All the benefits of ancient holistic practices are being shouted from the rooftops

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Complementary therapy continues to grow in popularity as people search for alternatives to ‘traditional’ medicine. There is a rise in popularity of the holistic approach to health as a way of combating the negative effects from our everyday lifestyles

At the start of 2008, many of us would have vowed to eat a more balanced diet, cut down on alcohol, join a fitness class or take up a new sport.

Whether or not these New Year’s resolutions have been strictly followed, many of us will still be thinking about ways to address our work-life balance.

Whether it is cutting down on overtime, switching off the BlackBerry or setting aside an hour of “me-time” each evening, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to different kinds of complementary therapy to help them keep the balance just right.

With today’s working patterns, stress is a condition that affects more people than ever.

It’s becoming a widely used term, and more people are waking up to the damaging effects it can have on our health.

Increasing numbers of people are turning to complementary therapy to combat stress, as well as a number of other conditions that can be aggravated by stress.

Used on their own in some cases, and complementary to Western medicine in others, the benefits of ancient holistic practices such as aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage and an array of other therapies are being shouted from the rooftops.

Complementary therapy is a great way to help address our work-life balance either by kick-starting a healthy lifestyle or by providing a means to switch off from a long working week.

Complementary therapy encompasses a range of treatments that can be used on their own or as a supplement to Western medicine if required, to encourage a balanced state of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.

It can benefit everybody in a variety of ways, but it can be especially effective in alleviating conditions associated with stress such as muscular tension, pre-menstrual stress (PMS), tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

There are many benefits of complementary therapy depending on which ones are right for you, but generally a course of complementary treatments can help alleviate stress, promote relaxation and eliminate toxins.

After a treatment, patients can feel invigorated and energised or relaxed and calm.

Reflexology

Working with the reflexes in the feet that correspond to all parts of the body, this treatment aims to re-balance the body’s energy paths by eliminating toxins, encouraging a harmonious state of health.

The therapist performs a treatment on the feet which many say can feel like a firm yet relaxing foot massage.

Reflexology is an excellent treatment for relieving stress and conditions associated with stress such as IBS.

Aromatherapy

This massage treatment uses aromatic essential oils that have been extracted from different parts of plants. It is a practice that has been used for thousands of years to promote natural healing. Each oil has unique properties that are used to enhance health.

The therapist can blend a particular combination of oils or pre-blended oils to suit the patient’s needs.

For example, lavender essential oil is used to promote relaxation and black pepper oil is particularly useful for muscular aches and pains.

Aromatherapy can work to relax and uplift physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is well-known for its effectiveness in reducing stress-related problems and it can be beneficial for sufferers of nervous tension, anxiety, and depression.

As well as being used in massage, a few drops of aromatherapy oils can be used in the bath or in oil burners to enhance the aroma of a room.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage relieves stress and muscular tension as well as improving circulation by using deep stroking, kneading, friction and percussion movements to relax and revitalise the body.

Massage aids lymphatic drainage and boosts the immune system leaving the patient invigorated and energised. By increasing the oxygen flow in the blood and eliminating toxins from the body, massage can improve energy levels and enhance overall health and well being.

Reiki

Reiki is a form of touch therapy that evolved in Japan. The therapist uses hand placements over or on the patient to encourage the flow of energy through the body.

The patient may sense warmth or a tingling sensation during treatment.

This non-intrusive treatment works with the body’s chakras (energy centres) and realigns the mental, emotional and spiritual self encouraging a total sense of well-being.

Indian head massage

This massage focuses on the scalp and face but can also include the upper arms, upper back, neck and shoulders. It is used to help alleviate tension and promotes a deep sense of relaxation. As well as easing headaches and stress, this therapy can also have significant effect on the higher chakras of the body, encouraging a calmer mind, body and spirit.

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