A spa day or a trip to your local massage center are great ways to get that lovely, relaxed feeling we all crave. With our busy lifestyles and never-ending to-do lists it can sometimes feel as if relaxation is some kind of unattainable goal, but there are plenty of ways that you can relax and step away from stress without having to go too far or spend too much.
Breathe Deeply Have you tried breathing lately? Silly question but although we all do it, day in and day out, we don’t always recognise the healing properties of breath work. Just stop as you’re reading this, and take a long, deep breath to the count of 10. Stop, and exhale SLOWLY. The act of concentrating on your breathing slows everything down, and if you do this for just a few minutes you’ll be mastering a very basic meditation technique.
Meditate on Life Talking of meditation, if you thought that it was all about Buddhist temples, incense and hours of silent contemplation, you’d be wrong. You can start a meditative practice by just being mindful – being aware of your surroundings, even your body. One good meditation if you have time is to focus on a part of your body at a time; for example, how do your toes feel right now? Relaxed or tense? Warm, cold? Are they enclosed in footwear or bare? Work your way along your body, breathing slowly in and out as you go. Take it further by using one of the many free visualisation and meditation downloads available and spend a few minutes focussing on YOU.
Massage and the power of touch are incredibly relaxing. Our bodies crave touch and human contact, or even contact with a pet. If you don’t have a pet or a pet human to give you a soothing back rub or relax your shoulders when you feel stressed out, opt for a quick massage in a spa or center with a professional. You should never have to go without a massage when you need one, and so find yourself a great massage therapist and relax with touch of their healing hands.
Get Outside If you work indoors, chances are that you skip lunch and don’t get outside out anywhere near nature for most of your working day? The outdoors is a natural relaxant and getting some green space is a surefire way to calm down any stressful feelings. If you live or work near a park, beach or river, get yourself down there as often as possible and breathe in that fresh air. Beaches are especially good for calming and de-stressing, plus the sound of the waves and effects of the negative ions in the air really have a positive effect on many people.
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Most women love to experiment and enhance their look with make-up. As a teen or younger we might play with our sisters’ and mom’s make up bags (much to their annoyance) but as we get older we tend to develop our own style that changes as we grow older, along with fashion trends and our personal style. So how can we adapt our look as we get older, without losing any of our individuality?
Twenty-something make-up This is the decade in which we look our most beautiful – well for most of us anyway. Skin is at its best and that makes our twenties the best time to experiment and really find our ‘look’. Don’t be afraid of following trends and trying new things, make-up is fun and while you’re in your twenties is the best time to find out what does – and doesn’t – suit you. Start paying your skin some attention at this age and you set yourself up for a lifetime of good skin. Think about the basics; make sure that you always wear moisturizer with SPF, always remove your make-up before bed and try out foundations and concealers to find one that suits your skin.
What about your thirties? Most women find that they are pretty busy in their thirties, whether with career, family or both. Make –up can take a back seat and anything that does two jobs at once is a bonus. Look at getting a good quality tinted moisturizer to save time or try getting everything in one place; fill a make-up palette with foundation, cream blusher, your favourite lip balm and a couple of your favourite shades of lipstick, and keep it in your purse for instant glamor. If you haven’t already, you definitely need to add SPF 15 or 30 to your skin care routine to avoid sun damage and fine lines as your skin matures.
Skin care and make-up for your forties The bad news is that your forties are, unless you’re exceptionally blessed with good skin, the decade that you start noticing your skin start to age a little. Fine lines, pigmentation and general lack of elasticity can strike and so you’ll probably need to up your skin care and make-up routines to compensate. In your forties is when you should have a classic look – the experimenting of your twenties and early thirties might be replaced by knowing what suits you and enjoying it. You can still adapt your basic look to current trends; if bright pink is in fashion you can always find your own shade of pink that’s not so ‘in your face’ and go with that. Concealer and foundation will help cover blemishes and even out your skin tone, and add some warm toned blusher to give you a natural glow.
Fifties and beyond Hitting your fifties is just another milestone, it’s not considered old anymore, so make-up is still fun at fifty-plus. If you do feel that your skin is losing some of its color and things need perking up, great skin care and the right make up can carry you through this decade and beyond. Don’t make the mistake that some more mature ladies make and start upping the vibrancy or amount of your make-up, as that can age you rather than enhance your features. If you’ve noticed lines around your eyes, a brighter lipstick will draw attention away from them rather than wearing too much concealer or foundation in an attempt to ‘cover up’. Light colors lift your features, so opt for a bone eye shadow all over your eyelids and under your brows, and five an overall glow with a slightly brighter shade of blusher.
Nature provides us with many challenges over the summer; bugs, heat, sun burn, hay fever and more. Thankfully, nature also provides some wonderful remedies for the problems that summertime brings. Aromatherapy essential oils are natural, non-toxic and a great addition to your summer first aid kit. Here are our top tips for summer aromatherapy fixes.
