Tag Archives: Wellness

SELF-HELP

There is a saying; “don’t give them fish, teach them how to fish”.

Many people who  come to see me want a “quick fix”, hoping that I will wave my magic wand and all that is difficult will just vanish. It doesn’t function like this. We have become so used to the quick fixes of medicine and drugs, that we have become unaware of how we live and influence our lives. When there is imbalance, be it physical, emotional or whatever, something needs to be changed and a quick fix only postpones this moment of change.

Often people are shocked by what they need to do to change a negative situation; nutritional habits, sleeping habits, medication, drugs, thought-patterns…. and they get upset by this. Well, we often sit in our imbalanced situations because we allowed ourselves to get there through bad habits and/or choices. We are all responsible for our lives and we are the only ones who can change anything. And no, it’s not easy – but who ever said it would be? If we really want something badly enough, we go for it – no matter the cost or work it entails. This is how we should live our lives.

Some people call me a life-saver, thanking me for saving their lives, others say that I do nothing for them. To both groups I say the same: “I am only a tool, albeit a very good one, but you are the one doing the work and using me as a tool. Results or no, it’s all up to you”. And the people who do the work and stick with it always, ALWAYS, reach their goals. Sometimes we fall down, or off the wagon, but that is also learning, look for the mechanics; why did it happen? then get up, brush yourself off and get on with it. Nothing is ever lost because of small “mis-takes” on the way, but they can be valuable lessons and keys to success.

Everybody can do it


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ALLOPATHIC + ALTERNATIVE = COMPLEMENTARY

In the 11th century doctors in Europe were widely called “leeches” or “barber-surgeons” and their trade consisted mainly of cupping and blood-letting – the universal cure-all. They used herbs, vinegars and wine in treatment, but very little was known about the human body, disease and hygiene. At the time the witch-hunt was on full force and many doctors were afraid to be accused of witch-craft, making them even more restricted in their medicinal practice. The “wise” women and men, who had a deeper knowledge of plants and healing were all too often burned at the stake or drowned for witch-craft, seriously depleting this empirical knowledge. What was left of it moved into the cloisters.

At the same time there existed a school for physicians in Persia where young men were taught religion, physics, medicine, law and philosophy. The great man Avicenna (Abu Ali at-Husain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina) was the leading expert and guru of the time. He developed a medical system that combined his own personal experience with the medical system of the Greek physician Galen (AD 129 – 199/217). The Greeks had done autopsies on human bodies, giving them invaluable knowledge of how the human body works. Due to religion, this practice was forbidden in European and Islamic cultures during the 11th century, and pigs were used as substitutes to learn about the human body.

Via different routes, not least via cloisters and traveling Jews, was spread the ideas of hygiene, nutrition, emotional and vibrational healing. Different schools of thought were born using “humors” and signature medicine. There was a deep understanding of the body as a whole; body/mind/soul, and that without considering all facets of a being, healing could not be successfully achieved.

Fast-forward to ad 2000: Medicine has advanced and developed with the speed of lightening; un-believable medical feats are being performed and there is an extensive knowledge of how the body works. At the same time it is as though the body has been separated from the soul. Many chronically ill people complain of the inhuman treatment of them, they become a machine, something interesting to study.

Medicine is more than just body, for deep and true healing to take place the soul needs to be healed as well. I think it is time to re-instate complementary therapy into the equation. I, as a therapist, do not set broken bones or operate on tumors. But I massage, see and listen to the person behind the disease, I help their souls to heal – or sometimes die – if that is the case. Medical doctors usually don’t have this knowledge, and instead of (in some cases) scoffing it, they should seek to work with it. I have worked with medical doctors who are amazed at the healing powers a person has when they are treated complementary as well. We are both aware of the fact that our “medicines” are entirely different – and that is a good thing.

At last; If it was only about repairing the body; why are people so ill? Why are the surgeries and chemo and radiation and transplants not enough? Why do some people heal and others not? Complementary therapy is not subsidized, making it un-available for many people which is unfair. In UK complementary therapies are offered at hospitals and hospices as part of the program, maybe it is time for other countries to follow suite.

