BLOG, INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Resources, discussions and information produced by Charlotte Lattin - Level 5 Sports, Remedial and Holistic Massage and Soft Tissue Therapist, Movement Coach, Psychologist, Runner, Swimmer, Yoga practitioner, Lover of Outdoors, Mum to 4 children, Owner of a crazy dog (and a couple of other dogs) and fascinated by all things to do with how our bodies and minds work...
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So, mindfulness, something that is frequently heard about in the media at the moment...what is it and what has it got to do with massage?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation (active or passive) where you are aware of what goes on in the mind...this still sounds complex to me and, if your brain is anything like mine, sounds busy and stressful! In reality it isn't (well, actually it can be but that's another thing we'll come to) but instead is a tool to change the way we work with thoughts in the brain.
Mindfulness meditation can help with a range of different disorders or issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and OCD but can be used by anyone to just improve the way we view our thoughts. It can help us to get on better with others - be that strangers, children, relationships etc. - but also to get on better with ourselves and to view thoughts as things that are happening rather than what we are (and becoming consumed by them. There are several apps and web-based programs that can help you to learn mindfulness (it does involve lots of trying to start with!) and you can of course read books about it. Yoga (not just the pose-based aspects of this that we often consider to be 'yoga') devotes a lot of time and teaching to mindfulness and breathing too - and think how calm many long-term yogis are. If you're interested give it a try, and you might learn to be more present in the moment. If you want some tips on apps to try do ask.
So what has this got to do with massage?
1) Having a massage is focusing on one time and place - you can't go anywhere and you have given yourself the time to be present with yourself!
2) Touch can help you to be present and in the moment
3) The therapist should also be mentally present and focusing on you - this can be very grounding
4) Breathing and heart rate slowing down as the result of massage can also help to slow the thoughts and make mindfulness easier
If you have had a massage and felt the slowing of the mind and a sense of ease when you leave the treatment room then you have perhaps started to understand what practising mindfulness can lead to more often in life - if not, then book in for a holistic massage.
As a disclaimer I would suggest that this might not be the case for a sports massage, which can be very different!
Next week I'll be telling you about some exciting new training I will be starting later this year and next - keep an eye out for this as it may be asking for guinea pig requests from you for some of these so if any tickle your fancy you'd better be in touch!
This weekend I was indeed saying Happy Birthday to Skin Food, just one of the rather fabulous products that make up the organic and bio-dynamically grown Weleda range. As I use these products in the treatments that I give I wanted to find out a bit more about them, and this is what I have done this weekend at the Weleda conference. I have been blown away by knowledge about the chemicals in other products and what they can do to you but also had a blast with some amazing people at the fabulous Skin Food Party sponsored by Weleda as part of London fashion week.
If you have a look at my Facebook page you'll see a bit more about this but this post really isn't all about that, it's about the connections that we make ad the choices we make.
Meeting new people (something I actually find a bit nerve-wracking) and also meeting up with those who are close but you don't see enough (my sister features here) can sometimes make you re-evaluate life. Having a few (too many!) drinks at a celeb party may have also influenced my though process but who knows - it's good to question your path!
In line with earlier posts about mental health, this weekend has made me think hard about not only the products that I use and what they do to us and the environment but more importantly (to me!) about what actions I take on a daily basis that makes me feel ok. With this in mind I have been mulling over my health and commitments - that balance of family and work that is such a conundrum for so many of us and thinking about how I can get this right and keep working on what I believe in (my massage business and developments to this) whilst also staying healthy and being able to pay the bills...
I'm not sure that I have reached an answer yet but it's great to know that I have some supportive people with me on the journey and that I can follow the advice that I so often give my clients - take some time to yourself and time to relax. Without you being ok, nothing around you will be. And with great feedback from my facial and massage clients last week I think I'm going in the right direction.
So this morning I did my yoga and meditation and went for a run - the first step is to take time to decide. So lovely clients if you're booked in soon you may see me embodying the kind of calm I try to create for you! Here's hoping!!
