Friday, 31 July 2009

Post Break

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted anything on here. I have been really busy this week researching, designing, and making a range of natural aromatherapy products. I've been wanting to make my own products for ages now but have never been able to find any base products that suited my needs until now.

In the next month, I will start selling a range of aromatherapy products that are paraben free, sodium lauryl sulphate free, not tested on animals, and vegan. Products include shampoo and conditioner, face cream, face scrub, face oil, lavender gel, body moisturiser, bubble bath, and massage oils - all of which will be available for different skin types.

There will also be a small range of pregnancy products including stretch mark oil, perineum preparation oil, massage oils for labour, and birth wound heal and repair gel.

At a later date, I will extend the range further to include creams for specific skin conditions, hands cream, foot gels, and the like.

I am really excited to have finally found quality base ingredients to make my products with.

I have also been redesigning my website to include product pages and a place to sell these products from. Once it goes live, I will post here so that you can all check it out and see what's on offer.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Finding a Counselling

Over an average year, around one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem - whether it is due to work-related stress, a family crisis, or something more serious like abuse. Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting one in five people.

Sometimes just taking some time out to look after yourself, de-stress and relax is enough to help with your state of mind, but in some cases people need a little bit more. Counselling can help to address issues which may be contributing to stress, anxiety and depression. Counselling and complementary therapies work quite nicely together because whilst counselling is dealing with the underlying issues, the massage or other complementary therapy is helping to reaffirm a calmer state of mind. As a complementary therapist, I studied some basic counselling skills as part of my training and I like to think that I am a good listener but I am not a counsellor – far from it! If I feel that a client of mine would benefit from counselling in addition to their treatment with me, then I would suggest it to them and/or refer them on to a counsellor.

Of course, the decision to undertake counselling is not one that anyone takes lightly. Many consider the idea for months or even years before deciding to take the plunge. The main hurdle anyone must overcome before opening themselves up to counselling is accepting they have a problem that needs to be dealt with. Often friends and family will try to encourage the person to accept they need help, but the decision must ultimately come from the person themselves.

Finding the right counsellor is essential. Counsellors often specialise in certain areas, so it’s important the individual finds one that addresses their specific needs, with an approach they are comfortable with. It can be quite a daunting task finding a counsellor nowadays what with their being so many different approaches. I personally think it has become overly complicated for people to decide on whom to go see - person centred, gestalt, transactional analysis, core process, psychotherapy, integrative, humanistic, cognitive – the list goes on. You almost need to be an expert in counselling yourself to know which one to go for! My advice would be to do some research – check out what the different approaches are and whether you think they will help you – give a few counsellors a call to discuss what they offer. Some counsellors give a free first meeting to discuss their techniques which might be worth giving a go before committing to seeing them regularly.

When choosing a counsellor, it is important to ensure that they are fully qualified to practise. Being accredited by a professional body, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), means that the counsellor will have met several criteria including completing a certain number of hours in training and practising under supervision.

To find a local therapist, I would recommend checking out the BACP website or the Counselling Directory. Both sites have a ‘Find a Therapist’ search facility. On the Counselling Directory, each counsellor listed has their own profile page with information about themselves, their approaches, what areas they deal with, and all their training, qualification, experience and fees. It also has lots of informative articles written by counsellors, as well as comprehensive information on all kinds of distress to help people identify their problems and become informed, not scared. There’s also a blog that reports the latest health news and developments.

At The Healing Rooms in Bristol, where I practice complementary therapies, there are a number of counsellors and psychotherapists, several of which are BACP accredited and listed with the Counselling Directory. Here are their details if you would like to get in touch with them:

Mo Cahill - 0117 973 6503 or 07922 254 618
Natalie Brooks - 07973 267232
Helen Gunson - 0117 951 7878

Other related external links:
Counselling Society

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Monday, 20 July 2009

Massage Increases Life Expectancy

While browsing the internet I came across a press release from Medical Massage Care reporting that Therapeutic Massage has been proven to increase life expectancy.
“An actuarial analysis performed by Medical Massage Care indicates that therapeutic massage tends to increase life expectancy. There is a positive correlation between the number of massage therapists per 1,000 residents of a state and the life expectancy for that state.”
This study was carried out in the United States and shows that as the number of massage therapists per resident increases, the life expectancy tends to increase too. Hawaii came out on top! It would be interesting to see what the statistics are like for the United Kingdom and the regions within it.

