‘Tis the season to be Ethical

This particular post came about as I was writing this month’s newsletter. I intended to write a short paragraph about our Gift Vouchers and what great Christmas presents they make – about how to gift our loved ones with experiences and presents that really mean something. We’re biased, of course, but we do believer our Gift Vouchers make a more thoughtful and conscientious gift than another scented candle or pair of socks (although I do have a particular soft spot for novelty socks). I started thinking about the Christmas season and what a strain it is on us and our environment, which led me to thinking about choices, and how this ties into our business Ethos. I wanted to give myself some space to fully explore this topic, so this blog post was born. So, if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some thoughts (and a call to action!) with you on Christmas, the Environment, and how to run a business Ethically.


Christmas and the lead up to it can be a somewhat stressful time. I know this not just from my own heightened levels of stress, but also in the increase in clients desperate for some relaxation at this time of year. While we can most certainly put this down to seasonal change and the effects that less sunlight has on our bodies and minds, a big part of that is the nervous anticipation of  what can be a demanding time of year. There’s so much to think about – presents, food, parties, family dynamics… and add into that lots of (don’t get me wrong… lovely!) booze and it’s depressive effect on our body, it’s no wonder many of us are so exhausted come January.

We’re bombarded every year with constant adverts on loop forcing Christmas cheer on us and telling us we need more tat and meaningless products to show our loved ones how much we care about them. It can be exhausting – on our bodies, on our energy, on our wallets, and not least on the environment. Businesses rush to create vast amounts of cheap products in excess (some using cheap labour and questionable business practices to do so) to meet ever-growing demand. A lot of this just ends up in landfill along with their plastic packaging and wrapping, or they clutter up our houses and our minds. It’s not a stretch to say that our planet does not need this extra strain on it’s dwindling resources!


With heightened awareness, however, comes more alternative choices. Search online for ‘Ethical Christmas’ and you get pages and pages of results, and websites full of advise and information on not just eco-friendly and ethical gifts, but also how to be waste-free, how to cook an ethical Christmas dinner, gift wrapping without using tons of plastic paper and where to get your Christmas Tree. More and more businesses are becoming aware of growing social and environmental needs, taking responsibility and striving to offer alternatives. It’s inspiring, and a move in the right direction. Of course, we still have to be careful of false claims or made-up certification – ‘Green Washing‘ is abundant, so it’s important to read the labels or consult a reliable source!

I’m currently halfway through my Masters in Social Entrepreneurship, something which was inspired by my time here at The Little Escape. I’m very privileged to have been Centre Manager for 5 years, working alongside our owner Lilja to run the business and keep our clients, therapists and receptionists happy. Over the years, we’ve sought to shape The Little Escape to be a different sort of business – one which doesn’t seek to create profit, but which offers real support for everyone involved. The temptation to cut our costs and maximise our income is always there, as it isn’t easy to make a business at the very least sustainable in our current economy, and in the sector which we’re in. We make sacrifices to ensure we can charge fair rates to our therapists, keep costs reasonable for clients, and to make sure all our supplies and products are eco-friendly and cruelty-free and, where possible, local. This is entrenched in our business Ethos – health and holism incorporates not just our own health and happiness, but that of our planet and all those who reside in it.

One day in a our near future we hope to fully become a Social Enterprise so we can have the structural support to continue practising democratically and transparently and to better represent the needs of our clients, therapists and our amazing receptionists. We also believe that this change will allow for more financial support and autonomy for practitioners to in turn be able to offer more low-cost treatments. There are a lot of vulnerable people who might benefit from some help and support but who cannot otherwise afford to pay for themselves. We would like to reach out and offer what we can but we need to do this sustainably and meaningfully, by making sure that our therapists are covered so that they don’t lose out financially. What form this change will take will become clearer as we work towards that goal, but we would like this process to involve everyone that makes up The Little Escape – and that includes you, our amazing clients. We would love to hear from you: Ideas, thoughts, things you’d like to see from us, or things you think we can do better.

Thanks for sticking with me on this post! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas in whatever form that takes 🙂

Peace out,



5 crazy amazing years!

The Little Escape is going to be 5 years old very soon (March 24th 2017!).


too soon before launch day! not so cozy! 

This time 5 years ago I was probably as stressed as I’ve ever been; the launch date drew near and the flooring was not down, the gas was not connected, the walls were not painted, the booking system was not ready, the phone company let me down…


It is strange and amazing to reflect on the roller coaster ride since its inception, and actually, I can now acknowledge that I’m really proud of what we as a team have created! I had the opportunity to start something, and my concept was a centre which had sustainable health at its heart, and which benefited everyone involved. I genuinely think that we have succeeded in accomplishing this- with a huge learning curve, and plenty more work ahead, but the core is there to be built upon!

