Self help techniques to boost your health and wellbeing at home

Below is a recent article published by the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT):

This April is Stress Awareness Month. As people are not able to visit their local FHT member for support at this time, we thought we’d take this opportunity to bring a little therapy to your home.

Whether you’re social distancing or just looking for some self-help techniques to reduce anxiety and boost your health and wellbeing, here are five top tips from FHT Vice President, Mary Dalgleish.

1. Reflexology

The adrenal glands, which are directly affected by stress, are responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response we feel when under pressure. Although designed to be short-lived, if this response is prolonged or happens on a regular basis, it can lead to overworked adrenal glands.

In reflexology, the adrenal reflex point is found just below the ball of each foot as well as the fleshy area below the thumb on the palmar side of the hand. Gently pressing the adrenal reflex points for a few minutes can help calm the adrenal glands and reduce tension.

2. Aromatherapy 

Smelling soothing plant oils can help to ease stress and anxiety. Lavender is one of the most studied essential oils in terms of its relaxing effects. It has been shown to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature, as well as change brain waves to a more relaxed state.

Neroli (orange blossom) is often referred to as the ‘rescue remedy’ of essential oils and is useful for helping to ease anxiety and stress while Bergamot is traditionally used in Italian folk medicine to relieve tension and anxiety.

Some essential oils have anti-viral properties (although there is no evidence that they work against COVID-19). Eucalyptus, Tea-Tree or Rosemary can help support the respiratory system. You can add a couple of drops to hot water for a steam inhalation or simply add one or two drops of your chosen oil to a tissue and gently inhale when required.

If ordering essential oils online, use a reputable supplier to ensure you are the buying high-quality oils, for example Absolute AromasBase FormulaNeal’s Yard or Purple Flame

For more information about aromatherapy and other ways you can use essential oils safely at home, read this five-page article I contributed to, published in In The Moment magazine. Or for guidance on which oils can help to promote a good night’s sleep, see this feature, published in Sleep Well magazine.

*Safety note: Never ingest oils or apply neat to the skin. If you have a history of allergies, are taking medication or you are pregnant, speak to a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils.

3. Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation can help slow down a racing mind, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. There is a wide range of styles to choose from and some forms of yoga include both elements. A 2010 review of mindfulness-based meditation suggests that it can be highly effective for people with disorders relating to mood and anxiety.

In The Moment magazine have put together some helpful tips for creating your own meditation space at home.

4. Face massage

We tend to hold emotional stress in our faces – particularly in the jaw and temples – so gently massaging these areas with upward and outward circles helps to promote relaxation and reduce stress, while increasing muscle tone and revitalising your skin. Make it a daily routine using your favourite cream or oil after cleansing your face, to look and feel your best. My specialty treatment is natural facelift massage and I am constantly amazed how tension can be released throughout the whole body when just the face is massaged.

If you’d like a bit more guidance, read this article I wrote for International Therapist magazine, which walks you through an Ayurvedic facial massage routine.

5. Diet and lifestyle 

It is natural to be feeling stressed with the self-isolation measures in place, making it much easier to make poor nutritional and lifestyle choices that can actually increase our stress levels and cause other problems.

When you next visit your local FHT member for a treatment, you will be asked questions about your diet and lifestyle and will receive some general advice and tips to enhance the effects of your treatment and your overall wellbeing. For example, you may receive advice about sleeping habits, exercise and time management – this is all part of the holistic approach that our well qualified therapists take to help their clients get the most out of their treatments.

Meantime, try eating the colours of the rainbow each day to get your full range of vitamins and minerals. If you’re finding it tricky to stock up on fresh produce, try switching to frozen – it is often just as good for you and can be stored for longer.

I hope you find some of these tips useful.

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