WNT founder Jennie Duck shares some thoughts in time for Small Business Saturday about shopping local this festive season, how much we have to celebrate on our doorsteps and how important it is to support our communities.
We are all relieved to be back to work again now that the mini-lockdown has ended – hurrah! We find it hard knowing we can help and not be allowed to do so.
As the owner of WNT and the person with whom the buck stops it is a relief too to be able to feel confident our business can continue to trade. Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday which celebrates and champions small businesses and it feels particularly important this year to recognise the value and the merit in small businesses.
Recently I heard a snippet on the radio* about how well Amazon have done out of lockdown, their (already huge) profits are soaring. They had feedback from a couple of workers who’s hours had become ridiculous – overnight shifts from 6pm-8am – that’s 14hours – where they are in a little cubicle packing up orders that little robots bring to them. I forget the number of packages they did in an hour but it was phenomenal and I do remember that they average 1minute labour per item end to end. 1 minute! What can you do in 1 minute?! The suspicion is that this is building toward doing away with the human input altogether, making these processes so un-personal that a machine can easily take the persons place.
I’ve seen memes that say “every time you buy from a small business an actual person does a little dance”. At WNT we might not dance every time you book, but we certainly smile and I’ve been known to jump up and shake some booty when I see a full diary. This isn’t just because we are getting income, it is because we are fulfilling our purpose – this is what we want to do, this is what we care about, this is how we know we can add value. We are lucky enough to work in a vocation where we get an income for doing what we care about and believe in.
A couple of weeks back I was involved in a brilliant Instagram live session organised by Poppy from Pop, the hairdresser across the road from WNT. She had invited a few local businesses to come and chat about how we were affected by lockdown and share a bit about our business and anything we have on the horizon for Christmas. It was so lovely to see the faces of West Norwood high street and be reminded the richness of what we have outside on our doorstep. There is so much run by lovely people – you can see it here.
In all of these businesses we are real people who are invested deeply in what we do, the services we offer and things we sell. At WNT each of us is a person who has relationships with their clients and who is part of a team, we all know the names of each other’s children, we know when someone is having a challenging time, we know we can call each other when we need some support ourselves. We spend time talking about the experience of working where we do and how to make our environment better for you as clients. We care about all aspects of what we do.
Our society has been damaged by lockdown, this pandemic has sent fear through our communities and made us wary of interaction and physical contact. We need to remember how important society is, how it matters what we do with our lives and how we treat people and are treated ourselves. If we keep investing in companies that treat people like faceless commodities then those companies will gain more and more power. If we can look around us, recognise that the real people working to make us things and offer us services are our neighbours, our friends, the communities for our children and we need to invest in them if we want to hold onto that and continue to have this richness on our doorsteps.
For some great local shopping showing some of this richness, West Norwood Feast is on this Sunday 6th December https://westnorwoodfeast.com/sunday-6-december/
I wish you a happy festive season full of thoughtful shopping and under-overindulging ;-)
* unfortunately no idea what it was other than something on radio 4 so cannot give more context or reference
Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares why she is celebrating Thanksgiving this year and the benefits she's found in regularly practicing gratitude, even when - and perhaps especially when - things are hard.
Thanksgiving is a tradition celebrated by the United States and Canada. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. I have never personally given much thought to Thanksgiving but as I now live with an American who hasn’t seen his family in over a year, I’m giving it some thought this year!
This year has been a crazy one for all of us, at least in the sense that we were not expecting a full blown pandemic. Some days it might be hard to think about what we’re thankful for. So with this blog I want to remind myself and hopefully some readers to think of the small things that we have in our lives to be thankful for everyday.
Some time half way through this year I started a morning ‘ritual’ where I would write down my ‘24 hour win’, three things I am grateful for, and an intention for the day. It really grounds me right at the beginning of my day before I read any ‘doom and gloom’ news or expose myself to anxiety-inducing stimuli. Often, my three things I am grateful for are the same or similar to the day before or things I wrote last week. That’s OK. I am grateful everyday that I am healthy, everyday that my body is strong and carries me, everyday that I get to speak with a friend or family member, everyday that I take a walk outside in nature, everyday that I make myself some good food, everyday that I enjoy a cup of tea. The list goes on. I can be thankful for these things every single day. Being grateful and giving thanks for these everyday things reminds me of just how abundant my life is.
I, as well as many others, have lost work because of the lockdown. This is really hard, and in modern society we attach a lot of self worth and purpose to our work. So when we lose this work, we can lose our sense of purpose along with it. By being thankful for things in our lives every morning, we see that there is so much more to our purpose and self worth.
