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Thistime of yearcan be stressful- from the assortedexcessesof the office party to the gruellingchallengeof late-nightshopping - but it is possibleto staycentredthroughout.AspenWeatherburnsharesthe secretsof eternalcalm

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Aromatherapy is a great way to get those stress levels down. Essentialoils can be absorbed into the bloodstream 4~ through massage or simply through your sense of smell; the limbic system, an area of your brain that controls your mood, takes in the aroma of the oils and changes your mood accordingly. 'Rose and jasmine are both fantastic calm infusers and they also work as anti-depressants: says Sandra Cox,Boots Botanics'aromatherapist. Other essential oils Cox recommends include ylang-ylang, bergamot and cedar wood. If you fancy getting traditionally festive,try Ren's Frankincense Repair Cream (£19.95for 50ml) - it would make a lovely gih too. For stockists,call 020 7935 2323.As well as moisturising and regenerating the skin,frankincense has a sedating effect on the nervous system and calms the mind.

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)trPS'I'ICl take whatever

. Why can some people

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life throws at them

and others are overwhelmed? The key is control. Ifyou '---", can teach yourself how to adapt to situations gradually, stress will become, well,less stressful.Keeping a 'stress diary' is a great way to teach yourself control. Monitoring events can give you the perspective

you may need to stop stress in its tracks.

is for exercise

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Serenity is not just about achieving stillness; sometimes

a

more active meditation is the way to go. 'Exercise is a fantastic outlet for stress. Even a 30-minute workout will

clear your mind, re-energise your body and help you cope with all the stresses of the festive season: says Jamie Baird,fitness instructor at London health spa Agua. But it's all about getting the balance

is for breathing

right. 'Christmas is such a hectic time for many of us that exercise is

Did you know altering your breathing instantly changes your mood? Youcan do it anywhere at any time, and it doesn't cost a thing. One method to try is EasyBreathing. Start by feeling the natural movements and sensations caused by your breathing cycle.Pay attention to the 'inhale; pause, and then focus on the 'exhale: Do this for three to four minutes. For a bit of

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extra help, try Origins' Peace of Mind Cease and De-Stress Diffuser, £11 (call0800 734039 for stockists).Simply inhale the calming, minty essence from the natty pocket-sized case - perfect for those stressed moments on the move! For more information on Easy Breathing,visit www.pe2000.com/breathe_easy.htm.

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put on hold: says Baird, 'but people should still think about the maintenance of their fitness and weight.' Agua is based at Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, London W1.To find out more, or to make a reservation, call 020 7300 1414. r 1 \.),)

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Floatation hasbeenshown

to induce the deepest form of

relaxation and encourage creativity. 'Floating weightlessly, in I

a poolsosaturatedin DeadSeaSaltsthatit'simpossible to

sink, will soon have you winding down when other stimuli such as sound and light are restricted. And its effects are cumulative, so regular floating can counter a stressful lifestyle: says Kate Towersey, spa manager at Apotheke's Jurlique Day Spa and Sanctuary (020

Rebalancemind,bodyand spiritby harnessingthe

8995 2293), which introduced the first floating pool in the UK.What's

powers of colour energy. Used since Ancient Egyptian times, colour therapy is designed to balance the body's

Salts is particularly beneficial to the skin and body.

more, the use of Dead Sea Salts instead of the more usual Epsom

~ chakras or energy centres. Wellbeing is achieved when all the energy

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centres run smoothly and in harmony. Colour therapy can help to

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rebalance these 'wheels of energy' by applying appropriate colours. To lihyour mood and introduce calm,try surroundingyourselfwith

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white, gold, violet and blue.

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is for geranium Inhaling geranium oil eases anxiety and the tension of mentally and physically demanding days, and, like many flower oils, geranium oil acts as an anti-depressant. Its ~

Heal1b&rllness 49


uplifting effect frees the mind from negative or depressing thoughts.

your mind takes in only the movements and strokes of the massage.

Almost any stress-related condition responds to a few whiffs of

Visit Rosalie at The Hale Clinic, 0870-167 6667 (sessions are 90 minutes

geranium oil. It can also stimulate feelings of sensuality.

and cost £75); or at her private practice in Glastonbury, 07974 083432 (sessions are 2-plus hours £85, or 3-plus hours, with consultation, £ 120).

