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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 12 2018 10:00AM

WNT founder Jennie Duck shares five things she's learned this year about grief.


Over the past 18 months I have experienced my first major bereavements and been thrown into the world of grief, it’s quite an experience! And, I believe, no two experiences will be quite the same. Relationships differ, ways of death and any ‘preparation’ for it differ, where you are in your own life when you experience it differs.


My story is this: my dad died very suddenly 16 months ago – an ostensibly fit, healthy 64 year old he died out running with his (now our) dog, Jack. My mum had just been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier and she declined rapidly to die in February this year. I was in the midst of other big life changes as this was happening – becoming a parent and moving from a London flat to a smallholding down a rural Scottish track, ironically to be closer to my parents and other family, with big changes in our work lives too.


So these are just a few things I have learned through my own particular journey so far. I think it will be a lifelong journey…


1. Grief is isolating – I am not an isolated person: I have family, friends and support around me. I also have people around me grieving the same people too. But I wouldn't say it's something you can really share. It is so personal and something I almost feel protective around. Relationships are unique and your experience of letting go of that person must therefore be unique. This can be extremely painful and make you feel very lonely. Feeling sad can make you want to withdraw, especially when you feel like people just want you to be ok again and you’re just not. It can also be hard for people close to you to understand, it can be hard to support someone with a bubble round them, but I think that bubble is necessary protection for our grief for a bit at least, which means it simply is isolating.


2. Grief is visceral – I heard a psychotherapist say “grief feels like fear” and I totally agree with that. It comes with heightened anxiety and can take over your body, tense your jaw and churn your gut in particular. It is therefore really an embodied feeling, which can mean back pain, stiffness, upset stomach as well as anger and bubbling frustration. Another bereavement specialist told me “you can’t deal with anxiety cognitively” and this was so helpful a reminder that our bodies are our minds and vice versa. The routes out of anxiety for me are the same that are helpful for managing symptoms of grief - Yoga, massage, acupuncture, running, hugging (see Erika’s blog on oxytocin for reasons this helps so much), meditating, talking, sleeping, playing hide and seek with a toddler…


3. Grief is unavoidable – Grief comes with death so is unavoidable for that reason. But I also say this in that grief is something you actually do have to go through when you experience death. Early on a friend told me "No one escapes the full grief experience " and this has chimed with a lot of anecdotal evidence from, for example, interviewees on Griefcast who tried to avoid the experience and it comes back to haunt them later on. But it’s not something you go through then finish! It’s something that you have to create space for in your life, to examine and process and ultimately to learn to live with. Grief changes you and you have to adapt to absorb those changes.


4 Grief is not all bad – if you said this to me on some days I would feel like punching you! I sometimes feel like that is untrue, but in my more rational frame of mind I see it like any injury - if you attend to it, if you go into it and explore it you can learn a lot about yourself and life. If you just numb the pain then it will just hide there and give you greater trouble down the line. Grief is a sign that you have really loved and that is what makes life worthwhile, so if you can bear to let the process happen it can help ground you in your priorities and focus on what really matters.


5. Grief is Really F*&£$ing hard!! – Because it's isolating, because it’s visceral, because it’s unavoidable and even because it’s not all bad (really you’d rather have them back!) – all these things and the adapting to the change the loss brings make grief hard. It is a complex beast, it’s absorbing and intense at times. It is like childbirth and chronic pain, these are things that everyone acknowledges are tough and painful, but until you experience them yourself you won't really ‘get it’.


I wanted to share these experiences as I have found it helpful to hear other experiences, particularly through listening to Griefcast and also through Griefworks. While it is such an individual journey, there are so many common aspects, emotions, tensions and challenges. I have found solidarity, understanding and support through these channels and they’ve helped me make sense of some of the reactions I’ve had, which is invaluable on this confusing, anxious, sad and important journey.





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Dec 6 2018 02:00PM

Aromatherapist Veronica Massa looks at some festive essential oils and shares the wonders of her festive aromatherapy massage oil blend. You can almost smell it as you read!


Looking at an essential oil blend that embodies the spirit of Christmas and

introducing Festive Aromatherapy Massage.


Aromas evoke memories and feelings, bring us back in time or to the present moment.


