You may be aware that beauty and complementary therapists have not been allowed to resume treatments on the 4th of July. As I fall into this category, unfortunately I am unable to take bookings at present.
I am obviously eager to return to the treatment room and will be doing so as soon as the Government says it is possible.
When a date has been confirmed concerning the lifting of restrictions, I will contact everyone on my mailing list but in the meantime please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.
I will post a blog with an opening date when I have permission to start treatments again.
Thank you and hope to see you soon.
As you know I practice craniosacral therapy. One of the reasons people seek out craniosacral therapy is for help with managing stress and anxiety. We need a little stress to thrive but if the load is too great it can have a negative effect on the way our body functions. We may not always be aware of it but when we are under stress our inner landscape changes from being balanced into a state of high alert. It is natural to feel a little anxious from time to time, but anxiety is a state of constant worrying and an excessive and persistent state of apprehension. There are many factors that contribute to anxiety, mostly centred around our unique personal history. However, stress creates the perfect environment in our bodies to generate anxious thoughts. When we are under stress the sympathetic part of our nervous system becomes activated and our bodies produce a combination of hormones and neurotransmitters, which all keep the body on the look-out for danger. It is impossible not to feel anxious if we sense an impending threat. It then follows that if we lower our stress levels we will be giving ourselves the best chance to feel less anxious.
Our stress response is in fact the incredible capacity of our body to get us out of a dangerous situation. It is programmed into us for our survival. You may have heard it called the fight or flight response. In human beings something as simple as being late for an important meeting can trigger our stress response. For the majority of us the things that trigger our fight or flight response in our daily lives are not life threatening at all. It is important to recognise how far along the fight or flight path we are, as once we have a sense of this we can seek to address it if needs be. However, this is not always a simple as it sounds. We only know what feels normal for us, so how do we know what a ‘balanced’ nervous system feels like? This is where having awareness of body sensation or interoception is invaluable. Interoception is the perception of the internal state of our bodies. For example, as you are sitting here how does your throat feel, or your chest or gut? This gives a true picture of how we are.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. You may experience your first panic attack during a period of chronic stress, after an accident, surgery, illness, trauma or emotionally overwhelming event.
What does it feel like to have a panic attack?
Panic attacks last on average from 5 to 20 minutes but can last longer.
Anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack will tell you that they are extremely unpleasant. There is an overwhelming feeling something terrible is about to happen, sometimes with an urgent need to get away from wherever you happen to be.
Please note do not self-diagnose, I recommend you check with your GP if you are experiencing symptoms you are concerned about.
Physical sensations of a panic attack may include:
Heart beating very hard and fast
Feeling nausea or wanting to vomit
Chills or hot sweat
Feeling like you are going to faint
Tightness in the throat
Shortness of breath
Dizziness or light headedness
Sense of unreality or detachment
A feeling that something terrible is going to happen
This is a link to a short You Tube film from Mind with a group of people discussing their own experience of panic attacks.
What happens during a panic attack?
Knowing what is going on in your body during a panic attack might help you understand some of the sensations you experience which can be intense and frightening;
Heart beating fast – pumping blood to big muscle groups to help you run fast.
Feeling or being sick – if you have a full stomach you cannot run as fast.
Shortness of breath, – adrenaline increases breathing rate to prepare for action.
Dry mouth – the digestive system shuts down as it is non-essential in a crisis, salivating is the first part of the digestive process.
Feeling faint/dizziness/light headedness/sense of unreality – if we are in a situation where we feel seriously under threat, we ‘space out’ or dissociate.
Preventing a panic attack
In the long-term, stress reduction is vital. This should take into account all aspects of your life and there is a lot of information available about how we can do this. However, there are some targeted stress reduction techniques which are very effective. For example, breathing exercises which are able to directly access the parasympathetic nervous system and take us out of a fight or flight state. Hatha yoga, and the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme created by Jon Kabat Zinn. All of these incorporate ‘interception’ mentioned earlier.
Try to avoid highs and lows and maintain balance in the body by cutting down or eliminating caffeine and alcohol. Eat regularly and avoid excess sugar to keep blood sugar levels even. If you know your panic attacks are generated by anxiety or events in your life, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy also known as CBT or counselling may helpful.
During a panic attack
Here are a few simple suggestions that you can try during a panic attack.
We suffer less stress if we feel we have some control over our situation. Knowing you can do a few simple things that help, might take away the dread of having an attack and even lessen them.
Become aware of your needs, wear comfortable clothes which are not too tight and allow you to breath. If you start to feel hot take off your coat, if you need fresh air move nearer to a window. Commuting on packed tube trains I have learned that standing in the aisle gives you more space and air but there is a cooling draft as the train moves if you are squashed against the door!
