Stressed? Anxious? Close to the tipping point?
Stress can affect us all at different times and to different levels, but if we’re not able to switch it off, and drop into proper relaxation and rest, prolonged stress can have a big impact on our physiological systems and wellbeing.
One of the things I see a lot in my practice is the impact of long term stress and how it impacts on our wellbeing. I’m often surprised at how little people understand about stress and what it does to us, so I’d like to explain a little of that here, and how Shiatsu and EFT can greatly reduce and improve our reactions to stress.
A lot of how we function is goverened by the Autonomic Nervous System, which is responsible for involuntary and reflexive functions in the body. The two key functions related to stress and relaxation are:
The sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” response, prepares our bodies for action. All of the organs involved in getting ready for a physical challenge (“fight”) or preparing for a retreat (“flight”) are activated through this system.
The parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) helps produce a state of equilibrium in the body.
The sympathetic nervous system is a fast-acting, and activates the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones activate the target muscles and glands, causing the body to speed up and become tense, as well as more alert. Non-essential functions which are not immediately necessary - like digestion and the immune system are shut down. (To a point)
Your body goes through a number of changes when the sympathetic nervous system is activated.
When we are faced with a stressor that presents an imminent physical danger, this is what happens, but we actually see many of these changes in response to lower level stressors too, and over a prolonged period of time, the body sits in a state of high stress and anxiety, unable to switch off this response. This can have devastating impact on our immunity, and digestion. Even our thinking becomes impacted, we are often unable to see the bigger picture, decision-making becomes difficult and we are easily muddled.
Shiatsu and E.F.T. can help de-activate the sympathetic nervous system, taking you to a place of calm, where the parasympathetic system can be activated. The Parasympathetic nervous system is a much slower acting system than the sympathetic nervous system, (which needs to kick in quickly in response to perceived threat.) The stress hormones cease to be released into the system, the heart rate slows and the body allows the functions of the digestive system to be activated fully, and digestive enzymes released, allowing nutrients to be fully digested and distributed to the organs again. It is in this state where the body activates its healing system again, which is what we are working with in Shiatsu.
There are many things we can do in our day to day life, which help to lower the stress reactions of the sympathetic nervous system, but sometimes we need that extra help to really cut through the stress messaging from the brain, and this is where Shiatsu can help. Allowing your self to really rest, and be supported in that at a physiological and emotional level helps boost immunity, digestion and healing.
Points and meridians we use in Shiatsu signal to the body it iss now safe to ‘switch off the stress’ and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. And in my experience, Shiatsu can create some really lasting results.
In Japan (where Shiatsu originates from) people traditionally would see their Shiatsu practitioner regularly to keep them well, and I personally receive Shiatsu on a very regular basis as part of my commitment to my wellbeing, regardless of whether I “need it” or not! And this is what we would recommend!
Using EFT we can begin to understand what some of our stress triggers are and work to change your relationship to them. The beauty of EFT is that it can help eliminate completely your reactions to triggers, so that when they happen you are able to glide through, cope and continue in a much more peaceful state.
I have done a lot of work with people who have been signed off work with stress, or are close to that point. Stress is one of the highest causes of time off from work in the UK, and I would really encourage anyone to take advantage of the support available before it gets too much.
If you would like to know more about how I work, or the benefits of Shiatsu and EFT and how they might apply to you, please do get in touch. I look forward to welcoming you to my beautiful clinic spaces in Cotham, Clifton and Southville in Bristol. I am also available over Skype to offer EFT or Health Creation Coaching.
Wishing you well!
If you’re like me, the incredible heat we’ve been experiencing this summer, although delightful, has been somewhat draining when trying to get through the day? Where as some people relish the heat and come alive to it in a whole new way! This can often be because of our constitution, and in Chinese Medicine, we all have a core ‘element’ where our struggles or weaknesses can emerge.
Over the coming months I will be writing a bit about each of the 5 Elements we work with in Shiatsu, some typical imbalances and how they might manifest.
We often think – ‘Oh- It’s just the way I am’ I hate/ love the cold / heat / change of seasons etc., but actually all of this informs us as practitioners, clues as to what imbalances you may be experiencing, and we can then turn our treatment to tend to these.
And just to reassure you, that we are all constantly re-balancing. We are never completely ‘in balance’ but there are ways that we can tip into more difficulties when we don’t notice and tend to those imbalances.
Shiatsu is like an exploration of this, first through the consultation, then through the treatment itself, where we are curious to notice what’s going on – both externally and internally, which can affect each of these different areas, and manifest in upset, pain, illness or difficulty if not tended to. By stimulating particular pressure points and meridians, we can remind the body of its own natural healing ability and what needs to be released or nourished to really fulfil its potential again.
