125 results for balance
In the cold, dark month of January, it is intuitive that we slow down, meditate and hibernate. After the December festivities we focus on shedding the toxins and emotional baggage that has taken over our bodies.
This season however, we turn to the practice of Ayurveda to learn more about the winter cleanse. Whether you are interested in revamping your winter cleansing routine or are starting from scratch, these recommendations should help you to take your winter wellness to a new level!
The season can often slow down digestion so it is important to be mindful of our body’s reactions. You may be craving basic, filling meals and may not be handling complex flavours well. If you start to notice changes, it is important to make adjustments to your diet.
A good way to stay nourished during this time is by fuelling the body with a warming bowl of rice, beans, vegetables and warming but flavoursome spices. Be sure to choose spices that are quickly and easily digested.
Don’t fight it
While we may not have a choice in the matter, recognising the seasonal change and revamping our routines to match is important. The more we resist the shift in weather and daylight hours, the more at risk we are of feeling drained, unwell or unsettled.
Changing with the season can be as simple as starting the morning with a quiet meditation or stimulating the body with dry brushing or a massage. You may want to wind down a bit earlier in the evening than you normally would, perhaps simply take a bath and get comfortable.
Keep in mind that cleansing means cleansing the whole body. We often neglect the mind when we look for change, which can lead to stress and indigestion.
Making a commitment like joining the gym is good, but it is important to take care of yourself and listen to your body. What does your body really need? Rest, a nutritional change or a morning yoga practice?
Recent studies have suggested that sitting for a period of time is more harmful to our health than smoking.
The initial changes are subtle but the symptoms of prolonged sitting can worsen over time. You may start to notice you are suffering a mild headache, tiredness, lower backache and maybe a stiff neck, so you remember the advice and sit up straight. But this reminder doesn’t last long and you can easily fall back into the comfortable desk-slouch.
These little pains will gradually worsen if not dealt with and only then will you remember to sit straight, but it may be too late. Here is a set of exercises designed to rebalance your body and counter the effects of sitting:
Sitting pulls the shoulders forward, resulting in tight, straining sensations in the upper back and neck. To help this, lie down on a rolled up yoga mat with your head and hips supported by the foam cylinder. Relax your shoulders, taking three deep breaths.
Upper back roll
The upper back is designed to move. When sitting for a long time, it can stiffen, leading to increased pressure in your neck and shoulders.
1. Lie on the rolled mat, keeping your hands under your head. Lift your hips up and roll back and forth along your upper back (you may feel some pressure release, but this is a good sign).
2. Position the rolled mat under your lower shoulder blades and drop your hips to the ground. Arch your upper back gently over the mat and repeat.
Remaining seated all day can lead to weakening of the gluteals. These are responsible for stabilising the pelvis and can help keep the body upright when standing and walking. Keep your arms to your side and push down using your heels. Lift your hips up into the bridge position, hold for three deep breaths and repeat five times.
Sitting at your desk all day weakens the core muscles. This weakness can lead to slouching and in turn, symptoms of painful backache. To keep your core muscles strong, practise the plank exercise. Rest your forearms on the rolled mat and get into the plank position. Relax your shoulders and hold for three deep breaths.
Try to repeat this set of exercises twice a week for an improved body balance.
According to Ayurveda, our energy is made up of the elements – earth, fire, water, air and space. Every individual has a different combination to make up our constitutional balance. Vata is the ‘air and space’ element – it is cold, always moving, quick and constantly changing.
In terms of Ayurveda, a person with a Vata imbalance may be at risk of fatigue, insomnia, hypertension and an overactive mind. An overactive mind is when the person will continually worry and fear about the thoughts going on in their mind.
The effects of not giving yourself time to relax and not practising stress-relieving methods can wreak havoc in the mind. Not only that but society today is constantly moving and progressing, leaving our minds almost always ‘switched on’.
In order to live a happy, healthy life, our mind and body occasionally need time to ‘reboot’.
Studies have shown overactive brain activity can be linked with depression, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia and other anxiety disorders or mental health problems. There are some great ways to keep an overactive mind balanced – they can take time, practise and determination but the outcome can be worthwhile.
Below are five ways to help balance an overactive mind.
Practise ‘candle gazing’
This is a great way to get started into a meditation practice. It is said to help with focus, improve willpower and is believed to help enhance vision. Candle gazing is a good way to practise awareness because the act of staring at a fixed object helps your brain ‘tune out’, therefore developing a stronger inward awareness.