We have stayed open without compromising our values, and supported staff, practitioners and clients. We are a not-for-profit company and we have always strived to keep costs down for practitioners so that they can make a sustainable living from doing what they love (and are gifted at!) while keeping the space safe and beautiful and calm.

We have taken over 20,000 bookings for over 3,500 clients, who have benefited from high quality treatments, in a supportive and sensitive environment. I am so proud to be part of a team of practitioners who are all super skilled and down to earth- and who I’m genuinely happy to be treated by and to refer people to.

Meanwhile we strive to ensure our business is ethical and sustainable- as holistic thinking does not end with health (though I might argue it begins there…!?) or with treatments, and I believe that our mental and physical health is inextricably intertwined with the health of our environment and society. So, as a business, we make sure that our energy supply is renewable, we recycle our rainwater, we use organic and peat-free compost and fertiliser for our houseplants and little herb garden, use ethical and environmentally aware brands for our soaps, detergents and cleaning products, we recycle and reduce waste wherever possible, use ethical banking, and we support other local independent businesses wherever we can.

I consider myself a practitioner first and foremost, and as a practitioner I have been so grateful to be able to work in what is essentially an ideal treatment environIMG_4903ment – I love that my patients enjoy coming here and appreciate the atmosphere and that they can relax even before treatment has begun, and I love that we have good daylight and natural wood and that there are good comfortable treatment couches so that my back doesn’t ache after a full day of treatments.
I love that the trusted reception team take care of my patients too, and that bookings are easy and efficient. And I love my amazing rewarding job.

I do not see myself as a business person or an entrepreneur; in fact I am rubbish at the business and admin side of things! So we would be nowhere without the awesome Eve and Fiona, who have been front of house almost since the beginning -I can’t even explain how grateful I am for their loyalty and understanding and their work keeping the clinic running day to day! And endless gratitude to all the rest of the excellent amazing team !

So pleased to have been able to allow Fiona to finish her Nutrition course and to support her to become a practitioner now that she is qualified!

So proud to be supporting and inspiring Eve through her Social Enterprise Masters- and so excited to be able to benefit from all that she is learning so that we can work together to ensure that the little escape continues to grow as an ethical social enterprisewatch this space!

So- THANKS to all who have visited and enjoyed our little escape, THANKS to all who work and have worked here, THANKS to all who have helped us get this far…

And here’s to a happy, healthy, sustainable future for us all!

Lilja xx



 Anyone who has experienced fibromyalgia will know what an unpleasant condition it is. Part of the problem with it is that it is difficult to pinpoint the cause, and some people have had the experience of going to the doctor and been made to feel that it is all in your head. I know from experience that it is a very real physical condition, and if you have a doctor with this kind of attitude, seriously consider getting a new doctor.


So what is it?
Fibromyalgia is defined as a disorder that is characterised by widespread muscle pain, stiffness of joints and fatigue.


What causes it?
There are lots of theories out there: in the past it was thought of as a psychological disorder. As already stated, anyone who has experienced it will know that it is real. It is now theorised that it might be caused by a combination of factors, as there is a wide range of experience regarding onset of the condition reported by people with this condition.

I can only talk of my experience: some may be able to relate to it, others may not. In my case, fibromyalgia developed after several years of doing what I now realise was a very stressful job, which resulted in me going off sick with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

I now have a greater understanding of how stress can affect our normal functioning and in the long term can have serious affects on our health and wellbeing. I developed a whole host of problems, some of which are not generally recognised by conventional medical approaches. I went to see a Doctor called Dr John Briffa, who has degrees in immunology and nutritional medicine. He identified a condition called gut dysbioisis, and also candida. Please note: I’m not suggesting that everyone who has fibromyalgia has these conditions. The point I want to get across is that there may be a number of things going on in the body that contributes to the symptoms that you are experiencing.

Conventional medicine tends to look for specific causes of illness, and if a specific cause cannot be found, tends to draw a blank, or suggest that no cause can be found. The implication of this sometimes being that it might be ‘all in the mind’. ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other conditions have been viewed by some members of the medical profession in this way. However, just because a cause cannot be found doesn’t mean that it is not a real condition!


As I read up about these conditions, I was amazed that they seemed to explain the symptoms I was experiencing. To explain what I discovered would be the subject of a book, or two.

In summary, I was able to make dietary changes and follow a regime that resulted in some improvements to some of my symptoms. However, the fibromyalgia remained.


Stress, Health and Illness
Anyone who has experienced an illness knows that any stress exacerbates the condition. There is much research that demonstrates that stress can slow down the recovery from illness.

