revisit these the next day.

Don’t lay in bed if sleep isn’t forthcoming

Get up after 20 minutes if you are still awake. Pick something relaxing to do ie. reading, but don’t pick up your phone as this will just stimulate your brain. Go back to bed when you feel sleepier.

Some quick and easy tips to encourage

improvements in sleep patterns

All of these tips help me to sleep well and wake up refreshed. Occasionally I don’t drop off to sleep quickly or have broken sleep but I usually know why this is and it often stems from not implementing one or more of the above tips.

I’d be really interested to hear if you try any of these tips and how you get on.

N x

Our skin is a Super Hero. Why is an exfoliator the perfect multi-tasking Side Kick?

Fact. We all have dry dead skin cells on the surface of our skin. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? But it’s completely natural.  This layer of cells is called the stratum corneum, also known as the horny layer (don’t laugh!). It can cause skin to look and feel dry, give an uneven texture, create dehydration, dullness and cause problems with shaving, to name just a few. How can we deal with this so that we don’t end up with skin that looks like an elephants backside?  By exfoliating. This is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin using a physical or no physical exfoliator. Skin will instantly feel more comfortable, smoother, brighter and more radiant. If done before shaving it will help to lift the hairs and provide a smoother and more comfortable shave. But get this! It will also help subsequently applied products to penetrate more effectively. Therefore you won’t need to use as much of them. Let’s think about this, if we don’t exfoliate, we are just applying product to the stratum corneum, and a lot of it will sit on the surface. So our exfoliator is multi-talented.

Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin using a physical or non physical exfoliator

In order to fully understand how exfoliation works, and skincare in general, let’s look at how the skin functions. It’s an amazing organ, a super hero in fact. It’s the largest organ of the body. So we need to look after it as we would any other organ. It consists of 80% water and if we were to spread it out it would measure around 1.8 square metres. As humans we shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. But let’s not think about that fact too much! We always have that layer of dry dead skin cells on the surface. So how does this happen? Cells are constantly being made in our ‘skin cell factory’. The journey from cell birth to death takes approximately twenty eight days although the rate at which they are produced slows down as we get older. Depressingly, this is anything from about the age of twenty five.  Or skin becomes lazy and therefore needs a helping hand.

Here’s a slice of our skin. As you can see there are three main layers – the Epidermis, the Dermis and the Fatty Tissue (otherwise known as the Sub-Cutaneous Layer). Each of these are made up of sub layers. There are also sweat and oil glands, hair follicles and nerves. I’ll briefly talk through each layer.

The Epidermis

This is the outer most layer, it’s what we see and is about 0.1mm thick. It forms a protective waterproof barrier over the whole body including the face to protect against toxins, bacteria and fluid loss. It doesn’t contain any blood vessels but it’s where the skins pigment and proteins are. There is a thin layer of sweat, water, lipids and sebum (oil), like an emulsion, known as the Hydrolipidic Film. This is a natural protective layer and the secretions help to keep the skin supple. This is where you’ll find the Stratum Corneum (that horny layer) of dead skin cells. Our skin cell factory is here too, in the lowest layer which is called the Basal layer.  These basal cells start their journey and make their way up to the surface over a period of around twenty eight days. This is the timeline for a young healthy person. It takes longer when we get older or if we smoke, have exposure to the sun, a bad diet etc. So shedding often needs help through exfoliation to smooth and freshen the skin. Skincare products will often say ‘See results in twenty eight days/one month’ and this is working on the duration of the skin cell journey. However, if we are older and cell turnover slows down, skincare products can take longer to have a positive effect.

The Dermis

This is the middle layer which is thicker and contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, sweat and oil glands. This is where our pores start and they are able to push sweat, oil and hair to the surface. In addition to this you will find collagen and elastin (two types of protein).  These give strength to the skin as they are a supportive mass of connective tissue. Collagen gives skin it’s shape, support and fullness and elastin gives skin its flexibility (its ability to ping back into shape) and its resilience. Fibroblasts, which are the cells that make these proteins ,are enveloped in hyaluronic acid which is a lipid great at holding water and giving skin its bounce and texture. As we get older collagen and elastin deplete which leads to fine lines, wrinkles, loss of volume and dry skin.

Subcutaneous layer (Fatty tissue)

This is where we find fat and tissue to protect the muscles and internal organs. It also helps to regular our body temperature. Connective tissue is looser here and we may start to notice cellulite appearing in other areas of the body. Collagen makes up about 70% of the building blocks of our skin but its renewal depletes by 1% each year after reaching about the age of twenty five years.

Our skin cell factory produces cells which make their way to the surface of our skin over an average of twenty eight days.

However, when they reach the surface they are dead and exfoliating helps to remove them, revealing a smoother and fresher skin.

If we look past how our skin makes us look, it has several functions which are pretty amazing:

Protection

Forming some protection from sun damage by producing melanin. It produces this as a way of protecting the skin from the suns UV rays. It’s what gives the skin its colour.

Excretion

We produce sweat which in turn cools the skin. Sweat is a great vehicle for removing waste substances from the body such as salt and ammonia.

Absorption

It has the ability to absorb certain substances i.e. oxygen, skincare products, medical ointments etc.

Water resistant

It acts as a water resistant barrier to stop essential nutrients from leaking out.

Regulates body temperature

Blood vessels which dilate and constrict (open and close) control heat. When we sweat, it evaporates on the skin which helps to cool us down.

Barrier

It acts as a shield between the outside world  and our insides from harmful toxins.

Produces Vitamin D

It converts vitamin D for healthy bones and organs.

Sensation

There are lots of nerve endings that react to touch, pressure, tissue injury, heat, cold.

Our skin can also affect our emotions. We feel more confident and happy when our skin is looking and feeling good.

So, our skin really is a super hero.

Let’s talk now about exfoliators. We don’t need to get the sandpaper out! There are much kinder ways to deal with the natural build-up of our dry dead skin cells as well as boosting cell turnover and radiance, creating a smoother canvas for subsequently applied products and make up.

There are two main types of exfoliators:

Physical/mechanical exfoliators are products that requires manual scrubbing to remove dry dead skin cells. It’s this texture which buffs the skins surface. For example a facial scrub (with particles) or the use of a muslin cloth for the face, body scrubs, body brushes and loofahs. It’s really important not to go hell for leather scrubbing away because this could irritate the skin. Go gently. Skin will still be left smooth and fresh. Always follow up with an oil or serum, rich in hydrating ingredients, to minimise irritation and lock in moisture.

Non-physical exfoliators (sometimes called Chemical exfoliators – don’t let the name put you off) do not contain particles. They generally contain acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids with enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells, even out the surface of the skin and pigmentation. These usually come in the form of liquids, pre-soaked pads and gels. Like physical exfoliators it’s still important to follow up with an oil or serum to keep the skin comfortable and hydrated. I’ve written lots about Acids, what they are and where they derive from, in my previous blog about toners. If you haven’t read it, take a look.  I hope it’s really informative.

As a side note we should never use a scrub designed for the body on the face. They are generally harsher (to deal with the more robust skin on the rest of our body) and may tear delicate facial tissue.

It’s just as beneficial for guys to exfoliate as it is girls

How often should I exfoliate?

This will depend on what your skin is like – your skin type. Most people would be fine using a physical exfoliator once or twice a week. Non-physical exfoliators can be used more often. Thicker and oilier skin could exfoliate up to about four times a week. But I would say that if you are new to this, start slowly. If you struggle with sore skin after shaving or usually end up with an uneven shave, exfoliating can really help to lift the hairs making shaving more pleasant with great results.

This has been a bit of a biology lesson. I hope you’ve found it informative and can see the benefit of using an exfoliator.

N x

You can also find this article on http://www.perfumeryandcompany.com a beautiful independent beauty boutique offering a comprehensive range of products and amazing personal service. I am their resident blogger writing about all things beauty. The blog I do for them is in addition to continuing to write my own content for my website and my social media platforms.

Here are my favourite exfoliators:

Also check out my previous blog about toners as I mention several of my fav acid toners which are really effective exfoliators.

Why toner could be the secret skincare weapon you didn’t know you needed

To tone or not to tone? That is the question!

If you’ve ditched toning in the past I’m here to ask you to give it a second chance. It may have behaved badly in the past but it’s turned over a new leaf. I think you’d actually be surprised now by its positive traits. You’d also be forgiven if you are somebody who has never given it a chance in the first place. Toners have been very misunderstood.

Historically they have been the second step in any skincare routine after cleansing, usually in the form of a liquid poured onto a cotton pad and swept over the face and neck. However, many contained large amounts of alcohol which stripped the skin of natural oil. Their aim was to make the skin feel ‘squeaky’ clean as this was associated with having a clean face. But it left skin dry, flaky, sensitive, uncomfortable and understandably confused. So you wouldn’t be alone if you have decided in the past to give this (often) badly behaved skincare step the heave-ho!

Good news! Modern day good quality toners are much kinder and more sophisticated. Long gone are the harsh astringent based toners, making way for more complex formulas. They may look just like water in a bottle but they are so much more. They target many specific skincare concerns, whether that be signs of ageing, blemishes, dehydration, sensitivity or discomfort and offer fantastic results. They can soften the skin, balance the pH levels of the skin, remove any residue from the cleansing process, slough off dry dead skin cells, brighten the complexion and in turn prep the skin for further products. They can really complement subsequently applied skincare products.

It’s important to say that many toners nowadays contain acids. Don’t let the name put you off. They aren’t going to strip your skin and leave you looking like you’ve been in the sun with a piece of tin foil and no sun cream!

Long gone are the days of toners stripping the skin, leaving you looking like you’ve been in the sun with a piece of tin foil and no sun cream!

They derive from sugar cane, willow bark, sour milk etc and they can be used every day as part of your normal skincare routine. Some acid toners have been in existence for several years, the oldest having been around for fifty, but they’ve only gained popularity over recent years. They will exfoliate without containing any physical granules in the product and will brighten, hydrate and balance the skin. They usually come in the form of liquids, pre-soaked pads and gels. However, there is a wide choice of toners on the market that don’t contain acids so the choice is yours! Rest assured there is a toner out there just for you!

What types of toners are available?

The easiest way to categorise toners are to put them into three sections:

Hydrating

Skin balancing

Exfoliating and brightening

Let’s take each of them in turn:

Hydrating

These toners are great for anyone who has noticed their skin is dehydrated. You could have a dull complexion, fine lines and wrinkles, increased sensitivity, oiliness, breakouts, make up that doesn’t last or goes patchy, moisturiser which gets absorbed super quick and possible itchiness. Your skin can be dehydrated no matter what your normal skin type. So it’s entirely possible for you to have oily or combination skin that is dehydrated.

These toners are packed with lots of water-attracting ingredients to keep the skin hydrated and comfortable. These may include glycerin and hyaluronic acid among others. They may also feature powerful antioxidants which help to fight free radical damage. These have a detrimental effect on the skin so antioxidant ingredients act like a super hero to restore the skins protective barrier.

When your skin is properly hydrated it will be able to absorb subsequently applied products much more effectively, for example, serums, oils, aftershave balms and moisturisers and will feel comfortable and supple. Think of these types of toners as adding an extra boost of hydration to your skin after cleansing or shaving.

Skin Balancing

These toners work well for anyone who has oily, blemish prone skin, or skin that feels a little upset or confused. Some have the ability to effectively manage blocked pores and treat breakouts.

These formulas are great to balance the skin’s pH level. Our skin’s normal pH level is around 5.5. The acidity level is an essential part of our skin barrier which helps to protect against external irritants entering our skin layers and helps prevent water being lost from our skin. Cleansing our face will naturally raise our skin’s pH level (pH of water is normally 7.0) therefore your toner will rebalance the skin by reducing the pH to its normal state.

Exfoliating & Brightening

These toners work well for anyone who has noticed signs of ageing. They usually contain an acid as these are most effective at gently removing dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin which in turn stimulates skin cell turnover to reveal a fresher brighter looking complexion.  They can hydrate and many stimulate collagen product to keep the skin looking plump.

Let’s quickly talk through the three main acids you might see (although there are many more):

Glycolic Acid (an AHA – Alpha Hydroxy Acid) – it’s derived from sugar cane. It mainly concentrates on signs of ageing i.e. increasing new cell production, evening out skin tone, stimulating collagen production for plumper skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It’s considered by many to be the most effective AHA because it contains very small molecules to penetrate the skin and is an excellent exfoliator. Use an SPF (sun cream) after your moisturiser to protect your skin afterwards as you normally would.

Lactic Acid (another AHA) is derived from sour milk although now it’s made synthetically so that it remains stable within a product. It mainly concentrates on dull, dry or dehydrated skin. It gently dissolves dead skin cells and helps to resurface so that skin is left smoother. It offers a good hit of hydration. The molecules are larger which means penetration is slower and less likely to irritate or cause any redness. This is a great one to start with if you are new to acids. Use an SPF after your moisturiser to protect your skin.

Salicylic Acid (a BHA – Beta Hydroxy Acid) is derived from willow bark. Fantastic for oily skin and breakouts. It is oil – soluble and is able to breakdown what causes breakouts and oily skin by cleaning out the inside of the pores. This then allows excess sebum (oil) production to be released rather than being held prisoner which in turn can create blocked pores and breakouts. It’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It’s possible it can have a drying effect on the skin but this can be counteracted with using other more hydrating products. This BHA doesn’t make the skin more susceptible to sun damage. But it’s good to get into the habit of using a SPF (sun cream) every day after your moisturiser if you don’t already.

Spritzers/Mists/Sprays/Essences

I’ve added these into this blog because they are a great way to keep the skin hydrated and comfortable throughout the day without applying heavier products like moisturisers.  They look like toners and come under the toner umbrella. Often containing glycerin or hyaluronic acid which are amazing hydrators. They are designed to be sprayed on the face and neck at any time – after toning (as a second tone), before moisturiser, after moisturiser, after shaving, before applying makeup, after applying makeup, etc. etc. They can really be sprayed at any time of day whenever you feel your skin needs a pick me up, or more hydration, a revitalising boost, a soothing veil, to cool down or to set your make up. I always keep one of these in my bag, especially in the hotter months or when I am on holiday (they are a real blessing on flights), as they are wonderfully cooling and refreshing on the skin.

Toning and spritzing are a fantastic way to calm, cool and hydrate the skin after shaving

As a side note I wanted to mention Hyaluronic Acid. You may have heard of it as it features a lot in television and magazine ads as a key ingredient in lots of skincare products.  It is in fact not an acid. But I wanted to include some information as it’s called an acid. It’s basically a very large sugar found naturally within our bodies, 50% of it within our skin. It holds moisture in the spaces between the cells of the skin helping them to stay plump. Babies have very high levels of it, but it depletes as we get older and most noticeably from our 40s onwards.  It’s usually found in serums (which you’d apply after cleansing and toning, and before moisturising) and it is safe to use morning and night.

My aim has been to give some insight into toners and how they have evolved over the years. I hope that this article has helped to answer the much asked question “To Tone, or not to tone?”

This skincare step has featured within my routine for many years. Why not give it a go if it hasn’t featured in yours.

N x

You can also find this article on http://www.perfumeryandcompany.com a beautiful independent beauty boutique offering a comprehensive range of products and amazing personal service. I am their resident blogger writing about all things beauty. The blog I do for them is in addition to continuing to write my own content for my website and my social media platforms.

Here is a list of my favourite toners:

Acid Toners

Toners

Spritzers/Mists

The Power of double cleansing for healthy looking skin

For years I’ve been wittering on about the importance of thoroughly cleansing our faces and how double cleansing is the gold standard of any skincare routine. But, understandably, there is sometimes confusion surrounding cleansing, double cleansing and their benefits and worth.

Cleansing is the most important step in our skincare routine because, if it’s done properly, it leaves a clean blank canvas for the rest of our products to work effectively.

Would we polish our cars without washing the dirt off first or iron our clothes before putting them in the washing machine?

Hopefully most of us wouldn’t and it’s the same principal for our skin. Wash the dirt, grease, pollutants, make up and SPFs (sun protection cream) off to prevent the pores from becoming blocked and then clean the skin before applying other skincare products.

When should we cleanse?

Every morning and every evening regardless of whether we’ve been wearing makeup, an SPF or both. Overnight the skin eliminates toxins via the pores so cleaning in the morning removes this residue on the surface of the skin. These days I’m not wearing much make up but I will still thoroughly clean my face in the evening. I tend to do this when I put my PJs on which, at the moment, is around 8pm! My life is so rock and roll! In ‘normal’ life or for those of you that are still leaving your house for work, I’d do it as soon as you walk through the door after work. Don’t leave it until you go to bed as you may feel too tired to do a good job.