The ‘Lam’ mantra
This is meant to activate our root chakra, it is thought to invoke feelings of security and safety. The technique for this is to sit in a quiet, calm setting and visualise a bright red light at the base of your spine, when sitting comfortably you are to chant the sound ‘lahm’ repeatedly for up to 30 times.
Sesame oil is a warming oil, believed to be very effective in balancing the mind. Using sesame oil for this massage is recommended for its grounding properties. This massage technique offers you the opportunity to appreciate yourself – start at the base of your skull working your way down the body. End the massage with a relaxing salt bath filled with essential oils such as basil or patchouli.
Practice breath-centred yoga
Let go of any yoga routine you are used to and simply let your breathing lead. This could result in your 30-minute yoga practice only lasting four to five poses but try to focus on slow, mindful movements.
Ask yourself ‘where is my centre?’
Asking yourself this question simply makes you more aware of your core. According to Ayurveda, this can help you find balance, calm and the ‘you’ that has not been moved by the external environment.
For more information about Ayurveda and other alternative and complementary therapies, please visit our therapies page.
View and comment on the original Spirituality Health article.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) you will need to start thinking more carefully about your health – especially as it can be a silent killer.
A lot of the time, symptoms of high blood pressure go unnoticed, and according to the British Heart Foundation, as many as five million Britons could be undiagnosed.
High blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before symptoms develop, and the consequences could mean a number of life-threatening complications – including heart disease.
So in order to balance your blood pressure and keep your heart as healthy as possible, follow these simple life-changing steps:
Know your risk
The causes of high blood pressure are unclear, but there are various risk factors that have been identified. These include:
- adults over the age of 65
- being overweight or obese
- high consumption of alcohol
- high consumption of caffeine
- high consumption of salt
- a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
- lack of exercise
- those of African or Caribbean descent
- those with family members who have high blood pressure.
Knowing these risks is an important step to helping you make lifestyle changes that will decrease the likelihood of developing high blood pressure – or will help you to better manage it.
Extensive research suggests there is a strong link between weight and high blood pressure. If you are overweight and want to embark on a weight-loss programme, consult your GP for advice. They will typically advise a combination of healthy diet and exercise.
Reduce your salt intake
A healthy diet is key to stabilising your blood pressure. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and devoid of unprocessed goods will provide the body with essential minerals and vitamins to help it function smoothly. Reducing salt intake is particularly important as sodium raises blood pressure. Ensure you eat no more than 6g a day.
Cut back on alcohol and cigarettes
Binge drinking is extremely dangerous for those with high blood pressure, but heavy smoking can also have negative effects. This is because they harden arteries and blood vessels, which could lead to heart disease. Keep alcohol consumption to special occasions only and stopping smoking altogether is strongly advised.
Take time to relax
Often high blood pressure can be exacerbated by stress, so it is important for sufferers to take time to relax and find their inner calm. Alternative treatments and complementary therapy such as yoga, massage, acupressure and reflexology are well-known for their stress reducing and relaxation benefits. For more information on a wide range of treatments available, check out our therapy topics page.
View and comment on the original SheKnows article.
With the whirlwind of a year that was 2020, it’s no surprise that the topic of healing has become increasingly mainstream. Although an ancient wisdom, Ayurveda continues to provide practical solutions to many modern-day ailments and concerns.
Anxiety? Dry Brush. Stress? Oil pull. Crush not texting back? Meditate. 2020? Discover your dharma – and more on what that means later!
In college, I was teaching health and sanitation in the slums of New Delhi when my own health began to deteriorate. Intuitively, I knew there had to be a deeper reason and, within it, a solution for my body’s imbalances. Enter Ayurveda and an entire lifestyle holistic health evolution that led me to live my la vida kriya (flow) and put me on the fastrack path to my dharma.
I want you to experience the same ananda (bliss) that I feel every single day. So, here are 10 relatable ways to apply Ayurvedic wisdom to your modern life.
1. Tongue scrape
For this first practice, grab a mirror. While admiring your beautiful self, say, “ahhh” and stick out your tongue. If you are met with more “eww” than “ahhh”, you definitely want to consider tongue scraping. Tongue scraping is the practice of using a metal scraper to remove toxic buildup. It can help you avoid weight gain, acne, illness, bloating, gas, constipation and other imbalances.
2. Dry brush
Your skin is the largest organ and one-third of your body’s toxins are excreted through it. That’s why I recommend dry brushing, otherwise known as the practice of gently scraping the body with a dry loofah before showering. This can remove toxins and dead skin cells, and stimulate the lymphatic system. This is a five-minute routine and will only cost around £5, but it has infinite benefits!
