Common Myths About Meditation

By Siân Willett  (Kundalini Yoga Instructor, Meditation Teacher and Practice Manager at Osteopathy For All)

Many people may think that meditation is a bit out there or too ‘woo woo’ for them. Meditation is what you make of it and it’s different for everyone and with every meditation you do you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself. We cannot train the mind with the mind, it’s like a wild animal that needs to be tamed and to do so, we need discipline, patience, kindness and tools. So, I have compiled a small list of common myths about meditation that often stop people from starting.

Meditation can be done anywhere, at any time.

When you think of meditation what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it someone sitting in a quiet space with incense burning, candles, herbal teas, gongs and looking REALLY still and at peace? If so, you’re not alone. Although all of those things help to create an environment to meditate in, they are not the meditation itself, that comes from you. The ideal time to meditate is first thing in the morning when we are more connected to our subconscious mind and free from the information overload world, we live in.

However, let yourself off the hook, if you aren’t an early riser or have a hectic schedule you can do a short lunchtime meditation or before bed and still reap the benefits. It’s also ideal to meditate in the same place each time, as this helps to remind the mind that we are preparing to meditate, but again this doesn’t have to be the case. You can meditate in the car, on your morning commute or walking in the park.

I don’t have time to meditate...Meditation doesn’t have to last for hours.

When people think about meditation, they may think that you need to sit still in silence for hours on end. Some of the shorter meditation techniques and practices can be just as efficient as an hour-long meditation. 3 to 5 minutes is enough to start feeling subtle shifts in the mind and body. Meditation is like giving the mind a spring clean, de-cluttering or cleansing and taking time out of your day to practice can really start to make positive changes in your life and improve your overall well-being.

Use a chair.

You do not have to be able to sit crossed legged to meditate, you can use a chair or cushions and bolsters to help you feel more comfortable. If you are using a chair, place your feet firmly on the ground, with a straight spine, shoulders relaxed, chin slightly tucked in and hands resting in the lap or on the thighs, palms facing up or down. Placing a cushion between the lower back and the chair can also help keep the spine straight. A straight spine during meditation helps the ‘chi’ or energy flow freely through the body, especially along the spine.

You may fall asleep and that’s okay.

Falling asleep is a by-product of being relaxed, and when we meditate, we are helping the mind and body to de-stress and relax. So it’s perfectly normal to fall asleep, especially in the beginning. Remember we are taming the mind which has many old patterns and habits as well as living in unprecedented times which takes its toll on the mind and body, so when we stop the exhaustion my kick in. When we first begin to meditate shorter practices are better to prevent falling asleep and sitting upright either cross-legged or in a chair helps.

However, if you want to lie down and you fall asleep it’s okay, just be sure to set an alarm if you’re meditating before work! If you fall asleep during a guided meditation then your subconscious mind will still take in the words, just on a deeper level that you may not remember.

Long Deep Breathing

One of the simplest types of breathing is Long Deep Breathing, which brings our attention to the journey the breath takes through the body. The beauty of Long Deep Breathing is that it can be practised anywhere, lying down, sitting on a chair, on a train, or in a waiting room. It instantly calms the mind and brings awareness back to the body.

So, get comfortable, set your timer and allow yourself to be in the present moment, go within and reconnect with YOU.

We hope this has busted the common myths about meditation. If you would like some support getting started with meditation then please contact us as we will soon be providing a supported introduction to meditation course online.

 


10 Steps To Reduce The Effects Of Covid 19

How to Thrive and Survive

The following information can help you do more than just try to avoid the virus it gives you 10 Steps To Reduce The effects Of Covid 19 to help you thrive and survive.

This evidence based information comes from a document and webinar by Dr. David Hanscom  (and the Polyvagal Workgroup including Dr. Stephen Porges)

We will get to the how in just a moment but first a tiny bit of important science. Let us introduce you to cytokines.

Cytokines

Cytokines are naturally occurring proteins found in the body. Cytokines are crucial in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells.