So what is double cleansing?

This is when we use more than one cleansing product (or the same product twice) to clean our faces in the evening. The first cleanser targets and works loose make up and SPFs. These are designed to stay on our skin all day, therefore they need to be removed thoroughly. The second cleanse actually cleans our skin. The only time I wouldn’t need to double cleanse at night is if I hadn’t left the house all day, wasn’t wearing ay make up or an SPF. I’d still cleanse my face thoroughly though, but just once. This is also the case each morning as we’re not going on any wild nights out at the moment and forgetting to remove make up before bed. So a simple cleanse is all that’s needed.

What type of cleansers are there?

The cleanser you choose will depend mainly on your personal preference and your skin type or any skin conditions you are experiencing. I like to have a few cleansers on the go so that I can pick and choose on the day according to how my skin is feeling. I also like to use a flannel or muslin that’s been soaked in warm water (not hot) to remove residue and gently remove dry dead skin cells in the process. I’d suggest having a stash of these at home so that you can use a fresh one every day.

Always have a supply of clean flannels/muslin cloths

Cream/Milk

These are soothing on the skin and are usually applied all over the face using cotton pads. I like to pop some into my hands, massage onto the skin and then remove with a flannel or muslin cloth. If your skin is really sensitive to water you can stick with the cottton pads.

Balms

By far my favourite way to cleanse. These are generally gentle and nourishing blends of great ingredients that can not only effectively remove make up (including mascara) but also thoroughly clean the skin. Their solid texture, which melts on the skin, means that a little goes a long way. Once massaged in, they can be removed with a warm flannel or muslin cloth.

Oils/Melting balms/Gels

These will often transofrm into more of a milky consistency once mixed with a little water on the skin. They are generally a newer generation of cleanser and are great for removing make up and dirt using a flannel or muslin cloth.

Washes/foams

These need to be mixed with water. In the past face washes and foams have been quite harsh on the skin, making it dry and uncomfortable. This is normally due to the chemicals used to ensure the product lathers. At no point during the cleansing process do we want out skin to feel super tight and squeaky clean. Therefore I would steer clear of varieties that use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which may disrupt the skins natural protective barrier.

Micellar waters

A simple, gentle and convenient way to remove make up. I don’t consider them to be a full on cleanser for the whole face but act as a really effective make up remover.

Face wipes

These might feel convenient but try to give them a wide birth. They are usually packed with alcohol and fragrance and just smear the dirt and make up around our faces rather than giving a good cleanse.

Enjoy cleansing your face, breath in the fragrance, enjoy massaging your skin

What to use for a first cleanse

These are products to remove make up and SPF and our main aim is to loosen these on the face so that they can be easily removed with a warm flannel or cotton pads. I usually apply them to dry skin as I find there’s less slippage on the skin and the product can really get to work.

  • Eye make up removers
  • Micellar waters
  • Cleansing oils
  • Cleansing creams
  • Cleansing balms
  • Say ‘No’ to cleansing wipes

What to use for a second cleanse

This is when we are actually cleaning our skin. It’s not to remove our make up or SPF as we’ve already done that. My advice is to use the best cleanser you can afford for this stage. Our aim is for our skin to feel comfortable and hydrated. Again, apply to a dry face, massage the product thoroughly into the skin and remove with a warm flannel. The massaging action of working the product into the face and neck also helps bring fresh blood flow to the surface of the skin aiding detoxification. This encourages it to look fresher and more radiant. So if you can spend a minute or so massaging the product in before removing it you will certainly see the benefit. This is also a great time to really inhale the wonderful fragrances of the product. Cup your hands around your nose and mouth and take several slow deep breaths.

  • Cleansing balms
  • Cleansing oils
  • Cleansing creams
  • Cleansing milks
  • Cleansing gels
  • Say ‘No’ to cleansing wipes

What do you use to clean your face?

Or have you been inspired to try something new?

Happy cleansing

N x

You can also find this article on http://www.perfumeryandcompany.com a beautiful independent beauty boutique offering a comprehensive range of products and amazing personal service. I am their resident blogger writing about all things beauty and offer my cleanser recommendations. The blog I do for them is in addition to continuing to write my own content for my website and my social media platforms.

Here is an extended list of my cleanser favourites following many requests for this info:

Elemis Cleansing Balms
Neals Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm
Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm and Gel
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cleanser
Wildsmith Skin Active Repair
Liz Earle Naturally Active Cleanse & Polish
Evolve Organic Beauty Gentle Cleansing Melt
Nourish Skin Renew Cleanser

Tips to support your child’s mental health

As a Holistic Therapist my clients and their families are very important to me, including their mental health. This week is Children’s Mental Health week so I thought it would be a good time to share some tips I’ve learnt to help support and nourish young people’s mental health. In 2020 children’s charity Place2Be highlighted that 1 in 8 children and young people had a diagnosable mental health problem. I can only assume that, bearing in mind the past year we have all experienced, these statistics are still high. Whether you have young children or teenagers you may find these tips of use. I try to adopt these with my own children.

Be a role model – Try to show the importance of looking after yourself, getting good sleep, eating well, exercising etc. Highlight the positive impact all of these things can have on your mental health.

Autonomy – Give them some autonomy to make their own decisions (within reason). Let them be in control.

Actively listen – Not just listen, but actively listen to what they are saying (and also what they are not saying). Be present and give them your whole attention.

Rest time – Encourage down time, time to rest, play, relax, be creative. Don’t put too much pressure on them.

Routine – Children like and thrive on some sort of routine. It helps them feel safe and assured.

Encourage – Celebrate the small wins and successes, praise and support them.

Get involved – Take an interest in what they are doing, their school work, hobbies, interests.

Positive relationships – Encourage positive relationships with friends and family.

Coping strategies – Teach them techniques to help feel calm and relaxed i.e. breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation – both of which will help relieve tension (check out my previous article on ‘Five ways to ease stress right now’)

Behavioural changes – Be aware of any changes in their behaviour.

Positive environment – Provide a positive, safe home environment where they feel loved and valued.

Involve them – Encourage them to get involved with things around the house i.e. cooking dinner, baking, exercise, gardening, watching a film.

Seek help – Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. There shouldn’t be any shame in this. We never know when we might need the help, support and guidance of others and as the saying goes – ‘A problem shared, is a problem halved’. Also, look at who your support network of friends and family are, confide in those that you trust. It’s important to remember that we are all in this together. We shouldn’t have to battle through on our own.

Lastly – Help them to understand that it’s ok to not feel ok and help is available.

I hope this has been of some use.

N x

Feel good habits to encourage a positive mind set

In my last post I set out my twelve anchors which are practices I incorporate into my day to keep me grounded, feel safe and secure. I used the analogy of a boat anchor holding it in place. Our anchors are much the same for us. They give us something to hold onto when we feel overwhelmed, which many of us do at present. They provide the structure to my day. However, they aren’t my only coping mechanisms. Intertwined with these are feel good habits which help me to remain positive. These actions see me through day to day life and help me to maintain a positive outlook. Much like a cake sponge and filling, my anchors and feel good habits go hand in hand. It’s important to note though that there are times when I might not feel so positive but these feel good habits are great at getting me back on track, by encouraging positive change and happiness. Again, my intention isn’t to preach or patronise, I’m just sharing what works for me. Other things may work for you.

My twelve feel good habits

A daily reminder to myself

Making my bed every day – This may sound insignificant and I might not get round to making it until lunchtime but it’s a small win. It means that my bedroom is tidy and there’s nothing quite like getting into a neat bed at night. It contributes to my bedroom being a place to retreat to, a serene space to relax in.

No technology in the bedroom – Our whole household leave their phones downstairs to charge overnight so that we aren’t tempted to use them when we should be sleeping. I know I’d probably be scrolling through social media or doing some online shopping otherwise! We’ve never had a TV in our bedroom either. It’s quite widely known now that technology in the bedroom has a detrimental effect on how quickly we fall asleep and the quality of our sleep. There isn’t really anything that can’t wait until the morning (with a few exceptions).

Eating good food, made mostly from scratch – Cooking isn’t normally one of my loves, especially when it seems like no one wants to eat the same meals, the chef receives complaints and there isn’t much appreciation! But over the last couple of months I’ve started using some cookbooks to create family meals each week and most have been quick and simple to do. Each week I plan what meals I’m going to cook each day for the following week and then I organise my food shopping accordingly. My plan generally includes about four from cook books, plus a roast on Sundays, leaving room for a quick meal or perhaps a take away. I’ve actually started to enjoy cooking again. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not about to be awarded a Michelin star but I’m receiving lots of appreciation from the Meir household!

Drinking lots of water – I have a water bottle on the go all day (and night) which gets refilled several time. I notice if I haven’t been drinking enough as I start to feel tired, get brain fog, feel irritable etc.

Flowers – I love flowers. Whether it’s a £1 bunch of daffs or a bigger bouquet I’ve always got some on the go. Flowers add colour and have the ability to lift my mood. There’s something about bringing the outside in which I love and at the moment it’s a glimmer of hope that spring is round the corner.

Listening to music – I’ve grown up with lots of music playing at home and love to listen to the radio or Spotify. It’s probably a form of escapism and I’ll often choose certain types of music to transport me somewhere i.e. a beach bar on holiday, my time at uni or my childhood family home. Love it! I really should dance more though! The kitchen discos need to happen on a regular basis!

Seeing myself as a learner – I know I can always learn something from every situation. I never profess to know everything (because I don’t) and try not to dismiss something just because I don’t agree with it or think I might know better. There is always something to gain in every situation. Sometimes this means that I have to reflect on something that has happened rather than learning as something is happening. An this can sometimes be difficult but it always comes good in the end.

Planning my TV viewing – We don’t watch too much TV and haven’t had Netflix for that long but I’ve found during the lockdowns (especially the one we are in at the moment) that if we plan to watch films or box sets during some of the evenings it’s a lovely thing to look forward to at the end of the day. We’ve got lots of catching up to do though!

Avoid watching/listening to lots of news – Since the pandemic started I limit how much news I’m exposed to. I’m not ignoring what’s going on. I do watch what I need to and check the government website from time to time but that’s it. Any more and I sometimes feel a sense of panic rising within me.

Observing my own feelings – I’m getting better at recognising how I’m feeling and dealing with it accordingly. Talking really helps and means that I generally don’t stay in a bad mood for long (obviously there are exceptions to this but it’s helped to become more self aware).

Staying clear of negative people – I’m forever trying to work on this and it certainly helps me to be surrounded by positive likeminded people. I use the analogy of radiators and drains and I like to be around radiators. They are warm, kind and encouraging compared to drains who tend to be negative, unsupportive and sometimes unkind. I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to stay away from the drains or limit my time with them and my life is better for it. I’m also working on not worrying what others think of me. I love the following quote and remind myself of it when I need to, “What others think about you is none of your business”. There is a sense of freedom which comes with that.

Engaging my brain – I like to learn about new things and be open to what’s happening around me. It could be simply reading an article of interest, reading a book or enrolling on an online course.

So these are my main feel good habits to help stay positive during these lockdowns. But to be honest, they are either actions I’ve done for years or new actions I’ve acquired that I will keep doing once the pandemic subsides. It’s all work in progress but as a family we really try to celebrate the small wins, the tiny positive changes and successes.

And finally… My parting comment is “Wear your best clothes, eat the cake (in moderation), drink the good wine (again in moderation) and continue dreaming about what you want to do in the future. It’s what keeps us all going!

I’d love to know if anything resonates with you and if there are actions you do which help you to cope.

Until next time,

N x

What are Anchors and how can they act as a coping mechanism during these current times?

The power of strong anchors

If any of you are struggling at the moment I hope that this article can help in a small way. I’ve been asked by some of my clients and friends what I do to cope during these challenging times. My intention isn’t to preach, I’m still figuring things out myself and have my off days. But these enquiries have made me think more about what keeps me sane. There are lots of small things that I consider my anchors – things I incorporate into my day to keep me grounded and able to cope. I’ve made a list (I love a list!) and none of them take much time for me to do so they don’t feel like a chore. I fully appreciate that they might not work for you or it might be that you do these or something similar already. But have a read, take what you like and leave the rest.

What is an anchor?

It’s something that is related to safety, stability and strength (think of an anchor on a boat, except it’s holding you in place). It’s about hope and happiness for the future. An anchor is something you can hold onto when you feel overwhelmed. It makes you feel calmer and more confident.

My twelve Anchors

Structure & routine – I get up at the same time each day (and not much later on the weekend). I wake up with a Lumie alarm clock which simulates the sun rising with a gradual light encouraging me to wake up easily. It really works as I’m not a natural morning person who springs out of bed at 6am! (However, even without this alarm I would still set an alarm to wake up relatively early). I go to bed at roughly the same time every night too. I have a loose weekly timetable/plan which sets out when to complete chores, exercise, work etc (although there is always room for movement). I’ve had this plan in my head for a long time but have only recently put it down on paper which has helped me to feel on top of everything.

Consistency – I am consistent whenever possible but I try not to beat myself up about the times where I’m not. Being consistent develops a routine and builds momentum. It helps to form habits. I really try to celebrate the small wins, the tiny positive changes and successes each day.

Stationery & lists – I love stationery and always have a nice notebook and coloured pens on the go. I love making lists and these things help me to feel organised and track progress. My notebook is always in a convenient place so that I can grab it as and when I need to. If I’ve completed something but forgotten to put it on my list I will deliberately add it to the bottom and tick it off! Progress is progress!

A tidy house = A tidy mind – I like a tidy organised home. It certainly contributes to having a clear mind. I don’t like too much mess, in fact I can feel myself getting a bit agitated if there’s too much of it. I plan when I’m going to clean, do the washing and ironing etc and generally try to keep on top of everything. I’ve previously written about creating a ‘Hygge’ home which is the Danish trend of having a home full of comfort and cosiness. I light candles most evenings, sometimes light the fire, have cushions, blankets, low level lighting all of which create a welcoming, comfortable and relaxing place to live in. I try to keep most areas in my home like this, especially the lounge and bedrooms. I feel my bedroom is then a sanctuary to retreat to at the end of the day. Over the Christmas holidays the house was getting cluttered, especially my bedroom, and I really do think that it was affecting my sleep as a result.

Reading before sleep – I do this most nights. I love to read and even though I might only get through five pages it’s a great way to relax and wind down before going to sleep. Unless it’s something that might increase your heart rate like a tense psychological thriller or Fifty Shades of Grey! This forms part of my bedtime routine and contributes to a restful nights sleep.

Gratitude Journal – I also think about what I’m grateful for at bedtime. This might sound corny but it really does focus my mind on all of the good things that have happened that day no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. When so much seems so negative and out of our control at the moment this practice is really useful. It might include having been able to catch up with a friend on the phone, or that home learning went by without any hiccups or simply that the sun shone.

Breathing mindfully & guided meditation – I know that I don’t breathe properly all of the time, I think most people are the same. But I use breathing techniques to calm and relax when I need to. I’ve shared some of them previously on my website and social media. Here’s another technique I sometimes use – breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out for 5. When your out breath is longer than your in breath your brain has the ability to switch off the stress hormone. I also attend a guided meditation class each week which I find really effective. I haven’t yet mastered meditating on my own. I need to listen to someone’s voice. There are lots of apps online that offer great guided meditation.

Getting outside/exercise every day – I get outside every day to walk. Even if it’s for 20 minutes and even if it’s raining. I often listen to podcasts whilst out but sometimes I just take in my surroundings. I also exercise at home several times a week. There have been times in the past where I haven’t got outside or exercised regularly and it certainly affected my mood. The power of being outside is amazing. I’m currently doing a fifty day challenge where I’ve set myself a daily goal relating to being active. I’ll build on this once I’ve reached the end of the fifty days. I need the focus of a challenge and I’m loving it.

Time on my own – Everyone is different but this is a must for me. I need time on my own to clear my mind, it’s a time for me to reflect, plan or to simply be.. Even if it’s ten minutes to walk around the block or to sit in my bedroom. I’m a better person if I’ve had this time. I heard a saying recently ‘Busyness is an anaesthetic’. I truly believe this. If we fill all of our time then as a result we aren’t truly experiencing what is important to us.

Helping others and staying connected – I really do feel that one of my main purposes in life is to help others. That’s probably why I’ve chosen the jobs that I have and settled as a Holistic Therapist over the last twelve years. I’m quite a sociable person and in normal circumstances I am meeting up with friends and family on a regular basis. As that isn’t possible at the moment I make an effort to keep in touch with everyone. Connection is really important.