3. Oil pulling
This ancient “mouthwash” will give your chemical-filled wash a run for its money! Oil pulling involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove toxins. On the oral side, it helps prevent tooth decay, improves breath, prevents cavities, whitens teeth, removes stains, heals bleeding gums, and strengthens gums.
On the digestive side, it helps remove oil-soluble toxins from your system, improves digestion, prevents inflammation and enhances your immune system. For a simple swig, it’s a win-win.
4. Drink something hot in the morning
Did you know that the temperature of your water has everything to do with its hydrating superpower? Ayurveda recommends starting your day with a hot drink because it is more hydrating and healing than something cold.
5. Learn your dosha
We’re all made of unique energies, called doshas. Your dosha is your mind-body type and will inform you of who you are, the best foods for you, your ideal self-care, how you are in business, relationships and the world! Basically, it’s the secret sauce for life!
There are three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. If you’d like to discover your dosha, I’ve made a super easy and fun quiz to help you.
6. Meditate for your dosha
Meditation is not a one size fits all kind of deal. Just as each one of us identifies with a specific dosha, there’s a meditation style specific to you, too!
- Vata minds: To keep focused, try chanting an affirmation or mantra. I recommend the Sanskrit mantra ‘ram,’ which grounds you, connecting you to your root chakra.
- Pitta minds: Pittas must understand that meditation isn’t a waste of time – it’s actually going to make you more productive! Try practising a cooling pranayama-like alternate nostril breathing.
- Kapha minds: Kaphas have to stay active and engaged, otherwise, it’s sleepy time. I recommend using mudras or engaging in dancing meditations such as five rhythms or ecstatic dance.
7. Eat for the seasons
Each dosha is associated with a calendar season. Vata is cool and crisp like autumn, Kapha is cold and moist like winter and early spring, and Pitta is hot and fiery like summer. It is important to consume more of the foods that pacify the temperament of the seasonal dosha.
8. Practice yoga
There’s not enough page space to go into all of the benefits of a regular yoga practice – even just five minutes can improve your day!
There are pose-specific asanas that coordinate with your dosha, allowing you to bring Ayurveda to yet another space within your life and improve your overall balance. What are some poses that you can try? Chaturanga, Dancer, and Warrior, to name just a few!
9. Follow the Ayurvedic clock
Ayurveda splits the day into six, four-hour periods. Each period is related to one of the three doshas and repeats twice during the day.
- 6am – 10am (Kapha): This is a time to ground yourself. Begin your day with warm water and eat a light breakfast.
- 10am – 2pm (Pitta): Your energy is at its peak. It’s time to tackle those email responses!
- 2pm – 6pm (Vata): Time to be creative and solve any problems that came up during your day!
- 6pm – 10pm (Kapha): It’s time to take things slower. Do some yoga or try meditation.
- 10pm – 2am (Pitta): This is the most important time to catch some zzzs. Turn off your electronics and practice some self-care rituals!
- 2am – 6am (Vata): This is the best time for deep sleep and connecting with the dream world.
10. Discover your dharma
I could write a whole book on this topic — and I did! Dharma is your divine purpose on this planet, the unique vibration only you can carry out in the world. Eight years ago, I sat with the question, does my life really have a purpose? This led me to the realisations that I share in my upcoming book, Discover Your Dharma.
So many spiritual books are missing information on how to take action on your dharma. For that reason, I’ve identified nine dharma archetypes. You can learn your dharma archetype to help you turn your dreams into reality!
These 10 modern Ayurvedic practices are not a miracle cure, but I promise that if you practice even one, it will help you keep your dosha in check, your dharma in line, and everything will feel a little bit more aligned!
Sahara’s book Discover Your Dharma (Hay House Publishers) is available to purchase from Amazon and Waterstones from 5th January.
Lorraine had always dreamed of having a comfortable and reliable car. When she received an unexpected windfall in a bequest from an uncle, she decided to treat herself. One of her neighbours who had been a friend for 25 years had a business selling just the kind of car she had in mind. She knew his business had suffered badly during a recent international economic crisis, and thought that she would do him a favour and buy the car through him. A good deal was very quickly done.
Sadly, a few months later, it emerged that the car had been stolen. The police became involved and confiscated it immediately. Lorraine was devastated. Her friend maintained that all the registration papers had been in order and that he’d had no idea that the car was stolen. But nevertheless, Lorraine had to take legal proceedings against him in order to recover her money. She had no money to buy another car, and being a widow of senior age she could not secure a loan from any bank.
