Aromatherapy oils to beat anxiety

April 24th, 2014

Aromatherapy oils to beat anxietyTackle anxiety the natural way with the help of aromatherapy.

Anxiety is generally caused by our minds being elsewhere – usually in the past or the future, going over events that have already happened or worrying about events that have not yet happened. The beauty of aromatherapy lies in its ability to bring your mind into the present, making it a powerful tool in the battle against anxiety.

If you are feeling anxious or stressed, keep the following oils on hand:

Lavender

One of the best known oils for helping insomnia, lavender is also fantastic at easing anxiety and relaxing the body. Helping to sedate nerves and slow heart rates, lavender is ideal for those suffering with physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Try applying the oil to pulse points and your temples to surround yourself with the soothing scent. Alternatively, run yourself a bath with some lavender before bed for a restful night’s sleep.

Citrus

Orange, lemon and grapefruit scents are fantastic at awakening the senses and encouraging feelings of joy. Ideal for times when anxiety is making you feel low, try adding a few drops of citrus oil with a cup of almond oil for a nourishing body moisturiser. Another way to invoke some citrus energy is to add a few drops to a handkerchief and sniff throughout the day when energy levels are dwindling.

Pine

Clarifying and grounding, pine works brilliantly at pulling you back to the present moment. Use at times when your mind is racing and you’re struggling to focus on the here and now. Add some oil to a diffuser in your house or invest in a pine needle-filled pillow to hug in times of need.

Chamomile

Not only does chamomile tea help to lower anxiety levels, the scent of the oil is just as effective at calming the mind. Add some tea bags to your bath or sprinkle a few drops in the shower for a soothing ritual. If you are brewing chamomile tea to drink, be sure to cover it as it steeps to ensure the scent doesn’t escape in the steam.

To find out how aromatherapy can help in other situations, please visit our aromatherapy page.

View and comment on the original Mind Body Green article.

Six natural ways to relieve arthritis pain

April 18th, 2014

Six natural ways to relieve arthritis painWith 10 million Britons living with arthritis, we advise on natural ways to soothe the pain and make life easier. 

According to the NHS, one in five of the adult UK population suffers from arthritis – a condition that causes stiffness, inflammation and pain in the joints.

There is currently no cure, but medical treatments are offered to help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. There are also various therapies and self-management techniques that can be used to help sufferers manage the condition and cope better with the fatigue and sometimes, extreme discomfort that can result.

The following are some of the recommended natural ways to help relieve arthritis pain:

1. Lose weight 

In some cases, joint pain can be exacerbated by excess weight. Knee pain in particular can become worse if you are overweight, so embarking on a healthy diet and gentle fitness regime can do wonders to lessen arthritic discomfort and make you feel better. Consider taking up low-impact activities such as swimming, aqua fitness or aerobics that won’t put too much pressure on your joints.

2. Get support 

Reaching out to other sufferers provides the opportunity for you to share your experiences and enjoy a sense of release and comfort. You many want to consider finding a local arthritis group to join, or you can go online and read blogs or participate in online discussions. Isolating yourself and not talking about your condition can make you feel worse and less able to cope with the pain.

3. Acupuncture 

Many people recommend acupuncture for helping to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by arthritis. Acupuncture works by stimulating the brain and nervous system to produce pain-relieving chemicals that can enhance the body’s natural healing process.

4. Chiropractic treatment

Although it won’t help with the arthritis itself, chiropractic treatment is considered beneficial for helping to treat the muscle spasms that often accompany the condition. Chiropractic treatment is used to break up muscle spasms and scar tissue, which can ease pain.

5. Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy provides support and treatment to help ease the effects of a range of conditions and disabilities on everyday living – including arthritis. The aim of this therapy is to help sufferers regain independence and find ways of managing the condition so that it does not hinder their potential.