It mentions that
“massage increases life expectancy as a result of the positive physiological effects of soft tissue manipulation.”
This soft tissue manipulation increases the circulation of blood and lymph around the body helping to rid the body of waste products and delivers much needed oxygen and nutrients to every living cell. This helps the body speed up healing and tissue repair enabling our body to recover from injury and illness quicker; regulates blood pressure; and most importantly reduces stress, tension, and anxiety. It is well known that people suffering with long-term stress are at a higher risk of having a heart attack so taking steps to lower stress levels, such as having regular massage, is very advantageous and can help lower this risk.

Check out the full press release - Therapeutic Massage Proven to Increase Life Expectancy, Based on Actuarial Study by Medical Massage Care

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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Meridian Massage

Meridian Massage
Photo by thunderchild5.
Meridian Massage, or Meridian Tracing as it is also known, is said to help balance the body’s systems and strengthens the flow of energy around the body.

According to Dr John Thie, author of Touch for Health,
“The flow of energy through a meridian may be stimulated by using the hands to trace the meridian line in the proper direction on the surface of the body…Using the flat of the hand…, it is only necessary to come within 2 inches of the meridian, either off to the side or even above the skin and over clothing, for it to be effective.”
With this technique, each meridian is traced in its normal flow direction from its start point to its end point. As quoted above, you do not have to actually touch the body for this technique to be effective but you can make contact with your body if you wish to do so.

Before starting to trace the meridians, first energise your hands. If you are used to working with energy this can be done by visualisation but if you are not, rub your hands together briskly until you can feel a warm, tingling feeling in the hands and fingers.

The meridians are worked in the following order: central, governing, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, pericardium (circulation), triple burner, gall bladder, liver, lung, and large intestine, finishing off with repeating the spleen, central, and governing. This meridian tracing routine is demonstrated by Donna Eden in the YouTube video below. Donna Eden is a well respected healer and author of many books on energy medicine.

If you are good at visualisation, you can perform this technique by moving your awareness along each meridian with your minds eye instead of physically doing so with your hands. The intention alone is enough to help balance and strengthen the flow of energy around the meridian system.

Once you have got used to where the meridians start and end and the order in which the meridians are traced, this technique can be done quite quickly taking about a minute and is a great way to start the day!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Natural Fresh Fruit Face Masks

There are so many natural fruits and vegetables which are good for the condition of the skin. The fruit and vegetables listed below can all be used in a face mask to help improve the appearance of your skin whether you have oily skin or dry skin. I found this comprehensive list in a book called Bodycraft: Health & Beauty the Natural Wayby Nerys Purchon.

Apple pulp: slightly acidic; good for delicate skin
Apricots, mashed: moisturising, soothing, cleansing
Asparagus: stimulating; dries up spots
Avocado: deeply penetrating and full of vitamins
Banana, mashed: nourishing
Carrot pulp: antiseptic; heals spots and sores
Celery juice: acts as a toner for tired or aging skin
Cucumber: cooling, soothing, bleaching, healing
Fig pulp: emollient and cleansing
Lemon juice: diluted for oily skin and freckles
Lettuce juice: soothes sore, rough skin; helps to clear spots
Orange juice: hydrating for older skin
Pear pulp: soothing and cooling on sunburnt skin
Pineapple pulp: an astringent was for oily skin
Potato, raw: helps clear blemishes and eczema
Strawberries, mashed: slightly acidic, cleansing and luxurious
Tomatoes, mashed: good for oily skin
Turnip, mashed: deep cleansing
Watermelon juice: good for rough skin and deep cleansing

If you fancy it, you can even combine several of the fruits and vegetables listed above and you can even add some finely ground rolled oats.

