After each session I experience a calmness and inner peace that balances my mind, body and soul. - D, Woodford
I cannot recommend Dawn and Craniosacral Therapy enough!
Dawn's healing hands have helped to restore me and put me back together after suffering from post-viral fatigue. Her expert touch untraps stored emotions and blockages in my body so that real healing can take place. After each session I experience a calmness and inner peace that balances my mind, body and soul. It truly is an unforgettable healing experience. If you've ever wondered what it really feels like to be 'you', then make Cranio with Dawn a priority.
Winter can be a beautiful season: frost sparkling on twigs and branches and even those of us who dread getting out and about in it have to admit there is nothing quite as magical as freshly fallen snow. But it is a time of year when we are more likely to pick up colds, viruses and flu. So, what can we do to give ourselves the best chance to avoid picking up infections so common at this time of year? I am guessing you probably do most of these already but sometimes a timely reminder can be helpful. Eight ways to stay well in winter…
1 At the risk of sounding obvious (or like your mother!) washing hands thoroughly and regularly is one of the best ways of preventing infection. Remember to wash your hands after visiting places with a high volume of people passing through like the supermarket or public transport. When you are out and about try to avoid touching your face, rubbing eyes and especially biting nails as any bacteria on them will be transferred to your skin or mouth. Mobile phones, keyboards and iPads should also be cleaned regularly. Just think where you take them!
2 Our body’s immune response fights off infection. Like many bodily functions that go on without us being aware of them it is complex and impressive. To function optimally our immune system needs vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E, B6, folic acid and zinc. A healthy diet should provide you with all of these, or if you feel you might be low on some vitamins you might choose to take a multi nutrient supplement. Getting the balance of vitamins and minerals correct is important and it is worth consulting a nutritionist or dietician who can give you professional advice tailored to your specific needs.
3 Stress raises our cortisol levels and high cortisol levels supress the immune system. Use all your own favourite (healthy!) ways to unwind and try to include exercise out of doors. This need not be strenuous but is particularly beneficial if taken in nature, the park, woods or by the sea.
4 We are constantly being told about the next new ‘superfood’, but as with everything in life balance is key. Raw garlic has been known for centuries as an effective killer of bacteria and viruses. Mushrooms, particularly Shitake mushrooms, have immune boosting properties. These ingredients can be found in most supermarkets and can be easily incorporated into the diet.
5 There are many essential oils such as Thyme, Eucalyptus, Ravensara and Pine that are helpful against respiratory infections.The essential oils we extract from plants are full of active chemical compounds that the plants themselves use as a defence against bacteria and viruses. If you feel like you are coming down with a cold try using a pre-mixed blend of essential oils such as Micheline Arcier’s ‘Vigeur’ in the bath or two drops of essential oil in a carrier oil such as sunflower seed oil applied to the upper chest area. It may be enough to prevent the illness from taking hold. A few drops in a bath is also a great way of warming you up if have been outdoors and become very cold.
6 Soluble fibre in the diet has been shown to boost production of a protein called interleukin-4, that stimulates the body’s infection fighting T cells. It also has an anti-inflammatory action so may help achy winter joints. Some sources of soluble fibre include oats, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, apples, nuts, seeds, lentils, barley and citrus fruits. Whoever coined the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” clearly knew what they were talking about!
7 Negative thoughts supress the immune system so If you tend to feel a bit ‘low’ during the winter months try to include gentle exercise outdoors once a day to get your daily dose of natural light. Whether it is meeting friends for a coffee, watching a film, reading a book or meditating, discover what works best to keep you positive and make sure you are getting enough Omega 3 in your diet.
8 Our microbiome or microbiota is the trillions of microbes that live on and in us and is as unique to us as our fingerprint. This is a fascinating topic that I cannot possibly cover in a few lines but the reason I mention it here is that scientists are discovering more and more about how it contributes our health. Our gut microbiome greatly influences our immune system. It appears a healthy digestive system is the foundation to our overall health. So, look after your digestive system and you might find it will keep you well all winter.