There is evidence that many of the people that are the worst affected by Covid 19 may have raised levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines play a normal role in initiating the inflammatory response and helps regulate the body's defense against pathogens by mediating the immune response. So they are important. However, if the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines are too high it turns on cell pathways which create excess levels of inflammation in the area resulting in the body being flooded with so much inflammation that it can be fatal, this is known as a cytokine storm.

Imagine that you put your foot on the accelerator and it gets glued to it. You can't get your foot off the gas to slow down your car. Essentially, these storms can be more deadly than the original virus the body is fighting and occur when the levels get above a certain threshold.

What causes these cytokines to be raised in the first place? Anything that your body perceives as a threat, whether physical or emotional, can influence our cytokine levels.

However, please don't panic as the whole point of this article is to reduce that level of threat and coming up are 10 ways to reduce your cytokine levels.

Graph by D. R. Clawson, MD

10 Steps To Reduce The Effects Of Covid 19

A link to the full article is available below but here we will break it down in to bite size pieces and you can see which areas resonate with you and which feel you may need to give some attention to.

Many of the points overlap with the information that is relevant to those suffering with chronic pain or chronic or stress induced illness. This is because the cytokine levels and neuro-immune response are also implicated in these health conditions too.

Because this is an area we specialise in at Osteopathy For All you will find suggestions that will help you address many of the following points in our MINDBODY Toolkit.

1. Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

Another simple way of looking at it is to ask... how full is your bucket? When our buckets overfill we can feel anxious.

When we feel overwhelmed our body feels under threat and sadly the worry of a pandemic is quite a big item in most people's buckets at the moment. By the time you add on other medical or financial concerns or the separation from family and friends people's buckets are filling up. So before you read on you might find it helpful to make a note of what is in your bucket.

To understand anxiety in more details visit our Chronic Pain and Associated Symptoms Page

Anxiety can raise our cytokine levels so addressing it is important. You may find it useful to talk to someone about it. A friend or family member or a professional. Practicing calming activities can help such as mindfulness or meditation. Sometimes trying to be still makes it feel worse so moving may help. Walking, QiGong or Yoga are excellent gentle ways o connecting with our bodies and getting out of our heads. Putting all your worries on a piece of paper can also help us to rationalise them.

A simple visualisation to reduce anxiety: Visualise a dial on the wall in front of you and notice what number your anxiety is at. Take 3 deep belly breaths and lower your shoulders. Then in your minds-eye turn the dial down.  As you do notice the reduction of agitation in your body. Keep turning it down until you feel a little more calm.

2. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep is key to boosting our immune health but for many is the first thing to get disturbed when we feel overwhelmed or anxious. We have lots of help for sleep in our toolkit. If this is an area of concern for you and you would like some tips or for sleep stories and meditations please read more here...

3. Expressive Writing or Journaling

If you are a patient at Osteopathy For All then you have probably heard us mention journaling or expressive writing before as it is key to recovery from chronic pain. It is also an excellent, evidenced based way, of separating your thoughts from your physical body and by processing them it reduces the stress hormones and any anxiety you may be feeling.

GETTING STARTED: FREE FLOW OF THOUGHTS
Record your thoughts and immediately destroy them.
• Write down specific thoughts. They do not have to make sense or even be legible. They can be
positive, negative, rational, irrational--anything.
• Do this once or twice a day for 15-30 minutes per session.
• Resist the temptation to analyze your thoughts. The more attention you give them, the more
you reinforce them. All the “issues” are just thoughts and it is counterproductive to place your
attention on them. (This is the way neurological circuits are reinforced and we want to reduce them).
• Destroy the pages. Tear them up into tiny pieces and discard them where no one can read them.
This step is critical if you are to write with complete freedom.

There is more information on this in Dr Hanscom's full document below or on our journaling page

4. Practice Forgiveness

'Anxiety creates a need for control. Anger arises when aggressive effort is needed to exert control. When the effort is successful, the body’s chemistry returns to normal. If the situation cannot be resolved, anxiety and anger continues, with ongoing inflammation. In other words, feeling trapped (whether real or perceived) is deadly to the organism. People sicken and develop life-threatening diseases as the result of chronic inflammation'.

