January is a month where people often undertake a challenge. These month challenges seem to have replaced ‘New Year Resolutions’ and cover everything from not drinking alcohol, not eating meat, going vegan, and probably anything else people want to set a challenge for. In my Facebook groups I’ve seen a press-up challenge, one to do a daily yoga practise, and of course the one I’m talking about – RED January. These monthly challenges are a great way to get inspired, find support and perhaps try something new. You are more likely to stick to something longer term if you can keep at it for a month. That old ‘habits are built in 28 days’ (at least) idea. Studies have also shown that you are more likely to stick to a new habit if you have a buddy. Also having a group or a place to share both your wins and your not so good days helps motivation. A Challenge Doesn’t Mean Pressure The monthly challenges are often aimed at wellbeing. The goals are usually to lose weight, run a certain distance, or to cut out food or drink. Red January is a bit different as it isn’t saying you need to achieve a specific amount of anything. It’s aimed more at the mental health aspect of being active. Which means getting outside, and yes, challenging yourself a little bit, even if that is just to walk to the end of the garden. It’s linked to the mental health charity MIND, … Read More
Run Every Day – Challenge Accepted? Month challenges are a real thing these days, aren’t they? Veganuary, Stoptober, Movember, NaNoWriMo, Run Every Day….seems whether you want to stop something, start something or do more/less of something, there is a challenge for you to sign up to. Hashtags, selfies, social media likes, kudos and shares. I’ve taken part in writing challenges before, it’s how I wrote a good chunk of my novel’s first draft, but never a fitness one. I always felt that I wouldn’t stick to it. Basically it sounded like hard work! But, here I am all signed up for Ronhill’s October RunEveryDay challenge. Apparently, Ron Hill has run every day for over 50 years. He’s 80! So, surely I can do it for a month. I broke two toes earlier in the summer in a wee incident involving me and my bike against a stupidly steep and gravelly slope. So I haven’t been running and it has made me feel sluggish and fed up. I’ve missed going to my running group and building on my 10k achievement in June. However, I wasn’t sure how to go about running every day. Is there a special way to approach it? What if the weather is really really bad.? I don’t have access to a treadmill. I usually run 2-3 times a week plus group session on a Sunday, but this past year or two has been a bit stop/start. There is always the worry of injury as well. Maybe my body … Read More
Having a Massage During Pregnancy There are lots of myths around massage. I hear them all the time, sometimes people ask a question, other times they state it as fact. One of the main things I hear is that ‘you can’t have a massage in pregnancy’, or ‘ you can only have a seated massage’ or ‘it’s a risk to the baby’, or it will bring on a miscarriage if its before 12 weeks. I have a Diploma in Pregnancy massage. It took 6 months, involved 5 days intense practical training, a practical exam (with a real live pregnant woman), and then 6 case studies and a project. Not every therapist that does pregnancy work has such a diploma, many have a 1-2 day workshop, and some don’t have any proper qualification at all. I have had ladies come to me for pregnancy work that have told me some horror stories of previous experiences with obviously under/unqualified therapists. One had been asked to lie on her tummy at 26 weeks, one had been made to sit up the whole time despite her large bump meaning that she couldn’t rest her head on the support. Others had felt it was too light and had felt that the therapist was terrified of doing something wrong which hadn’t made the woman feel very relaxed! Other people had only been ‘allowed’ to have their head and neck massaged, when their aches were all in the lower back. I could go on! So let’s look … Read More
11 Things You Didn’t Know About Massage The majority of adults don’t have regular massage or other complementary therapies. In America only 32% of adult had a massage in the past 5 years and even fewer get massage regularly. So it’s not surprising that most people don’t know much about massage. So, here are some fun facts to build your knowledge: 1) Massage can help you sleep better. (Even if you don’t nap during the actual massage.) 2) When your back hurts, that might not be the only area that needs massage. Sometimes back pain comes from the hip, legs or even the abdomen. 3) Likewise, sometimes hand and arm pain is caused by dysfunction in the neck and shoulder. The body is so crazy and weird and fascinating! 4) You can stop a massage session at any time. You have not given up control of your body. At any time during a massage you can say “no”, “stop”, or even “can you just work on my neck for the rest of the time and skip everything else?” If you are uncomfortable, cold, or if you just feel like you have to pee, sneeze or cough. You can take a pee break at anytime! 5) Massage can help your mood. It’s been shown to be helpful in treating both anxiety and depression. 6) Even small therapists can provide deeeeep pressure. It’s not about size, it’s about the techniques we use! Although if you are a massive rugby player type … Read More