Sometimes we will make recommendations to help us reinforce the work we have done as practitioners, which could encompass dietary suggestions, particular movements or stretches or exercise to include into your routine, or encouragement to pursue a creative activity or meditation, all sorts of things, which again come out of an understanding of what nourishes and stimulates particular “elements” or helps moderate or stimulate ways of being where we have become excessive or stuck.
I am really looking forward to sharing more with you over the coming months – but for the mean time enjoy the rest of the summer !
And as a note – summer is a time of expansion and joy, of self - expression and love – but can also be a time of great stillness and peacefulness so follow what your body is asking for! Dance wildly, swim, float or flop out! Your body knows what it needs!
And if you’re struggling with any of that – then you can come and see me in my new clinic in Southville on North Street, or in Cotham or Clifton. Just give me a call to book in!
I am delighted to announce that I am embarking on a new training with Dr Rosy Daniel and the Health Creation team. This training is to work as a Health Creation Mentor. This is a very structured, and holistic approach for people to embark on a fully supported journey into generating and making the changes they need to in their lives to live a full and healthy life.
This work has come out of the work Dr Daniel did at the Penny Brohn Cancer centre in Bristol, where she worked for many years as a holistic Doctor and then as director. The Health Creation Programme is a six month program where clients are invited to assess and engage with all aspects of their lives, exploring the physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors which may be affecting their health and wellbeing. A Health Creation Mentor works as a coach and mentor alongside the client, guiding them through this programme and helping them to address areas where changes may be welcomed, supporting them in choosing and implementing changes in areas identified, and supporting them when they may be struggling with that.
This work is all evidence based and has had huge impacts on those who have applied it, on their energy levels, states of health and wellbeing. Rather than using this work with people at the point they have been diagnosed with Cancer - this is being made available for anyone who wishes to fully engage in making changes in their life so that illness like cancer are less likely to affect them in the future.
I am very excited to be training in this work, and see it as a great compliment to my shiatsu and EFT Practice.
In the new year, I will be looking for people who would like to offer themselves up as a case study for this life changing work! This will be at low cost, and to work with me over the following six months to dive into creating lasting and powerful changes in your life to fully embrace health and wellbeing.
If you or anyone you know may be at a point where you feel you would like support in addressing your wellbeing in this way please get in touch, I would love to work with you!
Tapping is something you might well have done with me in a session, but I'd like to tell you a little more about it, and what it can be used for.
Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a tool I trained in whilst living in Australia, and I've been using ever since 2003. It is one of the most effective things I have come across, which I offer to clients to take home and use themselves. I'm now Training as an EFT Practitioner, and can offer sessions just in EFT or alongside the bodywork I offer in my shiatsu sessions, and I find this to be hugely effective. I am becoming increasingly excited by the results I am getting with clients, and people can't believe how effectively it is impacting on things they've been struggling with sometimes for years.
Tapping is a technique which combines stimulating acupressure points on the face and upper body by tapping them, whilst talking through an issue or problem which holds an emotional charge for you. The combination of the two things - talking and activating the meridians used in shiatsu through tapping the points, creates an incredible fast track to healing.
I am offering EFT sessions at the same price as my Shiatsu sessions, or you can come for an hour and a half session which combines both.
EFT is particularly effective for:
And the great thing about it is that you can use it on yourself at any point, not just rely on a therapy session to get the benefit.
As a Shiatsu practitioner I find that EFT is powerful and effective tool to accompany the work that I do in my Shiatsu sessions, and I bring my years of training and practice to the EFT work. Why not give it a go?!
IBS Awareness Month
Irritable Bowl Syndrome or IBS is one of the most common stress related Symptoms I see people in my clinic with. This can be a painful and embarrassing condition, which many people put up with, and can be hugely exacerbated in times of stress. Pains in the gut, bloating, excessive or trapped wind, and constipation or sudden diarrhoea are some of the most common symptoms.
In Chinese Medicine, IBS can be related to the emotion of grief or sadness, or not wanting to let go of something in your life. The bowel is designed to release waste matter; if there is something that is no longer required in our lives, and we are hanging on to it emotionally, not wanting to let it go, this can manifest in the physical state of constipation or IBS.
It also can relate to our personal boundaries in life. If we find ourselves being pushed into areas or situations we are not happy with – say in work or a relationship, or we feel out of control, this can also contribute towards IBS symptoms. Our body is literally trying to assert control over what is released or struggles to contain matter.
So often in consultation with clients who are struggling with IBS when I start to explore some of these areas with them it turns out to be exactly what’s going on for them at some level in their lives.
With the support of Shiatsu we can begin to address those areas of difficulty which are so often the underlying cause of stress and the aggravating factors for IBS, and the body begins to respond, with a decrease in symptoms.
There are a few things you can do for yourself in managing IBS day to day.
