Tag Archives: Stress

GERANIUM for balance

Pelargonium graveolens

Pelargonium graveolens

Geranium, Rose geranium Pelargonium graveolens (P. x asperum, P. odoratissimum,P. roseum). There are many hundreds of different geraniums, but I shall concentrate on P. graveolens since this is the one most known and used in aromatherapy. It originates in South Africa, but is now cultivated in Russia, China, Egypt, Morocco and Europe. Geranium Bourbon is cultivated in the Reunion and mostly preferred by the perfume industry due to its scent. Geranium was introduced to Europe as late as the 17th century. Most people know Geranium as a potted plant with highly aromatic leaves and small flowers that can be pink, red or white. These plants are usually of other species.

Geranium is a hairy shrub that can grow up to one meter high, the leaves are pointed and serrated, the flowers small and pink. The whole plant is aromatic and distilled for its essential oil. The scent is sweet and rosy with a herbaceous and refreshing touch.

Pelargonium graveolens

Pelargonium graveolens

USES:

  • Skin: A wonderful oil for all skin types. It is a very balancing and healing oil with anti-inflammatory properties; acne, eczema, burns, wounds. Incorporate in oil-blends for stretch marks. Geranium is considered anti-fungal and might be of help with verrucae.
  • Circulation: Its decongestant properties make it excellent for cellulite and oedema (water retention) as it stimulates circulation.
  • Digestion: Nausea, sluggish liver.
  • Muscles & joints: Painkilling: rheumatism, fibromyalgia, arthrose.
  • Respiratory: Sore throat, tonsillitis
  • Hormonal: Geranium is useful for heavy menstruation, menopause, PMT, milk congestion when breastfeeding (use as a compress, make sure to wash breast before feeding).
  • Emotional: Brilliant balancer; Premenstrual tension, irritation, anxiety, stress, nervous tension, insomnia.

WARNING: Don’t use in case of oestrogen related tumours.

PERSONAL: This is THE oil for all PMT-related imbalances (including sore breasts). It’s wonderful in sweet blends as it brings a certain sharpness. Geranium is “the balancer” and I have used it with great success for clients who are changing lifestyles; foods, alcohol, tobacco. It evens out the peaks of high and low and make them better able to deal with cold turkey. Incorporate in any blend for emotional stress.

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A NEW HEALTHY LIFE-STYLE – EXERCISE

Our bodies are designed to move…a lot. Everything in the body is in constant movement, inside we are like a beautifully designed machine where everything fits together. But the machine needs to work (move) to function. When we move circulation is enhanced; oxygen in, toxins out. There is no other way to do this. When we don’t move the opposite occurs; bad circulation, accumulation of toxins in our system, weak muscles that can’t keep the posture, the skeletal system goes out of whack because there is no muscle support and we end up with a whole array of aches and pains. The way our society is built today does not leave much space for movement. We sit at work, sit in our transportation, sit at home. We take the elevator or the escalator, even if it means waiting. We are constantly stressed and in some kind of pain because the body is not getting what it needs. And when the body doesn’t get what it needs, nor does the mind. When exercising, the brain secretes all kind of yummy, feel-good hormones that make us high and happy.

The benefits of exercise are huge: Less risk for osteoporosis, better circulation, healthy hunger and healthy demands from the body, clarity of mind, improvement of mood, more energy, better sleep-patterns, reduces stress, the list is long. Look at children; they move all the time and their bodies are strong and fit. They don’t have problems with posture, aches and dislocated vertebrae…

If you are not used to exercising, start slow: Take the stairs, take a walk, park your car further away from the mall. Walk those 2 bus-stops (it’ll probably be faster than waiting for the bus), dance. Little by little you add on; walk further, start doing other exercises, run, skip, jump, climb a tree. When you are at the playground with your child, play! Climb, swing and use the playground equipment to exercise. Check out videos on YouTube “playground exercises”.