For health and geographical reasons, Lorraine was dependent on a car to get around. When she was advised that she might not get any money back for several years, she was thrown into a deeply anxious state. Friends could not get her out of her house, or stop her from repeatedly blaming herself for having been too naive and impulsive, and also obsessively worrying about the court case and how she would manage without a car.
Luckily, one of Lorraine’s daughter’s friends was a counsellor who had just done a course in a relatively new therapy called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). She offered to help and persuaded Lorraine to try it out. Much to everyone’s surprise, it worked. Lorraine’s emotional equilibrium quickly returned, and although she still had her practical problems to solve, she was able to return to her normal active life. And, very importantly, the risk of her slipping further down into a serious agoraphobic or depressed state was avoided.
What is EFT?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is one of the new “power therapies”, also known as “energy psychology”, which uses the ancient Chinese meridian energy system.
EFT is based on the premise that negative emotions are the result of a disruption in the body’s energy system. In principle, it is similar to acupuncture but doesn’t use needles. Instead, well-established energy meridian points on your body are stimulated by tapping them with your fingertips.
The process of tapping these meridians clears blockages by sending pulses of energy to rebalance the body’s energy system. Shifting this natural energy changes the way in which the brain processes information about a particular issue, and tapping, while tuned in to the issue in question, is like rewiring the brain’s conditioned negative response.
Sandra Nathan, a counsellor at the Hale Clinic in London who specialises in EFT gave me a simple technique you can try on your own. It can be used on an everyday basis to prevent worries and self-destructive self-talk from taking a hold on you.
Self-help tap technique
Before starting, please note:
- that you do not need to tap hard; you are just trying to create a gentle vibration on the meridian
- you must tap seven times on average at each point
- you can use either hand and either side of the body, but you will find greater success when using both hands and tapping on both sides of the body at the same time
Step 1: Think about the issue that’s worrying you, then grade the intensity of the feeling (e.g. sadness, guilt, fear, etc.) that you are experiencing in relation to your specific issue on a simple scale of one to 10 (where 10 is the worst/highest level).
Step 2: Tap on the outer side of either hand (below the little finger) while saying a positive reminder or affirmation such as: “Even though I have this feeling of (…), I completely and utterly love and accept myself.” Repeat this step three times.
Step 3: Repeat your feeling statement and reminder phrase while tapping on each of the following points:
- the top of your head
- the beginning of your eyebrow (nearest your nose)
- the side of your eye on the bone
- under your eye on the bone
- under your nose
- between your bottom lip and chin
- your collar bone
- under your arm (about 7.5cm below armpit)
- wrist point (on your arm, 2.5cm from the wrist joint)
Repeat this sequence.
Step 4: Take a deep breath, stretch, and check the intensity level of your feeling again. It should have reduced considerably. If you want to chill out even further, you can continue to repeat the technique from step two until the intensity level of your feeling reaches zero.
Extract taken from Weathering The Storm: How to Build Confidence & Self-Esteem in the Face of Adversity by Gael Lindenfield, published by Trigger, RRP £9.99.
Read How to use EFT for anxiety on Happiful.
Learn more about EFT and the benefits of tapping. Connect with a therapist by simply browsing profiles and when you find a person you resonate with, send them an email.
If you’re worried about your own or loved one’s mental health, you may benefit from speaking with a counsellor. Learn the benefits of talking therapy and find a counsellor near you or online on Counselling Directory.
You’ll no doubt have heard about mindfulness. In recent years, it’s become a popular way of boosting our happiness and decreasing the stress we feel every day. But what does it actually mean?
It’s an abstract concept, allowing us to describe the way we accept ourselves and perceive our presence. It’s all about the present moment – not about the past or future.
Mindfulness a great solution if you struggle to make time for self-care activities like journaling or taking a bath, as you can incorporate it into your daily schedule.
It’s strongly intertwined with self-care practices like meditation, which allows you to become more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
How does mindfulness apply to skincare?
Much like other terms that are used in relation to skincare – natural, clean, and balanced to name a few – mindfulness can mean different things to different people.
In terms of looking after our skin, mindfulness is commonly associated with the following:
- Skincare that is cruelty-free or vegan.
- Skincare that is packaged in eco-friendly or reusable materials, such as glass rather than plastics.
- Skincare made from natural or plant-based products.
- Skincare made from few ingredients.
- Incorporating tools or techniques into your regime, such as face yoga or using a jade roller for facial massage.
- Taking the time to enjoy a slower-paced skincare routine, rather than rushing through the process.
- Understanding how certain factors can affect your skin – from the foods you eat to your hormones and the menstrual cycle.