If you feel you need to take some time for you (to fix aches and pains or just to breathe and relax) then book in for a treatment. Never mind Skin Food (great as it is) we need Soul Food too :)
This week we have some top tips for good mental health and balance. Exercise is fundamental in healthy body and mind but takes many forms, as well as being addictive in some cases so balance (and massage) are important to think about for those who are active and those who are less so. Which are you?
This week I got back into some work that I do for Oxfordshire Recovery College, which provides courses for those who have had or are suffering with mental health difficulties, as well as their carers and professionals that might want more information on a variety of topics. This is a fantastic charity and one you may hear more about if I carry out the next challenge of a dip in the river (or a mile swim) in aid of Restore, that charity that has set up the college.
Anyway, this led me to think more about the links between physical and mental health and how often these are forgotten about until the balance tips to crisis point. What is important about exercise and a healthy mind?
1) Any exercise is great as it gets you out of a place and gets the blood moving around - clearing both head and heart. It doesn't matter what you do: a gentle stroll, pogo stick or marathon get out there and give it a go - have a look at your mood before and after - you should notice an improvement.
2) Regular exercise is one of the best ways to treat anxiety and depression, whether this is yoga or running the meditative aspect can help to calm the breath and free the mind of negative thoughts. The regular routine can also help with this and can act to boost self-esteem and improve your physical shape.
3) Exercise outdoors - the outside world has also been shown to boost mood and release positive chemicals in the body, promoting good mental health. Don't let the rain bother you, think about what you can do in les nice weather (walk in a wood perhaps).
4) Exercise with a friend - working out with a friend (or even just a walk or swim) will work extra hard to boost mood. Having a friend to meet up with makes you more likely to get out the door - and also means that you get the socialisation which is shown to help with mood in a number of mental health conditions. Meet up with another mum if you're a new mother or go for a swim with a work colleague if you both share an interest. Can't think of a friend - join a local club - there are loads around (and you can change your mind if it doesn't suit).
5) Book yourself a massage as a treat for all your hard work (and to give yourself a break if you got over-enthusiastic and forgot to take a break from exercise - it can be addictive, resulting in more harm than good)
Benefits of massage for mental health (as well as the physical is that they also help to calm the body's 'fight or flight' system or stimulate a sluggish and lethargic mood. And if you can't face to exercise bit then a massage is truly restorative as well - hopefully some of my holistic clients can back this up. (The sports clients might feel less relaxed but more able to keep up with their exercise and elevate mood this way!) I've got some lovely new Weleda Oils that I can use (and you can take some goodies home if you like them to keep that pampering up).
Looking after yourself is important - take the time to keep yourself balanced. We'll be thinking about this in terms of meditation and the role of this in massage and exercise in a few weeks.
Do feel free to add any comments and look out for the free stretches I am showing on my Facebook page every week - look up Charlotte Lattin Massage and press the like button. Last week was shoulders, this week we'll be looking at the legs, hips and feet.
This week I was nominated for the 22 press-up a day for 22 days challenge. If you are on Facebook you may have seen some of my attempts and I have learnt a few things this week.
1) Many of my friends and family are not able to do a press up - this made me want to get more girls/women giving this a go as this is a great exercise for strengthening your upper body and toning your core. Give it a try (it's ok to start on your knees and build up the numbers - start with 1 a day and see how quickly you are able to do more.
2) I am a great big show off. There was no need to do handstand push-ups in this challenge and it meant that subsequent videos were a little more boring for those watching!
3) 22 days is a very long time. I have had to stop the challenge as I can't quite bear the thought of posting another video on Facebook! This doesn't mean I have stopped working out but it does mean that I am maybe conscious of not boring my friends and contacts to death. It also seems that not many people wanted to take up the challenge when nominated...
Despite this I am really pleased to have given this a go and hope that it has meant that people have a) thought about getting more active (especially women giving push-ups a go) and b) looked into the cause that this challenge relates to: 22 veterans a day take their own lives, this challenge is helping to raise awareness of PTSD - which is often a cause of serious difficulties for those who have served for their country (and also many others in the world) - check out www.combatstress.org.uk for more information or to donate.
We'll be thinking a bit more about mental health next week too, and how exercise and massage can work together to help decrease symptoms in several types of mental illness. If you're keen to contribute to next week's post and ideas let me know.