If alternative/complementary therapies got acceptance from society, there would be stricter rules about education and training, making it easy for people to find a true therapist, because Yes, there are a lot of “fakes” around – giving the profession a bad rep.

And people, you are paying for your medical care through taxes, you have a say in what you need: If you want it, demand it.

HOURLY STRESS-RELIEF

Plenty of people come to me for help with stress, expecting that a session or a workshop will make it all go away, which, of course, it doesn’t. Looking around I am not entirely surprised over this naivete, stress is on everybody’s lips and the definition of what stress actually is has been lost along the way. No matter where the stress comes from or what the stressors are, stress is always personal. Each and every person that comes to me with problems of stress are different; personalities, results of stress, what the stressors are etc. (An informational tid-bit: The word stressor (stress + or) was “created in 1955)

As I have said before, negative reactions to stress is a lifestyle problem. Knowledge and understanding is needed to isolate and understand the problem, and very often some important life-style changes are needed to heal. But this is individual so I won’t go into it here. If you have serious problems you should find a therapist or a coach to help you. For daily measures following advice makes a big difference; if you do this every hour it will take 5 minutes of your time and increase your effectiveness and well-being: But you need to remember to do it, nobody will do this for you…

  • Smile, even if it is fake. The mere muscular movement of pulling your mouth into a smile sends signals to the limbic system in the brain to secrete more “feel-good-hormones” and boosts your immune-system: Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine found that laughing also “lowers serum cortisol levels, increases the amount of activated T lymphocytes, increases the number and activity of natural immune system killer cells, and increases the number of T cells that have helper / suppresser receptors.”
  • Stretch; stand up and stretch your whole body, really feel how circulation increases in your muscles – like bubbly water, making them warm and free. Do this every hour and you will experience much less tension and aches.
  • Check your posture; how do you carry yourself? If you straighten up your body automatically sends signals to the brain, making you feel strong and positive. How to do it: Stand up with your knees slightly bent, arms by your side. Lift your chin and do forward shoulder-rolls, 3 times (really lift your shoulders up and around and release them to feel your arms growing longer), and then do backward shoulder-rolls 3 times. Now your chin should be lifted, your back straight, your arms are longer and your shoulders lowers. Your chest should be open and lifted. Do this exercise every hour and each time you think about it. You will find that it makes a huge difference to your energy-levels. Constantly check your posture in mirrors and shop-windows, correcting as needed.
  • Drink water: One 25cl glass each hour keeps you hydrated. You will have better energy, improved mood and no head-aches or heavy feeling. It helps flush out toxins in your body-system, keeping you healthy and balanced. Every cell in your body needs fresh water to function well. With every soda, coffee or alcohol intake, drink extra water to balance the dehydrating effects, and help the body to handle the toxins.
  • Breath; 3 deep breaths deep down in your stomach. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep it nice and slow, really filling up with fresh air and breathing out all staleness, exhaustion, irritation from your system. Do this every hour, every cell in your body needs oxygen, stress and sitting still deprives you of oxygen.
  • Thoughts; Pay attention to your thought-patterns. Every time you notice negative patterns, change them to the positive. Think of beautiful places, somebody you love, something that makes you happy.
  • Re-connect with yourself; Every hour take stock of how you feel; both physically and emotionally, and give your body what it needs; water, relaxation, movement, nutrition.
  • Cut out sugar; this is a tough one, I know, but sugars (especially fake sugars) are pure toxins to the body. It wreaks havoc with your hormone-systeme, digestion, mood… Eat fruit and nuts (unsalted, non-sweetened, non-roasted) if you need a quick fix. Your body and mind will thank you for this.
  • Stimulants; coffee, tea, alcohol, cigarettes; try to keep it to a minimum. Go for green tea or herbal teas (mint-tea is great for added energy) Check out all the natural teas in the health food store.

