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Did you know you had a ‘Calming’ nerve?

Did you know you had a ‘Calming’ nerve and you can use it to benefit your health? Let me tell you about it.

As you know, our nervous system is a very complex system, made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. It is our body’s communication system and controls a lot of the body’s functions.

An important part of our nervous system is the network of cranial nerves that connect the brain to our head, neck and body. They are either sensory or motor. Think of our sense of smell, taste and touch and movement of muscles. These are just some of the functions of the cranial nerves.

Parts of our nervous system operate automatically eg breathing, digestion, heart rate. Our sympathetic nerves are involved in our ‘fight or flight’ response, physical activity, heart rate and innervation of many body processes.

Parasympathetic nerves on the other hand, are our ‘rest and digest’ nerves. They regulate the function of organs during rest and have a slowing down or dampening effect.

This is where the ‘Calming’ nerve comes in. It is called the Vagus nerve and is the tenth cranial nerve. It’s also one of the most important parasympathetic nerves and one of the longest in the body. It originates in the Brain stem and travels right through the neck, chest, abdomen and the digestive system to the middle of the large intestine. Its’ name comes from ‘vagabond’ and it’s known as the wandering nerve.

The Vagus nerve is truly a calming nerve because it slows down breathing and heart rate so aids in relaxation. It communicates between the gut and the brain and decreases stress, anxiety and fear. It controls our digestion and slows down heart rate. It is also involved in the immune system and decreases inflammation.

Did you know you had a ‘calming’ nerve? We all do and can use it to benefit our health? We are living in an unprecedented time, when so much is out of our control. The news is full of drama and alarm and our stress response has never been so activated. It’s very easy to get caught up in that ‘fight or flight’ mode and never truly relax.

This is where the Vagus nerve comes in. You can work the nerve point for it on your face whenever you are feeling stressed. Do it on a daily basis and you will start to see its’ benefits. You can find the chart here.

You can also take measures to decrease your reaction to stress by avoiding the news, spending time in nature, exercising, eating healthily (most of the time), doing meditation, laughing, being creative and putting some more fun back into your day.

When so much is out of our control, it’s so important to remember what remains in our control. Working the Vagus nerve, our ‘calming’ nerve is something every one of us can do. After all, reducing our stress and staying relaxed is one of the best ways to stay healthy.

Warmest wishes,

Judy xxx

References: Multireflexology Dien Chan by Patrick Aguilar Cassara & Anna Roca, https://www.healthline.com/health/12-cranial-nerves, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/functions-of-the-autonomic-nervous-system/, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318128#What-is-the-vagus-nerve, Touchpoint Denmark – Webinar on Digestion by Dorthe Krogsgaard and Peter Lund,

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

What can I Create Today?

What can I create today when life is so uncertain? When so much is out of my control. Can I even create under such circumstances?

I sat down to contemplate this during Melbourne’s latest lockdown. Our sixth! Two hundred plus days without freedom. Two hundred plus days away from family and friends. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fear, anxiety and uncertainty of our lives and live life from that perspective. It’s very easy to stay negative and feel that there is nothing to look forward to, as how can we plan when things just keep changing.

What can I create today? What could I create and bring into my life to not just pass the time, or make it more bearable, but to actual create opportunities and thrive? I decided to try and find out. Maybe you can do the same.

I looked at the areas of my life that were important to me. The physical, emotional and spiritual. Then I began to create routines to give my days some structure. It’s very easy to forget whether it’s a weekday or weekend when all the days feel the same.

On a physical level, exercise is important for me. My body needs to move not just for it’s own health and flexibility but for the ‘feel good’ factor it brings with it. Exercise also releases endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin which enhance your mood. This became a daily activity for me.

I also began my days with meditation. This practice reduces stress, especially when the morning news brings more drama. It sets me up for the day so that I begin everything in a calm and relaxed manner. I must admit I don’t always stay this way, but meditation is a beautiful way to start each morning.

I also returned to photography and started painting, bringing forth all the creative parts of me. I don’t always get it right and a lot of it is experimental, but I’m loving the joy and fun it brings to my life. I commenced writing a book and later some poetry. I set aside time each week so that I could follow these creative pursuits.

Time in nature is very fulfilling too. It calms you down, lifts the spirits, reduces stress and focuses you on the present moment. You can do this on a walk, just sitting in the sunshine or working in the garden.

Overall I created space to just be. To sit quietly with my thoughts and ponder on what my heart and soul needed in that moment. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘When we sit in silence, we hear the whispers of the Gods.”

Do you take time to sit in silence? To listen to the voice within, the whispers that guide you, the Muse that speaks to you?

What can you create from that space? Maybe it’s book you have always wanted to write or some jewellery you have longed to create? Maybe it’s a new exercise routine? Maybe it’s starting Yoga? Maybe it’s beginning meditation, a new course, painting, cooking, playing the piano or dancing?