Bug Repellent 101: They are the bane of the summer months – as soon as you get the barbecue out, or sit by the pool, you’re dive-bombed by mosquitoes, wasps and other bugs that ruin your sun-time. Commercial bug repellents are effective but can be unkind to the environment. So if you feel unfairly plagued by flying insects, just take some of these aromatherapy super heroes with you and keep them off! Mosquitoes: They hate the smell of citronella, which is available in garden candles that can be burned outside at key mozzie times. Other aromatherapy oils they hate include peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, and lavender; make up a spray or burn a combination of your favourites in a vaporizer and watch the pests fly away…
Fleas – these can be more prevalent in hot weather, and hate cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemongrass, lavender, orange, and pine. Ticks: If you’re in an area that’s known for these unpleasant critters, keep them at bay with rose geranium, juniper, rosewood, thyme, grapefruit, and oregano. Sunburn Soothers ~ Lavender is your friend - lavender essential oil is a great healer as well as a bug repellent, so always carry some with you. For sunburn, you can use lavender oil topically to soothe the burns and minimize scarring. If you do get bitten by something nasty, lavender is a general skin-soother and unlike many essential oils it’s safe to use neat. Sandalwood also works on sun burn, it helps to reduce skin puffiness and soothe soreness. Massage some diluted sandalwood oil into the skin if the sun has caught you out, and inhale it at the same time, as it can deepen and relax your breath.
Cooling Oils for Sticky Days… Some days the heat can feel a little oppressive and you just want to cool down – an instant cool down and relax essential oil is peppermint. Apply a tiny dab of peppermint oil on the back of your neck and not only will it instantly cool you off, it will help to keep bugs away and stop any itching from existing bug bites. Chamomile is also helpful, as it’s a cooling and anti-inflammatory oil that can also be used directly on your skin.
Allergies Be Gone! Chamomile is super helpful with allergies, as is peppermint. If you are feeling stuffed up with summer colds or hay fever, a deep inhalation of peppermint oil helps you to breathe easy, while chamomile has antihistamine properties that will calm the allergic reaction.
Fluid Retention. Flying, walking a lot, and even just being too hot can all lead to retained fluid over the summer months. A massage with geranium oil can really help to boost lymphatic flow, and shift excess fluids trapped in body tissue, especially the type those that you get after flying.
Men’s Skin VS Women’s Skin. Men’s skin is naturally thicker than women’s and produces more sebum, making it oilier. Don’t be tempted to steal your partner’s skin care products as they won’t be as effective for you as something that’s specially formulated for the guys. Most men also stress facial skin out with shaving on a regular basis which can cause sensitization and irritation and needs male-oriented skin care.
Skin As Men Age. If you’re noticing lines and wrinkles as you head past 40 and towards 50, you’re not alone. They’re caused by a reduction production of collagen by your body as you age, and as this is the protein that gives skin its elasticity and strength, things start to look older. It’s perfectly normal to lose collagen as you age; once you get to about 30, you’ll lose around 1% of your collagen every year. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable - and the older you get, the worse the wrinkles and lines get. So how do you stop them in their tracks, or at least make it look like you have?
Maintain a Skin Care Routine. If you haven’t already done it, invest in some good quality professional skin care products and start using them every day. You’ll need a cleanser (or facial wash) along with moisturizer and exfoliator at minimum, and you can add in eye serum or cream if you notice signs of aging around your eyes too. After cleansing your skin, the second step is to hydrate it. The latest wonder ingredients for anti-aging products are retinoids, a range of ingredients that are derived from vitamin A and shown to visibly decrease some of the main signs of getting older on your skin; crow’s feet, wrinkles and lines. They work by boosting collagen production but are also powerful antioxidants, so they also protect your skin from damage by any free radicals. Moisturizers and serums containing retinols can also help repair existing skin damage and if you have any dark spots or suffer with rosacea or acne there are treatments and targeted products that even help with that. If you want to take things a bit further, the next step is an esthetician and something a bit more professional.
Moles are a very common skin growth and most of us have at least a few of them. In most cases they are nothing to worry about and we tend to forget we have them. Unfortunately, moles can also be a sign of skin cancer or pre-cancer. Whereas most are harmless, if you notice any changes in a mole, or develop a new one that looks different to the rest, it could be something you need to speak to a skin clinic or a doctor about. It may well be nothing to be concerned about but with moles it pays to be vigilant. Existing moles can suddenly grow, develop hairs where there were none, change color or fade. Most of us are still developing new moles into our forties! Some changes are nothing to worry about but others can be a sign that something isn’t right. Finding cancerous moles early on is absolutely key to treating skin cancer effectively. Don’t ever be worried about whether you’re wasting your doctor’s time by asking advice about a mole – they are happy to put your mind at rest and would much prefer you to come in needlessly than not come in until it’s too late. The early signs of a melanoma (a serious type of skin cancer) that you should get checked out include: Asymmetry. The mole looks uneven and one half doesn’t seem to match the other. Border unevenness. The outside edges of the mole are ragged or blurred. Color. If the mole isn’t the same color all over it could mean there’s something changing. It could be anything from tan, brown, and black or even red, white, and blue but if the colours are blotchy, it’s a warning sign. Diameter. If it’s larger than 6 mm (0.2 in.) across, or suddenly starts to grow, it’s something you need to get checked out. Evolution. Any noticeable changes in its size, shape, symptoms (itching or tenderness), surface (bleeding), or color. Keep an eye on your moles – or ask someone else to – and carry out a skin self-exam regularly to identify any suspicious skin growths. You need to be examining your moles monthly and if possible, visit a skin clinic for an expert to check them over once a year just to be safe. What to check for: Look at your skin, including the scalp, and any existing moles, freckles, skin tags or other skin growths to check for changes in color, shape, size, and appearance. If you’ve had any minor injuries, check the skin to see if it’s properly healed. If you notice a changing or suspicious skin growth, get your doctor to check it out right away. It might be easily removed and nothing to worry about (most growths are easily taken off) and this will stop it from growing and irritating the skin around it, getting caught on your clothes or even spreading to other areas of the body. Finding and treating skin cancer early can help prevent problems, so keep an eye on your skin lumps and bumps!