Remember to remind yourself the panic attack will last a short time and you will feel ‘normal’ again soon.
When you feel those familiar sensations that tell you, you are starting to feel panicky, try to ‘ride the wave’ rather than control the sensations. Trying to control tends to further escalate the attack.
If you can try to be a ‘witness’ to what you are experiencing, notice the body sensations rather than reacting with negative internal monologue which will escalate the feelings of panic.
Mentally reassure yourself ‘I sense danger/a threat but when I look around me, I see nothing dangerous – I feel safe.’ It is ironic that when we are in an activated state, we are less able to discern what might be a threat but obviously don’t lie to yourself here! If you are in a dangerous situation you don’t need to calm down, you need to get ready to run.
If you are with a friend or someone you trust ask them to reassure you, look at their face and ask them to tell you everything will be okay. This is an automatic and human response for most people, but research has shown the importance of social interaction between human beings in regulating their parasympathetic nervous system.
You can try ‘shuttling’. Find a part of your body that feels okay, feet are always a good place to start. Really try to feel all the sensations in your feet – the fabric of your socks, if your shoes are tight and their contact with the floor. Do this for a minute or so, take in all the sensations as best as you can, then give yourself a break for a few minutes, if the unpleasant sensations come rushing in try to stay with them for a minute then change your focus back to your feet. Keep repeating this shuttling back and forth. This may allow you to remain in a situation you can’t get out of until the attack passes.
When we are panicking our breathing speeds up, if you are able to slow your breathing down even a little it will help you get back to feeling okay. It also gives you something to focus on. I really like this animation app for breathing during a panic attack. Looking at the image of a face rather than counting adds to the therapeutic effect.
I hope you have found this helpful.
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 realise in order to read this you will probably be using Wi-Fi and I am not suggesting for a minute we do without it! It is a great tool in helping us communicate and connect with one another. As human beings we have an innate desire to connect with another human. This feels so natural to us, we don’t even think about it, we just do it. So it might be no surprise that this need to connect arises from our basic instinct for survival.
As babies, we humans are unable to do pretty much anything for ourselves for the first year of our lives. We are totally reliant on our mother or other kind adult to provide us with food, warmth and safety. At this stage being able to connect with another human is a matter of life and death and is the basis for our strong desire for connection.
As we grow, forming strong healthy connections with our adult carers is essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing. Many issues with mental health in adult life can be traced back to the lack of having this need met during childhood. Being cut off from other people has a detrimental impact on our physical as well as our mental health, as research on loneliness in older people has shown.
Most of us will know how good it feels to connect with another person, whether it is in a group, individually with a friend or romantically. It makes us feel good, and when I say this I literally mean it FEELS good. Our emotions are mostly based on our brain responding to body sensation. How do you feel when you are with someone you have a strong connection with? Light, expansive, fizzing with energy or you may get that warm and calm ‘fuzzy feeling inside’.
But we are busy people. We rush from place to place with our heads full of ‘stuff’ and our ‘to do’ lists. We are often distracted and prone to daydreaming. Some of us may have even had experiences in our lives that mean we are completely out of touch with ourselves. All of this makes it difficult to connect with ourselves, let alone another person.
However, one way to help us connect well with ourselves and others is to be ‘present’. You know how it feels when you are talking to someone but you can sense they are not listening? This is an example of them not being ‘present’. How does it feel? Frustrating, upsetting? Now try and remember a time when someone gave you their full and undivided attention, listening carefully to all you said. How did that feel?
One of the ways to help us be more present is to be embodied. What I mean by this is that you can feel yourself in your body. All of you – your body, mind and consciousness are all fully attending and in the same place at the same time. You may have heard this called being grounded.
Fully inhabiting our bodies will help us bring our attention to the present and one of the best ways of doing this is to focus on our felt sense. This is the world of sensation, touch, smell, sound and taste. Focusing on our felt sense takes us out of our heads, where we often spend most of the time, and into our bodies. It helps us stay present, and yoga is the perfect way to make that deep connection with our body.
In yoga practice we focus on our breath, and on our body sensation as we go into a pose, hold it and come out again. We notice what is stiff, what moves easily, and notice if we are trying to force our body or can't be bothered to make the effort. We also notice if our mind becomes distracted – and as a result we get to know ourselves a whole lot better.
Another great way for those seeking deeper insight into and better connection with themselves is craniosacral therapy (CST). It allows you time and space to be with your self in a supported environment and the possibility to experience peace and stillness.
CST is a complementary therapy that has its origins in osteopathy. Biodynamic craniosacral therapy, the form I practice, is based on the understanding that the tissues in the body display a rhythmic motion and recognise this motion as a natural self healing force.