Scents can set an atmosphere and create a special moment.


Many smells are associated to Christmas and childhood memories that make us feel good. The scents of Christmas are so familiar that become part of the Christmas tradition, embodying the festive period.


The warmth of the festive season is captured with spicy/sweet essential oils that evoke the smell of ginger biscuits, the smell of pine from the Christmas tree, the smell of clove and orange of a pomander and the delicious fragrance of fruity spice in mulled wine.


One of my favourite Christmas fragrance is the blend for my Christmas Bath Truffle (bath melts) combining cinnamon, clove, orange, patchouli and ginger, so delicious! A classic Christmas fragrance perfect for the spice lover. If you are one of them, experience a Festive Aromatherapy Massage, be immerse in the Christmas spirit with these essential oils that will spice up and warm up your body and spirit. A real boost to your circulation, (both blood and lymphatic), your immune system and will also help with tensions and aches … in case you feel those too… The festive aroma of these oils will create a joyful atmosphere, an add-on to your massage experience.


Let’s take a look at these essential oils from an Aromatherapy point of view and get to know them better.


How do these oils influence our psyche, mood and emotions?


Clove (Eugenia Caryophyllata), probably mostly experienced for toothache, Clove has an anaesthetic effect. A warming oil, it helps with circulation, digestion and any condition associated with cold. It also helps relieve arthritis, rheumatism and sprains.


It is a mental and physical tonic and in terms of TCM, it tonifies Qi. If you feel things are stagnating in your life, Clove could help declutter and de-touch not only from material things but also believes and ideas about how life is or should be lived. Call for Clove when you need a change, open to new possibilities and attract new “clean” energies in your life. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you anymore and Clove will support you in the process of decluttering with the inner strength you may need.


Cautions: Potential skin irritant.


Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) warming energies are useful to relieve aches and chills in the early stage of colds and flu and for recovery afterwards when you feel debilitated. It is a great tonic for the Winter months especially for the elderly. Great warming oil, it stimulates the circulation and the digestive system, supports the immune system and relieves pain.


Its fiery energy gives a boost to whom has lost vigour and courage and bringsa sense of connection to the present moment.


Cinnamon bark can be a skin irritant so be careful!


Ginger (zingiber officinalis). Its scent will increase your determination and clarity. When feeling confused, undecided, demotivated, lacking in will, vitality and inner strength, Ginger will support, encourage and reconnect you to your will power and inner confidence. With ginger, the realization of your projects will feel a lighter task as you will feel more optimistic to manifest initiative and take action.

Ginger properties are warming and therefore beneficial for circulation and the digestive system, respiratory system and the reproductive one. It has also a warming and stimulating effect on the lungs and can treat chronic bronchitis.


It supports with lower back pain associated with muscular fatigue.


Ginger energy tonifies the kidneys and the heart.


Orange (citrus sinensis). Much loved by children, this sweet citrus will help them to sleep and will settle a belly ache. Just like cistus oils in general, the cheerful Orange uplifts the spirit and brings joy, warmth and a smile on the face of those who feel depressed, nervous, anxious and struggle to sleep.

Reach for this oil when life gets too serious and you forget how to laugh. Or if you are feeling self-doubt and fear when faced with new challenged and decisions to make.


In terms of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Orange helps for conditions related to Qi stagnation, especially in the liver, stomach and intestines. In fact it is one of the best oils for the digestive system.


Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) warm and sweet qualities are beneficial for stress related conditions, the perfect oil for this time of the year! If you are someone prone to overthinking and worrying, who spends too much time “in the head” (too much mental activity), who feels “out of touch” with your body and also your sensuality, then this oil is for you! Patchouli will help you to come back to yourself. It is grounding and centring when you feel mentally and physically tense and detached not only from your body but also your creative expression. It helps alleviate anxiety, nervous strain and depression.


It will also help you with *Qi deficiency in the spleen and pancreas, leading to fatigue and tummy problems.


Patchouli reminds us to be in our body and take care of it especially when we put too much importance into the mental/psychic dimension while we are engaged on a spiritual path, it helps us to put things back into balance between the physical and the spiritual.


*Qi energy being the vital force of the body and mind, which moves and makes things move and it is the source of all bodily activities.