Spread the mask over your face and neck avoiding the eye area. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes. I’d advise you lay down while the mask is on to enhance the relaxation experience but also to ensure the mask doesn’t run down your face. You can add some agar agar (vegetable gelatine) to thicken the mask up to stop this from happening. Wash the mask off in lukewarm water and then splash your face with cool water to close the pores.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Stress Relief Bath Blend

To help you relax and unwind after a hard day at work, try this soothing aromatherapy bath time blend.

Mix half a cup of full fat milk, 1 tbsp of runny honey, 2 drops lavender, 2 drops sweet marjoram, and 2 drops geranium together in a bowl ensuring that it is mixed well and the essential oils have dispersed. Add the blend to the bath just as you get in. relax in the bath for at least 20 minutes

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Friday, 10 July 2009

A Year on!

Balance Holistics Blog Birthday
Photo by blueblitz.
It has been a whole year now since launching this blog and I have enjoyed every minute I have spent working on it – from designing its layout, researching information to help me write articles, writing the articles, editing and proofreading them, and uploading them. I’ve even enjoyed searching for relevant photos to accompany the articles which on occasion did take quite a while to find the one I liked.

Like most blogs, at first I didn’t get many visitors to it, but now I have a lot more people reading my articles with many subscribers and a couple other blogs use my site feed which is great.

Since starting the blog in July 2008, I have written and published 82 posts on topics ranging from Abdominal Massage for Menstrual Cramps, to The Importance of a Consultation, to how to Take Control of Stress During the Credit Crunch. At first, I thought I wouldn’t know what to write about and that I’d struggle to post regularly but I have a two page list stored on my computer of things I want to write about and that will feature on the blog in the months to come and I post to the blog every other day – sometimes everyday. I am very pleased with the way the blog has turned out and I’m very pleased that so many people find it a useful resource.

Back in April I wrote a post on the top 5 most read posts on this blog. Since then I have written many new posts, some of which have been very popular. The new Balance Holistics’ top five most read posts are:
1. Sinus Problems and Epsom Salts
2. Bunions from a Reflexology Point of View
3. Natural Remedies for Bunions
4. What is a Healing Crisis?
5. The Wonder of Tiger Balm

The Bunion articles seem to be very popular so there must be a lot of people out their suffering with them. I’m not surprised the sinus problems post is popular as it’s that time of year when people are suffering with hayfever and other allergies which affect the sinuses. It is good to see that the posts on the healing crisis and tiger balm are still in the top five although they have dropped by one place.

Perhaps you would like to know which essential oils are good for insomnia, or what cracked heels mean from a reflexology point of view, or perhaps you want to know more about a specific ailment. Let me know what you would like to see more of on this blog in the coming year– either email me or leave a comment for this post.

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Abdominal Breathing for Health and Stress Relief

“When the breath is irregular, the mind is also unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind.” Hathayogapradipika (14th century)
Many thousands of years ago, yogis like Hathayogapradipika mentioned above, established that there is a close link between our state of mind and the way we breathe.

The majority of people only use a third of their maximum lung capacity when they breathe in. This can be due to habit, respiratory problems, and as a result of stress and anxiety.

Every living cell in the body needs oxygen. We obtain the oxygen we require when we breathe in. If we are not using our lungs to their full potential, we are not getting the oxygen our body requires which can have a big affect on our health. Most pathogens such as bacteria and viruses thrive in a low oxygen environment causing us to become fatigued and unwell. A lack of oxygen in the body can also slow down our bodies healing abilities.

When we are in a state of relaxation, for instance when we are meditating or having a massage, our breathing becomes slower, deeper and more regular. Deep breathing (abdominal breathing not chest breathing) fully expands and contracts the lungs causing a huge increase in the amount of oxygen which is absorbed into the blood.

Abdominal breathing takes a little getting used to but really does help induce a state of relaxation and helps reduce stress. To see that you are breathing correctly (from the abdomen and not the chest), place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. When you breathe in, the hand which is on your abdomen should rise higher than that of the one on your chest. Once you’ve got use to the technique, you don’t need to place your hands on your abdomen and chest. Inhale through the nose, hold for a count of seven, and then exhale through the mouth. Inhalation should be twice as long as exhalation.

