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Beat the Blues

Hello folks,

I’m sat at La Bouche, drinking a cup of chai and looking out at the grey clouds and drizzle. This typically British weather used to really get me down, and I’m wondering how you’re feeling about the next couple of months. Are you someone who tends to feel low during the winter?

If you do, please take a breath and give yourself a break. Let’s face it, winter in England can be hard, and most of my clients are affected by the winter months to some degree. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s normal to feel different, now that’s not to say you should put up with things, it’s simply that it’s normal for us to experience variations in our physical and emotional bodies as the seasons change (you can read more about what happens during winter here). What’s ok and what’s not? That really depends on how you experience these changes and whether you feel it’s an issue for you. If it is something you struggle with…

Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t suffer with the winter blues?

Your mind would feel clear and focused, your body light. You would wake up in the morning feeling energised after a restful night’s sleep. You’d feel grounded and calm in your body. The pressure would lift, and instead of all that negative mental chatter, you’d treat yourself kindly and with respect. Ultimately, you’d shine on the inside even when it’s gloomy outside.

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Maybe right now that all feels impossible because this is what’s going on for you:

  1. Your mind feels a bit fuzzy. It’s as if there’s a fog which stops you from thinking clearly.
  2. Sometimes your body feels heavy and empty, and at other times you feel overwhelmed by the amount of emotion your body is trying to contain.
  3. You feel like nothing is going right. Maybe you’ve lost your sense of purpose and feel disconnected from the world.
  4. When you get into bed at night, your mind races and it takes you a long time to fall asleep.
  5. Even if you sleep well at night, you feel sluggish in the morning and it takes you a few hours and several cups of coffee to get going.
  6. You’ve lost your appetite, or you’ve noticed that you’re comfort eating a lot.
  7. There’s a heaviness in your chest, or maybe you experience palpitations.
  8. You feel alone, even when you’re around other people.
  9. There are times when you feel deep levels of sadness/anxiety/fear.
  10. The simplest of things seem to require a tremendous amount of effort.[/notice]

You’ve probably tried talking with loved ones, taking supplements or antidepressants, or doing some form of exercise. You may have sought comfort in self-destructive ways, or perhaps your way of coping is to seek out some sunshine by taking a holiday every winter. Hell, there ain’t nothing wrong with taking a trip like that, but wouldn’t it be nice to resolve what’s going on so that that became an option as oppose to a necessity?

I get it. 

I’ve been there, in that slump, you know the one I mean, the one where you feel so lost and down that you can’t see a way out. The one where you know you need to reach out and ask for help, but at the same time, you just can’t. I know how frustrating that can be.

That’s why I’ve created Beat the Blues: My intention with this six-week treatment programme is to help you shift from feeling clouded and low, to feeling clear and uplifted.

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What’s included?

  1. An in-depth consultation. That doesn’t mean I need to know the inner workings of your mind, in fact, we hardly need to touch on what’s going on mentally for you (unless you want to), as your physical signs and symptoms will give me a clear idea of what’s going on for you.
  2. Six 45 minute acupuncture sessions. It’s your time, you’ll have space to be you, no judgement, no pressure. You might want to drift off and doze, you might want to talk about what’s going on for you, you might want to peacefully let go of what you’ve been holding on to. It truly is all ok.
  3. One hour of reflexology or massage. If you’re anything like me, just the thought of this creates space and lightness in your body. Lots of my patients have commented that having soothing bodywork alongside the series of acupuncture sessions really helps them to let go of tension that they may have been storing for years, and that’s why I love to include reflexology and massage in my acupuncture packages.

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You’ll also learn:

  1. A few basic principles of Chinese Medicine which will help to explain why you’re feeling the way you are. Most patients feel a great sense of relief when what they’re experiencing is framed in this way, suddenly what they feel is “weird”, becomes common sense.
  2. What dietary and lifestyle changes will aid your treatment the most, but don’t worry, I’m not a hard-ass **cough, cough**, I’d rather help you to make changes which feel appropriate for where you’re at, and which will be also be long-lasting.

What can you expect?

  1. Permission to unplug and take some time out to be kind to yourself.
  2. Acknowledgement of what’s going on for you at the moment. I’m not going to be leaning over you as you try to relax and enjoy your treatment, telling you exactly what you need to do to “fix your life”. No, no, no, you’re the driver, I’m just the attendant at the petrol station helping you on your journey.
  3. Sensitivity and compassion. Oh boy, we could all do with a big dose of this! Simply put, I’m not going to be another well-meaning person telling you to “look on the bright side and be grateful for what you have in your life”.