BIbliography:
BIbliography:

Battaglia S., The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2005

Mojay Gabriel, Aromatherapy for healing the spirit, 2005 (Gabriel is my Aromatherapy and TCM teacher)

Zeck Robbi, The Blossoming Heart, Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation, 2014 (3rd edition)









By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 28 2018 02:11PM

Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some information to help you choose the right massage treatment for yourself. Come along and meet Lauren and some other members of the WNT team on Sunday for our open day with hot mulled apple juice and baked treats - YUMMM!

I am a Sports Massage Therapist. Does that mean that I must restrict myself to this ‘type’ of massage? No. As practitioners we are constantly learning and updating our skills and we may take a workshop or further training in something slightly outside of our normal ‘type’ of massage. Each therapist, no matter what type of massage they deliver, uses a whole range of techniques. Therefore there is often a lot of overlap between the different ‘types’ of massage – differences between massage therapists can be as large as the differences between types of treatment.


If you are curious I would recommend that you try a few different massage treatments with a few different therapists and get a feel for how they differ. A good massage therapist should listen to your needs and preferences before any massage and deliver it tailored to you. However that being said, if you know you want a nice relaxing massage and your reason for going is stress related, an invigorating and most likely painful sports massage is probably not a wise choice. Really ask yourself why you are going for a massage and what you want to get out of it.


Receiving a massage can feel like quite a vulnerable experience; you may be feeling exposed and may not be used to the level of physical contact by a stranger. This is completely normal. Don’t let it stop you from being assertive and confident to ask for what you want. Be clear and direct with your needs and receive the best massage for you.


If you are wondering where to start, here’s a rough guide to what to expect from each type of massage out there (all offered at West Norwood Therapies):


Swedish massage: “the most commonly used form of classical Western massage, generally performed in the direction of the heart, sometimes with active or passive movement of the joints. It is used especially for relaxation, relief of muscular tension, and improvement of circulation and range of motion.”

Deep tissue massage: “Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia.”

Aromatherapy massage: “bodily application (as by massage) of fragrant essential oils (as from flowers and fruits) for therapeutic purposes”



Sports massage: “A massage which addresses specific needs of athletes/sports people. It’s techniques include Swedish massage, cross-fibre friction massage, deep-compression massage, trigger-point therapy. Massage can occur pre or post training/events or just as maintenance, to enhance performance or promote healing.”


Indian head massage: “Indian Head massage includes massage of the shoulders, upper arms, neck, scalp, face, ears & rebalancing energy flow, it relieves upper body tension & restores joint mobility; soothes, comforts & gives you a deep sense of peace and calm.


Pregnancy massage: “Benefits include easing aches and muscle soreness, promoting relaxation, releasing endorphines and helping to balance hormones, especially helpful to both mother and baby.”


Tui na massage: “Tui na is a dynamic and flexible form of massage, routinely practised alongside acupuncture. A variety of massage techniques, gentle body manoeuvres and stretches are combined in an individually tailored, wonderfully relaxing or invigorating treatment.”


Piqued your interest? Massage can help with a whole host of things from muscle imbalances and aches to stress –related discomfort. Why not come down to our open clinic day at Feast this Sunday 2nd December and meet some of the therapists. We would love to answer any questions you may have over some hot mulled apple juice and some baked treats!






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Nov 21 2018 09:00AM

Sports massage therapist Tessa Glover shares the second in her series of blogs about her brave adventure towards the Windrush Aquathon 2019 - Go Tessa!!


The beautiful summer has come and gone and I have to admit I have not been swimming as much as I planned to. I had hoped to swim 2-3 times per week before starting on the Windrush Beginners Swimming course but this did not happen. I was fortunate to have a trip to Italy in October but unfortunate in that I am not a member of this yacht club in Civitavecchia (Porto Turistico Riva Di Traiano) and had to just gaze admiringly at the pool from the terrace.


In reality I had only managed 3 or 4 swims in the two months before the first lesson and was totally unprepared. I felt out of my depth (pun intended) as 11 or 12 30-something males and only 3 women (plus me at the age of 50+) gathered on the side of the pool.