- Noticing how your skin looks and changes, and adapting your regime with suitable products.
Whether you identify with some or all of the points above, the most important factor in a mindful skincare routine is the focus on the present moment. It’s about caring for yourself in the here and now. So, you really can be mindful with your skincare, regardless of budget, time, or skin type.
Why is a mindful skincare routine beneficial?
We can all benefit from adding a little more mindfulness to our day to day lives. But, particularly at the moment, where we might be feeling the effects of months in lockdown (the pandemic has taken its toll, hasn’t it?), there’s no better time to provide some relief for your mind and skin.
Aileen Rafferty, Clinic Owner and Head of Education at theskinexperts.co.uk says, “Our skin has not functioned under normal circumstances during months of lockdown. Being at home more, extreme hot spells of weather, sitting in front of our devices for hours, diets that consist of more home baking and trying out new exercise classes will have a massive impact on our skin.”
Rafferty notes that all of these factors can create new skin issues, from dryness and dehydration through to redness and sensitivity. Constant worry and stress can also have our skin behaving very differently from normal.
Skincare in an age of face masks
“Many of us have also had to get used to wearing a mask sometimes for several hours and this will continue to be the norm as we return to daily life,” says Rafferty.
Although they are vital for limiting the spread of COVID-19, face masks can be problematic for our complexions. Anything that sits on the skin has the potential to cause a physical block to the pores, which can lead to breakouts and irritation.
Katerina Constantinou, clinical nurse and trainer at theskinexperts.co.uk says, “For our safety, we must wear our masks, sometimes for long periods, so make sure you cleanse the skin well morning and night to keep the pores clear.
“Keep your mask clean so it is not transferring bacteria and ensure you use a good hydrating product to keep the skin supple and not dehydrated. Also, whenever it is safe to do so take the mask off and let the air get to the skin.”
What can we do to combat stressed-out skin?
Here we’ll explore some simple ways to incorporate a more mindful approach to taking care of your skin. These tips will help you to feel calm and rejuvenated, and can also help to soothe any skin issues you may have.
Take your time
Not only can your skin benefit from waiting for each product to absorb and dry before moving on to the next one, but slowing your routine down is also great for your mind. As you apply each product, try to focus on what you are doing. Notice how it smells, pay attention to the packaging, the consistency, how it feels on your skin.
Even if you’re short for time, you can allow yourself just a couple of minutes to tune out external noise and focus on you.
Take notice of the products you’re using
Do you pay much attention to the labels of your products? Do you know the benefits of their ingredients?
If you’re suffering from angry, sore skin or are experiencing maskne (blemishes as a result of wearing a face mask), Rafferty suggests looking for anti-inflammatory ingredients. These can help to repair and strengthen skin.
The following ingredients can be a good place to start:
- Aloe vera: contains antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins that cleanse, revitalise and calm skin.
- Avocado oil: highly moisturising and contains fatty acids that build healthy cell membranes for a glowy and plump complexion.
- Vitamin C: the perfect treatment for keeping skin bouncy and rejuvenated, with astringent properties that will keep skin tight and help prevent wrinkling.
But remember, you don’t need expensive products (or lots of products) in order to be mindful. You can start by simply taking more time and care with the products you’re already using.
Breathe it out (and inhale the aromas)
As you make your way through your routine, keep checking in with your breath. For a simple breathing exercise, you can try breathing in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts and then hold again for four counts.
As you do this, notice the scents of your skincare products and enjoy the benefits of their aromas. Deeply inhaling can help to create a sense of relaxation and serenity.
Certain scents can also help us to achieve particular moods. If you know some basics of aromatherapy, you may be familiar with the energising benefits of citrus scents. So, you may want to choose skincare products enriched with vitamin C for your morning routine, which often have orangey aromas. This can have a wonderful awakening effect, to set you up nicely for the day.
Equally, you may choose lavender scented products for your evening skincare routine. Known for helping us to relax and drift off to sleep, lavender is a favourite plant extract for many. Lavender has a host of other benefits too, including aiding skin recovery and boosting blood circulation.
Take notice of texture
Touch is another great way to embrace mindfulness. Pay attention to the different consistencies of your products, notice how they feel in your hands or on your face, and whether they change consistency when mixed with water. Notice how your skin feels under your fingertips.
When you reach the final product in your skincare routine – that might be a moisturiser or facial oil – really pay attention to your skin as you massage it in. Feel the curves and contours of your face with your fingers.
Pay particular attention to areas that feel tense or tender. Perhaps you clench your jaw when stressed, furrow your brow, or experience pain around your temples from headaches. Gently release this tension as you massage, showing kindness to these points on your face.