However, it is very easy to underestimate how important stress is in the development and maintenance of an illness. In his book ‘Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers’ Stanford University Professor Robert Zapolsky explains that stress affects us all to varying degrees. He explains that every time we feel upset, annoyed, anxious, we activate the stress response, or fight or flight mechanism, and that these activations cumulatively can cause us health problems.

If you consider that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, then think about how many thoughts, feelings, reactions we are having each day that are not helpful, then you start to get an insight into how we are affecting our physiology on a moment by moment basis. As I said earlier, this is based on my experience, and so this may strike a chord with some people, and may be a factor, other people may feel that this is not so relevant to them.

It is my belief that I was only able to start to make real improvements in my health when I really developed an understanding of:

1. Understanding stress
2. How stress affects our health and wellbeing
3. How to spot when we are activating the stress response
4. How to switch off the stress response so that the immune system can start to function properly

I gained this insight by doing a training called the Lightning Process, and I now train people so that they can develop the same understanding of how to influence their health and well-being.

So if you’ve tried supplements, herbs, or have been on medication and still have not beaten this condition, and are open to exploring a different approach, do get in touch.

This information should not be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation, and is not intended to replace the advice and treatment of a physician. Any use of the information set forth is entirely at the reader’s discretion.
I welcome feedback. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this article, or any questions you have.
Feel free to share this post by clicking on the links below, or email the link to a friend who may find this article useful. Thanks!

SIMON PIMENTA is a hypnotherapist, coach and trainer, who specialises in helping people resolve stress, fatigue and other limitations and offers solutions for people who are:

  • Experiencing fatigue and other conditions
  • Approaching burnout
  • Are already on long term sick leave

Simon works Monday afternoons and evening at The Little Escape, contact us to book your free 15minute consultation 🙂

Bowel Health

Confucius knew what he was talking about when he said that ‘bliss begins in the bowels’.

The importance of bowel health and its effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual well being cannot be underestimated.

The bowel or colon is the first place that registers if we are stressed, and as stress leads to dehydration keeping hydrated is the first and probably most important thing we can do to support our bowel health. This means making choices about what we eat and drink that will as much as possible hydrate and not dehydrate us. Minimizing stress within our lifestyles also has an impact so we have quite a challenge on our hands – given the demanding lives that so many of us lead!

Any imbalance in the colon has the potential to back up within our bodies and create further problems elsewhere – particularly the skin, lungs and mind.

This makes sense as we all know how sluggish we can feel when ‘things’ aren’t moving! And when all is well how much more energy, motivation and clarity we have.

Remember too that no part of our body works in isolation. Whatever we do to support healthy functioning of our bowels will have a knock on effect on the rest of our health. i.e our liver, skin, lungs, mind etc…

Here are some suggestions to support bowel health:

– Drink at least 2 litres of fresh clean water daily.

– Keep regular tea/ coffee to a minimum – these are not hydrating drinks.

Short grain brown rice is a great soothing food for the colon – and hydrating.  Have daily if you can eat grains.

Juicing vegetables is a great support to the body’s cleansing process – especially green foods i.e. celery, cucumber, lettuce, kale.

– Aim to have a diet rich in vegetables – this will give you valuable nutrients that can protect against disease, and natural fibre which helps the digestive tract to keep things moving!

– For some, pasta and bread can be a real challenge to digest – it can sit like glue in the digestive tract. Become more aware of what hinders and helps your bowels to keep eliminating regularly.

– Taking regular exercise -even walking a bit more than usual can help our body’s detoxification process.

– Taking time to meditate or just relax in the park, or in a quiet space, can help the body to relax and switch off the ‘fight or flight’ programme that we are often in even without realising, and which can impact unfavourably on our digestive health.

Have a look at the Bladder and Bowel Foundation for more information: http://www.bladderandbowelfoundation.org/bowel/healthy-bowel.asp

And this is a very informative website on Nutritional advice for a healthy colon: http://www.livestrong.com/article/272990-nutrition-for-a-healthy-colon/

Take care and look after yourself always! 🙂


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system, which has many and varying causes and symptoms. Its symptoms can involve any of the following: Diarrhoea, constipation, gas/flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, haemorrhoids  intestinal cramping/spasming, indigestion. These symptoms can come in any number or combination, and each sufferer is affected differently. IBS is unpredictable in nature – it can go for long periods of time and then suddenly flair up for no obvious reason. It can be painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing, and have a very negative effect on your quality of life. According to the NHS, 3 out of 4 IBS sufferers have had a least one bout of depression, and just over half will develop generalized anxiety disorder (overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear and dread).