Letting go of anger whether it is from a small annoyance or a long term upset is going to change your body's tension and chemistry. Sometimes in the moment of upset we don't have a choice but when we realise we are holding on to anger ideally we need to address it. We can actively choose to let it go and forgive others or ourselves.  For a moment just sit quietly and remember something you are angry about. Now feel what that does to your body. It can be as little as an increase in tension or can go as far as to make your heart race. Now let it go and feel your body relax. As you do chemical changes occur within the body decreasing inflammation and lower the levels of pro inflammatory cytokines.

 

5. Nutritional Considerations

This is something we have talked about over the last few months. We recommend taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Zinc. These are all immune boosting supplements and are especially important as we go into the winter and we have reduced sunshine and less homegrown vegetables.

Other dietary considerations are to eat as little processed food as possible. Processed foods, artificial additives and preservatives and sugar can all have an inflammatory effect. Keep it real as much as possible. Dr Hanscom talks more about this and intermittent fasting in his paper.

 

6. Decrease The Stimulation of Your Nervous System

Try and avoid what is triggering to you. The news, social media and video games. Try not to repetitively talk about things things that you find triggering - the pandemic, your symptoms or things that have made you cross or that you cannot change.

Here are five easy tips to sooth your nervous system and lower your stress reaction:
• A cold compress to the face (Mäkinen), especially after exercising or if acutely stressed.
• Meditation with deep breathing. Try using a counting method (such as 4 counts breathing in and
4 counts out; or 4 counts in, hold for 7, and release for 8); alternating nostril breathing (block
one nostril while breathing in and the other nostril while breathing out); or just focus solely on
your breath (Mason).
• Singing, humming, or chanting (Vickhoff)
• Socializing (Kok)
• Laughing with your “tribe” or watching comedic movies (Berk,Miller).
The bottom line is to use common sense to actively calm yourself and avoid activities that stress your
nervous system. It is surprising how much difference it can make.

 

7. Physical Interventions

Since March we have been encouraged to exercise and this is still true now. Not only is it good for our physical health through the release of endorphins it can improve our mood and decrease our stress response. When we are stressed we hold a lot of extra tension in our bodies. This can cause symptoms such as pain but it can also have an effect on how the body is functioning. It affects blood supply, venous drainage our lymphatic system.  Any stasis in our body of these fluid systems can contribute to build up of stress and inflammatory chemicals making it harder to relax and have an appropriate immune response.

If you are struggling to get moving from an injury or general levels of tension then please do book to see your osteopath or physical therapist to help get you moving again.

 

8. Stay On Top Of Your Medical Conditions

Make sure you are keeping on top of any pre-exsiting health conditions.

You will simply in better shape if you:
• Closely monitor and control your diabetes
• Take your cardiopulmonary medication
• Control your blood pressure

If you are unable to get an appointment with your GP your Osteopath may be able to help. We can take your blood pressure and assess your heart, lungs and nervous system Whilst we are unable to prescribe medication we can talk through many medical concerns with you and point you in the right direction.  If you are at all concerned about any aspect of your health whether covid related or not you can contact 111 for assistance. Don't let a health condition add to your worries.

 

9. Address Family Issues

Love them or loath them our nearest and dearest can be the most triggering. If this is an area that you consider might be a factor in your life then do read the full section in Dr Hanscom's paper (below)

 

10. Play

Finally don't forget to play. Run through the leaves, play board games with your kids, have date night with your partner, watch funny movies.

It is hard at the moment with not being able to get together with friends and family in person so do try to connect online. Do an online quiz, have a wine tasting or just chat.

Actively seek out some joy, find purpose in a project or take up a hobby.

Play isn’t just a way to distract yourself from anxiety. You can’t outrun your mind. Rather, it is mindset of curiosity, deep gratitude, listening, awareness, and improving your skills to calm your nervous system. The result is a sense of contentment and peace. It is a powerful and rapid way to optimize your health.

 

Take action today against anything your body perceives as a threat(physical or emotional) to reduce your body's inflammatory reaction and pro inflammatory cytokines.

Dr David Hanscom's Article - Thrive and survive Covid 19

 

 

 


Approach To Self Care

This is one in a series of three blogs about our Osteopaths' approach to self care.