Looking after my skin – I’ve always had a good daily skincare routine and since last March when we were all plunged into the first lockdown I put some time aside on a Sunday morning to give myself a facial, apply a hair mask, body brushing etc. This has a really positive affect on how I feel and it’s become a relaxing ritual. But it could quite easily be done one morning or one evening before going to bed which I have also done. At the moment in the evenings you’ll often find me in front of the TV giving myself a facial massage. Multi tasking and all that!

Having a favourite coffee mug – This might sound insignificant but I only drink coffee once a day and using the same mug (I have two that I’ve been bought by dear friends) makes it feel like an indulgent occasion. I try to choose a time to have it when I know I’ve got at least ten minutes to myself and sometimes I’ll drink it outside. It’s as close as I’ll get to having a coffee in a coffee house at the moment!

All of these help me to be the best that I can and to feel as positive as I can during these current times. However, my coping mechanisms don’t stop there. Intertwined with these anchors are positive actions that I do to help see me through day to day life and encourage positive change. I’ll share these in my next article.

What are your anchors? I’d love to know what works for you or what you might start to do?

N x

Five ways to ease stress right now

Stress

It affects us all at some stage or another. How we get the balance back in our lives can take a while. It’s a huge subject but here are five tips to help alleviate any immediate feelings of stress that you can give a go:

  • Try to remove yourself from what is causing the stress (even if you can only do this temporarily).

  • Slow your breathing down – try to make your out breath at least two counts longer than your in breath. Work up to breathing in for the count of 7 and breathing out for the count of 11.

  • Listen to some relaxing sounds or music (whilst breathing mindfully) – it could literally be the sound of wind through trees or waves crashing on rocks. There are lots of apps offering these.

  • Try progressive muscle relaxation – breathe in and tense each muscle group in turn (for example the glute muscles of the bottom) and hold for five seconds, then breathe out and release the muscles quickly (don’t do it slowly). It should be a sudden movement. Work your way through the body.

  • Guided visualisation – find somewhere quiet to sit and listen to someone guide you through a meditation or visualisation. These are a great way to quieten the mind without trying to meditate totally on your own. Lots can be found online.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Just a few tips proven to help relieve stress that have worked for me.

If you are feeling stressed, give them a try x

The amazing benefits of dry body brushing

Struggling to wake up in the morning? Suffering with dry skin? Getting through gallons of body lotion without seeing the moisturising benefits? Or generally feeling a bit sluggish? There is a very quick and easy way of combating these. If you are interested, read on …

The answer is Body Brushing. This is the use of a body brush on your skin before taking a shower in the morning. Sounds easy, right? It is!! It’s not a new fad though, it’s been common place in Ayurvedic medicine as a holistic treatment to cleanse and beautify the skin for years. It has amazing health and wellbeing benefits and many celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Kerr, swear by it.

Body Brush



There are a whole heap of benefits, including:

Exfoliates: The bristles of the brush manually sweep away dry, dead skin cells leaving you smoother and softer. As we get older our skin becomes less efficient at shedding layers of dead skin cells – enter dry body brushing! It also primes the skin to efficiently absorb the ingredients found in body creams, oils, serums etc.  Meaning more bang for your buck! It actually saves you money!


Increases circulation: The act of brushing brings nutrient rich freshly oxygenated blood to the skins surface, which gives better tone and elasticity.  This will leave the skin looking more radiant.


Invigorates and energises: The sweeping action wakes up the skin and can be quite bracing in a good way! 


Helps promote lymphatic drainage: Helps your body to metabolise toxins more efficiently and discourages water retention. Bacteria, toxins and waste from our blood filter through the lymph nodes where these substances are destroyed. But sometimes this process is sluggish. The lymphatic system does not have a natural pump like our circulatory system so it needs some help. Body Brushing stimulates it (remember to brush behind your knees as there are lymph nodes here).


Improves the appearance of the skin: As circulation is increased this encourages cell turnover and plumps the skin making cellulite appear less obvious. However, this is a temporary fix. Cellulite is a stubborn phenomenon!


An enemy of ingrown hairs: Encourages ingrown hairs to lift up and keeps clogged pores at bay.


Stress reliever: It calms the nerves and lowers feelings of stress.


AND it takes less than 5 minutes!



How to do it:

 

Dry body brushing 2

Dry body brushing

  • Use your body brush in the morning before a shower/bath. It will be too invigorating in the evening before bed. Not conducive to a good nights sleep.
  • Both skin and brush must be completely dry when you do it.
  • Sweep across the skin, quick flicks rather than long strokes. Don’t go over the same area more than a couple of times.
  • Do not brush too hard. It shouldn’t hurt, burn or sting. Skin should be pink but not red.
  • Start at your feet and work upwards towards the heart (Stomach and chest are often more sensitive than the rest of the body so apply much lighter pressure. Avoid the breast and nipple area).
  • Once finished take a shower or bath and make sure you moisturise after your shower to prevent dryness (tip – try to blast your body with cold water for the last few seconds of your shower.  I’m doing this but can only manage the bottom half of my body! It’s SO cold!).
  • Clean your brush regularly (follow cleaning instructions. But can usually wash bristles in gentle soap, rinse well and dry naturally i.e. not on a radiator)
  • Incorporate body brushing into your routine daily, a couple of times a week or weekly – whatever works for you. I’m currently doing it every morning but I often reduce this to every other day.
  • N.B. Don’t body brush over eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wounds, sunburn or irritations or if you generally have sensitive skin. Do not use the same brush on your face, this will be too harsh. Instead use a soft cloth or flannel. Avoid breasts and nipples.


What type of brush?

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I prefer a brush that you can hold comfortably in the palm of you hand but you may prefer a long handled brush for those hard to reach areas like your back.

Here are a few on the market:

Espa £20 *this is the one I use at home

Espa body brush

The Organic Pharmacy £7.95

Liz Earle body brush

The Body Shop £9

Body Shop body brush

Liz Earle £9.50

Liz Earle body brush

Botanics (Boots) £6.50

Botanics body brush

Elemis (with detachable handle) £21

Elemis body brush

Happy scrubbing! x

Body Brush image - my brush Espa

 

Could you ‘Hygge’ up your home?

Is your house making you feel stressed, overloaded, overwhelmed, uninspired at the moment?

A few years ago I wrote a post about the Danish practice of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga).  In short it originates from the Norwegian word meaning ‘wellbeing’ and it’s about focusing on making our homes comfortable, peaceful and cosy which can induce positive emotions. Back then I shared some tips on how you could make your home more ‘hygellig’. So if this sounds interesting to you and you want to find out more, I’m giving you permission to grab a cup of tea or coffee in your favourite mug, sit in your favourite spot and read on.

“Hygge is about giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break. Relax, just for a little while. It is about experiencing happiness in simple pleasures and knowing that everything is going to be ok.”

I’ve been thinking about the notion of Hygge over the past few weeks and how creating a ‘hygge’ home can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Especially as we are spending so much more time in our own homes, sometimes with limited space. To me, Hygge is a very important concept as it has a direct link with increased feelings of happiness, gratitude, mindfulness (appreciating being in the moment), self-compassion (being kind to ourselves), whilst also reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. The Danes are ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world, part of which is attributed to living a hygge focussed lifestyle.

‘Cosiness of the soul’

‘The absence of annoyance’

‘Like a hug without touching’

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There are simple things that you can do in your home to help create these feelings:

Hyggekrog – Create a small cosy area somewhere in your home where you can snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and hot drink.

Candles – One of my favourites, I always light a candle of an evening.

Lighting – Favour soft, warm low lighting instead of always using the ‘big’ ceiling light or fluorescent lights.

Wood – Having items in your home made of wood can bring feelings of warmth and cosiness – flooring, furniture, toys.

Nature – Bringing the outside in – flowers, twigs, plants. Helps us to feel closer to nature.

Books – Taking a break with a good book is very beneficial to your wellbeing. Take it to your hyggekrog (your cozy nook) and read or if you have young children you can snuggle there together and read.

Ceramics – A favourite mug (I have one that a very dear friend bought me for Christmas), a tea pot to brew your tea in or a gorgeous vase that you like to display your flowers in.

Tactile – How something feels is very important. Tactile materials are favoured over things like plastic and glass. For example a soft rug underfoot.

Vintage – Creating nostalgia with older objects in your home – a chair, a lamp, a photo frame are all very hyggeligt. It’s about the history and memories surrounding the item.

Blankets and cushions – These are cosiness ‘must haves’ in any home. These soft textures help to soothe anxieties and calm fears.

Sociable activities – Gatherings with friends and family in the home. Connection works best when they are casual so that everyone is relaxed. (We can all look forward to when we are allowed to do this again post lockdown).

Another idea I love is having an ‘Hygge Emergency Kit’ at home This is for when you don’t have any plans or don’t feel like going out (pretty much all of us at the moment!) or you just want some quality time alone. It’s a your fast track to Hygge:

Candles, good quality chocolate, your favourite tea or hot chocolate, your favourite book, your favourite film or boxset, family treats, lovely pair of woollen socks, a warm jumper, a notebook and pen, a warm blanket, music, photo album, old letters etc.

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So what are the benefits to all of this?

Physical benefits:

A hygge style environment helps us to feel calm and safe so our body responds in a positive way. We do not need to scan our environment and stay on high alert as there are no perceived physical or mental threats.

  • Sleep better
  • Improved practice of self care
  • Less reliant on unhealthy coping mechanisms i.e. alcohol
  • Fewer stress hormone spikes and the feelings that go with this

Emotional benefits:

Creating a cozy warm environment can help us to feel calm and less anxious. This is because we make sense of our environment and experiences through sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. These feelings of comfort make it much easier for us, and those we share our home with, to let down our guard, be more present and connect with each other.

  • Increased feelings of self worth leading to improved self compassion
  • Reduction in stress
  • Positive impact on depression and anxiety
  • Greater sense of mindfulness (experiencing and appreciating being in that moment in time)
  • Increased feelings of optimism and gratitude

Social benefits (once we are out of lockdown):

We are naturally social beings and when we are emotionally safe and comfortable it is easier for us to build connections with others.  Spending time with those most important to us makes us feel a sense of belonging and connection which positively impacts us.

  • Increased trust
  • Increased intimacy
  • Improved existing relationships
  • Feelings of comfort, safety and togetherness
  • Less reliance on social media for connections

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You may already incorporate some of these concepts into the way you live. However if this is new to you perhaps take a look at your living space and think about what small changes you could make so that your home is more hygellig. It wouldn’t take much to reap the benefits of hygge.

I’d love to hear how you get on with this.

Best wishes,

N x


 

🌟 New online service available🌟

“Helping you to find your still point in this turning world”

I am now offering a bespoke service online to those of you who are looking for some guidance, advice and recommendations during this challenging time.

These are individual virtual self care sessions comprising of an initial consultation, a programme tailored to your needs and a follow up consultation. 

I’ve been a Holistic Therapist for over ten years and prior to this I worked in the field of Training and Development. I worked at a national level in the Beauty and Wellness industry training and coaching individuals to enable them to reach their potential. As a Holistic Therapist I provide specific aftercare recommendations to clients once I’ve performed body work treatments i.e. massage. I have a wealth of experience in effective ways to positively impact your life. It will be like seeing me in person! (almost…)

Here are some examples of what I can help you with:

  • Sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Guided meditation resources
  • Stress
  • Breath work
  • Stretches
  • Facial massage
  • Skincare
  • Morning and evening routines
  • Creating a calm home environment
  • Product recommendations and delivery

Everyone is different but we all share one thing in common – the need for effective self care, more now than ever before and there are ways of doing this.

Initially I will be providing this service on a donation basis so please do get in touch and I can give you the details.

Many thanks and I hope to see you online soon x

Do you have back, neck or shoulder pain? Techniques you can try at home for when you can’t see your therapist

Desperate for a massage but not sure how it’s possible with a two metre gap between you and your therapist? I’ve wracked my brain on this and hate to tell you – it’s not possible. Unless I use two long wooden broomsticks as massage tools!!😀 Jokes aside, it’s certainly very challenging at the moment and I’ve heard from many of you who are experiencing discomfort in your back, neck and shoulders. Many of you who are working from home at a makeshift desk sitting on a dining room chair hunched over a laptop. Many of you who are homeschooling your children or generally trying to keep them entertained. And many who are not exercising as much as you would like to or normally do. All of which can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain as well as feelings of stress and anxiety coping with living in these unprecedented times.

 

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Below are some simple yet effective seated and floor based stretches.  These should bring some relief to tight painful muscles, relax, re-energise and bring balance.

*Remember to breathe deeply and slowly and if at all possible lay or sit quietly for five minutes after doing these stretches. For the seated stretches try to sit on an upright chair rather than a sofa. For the floor based stretches try to lay on carpet, a rug or a yoga mat. If you feel any sharp shooting pains at any time stop immediately and sit or lay in a relaxed position*

SEATED STRETCHES

Stretching neck and shoulders

Shoulder shrug:

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  1. Raise both shoulders at once up toward the ears.
  2. Drop them and repeat 10 times.

Neck stretches:

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  1. Relax and lean your head forward.
  2. Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat on other side.
  4. Relax again and lift your chin back to starting position.
  5. Do this three times for each direction.

Upper trapezius stretch:

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  1. Gently pull your head toward each shoulder until a light stretch is felt.
  2. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Alternate once on each side.

Stretching out your arms

Tricep stretches:

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  1. Raise your arm and bend it so that your hand reaches behind your head towards the opposite shoulder.
  2. Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead reach:

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  1. Extend each arm individually overhead ensuring shoulder is sitting in its socket.
  2. Reach to the opposite side straight over your head, don’t lean forwards.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Stretching our your torso & shoulders

Shoulder stretch:

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  1. Clasp hands behind your back.
  2. Push the chest outward, with back straight and raise the chin.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Forward stretch:

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  1. Raise your hands in front of you with arms out straight and lower your head in line with your arms.
  2. Press forward and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Torso stretch:

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  1. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward (try not to cross your legs like in this picture).
  2. Twist your upper body in the direction of the arm that’s resting on the back of your chair.  (try to keep your head, neck and body in line with each other).
  3. Hold pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on other side.

 

FLOOR BASED STRETCHES

Seated Twist:

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  1. Sit with your legs crossed and back straight. Face forwards.
  2. Place left hand on right knee and start to twist torso to the right. Place right band behind you. Try to twist from your waist rather than just your shoulders, neck and head. This is a fantastic stretch for the whole of the back.
  3. Try to hold for five slow breaths.
  4. Swap sides and change the cross over of your legs as you do so.

 

Cat & Cow:

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  1. Position yourself in table top ( on hands and knees)
  2. Slowly round your back, lower your head and stretch out your neck downwards, then arch your back and lift your head. Try to lift and move from your chest.
  3. Move slowly through the movements. Try to synchronise your breath, exhaling when arching your back and inhaling when rounding your back.

 

Knee Rolls:

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  1. Ensure the small of your back is always touching the floor (push your naval to your spine)
  2. Keep your neck long and head on the floor.
  3. Gently bend your knees into your chest and back out again and out to each side all whilst holding your knees. Make this a slow movement. You could move your knees in a circular movement. Keep them together at all times. It will massage your lower back and you should feel a stretch across your mid back.

 

Child’s Pose:

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  1. Keep you feet together and spread your knees wide.
  2. Reach your hands forward as far as you can and sit back on your feet, rest your forehead on the floor. You should feel a stretch right across your back, shoulders and upper arms.
  3. Try to hold for five slow breaths.

 

Cow Face:

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  1. You can do this standing or sitting up straight on a chair
  2. If your hands do not touch you can use a dressing gown cord or belt like the second picture. This is a great stretch for the triceps and shoulders.
  3. Try to hold for five slow breaths and repeat on both sides.

Eagle arms:

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  1. Sitting up straight put your arms out in front of you and cross them over at the elbow.
  2. Bend your arms so that your hands are pointing up to the ceiling.
  3. Lastly cross over your hands so that one hand is touching the other hands palm. This is a fantastic stretch for the shoulders and upper arms.
  4. Take five slow deep breaths before repeating on the other side.

 

Wall stretch:

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  1. This is a fab stretch to loosen tight shoulders and pectoral muscles.
  2. Stand with your right shoulder about a foot away from the wall.
  3. Reach your right arm back behind you and place your hand on the wall. Make sure it is level with your shoulder.
  4. Take a step closer to the wall to really feel the stretch through your right shoulder and chest. Then, if you are able to, slightly rotate your chest outwards to intensify the stretch.
  5. Hold for five slow breaths and repeat on both sides.