Throughout our lives factors such as accidents, injuries and physical and emotional stress cause our tissues and bodies to contract. This creates an imbalance that may result in illness. By listening with our hands to the subtle rhythmic tide-like movements, craniosacral therapists work to help raise vitality and support your body’s innate ability to balance and heal itself.
Who is it for? In this Biodynamic form of craniosacral therapy, we do not use manipulation. In fact, the treatment is so gentle it is suitable for people with fragile conditions. For example, after an operation or accident. People seek CST for many reasons, from helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation, to helping recovery from an illness, accident or chronic conditions like headaches or digestive disorders.
Whether you choose to connect with your friend, your loved ones, your pet or go for a walk in the forest and connect with nature, I wish you meaningful and fulfilling connections.
Originally posted on yogacrow.com
Taking a holistic approach to skincare means rather than just treating the surface of our skin we should look at the bigger picture and take into consideration how we are as a whole; our health, our thoughts and how this might be affecting our skin.
Most skin issues originate from an imbalance in the body or mind or, as one well respected complementary therapist calls it, the bodymind – as the two are inseparable. A perfect example of this is how stress can cause an outbreak of or exacerbate eczema. So if we can help ourselves by looking beyond the surface, we will get to the root of the problem rather than just managing the symptoms
Detoxing helps clean our system by removing toxins that have built up in our bodies. It is beneficial as our whole system is able to function more efficiently afterwards resulting in us feeling and looking healthier.
A cleanse or detox can be as gentle or as strict as you wish to make it. It will look very different for a coffee drinking, wine loving smoker than for a teetotal vegan but whichever detox route you choose to go down, cleansing and detoxing should be carried out with care. It is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or anyone who has a history of eating disorders. In some cases, particularly if you are taking medication or have a chronic health condition, it is only safe with supervision of a professional dietician, nutritionist or naturopath. However if you are able to do some form of cleanse it is well worth the effort.
Anyone who has ever been on a detox will tell you that half way through, they tend to look and feel pretty grotty but at the end their skin always looks great and they have more energy. A facial is a great treat in the middle of a detox when your skin is looking grey or spotty as the toxins are expelled and your enthusiasm is flagging. It helps boost morale and keep those mirages of chocolate at bay!
Although we have to stick to the rules whilst detoxing if we want the best results, it is important to bear in mind that we are dusting the cobwebs from the corners. Be gentle and kind in your approach - this is a way of caring for ourselves by supporting our health and well-being and not an endurance test.
Have a plan that you feel will challenge you but is achievable. It pays to plan well, avoiding time when you may have social engagements that involve eating or drinking alcohol. Make sure you have the cupboard stocked with food you are allowed to eat and within the limitations include things you enjoy; for example fruit smoothies.
Amina Pfeufer, Nutritional Practitioner
There is a great deal of information on how best to cleanse your system but I would recommend seeking advice from a professional nutritionist. If you are thinking of doing a body cleanse for the first time, I know just the person.
Amina Pfeufer is a nutritional and craniosacral therapist. If anyone can make you feel happy at the thought of eating your greens it is Amina. She is a ray of sunshine; her positivity is truly contagious and I highly recommend her.
Amina is a registered Nutritional practitioner (mBANT, mCNHC) practicing in London and Oxford, helping her clients in a wide range of areas, including digestive, reproductive and skin health.
After seeing friends and family battling with a variety of health conditions but failing to find conventional solutions, she decided to retrain in nutritional therapy, convinced that diet and lifestyle play a vital role in optimal health.
It is winter and spending more time indoors in heated houses and cars, along with colds and seasonal infections all contribute to drying out our skin. Here are some things you can do to help prevent dryness and keep skin hydrated.
Just like your wardrobe, skincare should change with the seasons. In winter using a cleansing milk or cream will be less drying than a face wash. You may need to use a night cream or heavier moisturiser at night and for those with very parched skin a face oil underneath a night cream.
Exfoliate skin once a week. This removes a build up of dead skin cells and ensures the products you use will be more effective.
When you apply your moisturiser or body lotion after washing or cleansing do it immediately – do not let you skin dry out too much. This will trap some much needed extra moisture.
The water in this part of the country is very hard, if you are lucky enough to have a water softener you will really reap the benefits at this time of year alternatively some bath salts will soften the water and prevent further drying out skin.
Use plant based products they have so much more to offer than mineral oil or paraffin used in many skincare products. There are a huge variety of plant oils and fats that contain beneficial vitamins, omega oils and phytosterols, some light and easily absorbed like Rosehip seed oil and others heavy and protective like Shea butter.
Massaging your face will detoxify and bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to your skin so do a little every day or …… book a facial and have me do it for you instead!