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Beat the Blues will fit you perfectly if:

  1. The list in the first yellow box pretty much described your current situation.
  2. You want to address the root of why you feel the way you do without but a talking therapy doesn’t appeal to you at the moment.
  3. You’re feel like you’re at your breaking point and want some help.
  4. You’re considering starting to take antidepressants or interested in coming off them.

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Another approach might be more suitable if: 

  1. You’re mainly interested in talking to someone.
  2. You want to explore issues from your past (acupuncture can support you in this, but a qualified and reputable psychotherapist is likely to be your best form of primary treatment).

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Beat the Blues is £350 (£40 less than what it all adds up to).

To recap, that includes your consultation, six 45 minute acupuncture sessions, and one hour of massage or reflexology.

If you’d like to get the money side of things out of the way, you can pay all at once by bank transfer/cheque. Or if paying week by week suits you better, that’s also fine.

My request is that you book all of your appointments at the end of your first session, that way you know you have something positive and helpful to look forward to every week, and it prioritises taking care of yourself at a time when you need it most.

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What else could you spend £350 on?

  1. 35 burgers.
  2. A one way ticket to Bangkok (actually this comes in at £400, still it’s tempting…)
  3. A weekend yoga retreat (Naomi has one coming up in April if you’re interested).
  4. A pricey pair of new shoes!

All hugely tempting I’m sure, but my guess is that you’re ready for long-lasting change, right now.

➥ If you’d like to schedule an appointment or have a 15 minute phone consultation, please email me to arrange this.

Some recent testimonials:

“I’ve battled with depression on and off for years and last year I hit rock bottom. Thankfully a friend recommended Maisie. I spent a large part of my first treatment crying, and she didn’t try to cheer me up or find a way to get me to stop…it was such a relief to let go of my mask and tell someone how sad and angry I was. When she explained my treatment plan to me, it all made sense, she asked me if it felt like I had a heavy wet blanket on top of me all the time, which was exactly how I felt! Within three treatments I felt like a new woman.” 

“Issues with stress, anxiety, emotions were treated to make me a more relaxed and content individual- it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by my friends. Maisie’s ears must constantly be burning because as soon as anyone tells me they suffer from anxiety, the first person I mention to go to is her- I couldn’t recommend Maisie highly enough.” 

“I feel my health improving with each session and the physical experience during treatment remarkable. I feel more calm and energised than ever before. Maisie really knows and loves what she practices and her passion really comes across, she is a constant inspiration to me. Thank you Maisie for helping me put a spring back in my step.”

“At the beginning of the treatment she asked me how I wanted to feel, “grounded” was my answer. One hour later I was so utterly connected to the earth I felt I had become almost part of it! It was the most energised, connected and stable I had felt all week.”

 

Going inward

Winter is the season when roots hide underground in preparation for Spring, because mother nature knows that to do anything other than rest would be foolish. So if the thought of getting up off your couch for another Christmas party really doesn’t appeal, don’t worry, this is normal!

During Winter you should store and conserve your energy, don’t be wasteful with it. This is a time to rest, replenish, and reflect. To turn inward.

Winter is about warming and nourishing your body, so:

  • Include lots of ‘warming’ foods in your diet such as root vegetables, whole grains, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, soups, and broths. A small amount of red meat is also beneficial.
  • Stay away from ‘cooling’ foods such as salads, especially cucumbers, raw tomatoes, and watermelons.
  • Rest more.
  • Exercise to keep your body warm and your energy moving.

Chinese medicine associates Winter with the water phase of the 5 element cycle, and the Kidneys and Bladder are the ‘Water’ organs. Unhelpfully, the organs we know in Chinese medicine, were translated into the names of Western medical organs (Liver, Spleen, Heart etc), so it’s important to remember that although they may share similar functions, they are different, and have a broader range of functions.

The Kidneys, as well as regulating water in the body (as they do in Western medicine), are also responsible for reproduction, growth, and development, as well as storing our ‘essence’ or ‘vital life force’. They do not like the cold, so it’s vital that we protect them. This can be done easily by keeping your lower back warm and protected from the elements, and by not wearing ballerina slippers!! The Kidney meridian starts on the sole of the foot, so do yourself a favour and keep your feet nice and toasty to prevent cold from invading.

