Wellbeing: Three therapies to help boost happiness
Love is in the air this month, but if you’re not feeling it – and are in need a boost of positivity – try one of these mood-lifting holistic therapies, sure to top-up the happiness tank
THERAPY: Barefoot walking
PRACTITIONER: Jess Trent
WHERE: Jess runs weekly guided barefoot walking groups along a 1km wild meadow sensory trail at PAUS Cambridge (Bourn)
HAPPY FACTOR: Improved mood and sleep are just two benefits of barefoot walking, which also grounds the nervous system on the earth and provides a refreshing freedom for toes.
“Aside from the obvious physical health benefits, barefoot walking is the easiest way to transport us out of our minds and bring our attention down into our body,” explains reflexologist Jess.
Passionate about the benefits of being barefoot, Jess explains the science behind the practice: “The human body has 206 bones, 26 bones in each foot - so that's a quarter of all our bones, just in the feet. The complex network of muscles, tendons and ligaments are activated, and can become so much stronger, by moving around freely without shoes.”
PAUS Cambridge’s sensory trail, built last summer, provides the perfect location to boost foot strength, flexibility and mobility by walking without the excess support from shoes.
“Padding around the grassy wild meadow hillside, crossing logs and squishing through clay-mud baths gently activates hundreds of muscles in the feet and 100,000+ nervous reflexes; it’s possibly the most relaxing way to stimulate your entire body,” Jess concludes.
Jess’s introductory-style walks take place weekly from spring 2022, and her ‘A Quiet Adventure’ retreat days will run throughout the summer. Find out more at jesstrent.co.uk
PRACTITIONER: Lisa Jackson
WHERE: Reflexology and Energy Practitioner Lisa runs Alternative Touch and is based in Cambridge
HAPPY FACTOR: Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy which works by stimulating reflex points in the feet, face or hands, which relate to corresponding parts of the body anatomically.
By massaging and stimulating these specific points the reflexologist can see which parts of the body are out of balance or may not be working efficiently.
Reflexology has a wealth of health benefits: it relieves stress and tension; aids relaxation and improves sleep; promotes physical and emotional wellbeing; stimulates the body’s own natural self-healing ability; flushes toxins out of the body; and boosts circulation.
On the happiness scale, it rates highly, working on all the body systems, including our feel-good hormones/neurotransmitters, thereby setting in motion the production of these happy drugs. These include:
Dopamine (The Pleasure-Reward Neurotransmitter) - a chemical messenger secreted in anticipation of a reward, driving our motivation to take the action for something we want.
Oxytocin (The Hug Hormone) – research has shown that touch stimulates oxytocin release.
Serotonin (The Happy Hormone) – a mood-boosting neurotransmitter that influences the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
Endorphins (The Painkillers) – natural painkillers released in the body when we encounter real or perceived pain, threat or stressful situations. They work alongside serotonin to alleviate anxiety and stress.
Find out more at alternative-touch.com
THERAPY: Dry Cupping
PRACTITIONER: Siane Hanson
WHERE: Sports Therapist and Pilates Instructor Siane runs Hanson Wellness at Brampton
HAPPY FACTOR: Dry cupping is an ancient medicine dating back thousands of years, most recently brought to our attention by Olympians. It involves positioning a special cup on the skin to create a vacuum and apply pressure, which increases blood flow to that area. The treatment helps the body remove built up toxins, which in turn reduces pain and stiffness and increases mobility.
Aside from the physical benefits, dry cupping also has a powerful effect on the mindset of the recipient. By reducing physical discomfort, it soothes the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body to effectively cleanse, and consequently allowing the mind to calm. This helps improve sleep quality, reduces stress levels and encourages the healing process both internally and externally. All in all, this has a positive impact on mental health.
Find out more at hansonwellness.com
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More by this authorLouise Cummings