Tag Archives: complementary therapies


The week 11th – 17th May 2015 is Mental Health Awareness Week.  The Mental Health Foundation will be staging events across the country to raise awareness of how anxiety and sleep deprivation can affect mental health.

Various complementary therapies are particularly beneficial for positive mental health and greater wellbeing.  Reiki healing, for example, calms the mind and emotions and restores balance, peace and harmony.  Healing is channelled through the practitioner into the body, chakras and energy field of the receiver using a light touch.  Many people report feeling lighter after a treatment as worry and grief are released from their energy field during treatment.  Indian Head Massage and Back Massage are very effective in terms of relieving tension and anxiety held in the neck, shoulders and upper back.  Reflexology can be beneficial in relieving the physical manifestations of stress, calming the adrenals and rebalancing the physical body.

Alternatively you may like to try some Mindfulness techniques to restore calm, control and perspective.  Mindfulness Meditation helps you to be in the present moment, not worrying about the future or the past or getting caught up in negative emotions.  Here are some suggestions which can easily be incorporated into your daily life.  Making them a regular habit is the key to success!

  •  Take a 2 or 3 minute breathing space when necessary at work or at home. Stop what you are for 2 or 3 minutes and focus solely on your breathing.
  • Become mindful of how you talk to yourself. Become aware of statements such as “I can’t do that”, “I’ll never be good enough”, “I can’t cope”, “I’m not attractive enough” or “I’m not clever enough”. Nothing destroys self-esteem quicker that negative self-talk. The way you talk to yourself reflects deep held inner beliefs which, when negative, need examining and releasing. Every time you catch yourself making a negative comment about yourself, stop the thought and choose a different one, such as “I can do this”, “I am as good as everyone else here” or “I always do my best”.
  •  Practice being fully present in the present moment. Note where your mind actually is when carrying out routine tasks such as preparing or eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, walking the dog or out with a friend. Make the effort to focus completely on what you are doing instead of letting your mind wander off worrying about something else.
  •  Practice a simple Mindfulness breathing technique for a few minutes two or three times a day, such as just after waking up, on the bus journey to work, at lunch or before you go to bed. Place one hand on your chest and feel your breath moving into and out of your body. Notice the natural rhythm. Be aware of the coolness of the air as you breathe in and the warmth of the air leaving you as you exhale.


  1. For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week please visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
  2. Reiki healing, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology and other complementary therapies are available with Helen Shortland,

Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at 15 Wheeler Gate in Nottingham city centre. For further information please visit her website http://helenshortland.com or ‘like’ her Facebook page Helen Shortland Holistics.


Characterised by tiredness, lack of enthusiasm and difficulty concentrating, fatigue can have many causes but is a complaint with no single, simple treatment.  We all have days when it is difficult to get out of bed but chronic fatigue can be frustrating, leaving sufferers unable to cope.  There are however several herbal remedies which can help fight fatigue, as well as various complementary therapies to help bring the body and mind back into balance.

Identifying Causes of Fatigue

Identifying the cause of your fatigue can help you choose the correct remedy.  Common causes include:-

Stress – Physical, mental, money or work related worries can keep you awake at night.

Emotional upset – Marital issues, divorce or bereavement can leave you feeling emotionally drained.

Insomnia – This is a medical condition that can be debilitating if left untreated.

Illness or infection – An underactive thyroid or the effort of fighting off illness can leave you feeling drained.

Food intolerance – Often difficult to identify but fatigue can be a major symptom of some food intolerances.

Blood sugar – Imbalance in blood sugar levels can lead to a serious lack of energy.

Depression – This condition can alter sleep patterns or prevent sleep altogether.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs, called tonic or adaptogenic, can increase vitality and promote wellbeing.  They balance the body’s hormonal, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems.  Alfalfa, ginseng and cordyceps improve strength and stamina.  Liquorice, which balances the adrenal glands, can help fatigue caused by weakened immunity.  Other herbs you can try include:-

Oats:  Rich in minerals and B vitamins, a daily bowl of porridge or a tincture of oat seeds raises energy levels and promotes sleep.  Oats combat exhaustion caused by stress, alcohol or drugs and are effective for mental or physical fatigue.

Sage:  Stimulates the nervous and digestive systems and is also a good all-round restorative. Try sage tea or a simple infusion of fresh sage leaves, or try a massage with clary sage essential oil. Avoid sage if you are epileptic or pregnant.

Astragalus:  Excellent for treating chronic fatigue, it stimulates the immune system and endurance.