This Thanksgiving I encourage you to give thought to what you can be thankful for. If it is a certain friend or someone that has shown you kindness, show them that you are thankful with a little message or card (you will also feel happy from saying thanks!). As for me, I am celebrating my own Thanksgiving with my little family this Sunday, cooking and eating great food as a little gift to ourselves at the end of a hard year. Thankful that we have each other and the means to create and enjoy a good meal.
Happy Thanksgiving from ours to yours!
Massage therapist Erika Zettervall thoughtfully considers the importance of engaging with the physical darkness that surrounds us at this time of year as the days get shorter and encourages us to balance how we value light with dark.
Darkness. It’s that time of the year again. The daylight hours are reduced day by day until we reach the winter solstice at that point the day hardly begins before it starts to get dark again.
Seasonal darkness during our winter is inevitable. Our planet will travel continuously, journeying through the universe orbiting the sun with its axis tilting the way it does, whether we like it or not. In a world of uncertainty that is pretty certain.
These short winter days can of course be avoided by relocating to the other side of the planet for the winter or permanently move closer to the equator where there the daylight hours do not alter in the same way over the year. The longing for winter sun and light is a strong incentive for travel this time of the year seeking out longer, brighter days. I have been able to do so past but not for while, and this year that option is more unattainable than usual. But I often work in the evenings and have the benefit of time to be outdoors during the day.
With the wisdom of seasonal light/darkness being something that cannot be altered and, in accepting that, perhaps it’s possible to explore a different relationship to darkness.
I recently heard somebody on the radio being interviewed talking about the scarcity of darkness. The increased popularity of illumination of not only buildings but also trees and gardens, the dark night sky is being endangered. He related to darkness as visual silence and something to treasure.
True, we do relax better in darkness - putting an eye bag over your eyes in savasana deepens the relaxation. Our eyes are our most dominant sense and there is strong focus on visual stimuli in our society. But in the dark we need to slow down and rely on other senses. Feeling, listening to find the way, elevating our presence of mind. Slowing down and easing into the darkness, eyes adjust and sight is expanded so shades appear.
One of my favourite things this time of the year pre covid was walking through St. James’ Park early evening in the dark. Stepping into the peace, silence and darkness of the park contrasting with the busy West End streets sparkling with Christmas lights and bustling with shoppers. Letting the eyes adjust to the dark, enjoying the quiet calm and heading for Victoria station with my small dog in tow. Happy to see fellow commuters and a few tourists braving the dark.
We need the darkness as a contrast to the lights. Like stars in the sky only visible in the dark and that is the most beautiful sight to have. Milky Way or, as we call it in my language, Vintergatan Winter Street like the way you travel this time of year since in the summer the sky’s lightness obscures the stars.
In accepting the scarcity of light and immersing in the darkness, there is room to discover its own particular beauty. Begin by exploring the edges getting up before sunrise (not too early in November), light a candle and let the light come slowly. Go out before sunrise or at sunset experience the shifts. Let the eyes adjust.
There is also the other darkness. The internal darkness. That also needs befriending and that will be topic for another blog.
National Fitness Day - 23rd September 2020
Sometimes it feels as though we are constantly told, “just be more active”. It’s easy to say it, but with busy schedules and blinkered options it can be hard to actually make it happen. Perhaps the global pandemic has given you the time to explore some more active options, such as getting out for a walk, going for a run, cycling to work. These are exactly the types of things that you can work into your current day as a commute or lunchtime activity without needing to set aside separate time. If these seem pretty obvious activities but they don’t really give you much joy, then you need to look outside of your exercise blinkers! National Fitness Day (on the 23rd September 2020) can be a great starting point and really highlights the social and motivational aspect of fitness. From ‘plank-offs’, yoga and pilates classes to treadmill challenges, high-street HIIT classes, dance offs and mass walks.
With the surge of online technology and connection recently, there are even a whole host of activities you can take part in from home. Get Zoom installed and you’re ready to go! Always wanted to try Tai Chi? Or maybe dip your toes into some ballet shoes? If you search for it, it will be there. With online classes, make sure you always pick the beginner option if it’s something new you are trying and take it easy. Learning a physical skill online, the teacher is not always able to correct things properly, so just make sure you feel comfortable with every movement and don’t push yourself too far.
However, for me personally, online classes can be a bit lonely and lack the motivation of in-person classes and activities. In 2020 the aim of National Fitness Day is to demonstrate the inclusive power physical activity can have by celebrating how ‘Fitness Unites Us’. Especially now it seems more important than ever to be able to connect with people again and come together to help each other.
My nearest green space is Tooting Common and every morning when I walk my dog I see at least 4 different workout groups. There seems to be something for everyone, from a more gentle workout including yoga postures, to a more bootcamp style session that has a competitive element. The overriding theme is FUN. This is the key to continued exercise success! For many, exercise is viewed as a chore, it’s hard, it takes effort. I am not here to deny the effort and challenge involved in physical activity but if you are having fun at the same time it sort of cancels the hardship out. This week I’ve been lucky enough to be in Cornwall and I tried surfing for the first time. Yes it was VERY hard but I had so much fun, and I found it exhilarating. It’s that sweet rush of endorphins that physical exertion gives you that keeps you coming back!