Once you start listening to your body and give it these hourly relief-moments you will also learn what you need. The greatest stressor is not paying attention to inner needs. Nutrition, sleep/relaxation and exercise are the 3 most important ingredients to staying healthy and combating stress. Learn about nutrition and proper eating because everything you put in your body will be used as fuel, so what you eat and drink really matters greatly to your health. Your body and mind are totally connected; all what you think/feel will be lodged in your body, and whatever is going on in your body will affect what you think/feel. Here is a small example; when you feel fear, you round your back, pull up your shoulders and cross your arms in front of you…feelings influence how you use your body.

Remember: All what you do or don’t do to yourself today will influence the quality of the rest of your life.

THE COACH

Compact Oxford English dictionary says:

Coach: noun 1 an instructor or trainer in sport. 2 a tutor who gives private or specialized teaching. • verb train or teach as a coach.

”A coach just has a different perspective. The coach can see what you can’t see because you’re in the forest and they’re outside of it.
To me, a coach is not better, they’re a friend, they’re an equal, they’re there for you, they’re somebody who cares deeply about your well-being but they’re also incredibly skilled to help guide you at the moment you really need it
.”
-Tony Robbins

The key-word here being guide.

I always considered myself being a therapist; helping people when they needed it. I was always good at understanding what’s going on in people, so it is quite natural for me to work professionally with this. Now more and more people call me a coach, which I never do. So I decided to look into this whole coach-thing and see why I am suddenly a coach…

First of all I realized that the word therapist is connected to imbalance & need, and many people don’t feel comfortable with this. Coach, on the other hand, implies strength & choice. To me they are only words, but words are important; I call people who come to me clients – they come by their own choice because they want to change or balance something in their lives. To me they are never patients – which to me sound like a passive acceptance of something out of control.

So back to coaching: As a therapist/coach I back people up and I guide them to find their ultimate path in life and the strengths they have. I also guide them in understanding and finding acceptance of sad or negative actions/re-actions.  I believe everybody can change and re-create his/her  life if and when needed. I care deeply about the person in front of me and I am non-judgmental. Of all the things I learned during my years of listening and inter-acting with others, the most difficult was being non-judgmental; liberating myself from my own values, ideas and programmings. A session of “coaching” is always about the person asking (the client). The coach/therapist is a tool for personal development – be it sport, health, studies or anything else.

I am also a coach as in teacher: I train health professionals in different specialized areas such as essential oils, motivation etc. I also give work-shops to people who want to know different stuff.

Besides which; a coach is a carriage, which I find a bit funny. Don’t really know how the words connect, but maybe the coaches around the world carry the people to results…?

HYDROSOLS

A hydrosol (also called hydrolate) is the condensate water produced during steam-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes. In distillation of plant material for essential oil, water-steam is pressed through the plant material which releases all chemical molecules light enough to travel with the steam. From there it goes to a condenser where the steam is cooled down to form water and essential oil that separate upon cooling, with the EO usually floating on top of the water. The resulting water is an unique product as it contains all light-weight water-soluble substances + tiny amounts of essential oil (approximately 0.2%), but none of the heavier water-soluble substances. This is quite different from an infusion where all the water-soluble substances stay in the water, including some plant material and other heavier substances.

Hydrosol means “water solution” and comes from the Latin hydro (“water”) and sol (“solution”). Hydrolate means hydro (“water”) and late from the French lait, meaning milk.  Supposedly this name stems from the fact that often the hydrosols are slightly milky when they first come out of the stills.

Sometimes the word Floral Water is used which I find misleading; hydrosols come from all aromatic plants, not only flowers. Very often a floral water is water scented with essential oil or synthetic fragrance in which case it is something entirely different. Therefor I prefer to stick with the word hydrosol.

A Hydrosol has a life-span of 1-3 years, depending on the original plant and storage. Hydrosols need to be stored in cool and dark places – the fridge is perfect. They should be distilled from organically grown plants and bottled without preservatives. The label should clearly state the name of the plant from which it was distilled, including the latin name, when it was distilled and if it is organic. A Hydrosol is primarily acidic, with a pH of 3.6-6.0,  making it ideal for skin & personal care. It is mild enough to be used safely by most anybody –  aged, sick and weak individuals as well as babies and children. Use it as a tonic for your skin, taste-enhancer in cooking and baking, to wash wounds, sooth burns and inflammations…The possibilities are endless.