My Story

Over the last few years I myself have recovered from #fibromyalgia - a condition that includes amongst other things chronic, persistent pain and crushing fatigue. Using a MindBody and SIRPA approach I was able to be 98% better but during the last few weeks my fatigue levels have increased a little. This is not surprising because of the stress induced by the pandemic, the lock down and all the implications that surrounded it. However, I needed to identify what component was the most relevant in order to change it.

Responsibility

Many people have experienced this fatigue recently but today enough was enough and I journaled and asked myself the question why was it affecting me so much? The answer that came up was that I want to make everyone feel better...in the whole world! Now that is tiring and impossible but also enlightening. It led me to this great article by Tiny Buddha about if we start healing ourselves then we can help to heal the world.  It made me ask myself about the part within the whole scenario that I can change... and that part is me.

I can take responsibility for me. I can change how I respond, I can stop blaming others and choose which parts I am able to take responsibility for and which parts I need to let go.  I can do this with compassion and not let anyone down. I do not need to use my energy to save the world, I need to use my energy to care for me and those around me - my family, my friends, my patients and my community. If we each did that we may still not be able to heal and change the world but we could certainly heal and change our world. I know can help myself to achieve this through MindBody practice.

Mindbody Practice

The environment we create with our thoughts and responses can fundamentally change our health. Negative thoughts, especially negative self talk, can be incredibly destructive and is an important factor especially if you are struggling with a chronic pain, anxiety, chronic fatigue or chronic illness. We can fundamentally change our health by addressing our inner thoughts and environment.  Situations that cause pain, whether physical or emotional, are registered in the same part of the brain.

Journaling is an incredibly effective way of identifying what are the elements of life that are bothering us. Then if we can practice becoming aware of when we have been triggered or overwhelmed we can change how we respond. It does take practice and in the current world where we are bombarded by opinion (apologies for adding to it) it can be so hard to know what is the right response. Learning to pause and check in with our thoughts can increase our awareness of what is burdening us and causing our pain and fatigue.  Knowing that a situation is making us feel uncomfortable may help us to make the right response for self.

Practices, such as mindfulness and meditation, that allow us to find stillness within the mind and body can also help. If we are able to know what it feels like to be still and calm then when something is challenging we can be more aware of the effect it is having on our body. Dis-comfort indicates that we need to change the situation, or the parts that we can, and adapt our thoughts and reactions.

Pippa Cossens Registered Osteopath and Stress Illness Practitioner.

 

If you would like any help with practices to engage the MindBody connection please visit our MindBody toolkit

 


Osteopathy For All thoughts affecting chronic pain

How To Manage Chronic Pain Naturally

One of the ways to manage your chronic pain naturally is by being kinder to yourself.

How stressful events can affect how we manage chronic pain

When we have a stressful situation, especially a pandemic, this changes the neural activity in our brains and it also raises the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, in our body. This produces a sense of agitation for every one. However, if you suffer with a chronic pain condition, such as fibromyalgia, your already sensitised nervous system perceives this danger as a greater threat and can trigger an increase in your pain levels.    At this current time people's symptoms are also being exacerbated by being separated from our support networks.  Not being able to see friends and family and not having normal access to healthcare.  When we are shut away like this and under pressure it gives us so much time to be inside our own heads and this isn't always helpful. 

Why what you are saying to yourself is important

Often our inner voice is our biggest critic and we can be quite unkind to ourselves, judgmental and harsh and we don't even realise we’re doing it. It becomes such a habit that we are doing it all the time without even realising. I think at the moment with quite a lot of time on our hands and when we are not going about normal daily routines it is actually making it worse. So if you do no other self care in this stressful time just keep a check on your inner voice and be gentle with yourself. 

When we engage in a lot of negative self talk the body perceives this as stress and it doesn’t know that it is not coming from an external source. Stress, we know, increases nervous system activity and for people with chronic pain this can increase the pain intensity. So if you find yourself being harsh just try to stop and check yourself. Then find a phrase or saying that might be more helpful such as ‘I am enough’ or ‘I don't need you (the thought) just now’.  

How often do you speak to yourself harshly?