  • Aches and pains: If you have problems with your body, chances are that they will heal or get better with movement. Just be careful not to overdo it. If you have problems with your knees walk the stairs up and take the elevator down. Going downstairs or downhill creates a much bigger impact on your joints. Walk, don’t run or jump. Climbing is good. Push-ups is a brilliant exercise for the whole body and can be done by anybody. If you can’t do full push-ups, start on your knees or against a wall or an elevated surface. Menstrual pain always lessens with movement. Head-aches often clear.
  • Time: You can get a really heavy-duty work-out in only 15-20 min. Cardio by running, skipping rope, dancing, step-ups or using the stairs. Strength by using interval-training. This can be fit in any time during the day; lunch break, morning, evening. Instead of sitting through stupid programs on the TV or hanging out with your best buddy – the computer, move! You can even fit in more than one session in a day.
  • Expenses: There are none unless you want to. For weights you can use cans, water-bottles, rocks…whatever. You can use an ordinary rope for skipping, your body-weight is already something to work with. You can do everything in your living-room, garden, play-ground, park, forest…use your imagination. If you want to invest, buy some dumb-bells, they are not too costly. I invested in a timer for interval-training, it’s called Gymboss and you can purchase it either in a sports-shop or here. It costs about 20 US dollars. Interval training is hard to do on your own without a timer.
  • Body-weight & Balance: When you do body-weight exercises, you use all the muscles in your body because while you are moving, the body constantly has to stabilize and balance itself. I prefer this to working on machines because the machine targets only one area. By using your whole body you get balance, coordination and strength. There is no end to the movements and combinations you can create, so you don’t have to get bored. Besides, you can do it anywhere. I LOVE interval-training (or Tabata); it’s fun, fast, easy and efficient. I do it in my living-room in winter, in my garden in the summer and sometimes in the forest where I can use nature’s equipment.
  • Warm-up & Stretching: Always warm up before training and stretch after. This will keep stiffness and soreness to a minimum, keeping you muscles long and supple. Some stiffness is to be expected when you start, or step up, your work-out. The best way to get past this is by exercising. Over time your program will get too easy, then you need to add more movements or weight.

Here is a great video to show how interval training is done:

You will love the look and feel of your new body; toned muscle, good posture, looking radiant and strong. You will find yourself taking every chance to move; walk, take the stairs, turn the house-cleaning into a work-out 🙂 Health is all about loving and respecting yourself.

SENIORS & STRESS

Seniors are a growing but invisible group in society. More often than not do they come to the point of moving into a home where they can be properly looked after. This is an intensely stressful event. Some people choose to move into a home of their choice at the time of their choice, but they are few. Most seniors slide into a solitary life in their own homes until they can’t manage it anymore and then are moved to a senior home. At this point they often become confused, scared, depressed and angry.

From these negative feelings arise many problems; circulatory, emotional, sleep-disorders, appetite and digestion. Sometimes seniors deteriorate very quickly in a home; the older we get, the more loath we become to leave our familiar – and therefor safe – surroundings and when this safety is taken away the world falls apart. When there is also mental confusion, a move at this time in life can become a huge trauma.

AROMATHERAPY:

I have done some work in retirement homes using essential oils and the results are amazing! By using carefully blended oils in proper dosages a lot can be done. Together with massage they work wonders on stressed individuals. Massage can be as simple as stroking somebody’s hand, bringing peace to the person. There is no need for massage-training, all that is needed is care. Scents in diffusers also help with emotional balance and a stress-free environment.  Anxiety, fear, stress, confusion, depression, anger….all schoolbook examples on areas where essential oils are helpful.

  • Emotional disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Orange (Citrus sinensis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), Petit grain (Citrus aurantium), Bergamott (Citrus bergamia), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). When severe: Neroli (Citrus aurantium ssp. amara var pumilla), Rose (Rosa damascena), Melissa (Melissa officinalis).  Massage, diffusion.
  • Sleeping disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). Massage, diffusion.
  • Stimulating appetite: Lemon (Citrus limon), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Diffusion 20 min. before mealtimes.
  • Mental stimulation: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Lemon (Citrus limon), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Seniors are frail in many ways, not least physically. Always contact a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils.

Massage therapy & stress and anxiety in children

Massage therapy and  stress and anxiety in children

A study conducted at University of Miami Medical School, Florida, USA, revealed that massage may offer considerable help for children suffering from stress-related disorders. A 30-minute back massage was given daily for a 5-day period to 52 children who were hospitalized as suffering from depression and adjustment disorders. Subjective assessments were made by the children themselves and by the nurses based upon perceived anxiety levels, sleep patterns and the willingness of the child to be co-operative. Objective analyses were also made by analysing stress hormone levels in the both the urine and saliva. The results were then compared to a control group who were shown relaxing videotapes for 30 minutes instead of massage therapy.

The results of the study revealed that the children receiving a 30 minute massage were less depressed or anxious and had lower saliva cortisol levels after the massage. In addition, nurses rated the massage group as being more co-operative on the last day of the study, and noted that the children were sleeping better than the children in the control group and that their night-time sleep had increased over the 5 day period. Massage therapy also had the effect of reducing urinary cortisol and norepinephrine levels in the children suffering from depression which was not observed in any of the children in the control group.

The researchers were left in no doubt that massage therapy offers real benefits for children suffering from stress and anxiety.

Field T; Morrow C; Valdeon C; Larson S; Kuhn C; Schanberg S. Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric patients. Journal of the American Acadamy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry (UNITED STATES) Jan 1992, 31 (1) p125-31

Personal rhythm

Every person has their own rhythm; sleep, energy, hormonal cycles, digestion, that greatly influences performance.  Most writers I know write in the wee hours of morning or late at night when all is quiet and there are no interruptions, many athletes prefer to train in the morning. Some people are full of energy in the evenings and some in the mornings. Daily life schedule is usually fixed, no matter how our rhythms look, and this can sometimes become an enormous stressor.