Tips:

  • Tonifying water for skin: Wipe your skin with hydrosol on cotton balls after cleansing: dry, mature skin: Hydrosol of lavender or rose. Oily  blemished skin: Hydrosol of orange water, witch hazel, Rosemary. Use Hydrosol in a spray for a guick freshen-up during the day (brilliant when traveling). Just spray a fine mist onto skin and let dry. You can even do this when wearing make-up.
  • Sun-burn: Spray the area with Hydrosol of Lavender (soothing) or Mint (cooling). Apply Aloe Vera Gel. Works also for itchy skin and hot flashes.
  • Disinfectant for air and hands while traveling; spray in the air, on your hands, on tissue.
  • Drinks; add 5 ml of hydrosol to 200 ml of water for a refreshing drink. A dash of Rose hydrosol in some champagne – very luxurious – or white wine as an aperitif.
  • Use as a scent to spray on linen, hair, clothes, curtains…
  • Add to bath. (Even for babies and small children; lavender, rose)
  • Use when baking cakes, cookies and pastries. (Do not mistake Hydrosol for the “floral waters” you can buy in asian markets. These “waters” are usually synthetically enhanced water.) Always check the label.

If you want to know more about hydrosols and their uses, this is an excellent read: “Hydrosols, the next aromatherapy” by Suzanne Catty.

WHAT IS IN YOUR SKIN-CARE?

“The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (COLIPA) informed the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) that the Legal Services of the EU Commission has accepted the names in CTFA’s International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary (ICID) without translation. These names, which are now designated as International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names, will be used by EU members to identify ingredients in the EU Inventory of cosmetic ingredients and are expected to be the basis for ingredient labeling on products that will be required in the EU in 1997.”

(taken from a FDA document that you can look closer at here.)

Simplified, this means that until this time there were no regulations regarding the declaring of ingredients in skin-care. You could put anything you liked in there, and nobody would ever know. Because of, or maybe thanks to, increasing allergic reactions, the demand for clarity about ingredients in skin-care pushed the need of this law. To simplify the communication and understanding of ingredients, INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) was decided upon: This means that all ingredients by plant extracts are named by their Latin botanical names (according to Linneae) and for other ingredients the chemical names are used. These names are recognized world-wide. Regulations also stipulate that on the label the ingredients should be listed in falling order with the largest ingredient first. To give you an idea of the amounts: A cream consists of about 50-60% water, a lotion of 70-90% water. The ingredients way down on the list are in the proportions of 0,x% or even 0,0x%. So if you buy, for example, a product that is labeled with something special; lavender or Aloe Vera or something, check the list. Chances are that you find this ingredient among the last on the list, and then you know the amounts are around 0.x%. There is no law stipulating WHAT you can say, only that you list it. Following are the INCI-lists of 2 well-known, popular body-lotions. I have highlighted the pure natural ingredients.

This is the INCI-list of a popular body lotion: Aqua, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Paraffinum liquidum, Glycerin, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract, Linoleic Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Cera Microcristallina, Disodium Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Parfum, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic acid, BHT, Pentaerythrityl Tetradi-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamat, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Limonene, Linalol.

Several of these chemicals are known toxins.

This is the INCI-list of a natural body-lotion: Water/Aqua, Rose (Rosa Canina) Hip Extract, Rose (Rosa Gallica) Petal Extract, Sweet Almond (Prunus Dulcis) Oil, Alcohol, Glycerin, Quince (Pyrus Cydonia) Seed Extract, Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Carrot (Daucus Carota) Extract, Jojoba (Buxus Chinensis) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Beeswax/Cera Flava, Rose (Rosa Gallica) Wax, Rose (Rosa Damascena) Essential Oil, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil), Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citral*, Coumarin*, Eugenol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Propolis Wax/Propolis Cera, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum


I leave it up to you to make your decision about what kind of stuff you want to put on your skin. Remember though that if molecules are small enough, they go straight through your skin and into your bloodstream from where they can access every cell of your body.

