3rd November 2015
I have just be talking to a client about achy legs and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), subjects that often seem to come up in my reflexology clinic. I thought it might be useful to share some of the information, which I often pass on:
Firstly, always seek a medical opinion and follow specialist advice, especially if a DVT has been diagnosed or is suspected. Take symptoms of leg pain seriously, particularly following surgery, if pregnant, when using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or the contraceptive pill or following long periods of inactivity, e.g. following a flight.
Following a DVT:
Massage of the affected limb is not recommended until it is certain that no clot remains. Massage stimulates blood flow but may also dislodge any residual clot, which may be dangerous if the clot is then carried to the lungs (risk of pulmonary embolism)
Long-term anticoagulant therapy may be required
Use of the contraceptive pill/HRT is not usually recommended
'Flight socks' may be a useful precaution on any long journey, even by car (and are available from chemists, e.g. Boots) - but check with your doctor
Vascular studies (e.g. using ultrasound or doppler flow) can confirm if the vessels are clear
Avoid sitting still for long periods, e.g. at a desk - get up and move around at regular, frequent intervals. Take regular breaks on long car journeys or walk around the plane on long flights
Do not ignore any abnormal changes in the colour (e.g. red, white, blue), temperature or sensation of part of a limb
Seek immediate medical advice if there is severe pain or discomfort on dorsiflexion, i.e. when foot is pulled up from the ankle, so toes move towards knees (Homan's sign)
Varicose veins may cause achy legs - prolonged standing still is the worst activity if varicose veins are present
Pregnancy, menopause, alcohol and use of statin medication may exacerbate symptoms
Raise legs when sitting if possible
Exercise is good - e.g. ankle rotations/calf clench and release when sitting still; yoga; swimming; cycling
If the blood pressure is low (particularly common in tall, young, fit people) prevent it falling further and possibly encouraging sluggish circulation in the extremities, by always maintaining adequate levels of hydration (water intake/fluid balance) and sodium (table SALT)
Bath/foot soak using magnesium salts, e.g. Zechstein (the best) or Epsom (cheaper), which are absorbed through the skin (or use a Zechstein magnesium oil spray, which is good for cramp too)
Self-treat using acupressure points for leg pain (find instructions on YouTube)
Consider using a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, e.g. NHP Healthy Woman Support, possibly with extra vitamins C and D3 + omega 3's
Investigate the use of red vine leaf extract, for example - see this article from the Nursing Times
Practice Mindfulness, e.g. with the help of 'Mindfulness for Health' by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman
Make sure the shoe bends at the toe box but is not too flexible - and that the toe box is not too pointy
Make sure there is a sufficient arch support
Choose a chunky heel that is less than 2 inches high
Ballet flats offer no support anywhere in the foot bed and often rub the heels or big toe joint and/or need to be held on as they have no straps or laces.
Heels higher than 2” create an unnatural foot position when walking and may adversely affect joints and tendons in the foot and elsewhere, e.g. knees, hips, back
Feet may hurt more with aging, especially post-menopause in women, because the protective fat pads diminish
Custom-made orthotics can help to cushion feet in shoes with thin soles (or feet with no fat!) and so offer increased comfort and protection
Ideally, wear shoes with a thick shock-absorbing sole, such as fitflops (who don’t only make flip flop style shoes) or trainers with a roller sole (but these may not be suitable for those with balance or some musculo-skeletal problems). Ecco and some Rieker styles are OK too.
10th September 2015
Recently I've been turning my attention to areas of counselling where I would like to gain more knowledge - brief therapy for example and working with clients who have more serious mental health issues, many more of whom are presenting to counsellors via charitable organisations such as those with which I am involved, due to the serious and increasing under-provision within the NHS.
With these and other clients in mind, I have also been thinking about the potential benefits of combining reflexology and counselling in a more formal way and have therefore decided to offer integrated reflexology and counselling sessions for those who are interested. This approach will comprise weekly sessions that will include 30 minutes of reflexology followed by 50 minutes of counselling. Of course, separate reflexology and counselling sessions will always be available as well.
Reflexology is known to offer relief from tension and anxiety and is conducive to improved mood and relaxation. Stress, anxiety and other psychological issues frequently manifest as physical symptoms, which relaxation may help to ease. Thus, using reflexology before counselling may improve its efficacy and the speed at which it is found to be effective by reducing discomfort and enhancing a sense of safety. In this kind of environment there is the potential for a more rapid development of the therapeutic relationship and for clients to be able to more readily reach the thoughts and feelings that they may need to explore. This would expedite the process of change, healing and development, just as is often seen with more commonly used creative approaches such as art, drama and storytelling.