The treatments helped to ease my symptoms and restore a feeling of wellbeing, making it easier for me to cope with my disorder - H. Hutchinson
I have just completed 12 sessions of CST with Dawn for a neurological disorder. The treatments helped to ease my symptoms and restore a feeling of wellbeing, making it easier for me to cope with my disorder. Dawn has that rare quality of being intuitive, gentle and caring while maintaining high professional standards.
I would not hesitate to recommend her skills.
The 14th to the 20th of October is Craniosacral Therapy Awareness Week.
I think the best way to learn about the therapy is to have a treatment!
If you have not experienced craniosacral therapy why not give it a try?
I will be offering taster treatments, free of charge on Sunday 20th October from 10am at my treatment room in Loughton as my own way of spreading awareness of the therapy.
I will be booking slots for the treatments, please contact me for further information or to book a place.
I love the summer but find that with the lighter mornings I wake up much earlier. Lack of sleep is something we have all experienced at one time or another so this got me thinking about what might be keeping us awake.
I should say before I start, that this is a huge topic and I could have expanded on many of the aspects covered. My hope is that if anything here interests you, you can explore it further.
When you think about it sleeping is a strange thing, we get into our pyjamas and spend six or seven hours unconscious before waking up to a new day. Researchers are not entirely sure why we sleep but they do know it is vital to our survival. Amongst other activities, during sleep cycles we transfer memories from short-term to long-term, learn to associate words and it is a time of peak growth hormone, when cell reproduction and repair is carried out. What we all know from experience is that if we have had a good night’s sleep we feel great and if we have had a poor night’s sleep we feel awful.
Lack of sleep impairs our ability to regulate our emotions and we lose our neutrality. Cue drama! So babies and young children apart, what might be preventing us from sleeping well? Some things to consider;
Comfort– It may sound obvious but is your bed comfortable?!
Temperature– A cool well-ventilated room is ideal. Sleep occurs when the core temperature of the body is dropping and when temperature change and heat loss is at its maximum. This is why our body cooling down after having a warm bath can make us feel sleepy.
Light– Melatonin is a hormone made by our pineal gland. When it is dark after sunset, usually around 9pm, the pineal gland begins to actively produce melatonin. This is released into our blood and as the melatonin level rises we begin to feel less alert and more sleepy. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for around 12 hours and then fall back to daytime levels, which are very low by 9am. Bright light inhibits the release of melatonin so even after 9pm being in a brightly lit room may be enough to prevent the release of melatonin. This is also true of the light that comes from phones, laptops and electronic reading devices.
Physical exercise– Research has shown that exercise improves the quality of sleep. We appear to enjoy a more sound and restful sleep after taking moderate aerobic exercise during the day. The amount and type of exercise will vary depending on our age and level of fitness but as a rough guide 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise should be enough to make a difference. Vigorous exercise during the evening may be too stimulating for some people and even prevent sleep, so it is really a question of trial and error and listening to your body to see what works best for you.
Blood sugar– If our blood sugar drops too low, we may wake up during the night. The cells in our body require sugar to function properly and when this falls too low feelings of restlessness and anxiousness will result. Obviously it is not a good idea to eat a heavy meal too soon before sleeping but snacks that keep blood sugar levels steady can be helpful. Food types with a low glycaemic index such as oatmeal and whole grains will help maintain steady blood sugar. Ideally a daily diet containing complex carbohydrates will keep blood sugar levels even throughout the day and into the night.
Hormones– For females the balance of hormones oestrogen and progesterone influence sleep. It appears that a drop in progesterone or an abrupt change in the balance between the two hormones can cause sleeplessness. This is true for women of all ages. As hormonal balance fluctuates on a daily basis this may pass but if not we may choose to influence what is happening by using synthetic hormones or natural alternatives.
The Mind– Our beautiful busy, busy minds; both a blessing and curse! If we are worried or anxious we will find it difficult to sleep. What is occupying our thoughts may be serious or trivial but either way our preoccupation with them is preventing us from sleeping. So how can we find ways to switch off that constant chatter that is keeping us awake?
Reading– This is pure escapism. It helps us switch off, takes us to another place and keeps our mind busy by giving it a job to do. You might like to know that studies have shown that brain activity during sleep is better regulated after reading a book compared with a screen. Just passing on the information!
