Control your stress in 2010
16 ways to reduce your stress in 2010
There was once a time when most Britons thought they had the perfect antidote to stress – either a packet of fags or a nice cup of tea.
If only it was that simple. But grab the cup of tea anyway, while you sit down and peruse our suggestions for making 2010 just a little bit less stressful than 2009.
Stress comes in many shapes and forms, and modern living has its own peculiar strains that we haven’t had time to evolve proper solutions to. No wonder there are so many methods, plans and products aimed at keeping us on an even keel.
If you’re looking for a remedy, the sheer range and diversity of what’s on offer can be confusing – but it needn’t be.
Check out what’s on our list of de-stressing ideas before making any decisions, and remember that simply deciding to try one of the remedies here and then seeing it through is half the battle – because just by confronting what’s troubling you and by putting aside some time to overcome you are making a powerful statement of intent.
We don’t know how effective some of the following suggestions are or if they will work for you, but opening your mind to new possibilities and trying new things is a therapy in itself, so let’s give it a try. It might even be fun.
1 Take the 'alternative'
Sometimes, the term ‘alternative medicine’ muddies the waters. While there are people who see the plethora of unconventional and often ancient remedies and treatments as, indeed, an alternative to modern medicine, a huge and growing number of people are now seeing it in a less contentious light. They think of it as complementary medicine rather than an alternative. None of these remedies are guaranteed to work for everybody, but all of them have worked for somebody. The complex link between mind and body is an element in the thinking behind all of them, and an open mind is certainly an advantage when sampling them for the first time. As with all of the suggestions for reducing stress here, bear in mind that taking time out from your life is an important part of the calming and healing process. Start by taking a look at our guide to alternative medicine, but also check out some of the more popular and more unusual treatments we have selected below.
> Alternative Medicine in Swindon
2 Get a head start
Some people have a good reason to try Indian head massage – those who suffer from migraine, for instance – but you don’t necessarily need an excuse. The massage, which typically includes the upper body, shoulders and neck, and culminates with the head, does provide real physical relief and release, but the calming, soothing and rejuvenating effect it has on the mind is just as powerful. Find out more from The Thyme Treatment Rooms at West Swindon.
3 Cast afloat
People often get the wrong idea about flotation tanks, probably from old-style designs that were used for psychological research. Modern ones still work on the same idea – a bathful of salt-laden water in a darkened and quiet room – but that’s where the similarity ends. Today they are self-contained in their own room, which is an enclosed plastic box, about the size of a large skip, so you cannot touch any of the walls if you stand in the centre. There is room to stand up inside, so claustrophobia should not be an issue. The weird and wonderful way in which the salts give the bather a sense of weightlessness provides an environment that can provide an unusually deep form of relaxation. If nothing else, the unique experience of a flotation tank is something that everybody should try at least once. Check out the tank at the Swindon Chiropractic Clinic.
4 Rooms for improvement
Lots of organisations offer alternative or complementary treatments aimed at reducing stress, but at The Treatment Rooms they are all under one roof – which means they are well placed to offer advice to those who might be confused and even daunted by the many options. Massage, aromatherapy, hot stone therapy, ear candling, body wraps, exfoliation, pedicures and manicures, hypnotherapy and spa treatments are just some of the services on offer. Whichever you choose, the Treatment Rooms philosophy is the same: “Consider The Treatment Rooms as an escape from today’s hustle and bustle world; a place to soothe your senses and relax” – which sounds like an invitation you can’t refuse.
5 Get a new smile
Although it has been seeing to Swindon folk’s teeth for nearly half a century, there is much more to the dental practice at Seven Fields than perfect smiles. Now called the Seven Fields Dental and Health Centre, it plays hosts to a string of complementary therapies, including professional services in acupuncture, shiatsu, reiki, hypnotherapy and Thai massage. As the Seven Fields website succinctly puts it, going there “is a healthy body experience”, so experience it in 2010.
6 Talk it over
You shouldn’t always believe what you hear in commercials, but when somebody said “It’s good to talk”, they were on to something. We hardly need to be told that a trouble shared is a trouble halved, since we have all, at some stage in our lives, learned the value of talking about our problems to help relieve them. Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear, but when the listener is also an experienced counsellor, providing a professional and confidential service, real progress is possible. With their experience in dealing with bereavement, divorce, redundancy, anxiety, low self-esteem and lack of confidence, among other personal problems, Swindon-based Analepsis Counselling may be the answer.
7 Try some reflex action
Reflexology is so well known these days that we’ve all heard of it – but how many of us have never got round to trying it? The idea behind reflexology is simple enough – that stimulation of certain parts of the feet (and sometimes the hand and ears) is said to promote wellbeing and even healing in other parts of the body. Even experienced reflexologies sometimes disagree on how it works, but there's no doubt that it does work for some people. We make no claims for reflexology, but surely such a non-invasive, potentially pleasant and comforting procedure has got to be worth a try, so check out our guide to local reflexologists.