Stress. It’s hard to avoid its effects – and we’re all aware of how damaging it can be to both our mind and body if we let it build up for too long. But while we all know that it can affect us in many ways, our skin isn’t the first thing we think about when we consider the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Your face can be one of the areas that stress can really take a toll.
The Effects of Cortisol. Stress causes the body to make more of the hormone cortisol, and cortisol turns up production of oil in your sebaceous glands, which leads to clogged pores, breakouts and sometimes red, itchy patches on the cheeks and around the nose. If you’re dealing with long term, chronic stress, it can have a really damaging effect on your skin. Along with the pore-clogging effects, too much cortisol also damages your skin's ability to hold on to water, which can make it dehydrated and dull over time. So while you’re producing more oil and getting breakouts, under the surface your skin is thirsty and desperate for hydration. No wonder stress takes such a toll on your looks. So what can you do to counteract the effects of stress and a busy lifestyle?
Skincare for Stressed Skin. Looking after your skin when you’re feeling the strain is vital if you don’t want to reflect all that tension in the mirror. Treat yourself to kind, good quality skincare products, especially hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products that won’t irritate your delicate skin any more than it already has been. Simpler products with fewer, better quality ingredients should also have a lower pH which should help to calm down angry skin and sooth the dryness and inflammation. Be gentle when you cleanse your face; don’t be tempted to attack the breakouts or oily areas with harsh products to strip the oils away, you’ll only make it worse. If you wash with water, use lukewarm rather than hot to avoid stimulating oil production, and add a layer of soothing, hydrating moisturizer while your skin is damp as damp skin will trap moisture better. Another effect of high levels of cortisol is raised blood sugar, which damages collagen and elastin. Long term, you may lose some of your skin’s smoothness and plumpness, and when you combine this with the extra muscle tension that’s unavoidable when you get stressed, you start to get prone to wrinkles and lines. Nip these in the bud by investing in skincare products that contain antioxidants combined with retinol to encourage collagen production and keep skin looking and feeling firmer. It’s not always easy, but if you also learn to manage your stress levels, it will help more than just your skincare routine. Take some time out for yourself; enjoy a massage or a beauty treatment. Just an hour or so away from it all that’s just for you can really help to de-stress you and if you need to justify it, think of it as saving money on skincare products in the future!
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Plantar fasciitis, also known as plantar heel pain syndrome (PHPS), is a common problem that can really give you a lot of pain on the sole of your foot, making it hard to walk and even put your weight on your feet. It’s the most common cause of heel pain, and it happens when your plantar fascia – the flat band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes - gets weak or inflamed, making your heel or the bottom of your foot hurt to walk on.
Plantar fasciitis is most common in middle aged people, and often seen in younger people who are on their feet a lot. Some people find that the pain is worse when they wake up and it eases during the day as they walk on the affected foot. It can be a difficult to treat problem, doctors often try steroid injections to no avail, but experts are coming around to the idea that massage therapy and stretching can be more effective at treating the problem than steroid injections or possible surgery.
Studies into Massage Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis. Research carried out at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Israel showed that massage was a promising treatment for plantar fasciitis. The researchers studied 69 people with the condition who had been referred to them by an orthopaedic surgeon. One group was given ultrasound treatment combined with stretches and the other was treated with massage therapy and stretches. All the patients were offered eight treatments over six weeks, although only 51 people completed the whole study. When the massage intervention was compared to ultrasound (which isn’t thought to be that effective in treating PHPS anyway) the researchers found that deep tissue massage on the calf muscles combined with stretching exercises was more likely improve the symptoms than a combination of ultrasound and stretching. Ten minutes of deep pressure massage to the posterior calf was all it took to see a difference in the patients in the study – that’s easy to fit into a massage session so if you’ve been suffering with it, don’t suffer in silence, speak to your therapist and ask her to add in some deep tissue massage to your regular routine. Plantar Fasciitis Stretches. To soothe the condition in the long term you’ll need to stretch the plantar fascia – so try pulling up on your foot and toes, then holding the stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch five times and do the routine three times a day if you can. Calf muscle stretching has also been shown to be effective in managing PHPS - try a standing calf stretch with your affected foot furthest from the wall and one foot in front of the other. Lean forward keeping your heels on the floor until you feel the stretch in the back of your calf and Achilles tendon. Repeat five times, three times a day.