6. Physiotherapy

For those who are weak and unable to properly function as a result of their arthritis, physiotherapy can be invaluable. It is used to help restore the body’s full range of movement and treat parts of the body affected by an illness. Typical techniques involve manipulation and massage which can relieve pain and stiffness in the muscles, improve circulation and promote movement.

View and comment on the original Health article. 

Six natural ways to ease IBS symptoms

April 17th, 2014

Six natural ways to ease IBS symptomsApril is IBS awareness month, so we decided to find out how you can help tackle the condition naturally.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects an estimated 10-20% of people in western countries. The condition causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation as well as accompanying tiredness, headaches, backache and muscle pain. All of these make IBS a particularly miserable condition.

Triggers for the condition differ from person to person, but typically include stress and diet – both of which can be addressed through complementary therapy. If you suffer from IBS, try the following to help ease symptoms:

1. Cut out toxicity

Reduce inflammation by lowering the amount of toxicity within the digestive system. You can do this by cutting out processed foods, high sugar/high fat foods, alcohol and tobacco. It is also worth getting tested for food allergies to see if anything else is exacerbating your symptoms.

2. Eat more fibre

Fibre is often a key factor when it comes to treating IBS. This is because fibre (especially water-rich fibre found in cooked vegetables) helps to eliminate harmful bacteria while encouraging good bacteria. Be sure to include plenty of fibre-rich vegetables in your diet to get the most benefit.

3. Try acupuncture

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the symptoms of IBS are caused by a disharmony between the spleen/stomach and the liver. The liver is responsible for the flow of qi, and when this becomes blocked or disturbed, IBS symptoms appear. Acupuncture looks to strengthen the digestive system while restoring a good flow of qi.

4. Get moving

If stress is a trigger for your IBS symptoms, exercising could help you naturally lower stress levels. Chinese theory also believes that exercising helps to promote the flow of qi to ensure any stagnation within the liver is lifted.

5. Help with herbs

Herbs that can help with IBS symptoms include fennel, which is both anti-inflammatory and carminative (helps to expel excess gas), and ginger, which helps alleviate abdominal spasms and eases nausea. Try these herbs in tea and consider combining with peppermint or chamomile to soothe physical and mental stress.

6. Try reflexology

Reflexology treatments can be tailored to your needs and can help to calm the digestive system, reduce inflammation and lessen IBS symptoms. Your reflexologist will also look to pay special attention to the lymphatic system to help eliminate toxins and open the body’s natural energy pathways.

View and comment on the original Natural Health article.

How to get over your fear of being alone

April 11th, 2014

How to get over your fear of being aloneDiscover how to learn to love being single and escape your fears of being alone. 

Finding yourself single again after the breakdown of a long-term relationship can be a scary prospect. Many people believe that they are only ‘whole’ and complete when they are in a relationship, and that singledom is merely a time of loneliness and insecurity.

Being single however provides the opportunity to flourish as an individual. You can discover your strengths away from the security of a relationship and learn how to enjoy being your own person.

Sure, most people don’t like to be alone, but there are ways to overcome the fear of being single and make the most of ‘me’ time.

Here are four ways to do so:

Come to terms with the fact that being alone isn’t abnormal or weird

Our culture tells us that all women have a ‘knight in shining armour’, and that our destiny is to fall in love and get married. The reality however is very different. Being single is perfectly normal nowadays and many women are choosing a career and independence over having a family. Do not fear being seen as weird because you are without a partner.

Ensure your alone time is fun and meaningful

Rather than dwelling on a failed relationship or the fact you are now alone, try to get out and find ways to have fun. Rally together your friends for a few drinks, or plan a trip away to escape old memories for a while. You may even want to consider booking a spa day or a complementary therapy session such as massage therapy for a bit of pampering and the opportunity to reconnect with your inner self. 

Realise that being alone is better than being in a bad relationship

If you have escaped a troubled relationship you should be proud to be single, and surely it’s better to be single and happy rather than married and unhappy? Being single gives you the opportunity to find someone who makes you happy, so make the most of this time to figure out what you really want from your next relationship.