If you want a little more inspiration for your self-care routine, find out more about self-massage and face yoga. Simply swap 10 minutes of mindless scrolling on your phone for a more mindful activity – that your body and mind will thank you for.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, playing many vital roles. The skin:
- Protects your internal organs by being a natural barrier.
- Regulates internal body temperature both via sweating and creation of goosebumps.
- Eliminates toxins via pores and perspiration.
- Is the largest organ of perception (understanding and responding to the environment).
Because of the skin’s constant exposure to the environment, its’ function can be disrupted.
The fine, natural outer layer of your skin (the acid mantle) helps prevent bacterial infection and can easily be washed off with harsh soaps and detergents. These, and other environmental chemicals, can dry and disrupt the skin’s ability to prevent water loss, resulting in conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Environmental chemicals can damage the skin and therefore cause sensitivity and allergic reactions resulting in dermatitis. The issue is that any harsh product, medical or cosmetic, can interfere with the skin’s ability to perceive.
Perception is the skin’s response to chemicals and pressure changes in the environment – anything that may cause a threat to the organ. The skin responds using multiple sensory neurons (chemo and baroreceptors), so products that create a heavy barrier or numb the skin can’t prevent these receptors from functioning.
As the skin is such a finely tuned organ with so many functions, the gentle approach of homeopathy is often the best solution for many skin conditions.
Homeopathy for skin health
Very often inflammation, dermatitis or allergic skin reactions like rashes or hives are treated conventionally with steroids. These steroids, while giving temporary relief can cause thinning of the skin which exacerbates the sensitivity reactions over time. Here, homeopathy is able to offer a very gentle and effective alternative.
Homeopathy is the system of healing based on the principle ‘like cures like’. What this means is that anything that causes a reaction can be used to cure it, if used in small doses and in the appropriate manner. This idea is very similar to the rationale behind vaccines. With vaccines, a small dose of a virus or bacterium is given to the person in an attenuated (less harmful) form. This enables the person’s immune system to form an immune response to the virus, hence if there is a larger exposure to the actual virus, the person would have some immunity.
The homeopathic remedy is used in a similar manner to decrease skin sensitivity and allergic responses.
Popular remedies for stress-induced breakouts, skin sensitivities including sun sensitivity or allergies include:
Silicea: If you experience occasional breakouts, or you struggle with stress or anxiety which causes breakouts or acne, Silicea is an effective remedy to calm the breakouts. This remedy is also really helpful for calming headaches and improving concentration.
Belladonna: This remedy is suitable when the skin appears red, dry and hot, is swollen, sensitive and burns. It may also be used for eruptions like scarlet spots on the skin that start suddenly and spread – much like a heat rash or poison ivy irritation.
Apis mellifica: This remedy is suitable for bee stings or any swelling on the skin which looks red, rosy, puffy and skin looks and feels to be under tension.
In a similar manner, homeopathic remedies can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis which may be due to allergies or an underlying chronic condition. The practice has long been successful in alleviating chronic symptoms. A 2005 study completed over six years at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital, showed that over 70% of patients with chronic diseases reported positive health changes following homeopathic treatment. Problems treated were arthritis, eczema and asthma amongst others.1
Furthermore, a 2006 Japanese study found that homeopathy provided a good response in patients with chronic skin diseases.2
This form of therapy may also be useful in treating skin conditions, because of its gentle nature. Remedies are diluted down so that the smallest possible dose is given, this means that medicines can be used long term on patients with chronic conditions or with very sensitive skin. The aim of this method is to encourage the skin and the body to find an inner balance that encourages healing.
There are skincare products that also harness these benefits of homeopathy to bring about natural healing and radiance to the skin. Organic Apoteke products utilise the concepts of the minimal dose and similia similibus curantur – ‘like cures like’ to encourage inner healing and skin radiance.
If you’re looking for help with your skincare and are interested in homeopathy, use the advanced search function to find a qualified practitioner in your local area, or a therapist who provides online services.
- Spence DS, Thompson EA, Barron SJ. Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease: a 6-year, university-hospital outpatient observational study. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(5):793‐798. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.793
- Itamura R. Effect of homeopathic treatment of 60 Japanese patients with chronic skin disease. Complement Ther Med. 2007;15(2):115‐120. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2006.04.005
Dr Nitasha Buldeo, Founder of Organic Apoteke is a Doctor of Skin, Medical Expert and Ayurvedic Healer.