Visualisation– Harnessing the power of your imagination. This is a proven technique that is now used in sports psychology to train athletes and sportsmen to improve their performance. It works because our brains show the same activity whether we are visualising lying in our hammock on the beach or actually physically there. As our bodies respond to our brain activity, imagining yourself in the happy place of your choice will help your body relax.
Progressive muscle relaxation or body scan– A slow and thorough journey around your body starting from the feet, tensing then relaxing all the muscles one by one. This helps reduce muscle tension. A certain amount of muscle tone is normal but excess muscle tension creates a feeling of alertness. Our bodies interpret the tension in our muscles to mean there is a threat nearby and we need to be vigilant, so our system is not allowed to relax enough to drop into sleep mode while the threat is present. Doing a body scan helps our muscles, body and mind relax which is much more conducive to falling asleep.
Breathing– Breathing, like muscle tension, is inextricably linked to our nervous system. By consciously affecting our breath we can affect how our bodies feel and calm an activated nervous system. There are many types of breathing exercises, Pranayama or breath control used in Hatha yoga is one form. There are many pranayama breathing ‘exercises’ that can be practised depending on your requirements. In this case one to quieten the mind and relax the body would be suitable. Hatha yoga itself is very effective for calming the nervous system and helping promote sleep. It works on both physical and mental levels, by balancing body chemistry, releasing muscle tension and bringing the attention of the mind to our breath and body sensation.
Mindfulness meditation– The benefits of practicing this form of meditation regularly is that we start to notice when our minds begin to wander and are then able to choose to change our train of thought. As one needs to be alert to meditate it is not recommended you do it in bed but if you suffer from insomnia it may be something to try rather than doing the ironing!
CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy– This works in a similar way, bringing an awareness of our thoughts and how helpful or otherwise they might be. Once we are aware of what we are thinking about we are able to ask the question, ‘how does this thought serve me?’ and act appropriately. Both Mindfulness and CBT need to be practiced regularly for us to enjoy the benefits but both are very effective.
It should be possible, even when under moderate stress, to find ways to drop into a more relaxed state and get some sleep. However sometimes the stress is too great or we are just not able to 'switch off'. This requires a rounded approach taking into consideration all aspects of our life style. If this is the case complementary therapies like massage, reflexology and craniosacral therapy are valuable resources to draw on to help us relax and in our quest for a good night’s sleep.
Packed full of useful information, in this guest blog Laura Douglas Nutritional Therapist and Health and Wellness coach kindly shares her knowledge on how to nourish your skin from the inside - of course the rest of you will benefit from this too!
Most people don’t give a second’s thought to their skin – unless they’re scowling at the wrinkles or wobbly bits in the mirror. It’s already doing a fabulous job keeping your insides in, protecting you from infection and radiation, and keeping you warm. There’s also a huge amount you can do to keep your skin looking healthy and fresh and – I’m happy to tell you – stave off the wrinkles without buying that expensive anti-ageing cream. Read on to find out how.
Ditch the bad guys
Alcohol, caffeine, food additives like flavourings and colourings, salt, sugar, and tobacco are full of cell-damaging free radicals, which play havoc with your skin. Ideally, cut them out altogether but certainly reduce them as much as you can.
Essential fats found in fish, avocados, nuts and seeds keep cell membranes soft and smooth – they’re nature’s perfect skin plumpers. Just in case the word ‘fat’ sends a red flag up for you, I want to reassure you that scientists have finally admittedall ‘fat is bad for you and makes you fat’ propaganda was flawed. Eating the right fat is not only not bad, it is really, truly GOOD for your health.
Eat back the clock
Stock up on antioxidant-rich fruit and veg. These arecrucial for your entire body – not just your skin. They reduce the speed of skin aging and degeneration. Eat them raw or lightly steamed as cooking for long periods destroys enzymes, minerals and vitamins and can create skin-damaging free radicals. A couple of simple exercises are these: make a concerted effort to add at least one extra portion of veg every night this week to your evening meal. You should also aim to ‘eat a rainbow’ over the course of the week – that means picking as many different colours of fruit and veg as you can.