When we have chronic pain we often talk harshly to ourselves because we feel that our body has let us down. This is not helpful, partly because it means we are focusing on the pain and giving it power.  Being mean to ourselves is a self induced stress.  You wouldn't tolerate somebody else speaking to you that harshly and you wouldn't speak to somebody else in that way and so why do it to yourself? Maybe today is the day to try to listen compassionately to your bodies and to your pain.  

It is a really good time to make this a new habit as many of our normal distractions are not there.  So addressing the internal environment needs to be done very consciously when under stress.  You can do this just by trying to change your thoughts.  Another effective way of getting thoughts out of your head that we also recommend is journaling. Journaling is really useful to help offload unhelpful thoughts and calm your internal environment. 

Would you like to try an experiment?

How would it be if when you had a pain today you paused and identified the pain.  Then acknowledged the pain and spent a moment understanding the pain?  Why had it just been triggered what did you just do? Was it something physical or was it actually the fact that you just had an emotional response to something? Could it have been something such as a difficult phone call or a large unexpected bill has just arrived?  Just spend a moment checking in and trying to understand what is going on with your pain. Then, if you can, stop focusing on the pain, breathe it out and release it.  

So today please be gentle with yourself.

My personal experience

I know it may be a hard concept to grasp and when I first came across it when I was suffering with fibromyalgia pain I thought so too.  Now, however, I know that it was an important part of the jigsaw for my recovery. The person we hang out with most, is our self, all day every day (especially at the moment) and if we have a constant negative dialogue going on in our heads this can be triggering to our already jangled nervous system. When our nervous system is under pressure it effects ALL the other systems in our bodies which is why chronic pain is accompanied by so many other symptoms such as anxiety, restless legs, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, headaches and fatigue.

If you would like any help with how to manage your chronic pain naturally then we offer video consultations that you can book here...

More information on our approach to chronic pain here...


Father doing a workout with his son at home so they can stay active indoors.

How To Stay Active At Home, Mentally And Physically

How To Stay Active At Home, Mentally And Physically

As we’re all spending more time indoors, it’s important to keep moving and to stay active at home, for our health and wellbeing. Official advice (correct at time of writing, 03/04/20) has been to stay home and not take part in gatherings of more than two people. Normal routines have been disrupted. If you are someone who goes to gym classes or swims regularly, you may be asking yourself how to stay active at home.

We’ve put this article together to help you stay active not just physically, but also mentally. It’s important, now more than ever, to stay healthy and moving often is a key part of this.

Stick to an active routine

Create a new routine at home which gets you moving and sets you up mentally for the day. Start every morning right by getting out of bed early, having a stretch or workout, taking a shower then eating a wholesome breakfast.

Though it may be tempting to roll out of bed and slob around in front of the TV in your PJs all day, this will ultimately lead to you feeling low in the long run. Instead, stick to a routine which gets you moving at the beginning of the day, while giving your brain an energy boost. Start as you mean to go on as they say.

Pick up a new hobby that keeps you active at home

There are plenty of activities around the house to keep you moving. You probably already do some of these but wouldn’t think of it as a form of exercise at the time. Activities to keep you staying fit include gardening (bending, digging and shovelling), housework (hoovering, washing dishes and dusting) and walking (whilst talking on the phone, up and down the stairs).

Not only your body, but your mind too needs to be kept active for good general health. Things you can do to keep your mind in good working order include watching quiz shows (try to answer the questions yourself!), word puzzles (crosswords and wordsearches) and colouring books for adults.

Have a go at some active home workouts

Now that gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres have closed, it’s time to start doing physical activity at home a few times a week. Though you might be missing out on your running or cycling, there are plenty of workouts you can do indoors to increase your heart rate! There are lots of different exercises you can try before finding the best ones for you. Have a browse through the NHS website to find something suitable.

Used to working with gym equipment such as weights? You can improvise with things found around the house. Tinned food and bottles of drink act as great weights. Upgrade to bags of flour or sugar when these get too easy!

Remain in touch with loved ones

Keeping in touch with your family and friends will help reduce isolation and stress. Though you can’t get out and see them in person at the moment, there are plenty of other ways to get those contact hours in. Email, text, chatrooms and phone calls are all great ways to connect with others. Why not set up a book club on a group chat platform or have dinner dates through video calls.