A big barrier to exercise is cost, especially when you don’t enjoy things like running and cycling. A walk may seem tame or boring but if you have time on the weekend or on a day off it can be a great way to explore new areas. Walking for 2-3 hours (or more!) is a major form of physical activity, completely free and easily sociable with friends and family. If you love dogs but don’t have the means to own one, there are many apps which allow you to ‘borrow’ neighbours’ dogs and take them on a walk!
Think outside of the box...do you have a friend that teaches a form of exercise you want to try? Perhaps you could do a skill swap if money is tight. Or many studios around town have new sign up offers for the first month - how many are near you that you could take advantage of? Sign up to every studio, one after the other! If you hate the thought of running on your own, join a club: the social aspect is often enough to flip your perspective on something.
The days when I feel most tired, I always try and get my blood pumping a little. The endorphin release and boost of adrenaline wakes me up a lot more effectively than coffee! But remember, rest and recovery are also important. Especially with beginners, I see people go ‘gung-ho’ for exercise with all the best intentions but then burnout at the end of the week. Starting small and building up intensity is the best way to develop into a stable routine. Look after your body and give it the rest it needs. Try and incorporate some stretching and relaxation into your week. For the more experienced and frequent exercisers, a maintenance massage once a month can make you perform optimally in your workouts.
Remember, the key is FUN. Enjoy moving your body and get your friends involved, you’ll feel better.
West Norwood Therapies is in it’s 6th year and with each year has come a different phase in our lifetime. As it’s founder I’ve learned to let it evolve rather than try to control that evolution too much and no phase was less planned than this one! Not much about 2020 was expected and these extraordinary circumstances led us to contract rather than expand and we are now a team of 6 (plus me as a 7th managing things from Scotland) down from the 12 we were at the start of the year. This was a sad transistion and we have all grieved the loss of the team that was and the second lovely studio room we had to let go.
In my experience, if you can stay with the clouds awhile they gradually part to show the sunshine and I feel encouraged and satisfied that this new phase is a sunny one. In these covid-determined times we are feeling how important it is to connect and that emphasises the values that are at the heart of WNT. We are all part of this collaborative collective because we want to work with other skilled professionals, to have a supportive team around us and to be able to work with our clients in a meaningful way.
We had paused on our normal blog sharing, social media posts and promotions as we adjusted to working in an adapted way and we feel like it would be good to start to share our story of how we are now which we will do over the coming months. We will look at what WNT is, who the team are and then explore some of the ways we work using the 5 aspects of wellness Laura explored in her recent blog – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social.
So we hope you will enjoy following us and getting to know us better either on Instagram or Facebook and we’ll include what we can in our monthly newsletter.
WNT founder Jennie Duck reflects on what it takes to create a therapeutic environment and her pride in a team that has rallied to make the most of a challenging situation - we are so excited to be working again!
Just before lock down I was getting ready to start a massage practice up where I live in Scotland. I was looking forward to getting back to something I love and feel is valuable. Part of what I love to offer is the practical, physical aspect of massage itself – the warmth of touch, the kneading and cajoling to find release in tense muscles, the relaxation that can be found even in strenuous massage.
But there’s far more to it than that.
There’s the space and the environment that we as therapists invite our clients into, the fact of creating this ‘womb’ as a friend of mine calls it where you feel safe, welcome and accepted before we get into much treatment even. The warmth and lighting matters, the space and air matters, the cleanliness matters, the energy we’re giving out matters – there are a lot of things that go on ‘behind the scenes’ to create this environment at West Norwood Therapies.
Then there is our interaction before we actually meet in person – any calls or emails beforehand and then our initial consultation and initial chat for follow up appointments. This is when you get an opportunity to glimpse us a bit, to understand how capable we are of listening and hearing you and tuning into what you are looking for in your visit. This is important as it lays the foundations of trust which will determine how much you relax into the treatment and how our intuition feels its way as we work which can together greatly enhance the effect and value of treatment.
And then the treatment itself – in my case a massage treatment. Here you are literally in my hands! You are trusting me to work on your body and in some instances to really get stuck into areas of long held tensions and stresses that are potentially part of a self-protective armour, while keeping you comfortable and suitably covered. It requires me to be sensitive to this and to trust your body’s responses and my instincts to work where is needed but not beyond that. A lot of trust on a conscious and subconscious level as well as some intimacy in a practitioner-client relationship.