 

Threaded Needle:

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  1. Start in a table top position (on all fours) and slowly lower your arms out in front of you and sit back on your heels. Whilst doing this thread one arm underneath the opposite armpit. It’s like you are threading your arm through the gap between your opposite armpit and knee.
  2. This is a fantastic stretch for your back, shoulders and arms.
  3. Hold for five slow breaths and then switch sides.

 

Revolved Abdomen Pose:

 

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  1. Lie on your back with your knees into your chest (ensure your back is long and touching the floor)
  2. Put your arms out sideways, shoulder height.
  3. Exhale and sweep your knees over to the right.
  4. Actively try to stretch your left arm out to provide a counterpoint to the twist. At the same time try to keep your left shoulder blade touching the ground.
  5. You can also move your head to face the left (opposite direction to your legs).
  6. Try to hold for five slow deep breaths before slowly moving your legs back to centre and then working on the other side.

 

Tip: Exhale as you lean into the stretch for a greater range of motion.

*Please remember to stop immediately if you feel any sharp shooting pains*

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I really hope that these stretches bring some relief to any pain and discomfort you might be experiencing. I am always hear if there is anything you’d like to discuss. But I look forward to treating you when I can x

Lifting and smoothing facial massage techniques

 

 

Following on from my last article where I set out some simple facial massage steps to follow at home (scroll down this page to find it), I’ve now added some specific lifting and smoothing techniques that you can add into your massage routine.

I have posted a short video on my Facebook page and Instagram account (nicolameirholistictherapies) so that you can follow it step by step whilst you apply the techniques to your own skin.

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Some of what I am sharing forms part of my Revitalising Facial Massage (Natural Face Lift Massage) which is one of my signature treatments and I would say one of my most popular. It is a 30 minute treatment which includes stimulating, lifting and smoothing techniques, facial reflexology and many other moves.

If you have time to perform the sequence every evening (simple steps from my previous article plus the lifting and smoothing steps from this one or just the simple steps) you skin and your overall wellbeing will benefit immensely. However, if you are only able to do it once a week you will still feel and see some gains.

To get the most out of your massage try to ensure your skin is prepped as much as it can be. What I mean by this is making sure it is properly cleansed twice a day and exfoliated regularly i.e. twice a week. By exfoliating you are removing the dry dead skin cells which naturally build up and collect on the surface of your skin.  By doing so any product subsequently applied can penetrate into the upper skin layers rather than just sitting on the surface.

Below are the smoothing and lifting steps to follow on from your simple massage steps.  Fit these in just before your last feather strokes where you really slow down your movements before finishing.

  1. Jaw line grip – bend forefinger and middle finger like a two fingered claw and grasp the chin in between them so that the knuckles of these fingers are touching and the backs of your hands are resting on the side of your face. Move your hands away from the chin whilst still gripping the jaw line all the way out to the ears x 10
  2. Cheek grip – Keeping your hands in the same position move from the outer edges of your nose along the cheek bone and out towards your ears (grip the cheek bone in between your forefinger knuckle and middle finger knuckle) x 10
  3. Forehead circles – using two fingers start from above the eyebrows and make circular movements up towards the hair line. Continue to do this at three different points along the eyebrow up and out to the hair line to cover the whole forehead x 5
  4. Hand strokes – place your index and middle finger in a scissor shape (as though you were playing rock, paper, scissors) with your palms facing inwards. Using alternate hands lightly stroke the two fingers from the centre of the chin along the jaw line (one finger above jaw and one below jaw bone) out towards the ears x 10 each hand
  5. Hand strokes – same as above but moving from the side of your nose, over your cheeks and out towards your ears x 10 each hand 
  6. Finger rain drops – using all four fingers on each hand lightly tap them over your cheeks, chin, forehead in a raindrop sequence. So in quick succession tap index, middle, ring, little fingers lightly on skin x 20
  7. Final gentle feather strokes but much slower x 10
  8. Hold cupped hands over closed eyes and nose and breath in the lovely oil fragrance or hold hands gently over ears and enjoy the quiet moment.

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Remember if you want to watch the accompanying video you’ll find them on my Facebook and Instagram. It will then be easier to follow the steps.

Let me know how you get on or if you have any questions x

Facial Massage at home

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Looking for ways to help you relax at home? How about giving yourself a facial massage. All you need is two minutes and something to massage with, preferably a facial oil but you could use a facial moisturiser. These will ensure you don’t pull or drag the skin.

If you are looking for a new facial oil I’ve compiled a list of ones I have tried over the years and loved:

Aromatherapy Associates Nourishing Face Oil £49

Clarins Face Treatment Oil Blue Orchid £35

Amphora Aromatics Sweet Almond Oil £3 

Decleor Neroli Bigarde Aromessence Hydrating Serum £52

Neals Yard Organic Avocado Oil £8.50

Elemis Anti-Ageing Superfood Facial Oil £45

Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate for Night £42

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil £9

Neom Scent to Sleep Perfect Night’s Sleep Face Oil £42

Espa Nourish & Protect Replenishing Facial Treatment Oil £59

Amphora Aromatics Organic Jojoba Oil £14.40

Temple Spa It’s All Good Nutritious Boost Facial Oil £30

Sanctuary Spa 10 in 1 Super Secret Facial Oil £20

Oils can be quite expensive compared to your other skincare products, with the exception of serums. This is due to their high percentage of concentrated natural ingredients.  With this in mind, you only need to use a very small amount, two to three drops. So a 30ml bottle will last you for several months. I always use an oil on clean skin in the evening, either just before going to bed or whilst watching the TV. I tend not to use one in the morning as it doesn’t create the right base for make up, but who’s wearing make up at the moment anyway?!?!? However, when I am wearing it I use a serum instead. Always be sure to regularly exfoliate your skin so that the oil can effectively penetrate into the skin rather than sitting on a build up of dry dead skin cells.

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It’s important to note that using a facial oil will not make your skin oily. You can use an oil on your skin even if your skin is naturally oily. This is because oils can help to regulate the production of sebum which is the skins natural oil. They can lock in moisture, support the skin’s natural barrier and improve elasticity in tired skin. There are also different types of facial oils for every different skincare concerns so choose one that matches your skin. You will know that you have the right one for your skin as it will sink in nicely with a short facial massage and be absorbed within a couple of hours. If it just sits on your skin it is probably to rich.

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There are so many benefits to be gained from a facial massage:

  • Improvement of facial skin and muscle tone
  • Relaxation of facial and eye muscles
  • Relief from tension headaches and facial pain
  • Alleviation of stress and anxiety
  • Relief of shoulder and neck tension
  • Overall physical and mental relaxation

 

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Head over to my facebook page or instagram account to see a recording of my own simple facial massage routine for you to watch. Below is a step by step guide to follow if facial massage is new to you and it mirrors the video I have made. It should take you no longer than a few minutes to complete but you can extend this if you have more time. Try not to rush the movements.

Firstly make sure that your skin is clean and make up free.

Place two or three drops of oil into your cupped hands.

Rub your palms lightly together to warm the oil.

If the oil is fragranced, take in three slow deep breaths from your cupped hands to inhale the beneficial essential oils. Take your time.

  1. Oil placement – Place your hands gently onto each cheek, then chin, cup your nose, followed by forehead and the neck to place the oil on each of these areas.
  2. Neck – using both hands start at the bottom of your neck and move hands in an upwards motion one after the other up to your chin. It’s easier if the right hand moves on the left side of the neck and the left hand moves on the right side of the neck x 10
  3. Feather strokes – Using your three middle fingers on each hand (index finger, middle finger and ring finger) apply light pressure from the middle of your face outwards – first on your chin (middle to outwards along jaw line), the cheeks (from side of nostrils to ears along check bones) and lastly forehead (middle to outwards towards temples) Increase the pressure as you go through the repetitions x 10 
  4. Eyebrows – Pinch your eyebrows – first on the inner edge and secondly on the outer edge (take hold of your eyebrow and flesh in between your thumb and forefinger and hold for five seconds each time) x 5
  5. Temples – Using your middle fingers only make a figure of 8 movement on each temple x 10
  6. Feather strokes – Repeat the feather strokes (same as point 3) x 10
  7. Mark of zorro below eye  – Using your middle finger lightly move them from the side of your nose out to your temple (above the cheek bone but below the thinner skin underneath your eyes) x 5
  8. Mark of zorro above eye – Using your middle finger lightly move them from the inner corner of your eyebrow out to your temple (just below your eyebrows) x 5
  9.  Circles – using two or three fingers make circular movements on the chin, the cheeks, the nose, temples and forehead, so that you cover the whole face x 5
  10. Final gentle feather strokes (same as point 3 and 6) but much slower x 10
  11. Hold cupped hands over closed eyes and nose and breath in the lovely oil fragrance. Take your time to breath in three long deep breaths.

It really doesn’t matter if you don’t follow all of these steps/forget the steps, your skin and general wellbeing will thank you for being massaged.

I will post some smoothing and lifting techniques soon so that you can add these to your basic massage routine.

Let me know how you get on. Happy massaging!

And Breathe

As we all start to get used to this (temporary) new ‘normal’ way of living I thought it would be useful to talk about breathing and to share a simple technique to help if you are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety or tiredness. Emotions that, I’m sure, many of us are feeling at present. Just spending a few moments concentrating on our breathing can help us to feel calmer and more positive.

 

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There are many different breathing techniques that you can practice but I’m going to give you a basic technique to try at home.

Why do we need to improve our breathing technique? 

Most of us are shallow breathers most of the time.  This means that we breath quite quickly, don’t take in enough oxygen and aren’t able to lower our heart rate which can contribute to feeling tense and tired.

What happens when we breathe?

 

When we take a breath in – our diaphragm moves down so our lungs can expand.  We take air in through our mouth or nose and down through the windpipe to the lungs.  It then passes through our blood vessels to the heart, which pumps oxygenated blood to ever part of our body. The deeper the breath, the more air and oxygen we take in to nourish and revitalise our body. Unfortunately many of us sit in a hunched position, wearing our shoulders as earrings!! Therefore our body is tight with tension.  These things make it hard to breathe properly.

Whenever you feel stressed, tired, can’t sleep or feel under the weather etc., make a conscious effort to spend five minutes each day on some healing breath work. You can then increase it to several times a day.

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These simple calming techniques below will help you to feel calm, grounded and lower your heart rate:

  • Stand up or sit up straight, feet firmly on the floor.  Shrug shoulders right up to your ears and then push right down as far as possible.  Imagine the top of your head is trying to touch the ceiling and gently move your neck from side to side.  This should start to help release tension.
  • Place one of your hands on your stomach so that you can feel your breath and your body moving as you do this technique.
  • Breathe in for a count of 5, hold the breath for a couple of seconds, breathe out for 6.  Keep it slow and steady.  When you breathe in take it down to your abdomen and try to elongate your exhalation to 7 or 8 counts.
  • Lastly close your eyes and visualise your breath moving around your body – to your fingers and toes, head and shoulders etc.

Give it a try.  Perhaps start when you first wake up and then before you go to bed. Or try it whenever you start to feel stressed or anxious. Your breath with naturally slow down after these exercises and you will instantly feel the benefits. The trick is to train yourself to become more aware of your own breathing and adapt it accordingly. Calming and healing breath is the answer to many things. I frequently talk to my clients and my own children about using these techniques.

It’s important to always remind ourselves that this current situation we are all facing will not last forever. We need to ride it out by listening to the advice we are being given and looking for the positives in each and every day.

Look after yourselves in both mind and body x

Stone Power !

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I am chuffed to now be qualified in Hot and Cold Stone Massage. But what’s the fuss around this treatment? Why is it so effective?

Throughout the centuries many different stones have been used as part of holistic therapies – jade, marble, volcanic, heated or cooled. Chinese practices using stones date back to before 4000BC. Techniques combined Yin (where the stone is placed or held on the skin to penetrate) and Yang (where the stones are rubbed to boost the circulation) and best results are achieved when using a combination of hot and cold stones.8B6C1B30-76C8-4DE3-9B6D-322EE13D357D-5372-0000037C029A513A.JPG

 

The benefit of using stones on the body are not only physical i.e. relieving muscles of tightness, tension and pain but also spiritual i.e. encouraging deep relaxation in mind and body allowing healing to take place. What’s amazing to me is that the heat of the stones can penetrate up to 4cm depth when used on the body which is much more than massaging just with hands, knuckles, elbows, forearms etc.

I work with dense basalt stones which are natural volcanic stones. Known for their heat retaining properties they are found on the exterior surface of a volcano and are formed from the hot lava that erupts from the volcano and flows down the outside. During this process the lava is exposed to other minerals plus the sun, rain, wind etc. This combination gives the stones an incredible energetic charge that can be utilised as part of the treatment. They naturally hold the heat for longer and release it slowly.  These stones aren’t synthetically shaped, they are natural pebbles and different sized ones can be used in different ways on the body. Using Yin and Yang techniques create the most amazing treatment.

Benefits of hot stones:

  • Causes vasodilation which is a widening of the blood vessels. This helps to increase circulation, flooding the body with oxygenated blood. Think of this as highly nutritional fuel for the body.
  • Increases metabolism improving the rate at which the body processes food and toxins.
  • Increases pulse rate which again helps to improve the circulation and helps the heat to pump more efficiently.
  • Increases cell metabolism which is the rate at which the body produces necessary chemicals for efficient function, helping hormones, blood cells and the immune system.
  • Increases lymph function. This is the body’s waste disposal system.
  • Decreases the stimulus of the myoneural junction which means that the therapist can work on the muscles with less discomfort to the client.
  • Reduces plasticity in the muscles meaning that they become softer allowing for an increased range of work and reducing tension.
  • The body becomes deeply relaxed allowing healing the take place more efficiently.423DAA5B-DEFA-4F67-A64E-3EFDB33A2094-2348-000002D8CBEA183E.JPG

Benefits of cold stones on the body:

  • Reduces inflammation by sending excess blood away from the area.
  • Analgesic effect – meaning that the body releases a natural pain relief substance (called prostaglanin).
  • Reduces histamine which is an irritant present in stressed muscles, resulting in the relaxation of the muscles.
  • The temperature change forces deeper breath work which in turn increases circulation and oxygenation of blood.
  • Inhibits the release of necrosis – a natural chemical that causes arteries and vessels in damaged muscles to clot and starve of blood.

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This list is pretty impressive to me.

Using a combination of Yin (hot) and Yang (cold) creates a roller coaster effect within the body, like vascular gymnastics! If you apply heated and chilled temperatures alternately over a ten to fifteen minute period there will be a continuous process of vasoconstriction and vasodilation. This results in increased flushing rates within the body and optimum healing due to increased microcirculation and oxygen intake within the tissue. Also by alternating the use of both hot and cold stones to the body it increases the circulatory response from all systems. The scientific name for this is ‘thermo cryotherapy’ which helps to detoxify the body and bring it back into balance. A truly effective treatment.

THE HARE & THE TORTOISE

At the beginning of each new year do you spring out of bed, like a hare, ready to face life with a list of goals you want to achieve? I don’t… I’d describe myself during these first couple of weeks of 2020 as being more like a tortoise.  It takes me a few days to ease in. I don’t particularly like new year and the pressure many people feel to make resolutions and goals to be a better person.  Come February there is often a feeling of disappointment and annoyance for ‘failing’ to achieve what has been set out.  I don’t make new year resolutions at all. Like the tortoise I’m steady and considered in what I would like to do in the coming year and have the finish line in sight. It takes the form of a ‘to do’ list of things I’d like to achieve by the end of the year and they are all about gaining something positive.  

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2019 was the first time I published my list online (if you scroll down you will find my original blog containing my 2019 ‘to dos’). It contained a mix of personal and business intentions. By making it public it helped me to stay motivated and take ownership for what I had set out to do. I kept reviewing it to check I was making progress. 

So how did I do? I achieved 80% of my list and here are a few of the things I did:

I climbed a mountain (Snowdon), I went camping (twice!), I gave blood, I volunteered with a cancer charity and completed some house renovations. I made some important decisions regarding my business and continued to develop myself professionally and personally. Plus I managed to clean my car on a regular basis! I also worked with The Body Retreat as Holistic Therapist on two wellness retreats in Spain.  However, there were a couple of things I didn’t manage to do. I haven’t beaten myself up about these and if they are still relevant I’ve added them to this years list.

So what’s on my list for this year?