Happiness is a decision

Ultimately, you need to stop believing that being in a relationship is the key to happiness. Being single and alone is only a problem if you perceive it as a problem. If you focus on the advantages of being single rather than the negatives, you will begin to feel more confident about finding ways to be happy regardless of your relationship status. Fall in love with yourself again. Remember, you – and you alone – are responsible for your happiness and your life.

If you would like to find out more about the complementary therapies available that can help you to relax, de-stress and feel completely at one with your senses, take a look at our therapy topics page. 

View and comment on the original Inspiyr article. 

Traditional Chinese medicine may become available on the NHS

April 10th, 2014

Traditional Chinese medicine may become available on the NHSHealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggests that traditional Chinese medicine may be integrated with Western medical techniques.

If there is enough evidence to prove that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) would benefit patients, Jeremy Hunt says it could become available on the NHS. The health Secretary suggested that methods and cures from the traditional therapies would be potentially incorporated with Western techniques.

Mr Hunt said that he learnt from frequent travels to China (his wife’s home country) that it is important to ‘follow scientific evidence’ when it comes to TCM. The comments were made in the Commons in response to a question from Conservative MP David Tredinnick:

“In your travels to the People’s Republic of China, what have you learnt about the integration of Western medicines with traditional Chinese medicine?”

Mr Hunt replied: “What I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is to follow the scientific evidence and where there is good evidence for the impact of Chinese medicine then we should look at that but where there isn’t we shouldn’t spend NHS money on it.”

Various elements such as herbalism, acupuncture and massage therapy are often involved in Chinese medicine, all of which are currently considered complementary therapies.

Recently American researchers have revealed that the poppy plant (which has been used for centuries in Chinese herbalism) may offer relief for chronic pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends acupuncture for lower back pain.

While these comments are promising, it is understood that no recommendations will be made until after the next election.

If you want to try acupuncture, herbalism or massage therapy – follow the links to find a practitioner in your area.

View and comment on the original Telegraph article.

Stress found to make allergies and hay fever worse

April 4th, 2014

Stress found to make allergies and hay fever worseNew research suggests breathing and meditation exercises could help eliminate a key trigger of allergies and hay fever – stress. 

A study conducted by researchers of Ohio State University, U.S. has revealed that stress could be a key factor in making hay fever and allergy symptoms worse.

As a result, breathing and meditation exercises are thought to be highly effective in helping to relieve allergy flare-ups.

Researchers monitored the allergies of 179 patients over 12 weeks to reach their findings, which have been published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. These show that the 39% of patients who had more than one allergy flare up had higher stress levels than the rest of the group.

In fact, a number of people tested admitted that they had suffered allergy flare-ups that coincided with how stressed they were feeling.

This has led researchers to believe that although sneezing and coughing can exacerbate stress and tension, flare-ups can actually trigger a self-perpetuating cycle of stress and sneezing.

Dr Amber Patterson, from the Ohio State University Medical Centre, said:

“Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers.

“Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares.”

As well as taking time to meditate and practice breathing techniques, scientists also recommend that allergy sufferers avoid smoking and coffee to keep stress levels down. A healthy diet and regular physical activity is also considered essential for helping to reduce allergy symptoms.

Dr Jean Emberlin, Director of Pollen UK, said the birch pollen season is due to start early this year. The expected high pollen levels will make life difficult for hay fever sufferers.

If you want to tackle your stress and anxiety head-on to prevent your hay fever symptoms from getting worse, why not consider a complementary therapy? Please see our therapy topics page for a list of treatments that have been found effective in relieving stress and tension. 

View and comment on the original Daily Mail article. 

Massage therapy etiquette

April 3rd, 2014

Massage therapy etiquetteEnjoy your massage without feeling awkward with the following etiquette pointers.

Massages are supposed to be relaxing, but for those of us not used to getting treatments like this they can be a source of stress. It can be hard to unwind when all you’re thinking is – do I have to get naked? Should I tip? Do I need to make small talk?