Water has a rhythm and a flow that is governed by the gravitational pull of the moon, and as the planet’s oceans expand and contract, so do our internal oceans. The water in our bodies can flow freely or stagnate, flood or cause a drought, and this is reflected in our emotions.

A new season brings stress and change, and as the emotion linked to the Kidneys is fear, when Winter arrives, we can find ourselves lacking in courage and willpower. It’s a hard time of year to start a new project, so try to save your new projects for the Spring, when nature’s new shoots burst through the earth full of energy to propel them forward.

Illness imposes stillness, so if you do find yourself feeling poorly and retreating to your bed, use the opportunity to feel the inner changes that are occurring deep within, face your fears, and create a more reflective existence.

“The kidney is the ocean of the human body. Since oceans are situated on a lower level than the earth’s streams and rivers, they draw every one of them to form one large body of water. Oceans may appear vast and inexhaustible, yet they still drain off some of their seemingly unlimited supply. One way of drainage is called ‘going to ruins,’ meaning the water drains down into the earth from where it will not return. The other way of drainage is called ‘dwelling with the stars,’ meaning the water steams toward the sky and later rains down to earth again, where it dissipates into rivers and streams and eventually returns to the ocean. This is the water that circulates between heaven and earth, always striving to keep an equilibrium between the extreme states of drought and flooding.” -From Zhuang Yuanchen, Shujuzi: Inner Chapters (Shujuzi Neipian), Ming Dynasty.

Hurry up and tie things up.

Over the past month or so I’ve realised that with most of my projects, I tend to get to 80% finished, feel a sense of achievement and then, yep, you guessed it, move on to something else. Do you do the same?

Think about it, what things are hanging over your head? What do you keep putting off?

My list:

  • File my tax return (thankfully Rosie from One Man Band Accounting is on hand to help with this).
  • Study for (and pass) my paediatric acupuncture exam.
  • Go through my emails and make sure I’m up to date before the holidays.
  • Buy some picture frames (one of my acupuncture patients gave me some of her amazing prints as a gift this year).
  • Order business cards.
  • Figure out how to schedule appointments and receive payments online.
  • Get some hinges from Ikea (they sent me a wardrobe but didn’t include any hinges, the door has been leaning against my wall for months now).
  • Mail all the lovely cards I bought this year for the special folk who have touched my life. I have a terrible habit in that I go out and find the perfect card, write it and then promptly forget to mail it. See? 80%

So what’s the hurry?

In the lead up to Christmas, our focus tends to be on socialising and buying presents, but over the next fortnight I’m urging you to get s**t done. You heard me, get it done. January is the most depressing month of the year, and when it rolls around you do not want a load of unfinished stuff niggling away at you. Is this sounding familiar? I’ve certainly been there.

With the arrival of Winter on the 21st of December, our bodies and minds will undertake the natural process of turning inward; our version of hibernating. Our bodies will seek to preserve and protect by holding on to our internal energy and warmth. This is the reason that we should take care to nourish ourselves and not put ourselves under physical or mental strain. Winter is not the season to detox or start a new project that requires a lot of input, save that for the energy of Spring. Instead, tie up any loose ends and give yourself some space.

Space for what?

How about some space to be gentle and kind to yourself, space to reflect on 2012, to consider what you’ve learned and achieved, space to daydream about whatever it is that makes your soul sing, perhaps plan how you can do more of that in 2013. How about some space for stillness? If you’ve never tried meditation, this is a great time of year to give it a go as it can decrease your stress levels whilst boosting your immunity and energy levels. Get Some Headspace is a great place to start, particularly as they have a free ten-day trial. Find the idea of meditation a bit scary? So did I. In fact it seemed impossible, but just doing ten mins a day made it accessible, and now I love my Headspace app. If you’re feeling daunted, just remember that it’s not about clearing your mind of thoughts (which is why it felt impossible to me), it’s about allowing thoughts and feelings to come up, but instead of being attached to them, you’re able to view them with clarity, and bit by bit, let go of things. If you’d like to know more, check out Headspace’s super cool animations below.

So what are you putting off, and how much time are you spending thinking about these things? How much time and energy could you save if instead of spending hours procrastinating, you just did them?

Imagine how it will feel to breathe that sweet sigh of relief when you finally finish things off.