Business:

  • Set aside one hour a day Monday to Friday for writing/research/self development in addition to my working days seeing clients.
  • Write one article a month relating to my work, personal life and areas that interest me.
  • Embrace the coaching sessions I am currently having and work to put relevant suggestions into practice after each session and going forward.
  • Update my instagram account to a business account by the end of January.
  • Look into my Training & Development qualification and how I can utilise this going forward.
  • Aim to host one workshop this year whether that be me teaching others or me hosting with an external expert.
  • To work smarter on my laptop/phone including stripping back what I don’t need. Clean up to be completed by March.
  • Spend time at the end of each month reflecting and make changes/improvements where necessary.
  • This years mantra – Less procrastination – ‘do the tough stuff first’

Personal:

  • To visit two places in the UK for the weekend. There are still so many places I haven’t seen.
  • To get out on my bike more (to be honest even once would be more than what’s happening currently!)
  • Work towards completing a park run.
  • To join English Heritage or National Trust to expand our choice of places to visit.
  • To visit the North Norfolk coast one weekend. I have lovely memories of holidays here with my dear dad.
  • Find out if I can become a blood stem cell donor.
  • Take part in a family fun run.
  • To attend short workshops that interest me.

And continue to:

  • Nurture my amazing friendships and see my family on a regular basis.
  • Work on my ability to deal with negative behaviour from others.
  • Give blood at least twice.
  • Volunteer with ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ cancer charity at least three times.
  • Complete some more house renovations.
  • To go camping with friends.
  • Continue to practice meaningful self care and complete my gratitude journal each evening.
  • Try new recipes and plan meals each week.
  • Attend yoga, barre and mindfulness and meditation classes.

 

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Last year was such an amazing year. I felt like I achieved much more than I would have if I hadn’t have written a list of things I wanted to do.  The success was also fuelled by trying to say yes to lots of new experiences and move out of my comfortable place. I will continue to do this and remind myself that what’s important in life is progress not perfection.

If, like me, it takes you a while to get going each new year, don’t beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself, start writing an achievable list and go with the flow x

Is ‘Brain Drain’ a thing in your household this Summer?

As the mother of two girls, the youngest of which is about to start secondary school, I am very aware of the potential for them to have ‘brain drain’ during the summer break. They love technology. I often think that they’d choose to have their phones surgically attached to their hands if they were given the chance and I’m quite sure that if I left them to their own devices during these summer holidays they would spend all of their time glued to one device or another. There is no doubt that this results in ‘brain drain’ (not only for them but for me too!). But for my own sanity I try not to let this happen.

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A couple of years ago, at the beginning of the school summer holidays, I decided to encourage my girls to think about what they would like to do and achieve during the extended holiday before going back to school. It has worked really well to help focus them, build excitement and it takes the focus off of their phones and other devices.

We go through the following points at the beginning of each holiday period. It’s quick and easy.

  1. Write a summer bucket list: What would you like to do during the holidays?
  2. Read for pleasure: Set yourself a goal. What are you going to read this summer?
  3. Get outdoors: What would you like to do that involves being outdoors?
  4. Take a class: Are there any new skills you’d like to learn?
  5. Create art: Are there any things you would like to make or create i.e. cooking, art, music.
  6. Avoid gadgets (or at least reduce time on them): What is a reasonable amount of time to be on your phone/ipad (xbox etc) each day?
  7. Mindset matters: Try new things or develop existing skills further. You can become really good at something you practice. What would you like to practice this summer or is there something new?

So if you are already pulling your hair out with children who are glued to devices and treating you as though you are invisible try this short exercise and let your children take the lead on it.  They are much more likely to take ownership for their decisions. These points could certainly work for adults too.

Best of luck x

 

 

 

Retreat life

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to join The Body Retreat team, as Holistic Therapist, in Andalusia on one of their healthy holidays.

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The Body Retreat offer women-only wellbeing and weight loss retreats in the UK, Spain and France. Their expertise is in women’s health and they are in fact the only retreat company that is run exclusively by women for women.  They offer a complete package in assisting women to take charge of their bodies by improving their health and wellbeing.  They work with not only physical health but mental and emotional health too.  We’re definitely not talking harsh detoxing or hardcore bootcamps here. It’s a much more welcoming and encouraging environment with lots of guidance and support.

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The setting for this healthy holiday is absolutely stunning. It’s tucked in to the olive tree covered Andalusian hills. It is so peaceful and serene. There is a swimming pool, a hot tub and lots of outside space for class activities and comfy corners to sit and perhaps read a book.

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All of the women that I met had come on the healthy holiday to take some time for themselves. Some wanted to regain control or make changes to their current lifestyle, some wanted to boost their existing weight loss, while others just wanted to take part in an active holiday and have some well earned ‘me time’.

There were lots of activities that the women could choose to take part in, all of which were completely optional.  From a wake up workout, to trekking in the olive grove hills, to swimming and much more.

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There were very informative talks on nutrition and conscious eating. I must say that even though I have a qualification in nutrition I learnt a lot.  Everything was explained in simple terms which was easy for everyone to understand and implement when at home. The food was delicious and meal times were a very sociable occasion with everyone sitting together around one big table.  One to one sessions included lots of emotional support and personal training advise. Personalised programmes and goal settings could be agreed for implementation at home.

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All ladies were able to book in for treatments with myself. I had the most beautiful treatment room as my work space for the week.  During this particular retreat the treatments on offer were – a full body massage, revitalising facial massage, back neck and shoulder massage, leg feet and lower back massage and a Salt scrub and glow treatment (body brushing, salt and oil scrub, warm mitt removal and body moisturiser application – this is a Body Retreat signature treatment).  All of these took place late afternoon and into the evening so the whole day was free for all of the ladies to take part in the activities of their choosing. Many of hem were doing lots of physical activity so i was ideal for them to see me to ease any tight and aching muscles before bedtime.  As I was working in the evening my days were mostly free so I was able to join in with some of the planned activities and get to know all of the lovely ladies. This ultimately helped me to treat them when they came to see me.  My favourite activities each day were the work out at 7am and the long walks, even though I fell over twice! (my own fault each time!).

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The Body Retreat is such an amazing place for women to experience.  I’ve met some truly amazing women and at the end of the week felt completely rested, revitalised and fitter. I am so thankful and grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of this Spanish retreat. I’m now really looking forward to joining them again in October.

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If you are interested in finding out more you can visit The Body Retreat at: http://www.thebodyretreat.co.uk where you’ll find information on the different retreats – weight loss, sugar detox, stress reset, healthy holidays, conscious cook and tone and lots of delicious recipes on their blog.

 

Do you ever challenge yourself?

 

 

It’s good to challenge ourselves, isn’t it?! Push ourselves to do something we either never considered doing before or thought that we couldn’t possibly achieve.

Last month I climbed Mount Snowdon with my husband and my two children. What an adventure!  I thought I’d write about how it came about and what it was like.

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At the beginning of this year I spent some time thinking about the year ahead and what things I’d like to challenge myself with, both personally and professionally. One thing that appeared on my list, although I hadn’t given it too much thought, was how I’d like to climb a mountain. Lets not get carried away, I wasn’t thinking Everest, I was setting my sights on somewhere much closer to home. After all I’m not a seasoned mountain walker and neither are my children.  My husband on the other hand has climbed several mountains in the UK and abroad and has experience of climbing Mount Snowdon three times. I did ask him if he thought it was possible for us all to do. ‘Yes!’ he said. He’s a very positive person but I must say that I’m much more cautious.

I was keen to get a B & B booked near to Snowdon so that I knew we had a definite date in the diary and something to aim for.  The girls and I bought some walking boots several weeks beforehand so that we could break them in on a few long walks. We also made sure we had appropriate waterproofs and rucksacks. But I didn’t think too much about the task ahead until a couple of days before we were due to go.  I realised I didn’t know enough about what we were going to do, I didn’t feel prepared. I needed to visualise what we were undertaking – from the route, to the type of terrain we’d be climbing and how long I could expect it to take us. I knew I would be ok completing it as I can mentally and physically push myself but I was worried about whether my children, who are thirteen and ten, could do it. I started reading blogs about climbing Snowdon with children. A slight panic set in as most of what I was reading advised that unless your children have experience in hill and mountain climbing they would struggle. My girls are both used to walking long-ish distances but not hills or mountains.  I started to worry!

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Anyway, the day arrived. We made sure that we had a good nights sleep the night before and plenty of drinks and snacks for the duration of the climb.  We parked at the foot of the mountain range in Llanberis at the same spot where you can catch the train up to the summit and back down again. We then caught a bus to Pen Y Pass car park which is the start of the Pyg track.  This is where my husband suggested that we start, with a view to follow the Pyg track to the summit and then taking the Llanberis way back down. The Pyg Track is of medium difficulty and Llanberis way is thought to be easier. This advice was also reflected in the blogs I read beforehand.  The blogs also suggested that it would take approximately seven hours to climb up and back down again.  I found this quite daunting. How were my girls going to walk for seven hours??

It was a very grey day, moody clouds, threats of rain and the wind was whipping up into a frenzy but we were very motivated and started our walk.  My husband acted like a guide for us, knowing the route very well, he could direct us and estimate how long certain parts of the track would take us to complete. The beginning of the Pyg track was quite steep. It felt like a real workout. We were walking and climbing over granite which was uneven and often slippery due to the rain. We had to constantly check where we were putting our feet.  After about an hour the path levelled out for a little while which gave us a bit of a breather and a chance to have some food.  The views opened out to reveal a couple of beautiful lakes. However, the path was starting to get very busy. All different types of people were climbing with us and I noticed that there were two different types of footwear – those wearing proper walking boots and those wearing trainers.  I must say that I wouldn’t have liked to tackle this in trainers. We were often walking over rubble and uneven surfaces. Not only would trainers have been uncomfortable underfoot but they wouldn’t have given any ankle support which would be vital! Although I have heard of people undertaking the London Marathon in Converse…so who am I to judge?!

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It wasn’t long before the climb turned really tough to the point where it felt like we were rock climbing in parts. The rain was pelting down and was very icy at times. But both of my girls were still motivated to reach the top. By now, the amount of people taking the same route up had increased even more. At times it felt really over crowded as the track was not very wide. It steadily increased in difficulty too. It often felt like rock climbing and scrambling up to reach a ridge where we could pull ourselves up and take a rest.  By now we were getting lots of questions, “How much longer to the top?” “Where is the top?”. My husband was brilliant at keeping the girls going and motivating them to get to the next stage, sometimes by being economical with the truth.  But on the whole this worked. Both girls did had little wobbles though – one from falling over and the other when she realised that daddy hadn’t told the truth about where the summit was and how she needed to climb some more to get there.  However, it was an amazing feeling when the summit was in sight (well, partly in sight as we were among the clouds). To get to the highest point we had to climb up some rugged spiral steps around the outside of a column. We queued with lots of other people to get to the summit which was at the top of this column. It had taken us three hours to reach this point.

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When we stood at the top we felt like we had achieved something really special. The views were spectacular (when the clouds had cleared), our faces were rosey from the wind and cold. It was freezing with patches of snow.  No sooner had we had our photo taken by a kind person in the queue behind us, were we then walking back down away from the summit. It felt a little bit like a conveyor belt because there were so many people. It was just a short climb down to the cafe where we stopped for the toilet and some food. This is where the train departs to go back down to Llanberis where we had parked our car. However, you’re not able to get the train down if you didn’t catch it up to the summit.  It was time to psyche ourselves up to start the decent. My husband had warned me that going back down would be almost as hard as going up and I’m not going to lie, it was.  This was mainly because some sort of rubble had been laid on the path (probably to help preserve it) but this was very hard to walk on whilst going down hill. It took its toll on our legs, especially our knees and feet.  The landscape was beautiful though, much more green than on the way up and we even spotted some sheep.  About half way down there was a small cafe. Eventually very near to the bottom there was a pub where we stopped for a drink. After this the track turns into a tarmac road which we were so happy to see.  However, it was still painful and so we all tried walking backwards to ease the pressure on our toes, ankles and knees. It took us three hours to reach the car park where we had parked our car.

My legs seized up precisely two days after the climb where I had some difficulty walking down stairs and sitting down. But I did quite a lot of yoga stretching which really helped and I felt back to normal in no time.  I didn’t sustain any blisters, none of us did. I owe this to my husband for suggesting we all wear two pairs of socks – one part of trainer socks with a pair of proper walking socks over the top. We also wore lots of thin layers that we could remove easily if needed to, plus we had gloves (which were great for gripping onto the rocks) and a hat for the summit where it was really cold.

Initially I just wanted to challenge myself to climb Snowdon but as a family we decided to use the event to raise money for a very small UK charity which is dear to our hearts and I am so pleased we did.  This charity is called DreamFlight and they work with children who are seriously ill or who have a disability and takes them on a trip of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida without their parents.  It’s a trip that happens annually, providing much needed fun and excitement during a time when many are going through painful and distressing treatment which completely disrupts their lives. We’ve been so touched by this charity with the fantastic work they have done for a very close friend’s daughter. Through the generosity of family and friends we have managed to raise over £600 and will be eternally grateful for this.

Although it will be a while before I climb another mountain, this weekend got me thinking about how we spend our time and the importance of doing things with those dear to us. Therefore creating our own story in a meaningful way. And if we can challenge ourselves at the same time, even better x

 

I’m not one for setting New Year Resolutions

“New Year, New you!”! I really don’t like this saying. It implies that we aren’t good enough as we are.  I don’t set new year resolutions as they just aren’t sustainable. Your self worth takes a beating. What I do instead, towards the end of each year and the beginning of the next, is think about what I’d like to achieve during the coming twelve months.  To me, it’s a natural time to refocus.  I try to set small achievable goals (like a to do list) which I can work on and review throughout the year.

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I thought I’d share some of my choices for 2019:

Business:

  • Set specific times each week for writing/research/self development. I have specific days and times I see clients but I need to do this for all of my other work to ensure I make good progress on a regular basis.
  • Increase my knowledge of Instagram. I currently use it but want to understand how I can use it more for business purposes.
  • Organise what self development I’m going to do this year.  I’m particularly interested in Bamboo Therapy (as an alternative to Deep Tissue Massage) but need to look into it further to see if it is appropriate.
  • Look into the possibility of teaching short workshops in my field.

Personal:

  • Climb a mountain – literally! I never have and I’d like to do so. I will be looking into climbing Snowdon with my family.
  • Look into becoming a volunteer for the international cancer charity ‘Look Good Feel Better’. I’ve made initial contact but need to get the ball rolling.
  • Be more adventurous with my cooking, to include more meat free meals.
  • Complete a few more house renovations.
  • Give blood – I used to do this regularly but stopped when I was pregnant both times and never started again.
  • Use my time out walking (when I’m out on my own) productively by listening to podcasts of interest.
  • To go camping once! I am not a natural camper but my husband and children love it and my dislike of it means they don’t get to go very often.
  • Continue to practice gratitude. I’ve been doing it as part of my bedtime routine for over two years and I’d say its one of the most important aspects of my day.  It reminds me about the things I have in my life and to be thankful and content.
  • Continue to get outside every day and regularly attend my two classes each week – Barre Concept (a relatively new find for me) and Yoga.
  • Read the book ‘Sapiens’. It’s been recommended to me by quite a few people and my husband raves about it.
  • Buy less clothes (my husband physically chocked and laughed when he read this)  – Before I make a purchase I must think ‘Do I really need this?!’
  • Take part in a park run.
  • Clean my car once a month!
  • Ironically spend less time on social media – turn off my notifications and set times to look at it rather then graze throughout the day.
  • Continue to nurture my true friendships. I’m a sociable person and this is important to me.
  • Work on strategies to deal with other peoples negative attitudes and behaviours without it having an impact on me.
  • Continue to practice self care and take time out for myself.

Quite a list but I know I have the power to do these things (some I already do) and this list will evolve and change. I will do an update at the end of 2019 to report on my progress. I reckon the hardest one might be cleaning my car regularly!

If you are thinking about making some changes or committing to something new, these tips might help you:

  1. Is it realistic? Is it possible to achieve? Is the timescale relevant and workable?
  2. Try to visualise yourself achieving it and the feeling you will get once you have.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection. Making progress and keeping a good pace is more important.
  4. Gain the help of others who know more than you do about what you want to achieve – read, educate yourself, attend a class/group/course.
  5. Create an environment that encourages you rather than hinders. This may mean pulling away from negative people or removing temptations depending on what you are doing.

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I’m looking forward to getting started! x

 

 

 

 

My Favourite Skincare Products

🌟My Favourite Products🌟 #whatnicrecommends

Quite often I am asked for product recommendations by friends and clients. So I thought I’d share my favourite products with you.

💦ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy

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💫This is a treatment mask which is applied before bed and left on overnight to provide moisture to the skin. Perfect for skin that is suffering from the cold change in weather and the dehydrating effects of central heating.