As a very general rule, each different colour group contains a different set of plant chemicals. Scientists now know that bringing a variety of different antioxidants into your diet has a synergistic effect, which means the combined result is more powerful than the individual parts.
Keep skin cells plump and full or your skin will look shrivelled and dehydrated – a long cry from that radiant glow you’re going for. Cells also need water to rebuild and to remove the build up of waste products (toxins). It’s a very simple (and free) step that most people don’t prioritise and yet the results can be striking. Aim for at least 2-3 litres a day depending on weather conditions and your level of exercise. You’ll soon see the benefit for yourskin.
Helpful nutrients for skin health
Vitamin C for collagen production. Foods to include: blackcurrants, red peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, oranges, courgettes, cauliflower and spinach, citrus fruit.
Vitamins A, C, E and selenium are antioxidants that limit the damage done to collagen and elastin fibres by free radicals. Foods to include (aside from the vitamin C foods, above, and the vitamin A foods, below): sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, papaya, mustard greens, asparagus, peppers, Brazil nuts, fresh tuna, some meats including pork, beef, turkey and chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, oats, mushrooms.
Vitamin A helps control the rate of keratin. A lack of vitamin A can result in dry, rough skin. Foods to include: sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce.
Vitamin D- skin cells produce a chemical that is converted into vitamin D in sunlight. It’s important for many functions in the body, including immunity, blood sugar balance and bone health. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food alone, but do try to include more sardines, salmon, tuna, swordfish, eggs, orange juice and fortified cereals – and don’t forget a daily dose of getting out into the sun!
Zinc for the production of skin cells. A lack of zinc can result in poor skin healing, eczema and rashes. Foods to include: venison, fish, ginger root, lamb, lean beef, turkey, green vegetables, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, scallops.
Essential fats for making cell membranes. A lack of essential fats causes cells to dry out too quickly, resulting in dry skin. Foods to include: oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring), flaxseed, walnuts, soya beans, tofu.
Watch what you put on your body, too
The skin is the largest organ in the body with a surface area about the size of a double bed. It soaks everything up you put on it, and what soaks in ends up in your blood stream. So if your shampoo and conditioner or shower gel (all of which wash over you as you shower), or your bodylotions or creams contain nasty chemicals like parabens or sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, you are feeding yourself synthetic oestrogens that can wreak havoc with your hormones. Check labels for ingredients – often they may be marked as paraben-free.
Learn how to deal with problem skin
A targeted nutrition plan can work wonders for skin problems like acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and so on. This kind of personalised nutrition is often poorly understood and isn’t really talked about in the media. It doesn’t work to just add to your diet a single ‘superfood’. A bespoke health and nutrition plan takes into account all of your skin and health concerns, which can make a huge difference. If you would like more advice on your skin, or any other health condition, please get in touch. I’d love to help.
Registered Nutritional Therapist & Health Coach
True You Nutrition
"I leave every session feeling relaxed and rejuvenated with glowing skin that lasts and lasts." Wendy
“After a holistic facial with Dawn, my skin looks fantastic. Dawn has that magic combination in a therapist of superb training and professionalism and a calm, gentle approach which means that I leave every session feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, with glowing skin that lasts and lasts. I am always confident in Dawn’s ability to assess my skin’s condition and to select from her range of pure beauty products those that will benefit my skin each time I see her. I can’t recommend her highly enough.”
"I always look forward to my appointments with Dawn and I always feel so relaxed and well afterwards." - R.H
" I have been a client of Dawn Thein for over twenty years. Over the years I have had many treatments with her and on every occasion I have felt a different person when I leave. Dawn is a very kind, healing, gentle person and is very gifted at what she does. She has a very calming way of working and always makes you feel at your ease at soon as you arrive. Her treatments are all very soothing and all the products she uses are wonderful quality and beautifully chosen. She combines an incredibly high degree of professionalism and experience with a very easy manner. I always look forward to my appointments with Dawn and I always feel so relaxed and well afterwards."
There are many clinics offering treatments from firming facials, to Botox to a full facelift. As I only use natural methods I am often asked if there are ‘less invasive’ ways to support mature skin and if they ‘work’. So here are a few suggestions you might like to add to your normal skin care routine at home.