Schisandra:  Improves digestion of fatty food, regulates sugar levels and the functioning of the liver and kidneys.

Complementary Therapies

Therapies can help with both the physical and mental/emotional causes of fatigue.  A course of treatment is usually recommended.

Reiki healing is an excellent all-round therapy for stress. It restores balance in the physical body (helping to balance the adrenals and nervous system) as well as strengthening mental/emotional energy.  Reflexology, which stimulates the reflex points on the soles of the feet, aims to bring the whole body back into a state of balance.  An excellent remedy for mental/emotional stress and fatigue is Meditation: this wonderful practice boosts mental alertness and focus and eases depression.

Lifestyle Changes

Changing your lifestyle can often relieve fatigue, especially if your lifestyle is contributing towards it! Regular exercise actually increases energy levels, while a new mind-stretching interest can stimulate the mind, leaving less time for lethargy. Being out in nature or taking a walk in the countryside can also boost your energy and wellbeing.

Recipe – Oaty Fruit Muffins

Delicious, low fat, and ideal for maintaining blood sugar levels.

225g plain flour

60g rolled oats

5ml baking powder

5ml bicarbonate of soda

4 medium bananas, mashed

120g caster sugar

90ml skimmed milk

90ml vegetable oil

1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 190C/Gas mark 5.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together (flour, raising agents, sugar and oats) in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add milk and vegetable oil. Then add mashed bananas.
  4. Add wet ingredients. Blend mixture with a metal spoon.
  5. Spoon mixture into muffin cases, sprinkle with handful of oats and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.


1. Reiki, Reflexology and meditation workshops are available with Helen Shortland.

2. All herbal remedies are available from Little London Herbal Stores, 9 Kings Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2AE. Tel 0115 9472854 or visit www.all-ages-vitamins.co.uk.

Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at Little London Herbal Stores on Kings Walk in Nottingham city centre. Please ring her on 07748 591690 to book a treatment or visit her website http://helenshortland.com for further information.


What is Stress?

Stress can be defined as a feeling of not being in control, just reacting to events, and an uncomfortable underlying feeling that you are not coping well.  Stress can be a personal thing – what is stressful for one person can be stimulating for another.  Some stress in life is unavoidable but we can all learn ways of coping when it rears its head.

Recognising Stress in your Life

Believe it or not, some stress is good for you. It provides you with energy and motivation and improves your performance so that you are more likely to achieve your goals.  However prolonged stress can have a negative effect on your health.  It drains you of energy and leads to stress-related symptoms such as headaches particularly over forehead and temples; neck, shoulder and lower back pain; indigestion and digestive complaints; raised blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke; anxiety and poor sleep; and weakened immunity and skin problems. When you are under pressure the adrenal glands release extra adrenalin and cortisol which flood throughout your body, in effect placing it in a state of ‘high alert’.

Self-Help Methods

Luckily a variety of different forms of stress relief are available, including relaxation techniques, self-help techniques and complementary therapies.

  •  Deep Breathing:  When stressed, we tend to breathe in short gasps which makes the problem worse.  Next time you are stressed, try to consciously bring your breathing back under control. First breathe out every bit of air that you can. Then slowly breathe in through your nose, as low into your stomach and abdomen as possible, feeling your tummy expand. Breathe out through your mouth as slowly as you can.
  •  10 Minute Soother:  One simple and effective way to help you cope with stress is to make it a practice to give yourself a 10 minute break at least twice a day. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and clear your mind. Now try visualising a tranquil scene such as a clear blue sky or a beautiful forest and feel yourself relax.
  •  Positive Relaxation:  A number of specialised methods of relaxation are available such as yoga, meditation or try a self-hypnosis tape.
  •  Chart Your Day:  It may be worth looking at how long you’re spending on different tasks to see if you can manage your time more effectively. Write a to-do list for the day and then compare this with what you actually achieve along with the time it took to do each task.  Allow yourself more time for tasks which take the longest time.
  •  Balance your Life:  If you work with people, make sure your evenings and weekends include some quiet time alone for meditation or reading. If you work alone or are out of work, ensure that your leisure time includes contact with other people. Make sure you get plenty of fresh air at weekends.
  •  Learn to Say No:  Stressed people often have difficulty saying no. Practice saying ‘No, sorry, I can’t work late tonight’. Put your own needs first more often and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. If you are busy when someone phones, call them back later.
  •  Exercise:  A great stress-buster which releases natural chemicals called endorphins that help combat the effects of stress. Try to exercise for half an hour three times a week. Suggestions include going to the gym, taking a brisk walk every day, cycling, swimming or taking up a dance class.
  •  Set Realistic Goals:  Stressed people often feel trapped in jobs they hate, bad relationships etc. Set achievable, smaller goals and start to change your life little by little one step at a time.
  •  Complementary Therapies:  Take a course of complementary therapy such as Reiki to help restore balance and harmony and boost inner strength or Reflexology to address the physical symptoms of stress.
  •  Vitamin/Mineral Supplements:  Try rhodiola or a vitamin B complex to boost the nervous system. (Professional advice is available from your local health store.)