💫 It contains Hyaluronic Acid and Konjac root to smooth and hydrate.

💫Chicory Root Extract helps to reinforce the skins natural barrier function which means it helps to stop moisture loss from the surface of the skin. Therefore giving it a smoother, softer, fresher look come the morning.

💫 It smells divine! Like a spa – Lavender, cedar wood and ylang ylang.

💫 Suitable for all skin types.

💫 I use once a week just before bed. After I’ve applied serum or facial oil I massage this into my skin – face, neck and décolleté until it turns white. I then wait a few minutes before going to bed.

(I’m not paid to recommend any of the products I’ll post about. They are purely my go to products which I use on myself and on many of my clients 😊)

 

❄️Facial Moisturiser❄️

💫The Abnormal Beauty Company – The Ordinary – Natural Moisturising Factors – (A rather long winded name for a moisturiser!)

 

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I love this moisturiser because not only does it contain some great ingredients which are effective in hydrating the skin, it’s also less than 🌟£7!!! 🌟 An absolute bargain!

💫 It contains Hyaluronic Acid to smooth and hydrate the skin, Amino Acids to boost the skins ability to store water and Dermal Lipids to strengthen the skins natural barrier and improve elasticity.

💫 It is fragrance free so suitable for skin that is often sensitive.

💫 I use this cream if my skin feels particularly dry. I often have a stubborn patch of psoriasis on one cheek and this cream is rich without being greasy.

💫 I apply this to many of my clients as the last skincare step during a facial, especially at this time of year.

 

👏🏻Hand Cream👏🏻

🌟L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (containing 20% Shea Butter)🌟

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💫This hand cream has won numerous awards over the years and a tube is sold somewhere around the world every three seconds – that’s how good it is!

💫It is definitely one of my desert island products! I’ve been using it for over fifteen years. For six years of that I was L’Occitane’s UK Training Manager, which is when I first discovered it and even though I no longer work with the brand I still buy it.

💫Shea Butter is its key ingredient which derives from the nut of the Shea tree and is rich in fatty acids and vitamins. This means it’s a hard working product that is effective in nourishing and protecting the skin (which many of us need especially at this time of year). It has a neutral fragrance so is perfect for men and women. It also contains amazing ingredients such as almond, honey and coconut oil all for added nourishment and hydration.

💫I call it my ‘hand cream of dreams’ because I apply it before going to bed. The rich formula means my hands are super soft come morning. Check out picture two to see how rich it is. I also use it on my facial clients for a luxurious hand and arm massage whilst allowing a treatment mask to do its work.

💫One thing I would say is to regularly exfoliate your hands with a hand scrub or some sea salt mixed with olive oil. This will remove the build up of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, which happens naturally, and will allow the hand cream to soak in more effectively (which also means you won’t have to use as much product – bonus!)

This is a perfect gift 🎁

 

🌟Fragrance🌟

💫‘Jo Loves’ – Pomelo Eau de Parfum💫

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💫’Jo Loves’ is a brand created by Jo Malone MBE. No longer affiliated with the Jo Malone brand, Jo has created ‘Jo Loves’ – a selection of fragrances inspired by memories and moments in her life.

💫Pomelo is an energising, uplifting and elegant fragrance. It’s inspired by memories of summer holidays – for example ‘white sandy beaches, fresh linen sheets and sparkling iced water’ with hints of grapefruit infused citrus. It wakes me up and boosts my energy levels in the morning but is sophisticated enough to wear in the evening too.

💫Scent notes – Pink Pomelo, Vetiver and Suede

💫Tip to ensure your fragrance lasts longer on your skin – exfoliate and moisturise your skin before applying your scent. This is because it needs moisture molecules to hook onto in order to stay on the skin. There is no staying power if fragrance is sprayed onto dry, dead skin cells.

💫I would also highly recommend Jo’s autobiography ‘Jo Malone My Story’ it’s a great read and describes her journey amazingly.

 

🌟Facial Cleanser🌟

🌟Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser🌟

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💫I’ve been using this cleanser for nearly 14 years

💫Things I love💫: the creamy rich texture, the array of fragrances ie rosemary, camomile, eucalyptus (the one pictured is a limited edition but they all smell divine), how easy it dissolves makeup, how gentle it is on the skin and it’s reasonable price (in comparison to many other cleansers on the market)

💫How to use💫: Apply one pump to a dry face and neck (including eyes) and massage in. If you’re wearing make up you’ll end up looking like Alice Cooper! 😂 Rinse a cloth in warm water, wring out and then use it to polish off the cream and make up. This will gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells to reveal a healthy glow. Finish by splashing your face with cold water.

This product has stood the test of time. It’s not for a particular skin type so would suit most people.

 

⭐️Foot Cream⭐️

💫L’Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream💫

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Another L’Occitane product I love and have been using for fifteen years.

💫 I use it before going to bed to keep my feet soft and moisturised. It works a treat on dry damaged skin.

💫 It contains 15% Shea Butter (this derives from the nut of the Shea tree and is known as a natural beauty balm by women in Sub-Saharan Africa). Shea Butter is very effective in moisturising and softening your feet.

💫 Lavender and Arnica help to soothe and refresh your tired tootsies, especially if you’ve been wearing heels this party season.

💫 Use both hands to massage it in your feet and pop on a pair of socks to allow this amazing balm to soak in.

💫 A great gift idea for friends and family or for yourself.

 

🌟Facial Oil🌟

🌟Espa Replenishing Face Treatment Oil🌟

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💫I love a facial oil and I have tried a lot of different ones over the years. This one stands out as the best for dry or dehydrated skins that are showing signs of ageing i.e. Me!

💫It’s not the cheapest facial oil but is packed with high quality ingredients to strengthen and protect the natural moisture barrier of the skin. Neroli, sandalwood and patchouli oils revitalise the skin. Whilst Avocado, Evening Primrose and Macadamia – all of which are rich in omega oils and vitamins – feed and soften the skin leaving it smooth and supple.

💫I apply it to my face, neck and décolleté (upper chest area) after cleansing and toning in the evening before moisturising. I always take a few moments to inhale the amazing aroma before massaging it into my skin. When giving facials I sometimes use it before applying a treatment mask and really work it into the skin with a thorough massage.

💫It’s a common misconception that you can’t use facial oil if you have a naturally oily skin. This is not the case. It can actually help to regulate your oil production. It’s a lightweight, non greasy oil so it sinks easily into the skin. There are even ‘dry’ oils on the market for those who are really skeptical about using an oil on their face.

💫As you can see, the picture is not one of me holding the bottle in my hand or photographing it somewhere in my house as I have just run out of it! I am keeping my fingers crossed that Father Christmas gifts me a new bottle next week 🤞 x

Are you feeling the ‘Festive Frazzle’?

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Busy juggling work, parties, get togethers, gift purchasing/wrapping, visiting family, watching nativity plays, attending carol services etc? I know the feeling!!!

Last Christmas I shared ten easy techniques to help alleviate feelings of stress, tiredness and general burn out during this busy time of year and they are still relevant today.

 

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🎄1. Take time for yourself – think about your own needs as well as others. What makes you happy? – Is it some quiet time, a couple of hours to clean your house (tidy house = tidy mind), a bath, a bike ride, a long walk? When you look after yourself you are more able to give to your relationships and to your own health.

🎄2. Prioritise good quality sleep – we regenerate and renew whilst we sleep. It’s fundamental to our wellness. Look
at your bedtime routine – do you stay away from technology and caffeine a couple of hours before bed to clear your mind? Do you get to bed at a reasonable time? Do you limit your alcohol intake as this disrupts sleep?

🎄3. Learn to breathe steadily – this can reduce stress and anxiety. Breathe in through your nose, hold for a couple of seconds and breathe out through your mouth. Try to do this for at least one minute whenever you feel your heart rate rising.

🎄4. Be thankful – being grateful focuses the mind and can contribute to feelings of contentedness. Before going to sleep think about your day and identify three things you were grateful for. It really is the small things that matter (even if it’s enjoying a quiet cup of coffee for example).

🎄5. Try not to over do it – don’t do too much! Certainly don’t try to complete a mammoth to do list. You’ll end up losing focus and completing very little. Concentrate on one thing at a time.

🎄6. Routine, routine, routine – try to retain some structure in your normal routine as this will help generate feelings of order.

🎄7. Stress busters – know the signs of stress and try to remove yourself from a stressful situation for an hour or so. This can help refocus and re- evaluate what is going on.

🎄8. Seek out laughter – this emotion can lift our spirits and break an emotional pattern by switching our mind to a more positive channel. Think about funny things that have happened and try to see the positive in every situation.

🎄9. The power of touch – touch has a positive impact on our wellbeing, whether that be a massage, manicure, a hug etc.

🎄10. Keep active – getting outside is a really quick way to improve your mood and alleviate feelings of stress. Aim to get outside every day no matter what the weather.

I hope these tips help if you are feeling like everything is getting too much x

Revitalising Facial Massage/ Natural Lift Facial Massage

Hooray! I am now qualified to offer a Revitalising Facial Massage (Natural Lift Facial Massage).  This is a very popular natural holistic treatment which helps to slow down the ageing process and achieve a younger looking and healthy skin.  It is also effective in relieving stress, headaches, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and sinus congestion, among many other things.

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Origins and techniques

Its origins are in eastern massage using acupressure and similar eastern therapies.  Part of the treatment concentrates on pressure being applied to points on the face in order to stimulate or unblock the flow of vital energy in specific meridians. Working with various pressure points on the face has the potential to help different conditions and areas of the anatomy, for example, the colon, mental stimulation, kidneys, bowel health, nervous system. This is coupled with effective smoothing, lifting and draining techniques.  I do this by working with the muscles of the face and neck, from the frontalis (the forehead), the obicularis oculi (around the eye), to the mentalis (chin), and many others.

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Benefits

  • Improvement of facial skin and muscle tone
  • Relaxation of facial and eye muscles
  • Relief from tension headaches and facial pain
  • Alleviation of stress and anxiety
  • Relief of shoulder and neck tension
  • Overall physical and mental relaxation

I’ve provided facials as part of my treatment menu for nearly ten years now which include a thorough facial massage. However this Revitalising Facial massage is a much more intensive treatment. I will be offering it in several ways –

  • A standalone 30 minute treatment
  • An add on to a skin boosting or natural facial
  • A course of six 30 minute treatments (including a complementary £25 discount)

The results will be most impactful with regular treatments.  This is where the course of six works so well.  Are you looking for a natural alternative? Do you have an event coming up? A wedding, a significant birthday, a holiday, Christmas parties? This course would be the perfect way to get your skin in shape.

Prices are on the ‘About Me’ page. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book in.  I’m already booking clients in for December.

I look forward to hearing from you x

Indian Head Massage

 

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So, I am now qualified to provide Indian Head Massage as part of my treatment menu.

This is an extremely effective therapy which involves massage to the upper back, shoulders, upper arms, neck, face and scalp.  It’s given in the seated position, no oil is used (unless you want to), and specific techniques are used on these areas where stress can manifest itself.  The treatment can give immediate relief to major muscle groups by loosening tight and aching muscles and improving flexibility of movement.  However, the benefits do not stop there.

Physical benefits:

  • General and specific relaxation for muscles
  • Fibrous adhesions (knots) can be broken down
  • Disperse toxins from tense, knotted muscles
  • Relief from acute and chronic neck and shoulder stiffness
  • Loosens the scalp
  • Relaxes the whole body
  • Increases oxygen uptake in the tissues
  • Improves blood circulation in previously congested muscles
  • Provides additional oxygen to the brain
  • Stimulates and improves the circulation of the lymphatic system, allowing for the disposal of toxins from the body
  • Restores joint mobility
  • Can provide relief from disorders such as: Earache, Eye strain, Aching jaws from clenching or grinding teeth, Sinusitis and congestion, Tension headaches,  Insomnia
  • Can provide relief from hair/scalp disorders associated with stress: Psoriasis, Scalp tension, Dandruff, Hair loss

Mental Benefits:

  • Provides a sense of calmness, peace and tranquility
  • Releases anxiety and stress
  • Increases levels of alertness and concentration
  • Lifts feelings of depression, despondency and desperation
  • Clears the perspective
  • Eases mental tiredness

Subtle Benefits:

  • Balances Chakra Energy (outlined below)
  • Releases stagnant energy, boosting available energy on all levels
  • Provides a general feeling of having been healed

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Indian Head Massage has it’s origins in the ancient system of medicine known as Ayurveda (circa 1800 BC) which was developed in the Himalayan region of the Indian sub continent. The underlying philosophy is that optimum health results from harmony within one’s whole self.  Living a holistic life incorporating exercise, a healthy diet, meditation and massage with essential oils helps to create harmony and to heal, not just at home but in all aspects of life.

 

The Ayurvedic healing system works with the Chakras  of the body. These are focal points within us where energy flows through.  Blocked energy in our Chakras can often lead to illness or imbalance so it is important to understand how to keep energy flowing.  There are seven Chakras in total and Indian Head Massage works with the upper Chakras.  The head, more than any other part of the body, represents who we are.  It is the centre of our nervous system and home to our identity and intelligence.  The Chakra at the top of our head (Crown Chakra) is the one we use to communicate with our higher self. Therefore, if our head feels good, we feel good.

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These traditions are still carried out in modern India. In the western world we are much more open to the benefits of living in this way than we used to be. In todays society stress, poor eating habits, pollution, lack of exercise and self care all contribute to a variety of ailments settling on the head and shoulders. I’ve wanted to offer this simple, effective technique as a treatment for a while and it fits in nicely under my holistic umbrella.

If you would like to experience an Indian Head Massage please get in touch.

N x

 

Are you a negative thinker?

Do you find reasons why something can’t be done?

See the difficulty in every opportunity?

Spend time seething and blaming others?

 

I’m pretty sure that many of us have been like this at one time or another. I’ve always been quite a positive person but a few years ago I made a conscious decision to try and see the positive in every situation.  This hasn’t always been easy but has had a definite effect on my emotional wellbeing and general outlook.  I’ve noticed that there is a direct link between being positive and what happens as a result.  I’m in control of this and so are you.

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Below are a few steps that have helped me make the move.  They’re not designed to be preachy, and I’m not striving for perfection.  They are just things that have worked for me. These tools have become useful over the last few months as I’ve been faced with a few difficult challenges effecting my family.  These have really tested my ability to look for the positives.  But I know that choosing to be positive has helped me to deal with them and has hopefully had a knock on effect on my family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to dig deep at times but ultimately my life is better for it.

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Step 1: Having a positive attitude is your choice

We are all in control of how we behave.  It’s up to us how we feel about what is happening around us and how we deal with it. Ultimately if we are more positive, our attitude will have a positive impact on our own lives and those of others.  Look at your own attitudes and behaviours. Is there room to change? I choose to spend time maintaining my current positive relationships, cultivating new ones and doing things that I enjoy. Just think – you are in control!

Step 2: Bin negativity from your life

Look at the people around you. Are they naturally positive and happy (‘radiators’) or negative and down beat (‘drains’)? If you want to live a more positive life you can’t surround yourself with negative people who don’t encourage happiness.  Unfortunately, if you are a ‘glass half empty’ person you will attract other negative people in your life. The secret is to realise that the glass is refillable and perhaps start to distance yourself from these type of people.  I’ve done this myself.  I’ve found that I spend less time worrying and over thinking now that I’m not dealing with so many negative people. I do try to understand why someone might be acting negatively and put my emotions to one side (which can sometimes be difficult). However, this definitely makes it easier to look at the situation pragmatically.

Step 3: Always try to see the positive 

Sometimes you may have to look really hard to find a positive but you will find it (even if it’s very small).  It’s easy to sit back and let what is happening around us effect how we feel.  But now I always try to think, “What is good about this?”. If it’s a struggle I will often take a step back and think about what’s happening around me before responding.  This helps me gain a better perspective. I’m actively trying to pass this way of thinking onto my daughters and it helps that my husband already thinks in this way. Once you are used to doing this you will see more and more positive people and situations around you.

Step 4: Be positive about yourself

This is a work in progress for me.  It’s not me to chant affirmations while looking at myself in the mirror about how awesome I am.  However, I am getting better at telling myself when I’ve done a good job, dealt with something particularly well etc.  It’s important to be honest but always try to look for the good.  We all have positive attributes.  Don’t focus on the negative as this will zap your energy.