14th August 2015
Free from studies - wonderful! Now I can focus on other things for a while, including business promotion and the general administrative back log but most importantly, having some fun ... getting some PLAYTIME back into my life. My research into the use of creative and play-based activities in counselling reminded me how important it is to incorporate time for creativity and play into daily life - and how lacking that has been for me over the last few months.
So I'm going to get creative in the garden (once I've got destructive with the weeds) and take every opportunity to escape in our camper van, to the sea if possible. We have just got back from Cornwall where we watched with awe the spectacular seas at Porth Leven.
On the reflexology front, I have been using some VRT techniques to good effect with a number of clients recently. VRT is an incredibly effective form of weight-bearing reflexology in which the therapeutic response often appears to be quicker; this may be because the nerves and reflexes are more highly activated when weight-bearing. VRT may help intransigent conditions, especially those related to muscle and joint issues including undefined back pain and sports injuries. Classical reflexology and VRT are usually combined to optimise benefit, maybe regulating sleep patterns and encouraging deeper relaxation. VRT were first described by Lynne Booth nearly twenty years ago - see her website for further information on these helpful techniques.
2nd May 2015
Today I attended a thought-provoking workshop on trauma and traumatic bereavement, led by Tony Buckley. His focus was on the embodiment of emotional trauma in the form of physical feelings, such as panic attacks, pain and digestive disorders - and the role that the Vagus nerve, which innervates all organs and a significant range of muscles - has to play in the mind-body connection.
In a couple of weeks I will be going to another workshop: Understanding Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), led by Jenny Hope-Spencer. She writes,
"We can be physically well but not have a sense of well-being - or experience well-being when physically unwell. Feeling 'out of balance' is an internal process that can affect our physical well-being, manifesting with psychosomatic disorders, stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has steadily figured more in healthcare since the 2nd century Romans noticed a link between depressed states of mind and cancer. Towards the end of the 20th century, science began to prove a link between immune system response to stress, the endocrine (hormonal) system and the nervous system.
As the name implies PNI links the psyche - emotional response to the environment and perceived sense of self - with the nervous, endocrine and immune system response to stress and tension.
Although considered a clinical science, PNI encompasses holistic principles of body, mind and spirit, demonstrating how physical health is underpinned with emotional and mental resourcefulness, resilience and behavioural coping strategies."
At the workshop, she will be explaining how reflexology may be used as a powerful tool to re-balance the body/mind and aid relaxation by relieving stress and tension, enhancing homeostasis (internal environmental balance).
We are getting ever-closer to a comprehensive and scientifically robust explanation of how body therapies such as reflexology and acupuncture produce benefits to our health and well-being, which feels not only very exciting but also affirming of the work that so many of us are carrying out, often in the face of opposition from some quarters the conventional medical establishment.
6th April 2015
Hello on this beautifully sunny spring morning. I hope you have had a very happy Easter! I spent time in the garden yesterday but mostly I have been incarcerated with my laptop, transcribing interviews for my counselling dissertation - a tedious but necessary process. My neck and shoulders are stiff from working so long at the computer so I plan to have a wonderful back and shoulder massage soon, with the brilliant Christine Southwell of South Downs Massage. In the meantime, I have been engaging in some therapeutic laughter watching the film 'Paddington', which I was given as an Easter present (because I eat far too much chocolate already!). And last week I had a reflexology treatment myself from friend and colleague Samantha Hardwick at Time Out Massage in Haslemere - so relaxing. Today I will be out in the sunshine, listening to the birds singing, feet bare on the fresh new grass as I plan the interior of my VW van which is about to go off to the convertors for transformation into a camper - and planning my summer escapes. So, lots of much-needed self-care happening too ... I hope you are also able to make time to take care of yourself ..
12th February 2015
I've just come across a very interesting and informative article on reflexology and sleep, written by the developer of VRT, Lynne Booth. I thought I'd share it with you as so many of us have trouble sleeping sometimes and the effects may be so debilitating. Follow this link to visit the page and read the article ...
5th January 2015
Happy New Year! The spa suite, which includes a dry sauna, private shower room, sundeck and relaxation room, is now open. It will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. Hopefully, the hot tub will also be available very soon ...
29th November 2014
Winter really seems to have arrived at last, if not with starry nights and frosty mornings, at least with short, dark, dank days. Spring’s promise can seem remote at this time of the year and it can be an effort to leave the fireside or your cosy armchair ...