Try this breathing technique once or twice a day, or perhaps when you are feeling particularly stressed, anxious, or in pain. The more this technique is practised, the more natural it will become.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Hot Oil for Dry and Damaged Hair

Mix some olive, coconut and castor oil together and heat until it is lukewarm. Massage the blend into the hair. Soak a small towel in very hot water, wring out the excess water, and cover your head with it. Place a shower cap or plastic bag over the towel then wrap with a hot towel to secure in place. Change the outer towel when it cools. Leave the oil on for at least an hour and then wash your hair as normal.

You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the above blend. For dry hair try geranium, lavender, or rosemary. For damaged hair try chamomile, clary sage, or sandalwood. For dandruff try patchouli, rosemary, or tea tree.

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Saturday, 4 July 2009

Indian Head Massage, Essential Oils and Hair Loss

indian head massage, essential oils and hair loss
Hair loss is perfectly natural. Apparently, we shed as many as 100 hairs every day. Hairs grow in a repeated cycle which consists of three stages – a growth phase (Anagen), a transitional phase (Catagen), and a resting phase (Telogen). Each hair goes through these three phases but not necessarily at the same time as its neighbouring hairs. Approximately 85% of all our hair is in the growth phase at any one time. We lose hair as each one comes to the end of its natural life - between two and seven years (at the end of the growth phase). It then enters the transitional phase where the hair follicle shrinks to about 1/6 of its normal length – this phase lasts a couple weeks and then enters the resting phase which lasts for about 6 weeks in which the hair detaches from the follicle. After this final phase, the hair cycle starts again with a new hair growing. If the old hair hasn’t already shed, the new hair pushes the old one out.

From the mid–twenties onwards, the hair and scalp receives fewer nutrients from the blood, making the hair become weaker, thinner, and more prone to damage. Excessive hair loss can often indicate a problem and should be checked out with your GP. Hormonal changes, especially after the menopause and pregnancy, vitamin deficiency, stress, and illness, can contribute to hair loss as can many other genetic and environmental factors.

Indian Head Massage boosts the flow of blood through the cells in the scalp and head helping to improve hair condition making it stronger, healthier and shinier. It also improves the skin condition on the scalp. A more efficient flow of blood in this area brings more oxygen and other nutrients to the cells and expels any toxins which have built up in them such as carbon dioxide and other waste, helping the cells to function properly and stimulating their growth and renewal. The sebaceous glands are stimulated by the massage helping to normalise their function making the skin and hair soft and supple.

Essential oils can be very beneficial for hair loss as they also have an effect on the sebaceous glands and can be easily incorporated in to an Indian Head Massage. The oils penetrate deeply into the hair shaft and follicle and helps encourage new hair growth. You can mix the essential oils with a carrier oil such as mustard or sesame oil. Massage the oil in to the scalp in a circular motion – do not use too much force if your hair is thinning. Leave the oil on over night if possible and wash hair after as normal. The oil is best applied when warm. Essential oils which are beneficial for hair loss include basil, clary sage, cypress, palmarosa, rosemary, geranium, lavender, Roman chamomile, thyme and cedarwood.

Arnica cream can also be rubbed into areas of thinning hair but should not be used if the skin is broken.

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Thursday, 2 July 2009

Foot Bath for Headaches

The following foot bath is excellent at relieving headaches and migraines.

You will need a bowl large enough to place both of your feet in, water, 1 drop each of peppermint, lavender, and marjoram essential oils, and 1 drop of linden blossom absolute. The linden blossom absolute is quite expensive but is excellent at relieving headaches and migraines. I have read that it is best to use cold water as apparently when you soak your feet in cold water it draws heat away from your head bringing you relief from your headache.

Fill the bowl half way with cold water. Combine the essential oils with a teaspoon of milk or a tablespoon of Epsom salts or sea salt to disperse the oil before adding it to the foot bath. Place your feet in the foot bath, sit comfortably, close your eyes, deeply breathe in the essential oil aromas, and relax for about 10-15 minutes.

It is advisable to consult your GP prior to performing this foot bath if you suffer with diabetes, neuropathy in the foot, and Raynaud’s disease.

Related posts:
Tension Headaches
Using Hot and Cold Compresses to Relieve Pain

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