The lads set off like a shoal of hungry piranha while I splashed about like an aimless flounder. Thankfully the coaches, Audrey* and Becky*, were great and very patient with me. After seeing how much I struggled just trying to do a few lengths without stopping, Audrey suggested I wore my fins (flippers) all the time which helped me to keep up with the others in my lane.


The lesson concentrated on breathing and was incredibly informative. I had no idea that you could relax and breathe out under water at the same time but as the hour ticked on I came to learn that when you’re tired, breathing bilaterally without swallowing water is impossible so by the end I felt as if I’d drunk about 2 litres. At one point my heart felt as if it was about to beat out of my chest or was I about to have a heart attack? (Alarmingly, it occurred to me, I am at the age where that sort of thing could potentially happen).


I was shocked at how difficult it was to do so many lengths in one hour and came away from the lesson feeling incredibly despondent. I even asked if I should bother to come to the next session but Becky encouraged me to continue. I asked if she would give me some much needed 1-2-1 lessons and thankfully she agreed. She obviously loves a challenge!


The following week I had two lessons with Becky. She was fantastic. She broke down each element of the breathing. I used the bubble bubble breathe technique but she noticed that I turn my head too far out of the water and gasped for breath rather than rotating my whole body from the hips and turning my head quickly to the side to breathe. So she suggested Bubble Bubble Stretch, this way I was reminded to reach out my arm even further forward as I took my breath.


At this point I was exhausted and getting out of breath very quickly. Firstly because I am aerobically unfit and secondly because Becky noticed that I was breathing from my chest rather than from the diaphragm, meaning I was running out of air quicker and, as a result, panicking. We had a break from the swimming and she suggested that I practice some ‘sink downs’ to help me relax. Sink downs involve trying to expel as much air from your lungs as possible as you sink down to sit on the bottom of the pool. If you keep too much air in your lungs while doing the front crawl, your chest may be too buoyant which will make you swim at an angle with your legs sinking down. I found it almost impossible to stay under and kept bobbing to the surface again. With practice it’s getting better and Becky suggested I look at these Swim Smooth forum posts on the subject.


http://www.swimsmoothforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=2961


As for body positioning, she showed me how to torpedo off from the wall using my feet to start off. This makes sure your body stay long in the water for a good 5 metres before beginning your strokes and encourages you to stay that way for the duration of the length.


The evening of my second lesson, I sat in the car outside the swimming pool wondering why I had come back. I almost persuaded myself to go home but I remembered my promise to my colleague to do the Aquathlon and dragged myself into the changing room.


Their were fewer people this week and it seemed a lot calmer. I didn’t try to keep up with everyone else so didn’t get as out of breath. I kept my flippers on and concentrated on the drills. More breathing, head positioning and swimming on our sides this week. I felt a little better about my lack of ability!


10 minutes before the third lesson and again I was hesitant to go in. This week for some reason was even worse than the first lesson. My breathing was even shallower, I got out of breath during every length. To my horror, Audrey posted a video up of the session and there I was shaking my head and not doing crawl at all. I felt miserable looking at it.


This morning I arrived in the changing room to find I’d brought the bag containing items for the charity shop instead of my swimming stuff! I made myself go home and get the right back and do my swim. There’s dedication for you. As well as breathing, I practised swimming on my side with my head resting on my arm for body positioning improvement, sink downs and even did a few lengths without stopping… wonders will never cease.


Thursdays’s 1-2-1 lesson with Becky we worked on ‘sculling’. I always assumed sculling meant using cupped hands to empty water out of a sinking boat. However, there are many definitions but this one is the closest.


(of an aquatic animal) propel itself with fins or flippers.”the limbs were modified into efficient paddles, perfectly adapted for sculling through the water”


We worked on getting a feel for the water with the hands, cupping and moving in and out as if stroking a cat’s head back and forth (or turning on taps). We then moved on to shoulder, elbow and wrist position in combination with the cupping.


Finally here was something I could manage! All those years of being a cat owner have paid off….


Next time: the last two Windrush lessons and my first attempt at a Parkrun after 6 years…


*Rebecca Goodwin https://windrushtri.co.uk/coaches/ Twitter: @beckykyky


*Audrey Livingston http://www.alphafitness.me.uk/audrey.html




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