Benefits of Stress Relief

Once you incorporate these suggestions into your life, the body can start to revert back to its normal, healthy state. Your heart rate will slow down, blood pressure will normalise, muscular tension will ease and you will feel fewer nagging aches and pains, your sleep will improve, you will breathe more easily, your concentration will improve, you will be more patient with people around you and you will be less susceptible to illnesses such as colds and flu.


  1.  Complementary therapy treatments mentioned in this article (Reiki and Reflexology) are available with Helen Shortland priced £30 and £28 respectively.
  2.  Vitamin/mineral supplements are available from Little London Herbal Stores, 9 Kings Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2AE or visit website www.all-ages-vitamins.co.uk


Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at Little London Herbal Stores on Kings Walk in Nottingham city centre. Please ring her on 07748 591690 to book a treatment or visit her website http://helenshortland.com for further information.


Natural Ways to Promote Better Sleep

Insomnia is a common problem that affects many people.  Fortunately it can be helped with many natural remedies that are readily available.  First and foremost, however, there are many practices you can incorporate yourself to promote better sleep.

Easy Lifestyle Changes

A ‘winding down’ period for about an hour before you go to bed is essential and that includes avoiding the use of electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones.  Make sure you have good curtains that block out the light and try to keep the temperature in the room so that it is neither too warm nor too cold.  Avoid heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime to give your body time to digest food properly.  Reducing caffeine and other stimulants is also advisable after tea time and these can be replaced with a herbal tea such as valerian, rooibos or chamomile.  Practising yoga or meditation just before bedtime may also help you to relax and unwind.  Another idea is to have a warm bath just before bedtime with aromatherapy bath oils containing lavender, valerian or hops.  A bath with Epsom salts or magnesium sulphate can also help to relax the muscles and promote sleep.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Insomnia and sleep problems can be linked to not having enough magnesium in the diet.  Magnesium is a relaxant and can be obtained through eating green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli, as well as being available in supplement form.  Vitamin B6 is also useful for helping to promote sleep.  5-HTP is another useful supplement which converts directly into serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which helps with the regulation of sleep.  It is a precursor to melatonin which is involved in setting your circadian rhythm (the sleep-wake cycle).  Valerian root is a useful herb for helping with insomnia and mild anxiety which can be taken in supplement form or as a herbal tea.

 Complementary Therapies

Lavender essential oil can aid relaxation and help people to get a better night’s sleep.  Try adding a few drops to your pillow or burning some in an oil burner in the evening (remember to extinguish the candle before you go to bed!).  You can also get roller balls containing essential oils which you apply to your pulse points.

Massage treatments are particularly beneficial for reducing tension and anxiety and promoting relaxation.  Try a Back Massage with a relaxing oil blend, a Foot Massage or an Indian Head Massage to ease tension in the neck, shoulders and scalp.  Reiki healing (a form of hands-on healing) is also a wonderful way to relieve stress and anxiety and restore equilibrium.  In my ten years’ experience as a therapist I have found that clients usually report a better night’s sleep after receiving a complementary therapy treatment!



1.  All supplements mentioned in this article are available from Little London Herbal Stores, 9 Kings Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2AE or visit website www.all-ages-vitamins.co.uk

 2.  All complementary therapy treatments mentioned in this article are available with Helen Shortland.

 Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at Little London Herbal Stores on Kings Walk in Nottingham city centre. Please ring her on 07748 591690 to book a treatment or visit her website http://helenshortland.com for further information.

Ease stiff aching back muscles with this month’s special offer Back Massage just £15!

Stiff aching muscles? Tight shoulder blades? Aches and pains in lower back? Helen Shortland Holistics can help! ½ hr back massage is just £15 during April, with a choice of aromatherapy oil blends to relax and unwind, energise and uplift or to ease aching muscles and joints. Based in Nottingham city centre at Little London Herbal Stores, 9 Kings Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2AE. Please tel Helen on 07748 591690 to book.