We’re currently living in unprecedented times and most of us have had to switch up our routines pretty quickly. Of course, being at home can be great – you might be spending more time with your family or partner, getting time to read that book you’ve always wanted to but never found time for, or perhaps you’re squeezing in a little more ‘you time’. But it can also make us feel stressed, anxious and uncertain as we continue to adapt to this new way of living.
In fact, Anxiety UK stated that they have seen a 364% increase in calls to their helpline compared to the same period last year. There’s no denying that the current outbreak has caused us to feel unsettled, as it’s changed our lives in a short space of time.
If you’re feeling these emotions, there are lots of things you can do to alleviate them. Exercise, meditation and mindfulness are all great techniques to tap into to help calm a busy mind. However, there are also powerful plants – known as adaptogens – which are extremely beneficial in helping us cope with, and adapt to, daily stressors.
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are herbs that support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. They are given their name because they help us to adapt to emotional and physical stressors by moderating the release of stress hormones within the body.
Ashwagandha is one such herb, the ‘rockstar’ of adaptogens. As an Ayurvedic practitioner, this is the herb I recommend to nearly all of my patients. It’s been used for centuries in Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine to support the immune system, promote vitality, enhance mood and even boost libido. However, it’s only recently that this adaptogenic tonic has taken the world by storm thanks to celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, who rave about its benefits.
What is ashwagandha and what does it do?
An adaptogenic herb, Ashwagandha nourishes the adrenal glands and central nervous system. It can, therefore, help to calm and strengthen the nervous system to, in turn, manage stress and help you to relax. Ashwagandha is also believed to have a positive knock-on effect helping to ease chronic, stress-related conditions such as IBS, depression, loss of libido and fatigue.
Why is ashwagandha having a moment?
Sales of ashwagandha are growing as the pressures of modern life push people to seek out more natural solutions for problems such as sleep, stress and cognitive function. A growing body of evidence is now being collated around this powerful herb with an impressive variety of health benefits.
Here are five of the key health benefits of incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine.
To reduce stress
In 2018, YouGov conducted the largest known study of stress levels in the UK and found that 74% of Britons felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope – feelings that many of us may be experiencing right now.
Whilst it may be difficult pronounce, Ashwagandha is a herb worth remembering, especially if you’re looking for a natural way to support your body and its ability to cope with stress. It strengthens our endocrine and nervous systems, helping to balance the production of cortisol – our stress hormone – from the adrenal glands. Additionally, Ashwagandha helps to balance the nervous system, exchanging feelings of anxiety for feelings of calmness. It acts directly on the trigger of stress by regulating imbalanced cortisol levels and nourishing the adrenal glands. Clinically, it has been well researched in this regard with several studies supporting its effectiveness.
To help naturally relieve symptoms of PMS
For women, it’s particularly useful during the first half of the menstrual cycle as this is when cortisol production occurs more commonly. Ashwagandha can help balance this production, helping to ease anxiety-related conditions.
Chronic stress also leads to a greater production of cortisol, which can downregulate progestogen production, playing havoc with our hormones. Increased cortisol causes our skin glands to produce higher levels of oil which can influence skin breakouts.
I would recommend taking ashwagandha supplements – such as Pukka’s Wholistic Ashwagandha capsules (RRP £14) – over the whole month of your cycle, not just in the lead up to your period.
For further information and guidance on supplements to ease symptoms of PMS, visit Nutritionist Resource for professional, tailored dietary support.
To boost your mood
Ashwagandha replicates the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that promotes calmness and has been shown to stimulate nerve growth. It can gradually help to reverse the negative effects of stress on the body such as anxiety and depression, making it highly supportive for your mood.
As I’ve mentioned, Ashwagandha helps reduce negative changes during times of emotional and physical stress, so if you’re feeling run down or tired, this is the herb for you.
To improve sleep quality
When we don’t get enough sleep, we can be groggy, irritable, prone to headaches and find it hard to focus. Being at home more often than usual can provide us with some difficulties when it comes to sleep, with a lack of routine and irregular days putting many of us out of balance. Ashwagandha was principally a restorative herb that helped to improve sleep quality. It can be particularly beneficial for those who tend to feel ‘wired’ with insomnia caused by stress and anxiety. This powerful, adaptogenic herb contains a compound called triethylene glycol, which promotes sleep induction. It also controls the production of stress hormones and allows our body to retain natural sleeping rhythms.
For increased sexual experience
A recent study revealed that a daily dose of Ashwagandha helps to not only boost a woman’s sex drive but also increases the chances of having an orgasm. The medical trial showed that women who took Ashwagandha every day over a month saw significant improvements in achieving sexual arousal. Unlike certain herbal tonics, Ashwagandha can be taken safely with contraceptive pills, which for some women can be a factor associated with low levels of sex drive.