Most importantly look at what you can do to reduce your stress levels: (and keep an eye out for my blog posts on managing stress).
Shiatsu is a space where emotions and symptoms can be explored in a safe and supportive way, enabling the receiver to relax and in this relaxed state the body begins to heal. In my practice I offer time to explore what’s going on, and support people to find ways of helping themselves to a better state of peace and ease in their lives.
Ultimately we are all responsible for our own health, and one of the practices I often recommend to my clients to help improve their health and wellbeing is that of Qi Gong (pronounced Chee Gong). This is an ancient practice with is similar to Tai Chi in that it is a series of slow movements working with the breath, but is designed to activate and improve the Circulation of our Qi (chi or Ki) which we work with in Shiatsu. By bringing this practice into your daily or weekly routine, you are nourishing and supporting your body's inbuilt system, as we do in Shiatsu, building health, wellbeing and resilience.
I often show clients a few simple Qi Gong exercises, but nothing beats an actual class! For clients in Bristol I would recommend taking a look at this website www.qigong-bristol.co.uk which list local practitioners and classes available. and also explains a little about Qi Gong and some of the benefits!If you can't make a class, you can find heaps of instructional videos on the internet too. Why not give it a go and see how you feel?!
Maybe see you there!!
With Mothering Sunday approaching, I would like to reflect on what mother represents to us in Shiatsu and in Chinese medicine, and how that energy can be affected in all of us, regardless of who we are, and what our relationship with our mother is.
Mothering Sunday can be a difficult time for many, it can be hard for some to see everyone out with bunches of daffodils apparently happily celebrating with their mother with a big Sunday roast.
Not everyone has a mother still with them, or perhaps is struggling to become a parent themselves. Or perhaps their mother was not someone who was able to provide what was needed as a child and growing up, and the relationship is a troubled or painful one.
If we for a moment consider the archetypal mother, and what she represents – can you see how this might manifest in your own personal life, and how sometimes we can take these qualities to extreme….
For example, the mother represents unconditional love, nourishment, safety, care and support. But so often, when out of balance, these qualities can be tipped into negative and unsupportive behaviours such as a lack of ability to stop and look after ourselves., or a neediness. Nourishment for our Soul can be sought through overeating, or compulsive shopping, and at the extreme end; addictions, where we try to fill a place where we don’t feel loved, safe and secure, or where shame exists.
In Shiatsu we work with a system called the five elements, and the mother energy is represented by the Earth element. There often can be a deep routed source of destructive behavioural patterns, when this energy is out of balance.
Worry is a key indicator we identify with an earth imbalance, someone who is constantly overthinking or worrying, imagining the worst case scenarios, or just getting stuck in destructive thought patterns, with a disconnect from our bodies, being “stuck in our head”
When our earth energy has not been met fully, we learn to seek out other ways to get what we need in terms of nourishment or support. If you think of a mother – she will always do things for her children first and put herself second, but this can be take to extremes, and it can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the mother.
Often we will see people in caring professions who will work to excess to support or help others, but at a high cost to their own health and wellbeing. I’m sure you can think of a friend or relative who will do anything for anyone, but is resistant to accepting anything for themselves or creating space to look after and nurture themselves. Many of us do this to a greater or lesser degree, and I know this is something I have been working on in my life. Learning to say no, or graciously accepting gifts and acts of kindness from others can be a powerful way to start practicing finding a balance in our earth energy. A strong mother can hold the boundaries, as well as administer love care and support.
If a child growing up does not experience a healthy relationship with their mother for whatever reason, this can create difficulties in later life, where that person seeks out other ways to find security, a sense of belonging or nourishment, which can be damaging to our physical or emotional wellbeing.
In Shiatsu the power of touch can provide some of that at a very primal level. We seek out areas where the body can feel a sense of lack, and bring the quality of the Mother touch, of nourishment and support and safety, so then that does not need to be sought out in other ways. When we feel grounded, deeply nourished and supported, we can act from a place of power and choice, rather than from a place of lack or a sense of need.
5 simple ways to improve your life!
The following steps have been researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation. This evidence has been developed by a number of different organisations to help promote better ways to mental health and wellbeing. It is something I have used with clients to look at aspects of their lives where they might be able to make some simple changes, to increase their sense of happiness and wellbeing. You can look at each of these 5 aspects in your life, and see if you can add to or change what you are doing, and see if it makes any difference! Let me know how you get on!
CONNECT: BE ACTIVE: TAKE NOTICE: LEARN: GIVE
(The following breakdown and suggestions was taken from the Mind website)
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.
It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.
Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being.But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good - slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise. Today, why not get physical? Here are a few ideas:
Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness.
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities.
Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression.
The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.
Why not learn something new today? Here are a few more ideas:
Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research.
Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.
Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
Recently I was in the Gambia, visiting a rural community which I support as a trustee of a charity; the Kambeng Trust. Whilst there it transpired to be the Muslim new year, a national holiday was called, and worked ceased for the next two days ( New years eve is a different date each year in the muslim calendar, dependant on the moon, and Gambian's don't have much of a plan ahead mentality it seems!) I was curious to know how they chose to celebrate it, (and at such short notice!) What transpired was a simple ritual of visiting friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, and asking for forgiveness for any wrongs committed in the past year. and thus starting the new year with a clean conscience. To me this was a lovely idea, and got me thinking about our new year, how we celebrate beyond the boozing and fireworks, and what I choose to honour from the past year, what i'd like to let go of, and what I want to create or invite in for the new one.
Traditionally in our culture at this time of year we start to make plans and make great promises of action for our resolutions for the coming year, but in traditional chinese medicine, we are in the time of deep reflection. This is a time to retreat from the world; to reflect and contemplate. It is a time for stillness. Spring is naturally the time to put plans into action, not the depths of winter.- look at nature! The trees have shed their leaves, animals are hibernating, and have food stored for the time of shortage. - Ask any keen gardener what they are doing this time of year? and you'll be hard pressed to get their attention away from the seed catalogue! We often use this time to make sweeping statements about diet, fitness, finances, or ways of living and with great intention, which soon begin to slip and slide as the year creeps in.
My invitation to you is to use the new year as a time to clear out what is not needed from the past, including unhelpful or stagnant thinking patterns, and create space for new ideas, intentions and plans which can move into action in the spring - following the natural patterns of nature. By all means make some resolutions, but be mindful of what your intentions are, and how you plan to put that into action. create small baby steps, and build from there, so that by the spring the intention is clear and solid, and action can be taken. Research has shown that people who are most effective at following through on their New years resolutions are people who have made a clear plan - a daily / weekly action which can be easily incorporated into life rather than grand sweeping statements - a clear how and when, not just the what - or the desired end result, but the detail.
With this in mind you might be interested in a couple of Apps to help you along the way. I find as my attention slips and my intentions slide, a gentle daily reminder can make all the difference; and there is a free app which I would like to introduce you to which you might find really useful.
To help clear the mind and create more space, daily mediation can be transformative. For some people, this can be a daunting thought and have no idea where or how to start.
Headspace have created a really easy to use app, which introduces you to mediation, and gives you a 10 minute daily meditation to follow. click on the button to find out more. Ive recommended this to clients and friends, and they've found it really useful.
I wish you all the best for a fulfilling, nourishing, stimulating and healthy 2014!
Touch is an integral part of positive health and development. Regular touch has been scientifically proven to have many benefits, particularly for those in later life. Humans need to touch and be touched. Touch lifts our spirits, relaxes us and helps us experience happiness in our lives. Without it, we experience sadness, loneliness and isolation. Physical contact is vitally important to all, especially for older people; yet in today's society touch is often absent. This may be due to negative associations or the lack of someone to share touch with.
Shiatsu is perfectly suited to the elderly, as it can be practiced on-site, whilst seated in a chair or lying on a bed, without the need to undress or deal with messy oils. Shiatsu can be an ideal way for older people to receive touch in a dignified and safe fashion.
Hannah’s Shiatsu is wonderful. I can’t wait for my treatments with her. She is very gentle and her Shiatsu is always just what I need; leaving me feeling so relaxed and peaceful. It was especially beneficial after I had my hip replaced two years ago, really helping to speed my recovery. Cynthia (aged 92)
Touch through Shiatsu releases the calming peptide hormone Oxytocin, which helps lower blood pressure, and increases the ability to deal with stress. Oxytocin is also a natural pain reliever, and helps stimulate overall health.
Regular Shiatsu can have many other benefits, such as helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. It decreases muscle stiffness, helping to increase flexibility and mobility. People also report higher energy levels and an increase in their sense of overall wellbeing. Shiatsu helps promote restful sleep, and can also help stimulate the immune system.
I offer on-site Shiatsu for those who cannot get to my clinics.
Clients can be treated gently and effectively for a number of different health conditions, and each session is completely tailored to the needs of that person.
If you have a parent or grandparent who you know may benefit, please do get in touch 07981992178
Call 07981992178 to book your session
"Hannah's sessions have helped me in so many ways. I no longer suffer from panic attacks, and haven't had a migrane for ages. I feel so much stronger and able to deal with what life throws at me"
N.B. - Council worker
"When I started seeing Hannah I was on the highest dose of painkillers available. These days I might have to take one paracetemol in a month."
M.T. - Administrator
"Having Shiatsu in the workplace is a great way to de-stress at the end of my day, and help me deal with the changes, uncertanties and difficulties of work at the moment"
R.H. Financial officer