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Reflexology for a stress-free Christmas

by Hazel Goodwin(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 24 - January 1998

Christmas is a time when we all want to feel good and look great. It is traditionally a season of joy, of family reunions, roast turkey and Christmas pud, of generosity and openness. Unfortunately it can also be a stressful time with too many expectations, too much pressure and perhaps, for a few, a time of loneliness, regret or depression.

Whether we are looking forward with excitement to the shopping and preparations or with dread to the extra work, Christmas is a festival which makes great demands on our energy. Routines and digestions are thrown out of kilter and stresses can build up on all levels. Stress, as we are frequently reminded, can lead to all manner of ills, to exhaustion, depletion and finally to disease. It can reduce our ability to cope, undermine our confidence and destroy our sense of well being.

This being the case, how can we be sure that we will feel good, cope well and look our best all over the Christmas and the New Year holiday season?

Have you thought of reflexology?

Reflexology is a gentle, non-invasive therapy, deeply relaxing and restoring and a great way to reduce stress and tension. This increasingly popular therapy is based on the concept that all parts of the body are connected by pathways through which vital energy flows, rather like electrical currents which supply power for lighting, heating and cooking in our homes. When the power supply is reduced or interrupted our appliances cannot work. So it is in the body, when our energy is low or tension blocks the natural flow, our organs and systems cannot function properly.

“Reflex” in the context of “reflexology” means the “reflection” of all the structures, systems and organs of the body onto the feet. The sensitive, trained hands of a qualified reflexologist will detect tiny deposits or imbalances in the feet indicating that there are blockages or depletions in the energy channels through the body. By applying gentle pressure to these points with thumbs or fingers, rather like operating an electricity control panel, the therapist can stimulate the flow of energy to all parts, clearing blockages and helping the body to achieve its own state of equilibrium and good health.

If you have never experienced a reflexology treatment, why not try one now and be ready to sail through Christmas?

What will happen when you go for a treatment?

When you first visit a practitioner there will be a short talk and then you will be asked to take off your shoes and socks, recline on a comfortable chair or couch while the reflexologist relaxes your feet and works over the reflexes. A reflexology session usually lasts for about an hour and taking time off to have a treatment, reclining comfortably while your therapist gently works over the reflexes is, in itself, beneficial, giving you the opportunity to let go of physical, emotional and mental tensions so allowing the healing flow of energy to revitalise you on all levels.

How can reflexology help?

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of reflexology make it particularly helpful for all stress-related conditions, even when there is no clinical evidence of disease. By inducing a state of relaxation, tension is released, circulation improved and toxins can more easily be eliminated from the body. And as the body’s energies flow there is a renewed sense of health and well being on all levels. Reflexology can benefit, and be enjoyed by, everyone from the youngest baby to a frail ninety year old.

Reflexology is not a miracle cure for deep seated problems and a single treatment will not correct physical disorders which are the result of years of misuse, of poor diet, lack of exercise, traumas, stressful relationships or unrewarding jobs. Reflexology will not change your conditions but should help you cope with them better. Sometimes a number of treatments are necessary before the full benefit is felt.

Self help with reflexology

As relaxation is one of the main benefits of reflexology this can best be achieved by letting someone else work on your feet or your hands, but some self-help techniques can be used to release tension in stressful circumstances. For most people hands are more accessible than feet and it is usually more appropriate to work on your own hands. It is also far less noticeable when giving a self-help treatment in public.

Before starting sit quietly for a few moments and breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, rest your hands in your lap and place both feet on the ground. The diaphragm and solar plexus are areas most affected by tension and these are the reflexes to work on first of all. To release tension, place the thumb of one hand into the palm of the other and gently press upwards into the space between the knuckles of the index and middle fingers. At the same time take a deep breath in and then breathe out slowly letting shoulders, arms and stomach relax as the pressure of the thumb is maintained for about 10 seconds. The hand being “worked” should be relaxed and curl over the thumb. This can be repeated three or four times on each palm followed by a circular massage movement all over the palms of both hands. Then gently squeeze each finger in turn, rotate the knuckle, stretch the finger and slide your hand off. For the more supple, the same techniques can be used on the feet and rotating the toes and ankle joints helps to release tension in the neck and back.

But nothing works as well as a full treatment by a professional reflexologist. Why not make a New Year resolution to take time out for yourself in 1998 and have regular reflexology sessions to keep you in good shape?

How to find a reflexology practitioner

Although we have no exact figures, there are probably between 8,000 and 10,000 registered practitioners in this country. Most reflexologists work privately but it is possible for fund holding GPs to employ reflexologists. Non-fund holding GPs may also employ complementary therapists subject to the approval of the Family Health Services Authority. As reflexology works so well with other forms of treatment many doctors are finding that referring patients to reflexologists actually saves them money. So do ask your doctor if this therapy would be available for you on the NHS.

When choosing a reflexologist for yourself, it is wise to make sure that the practitioner has been properly trained at a reputable school and is a full member of a professional organisation.

The Association of Reflexologists was founded in 1984 with the aim of setting standards of training in reflexology and providing a network of qualified and experienced practitioners. Full Members of the Association use the letters M.A.R. after their names and are included on the Register of Practitioners. If you would like to receive a copy of the Register, a list of Accredited Courses, information about speakers or membership, please send a C5 stamped, self addressed envelope to: The Association of Reflexologists, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX. Telephone: 0990 673320

Wishing you a happy, stress-free Christmas & a healthy New Year.

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About Hazel Goodwin

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