Many people experience sleeping-problems; they can’t fall asleep in the evening, wake up at strange times, are tired upon waking in the morning… Often it is related to their specific sleep-patterns or rhythms. The same goes for our “daily cycles”; our energy moves in waves and at certain times during the day we have “dips” when we feel tired or un-focused. Over time this can lead to tension and stress.

Most people aren’t even aware of their own patterns, they fight a loosing battle trying to fit into a schedule of work, over time getting depleted and stressed. By learning our patterns or rhythms, we can enhance our performance by time-management and scheduling. So how do we learn our patterns?

Keep a diary for 1-4 weeks where you note your findings:

  • Sleep: When do you get tired in the evening? When do you feel comfortable getting up? How many hours do you need to sleep?
  • “Dips”: Pay attention to when this happens during the day and how often. Note the time.
  • Digestion: How do you feel comfortable with eating? What time? How many times? How much? How long does it take you to digest?
  • Hormones (more obvious for women): Menstrual cycles; how do they affect your performance?

After a certain amount of time, you will notice a pattern in your diary; this would be your basic energy-rhythm. By knowing your pattern you can also fit it with the life you are living. You need to teach yourself to function optimally.

Balance your sleep:

  • Energetic in the evenings, tired in the morning? Do something; take a walk or exercise, prepare for the next day so morning flows easy (get your clothes out, clean the kitchen, pack your bag). Then go to bed. Keep your room dark and cool. Maybe a calming tea or a bath will help.
  • Tired in the evenings, energetic in the morning? Get to bed earlier and get up earlier. Do your exercise in the morning, your daily preparation as well.
  • Waking up in the night at the same hour? When this is caused by stress it is usually very negative; worry, angst, a sense of doom and extremely black thoughts. Then stress-management is a must. If it is “only” waking up it could be that you have left your deep sleep and moved into dream time. Stay relaxed, breath deeply and stay with your dream. Research shows that to remember a dream, we need to wake up after it and stay awake 1-3 minutes, whis means that we wake up many times during the night without being aware of it, usually we just fall asleep again.
  • When you constantly feel exhausted after a nights sleep there is usually stress involved; your brain is not resting and you probably have problems accessing your deep sleep state. Stress-management is needed.
  • Heavy or large meals, alcohol, sugars and black/green tea/ coffee in the evening will influence your sleep negatively.

“Dips”: When you have found the rhythm, use the “dip-time” for de-stress by taking a break, a few minutes is usually enough: Drink water (not coffee), move around a bit, do some deep breathing. A friend of mine goes running or walking in the stairs… whatever suits you. Just move!

Digestion:

  • When do you need your main meal? Morning, noon, afternoon? This is different for everybody.
  • How do you react on what you eat? Maybe you need to change your eating habits? The body needs more time to digest a heavy meal such as steak, pasta, greasy food. If you feel heavy and tired after eating, chances are that you are eating the wrong stuff. Always move after meals; take a walk.
  • How often do you need sustenance such as a fruit? (NOT sugary stuff)

Hormones:

Ladies, we are NOT slaves under our hormones!!!

  • PMS: irritation, anger? Get fish-oil capsules. Use breathing techniques, balancing essential oils, exercise.

We are made for physical movement; to optimize our performance we need to move many times during the day. This will balance hormones, sleep, digestion, mental clarity and moods. MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!

MOTIVATION WHEN STRESSED

(picture from “The Independent”)

Part of motivation is actually stress; that’s what gives the “kick” to get going. The “good” stress as it is called. But what happens when that “good” stress swamps you? Everything falls apart and instead of giving a kick to get going, it either paralyzes you into either non-action or makes you inefficient. Problem is, we seldom notice it happening, one day our heart is just not in it. And when we are stressed, seriously stressed, how do we find the motivation to deal with it? The very nature of stress is the complete opposite of motivation. It is fine to talk about stress-management and techniques – I do it all the time – but I have also realized that this is not always the solution, since motivation is lacking. We need to learn about stress and our own reactions to it to be able to handle it; nip it in the bud, as it were.

Many years ago I had a break-down from stress and of course I didn’t see it coming; I was having the time of my life and things were going well. Being much in demand, I kept adding to my agenda indiscriminately…does it sound familiar? One day I crashed and everything fell apart. I emptied my agenda and just tried to make it through the days. Even though I was a therapist and had all the know-how to handle my own situation, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t do “all the stuff” to help myself, even though I consciously knew I should. Over time I taught myself to deal with it. This was before stress had become a serious issue, and there was not much help to be found…I just had to figure it out.