Get some fresh air outside

We’re not suggesting that you go outside where there are lots of other people but getting out into your garden, or for some exercise, can boost your morale exponentially. Direct sunlight stimulates the brain and produces the mood enhancing chemical, serotonin. This lifts our mood and makes us feel good. Fresh air also helps clean your lungs with oxygen, ultimately giving you more energy and making you feel happier.

Try deep breathing exercises

You may know that breathing exercises reduce stress and can help you feel more focused. But did you know that these techniques can reduce blood pressure too? Physically, they help strengthen abdominal muscles and promote good blood flow.

Practice for a few moments a day to begin with, to make you more conscious of how you normally breath. Then up the ante when you need to. Here are a few techniques to help you get started.

 

At Osteopathy For All, we are determined to help you get the treatment you need. We support our patients with help and advice to help them keep as healthy as possible. By having a holistic approach to health, we help to provide longer-term solutions to our patient’s health conditions.

For more information or for advice contact us today by emailing hello@osteopathyforall.co.uk or calling 01825 840582.

 

We have also made this article available as a downloadable infographic. Click the button below to download yours today.


Anatomy Activity Sheets For Kids

We have produced some Anatomy Activity Sheets For Kids.

Please feel free to use them especially whilst your kids are at home from school.

We will be adding to them as we go along so pop back and see what is new.

If you want other resources please check our blog on Homeschooling Advice and Resources 

Hope that they help.


Homeschooling Advice And Resources

As many of you know I have home-schooled / home-educated for the last 6 years. So as the nation starts homeschooling on mass I wanted to share some homeschooling advice and resources with you.

Homeschooling whether by choice or due to unexpected circumstances is an undertaking so my main piece of advice is...

DON'T try and replicate school.   

It is hard enough being a parent without also trying to be the maths, science, PE and head teachers as well. Remember you and your children are going to have to live under the same roof for a few weeks now and unlike the summer holidays many attractions are not open. So cut yourself and your kids some slack.

Getting Outdoors and Online PE

On the subject of attractions the National Trust are letting people into their larger park and garden properties for free. In Sussex  Sheffield Park has a lovely activity trail in the park across the fields from the car park so if the kids need to blow of steam that is one option. The tea rooms are closed so take a picnic. Just remember to keep 2 metres from other visitors especially the elderly. If you can't get away from home get the kids moving in the house or garden. Joe Wicks Personal trainer is going to be doing live PE online each morning starting on Monday 23rd March.  If you need a more calming activity why not do some Tai Chi / Qi Gong together.

Online Printable Resources

There are masses of printable resources available online, especially on pinterest or just google what you fancy there are lots of free resources out there.  We have produced a couple of anatomically relevant resources for your kids to complete. We hope to produce more and will keep you posted.

Household Management

Involve your children in the household chores - teach them to run a house. How to budget, how to do the washing, how to cook... their future partners will thank you. There is an amazing amount of science and maths in every day household management.

Virtual Grandparents

Link you kids up with activities they can share virtually with self isolating grandparents - this will be great for both groups. Get grandparents to read a story on Skype or Facetime. They can even play games such as squares or noughts and crosses.  There are also online games of chess that can be played remotely.

Screen Time

You are, like it or not, probably going to have to relax your screen time rules especially if you want to stay sane. Ensure your computers settings are set at the appropriate level for your children and send them off online to explore something that interests them and then get them to explain what they have found out to you. Sit down and relax with them. You will appreciate the rest and they will love the attention. One of my favourite parts of home educating has been what my son has taught me.

From a more academic point of view BBC Bitesize is a great resource for all ages from primary school upwards and there are a number of museums offering virtual tours.

Stress - Yours and Theirs

I cannot promise that this time is going to be stress free. So I wanted to share the resources that are available on our website. We have three tool kits on the website and one of these is specifically for children. Our Children's toolkit contains some videos with relaxation techniques to help children find their ability to self calm. We also have breathing techniques and  meditation links for you for when it feels a bit overwhelming.