Improve your health with breath Breath. Such a simple thing. It’s essential to life, but yet how often do we think about it? It ebbs and flows throughout our days and we barely give it a second thought. In this post I’m going to look at some ways our breath improves our health – including some techniques you can utilize today. Deep breathing can reduce anxiety Implementing a deep breathing technique when anxiety strikes can make the difference between a full on attack and an unwelcome blip in your day. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate, improves circulation and promotes clearer thinking. You can use your breath to calm down Let’s face it, when tempers flair it seems almost impossible to think about anything other than the current situation that set you off. Practicing simple breathing techniques can encourage calmness and help reverse the physical symptoms of anger. TECHNIQUE for Anxiety and Calm Isolate yourself from everyone for 15 minutes Inhale slowly for the count of 4 Exhale slowly for the count of 8 Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation Repeat until you begin to calm down Take breathing even deeper with pranayama Pranayama is the practice of using the breath to soothe an active mind. If practiced right, pranayama can bring harmony between mind, body and spirit. It boosts your ability to be mentally and spiritually strong. There are very specific breathwork techniques that are outside the scope of this article, but … Read More
Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports, everything. More often than not, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week for all that needs to be done. We’re on constant high alert. We’re always moving.
It’s World Music day this week (21st June), and since music is a huge part of my life, I thought I’d look at some ways it can improve our health. People use music in all sorts of ways – to focus during study or work and to distract from pain or stress such as when giving birth, in dentists, or having scans such as MRIs. We also use it for leisure whether for relaxing or to boost our performance. I know if my final running track is too soft, then I will struggle up the final hill of my usual route. I make sure I have something with a bit of ‘ooomph’ to give my legs the energy! (Thank you Foo Fighters!) There has been a lot of research into the ways in which music affects the brain, our moods and our wellbeing. Researchers have shown that listening to music not only gives us a hit of dopamine (the reward and pleasure hormone), it also gives us a total ‘brain workout’ as it lights up every area. So, it is not only pleasurable, but good for us too, keeping the brain functioning. So the top 5 ways Music can improve our health are – 1. Reduce stress and anxiety – Music can soothe us if we feel anxious. It can calm us if we feel angry. We can relax and go ‘somewhere else’ in our heads as we listen to it. As children we might have been sung to as … Read More
Gripping a steering wheel. Working a trackpad or mouse. Hovering over keyboards. And cookers…..and laundry….. You get it. We put our hands and forearms through an awful lot of stress every day. Squeezing and clenching and buckling and writing. All of it. And yet, when I start to massage a hand and forearm, I often hear, “Oh! I had no idea my arms were so sore!” It’s a common surprise, but not really a surprise. They get sore. And when they get really overworked, we end up with carpal tunnel, tendonitis, trigger finger and a whole host of other issues. The upside here: it’s pretty easy to massage your own hands and forearms. Here’s how: Start at the top. Using the opposite hand, gently squeeze the meaty, fleshy areas just below your elbow. Squeeze on the inside of your arm then on the outside. Gently is the key here, don’t be jamming your thumb in there hard and causing pain. It should feel good, and if it doesn’t, back off a bit. If you want to get fancy, roll the wrist around and wiggle the fingers as you squeeze. Do that light squeezing all the way down to the wrist, and do this a few times, up and down the forearm to cover all the territory there. Then move to the hand, using a light pincer grip, squeeze that meaty area at the base of your thumb. Lightly squeeze up and down all those finger bones through … Read More