If you want more information on different chemicals or skin-care ingredients, you can check out this website: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

Rub Your Pains Away with Pregnancy Massage

When I was pregnant I had great help of essential oils and massage for all the little things that come: prevention of stretch-marks (4 children later and not one mark!) Nausea, lower back pain, leg-cramps, swelling and of course the Grand Finale: Birth!!! I gave birth to my last child at home in the living-room one stormy night in September. It was pure bliss. I will write more about this later. For now here is an article about massage in pregnancy for you:

The article is from “JUST PARENTS” and the website is: http://www.justparents.co.uk/

Rub Your Pains Away with Pregnancy Massage

Your back aches, your feet are swollen and your neck is sore. And, to top it all off, you feel fat and lethargic. You’re a typical pregnant woman with raging hormones and an expanding waistline.

Pregnancy takes a major toll on the body—the skeletal structure is supporting an increasing amount of weight and organs shift to accommodate a growing baby. Your center of gravity has changed and your back, shoulders, and neck feel achy. All of this is normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer until your baby is born.

All you need is a little human touch.

Physical Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Massage offers a range of benefits for the average person, but it is especially beneficial for pregnant women. Natural-touch therapy is known to improve circulation and digestion, ease backache, decrease pain in the pelvis and hip, reduce swelling of the feet and legs, provide relief to weight-bearing joints, help maintain proper posture and reduce fatigue. And these are just the physical benefits of pregnancy massage.

According to a study conducted by the Touch Institute at the University of Miami (U.S.), 20 minutes of massage performed two times a week for five weeks effectively improved sleep patterns and reduced stress hormones in pregnant women. Additionally, women that received regular massages had lower rates of postnatal complications and premature birth.

And you thought massage just felt good!

Pregnancy Massage as Mood Booster

Human touch is inherently nurturing. For many women, pregnancy is an emotional rollercoaster. Massage can smooth the ride by giving you the attention and emotional boost that you deserve. Natural-touch therapy lessens anxiety and promotes relaxation—all of which trickles down to your baby. A happy, relaxed mum is a happy, relaxed baby.

Not All Massage Therapists are Equal

Finding the right massage therapist is key to maximum comfort and safety. Look for a massage therapist specifically certified in pregnancy massage.
Certified massage therapists have undergone specialized training and know what is—and isn’t—safe for pregnant women. Just because a clinic or spa offers pregnancy massage doesn’t mean the staff is capable of handling the special needs of a pregnant woman.

What to Expect

Before the massage, you should be placed on your side or seated in a semi-reclining position and propped with pillows. Avoid lying flat on your back after 22 weeks because it puts pressure on deep blood vessels that can reduce circulation to you and your baby. Some massage clinics have a special table with a hole cut out, allowing you to lie on your stomach. However, massage therapists disagree on whether this device strains the lower back.

Precautions

Because doctors have differing opinions on the safety of pregnancy massage during the first trimester, it’s best to wait until the second or third trimester before booking an appointment. As with all therapies, consult with your health practitioner beforehand. Even though pregnancy massage is generally safe, there are conditions where a massage must be avoided. Women with gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, placental dysfunction, a high-risk
pregnancy, heavy discharge and morning sickness, as well as women who are at risk of early labor, should not have a massage.

Save the Pain for Childbirth

Everything you feel should be soothing, not painful. Chances are that you don’t want to stimulate labor while sitting in a massage chair. There is a pressure point between the ankle bone and heel that must be avoided. According to reflexology, these pressure points relate to the uterus and vagina, and labor may be stimulated if direct pressure is applied to the area. A certified massage therapist will know to avoid this area and to not perform deep-tissue massage.

Experience Massage in Your Pajamas

Recruit your partner as your own personal massage therapist and get relief in the comfort of your home. To begin, straddle a chair so you’re facing the back of it. Place pillows between you and the chair and lean forward. Have your partner rub some massage oil in his hands, cross his hands across your back and apply gentle pressure around—not on—your spine. He should press in a circular motion with the heels of his hands or pads of his fingers and move up and down your back. Say, “Ahhh…”