My own approach is to support the skin so it can do its job as well as possible. I am sure you will have heard this many times before – to support healthy skin function we need to have a healthy diet, avoid toxins, manage our stress levels, take exercise and get sufficient sleep. These changes in lifestyle may be much more difficult to make than applying a skin cream but bear in mind the fact that the physiology of all these processes directly affect our skin.
The one thing that is guaranteed to make skin look older is exposure to the sun. Trying to prevent this means wearing a complete sun block or factor 50 on our face, even in the UK from March to October. From a cosmetic perspective this will help prevent pigmentation marks and free radical damage that result in the skin losing its elasticity.
Our faces change as we grow older and the three most obvious signs are; changes in skin texture, reduction in the plumpness of underlying soft tissue and loss of muscle tone.
Lets start with skin texture. As we age our skin becomes thinner, more transparent and fine lines may appear. Vitamin A in its natural and synthetic forms has been used since the 1950s to make the surface of the skin appear smoother. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin cell regeneration and a natural form of it called trans retinoic acid can be found in rosehip seed oil. Rosehip seed oil can be used on its own, and is often included as an ingredient in natural moisturisers. Pure Rosehip seed oil is light and easily absorbed so if you have a dry skin you may need to use a moisturiser in addition after applying it. There are many other plant oils that help promote healthy skin cell growth including argan, which also contains Vitamin A; avocado, which contains Vitamin E; sea buckthorn, which contains Vitamin C, and borage and evening primrose, which contain amino acids that also encourage the growth of healthy new cells. Remember plant oils are sensitive to heat and sunlight so to retain their therapeutic properties store them somewhere cool and dark. Always buy the best quality, organic and as unprocessed as possible.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance our bodies produce naturally. Our bodies contain about 15 grams of it and it can be found in cartilage and synovial fluid as well as our skin. If there is a plentiful supply of hyaluronic acid in our skin it will look plump and hydrated, but the amount present in the skin decreases with age. Hyaluronic acid can be applied topically in the form of gel/serum or in a cream. It is only able to penetrate the upper layers of the skin but it may still have a gentle ‘plumping’ effect if used regularly. In most skin care products hyaluronic acid is derived from an animal source, so if you are vegetarian or vegan you will need to look for animal free sources – algae is often used instead.
We all know that exercising our body helps tone our muscles. Facial muscles can also be toned by exercising them correctly, and if carried out regularly you may even see some gravity defying results! Eva Fraser is one of the best-known teachers of facial exercises and has been teaching her own system for many years.
Frownies – the natural Botox!
These are paper triangles that are gummed on one side. You stick them between your eyebrows before you go to bed. What does this do? It prevents those of us who frown in our sleep from doing so and as a result will soften lines between the eyebrows. It is of course temporary and will wear off during the day depending on how deep the line is, but it may prevent lines from deepening prematurely if used regularly. If you have a partner probably best to explain beforehand what you are doing in case they are worried you have joined a strange cult!
Essential oils are well known for their ability to encourage healing and healthy skin function. Frankincense, helichrysum and lavender are good examples. However, I would advise proceeding with caution if using essential oils on the face, as some skin is not able to tolerate them. Always patch test first to be safe or use pre-blended products.
Face massage has so many benefits, including promoting blood and lymphatic circulation and removing toxins and excess fluid, and what’s more it feels good! So treat your face to a little massage everyday after cleansing your skin or come and see me for a facial!
Aslihan from Yoga Crow has kindly written a guest blog about the breath. She has shared her knowledge about something we take very much for granted and given guidance for a five minute simple breathing technique, which can be used anytime and anywhere if you need help to calm your mind and body this festive season.
Our breath is our life’s teacher and the greatest healer. The breath’s qualities constantly change according to events in our daily life. When we walk, when we talk, when we sleep or rest, when we exercise, when we get excited or when we feel under stress. As everything in our body is linked, our breath also responds to any emotional, mental or physical change by changing its depth, rate and path.
The average respiration rate for an adult is twelve to seventeen breaths per minute.
A healthy adult after a good rest and in a very relaxed body might take as few as four to ten breaths per minute and breathe primarily into the lower lungs (belly breathing).