When stress is breaking us down we don’t breath, meditate, exercise, eat properly and so on. Even though we know this is what we should be doing we seem to be incapable of doing it, so we take another cup of coffee and force ourselves to push harder to “get on with it” without any motivation for it at all. When the head-aches, back-pains and stomach-pains set in we reach for the pain-killers.

So how do we break this bad circle? How on earth do we find the motivation to deal with our stress? Especially when it seems that the world is caving in on us. This is the inner stress; the invisible enemy that doesn’t really show on the outside, the night-time demons; the angst, fear, sleeplessness, churning thoughts, night-mares, depression and hopelessness. Stress-management starts here; in realizing what you are feeling, when and why. Only then can you start doing something about it. Stress always creates angst and we find ourselves battling invisible fears. The reason I call it “the night-time demons” is because it always happens at night, when we are not occupied. At night they become larger than life, tearing us apart and in day-time we run faster than ourselves to keep these “demons” at bay. This creates a state of chaos in our emotional systems, and we can see no solutions. But there are always solutions.

Start slow, this takes time:

  • Every time the “demon” kicks in, get out of bed, turn on the light and look at it: The first question is: “what can I do about it right now?” The answer is usually “NOTHING.”
  • Drink a cup of tea, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, this exacerbates the angst. Better to realize that you are not going to sleep anyway and do something instead; Write lists; what can I do tomorrow? The next day? Maybe I can talk to my boss, teacher, banker and ask for advice. This is a creative process and it helps your mind to relax.
  • Change one thing to the positive; like exchanging coffee for herbal tea, take a short walk or pay attention to your breathing. Do this at least once a day. Just one little thing that is manageable. Over time you add to it.
  • Cut something out, give yourself a break; Find one thing that you do every day that is not absolutely necessary and cut it out. Again, over time, add to it. One thing at a time.
  • Write yourself into your agenda; Your time to do nothing or do something you want. When in stress we have the feeling that we need to explain or excuse ourselves; you are accountable to nobody but yourself. If your agenda is booked, you say no to other stuff…this goes for your time as well. Nobody has the right to question why you are busy, it is nobody’s business but your own.
  • ASK FOR HELP! I can’t stress this enough. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and there are always people who are prepared to help us when we need it. You are not alone.
  • CRY (if you need/want to); it helps to balance us within when we are “poisoned” by our own stress-hormones. But don’t feel sorry for yourself, remember; you put yourself here in the first place.
  • SAY NO! Don’t add anything to your schedule unless it is for your personal self. You are busy healing yourself; make no mistake about it – this is work.

It is all about self-respect. If you do not respect yourself, how are you going to respect anybody else? You will end up resenting the people around you – even your closest ones. It’s like in the airplanes; First you put on your oxygen-mask, then you help others. So get that oxygen-mask on!

STRESS & PRIDE

One thing I have noticed time and time again is that many people seem to be very proud of their stress. They are forever listing all the things they have to do, and if you do not praise them they get upset. They are the people who always do more than anybody else. If you say you worked 16 hours in a row, they worked 24. Then there are the people who are forever complaining about their stress; how hard their lives are, how bad they feel and how nobody understands.

What I am hearing in these two groups is the same: Victimization. Stress is nothing to be proud of, it is a sign that all is not well. Most often it is a sign of not listening to yourself and lack of self-respect, no matter if you are boasting or crying about your stress. Both these groups are very difficult to deal with, because they will not accept change. When I make such people list their daily activities, much of what they do is pure rubbish or bad organization and when I point this out, they get upset and I become a “bad guy”. There are forever excuses to why change is not possible, even for such mundane things as changing curtains 3 times a year.

To some people this is part of their “make-up” or personality. It is who they need to be to feel important, to be seen. Victimization functions very well in our society which might be one of the reasons people so easily fall into this trap. (Hand on heart: We have all been there) There are always solutions to any dilemma but we carry the responsibility for our well-being. No matter what kind of person you are, stress will always kick you in the face at one point if you don’t make changes. Some people that I have worked with, become so upset with me that they walk away, only to be back at a later date when they are truly falling apart – usually by disease or unbearable pain. Each time it saddens me that people will allow things to go so far when the problem was quite easily rectified to begin with.

I repeatedly see this phrase in job-ads: “Needs to be stress-resilient”. What is this? Nobody is stress-resilient; some individuals can handle a lot for a long time before they break…but usually they break so much harder. What the job-ads should say is: “Needs to be self-aware”.

I work with health, not disease. My job is to keep my clients healthy and balanced. More often than not people come to me as the “last resort” when nothing else has functioned. From this very low point in their lives it is a long haul to get back to balance. I should be the “first resort”, before things get bad. In China doctors are “judged” by their ability to keep patients healthy and in balance. Maybe a concept that we, in the Western world, should adopt?