The increased blood flow caused by Ashwagandha and regulated hormones has a positive effect on libido. This sexy herb also helps us to relax, which could explain why it helps women achieve the big O.
Whether it’s sitting at a desk all day, bending over in the garden or even staring at our smartphones, we put a lot of pressure on our bodies to support us.
Whilst hands on therapies from professional therapists are unavailable at the moment, there are some practices you can take home with you and reap the benefits. Massage’s body balancing power encourages muscle relaxation, improved circulation, skin nourishment and waste removal. And self-massage encompasses these well-being benefits, which you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. This simple practice is a handy stress reliever to work into your self-care routine.
To help us navigate self-massage, internationally-acclaimed massage expert, Beata Aleksandrowicz walks us through how to practice self-massage at times of heightened stress, and details the incredible power of touch.
What are the benefits of self-massage?
Massage is essential for our well-being. It literally works on each system of the body simultaneously. However, we don’t always have time to book treatments, and now we simply can’t do that. This doesn’t mean that we’re vulnerable and without solutions to ease our aches and pains, instead you can use self-massage techniques on a regular basis to help prevent tension from accumulating. This also gives us an incredible opportunity to slow down and connect with ourselves
How exactly does self-massage work?
You don’t need any experience in massage to provide yourself with some good, effective techniques. You just need clear, quality, straightforward guidance. The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure, that you apply each stroke slowly, and you breathe during each step of the technique. The key here is to stay in the moment, be present and connect with yourself.
How can massage treat specific tension in the body?
Tension headaches will affect different parts of the body: shoulders, neck, scalp, temples, sometimes even in the middle of the back. Why? Because we’re connected through connective tissues. Every muscle and organ is wrapped in connective tissue, so any tension in the upper body will impact the lower body as well.
It’s important to understand the reason for your tension headaches. Are they regular? Do you notice when they occur? Are they related to your stress levels, or maybe to the tension in your shoulders? Is it emotional as much as physical? How do you feel generally right now? This will all impact how you feel and will manifest in your body. So ensure you give yourself space and time when you massage.
Try freshening up your room, maybe light some candles or burn incense. Make it special. With tension headaches you will need to address your scalp, forehead, temples, neck and shoulders and if you really want to feel a difference, combine massage with breathing and meditation. We are complex creatures; a combination of mind, body and soul, so each of these aspects needs to be addressed.
Massage for stress in the shoulders
For dealing with stress specifically in your shoulders, you’ll need to go for relaxation first and then address the knots and specific tension spots. Use the palms of your hands, your thumbs and even your knuckles – the latter can be used nice and gently. Again the body is connected – remember that. So it’s important to massage shoulders if you have issues in your lower back and vise versa.
Tension in your hands and feet
We use our hands so much, so naturally they store a lot of tension. But we need flexibility and strength. Hand massage is fantastic! It brings much more flexibility and strength in the joints, smooths skin and gives an amazing feeling of relaxation and care.
The same with the feet. 30% of all our joints are in our feet, it’s an important yet often neglected part of the body. Our feet keep us in balance, carry our weight and make every movement possible. I’d recommend regular foot massages, but also walking barefoot at home if possible. This allows the feet to rest and re-align.
Can we include other self-care practices into self-massage?
The tempo of massage is so important for its effectiveness. Generally, we are looking for slow and intentional strokes. To be slow and intentional we need to bring ourselves to the present moment. This is the only place from where we can experience the positive effect of massage. Starting with the breath, make sure you provide yourself with enough oxygen as this will increase the benefits of the massage. Meditation will help you to stay in the ‘here and now’, so you’ll experience every step of self-massage with total awareness. I always start my live classes with breathing and meditation.
What is your favourite massage treatment and could we adapt this for self-massage?
I like deep, thorough and meaningful massage that acknowledges that I am a combination of my mind, body and my spirituality. This is how I designed all my treatments; at the base of each massage is a deep tissue technique, combined with energy work and lymphatic drainage.
And you can definitely use these techniques in self-massage. The practice needs to be carried out wisely, ensuring the sequences support physiological knowledge of the body, and address the emotional aspect of our being.
Beata Aleksandrowicz is an author, wellness speaker and advocate for the power or touch and deep-healing therapy. She founded the Aleksandrowicz System and teaches her 12 Principles of Massage masterclass in spas across the globe. You can now access her latest Face Massage classes via her online portal.