But worry no more, below we list some massage therapy etiquette pointers so you can feel at ease during your next appointment.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to tipping

In terms of tipping for your massage, it is never expected so don’t feel pressured. Having said this, if you felt particularly looked after and thoroughly enjoyed your massage – a token of your appreciation will be warmly received.

Talk as much (or as little) as you want

Remember that your massage is your time to spend how you want. Most chatting takes place before the treatment, so don’t feel as if you need to discuss holiday plans with your therapist while you’re trying to unwind.

Don’t be self-conscious about your body

Massage therapists see all different shapes and sizes in their job and they do so without judgement. Try not to worry what you look like to the therapist (and don’t worry if you have hairy legs, we’re all human).

It’s OK to fall asleep

In fact, massage therapists view it as a compliment. Massage aims to relax you and when you’re asleep your body works to heal itself, so don’t worry if you start to nod off.

Make sure you know what your massage will entail

Speak to your therapist before your massage and ask them for what you want, whether that’s a relaxing massage, an invigorating massage or even a sports massage. Tell your therapist if there are any areas you want left alone and remember to speak up when the therapist asks you how the pressure is – there is nothing worse than an unnecessarily painful massage.

You don’t have to get naked

If you feel more comfortable naked, go right ahead, but your modesty will be covered at all times anyway. If you are offered paper pants, don’t feel pressured to wear them – you can keep your own on.

If you want to find a massage therapist near you, take a look at our massage page.

View and comment on the original Women’s Health article.  

Five ways to avoid a total burn-out at work

March 28th, 2014

Five ways to avoid a total burn-out at workWorking too hard? Read on for tips on how to manage work-related stress. 

Many of us thrive in challenging roles – chasing specific goals and juggling numerous tasks at once – but even the biggest workaholic can end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed with work.

Switching off can be hard, but our bodies can only keep going at a stressed-out pace for a certain amount of time before it eventually burns out. This will leave you ill, too exhausted to function and possibly unable to carry out even the smallest of tasks.

In order to avoid working yourself to this state, it is important to recognise when to take a break from your workload and recharge your batteries before tackling the to-do list once again. Below are some simple steps to doing so:

Sleep

No matter how stressed or busy you are – always try and make time to sleep. Getting regular shut-eye is essential for calming, reenergising and for allowing the body and brain to repair itself. This can help to prevent illnesses and will help you to perform more efficiently in the work place.

Let your hair down

Putting time aside for hobbies, socialising and generally having fun during the working week can greatly benefit your health and well-being. You can enjoy some relaxation and dedicate some time to yourself – both of which can be lost in a busy working environment.

Don’t isolate yourself

For those who work from home, it can become very easy to lock yourself away from other people for too long as you battle to meet deadlines. Your stress can greatly affect those that you live with, so it is important that you get out of the house and make time during the day to see other people. This will clear your mind and give you something else to concentrate on other than work.

Eat healthily

Stress can affect our diets – either making us want to eat more or leading us to completely forget about food altogether. Maintaining healthy eating during a particularly stressful period at work is important for stabilising energy levels and keeping the immune system in good condition. This will prevent the onset of any illnesses that could contribute to a burn-out.

Complementary therapies

Taking time out to relax and soothe your body and mind is crucial for tackling work-related stress and for keeping your health and well-being in good shape. Complementary therapies such as reflexology, acupuncture, massage and herbalism are considered beneficial for helping to promote deep relaxation and stimulate the body’s self-healing qualities.

To find out more about how complementary therapies can help bring calm and revitalisation to a busy working lifestyle, please see our therapy topics page. 

View and comment on the original Yahoo article. 

Aromatherapy oils to try now

March 27th, 2014

Aromatherapy oils to try nowFrom soothing scents to energising aromas – keep reading for your essential guide to essential oils.