Step 5: Share positivity with others

Once you are able to be positive about yourself, being positive with others is the next step.  I genuinely look for the positive and try to be nice.  It’s not about being fake. Nowadays, I’ll tell someone they look nice, they’ve done well and encourage and support my family and friends.  If someone is having a hard time I’ll do what I can to let them know I am there for them – perhaps a call, a little note in the post, some flowers or the offer of a good old cuppa.  I try to treat others how I would like to be treated and also how I think they would like to be treated.

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Like I have said, it’s been a work in progress for me but it’s definitely got easier – to the point where it’s now intrinsic to my life.  Just remember that you are in control. You can make the choice to have a more positive outlook and the benefits are endless!

Positivity is catching!

 

 

The House of ELEMIS – My Review

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Superfood Pro-Radiance Facial

“The nutritional boost that packs stressed, dull skin with powerfully energising and detoxifying actives.”

Set in the heart of Mayfair, boasting spa and health club facilities, The House of ELEMIS offers numerous skincare and body care treatments to improve wellness.

I booked in for a brand new treatment – the Superfood Pro-Radiance facial.  ELEMIS have just launched their Superfood facial and products.  This range incorporates the potency of natural ingredients, such as ginger, kale broccoli, avocado, matcha and flax seeds.  It’s like a nutritious plate of food for your face.

I was hoping that this treatment would help to comfort several psoriasis patches that have appeared on my cheeks during the recent spell of cold weather.  The Superfood range has been designed to cleanse and rehydrate your complexion without disrupting your skin’s natural balance.  It claims to sooth stressed skin and restore vitality and radiance to dull complexions.

When entering I stepped into the retail part of the spa.  This is a great space where all products are available to look at and try.  I was greeted very warmly by Caroline on reception who offered me a selection of herbal teas and a comfortable place to sit whilst I completed a consultation form on an I pad. My Therapist Kirra lead me up three flights of spiral stairs (it is a townhouse after all!) and took me into my treatment room.  I’ve seen several of these rooms in my time and I particularly liked this one with its muted tones and low level lighting. It was also sound-proofed which may seem like a strange observation to make but is so important for a location in central London.

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Unlike some therapists I’ve seen in the past, Kirra read my consultation form and explained how she would tailor the facial to my individual needs.  I had confidence that she had my best interests in mind.  Being a Holistic Therapist can often mean that it takes me a while to relax during a treatment as I am always making mental notes of tips and tricks I can incorporate into my own treatment menu. Sometimes thinking about what the therapist is doing or not doing at any one time.  However, Kirra was very skilled in seamlessly applying the different products and working her way through the facial which included an amazing  facial massage and, in addition to this, an arm, hand and head massage. (I’m always aware of how much noise therapists make during treatments i.e. opening products, moving about during the treatment etc – I’m a hard client to please!).  However, I felt really relaxed and once the facial had finished I didn’t want to move!

I didn’t feel rushed to get off of the warm and comfortable bed but once I was ready I met Kirra downstairs in the retail part of the townhouse. She had a superfood shot for me to drink and a glass of water.  Now, having worked in the beauty and wellbeing industry for many years, within a training capacity, I know that part of providing a treatment is to sell the recommended products. I don’t ever feel pressured to buy but I was very interested to see what Kirra was saying.  I have used a few ELEMIS products for years and so I did make a couple of purchases.  None of them were from the Superfood range though. They will be my next purchase.

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I would definitely return for another treatment. My skin definitely looked like it had been given a boost and appeared more radiant. My psoriasis patches felt softer and less noticeable. My only gripe was having to emerge into the hustle and bustle of Mayfair with a make up free face and hair that looked like it had not been washed for a week! I was keen to stay relaxed whilst negotiating the crowds on the way to Charing Cross! I think I did it!

N x

Contact details for ELEMIS:
The House of ELEMIS
2 Lancashire Court
Mayfair
London W1S 1EX
T: 0207 499 4995
E: houseofelemis@elemis.com

Festive Frazzle!

Are you suffering from this very common condition? 

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With one week to go before the big day many people are.  We are all trying to juggle work, social engagements, gift purchasing/wrapping, visiting family, watching nativity plays, attending carol services, etc, etc, etc. leaving us feeling stressed, tired and burnt out.

Here are some techniques to lesson the frazzle effects:

1. Take time for yourself – think about your own needs as well as those of others.  What makes you happy – is it some quiet time, a couple of hours to clean your house (tidy house = tidy mind), a long bath, a bike ride.  When you look after yourself you are more able to give to your relationships and to your own health.

2. Prioritise good quality sleep – We regenerate and renew whilst we sleep.  It’s fundamental to our wellness.  Make sure you have a good bedtime routine – for example staying away from technology and caffeine before bed to clear your mind before sleeping.  Look out for a piece I wrote previously on sleep.  I’ll republish it soon.

3. Learn to breath (steadily) – think about how you breath. Being aware of your breathing can reduce stress and anxiety.  Breathe in through your nose, hold for a couple of seconds and breathe out through your mouth.  Read my earlier blog on easy breathing techniques which will certainly lower stress levels.

4. Be thankful – being grateful focuses the mind and can contribute to feelings of contentedness.  Before going to sleep think about your day and identify three things that you were grateful for.  It could be something as simple as enjoying a walk outside, hearing a favourite song on the radio or enjoying a cup of coffee. It really is the small things that matter.

5. Try not to over do it – don’t try and do too many things during the Christmas period. Certainly don’t try to complete your mammoth to do list.  By doing too many things you can lose focus and end up not completing anything.  Concentrate on one thing at a time.

6. Routine, routine, routine – life can seem chaotic at this time of year and so trying to retain some structure in your normal routine can help generate feelings of order.

7. Stress busters – Know the signs of stress and learn to take yourself away from the situation for an hour or so. Removing yourself from a stressful situation can help to refocus and re-evaluate what is going on.

8. Seek out laughter – not only can this emotion lift our spirits it can break an emotional pattern and switch our mind set to a more positive channel. Think about funny things that have happened to you in the past.  Always look for the positive in every occasion.

9. The power of touch – Touch has a positive impact on our wellbeing, whether that be booking a professional massage or using a lotion or oil to give yourself a neck, foot or hand massage.

10. Keep active – Getting outside is a really quick way to improve your mood and alleviate feelings of stress. Aim to get outside every day no matter what the weather.

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Investing time in ourselves is a commitment we should all make.  It’s not being selfish, it’s about self care.

Wishing you all a fun, relaxing and peaceful Christmas and New Year x

Do you have Hygge in your life?

* Book Recommendation*

‘The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well’ by Meik Wiking

(From the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen)

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I’ve dipped in and out of this book for the best part of six months and found it fascinating. I’d seen it in many book stores and was intrigued about what Hygge was (pronounced Hooga). I had previously read how the Danes are ranked as being one of the happiest nations of the world.  This may be a mystery to many of us as Denmark is not blessed with great weather and the Danes pay some of the highest tax rates in the world. However, on the whole, they do not see this as a bad thing.  Their outlook is one of investing in the wellbeing of their collective society.

There is a very important ingredient in the Danish recipe for happiness – Hygge 

What is it? It originates from the Norwegian word meaning ‘wellbeing’

‘Cosiness of the soul’ ‘The absence of annoyance’ “Like a hug without touching’

It’s about an atmosphere and an experience rather than material things. About being with people we love, feeling safe and relaxed. On reading this book I’ve realised that I already create a hyggelig atmosphere at home and I love spending time there. I even incorporate some of the facits of hygge in my treatments.  According to author Meik Wiking (who studies what makes people happy at the Happiness Research Institute based in Denmark) there are specific things we can do to create Hygge in our lives.

Creating instant Hygge – More than half of Danes light candles almost every day during the autumn and winter. Those that know me well and have visited my house know that I am obsessed with candles! This is an easy way to create Hygge.  Several small lamps around a room create a more hyggeligt light too (as opposed to one big ceiling light).  You want to create ‘small caves of light’ around the room.

Ten things that will make your home more hygellig:

1.Hyggekrog – Find a ‘nook’ in your home. A place to snuggle up in a blanket with a book, blanket and cup of tea.

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2.A fireplace – To experience ultimate feelings of cosiness and warmth. Three in ten homes in Denmark have an open fire compared to one in twenty eight in the U.K.

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3.Candles – No candles, no hygge!

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4.Things made out of wood – firewood, floors, furniture, toys. They makes us feel closer to nature.

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5.Nature – Bringing the outside in – leaves, nuts, twigs.

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6.Books – Taking a break with a good book is very beneficial for your wellbeing and if you have young children you could snuggle up in your hyggekrog together with a book.

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7.Ceramics – A favourite mug, tea pot or vase that you like to use – are all hyggelige.

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8.Tactile – It’s not just about how things look but also about how they feel. Tactile materials are favoured over things like plastic and glass.

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9.Vintage – An old chair or lamp is considered very hyggeligt. It’s all about the history and nostalgia surrounding the items.

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10.Blankets and cushions – Cosiness must haves for any household.

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Another suggestion I really liked in the book was the idea of having a Hygge Emergency Kit available for those times when you don’t have any plans, don’t feel like going out and just want some quality time alone. It’s a fast track to Hygge:

Candles, good quality chocolate, your favourite tea, your favourite book, your favourite film or boxset of your favourite series, jam (or other family treats), a good pair of woollen socks,  a selection of your favourite letters, a warm jumper, a notebook, a nice blanket, paper and a pen, music and a photo album.

Hygge is about giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break. Relax, just for a little while.  It is about experiencing happiness in simple pleasures and knowing that everything is going to be OK” 

As we move more into the Autumn and Winter months it seems like the perfect time to inject more Hygge into our lives.

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Looking for a new fragrance?

Perhaps a seductive cocktail of blood, sweat, semen, breast milk and saliva all wrapped up in a simple perfume bottle will be your perfect choice!

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Last week I attended an exhibition at Somerset House in London –

‘Perfume – A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’.

Believe it or not there is actually a fragrance combining these bodily fluids – Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange, which I had the pleasure (or not!) of experiencing.

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As a Training Manager for the Beauty Hall at Selfridges and National Training Manager for L’Occitane I regularly ran fragrance workshops and master classes. I love everything about fragrance and it’s a big part of my work as a Holistic Therapist.  Which is why I booked a ticket for this exhibition.

‘Perfume – A Sensory Journey’ looks at how perfume is changing and stretches the boundaries of what we think about fragrance. It’s not just blood or sweat that is going up in the popularity stakes either – dust, hot tarmac, fog (!) are part of a new bunch of ingredients that are making their way into these new century fragrances.  Nowadays we want more from our perfumes, to be challenged, to be told a story or to be taken on a journey.  This exhibition illustrates the new synthetic ingredients being used (those made in a laboratory) and a brand new generation of perfumers who are breaking away from the mainstream fragrance industry.

The exhibition is an multi-sensory olfactory journey through some of the most influential perfumes of the last twenty years.  There are ten different fragrances in ten different rooms. Each one is presented in its own unique way and you are invited to experience it and note down your thoughts. I must say I was a bit dubious when I was confronted with crumpled up sheets on a bed. I knew what I was about to smell may not be a bed of roses. Little did I know it was ‘Secretions Magnifiques!’  Although at the time I didn’t know this. What a whiff!! Not something I want to be dabbing behind my ears before a night out!!

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After smelling each fragrance it is revealed what perfume you have encountered.  It was a real eyeopener. At the end of the exhibition I attended a fragrance mini master class where two dedicated perfumers demonstrated what goes into constructing a fragrance.

More than any other fragrance – Secretions Magnifiques really made me question what people want from a fragrance and how the fragrance industry is changing. The rise of the internet has allowed budding perfumers (or artists) to work without the boundaries there once was, getting access to new ingredients and formulations. It’s this, coupled with a more informed audience using websites and blogs dedicated to perfume, that have propelled these niche fragrances into the market .

Exciting times, but I think I’ll stick with my faithful fragrances for now.

This exhibition is still on at Somerset House until this Saturday 23rd September 2017 £11a ticket.

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk

 

My Sri Lanka Spa Treatment Part 2

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If you don’t mind looking like you’ve dived head first into a vat of oil with a few flies stuck to your forehead then this is the treatment for you!

Shirodhara – ‘Third Eye Pour’

“What is this all about?” I hear you say!

Well, I managed to squeeze in another spa treatment the day before I left Sri Lanka and I chose this one.  It involved a lot of oil!

What is Shirodhara?

‘Shiro’ means head and ‘dhara’ is the continuous flow of a liquid i.e. warm herbal oils or milk poured in a slow steady stream on the forehead (the third eye) to lull your senses into a deep ocean of calm.  This is based on the ancient teaching of Ayurvedic medicine (one of the worlds oldest holistic – whole body –  healing systems).

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What benefits could you experience?

  • Relieves stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia through natural serotonin, dopamine and melatonin release
  • Helps mental focus and concentration
  • Stimulates the third eye and crown chakras (works with our hormonal system) and awakens intuition and inner wisdom
  • Works with the cerebral system to help relax the nervous system
  • Improves sensitivity of the five senses
  • Can help reduce and relieve migraine headaches
  • Releases negative emotions and thought patterns
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Rejuvenates entire face and softens worry lines
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Pacifies irritability, restlessness, fear and excessive thinking
  • Improves symptoms of jet lag

I had a shoulder, neck and head massage beforehand to further enhance these benefits as I was then already relaxed and in a receptive state.

It felt incredible when the oil started to be poured onto my forehead and trickle through my hair into a bowl. I felt a real sense of energy flowing through my head and hair.  It was a wonderful feeling.  The oil was being poured continuously for half an hour.

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Paradoxically I also felt extremely relaxed and fell asleep at one point before waking myself up with a loud snore! Although I didn’t feel particularly stressed or restless beforehand I do feel that the treatment allowed me to deal with the long haul flight home, plus the impending jet lag, much more effectively.

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I was left feeling amazingly calm and relaxed with a very clear mind.  I had extremely soft skin and hair as I was advised to leave the oil on for at least two hours before washing off.

What a wonderful treatment.

It was a couple of hours afterwards before I realised I had two flies stuck to my oily forehead!

My oily hair after Shirodhara treatment

N x

My Sri Lankan Spa Treatment Part 1

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Whenever I go on holiday I always try to book a treatment, whether it be a massage, a facial or a local therapy.  Not only do they allow me to rest and rejuvenate but I like to think of it as research – I might be able to incorporate little aspects into the treatments I offer.

A couple of weeks ago, when in Sri Lanka, I had a Sea Sand Exfoliating Scrub which left my skin softer than it has been in years! (Although it wasn’t for the faint-hearted – it was a bit painful – no pain, no gain eh!)

To follow this I had a Full Body Massage which helped to soothe my muscles and ease my mind. What I loved about this treatment was the hot Stone Pouch Therapy. These pouches were filled with heated sea sand (very hot!), crushed sesame, grated ginger, warming black pepper and dipped in coconut oil.  These were applied to pressure points and used to massage my muscles.  The combination of the heat and other ingredients was so relaxing.

Lastly, cooling stones were applied to my face in such a way as to promote lymphatic drainage (removal of toxins) which helped to refresh and revitalise.

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It is important to take time out – whether it be taking 15 mins to read your favourite book, having a relaxing bath, going for a run, spending 10 mins on some yoga stretches, going for a brisk walk in the fresh air or booking a treatment.  All of these and more can help quieten the mind, calm and relax.

N x

My first ever Reiki experience

Personal Recommendation – Anna Rowe ‘Time 4 a Change’

Reiki Master, Hypnosis & NLP Master Practitioner

in the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Area

 

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Have you ever experienced Reiki? You may be interested in seeing Anna Rowe, Reiki Master, as I have done recently. Below I’ve written about Anna and about my first ever Reiki experience.

Anna has run her own private practice for 17 years and is a qualified Reiki Master, society of NLP licensed Master Practitioner, Hypnotic Practitioner, Certified trainer of NLP and Neurological Repatterning and a Graduate Member of the British School of Yoga for teaching Healing Meditation. She was trained by the Co-Originator of NLP, Dr. Richard Bandler, along with Paul McKenna (famous Hypnotist and NLP Trainer). She regularly assisted Paul McKenna with his Weight Loss Seminars in London.

Anna uses a mixture of Reiki, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Hypnosis, TFT (Thought Field Therapy) and AEA (Advance Energy Analysis) during her treatments depending on the client she is seeing.

I went to see Anna a couple of weeks ago for personal development at her private practice in Saltdean (Brighton) for my first Reiki session.  I had not experienced Reiki before but as a Holistic Therapist I understand the benefits of many complementary therapies.  Anna was very welcoming and conducted the two hour session in her dedicated treatment room. She began by explaining, in layman’s terms, what Reiki is, how it works, what she would be doing during the session and what I could expect afterwards.  This put me at ease and in turn created an environment conducive to relaxation, allowing me to be receptive to the treatment.

