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Mental Health awareness week

This week is Mental Health awareness week (15 - 21 May).

We are all much more aware of mental health these days but how can we help as holistic therapists? It helps to understand why these issues arise in the first place.

Mental health issues are a response to a stressor; for example a stressful situation, trauma, illness or ongoing life issues. The stress response in the body is a normal physiological response to a challenge or danger. However, when we evolved this response thousands of years ago, the challenge would have been a reaction to a predator or some very physical danger. The response was to stay and fight or run away – the fight or flight response. Nowadays, the challenge is more likely to be coping with the cost of living crisis, a boss that doesn't allow for childcare problems or juggling too many day to day tasks; the response by our body is the same.

The stress response is a natural one and our body reacts to certain triggers to protect us from danger. All things being equal, our 'relaxation response' returns the body to a state of balance and there is no problem. The reality, however, is that modern life very often provides a series of stressors which we react to one after another and the body does not have time to level out again adequately or it is in a constant state of trying to find homeostasis.

The longer the stressors go on, the longer we are not getting the relaxation response in our body to return us to a state of balance. The strain of being in this heightened state with the stress hormones flooding our body, our heart pumping faster, puts all of all of our body systems under strain. It’s easy to see how it can lead to physical problems such as back pain, headaches, raised blood pressure and insomnia plus the mental health problems highlighted this week such as anxiety and depression.

As therapists we can help our clients to manage stress and break the cycle through holistic therapies. Healing through touch is a natural human instinct. When a child falls and hurts her knee we rub it better. We hug our friends when they are upset and if our neck feels sore we do a little self-massage in order to feel better. The massage therapies formalise this natural healing instinct to create a safe place for a client to receive healing touch.

The touch therapies can:

· Stimulate the release of endorphins - the feel good hormones

· Promote the body’s self-healing mechanisms and stimulate the immune system.

· Leave the client feeling nourished and cared for

· Give a general feeling of wellbeing - assisting in balancing body, mind, and spirit.

· Through deep relaxation, restore the body to a state of ‘rest and repose’ rather than ‘fight or flight’.

Learn more about how you can help your clients and yourself by taking our Stress Management course - available as an in-person course or home study. You might also be interested in our Mindfulness Diploma - also available as in-person course or home study.

Contact us for details or for more information on any of our courses.

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