Put the Happy’ Back into Christmas

Is Christmas tiring you out already? Save your energy by doing all your shopping locally, then take a break from the preparations and book yourself in for a lovely, relaxing complementary therapy instead. Traditionally, women spend a lot of time o...

Things are going to be different this year: I'm going to have some 'me' time and I suggest that you do too. Forget roast chestnuts this Christmas and opt for hot stones instead. If you've never tried this treatment before, trust me, you will love the feeling that these natural healing stones give you. Hot Stone Therapy is a much requested spa treatment as it combines all the benefits of massage using essential oils with the application of gentle heat to the body. Any aches and pains literally melt away, and the warmth of the stones on your skin feels incredibly soothing, both physically and mentally.

Aromatherapy can be used to treat any number of conditions attributable to a Yuletide shopping expedition. Anxiety, stress, muscular aches and pains, can all be relieved by the therapeutic properties of essential oils and the healing touch of massage. The theory is that when you smell an essential oil it stimulates your limbic system (the part of the brain that controls emotions and stores and retrieves memories) and relaxes you. The oils may also have medicinal properties, a blend of which can be tailored to the individual's needs. It certainly worked for me. (Note: some oils are contraindicated if you're pregnant or suffer from epilepsy or high blood pressure.)

Spare a thought for your feet now: they have carried you tirelessly through endless stores, only to be squeezed into some very silly party shoes later on. As any reflexologist will tell you, the state of your feet can say a lot about your general health. Reflexology is a complementary therapy based on the principle that there are reflexes in the hands and feet that correspond to different parts of the body. This gentle therapy is deeply relaxing and can be used to help the body restore its own healthy balance; useful after the excesses we put it through during the party season. You'll come out of your reflexology session feeling refreshed and ready to do battle again in the shops.

If your head is full of present lists, menu plans and school nativity dates you may be finding it hard to get a decent night's sleep. An Indian Head Massage, which also includes shoulders and neck, could be just what you need to get rid of stress, headaches, muscle tension and insomnia. This treatment will leave you with an enduring feeling of peace. It is gentle enough to be used on babies, yet is a very effective way of reducing excess tension.

These are just a few of the many complementary therapies that are available to help you relax over the busy festive season. Above all, try to take some time out for yourself this holiday. Being kind to yourself can mean the difference between enjoying Christmas and simply enduring it. BY JOANNA HAYWOOD

reflexologist www.aor.org.uk

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Aromatherapy www.aromatherapycouncil.co.uk

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