But if you would like to put some spring into your step and ward off Winter’s ills do come along and see me for some reflexology – it is particularly good to reconnect with special friends at this time of the year.
I even have a new portable light therapy unit which can be used for an energising, mood enhancing light bath while you relax and enjoy your usual reflexology session. This might be especially helpful if you are a sufferer of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
On a slightly more serious note, I am now also a practising counsellor and member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I would be very happy to talk to you about counselling if that is something that you feel you would like to explore.
Time is running short to squeeze in reflexology appointments before Christmas – I have just taken a booking for 18th December!
I am about to place a final order for essential oils and base products in time for last minute Christmas orders so do let me know if there is anything you need for yourself or for gifts – roller balls make great stocking fillers and salt or sugar scrubs are popular presents. A little of the magical Blend 1 in your favourite product may just be the stress-buster you need in order to survive the festive season.
And of course, gift vouchers are always available.
After Christmas, you will also be able to book private use of the new Autumndale Therapies spa suite which includes a dry sauna, private shower room, outdoor hot tub, sundeck and relaxation room. This will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays and you are welcome to come along and see the facilities if you would like to see what’s on offer – just phone ahead to make sure that I’m around.
14th September 2014
So it's official - I'm now a fully qualified humanistic counsellor! What does that mean, I hear you ask? Humanistic psychology has been called the 'Third Way' in relation to psychotherapeutic work because it does not focus on past events and unconscious processes, as in psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapy; or on how thoughts might influence behaviour, as in CBT - cognitive-behavioural therapy; it focuses on the unique experience of each individual and is underpinned by the belief that everybody, no matter what their circumstances or stage in life, has an innate tendency towards growth and development. The humanistic counsellor aims to support clients along their personal development journey by offering a safe, non-judgemental relationship where they may explore any issues - thoughts, feelings, circumstances - that are of concern to them. Humanistic counsellors are generally non-directive and client-led, encouraging autonomy and personal choice. If you feel that you might like to find out a bit more about humanistic counselling or if you think you might like to make an exploratory appointment, please get in touch. I hope to take on a very small number of counselling clients and gradually begin to build a private practice, whilst continuing my studies to degree level over the next year. But fear not! I will also be continuing my work as a reflexologist and essential oils consultant.
Very many of you are now using my therapeutic rollerballs, especially one for sleeping. To make life easier for you, I am now able to post your products to you if you would like to order via email (which you can do directly from this website, by clicking on the words 'click here to email' at the top of any page).
8th June 2014
Back at last, having finally emerged from counselling diploma related studies! Just one month and one assignment to go ... despite the hard work, I've really enjoyed the course and made some very special friends. We've studied the Person-Centred and Gestalt approaches as well as Transactional Analysis, relationship counselling and working with children. We've also looked at human psychological development and the development of psychotherapy from Jung and the Freuds, through Klein, Winnicott, Bowlby, Maslow, Rogers et al to contemporary therapists and researchers. Another significant part of the course has been our own personal development, through journal-writing, personal counselling and experiential group work - and then of course there has been preparation for client work - including ethical guidance and legal requirements - many skills practices, 100+ hours of 1:1 client work and supervision sessions. I have also completed an additional 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course. No wonder my reflexology blog has fallen by the wayside! Once I have my diploma I will be able to see private clients for counselling although I will continue with my voluntary placements to gain more experience.
This does not mean that the reflexology and essential oil therapy will be abandoned though ... I have continued to see reflexology clients throughout and the essential oil products are selling steadily. Over the summer, I would like to look at the possibility of setting-up an online shop for some of the most popular products, although this is fraught with difficulties as each product offered for general sale has to have a compliance certificate ...
Developments are afoot here at Autumndale too - I'm hoping that I may be able to offer 'spa' sessions soon, with use of our luxurious hot tub in its beautiful and secluded setting along with a soon-to-be installed sauna. Watch this space!
16th January 2014
Personal health budgets update from the CNHC:
'In our January 2013 newsupdate we provided information about the results of the evaluation of the government’s personal health budgets pilots across England. A personal health budget is a way for patients who receive NHS continuing health care (NHS CHC) to access a personal budget so they can have greater levels of control over how their agreed care is provided.
In November 2012 the government confirmed its earlier commitment that people receiving NHS CHC in England would have the ‘right to ask’ for a personal health budget, including a direct payment, from April 2014.
In October 2013 Norman Lamb, Minister of State at the Department of Health, announced that the measures will be strengthened further by ensuring that from October 2014 those people who are entitled to a ‘right to ask’ will also be entitled to a ‘right to have’ a personal health budget.