Most of all try and find the balance for you and the children. Reach out to friends and share resources. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for these activity sheets (and more) and don't drink too much wine!

Here for you

Pippa Cossens Registered Osteopath and Home Educator

skeleton labeling diagram
Skeleton Activity Sheet
Ear activity sheet
The Ear- Activity sheet

Young woman thinking of using osteopathy for mental health

Can osteopathy help the mind as well as the body?

For many, osteopathy is perceived to be a manual therapy that is designed solely to help patients with pain and to move better. However, the truth is that osteopathy takes a lot more into consideration, by helping people to develop a healthy bodily environment across all parts of the anatomy, including the mind.

It is widely known that osteopathy helps patients to increase movement and reduce restriction which in turn helps to ease congestion, inflammation and disease. But how can that play a part in our mental health and wellness?

This article explores the question: can osteopathy help the mind as well as the body?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

Overall health is multifaceted. Therefore, the solutions to provide sustained good health should be too.

Within our bodies, the physical, chemical and emotional are all interlinked. Using osteopathic techniques to provide our bodies the right environment it needs to perform, can result in a reduction in overall stress. This reduction in stress will lead to more physical ease and an increase in energy levels. Increased energy (alongside good nutrition) will give the body and mind the fuel it needs to work optimally, and the loop continues.

As with physical pain, mental ill health can be perceived as a signal that can be used to trigger action. It can be seen as a sign that something is not right and that things need to be done to fix the problem. Osteopathy doesn't just focus on the physical but also on the mental signs.

Recognising the connection between physical and mental health

Poor physical health is often paired with many other symptoms related to mental health such as anxiety, fatigue and unhappiness.

Using anxiety as our example, those who are suffering may feel fearful and anxious in their everyday lives. This can result in other physical symptoms such as:

  • Poor posture – You may find yourself hunching forward or keeping your head down in social situations or busier environments.
  • Muscular tightness – Your muscles may become tightened or stressed throughout the day as you move between different environments and interact with people.
  • Difficulty breathing – Shorter, shallower breaths that occur during stressful situations may result in tightness in the jaw and neck or could result in prolonged and repetitive headaches.
  • Digestive issues – You may suffer from a decrease in appetite, cramping or nausea as a result of all the symptoms listed above.
  • Exhaustion – With additional strain on your whole body it is inevitable that many patients may be suffering with tiredness, fatigue or exhaustion.

This is just one example of how our mental health and wellbeing can be directly affected by and influence our physical health (and vice versa) and the same principal can be applied to many other symptoms.

Is Osteopathy the right solution for you?

Many of our patients come to us with long term symptoms, perhaps of pain and discomfort, headaches or muscular aches. By applying our understanding of the body and mind, in many cases we can identify other underlying issues that the patient may never have known had been the root cause of their symptoms.

If you feel that you have tried other avenues to ‘fix’ your problem but to no avail, then we would advise that you consider osteopathy.

We provide free evaluations to our patients, to help identify these problems first-hand. To schedule yours, simply visit the free osteopathic evaluation page on our website.

At Osteopathy For All, we specialise in identifying, understanding and treating issues that may not seem directly related to your underlying problem. By having a holistic approach to health, which sees the body as one complete mechanism that is interrelated, we help to provide longer-term solutions to our patient's health conditions.

For more information or for advice contact us today by emailing hello@osteopathyforall.co.uk or calling 01825 840582.


Coronavirus How to Keep Healthy

The press are NOT making it easy to get the correct information about coronavirus so please obtain your information from the NHS or World Health Organisation sites NOT from the press.

The panic about getting ill is driving people into a state of anxiety which is detrimental to your health so we would like to share some simple advice on keeping your immune system as well as possible, some simple steps to help prevent you catching the virus and what to do if you do catch it.