There is no medically agreed cure for IBS – a condition with such varied causes and symptoms can be hard to pin down, and a general cure is therefore difficult to find. This is where holistic and alternative therapy can help, because at the heart of all holistic therapies lies the principle of looking in depth at the individual – their lifestyle, diet, emotions and feelings, energy levels, psychological state and so forth; it acknowledges everybody’s individuality and therefore has space to treat very specifically to the person. Treatment plans are tailored and unique to the individual, and can be very effective by taking into account the body as a whole, looking at not only the physical symptoms but how these can manifest and be influenced by psychological, mental and emotional factors.

There are a number of ways in which IBS can be treated, if we look at the factors that affect it – such as stress and food. Nutritional Therapy can offer help in formulating a dietary plan that avoids foods that trigger or exacerbate the symptoms. Again, different foods have different effects on (different) people, and a consultation can determine the types to avoid.


One of the most commonly   agreed causes (or it can most certainly exacerbate symptoms) is stress and worry. It becomes a dangerous spiral of anxiety, as the symptoms and inability to control your digestive system and bowel movements in public can cause embarrassment and panic, which then in turn amplify the symptoms.

Relaxation can help ease symptoms and allow you to deal with the effects in a calmer and healthier way – it can help turn off the distress and upset. Yoga and Meditation can be very effective in this way; guided meditation for a beginner unused to the techniques can allow the effects to carry on into everyday life and practice. Hypnotherapy is another common therapy to help treat IBS – working at breaking patterns within the mind that cause stress and anxiety can have a knock-on effect on the body’s way of responding to these negative feelings.

Another popular form of treatment for IBS is acupuncture. Acupuncture can help in a number of ways, by treating different aspects of the syndrome. It provides pain relief, helps calm and reduce stress, and can help control the bowel’s tendency to move uncontrollably of its own accord. The British Acupuncture Council website explains how acupuncture can help and the treatment in more detail, though of course individual treatments will vary.

If you suffer from IBS and are looking for some holistic help but aren’t sure which of these therapies will be right for you – we offer free 15 minute consultations for all of our treatments. There is often a bit of cross-over between treatments and we will try to help you find the one that suits you best! Contact us for more information 🙂


Allergies and Homeopathy

Approximately one in four of the UK population will suffer from an allergy at some point in their lives, according to the British Allergy Foundation. In Marika’s homeopathy practice she is seeing an increasing number of patients suffering from a range of allergic conditions, the most common ones being skin problems such as eczema, hay fever and food allergies.

Young blonde female blowing her nose

Homeopathy is a form of complementary healthcare that works with our natural healing process; it has a holistic approach to treatment and treats each person as an individual. The main principle in homeopathy is that a substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person can cure those symptoms in a sick person. For example a person suffering from hay fever, might be given the remedy Allium Cepa (prepared from an onion), because a healthy person chopping an onion usually experiences watering eyes and irritation (similar symptom to hay fever). However, the substances are given in minute doses prepared in a special way to avoid unwanted side effects.

Allergies occur when the immune system over-reacts to substances which should not cause a problem, and with carefully selected remedies Marika’s aim is to strengthen the immune system.  Marika feels that many patients are turning to homeopathy for help as it offers a more gentle alternative to conventional treatment such as antihistamines and steroid-based skin preparations.  Remedies can be used alongside conventional medication where needed.

If you would like to find out how homeopathy could help with your allergies, book an appointment with Marika or call for a free mini telephone consultationAs part of the Homeopathy Awareness week, Marika is giving a free Bach anti-stress flower remedy (RRP £7) for anyone who books a consultation before the end of May.

Marika Csaranko practices at The Little Escape on a flexible ad-hoc basis, call in to find out her availability and we’ll book you in 🙂

12 Facts about your Liver!

1). Did you know that almost 30%of your body’s blood goes through your liver every minute?

2) So, in less than 4 minutes your liver handles every drop of blood in your body.

3). The liver is the largest solid organ in our body.

4). The liver affects nearly every physiological process of the body and performs over 500 different chemical functions.

5). The liver stores the many vitamins and minerals as well as the iron reserves that we need.

6). Our liver makes the bile to help us to digest our food.

7). Our liver detoxifies chemicals we ingest like alcohol, drugs (prescribed or otherwise).

8). Our liver also removes the poisons that we breathe in from the air, exhaust smoke and other pollutants that we would otherwise be poisoned from.

8). The liver stores energy, keeping a reserve of carbohydrates, glucose and fat until we need it.

9). The liver makes clotting factors that stop the bleeding when we have an injury that bleeds.

10). The liver manufactures new proteins needed by the body to stay healthy and grow.

11). The liver can regenerate itself. Even if only 25% of it is healthy, it can still regenerate itself into a full liver again.

12). Your liver is made up 96% water – which is within the cells and blood. A big reminder that one of the best things we can do for our liver is drink enough water!!

January is Love your Liver month! If you want to find out more about which therapies can help support and take care of your liver, do call in or email and we can advise or set up free 15 minute consultations for you 🙂