Put times in your diary for work and play so that you are more likely to make things happen. They don’t have to be set in stone but having some structure helps.

Then ask yourself, ‘What can I create today? What can you do to make your days more playful and worthwhile. At a time when life is so uncertain, we can take positive action now.

We may not be able to control our external environments but we can control our internal ones.

Let me know how you go.

Warmest wishes,

Judy xxx

References: Photo by  Ali Abdul Rahman on Unsplash. Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

All Health begins in your Gut

All health begins in your Gut.

You may think this is a bold statement but I believe it’s very true. We have been told countless times that ‘you are what you eat’, and it’s pretty obvious that if you eat lots of processed, sugary foods, you will gain weight, increase inflammation in your body and are at an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

However I am talking about the importance of your Gut for overall health, not just from the food we eat. The Gut is actually the most important part of our Immune System. All health begins in our Gut. Our Small and Large intestines total approximately 6 metres in length and along the walls of the intestines are huge amounts of immune cells.

Did you know that 70-80% of all the immune cells in the body are located in the intestinal walls? The Gut contains large amounts of lymphoid tissue, which in turn contains many immune cells such as T-cells, plasma cells and macrophages which all fight disease. Certain cells in the gut lining spend all their time releasing huge amounts of antibodies into the gut. The immune cells within the intestines don’t just stay there. They can leave and travel to areas where they are needed.

Our immune system is the body’s defence system against infections and foreign substances. It is believed that the reason for the large concentration of immune cells in the gut, is because our intestines are the main route of contact with our outside environment. This may be in the form of viruses, bacteria or even the food we eat.

We also have a lymphatic system that filters the blood and lymph nodes, which are found throughout the body, and produce white blood cells. The largest concentration of lymph nodes in the body is found along the Superior Mesenteric Artery, (a blood vessel that supplies the gut) where the head of the pancreas meets the duodenum. All within the gut.

Organs such as the Spleen, Bone Marrow, Thymus Gland, Liver and Adrenal glands also perform important functions in our immune response.

A lot has been said about the Gut-Brain connection and it has been found that a two-way communication occurs between the gut and the brain. There are actually more nerve cells in the gut than in the whole spinal cord. These nerve cells produce neurotransmitters, such as Dopamine and Serotonin in large quantities. These chemical messengers affect not only our mood, but also the motility of the gut, regulation of blood flow, absorption of nutrients and the gut’s immune system.

We are all familiar with having a ‘gut feeling’ about something or ‘butterflies’ in the stomach before a new job or exam, but research has shown that this is due to a communication between the gut and the brain in what is known as the Enteric Nervous system. The Gut has the ability to make decisions independently of the brain eg. Digestion occurs irrespective of the brain, and many of our emotions are influenced by the nerves in our gut.

Obviously factors such as lifestyle, genetics and our environment influence our health and it’s very easy to underestimate the importance of the gut in relation to our health. In Reflexology the gut is always addressed. It covers a large area on the foot and reflexes can be stimulated to increase nerve supply and circulation and stimulate an immune response. In Facial Reflexology, the immune system and hormones within the gut are also treated.

So next time you sit down for a meal, consider the food you are about to eat and how relaxed your meal times are. Every thing we put into our bodies, be it food or negative emotions, all have an impact, because ultimately, all health begins in your Gut.

Warmest wishes,

Judy xxx

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

References: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772764/, Gut and Immunity Webinar by Touchpoint Reflexology with Dorthe Krogsgaard and Peter Lund Frandsen.

New Year, hopes, dreams

How do you Welcome in a New Year?

New Year, creation, dreams

How do you welcome in a New Year?

Do you see it as just another day, do you celebrate quietly or do you party all night? We all have different ways of acknowledging the year that has passed and the new one just beginning.

Last year was a very challenging year for so many of us. It brought up fears and insecurities, hopes dashed and work circumstances altered. It also brought up unexpected opportunities for us all to slow down and re-evaluate our lives.

A New Year brings with it hope and the opportunity to plan what we would like the unfolding twelve months to look like. Yes there is still uncertainty and a lot is out of our control, but we can still plan and put in place structures and dreams to guide us forwards.

Many make New Year’s resolutions, but these are often forgotten by the time February comes. I, now choose to find a word that describes how I want to feel this year and my word for 2021 is Fearless. To me, this is a Bold word. I am a worrier and fear often presents in my life. My Mother was a worrier too and whether her anxiety had an impact on me or experiences in my life brought this up, I don’t know. I expect, a bit of both and perhaps it’s also part of my nature.

So I’m acknowledging this and seeing it as an opportunity to grow. I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and not play small. I am allowing my creativity to shine and continue spreading my message about the benefits of Reflexology. I am speaking up and sharing my thoughts and creations. Yes this feels scary, but it also feels empowering. As Marianne Williamson said, ” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. ………Your playing small does not serve the world.”