Keeping Yourself Healthy

  • Keep yourself healthy by eating well.  Include lots of fruit and vegetables, we recommend Eating a Rainbow every day as this provides a wide variety of essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals to keep your body and immune system working well.  If you find this hard try getting your fruit or vegetables in one hit.  Check out our juice and smoothie recipes on the Eat A Rainbow page of our website. Here you can also find some simple advice on supplements.
  • Speaking of supplements taking vitamin C can help boost your immune system. Vitamin C cannot treat the virus but has been shown to help boost immunity generally.  Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans. It is a potent antioxidant and Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens on the skin. You can read a more in depth study here... Vitamin C is available in citrus fruits and juices (such as orange and grapefruit), kiwi fruit, green peppers, broccoli, strawberries.
  • Vitamin D is also important for immune function. Vitamin D is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is often low at this time of year and especially after the long wet winter we have had in the UK so supplementing your vitamin D may also help boost your immune function. Please take only the recommended dose of any supplements. Food that provide vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines or tuna and if you don't like fish then it is in eggs.  As we approach spring try to sit in the midday sun for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Zinc is an essential mineral involved in the production of certain immune cells. Mild low levels of zinc may impair your immune function. Some top food sources of zinc are : Baked beans, cashews and chickpeas.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated - this applies always as it helps your body deal with toxins and the body's waste.
  • Keep yourself moving and get some fresh air each day, if possible.

Stress and Anxiety

As you know we specialise in stress medicine at Osteopathy For All and we are aware about how much stress and anxiety the press coverage of this virus is causing. If you need help to reduce your anxiety levels we have advice in our Well-being Toolkit. The WHO have also produced some advice for those who are struggling with anxiety that the virus is causing. They have information for adults and for children.  We also recommend meditating to help reduce anxiety and boost your well-being and on our meditation page we have a link to a calming meditation that you may find helpful.  If you need further advice please contact us.

Advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus.

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use alcohol based hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or cough or sneeze into your elbow fold, not your hands
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • do NOT touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Looking after yourself if you think you have coronavirus

If you suspect coronavirus do NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital -   instead call 111 or visit the  NHS 111 online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.  If they recommend you stay at home then this is the general advice for treating a virus/flu.

Home Treatment for viruses

  • rest and sleep.
  • keep warm.
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)
  • The NHS also recommend taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains.

 


6 reasons to be more selfish when it comes to your own health and wellbeing

For those of us that have busy lives, families to support or kids to look after, our own wellbeing can often take a back step in our list of priorities. However, this could be having a huge negative impact on not only you but those closest to you.

In this article we look at six key reasons why you should become more selfish when thinking about your own health and wellbeing.

  1. Increase your productivity

If you find yourself living a busy life, full of running around after others or juggling work and social time and you struggle to keep up, improving your wellbeing could prove to be hugely beneficial.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but taking a step back from your busy life to spend time on yourself could make you more productive and ultimately result in you feeling less busy overall.

  1. Encourage your creativity

Investing in your wellness can result in higher levels of creativity. If you work in a creative industry or you feel that your life is duller than it perhaps once was, simple adjustments to your lifestyle can significantly improve this by boosting creative aspects of your mind.

  1. Support physical health

High levels of wellbeing can support our willingness and ability to partake in physical exercise. If we are feeling good generally, we may be more likely to work hard to maintain our sense of good wellbeing. Ensuring that you spend the time you need on yourself mentally will affect your physical health and vice versa.

  1. Improve focus and determination

Many people suffer from an inability to focus or stay determined to achieve their goals. When we spend time on our mental health and physical wellbeing, we are able to stay focused for longer periods of time and ultimately improve our ability to get things done!

  1. Creates and spreads optimism

A good sense of wellbeing can help us to become more optimistic about our lives. Having a good sense of optimism can help us to build a certain mental resilience that will put you in good stead against the challenges that life brings to you and those closest to you.

  1. Helps you to support others

How we feel within ourselves will often display itself in our actions. If you have people around you that rely on you, it is vital that you are in the best position to be able to continue to care for them. Taking the time to look after your own body can have a huge impact on your ability to look after others.

At Osteopathy For All, we are determined to help our patients with all aspects of their health and wellbeing. Osteopathy is often misunderstood as just a service for ‘bad backs’ (for example), but there are so many more benefits to osteopathy as a treatment for mental health and overall wellbeing.

Read more about how osteopathy can be used to improve your wellbeing or contact us today to discuss how we can help you.