Now go and take care of business.

 

Doulas, midwives, and obstetricians. A recipe for disaster?

One of the big questions that I’m asked when I first meet with prospective clients is, “so what do the midwives and doctors think about doulas? Are there ever any conflicts?”

In my experience, it is VERY rare for there to be any issues with other healthcare professionals. On the whole, I find that my presence is welcomed and appreciated. Whilst my primary role is most definitely to support the mother, followed by the dad or other birth partner, having a doula-supported birth should make it a better experience for everyone involved.

When I transfer into hospital with clients, I cling to them like glue and do all I can to get us past triage and into a room as swiftly as possible. After that, unless something intense is going on and my client ‘needs’ me to be close, I take a step back. This allows the midwife to form a relationship with the mum, and I can’t stress enough how important this is; it is not a doula’s job to hog her client!

So what else do I do? (more…)

Issue 2 of Coven, online and in stores NOW.

 Action, Art & Adventure for women.

Issue Two features Surfer Nikita Robb, Photographer Camilla Stoddart, Skateboarders Sophie Allen & Maria Falbo, Motocross, Yoga, Snowboarder Lisa Filzmoser, Tattooist Nikole Lowe, Fixed Gear Cyclist Jenna Makgill, Stunt Woman, Cyclist and Fitness Queen Kym Perfetto, Amelia Brodka, Carol Martori.

Plus my summer well-being article about skin care!

Coven Magazine

 

Parenting books

Parents frequently ask me about routines and crying, and whilst I can pass on some information and handy hints, I really think that the best thing they can do is to stay away from all the books! I know that we all want an instruction manual for our newborn baby, but did you get one for your partner? Think back to your first date…  (more…)

The first issue of Coven is out!

There aren’t many magazines on the shelves that I feel are for me, so I was really happy to hear about Coven, a new women’s magazine that’s all about action, art, and adventure.

Issue one features Roisin Dunne (talented artist), Lisa Rands (professional climber), Rose Choules (shoe designer and maker), Jenny Jones (snowboarder), Shanice Silvia Cruz (BMXer), and Christina Panteliodisa (fixed gear freestyle rider).

Oh yeah, and I’m their health columnist.

It’s available in print, and online here.

Dear Mum…

Thank you for:

  • Never being over-bearing, you only wanted us to be safe and happy. I cannot thank you enough for this, you didn’t place demands upon me, instead, you let me to blossom into ‘me’.
  • Having such a wicked sense of humour.
  • All the delicious birthday cakes you made for us (tractors, pigs, a Nirvana smiley face!)
  • Letting us explore, letting us make mistakes.
  • Raising us to be aware of others; to be polite, helpful, and friendly.
  • Encouraging us to develop our own opinions, and our own dreams.
  • Making us do the dishes.
  • Taking us to work with you, I think this helped to instill a good work ethic in both of us.
  • Wanting us to do well in school, without making it the be-all and end-all.
  • Teaching us to bake and cook.
  • Getting us to walk to school. I always left the house late, and having to walk there turned me into a super-fast walker.
  • Reading to us all the time when we were little, and for always making sure that we had lots of books to choose from as we grew up.
  • Sewing fun placemats, hot-water bottle covers, dressing gowns… knitting jumpers.
  • Letting me go to gigs and rock clubs when I was underage.
  • Being there when I needed you.
  • All the cuddles and “I love you”s.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, love Mais xxxxxx

Holding on and letting go

Ok, ok, so I’ve been slacker recently and haven’t been posting as regularly as I’d like to. No, I haven’t been vegetating on my sofa, I’ve spent the last month trying to finish the last of my course work, and have been kept busy with births too. Bit by bit, stress has found its way into my body (my calves of all places), and by the tail end of last week I was struggling to walk up and down stairs without yelping. With another birth approaching, I knew I had to take some action, because a) I don’t like being in pain, and b) what good is a stressed out doula who can’t do gymnastics with you in labour?

Thankfully, I met the lovely Graham Stones at a recent workshop, and I had a sense that he would be the right person to sort out my aching body. Boy was I right. As a massage therapist, I find it hard to shut off and enjoy a massage, but within moments, I knew that I was in experienced hands, and that I could trust him. What followed was a very caring, dynamic, and powerful treatment. As I started to let go of the accumulated tension, I found myself drawing parallels between my treatment and my experiences as a doula: (more…)