'There are many herbal medicines available that help maintain a sense of calm by relaxing the nervous system: says Kerrin Booth, a naturopath at Apotheke 20-20 Health & Wellness Clinic in London. 'These are called nervine relaxants, and can

M

The three kings were onto something with this one. Myrrh has been used for centuries to help heal the mind and soul, and its medicinal properties were used to detoxify

be used in the day to relax a stressed,anxious mind and body, or used

the skin and cure colds and sore throats. Czech & Speake has a great

at night to help sleep: Booth recommends trying passionflower, hops,

range of aromatic products that use myrrh, alongside frankincense, to

skullcap, chamomile and valerian. 'Valerian is particularly useful to help

bring you harmony at this time of year.Try taking a relaxing dip using

sleeping, and can be found in formulas such as Blackmores'Valerian

the Frankincense & Myrrh Aromatic Bath Oil (£54 for 200ml or £35 for

Forte: says Booth. 'Oats is another herb we call a "nervine restorative';

1 OOml). For stockists,

call

0800

919728,

or visit www.czechspeake.com.

and is used to support and nourish the nervous system: Try having porridge for breakfast to keep work stress at bay.To contact Apotheke 20-20, call 020 8995 7531. Blackmores' stockist and mail order

If a bad day at the office has you reaching for the biscuit

information is available on 020 8842 3956.

tin in a mood that's far from serene, perhaps it's time to try a healthier option. Try natural remedies such as

I

is for Indian head massage

peppermint oil or elderflower tea, or seek the help of a naturopath to

This ancient Ayurvedic therapy treats the head, neck and shoulders

look at the wider picture. 'Naturopathy encompasses the whole of the

- treating

the mind, body, spirit, diet, function and form: says

to a calming, yet energizing massage which focuses on vital energy

body

points, combined with individually-chosen aromatherapy oils. 'This

Roderick Lane, naturopath at London's Eden Medical Centre. 'It is often

stress-relieving massage reduces tension, increases the circulation and leaves you with good posture and a feeling of wellbeing: says the head therapist at London health spa Agua. 'Some call it 30 minutes of sheer bliss!' Sessions cost around £35.

a very easy solution to finding the cause of a problem:To book, contact the Eden Medical Centre, on 020 7881 5800.

iSfor optimism

Q

Learn to look on the bright side. Are you someone who

says that the glass is half-empty - or that it's half-full?

A traditional herbal remedy to help maintain emotional balance, St John's Wort has been used for centuries to help lift flagging

Make an effort to look for the positive in most situations.

spirits. Recent research suggests this herb, which has documented uses dating back to ancient Greece, may be a useful

Escape your hectic Christmas preparations momentarily and

natural pick-me-up. St John's Wort is available from all good health

make a commitment

stores (please seek medical advice before taking it). Alternatively, try Dr

weekly skin treat is a great way to boost your feelgood

to your skin. Pampering yourself with a

Hauschka's St John's Wort Body Oil (£14 for 100ml) after a relaxing bath

factor. Try using the Body Expertise range from L'Oreal,which includes

- it's great for sensitive skin and helps soothe and reduce redness. For

a Satin Body Oil (£6.99 for 150m!), Exfoliator (£8.99 for 200mI),

stockists' details, call 01386 792642.

K

Moisturising Body Spray (£6.99 for 150ml) and a Contouring Cellulite Gel (£10.99 for 200m!). Or have a little 'you' time, and book an

'Sfor Kirlian Photography

appointment

Kirlian Photography creates images of what appears to be a

Face and Body Treatment (from £47 for 1 hour 40 mins) which includes

field of energy produced by the body that varies according

a gorgeous full-body massage using essential oils.

o physical and emotional states. Practitioners believe that a

bright, regular pattern is a sign of a healthy, well-balanced individual, and that disturbances in this pattern precede illness and stress.This treatment can be used to highlight the changes you need to make in your life. Allegedly, this method of 'photographing' objects is a gateway to the paranormal. In fact, what is recorded is quite natural

at a Clarins salon where you can experience the Serenity

iSfor quick relief

Q

If you feel close to snapping, why not try the Tibetan

anger management and stress-busting technique? Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Take a moment to

focus on what is causing your grief; then, with great force, bring the

phenomena, such as pressure, electrical grounding, humidity and

palms of your hands together. As your palms collide, breathe out. As

temperature. Visit www.fullspectrum.org.uk for more info.

you do this, imagine your problem is being smashed to pieces, and, in the process, transform your stress.