If you are not aware of how Reiki works Anna explains it so well in her own words:

“When your sink gets blocked and the water builds up do you leave it or do you take action? Many people swallow their feelings, hold on to them in their body, this in turn causes energy blocks. The more this is done the more blocks occur and the more a person can feel drained of energy and fall ill. When you know you need to take action to unblock your sink then it makes sense to also take action to unblock your energy so it can slow freely.  This is where Reiki will be a effective treatment for you.”

“Reiki accelerates the healing of physical problems, balances the emotions, and frees us from restrictive mental attitudes.”

Reiki is non invasive, treating the whole body holistically. Anna gently placed her hands on me at times and I could feel bursts of energy flowing though me at certain points. At other times I felt small vibrations/tingling and warmth.  The whole session was very relaxing and calming.

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Afterwards Anna explained her findings by going through a Unique Energy Analysis chart (which was unique to me) which highlighted blocks I had and the possible reasons for them.  What she explained was fascinating and she was extremely accurate in her findings. She gave me advice, including really useful tips and techniques, on how to move forward.  She uses a mixture of up to date remedies and techniques to do this including NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming), TFT (Thought Field Therapy) and The Havening technique. She said that she would expect these blocks to gradually disappear as the sessions go on and would track my progress. 

I can honestly say that I came away from seeing Anna with a sense of enlightenment (without sounding over the top!) and at the same time felt completely revitalised, relaxed and ready to work on my tasks. I had very real and tangible action points to do in order to develop myself personally.

So if you are wondering if you’d benefit from Reiki ask yourself these questions –

Do you experience stress, depression, anxiety, grief, phobias, fertility problems, find it difficult to relax or sleep, want to give up smoking or lose weight? Or would you just like to make some positive changes in your life and develop personally?

Reiki could be for you and I would highly recommend Anna as a fully qualified professional to help encourage and support your positive personal change.

I am looking forward to my next session .

 

Anna’s contact details:

Anna Rowe

www.timeforachange.uk.com

07890070383

anna@timeforachange.uk.com

 

Best Wishes to you all x

Wellbeing Wednesday

Do you experience back, neck or shoulder pain

or all three at once?

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According to the NHS 3 in 10 adults are affected by back, neck and shoulder pain.  It is, by far, the number one issue I come across in my work as a Holistic Therapist.  Each one can be experienced in isolation or altogether.

More often than not these symptoms are a result of muscular irritation (myofascial pain) due to bad posture, repetitive use/overuse, stress or lack of strength. Of course, there could be other reasons why pain might be experienced and if in doubt please seek the advice of your GP.

Causes:

Poor Posture: Do you sit in front of a laptop or on a sofa for long periods of time without changing position?  The health of the neck is subject to the curvature of the spine below and the position of the head above.  Forward head posture is where the head sits further forward than the shoulders which can cause strain on the neck, round the shoulders and upper back, all causing pain.  Working at a laptop which is at the wrong angle or spending lots of time looking at your phone can cause these postural problems.

 

Repetitive use/overuse: Do you have a job that requires you to do the same movement over and over again (i.e. lifting, typing) or do you enjoy rigorous exercise classes/high intensity interval training which can put strain on your muscles? In general, repetitive strain refers to any injury that results from overuse of a body part to perform a repetitive task, or from sustained and awkward positions. In most people this occurs at work with tasks such as typing.  Muscles and tendons within the hands and wrists become inflamed and this can have a knock on effect on the back, shoulders and neck causing pain, stiffness, tenderness and discomfort. Also look at the bag you carry – do you use one shoulder or the crook of your elbow to hold it and how heavy is it? This can put strain on you too.

Stress: Do you feel stressed or anxious? Both long periods and short periods of stress and anxiety can drastically increase muscle tension, which can in turn increase pain experienced. Our backs contain a variety of muscles that are known to tense during stress.  The back, shoulder or neck pain is secondary to the stress or anxiety and is due to behaviours that have been adopted. These behaviours could be sitting in a slouched or hunched position or inactivity which can result in the muscles being less mobile therefore causing pain.

Treatments:

There are many treatments available to you, most of which you can do yourself at home or at work. These are the ones I talk about and recommend in my work.

Posture: Regularly check your posture when sitting and standing.  Try to make a conscious effort to stand tall (as though your head is being pulled upwards) and to not slouch when sitting. Check the ergonomics of your workspace – is your desk and laptop at the right height so that your forearms are at right angles when typing. Your wrists should be straight and horizontal to the desk when typing and you should not be twisting in your seat to see your screen.  Also ensure your back is supported in your chair.  Try to limit the amount of time you spend looking at your phone as your head naturally looks downwards to operate it.

Keep active: Try to move around during the day.  If your job requires you to sit at a desk, set an alarm to remind you to get up and move around at least once an hour. If you have difficulty moving around I will be sharing some stretches at the end of this blog to help you get moving and alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain.  However, if your pain is due to vigorous exercise then ease off of your normal workout routine for a few days to give your symptoms a chance to subside.

Massage: Holistic massage is a natural way to facilitate healing within your body.  It can help to restore health and wellness. Massage therapy targets soft tissue – muscular issues i.e. overworked areas of tension, muscle spasms, strained or pulled muscles etc.  It has legitimate medical properties effective in aiding pain management and recovery.  The top layers of muscles directly benefit from hands on massage because it loosens the tightened muscles and encourages effective blood flow and energy.  It can certainly bring relief to pain and discomfort experienced in the back, neck or shoulder area. As well as being a Holistic Therapist I book in to receive a back, neck and shoulder massage every month as maintenance.

Acupuncture: This is another holistic treatment that stems from traditional Chinese medicine in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin. It is surprisingly relatively pain free considering that needles are used!

I know a fantastic Physiotherapist and Acupuncturist in my local area if any of you would like a personal recommendation.  I have received a course of acupuncture from her which made a real difference to the pain, tension and mobility problems I was having in my neck, back and shoulders. From a physical point of view the best way I can describe it is a great feeling of relief as the needle is inserted and the tension disperses. I thoroughly recommend it.

Chiropractic: A Chiropractor specifically addresses the disorders of the musculoskeletal system, focusing on the hard tissue – the spine and joints. So if your back, neck or shoulder issues are due to problems with your spine, for example, you could benefit from seeing a Chiropractor where they may carry out procedures to manipulate or adjust the spine.

Stretching: Stretching improves your range of movement, your posture and provides stress relief.  I am a big advocate of stretching and I must say it has without doubt helped with my own back, neck and shoulder pain.  Stretching is a build-able habit, you can work it into your day – as you wake up, at your desk at work, before bed etc. Ensure you breathe properly (check out my blog on breathing) and never hold your breath.  The more you do it the easier it will become.  Below are some very simple stretches for your head, neck, shoulders, arms and torso. (Please get advice from your GP before trying these if you are new to stretching).

Stretching neck and shoulders

Shoulder shrug:

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  1. Raise both shoulders at once up toward the ears.
  2. Drop them and repeat 10 times.

Neck stretches:

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  1. Relax and lean your head forward.
  2. Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat on other side.
  4. Relax again and lift your chin back to starting position.
  5. Do this three times for each direction.

Upper trapezius stretch:

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  1. Gently pull your head toward each shoulder until a light stretch is felt.
  2. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Alternate once on each side.

Stretching our your arms

Tricep stretches:

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  1. Raise your arm and bend it so that your hand reaches behind your head towards the opposite shoulder.
  2. Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead reach:

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  1. Extend each arm individually overhead ensuring shoulder is sitting in its socket.
  2. Reach to the opposite side straight over your head, don’t lean forwards.
  3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Stretching our your torso & shoulders

Shoulder stretch:

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  1. Clasp hands behind your back.
  2. Push the chest outward, with back straight and raise the chin.
  3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Forward stretch:

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  1. Raise your hands in front of you with arms out straight and lower your head in line with your arms.
  2. Press forward and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Torso stretch:

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  1. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward (try not to cross your legs like in this picture).
  2. Twist your upper body in the direction of the arm that’s resting on the back of your chair.  (try to keep your head, neck and body in line with each other).
  3. Hold pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on other side.

Tip: Exhale as you lean into the stretch for a greater range of motion.

Please let me know if you have found this useful or if there is anything else you would like to know about. Either comment below, email me on: nicolameirholistictherapies@gmail.com or drop me a comment on my Facebook page: Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies.

Nicola x

 

 

 

Wellbeing Wednesday

Ever had that sudden and often painful spasm or tightening of your muscles? Your calf muscle gets a mind of its own or your toes decide they don’t want to be attached to your foot anymore and try to make a quick escape?

This could be CRAMP

What is cramp?

From time to time I have clients who experience this strong involuntary contraction or tightening of muscles, usually in the legs or toes.  It can last for a matter of seconds or a few minutes before relaxing again and can be incredibly painful.muscle-spasms-and-cramps.png

Why does cramp occur?

Experts are not entirely sure why cramp does occur but there are a number of common opinions:

  • Hydration: When we haven’t drunk enough water problems can occur. Electrolytes (nutrients present in the body i.e. sodium, potassium) help conduct nerve impulses throughout the body, which allows our muscles to contract. When the body loses enough water or electrolytes (i.e. sodium (salt), potassium through sweating for example), the nerve impulses from the brain to our muscles become deranged.  These depleted levels can make muscles cramp.
  • Conditioning and fatigue: The less fit we are, the more we are likely to suffer from cramp. Our muscles are subjected to a much stronger force of contraction when we are unfit and begin physical activity.  Therefore they can go into a state of protective spasm.  When your body is poorly conditioned, we are more likely to experience muscle fatigue, which can alter spinal neural reflex activity. Overexertion depletes a muscle’s oxygen supply, leading to build up of waste product and spasm. When a cramp begins, the spinal cord stimulates the muscle to keep contracting.
  • Tense or tight muscles: Muscles are bundles of fibres that contract and expand to produce movement.  If these fibres are tight they may not function properly.
  • Circulation: Poor blood circulation around the legs from conditions like atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can cause cramping pain when walking as the blood can not sufficiently travel around the extremities (i.e. legs and feet) to provide oxygen to the muscles.

How to treat cramp when it occurs:

  • Drinking plenty of water.  It’s your body’s natural lubricant and cooling system. Without it, your muscles will overheat and seize up.
  • Gently massage the muscle to warm, relax and lengthen the muscle fibres enabling them to work more efficiently and effectively.
  • Stretch the muscle to alleviate the tightness that is being experienced.
  • Rest the muscle once you have gently stretched and massaged it. Don’t start vigorous exercise straight away.

How can you avoid cramp:

  • Ensure you warm up and cool down sufficiently when exercising to ease your muscles into activity and relax them afterwards.
  • Make stretching part of your daily routine either on waking up or before going to bed. Simple yoga stretches will help to relax your legs and feet.images-4.jpgimages-1.jpg
  • Maintain a good level of fitness to keep your muscles in good shape.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and even try a good quality sports hydration drink when taking part in strenuous exercise to replenish much need electrolytes (like sodium and potassium) as these can be lost through sweating when exercising. Some experts are suggesting the consumption of pickle juice!!
  • Eat nutritiously – foods which are particularly good for cramp are high in potassium and can boost muscle function and protect the nervous system: bananas, salmon, dried fruits, avocados, greek yoghurt, cantaloupe melon, beans and lentils, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli), nuts and seeds.

Next week I’ll be looking at shoulder and neck pain.  I often suffer with this myself and so do the majority of clients I see.  It’s the single biggest issue I see on a daily basis.  I’ll look at what causes it and how to help alleviate symptoms at home.

In June my focus will be on Summer Skincare: what type of products to use and what foods are beneficial to achieving a healthy glowing skin.

If there is anything you would like me to cover in my blog please do comment below or email me on: nicolameirholistictherapies@gmail.com or drop me a comment on my Facebook page: Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies.  I’ve written about lots of topics on there which I hope you have/will find useful.

Wishing you all a great day x

Wellbeing Wednesday

Dealing with sciatic nerve pain

Some of my clients experience pain, tingling, throbbing, burning or numbness going down the leg from the lower back.  It’s usually on one side but can sometimes be both and it can often be debilitating.

What is the sciatic nerve?

It’s the longest and largest spinal nerve in the body.  It starts at the back of the pelvis (the sacrum) and runs under the buttock through the hip area and down the leg to the foot.

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Tight lower back muscles can place stress on your nerve roots by pinching or irritating them.  It can often be caused by a sedentary lifestyle.  But there are many things you can do to bring relief.  I’m going to look at massage and yoga stretches although there are many other options like acupuncture, pilates, ice and heat, topical preparations and other gentle exercises to name a few.

Easy self-massage tips

  • Palm and thumb – Place your palms on your lower back and rub the pelvic area towards the spine and down towards the buttocks.  Use the heal of your hands to apply pressure. Repeat until tension has eased.IMG_1072.PNG
  • Tennis Ball – Place one or two tennis balls in a sock. Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the balls behind you. Gradually recline backwards by supporting yourself with your arms behind you. You could even lie on the floor. Position the balls on the sore area of the lower back/buttock and keep it there for one minute which should help to release some tension. Move the balls to any other sore areas before rolling onto your side and resting.    IMG_1070.JPEG
  • Knuckles – Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Make fists with each hand and place them on the left and right of your back.  Position your fists so your palms are face down and your knuckles are against your back.  Fists should be between the spine and lower back muscles. Rest in this position for one minute.  Then move onto your side and rest before getting up. You could also do this in a seated position with a straight back.images.jpg

Seeing a Holistic Therapist

A regular massage will help to ease the tight muscles around the lower back by stretching and loosening them.  It encourages the release of ‘pain-fighting’ endorphins providing some relief from symptoms and will also help you to relax.

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Easy yoga stretches

Regular stretching can really help bring relief from symptoms.  I practice yoga at home and at a fantastic class each week and it definitely helps to alleviate tight, tense or aching muscles and has certainly eased sciatic pain when I have had it in the past.  There are many benefits to incorporating yoga into your life.

Here are three really effective sciatic stretches:

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  • Seated hip stretchIMG_1082.JPG
  • Pigeon poseIMG_1081.JPG

Try to hold each stretch for one minute before resting. If you are not used to doing physical activity I would suggest you seek advice from your GP first before performing these stretches purely as a precaution.

Next week I’ll be looking at cramp, why we might experience it and how we can deal with it.

Wishing you all a great week.

Nicola

First blog post

Wellbeing Wednesday

Many of my clients (and sometimes myself) experience the same issues or problems every now and again.

They are common to many people and so I’m starting a Wellbeing Wednesday Series. This will look at one topic a week, sharing some handy hints and tips and will be published every Wednesday – here on nicolameirholistictherapies.com and will be shared to my business Facebook page – Nicola Meir Holistic Therapies.

Lets go back to basics for the first in this series.

Are you breathing wrong?

Most of us are shallow breathers most of the time.  This means we don’t take in enough oxygen which can contribute to us feeling tense and tired.

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What happens when we breathe?

When we take a breath in – our diaphragm moves down so our lungs can expand.  We take air in through our mouth or nose and down through the windpipe to the lungs.  It then passes through our blood vessels to the heart, which pumps oxygenated blood to ever part of our body. The deeper the breath, the more air and oxygen we take in to nourish and revitalise our body. Unfortunately too many of us sit in a hunched position, wearing our shoulders as earrings!! Therefore our body is tight with tension.  These things make it hard to breathe properly.

Whenever you feel stressed, tired, can’t sleep or feel under the weather, make a conscious decision to spend five minutes on some healing breathing.  These simple calming techniques below can help:

  • Stand up or sit up straight, feet firmly on the floor.  Shrug shoulders right up to your ears and then push right down as far as possible.  Imagine the top of your head is trying to touch the ceiling and gently move your neck from side to side.  This should start to help release tension.
  • Breathe in for a count of 5, hold the breath for a couple of seconds, breathe out for 6.  Keep it slow and steady.  When you breathe in take it down to your abdomen and try to elongate your exhalation to 7 or 8 counts.
  • Lastly close your eyes and visualise your breath moving around your body – to your fingers and toes, head and shoulders etc.

Give it a try.  When you do you will realise that the way you were breathing before was much more shallow in comparison. For a time your breath with naturally slow down after these exercises.

Calming and healing breathing is the answer to many things! I’ve been teaching my children these techniques too. “It’s great, it gets rid of anything I am worried about.” (My 11 year old).

Next week I’ll have some practical tips on dealing with lower back pain and in particular sciatic nerve pain.

Nicola