Patients in this position will be able to request complementary therapies (such as reflexology) if they are considered as meeting a legitimate health need.
For further information about personal health budgets see the Department of Health website.'
6th January 2014
We survived the storms and returned safely from our New Year staying with friends in Cornwall on Saturday. I hope your festive season has been a happy time ... I am now looking forward to getting back to work and seeing clients, old and new in 2014. On New Year's day I received an email from Mindfulness teacher, Barbara Boxhall in which she offers this thought-provoking and timely message:
'For most people, today heralds thoughts of new beginnings, resolutions and a little reflection on how we would like to see the new year unfolding. This is often ruefully based on what happened the previous year and all the stuff we wish hadn't happened. Resolutions keep us stuck and unhappy. Resolutions hook us in to that gap between what is and how we think things should be. We get mesmerised by the gap and our resolutions whether quite simple and clear 'I've got to lose weight, so cut down on sugar!' or much more subtle and pervasive 'I've got to be a better person' - keep us striving, dissatisfied and less loving to ourselves and others.
Instead of a resolution to change, how about being where you are right now - with kind and open curiosity to all the failings and with all the capacities that you are in this moment? No striving, just allowing. Now that is transformation at the deepest level!'
Follow this link to visit Barbara's website, www.dailymindfulness ...
24th December 2013
Hello - on this rain-soaked and blustery Christmas Eve!
Wishing you peace and joy at Christmastime and a new year filled with the light of love and friendship, health and happiness,
With the Very Warmest of Wishes,
22nd December 2013
Essential oil products have been a new venture for me in 2013, after doing some extra training in the use of therapeutic blends as well as product-making, in 2012. The bespoke products have become more and more popular throughout the year and December has been particularly busy as many of you have been buying the products as gifts too (and I have been making lots of gifts for my own friends and family). The more I make, the more I learn as I spend time researching the essential oil blends themselves along with the base products and carrier oils, in order to write the information sheet which accompanies each product, which I know you all like to have included.
The runaway successes this year have been the Therapeutic Rollerballs at £7.50 for each 10ml bottle. I have made-up ones to combat insomnia, stress, insects, menopause symptoms, colds and 'flu, nausea, headaches, low mood and fatigue and have had a lot of positive feedback and repeat orders.
Next year, I am cautiously predicting that my Body Scrubs, also £7.50 but for a refillable 500g jar, will become bathroom essentials.
A body scrub is a popular (and often expensive) spa treatment. My scrubs may be used like ordinary bath salts, in a foot bath or as a whole body, hand or foot scrub.
They are moisturising and restorative and are exfoliating if used as a scrub applied by hand, with a flannel, loofah mitts or a shower puff.
They usually contain a mixture of Epsom Salts and Dead Sea Salt plus coconut oil and a very small quantity of essential oils - but, of course, as with any product that I make, the ingredients may be tailored to suit the individual who will be using it; for example, sugar may be substituted for the salt or sweet almond oil for the coconut oil ... the possibilities are endless and exciting!
Both of the salts are said to have beneficial effects: Epsom salts (because of its high magnesium content) on many internal processes of the body including joint function – the magnesium is absorbed through the skin during scrubbing or soaking; and Dead Sea salts on the skin, especially where there are conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Coconut oil is a rich oil to use on the skin and is wonderful to use in the bath having natural dispersant properties. It helps the skin to naturally control its oil secretions and most importantly, its application on the skin after washing with soap or shower gel helps the skin to quickly and naturally restore its pH level to 5.5 without blocking pores. It's best not to wash with soap after using the scrub as the oils will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it feeling silky soft.
5th December 2013
This Saturday, 7th December, is “Small Business Saturday” the aim of which is to encourage everyone in the UK to support small businesses, both on the day and beyond – see http://www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com for more information.
We have some fantastic small local businesses around here and maybe Christmastime provides a good reason to seek them out, to discover what they do and to try some of the excellent goods and services they provide - as gifts or to enrich our own lives in some way.
As part of this year’s Small Business Saturday event, there are two very special offers available from Autumndale Therapies, for orders placed this weekend only:
£10 discount on all gift vouchers for reflexology sessions (usual price £35.00, discounted price £25.00 – an original gift idea or treat yourself and save it up for a treatment when the Christmas rush is over ...)
Any therapeutic rollerball for £5.00 instead of £7.50 (these make good stocking fillers or Secret Santa gifts and popular rollerballs include one to aid sleep, one for relaxation, one to encourage alertness and one to combat nausea – great for travel sickness. There are many other therapeutic possibilities for rollerballs – just ask!)