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Our Blog - a selection of 'random' bits of information to help you maintain good health and wellbeing.

I hope you find it useful, Tanya x 

Stress versus burnout

Stress Awareness Month - Seven Types of Rest!

4th April 2023

You may already be aware that April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’ and despite stress and poor mental health being one of the biggest public health challenges of modern day living, it seems we are still not taking its impact seriously!

 

Many of you know my background of working in mental health and that stress management and developing and maintaining a healthy work/life balance, is something I am very passionate about. There is lots of advice out there on how to better manage your stress levels and if this is something I can help with, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

However from a reflexologist's perspective, one thing I find lacking in all the advice on stress management, is the importance of 'rest and recuperation'! You may have heard me say - more than once! - that rest is THE most neglected part of our health and wellbeing and to further complicate things, it is often intertwined with sleep quality and quantity.

 

With this in mind, I wanted to provide a quick (ish) summary of what is meant by rest and why it is important. I certainly was never taught how to rest effectively and it is something I am still navigating, but if you ever get that feeling when you are tired and drained despite a good nights sleep, then here are a few things for you to consider.

 

The first type of rest, is physical rest. This may seem obvious but there are two elements to physical rest, passive rest which includes sleep and napping and active rest which includes yoga and pilates or even types of massage that help improve circulation and flexibility.

 

The second type of rest is mental rest. You know when you are suffering from mental rest deprivation when you become forgetful, easily distracted and irritable, craving caffeine and sweet stuff to help keep you going and struggling to get to sleep with ruminating thoughts about your day. To help tackle this, schedule in regular short breaks in your day to give your mind chance to slow-down and catch-up, and try keeping a pad and pen by your bed to jot down anything to add to your ‘to-do-list’ for the following day.

 

We then have sensory rest. We are constantly bombarded by false lights and background noise and we are increasingly aware of the impact that excessive use of computer screens can have on our wellbeing. One simple tip to help combat this is to close your eyes! Closing or covering your eyes and taking five deep breaths during your regular short break will not only help ease eye strain but can also help you to feel calmer, release tension in your neck and back and even lower your blood pressure!

 

The fourth type of rest is creative rest. The best, easiest, cheapest and quickest way of meeting this need is to step out of your front or back door! Allowing yourself a moment to savour the simplest of things can be incredibly powerful, especially if your work requires you to be creative. There is also growing evidence to suggest that just looking at pictures of nature can help lower your stress levels, so surround your work space with things that please and relax you and that will make you smile.

 

The next type of rest includes emotional rest. This is when we need to find a safe space where we can freely express our feelings and taking a step back from ‘people pleasing’. This is about having a diverse group of people around you that love and care about you regardless! Agreed, not everyone will always understand how you might be feeling and this is where the diversity of your networks comes in.

 

With that in mind, the next type of rest is social rest. This is about knowing what, and who, recharges you, and what and who, drains your energy. It is about incorporating things that help uplift you more often into your life, to help balance the times when you need to do the things that leave you exhausted.

 

The final type of rest is spiritual rest. This can mean different things to different people but in essence its about connection, having a sense of purpose and meaning and being able to work in alignment with your own morals and values.

 

So sleep alone will not leave you feeling fully rested if any of the above is in deficit, and if you are struggling to sleep then there are options to help you feel more rested; which in turn will help you sleep!

 

What is important to highlight, is that each type of rest is truly unique to each of us. What works for some won't for others, but I hope it has given you an idea of the different types of rest we need and where, if any, you may need some work!

 

Check out Saundra Dalton-Smith's TED Talk for more information:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGNN4EPJzGk&t=10s

 

Be kind to yourself and each other

Tanya x​

Time - and how not to waste it

"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst"

(William Penn - (1644-1718))

21st October 2022

I am currently sat in Heathrow airport 'enduring' a long delay for my flight to finally go on holiday. It's been three years since I've travelled abroad and I've been really looking forward to getting away; so hopefully I won't be sat in the airport much longer!

 

Sitting here with no control over what is happening, has given me the opportunity to reflect on my time and what I do with it. What an odd concept 'time' is and having 'free' time is an even odder one! I am no stranger to saying "I don't have enough time" and probably wasted a lot of time explaining why I don't have enough time. This was particularly true in my 'other' job, until I worked out how much time we actually have...

 

In one week, there are 168 hours. With 8 hours sleep per night, we spend 56 of those hours sleeping and the average person works 40 hours a week. This leaves us with 72 hours to do exactly what we want to do!!!

 

I know, I know, there's all that life stuff that gets in the way I hear you shout. Trust me, I’ve listed them all to Alex countless times ;). But does all the family and household stuff really take us 72 hours to do?! So, whilst I am sat here, wondering why I have 36 articles in my ‘to read’ list and emails from Dec 2021 to process, I realise that I have absolutely no excuse to keep putting things off. 

 

We waste time, we save time, we rob and get robbed of time, we lose time and we have all the time in the world. Whilst we cannot influence the flow of time, what is clear, is that we can utilise it to get the most out of it!

 

This puts me in mind of the quote by Stephen R. Covey, the author of the famous 'Time Management Matrix', "The key is in not spending time, but in investing in it". Here, he points out that you can spend time on useful, and useless things, but if you call it “investing”, you are more likely to invest it in something that has value, purpose and meaning for you. So choose your goals wisely so that time you spend on them becomes an investment, not an expense.

 

So whilst I am plowing through my list of things to read, waiting for my flight, I stumble across a fascinating article about this very topic: 

 

‘Which of these 6 time traps is eating up all of your time?’. 

