Mindfulness and Reflexology Blog 2019

road to future

I love mindfulness and reflexology, and I am lucky enough to enjoy a career which promotes relaxation and living in each moment, but I love a long term plan too. I find making plans can be great fun and lists can be very therapeutic, its just about keeping a balance between experiencing this present moment whilst also planning your journey for the future. With this in mind I’m going to share some plans for future blog posts here on my therapy blog.

One area of life that so many of my clients and friends talk about improving is sleep. For countless clients their poor quality sleep or insomnia limits their enjoyment of life. My friends are often exhausted and overwhelmed with the hectic nature of life, made almost impossible due to sleepless nights. I am planning to explore general advise on improving sleep, how holistic therapies can help and maybe some more quirky tricks for that much needed great nights sleep.

During the last year I have been invited to provide therapies in the work place much more frequently. I absolutely love arriving at an office environment or school to be met with enthusiastic greetings form staff looking forward to their in work reflexology or mindfulness. There has been a great deal of research on the benefits of promoting well being at work and employers are more commonly realising their role in the mental health of their workforce. I will be exploring this further during the year and hopefully visiting more and more companies to bring therapies into people’s working days.

I love working with pregnant clients and seeing mums in the postnatal period. This year I am aiming to gather more research on mindfulness in pregnancy as I believe this will be a most helpful skill for all new families. I also feel strongly that mothers in the postnatal period or fourth trimester are often placed under unrealistic levels of pressure. After childbirth our bodies are still going through huge changes and we have very special emotional and physical needs which are so often ignored. This fourth trimester is an area of maternity care which I am investigating more this year.

Mindfulness is still making an impact in the media. One area that I hope to look into is mindfulness in sport. The use of meditation and mindfulness techniques is a growing area of sports science which is exciting for both sport and the less sporty of us! Any research into optimising sport performance can be helpful for everyone as, even though I am not planning to run a marathon, knowing how to be at my best physically and mentally is clearly beneficial.

I think that is enough planning for one day, although I am sure there are many other ideas for this year running through my head….. and talking of running maybe I will think about that marathon!

Fundraising Reflexology in Kidderminster

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During my ten years working as a reflexologist in Kidderminster I have enjoyed many fundraising events. I am adding to this years tenth anniversary celebration with a charity day for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). On 10th November Reflexology will be available all day with all donations going to the charity.

Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) die from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. In 80% of cases, there will have been no signs or symptoms, which is why the charity CRY believes proactive cardiac screening is so vitally important. This is not currently available free on the NHS. Its pioneering screening programme is overseen by world-leading sports cardiologist, Professor Sanjay Sharma. CRY now tests over 27,000 young people (aged 14-35) every year in the UK. I took my son for screening and although we were nervous it was a very easy experience and we were relieved to find that his screening did not show any signs for concern. We were grateful for the screening and so I decided it was time to plan another charity day!

I feel privileged to be supporting the charity CRY. It is important that I can raise as much money as possible to support CRY and to pay tribute to the hundreds of young people who lose their lives to sudden cardiac death in the UK every year, plus help fund CRY’s vital work:

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• CRY was founded in May 1995. As well as campaigning and providing a subsidised cardiac screening for young people, the charity also provides an internationally renowned research programme and specialist support to bereaved families.

• CRY funds the CRY Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Clinic and the CRY Centre for Sports Cardiology at St George’s Hospital London

• CRY works closely with MPs to improve awareness of sudden cardiac death in young people, leading to CRY’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)

Young Sudden Cardiac Death (YSCD) is an umbrella term for heart conditions that affect fit and healthy people which, if not treated can result in sudden death

• CRY’s myheart network offers help, support and information to people who are coping with a diagnosis of an inherited or congenital heart condition. www.myheart.org.uk

• CRY has tested well over 170,000 young people, resulting in 100s of potentially life-threatening conditions being identified. The programme is growing annually.

• Now, anyone between the age of 14 and 35 can book an appointment online and, in 3 clicks, can register to have a free cardiac investigation overseen by a specialist. As CRY receives no government funding this is only possible because of the incredible support CRY receives from communities throughout the UK to provide this free service to the public. www.testmyheart.org.uk

For more details about the event or to book your fundraising reflexology appointment please call Joanne on 07531121199 or email breathetime@gmail.com.

To find out more about CRY and details of the services it provides visit www.c-r-y.org.uk.

Posted on October 3, 2018 and filed under reflexology.

Words on Relaxation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take time to Breathe

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

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

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

Bumblebee Breathing

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

Shoulder Roll Breathing

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

Tummy Breathing

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

Balloon Breathing

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

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

 

 

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

Tongue Tie Treatment Worcestershire

Update 2019: Leanne is no longer working with private patients. I am trying to find another practitioner to introduce here.

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

Leanne shared her passion for helping babies with tongue tie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted on February 8, 2018 and filed under maternity.

Celebrating Ten Years Of Reflexology at Breathe HT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 
 

Reflexology Gift Vouchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Relaxation Response Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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