Fast forward 5 months and here we are opening West Norwood Therapies in a different light. We have had to look at our space, carrying out risk assessments and removing a lot of the fabrics and knickknacks that we had put in to make it homely and warm. As we first started to look at things I wondered how on earth we were going to retain the essence of treating people as I’ve described above. How can we make the environment inviting without an electric blanket? How can we create a bond of trust when we’re masked and you can’t see our smiles and more nuanced facial expressions? How can you feel safe enough to relax and let the therapeutic work really happen when there’s a global pandemic around?
Well, I am humbled and impressed at how my colleagues have rallied and worked to make all of this feasible and proud of what we have achieved. We have been open for almost a fortnight and the feedback has been positive both from clients and from practitioners. It is a different way of working, particularly wearing PPE and having to be careful which surfaces are touched and to dutifully clean and disinfect everything between clients, to have an air filter working and take time to air out the room. But the essence of the care, warmth and skill that they are all sharing with you as clients and the connection that they make with you is all there.
I am excited and reassured that we at WNT (minus me in Scotland and the practitioners who sadly couldn’t return due to closure of the studio space) are able to open again and be able to offer our valuable services to the same high standard as before. We know that there have been ripples of trauma touching people in all sorts of ways the past few months and hope that we can be of service to you now.
Reflexologist, reiki and sound healing practitioner Laura Devonshire looks at the various aspects that comprise holistic wellness
What is Holistic Wellness?
The word ‘Holistic’ derives from ‘Holism’, with Greek roots ‘Holos’, meaning whole, complete, entire.
Holistic Wellness is looking at a number of elements relating to a person and their way of life that contribute to them feeling at their most optimal. Each of these parts are intimately connected and if one part is out of balance it has an impact on all the other parts. Therefore, we cannot only focus on one part in isolation, we must consider all parts to have a full picture and understanding of how a person is.
Below are 5 aspects that contribute to our whole way of being:
Physical Wellbeing – this relates to our body and its associated systems functioning optimally. For this to happen we consider a number of influences: the foods we eat and a balanced diet, the amount of, and quality of sleep we have, keeping hydrated and daily exercise/movement. They all play a huge part in contributing to our physical energy levels and how our bodies cope and respond to daily demands, medical conditions and dis-ease.
Mental Wellbeing - an optimal state of mental wellbeing does not mean an absence of stress but more one’s ability to process and juggle the events of day to day life. Our mental wellbeing changes and we can experience highs and lows, it can change daily, weekly, monthly, even hourly depending on our life experiences. When we feel in balance and flow, we make healthy choices, maintain healthy boundaries and are able to be fully present in the moment.
Emotional Wellbeing - our sense of self, our self-esteem and how we think, feel and relate to ourselves and others. It is being able to recognise, feel and process our full range of emotions: joy, anger, stress, sadness etc... and our ability to communicate them with others. Our emotional wellbeing includes developing emotional resilience to be able to adapt and cope with changing situations. Our emotional wellbeing is intimately connected to our mental and physical wellbeing, it is estimated that 75% of illnesses are caused by stress.
Spiritual Wellbeing - an aspect that will look different for each person as it’s such a personal part of one’s overall wellness. Spiritual health relates to our sense of life-meaning and purpose and how we experience and integrate this into our lives. Taking time to do the things that ‘light your fire’, finding the things that inspire you and make you ‘feel alive’. It may mean taking time to sit quietly in contemplation, having a mindfulness practice. Or conversely could be more dynamic and involve activities like dancing or singing. Spending time in nature can be really soothing for the soul and cultivating a sense of being connected to something greater than ourselves.
Social Wellbeing - relates to the connections we have with other people. This can be with family, friends, community, common interest groups ie: social, work, sports, spiritual, religious etc... Overall as human beings we are wired for connection, however, one person may thrive in small intimate settings whilst another may thrive in larger groups. Having connections where you feel supported, heard and held can have a significant impact on our overall wellbeing.
We can see how each of the above parts has a significant impact on how we feel on a day to day basis and how they continually interact and overlap: How we think and feel affects us physically. What we eat affects us mentally and emotionally. How we move and how we socialise affects how we feel. So although we have broken the whole down into parts to explore different aspects of the whole, they each contribute to the whole and also each reflect the whole.
As we understand each aspect of ourselves and what does/does not work for us we can implement appropriate self-care practices to support each aspect of our lives. Sometimes we develop an image of how we are and what we are like and don’t allow ourselves to explore other possibilities. Acknowledging that on different days and at different times in our lives we may need different things and giving ourselves space to explore and room for change.
Taking an holistic approach to your wellbeing does not replace medical advice or treatment when it is needed, but regardless of any existing health issues it can be really beneficial in supporting your current and future health and wellbeing.
Blogs from the WNT team. For our blogs from before June 2020 please see individual profile pages - it's a good way to get to know practitioners too.