Rosalie Samet is a healer, therapist and performer of the sacred art of Hawaiian Huna Massage or Lomi Lomi. She believes 'the greatest gift a person can give themselves is peace of mind' and that is exactly what you will get after a session

50

Drop into London health spa Agua to try its Hutaritm Pure Reiki treatment (60 minutes for £75). This unique form of treatment works on your 'life force energy; known as reiki, to

with her.The therapy works on the principle that to achieve peace you

re-balance and remove blockages within your system. The reiki

must first find peace within your thinking. During a consultation, where

treatment may not involve any touching; instead, the therapist moves

you discuss any problems that are affecting your wellbeing, you are

their hands about half an inch over the body and scalp to encourage a

encouraged to become aware of the space between your thoughts -

deep, warm, relaxing sensation. The therapist will also read your energy

the 'vacant' space where you think of nothing and, therefore, have no

and can pick up particular problems, then concentrate on specific areas

worries. Following this, a unique flowing, vibrant and relaxing fUll-body

to heal and restore. 'Reiki is a totally relaxing and rejuvenating

massage is given. The practitioner uses hands and forearms in long

treatment which, once experienced, is almost always repeated: says

fluid strokes of varying rhythm and intensity over the body. The aim is

Agua's head therapist. Call 020 7300 1414 to find out more or make an

to put your body in a deeply-relaxed state, similar to meditation, so

appointment. Or visit the Reiki Association, www.reikiassociation.org.uk.

Heallb&fdness


--

is for shining star

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Don't just pamper yourself like a celebrity for this year's festivities, get the red carpet treatment

all year round by

trying some of their favourite beauty products. Creative

Scentsation's

Hand & Body Wash (£6.95) is a celeb fave: Ho

favours

Citrus & Green Tea, while Kylie relaxes with Lavender & Jojoba and

Victoria Beckham uses Birch& Mint.(Forstockists,call 0800-316 0213.) Get your friends and family in on the star treatment with a great stocking fillerfrom Lush that deserves its own place on Hollywood Boulevard - You're A Star Gift Box (£24.95) contains eight products have been snapped

iSfor water Did you know even the smallestdegree of water losscan impair physical and mental function, and so intensify stress? Thirst is a poor measure of dehydration,

and

many drinks are themselves dehydrating, especially alcohol and those containing caffeine.You become dehydrated long before you feel thirsty, so it's always a good idea to drink water often. Alternatively,choose fruit teas or herbal blends, coffee substitutes and water flavoured with fresh fruit juice - but water should always be your first choice.

that

up by Halle Berry, Liv Tyler, Jude Law and Julia

Roberts, to name but a few. For mail order, call 01202 668545.

And exotic

is exactly how you'll feel after you try the Exotic

Jasmine Flower Bath at Elemis Day Spa. Step into the slipper bath (a sunken bath with overhead colour therapy) and Forget about storms in teacups, try a bit of calm instead. 'When

submerge

the world is going mad and so is your day, try a cup of calm-

jasmine, ylang-ylang, osmanthus,

inducing tea: says Christopher

nostrils.For more details, call the Elemis Day Spa, on 020 8909 5060.

Art of Living (Hodder and Stoughton,

Hansard, author of The Tibetan

£ 14.99).'Add a teaspoon

a piece of apple. Leave to brew for three minutes and drink slowly.'

problems

water while the scents of Arabian

tea absolute and vanilla float up your

of honey

to a cup of hot water; stir well until dissolved, then add orange peel, or

U

yourself in the bubbling

is for understanding

Y

iS for yoga What bener example of serenity than a yogi? Yoga is a perfect way of exercising while simultaneously

gaining control of the

mind. It also teaches you how to relax and improve your

There is no bener way of achieving peace of mind than by

posture, so you look serene even when you don't feel itl To find out

understanding

more, visit www.yogauk.com.where you can find a yoga class near you.

why things affect you the way they do.

Tangent Therapy addresses

physical and emotional

using a variety of techniques,

including aromatherapy,

holistic

healing, corrective exercise and pressure point work - and fixes all

Did you know women are 50 per cent more likely than men

those problems you just don't know how to sort out. For more

to have sleep disorders? It's important to develop sleep rituals

information, contact The Hale Clinic, on 0870-167 6667.

and practice them nightly, giving your body a cue that says 'night, night: For a good night's sleep, listen to music, have a cup of

herbal tea and soak in a warm bath. And remember, get into bed only Few of us realise stress and anxiety is often the result of vitamin B deficiency.Our hectic schedules, combined with environmental toxins and daily pressures at work,deplete our reserves of B vits,which are crucial for producing energy in the body. But since B vitamins are water-soluble and can't be stored in the body for long periods of time, they have to be replaced daily.Stave off some stress with a B-complexsupplement or multivitaminincluding Bvits.

when

you feel drowsy

-

if you can't fall asleep

within

20 minutes,

get

up and do something relaxing. Need a bit of extra help? Try the Counting SheepGiftboxfrom Lush(£5.75),whichincludestwowondersfor40 winks (Waving Not Drowning Ballistic and Dreamtime

Bath Soaks). Or hit the

pillow with Daniele Ryman's Aromacology Asleep Body, Room & Linen Spray,£5, with French lavender and chamomile. Spray bed linen an hour before going to bed. Available exclusively from Marks & Spencer.

!:ED

Heallh&frtness 51


Health & Fitness - A to Z of Serentiy