> Reflexology in Swindon
8 Smell success
Aromatherapy really gets up your nose – but in the nicest way possible. The raw materials of aromatherapy are essential oils, and because their use has been shown to have benefits in countless areas, including pain management and even Alzheimer’s, aromatherapy can offer benefits in many different areas. If nothing else, an aromatherapy session is enough of a treat and a relaxation for it to work on that level alone. To find out more about aromatherapy, check out our mini guide to local practitioners.
> Aromatherapy in Swindon
9 Get the massage
There can’t be many people left who haven’t experienced the benefits of massage – yet how many people use it as a regular defender against stress? Although great as a one-off refuge from all kinds of tension, massage has a cumulative effect if used regularly, so it can become an agent for prevention as well as cure. This is because its benefits are often as much psychological as they are physical. So check out our guide to massage in Swindon and get in touch with experts who can advise on the best ways to get the most from massage.
> Massage in Swindon
10 Take a Bowen
As alternative therapies go, the Bowen Technique is sometimes seen as the new kid on the block. It certainly seems to have become most fashionable in recent years. But its inventor, osteopath Tom Bowen, has been dead for nearly 30 years, so the technique is long-established and well past being a fad. SwindonWeb sampled the technique back in 2007 (watch the video). It’s a non-invasive form of massage that is based on the gentlest manipulation of muscles, tissues and joints, and because it is so gentle, you're sure to enjoy the pleasant experience, even before you add up the other benefits. If you fancy giving it a try, local practioners B-Balanced can provide more information.
11 Get the needles
As so-called alternative medicines and therapies go, acupuncture surely comes with the most impressive pedigree. It's a truly ancient idea, and it surely wouldn’t have survived so long if it wasn’t still offering real benefits today. And those benefits are almost endless. The many problems that acupuncture is claimed to help people overcome include depression, smoking addiction and obesity, as well as physical conditions, such as headaches and migraines, sciatica, muscle injuries, menstrual pain and irritable bowel syndrome. The Treatment Rooms at Shrivenham is one place where you can try acupuncture locally – as SwindonWeb did in 2007 (see the video). Acupuncture is also one of the therapies offered by the Seven Fields Dental and Health Centre (see above).
12 Put mind over matter
If the claims of its practitioners are to be believed – and who are we to argue otherwise? - Pilates is the proverbial triumph of mind over matter. The technique relies on breathing control and alignment of the spine to help tone and build the body through precise movements. But it’s significant that the primary benefit is often reckoned to be psychological, because Pilates “puts your mind in tune with your body”. Many people see it as more than just another exercise method, often adopting it as a way of life. One thing is for sure: Pilates is one of those things that it is impossible to judge until you’ve tried it, so check out our guide to local Pilates practitioners.
> Pilates in Swindon
13 Check out the Chinese whispers
We’ve all seen tai chi on the telly, but it’s probably fair to say that the vast majority of people don’t really know what it’s all about. It has been described as “meditation in motion”, which gives a clue to the way that the discipline – or therapy, if you like – unites mind and body. Benefits are said to include better co-ordination, flexibility and balance, and a general reduction of stress levels. This is because of its slow, methodical nature, and because control of breathing is central to the tai chi ethos. It sounds like you have nothing to lose and lots to gain by trying it at least once, so check out our classified section on tai chi teachers in Swindon.
> Tai Chi in Swindon
14 Discover the truth about yoga
Mention yoga to most people and they’ll probably think “Ouch!” But there’s far more to it than contorting yourself into painful-looking positions. And neither do you need to be flexible when you start. In fact, yoga is suitable for everyone. The physical benefits include greater strength and flexibility, better posture and better balance, but it’s the psychological benefits – improved concentration and a better ability to relax – that are closer to what yoga is really about. So give it a try. Some private leisure centres run yoga classes and, locally, you can also try The Integral Yoga Centre and The Swindon Yoga Centre. Click here to check out how SwindonWeb’s very own Kirsty Heber-Smith got on when she gave yoga a try.
15 Take a dip
What did the Romans ever do for us? Well, they showed us the value of spas, for one. Two millennia later, there’s still no doubting their many benefits, and today’s modern spa facilities radiate sheer indulgence even more than Roman baths. Spa 6, which is part of the Cotswold Water Park Hotel, hits the nail on the head when it talks of its customers experiencing “some real ‘me time’”. With complementary therapies such as massage, manicures, pedicures and facials, and facilities for swimming, saunas and even ‘experience showers’, venues like Spa 6 really are perfect for unwinding, clearing your mind and giving yourself enough quality time to prepare you for all that 2010 can throw at you.
16 Find inner calm
As a means of gaining control over the way you feel, think and behave, hypnotherapy is one of the most gentle methods. So as well as offering relief from stress, it can also be used to combat phobias, worry, lack of performance, lack of confidence and even addictions. As the Seven Fields Dental and Health Centre, who offer an hypnotherapy service in Swindon, point out: “The experience of hypnosis is a very personal one, but people always say they feel relaxed, comfortable and in control… What hypnosis does is focus the mind on what you want to achieve. It allows you to use your inner-mind creativity to make powerful and positive changes, often in only two or three sessions. The Treatment Rooms, also offer hypnotherapy sessions, agreeing that it produces “a state of wonderful physical and mental relaxation”. Because we are all unique, treatment is tailored to individual needs.