A faster breathing rate without any physical activity might be an indicator of high stress levels when the breath is mostly shallow and into the upper body.
These types of changes in the depth, rate and path of our breathing also influence many systems in our body on many levels such as physical tension, oxygen intake in the blood, our immune system, the functioning of the brain and internal organs, heart rate, sleeping habits, clarity of the mind, stability of our emotions, our focus, decision making abilities and many more.
The good news is the rate and depth of breathing can be modified in a deliberate and intentional way as we learn the principles and techniques of conscious breathing.
Increasing awareness of the breath and regular breathing exercises are the simplest antidote to finding vitality and well-being as well as to return the body systems back to their natural or more restful state when needed.
Breathing exercises for centering and grounding are the most powerful to enhance our inner resilience and mental flexibility. They often calm our mind and body when we need more empowerment especially around this time of the year.
Below is a five minute basic and easy breathing technique, which you can use anytime and anywhere when you need the guidance of your breath in this festive season.
This is a great exercise that you can practice at home, at work, on the go or in nature, whenever you need the feeling of being grounded and centered in mind and body.
This is also a very beneficial breathing practice when it’s practiced on a regular basis every day to stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System, to help you with letting go of mental stressors, to enhance positive thinking and create ease in the physical body.
Grounding & Centering Breath
Set your alarm for five minutes and start by finding your most comfortable pose either in seated or lying down position.
If you prefer to sit on the floor, ensure that your back is nice and long throughout the practice for more space in your lungs. Your back may be fully supported by the wall or with some cushions.
Adjust your hips higher than your knee levels, so use as many supports as you need under your sit bones.
If you prefer to sit on a chair, adjust your legs with a 90-degree angle at knee level, feet flat, parallel and hip distance apart on the floor. You can use cushions under the hips if the chair is low or under the feet if they don’t reach down to earth.
Your back is also fully supported when needed to maintain a nice and long spine.
If you choose to lay down on the floor, have your feet a little wider apart than your hip level, knees bent and drop them in together for a support. Use a folded blanket or a cushion to support the back of the head and neck down to the top of your shoulders. Ensure that your chin level is lower than your forehead. You can close your eyes or gaze softly down. Relax your body and begin to breath in and out through your nostrils naturally.
Stage 1 (one minute)
Observe the pace, depth and path of your breath without changing or analysing anything. Let your thoughts come and go, with no attachment to any of them. Gently welcome your thoughts and come back to your breath each time when you find yourself distracted. This is perfectly normal and with regular practice you will improve the time of holding your attention on your breath.
Stage 2 (one minute)
Gently shift your attention to your upper abdomen, your belly. You can rest your palms on your upper abdomen just above your navel and below your breastbone, or simply release and relax them on your lap or thighs without interlocking the fingers. Keep holding your attention on the belly area. Remember, wherever your attention goes, your breath follows. Naturally send the breath to the bottom of your lungs by lengthening your in-breath deeply and exhale fully. Repeat this a few more times.
Stage 3 (one minute)
With the next inhalation take the breath in deeply down to the belly through the nostrils and send it out fully through the mouth with a “whooosh!” sound. Repeat this a few more times. Remember it is not about the volume of the breath but the pace of the breath. Keep your breathing soft, gentle and steady. Come back to your natural breathing anytime when you feel light-headed and start again as instructed when you feel normal again.
Stage 4 (one minute)
If you feel comfortable you can keep going on with the stage 3 for another minute breathing in and out through the nose or you can advance your breathing by counting with a 2:3:4 or 4:7:8 ratio through the nose again. Take the breath in down to the belly by counting to 2 or 4, hold it for 3 to 7 and breath out fully by counting to 4 or 8; and repeat it for a few more rounds with full focus on your breath. You can listen to the ticking sound of a clock to count your breaths or use a metronome application on your phone or tablet if you need an aid to count your breath.
Stage 5 (one minute)
Release the above stages gently and come back to the natural rhythm of your normal breath. Give yourself some time here to observe and to breathe naturally. Then release the practice. Gently open your eyes. Stretch your body, smile and return to your next daily activity!
Breathe well, flow well, connect well!
With infinite Love and Gratitude!
Aslihan, the Crow