Christmas is coming and while it can be a happy time, it can also be quite stressful. Some of our lovely practitioners are sharing some personal, helpful and interesting tips for surviving this special time! Marion - our Medical Herbalist and massage therapist says... Go outside every day! Get your Vitamin D daily by spending at least 30 minutes outside in natural daylight, ideally combining it with physical activity like a brisk walk. A massage can be a very nourishing and uplifting experience and often helps to calm nerves and to lift spirits. Go for a holistic massage or Indian head massage for a particularly relaxing treatment.
Herbal teas of Lemon balm, St John’s Wort and Oatstraw,to name a few, have a wonderfully restorative and uplifting effect on the nervous system. Drink 2-3 cups per day of any combination of these herbs for maximum effect.
Keep your immune system strong! A depressed immune system can cause low mood so it is important, especially in the winter months, to stay healthy. Use lots of garlic and onions in your cooking and make sure you get a good range of fruit and vegetables every day. At the first sign of a cold start taking Echinacea drops to support your immune system in fighting any virus or bacteria. Helen, one of our osteopaths writes... I have been pleasantly surprised at how my spirits are lifted by the weekly act of singing in a choir. We all know the benefits of exercise to physical and mental well being, less widely understood are the benefits of singing. I was amazed when I joined a choir almost three years ago how after every rehearsal I felt as if I had had a good workout for my upper body. When you sing you are exercising the lungs, toning the intercostal muscles, using the core muscles of the back and abdominals, and working the diaphragm, the big sheet of muscle at the bottom of the rib cage which is our primary muscle of respiration. Proper use of the diaphragm takes tension away from the upper back and shoulders. The articulation of the ribs themselves which happens when we take a deep breath can also take strain away from the lower back and neck and exercising the thoracic cage encourages good posture. The other enormous benefit I felt was the huge energy shared, the product of many people singing (and listening!) together in one space. Almost more important than the physical benefits though is the ability of singing to promote mental well being. Singing increases the amount of oxygen you take into the body as you take deep breaths. This produces a feeling of alertness as more oxygen gets to the brain. It also promotes the release of endorphins, our natural opiates, creating a similar effect to when we exercise. Singing - like laughter, sunshine, a spectacular view - helps underpin and maintain our well-being and happiness. It is a mood enhancer and can be energising and up-lifting. In addition when you sing you are focusing on the job of singing; it is a form of mindfulness, calming the mental ‘chatter’ - those unhelpful negative thoughts we can all have at times. It seems that even wider claims can be made for singing’s ability to promote good health - there may be benefits to our hearts too. Certainly sustained deep and regular breathing improves our aerobic capacity and our circulation. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that choristers’ heartbeats synchronise when they sing together, bringing about a calming effect that is as beneficial to our health as yoga. “Singing fortifies health, widens culture, refines the intelligence, enriches the imagination, makes for happiness and endows life with an added zest.” www.moresingingplease.com/benefits-of-singing So get out those song sheets, turn on the radio and join in! Ciara, our Nutritional Therapist says So folks - it's December. And what do we associate most with this time of year? Party season. Lots of drinking, late nights and generally a bit too much of everything. Which actually is going rather in the opposite direction from nature. Gaze upon your environment and note how the nights have pulled in, so less sunlight and how the trees are almost bare. Everything in nature has gone into hibernation mode. Taking its vibration down a notch. Whereas we are burning the midnight oil and dancing with a little too much excess. A few tips to keep you well nourished over the festive season and into the rest of the winter months. Dress warm. This time of year especially our kidneys need extra love so be sure to tuck in a layer to avoid any draught reaching your lower back area. And give them a little rub every now and then, sending positive energy and much needed heat to the area just beneath your back floating ribs. Sip warming drinks to keep the circulation flowing so your prana (your life force) does not get stuck. I am loving fresh lemon and fresh ginger tea at the moment. Two wedges of lemon and about half a thumb piece of ginger sliced up - put in your favourite little teapot and brew for ten minutes. The lemons are a source of vitamin C and the ginger is helpful to the circulation and for reducing inflammation. Great for this cold weather and to keep colds and sniffles at bay. Hibiscus tea is also wonderfully soothing for the throat so drink generous amounts of that too. Also a great source of vitamin C.
Get roasting! Yes all those gorgeous root vegetables - chop up carrots, parsnips, sweet potato with red onion, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generous amounts of fresh rosemary and thyme - roast and enjoy! This time of year calls for deeply grounding foods - which is why the roots are in season. Ah nature - you are so infinitely wise. Lastly - do get good sleep. When the social calendar gets busy, aim for earlier nights on the nights you are in. Our immune system is most active at night so this is a precious time for optimising cellular repair and for emotionally digesting the day too. Lisabetta Vilela, Shiatsu practitioner and energy therapist - After a prolonged and glorious warm autumn, winter is upon us. Her biting cold is felt deep into our bones. Our instinct to be still and hibernate is strong and fights against the fast pace of modern life. Winter is connected with the YIN principal: receptive, introspective and storage orientated. Nature shows us she is still and quiet. Deep within thesoil are held the seeds of potential growth. Nurtured in the soil, in the womb of nature. It is a time of little action. This Yin time of storing within is essential if the seeds are tofulfil their potential in Spring (the yang time).
At this time of year as our bodies and minds align with the energy of winter, people present with sore lower backs, tiredness, a need to rest and sleep more. This is a natural adjustment to this season and the cold and darkness. Below are tips for conserving your Yin energy so you too may use this time for reflection, nurturing and rest. Conserving your energy ready to 'Spring' into action in March. • Nourish Yourself Well: Nourish yourself with warm food and drink lots of water; winter sucks the moisture out of your body. Eat warming foods such as root vegetables, winter greens, whole grains, black beans and warm spices. Flavours are salty and bitter. Warming soups and broths. • Keep Warm: Prepare for the weather. Chinese medicine says that the neck and shoulder areas contain the “Wind” points through which pathogens can enter, so keep these areas protected; wear a scarf and keep your neck covered. (especially if working in drafty offices). Keep lower back warm, using hot bags, to nurture kidney energy. Keep your body supple. Do mild back stretches and back yoga. • Nurture Yourself Inwardly: Imagine that the ideas and images that have been planted and are germinating within you, as in a garden, will begin to sprout in the spring. Nurture these images of hope, but allow them to grow and develop within you quietly and naturally. Keep a journal. Lastly, acupuncturist Lilja says.. "Chinese medicine is all about being in tune with the seasons and your environment- naturally our energies are drawn inwards in autumn and winter so try not to fight it! Enjoy getting a bit more sleep and rest when the days are shorter and don't beat yourself up for taking it easy... winter is all about slowing down & gathering energy to prepare for the lively growth and energy of spring! Stay warm- especially your kidneys and tummy, and add warmth from the inside too; eat warming soups and nourishing stews, useplenty of warming ginger, cinnamon and turmeric, and be kind to yourself :) " We hope that our thoughts/suggestions maybe helpful..and we all wish you the most lovely of Christmas's and a very healthy and happy 2015. :)