My Mother was once praised for a painting she did as a child. However, it was an art she never pursued and when she was very old, she said she had wished she had painted a rose. I encouraged her to do it then. It wasn’t too late. But she never did.

Do you have dreams and ideas about what you want to change or bring into your life? A new career, great health, writing a book, creating a sculpture or some unique jewellery, taking up a new sport or hobby? We all have dreams, but how many of them remain just that. We lose focus, ‘life’ takes over and we move on. We never accomplish our dreams.

So how do we get started? I suggest sitting quietly and thinking about what you loved to do as a child, or thinking of something that you would love to explore or bring into your life. Write it down to make it more attainable, then set goals as to how you can bring it into reality.

If it’s great health, then start by looking at your diet and including more healthy foods and exercise into your life. Set up a regime, even if it’s just a walk around the block each day. Start having treatments such as Reflexology to reduce stress and help balance your body. If it’s writing or painting, then put aside some time each week and stick to it. If it’s finding a new career, then sign up for a sample course or taster session to see if it is something that you want to seriously pursue.

Keep a journal or diary and refer to it to keep you on course. Be focused and take action. It’s all very well to have ideas but unless you take action on them, nothing changes. Action doesn’t have to be big or scary. Just one step at a time. That’s all you need to build momentum.

How do you welcome in a New Year? Is it just another day or is it the beginning of something exciting and new? Make each day count. We all have it in us to be ‘powerful beyond measure.’ I know that when I become very old, I don’t want to say, ‘I wish I had painted that Rose’.

Warmest wishes,

Judy xxx

References: Marianne Williamson, ‘A Return to Love’.

Our Eyesight is arguably our most important sense. Can we improve it?

eyes

Our Eyesight is arguably our most important sense. 80% of what we perceive in the world happens via our sight. Our cognition, learning and motor abilities are mediated through our vision. Because our visual cortex takes up the largest area of any sense, it is usually the most acute sense we perceive. So can we improve our eyesight and if so, how?

Due to current circumstances, many of us are spending longer hours in front of a screen, be it television or computer. This can cause a lot of strain on our eyes leading to headaches or blurred vision. As we age, the lenses of our eyes become less flexible which makes it harder to focus on close objects. Our eyes may also become drier as we produce less tears, there may be a loss of muscle tone in the muscles around the pupil and we may also develop cataracts. There are said to be 570 named illnesses that can affect the eye.

This all sounds a bit dismal, but there are many things you can do to preserve your eyesight and prevent deterioration. Facial Reflexology is one of them. It is a very powerful therapy that works on all levels of the body – physical, mental and emotional. Firstly, it improves the circulation to every part of the eye which is very important, as of those 570 illnesses, most are related to eye circulation. By increasing blood flow to the eyes, function will be improved.

Nerve supply is also stimulated to assist with messages from the brain via the Optic nerve. Facial reflexology can work the muscles on the face and the muscles around the eye. Many of these muscles receive their blood supply via major arteries that run through the face and are innervated by cranial nerves, which are again worked through Facial reflexology.

Facial reflexology uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is believed the all eye problems come from an organ problem and most diseases affecting the eye are closely related to the liver and gallbladder meridians.

The eye is nourished by all of the internal organs in the body and an imbalance in any of these internal organs will lead to a dysfunction in the eyes. Facial Reflexology looks at which organs and meridians are most out of balance and treats these along with the liver and gallbladder meridians. It also addresses the immune system to help with any infections in the eye , such as Conjunctivitis and the Spleen and Stomach meridians to help with circulation to the eyes.

Other factors to consider for eye health are diet, stress, the type of work we do, computer use, exercise and lifestyle. A diet rich in betacarotene, vitamins C and E, and sulfur-bearing amino acids are recommended. Foods rich in these nutrients include garlic, onions, beans, spinach, celery, turnips, yellow and orange vegetables, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, apples, oranges and tomatoes. It’s also important to have plenty of water to help hydrate the eyes, exercise to improve circulation, frequent breaks from computer use and meditation, yoga or other forms of stress relief.

These will all benefit your eye health.

We are often told that worsening eyesight is just a part of ageing and that nothing can be done to stop this decline in our eyesight. However, numerous peer-review studies show clearly that many eye conditions can respond to proper diet, lifestyle adaptations and nutritional supplementation, and that people can preserve their vision. 

Reflexology is also a very powerful tool and many eye conditions can be helped. I always remember a story told by my Reflexology tutor about a boy with a rare congenital condition, Q18 syndrome, who was born deaf and blind. He had intensive daily reflexology for three years and regained 100% of his hearing and eyesight.

Our eyesight is arguably, our most important sense so why not take measures to improve it.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Warmest wishes,

Judy xxx

You can find a chart of Facial Reflexology points to work on your eyesight here.

References: www.newjerseyeyesight.com, www.theconversation.com, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441907, Ocular Therapy Course by Lone Sorensen, www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Healthy+Eyes+with+Chinese+Medicine.

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.