 

It is a bit lengthy but well worth a read, especially if you are wondering why you don’t seem to have time to do anything constructive, meaningful, self-nurturing (I had to get some reference to reflexology in here somewhere ;)), and fun in your life - oh and having fun is allowed too; but that's for another day ;)

 

Be kind to yourself and each other

Tanya x​

Rest and recuperation - the most neglected part of our health and wellbeing

"People can accept you sick or well. What’s lacking is patience for the convalescent.” (Alain de Botton)

16th January 2022

Is it just me or is anyone else concerned at this drive to get people back to work as soon as possible, after contracting Covid? – Or any other illness for that matter!

 

I am seeing more and more people in my treatment room who have had mild or asymptomatic Covid, that continue to feel ‘out-of-sorts’ for weeks or even months afterwards. The potential lasting symptoms are endless and dependent on individuals and sadly many have gone on to develop other significant health problems as a consequence.

 

In this modern ‘western’ world of medicine, we seem to have forgotten something of the importance of the broader approach to recovery. And with Covid in particular, the recovery schedule is of someone else's making, with little regard of the impact that the virus can have on our health, wellbeing and indeed our immune system.

 

This in turn is leading our employers to place higher expectations on our performance and attendance and in the meantime we are left wondering why we are struggling to get through the day!

 

We are all unique so our recovery is going to be unique but sadly convalescence as a whole is now the forgotten phase of the recovery process, yet it is the vital key to our long term wellbeing.

 

The term convalescence comes from the Latin ‘to grow fully strong’ and refers to the time between being very unwell to feeling 100% back to your typical self. How we achieve that is dependant on you and what works for you.

 

However, as a mental health practitioner, as well as a complementary therapist, I think we need to expand our understanding of what it means to convalesce and what counts as therapy and treatment during this period.

 

The use of non-medical solutions can be just as, if not more, effective during this time. I cannot emphasise enough how rest and recuperation is ‘the’ most neglected part of our health and wellbeing generally and yet many of us just don’t know how to do it.

 

This is where complementary therapies, such as reflexology, come into play. When people come to my treatment room, they receive so much more than just a reflexology treatment. That in itself is healing and nurturing but there are so many levels to the process of coming to see me, or any other therapist, that cannot be underestimated.

 

When you book a reflexology treatment in addition to the treatment, you get:

  • Time for yourself
  • Someone to talk to
  • Someone who listens
  • Time away from distractions in a calm environment
  • 'Headspace' – time to reflect
  • Time to rest and relax
  • Tapping into the power of therapeutic touch

This creates a holistic package of care and support that can help you on your journey to recovery, whether from Covid or any other event, illness or situation that life has thrown at you.

 

So please, however you choose to rest and convalesce, just give yourself time to get back into your typical daily life. Gradually build up your energy reserves and allow your immune system and body to rest and recuperate. A few extra weeks will be time well spent for your future health and wellbeing. 

 

With very best wishes

Tanya x

 'Massage breaks the pain cycle'. Why we need therapeutic touch

'Massage breaks the pain cycle': the return of touch - after almost two years without it

16th November 2021

Last week The Guardian published an article highlighting how, for many people, social distancing and lockdowns left them bereft of physical contact.

 

Touch is one of 'the' most basic human needs and one of the most healing things a human can do. Yet in Western Society being touched for our health is frowned upon and can bee seen to have negative or sexual connotations.

 

Yet Francis McGlone a Professor of Neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University states "We are wired to respond to emotional touch. My analogy is that [touch is] like a vitamin – if we are depleted, there are consequences in terms of our physical health. I make the same argument about the C-tactile afferents – the nerve fibre that evolved in all social mammals to provide the reward associated with close physical contact. When the fibre is stimulated, it does a number of measurable things – it lowers heart rate and it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone.” It’s one reason, he says with a laugh, he believes so many people got pets during lockdown: “That’s the brain recognising ‘I need to touch something’.”

 

A survey into how people have been dealing with the lack of physical contact since this Covid-19 pandemic has found that 60 percent felt deprived of touch, and that can lead to a raft of health problems including depression and anxiety.

 

To highlight how essential touch is to our health and wellbeing, the Evergreen Psychotherapy Centre highlighted that institutions surveyed in 1915 reported that a majority of infants under the age of 2 had died due to failure to thrive, related to the lack of touch and affection (Chapin 1915; cited in Montagu 1986, p. 97). Prescott (1971) found that deprivation of touch and movement contributed to later emotional problems.

 

Yet there is growing evidence to show how therapeutic touch is and by just holding hands with someone in pain, will comfort them and cause your brain waves to synchronise. The study showed  that holding your partner’s hand can ease their pain, raise your empathy, and even cause you and your partner’s heart and respiration rates to synchronise.

 

The power of touch is undeniable indeed, on my first day of training to become a reflexologist I was eager and excited to be starting the next stage of my life and career, what I was not expecting was the discovery of the immense power of touch. Coming from a long career in health and social care where touch with people I worked with was controversial, the overwhelming realisation that touch is a powerful healing tool was startling. 

 

So, having any form of touch therapy, including reflexology, can be one way to help mitigate the negative effects of this touch deprived world we find ourselves in.

 

With very best wishes,

Tanya x

Going back to work? 6 tips to help you readjust

Going back to the office? 6 tips to help you adjust

12th November 2021

Our working situation has changed dramatically since early 2020 and despite the initial shock of having to adjust to working from home, many are getting anxious about going back to the office. Therefore I wanted to share this article which gives some great tips on how to adjust.

 

https://ideas.ted.com/going-back-to-the-office-6-tips-to-help-you-adjust/

 

With very best wishes,

Tanya x

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