Aromatherapy harnesses the power of essential oils to help improve mental and physical well-being. If you are new to the practice or simply want to know which oils to try first, take a look at the following guide:

Soothing: Roman chamomile

This sweet, floral oil comes from steam distilled from the flowers of the plant. Helping to soothe feelings of agitation, this is a wonderful oil for calming busy minds. Physically it can be used to help relieve inflamed skin and pain from aching joints.

Use it: Vapourise in your room or add a few drops to your bath to induce calm and relaxation.

Balancing: Lavender

A firm favourite of many, lavender also comes from distilled steam of the flowers. Balancing emotion, lavender is known for its relaxation qualities. Try it when you have a tension headache or are struggling to sleep.

Use it: Use small amounts of the oil on a cloth within your pillowcase for a restful night’s sleep or rub a diluted solution onto your temples for headache relief.

Refreshing: Eucalyptus

This fresh and revitalising oil can stimulate the mind while refreshing the senses. Great for when you’re feeling congested and fuzzy-headed, try it when you need a little clarity.

Use it: Place two drops in a bowl of warm water and inhale the steam to clear airwaves or add a couple of drops to tissues/handkerchiefs.

Energising: Lemon

Invigorating body and soul, lemon oil makes for a great pick-me-up when energy levels are low. Physically it is also a great antibiotic and helps to deter bugs. Try it when you’re feeling tired and need a boost of energy.

Use it: Vapourise to deter airborne bugs or add some drops to a handkerchief and inhale when needed.

Stress-relieving: Frankincense

This warm, soothing oil is ideal for calming the emotions and supporting you during times of stress. Traditionally used in meditation, this oil is great for focusing the mind.

Use it: Inhale from a tissue/handkerchief during stressful moments.

Want to learn more about aromatherapy? Take a look at our aromatherapy page to find an aromatherapist near you.

View and comment on the original Natural Health magazine.

Simple steps to boost your self-esteem

March 21st, 2014
Simple steps to boost your self-esteem
We all need a confidence boost now and again, so why not try these simple tricks to help fuel healthy self-esteem?

Lack of self-esteem essentially means you struggle to accept and appreciate yourself for who you are. This negativity can greatly affect all areas of your life – relationships, work, parenting skills, friendships, and your emotional well-being.

In order to feel better about yourself, it is important to find ways in which you can take pride in your abilities and accomplishments, and learn to appreciate your own worth. Below are some simple tricks you can employ to help you do so:

Reflect on past achievements

When you are feeling low, take a few minutes to reflect on your past successes and times when you were proud of something you did. You might want to write them down or just close your eyes and re-imagine the scenarios – either way this will help you to recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced at these particular moments in time. This will help to bring about positive thoughts.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Unfair comparisons can wreck havoc on your self-esteem, and so it is really important that you try to stop comparing yourself to others. Social media is a breeding ground for this type of behaviour, but although a certain someone may seem to have more, or something better than you, you do not know the extent of their lives, or what it’s really like to be them.

To overcome this negative behaviour, focus on positive, confident people in your life who you admire. Watch how they walk, how they talk and communicate with others. The next time you need a confidence boost, think of how they would behave and what they would do.

Walk tall

Confident people will stand up straight, walk purposefully and smile. Acting confident on the outside can help restore a sense of confidence on the inside – especially as others around you will perceive you as such.

Alter your perception of failure

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is an area of personal development that supports the idea that there is no such thing as failure. Instead, constructive criticism is believed to be the key to encouraging individuals never to give up and push for something better. Realising a healthy self-esteem means you should try to view your mistakes as opportunities to learn and develop rather than as failures.

Pamper yourself

Re-energise your self-esteem by booking a beauty treatment or a therapy session. Yoga, facials and massages for example can help to soothe the mind, body and soul and make you feel more relaxed and revitalised – thus relieving negative thoughts, stress and tension. To find out more about the benefits of therapeutic treatments and which one can help you, please see our therapy topics page.

View and comment on the original SheKnows article.