Creativity. Growth. Flexibility. Vision.
According to classical Chinese medicine, these are qualities associated with the energy of springtime, which in turn is associated with the Wood element. The colour, not surprisingly is blue-green, its climatic force is wind, and it is all about creativity, growth, and change.
The emotion of the Spring is anger, which is not necessarily a negative thing. If we understand anger as the impulse to create change, then we see that it can be a very positive and dynamic force when it is channelled in a healthy way. Looking inward at our bodies, the Liver and the Gallbladder are the internal organs associated with the spring energy. In the context of Chinese medicine, these organs are in charge of smooth flow throughout the body and they have particular influence over the eyes, the joints, tendons and ligaments, the reproductive system, the blood, and some aspects of digestion.
It is time for things that have been resting and replenishing, germinating and gestating, hidden and gathering power through the cold and quiet winter, to emerge and burst forth, take form and assert themselves. So it goes with our plans and aspirations – this is the time when the unformed idea begins to take on shape and detail. A time to do, we define our vision, focus our energy, make decisions and take action. When the inevitable obstacles arise, we stay rooted while remaining flexible and seeking a new path. If our own, internal springtime energy is strong, then creative flow and adapting to change will come easily to us. However, if our springtime energy is out of balance, we may lack vision and focus or we may lack the decisiveness and firmness of purpose to achieve our vision. We may be thrown off by changes and obstacles, either becoming rigid, and angry when things do not go according to plan or feeling so hopeless and frustrated that we give up on our goals.
Spring Feel Good Activities
- Get outside. Outdoor air helps the chi flow, as does exercise. If you find yourself feeling irritable, lethargic, or stuck, find some time for an outdoor activity. Hiking, gardening, golf, bicycling – whatever suits you!
- Express yourself and Envision Possibility! Dancing, cooking, writing, making art or music… See your life growing beyond present obstacles. Write your goals and dreams, take one step at a time, take this season as an opportunity to examine what you would like to change in your life. Make a plan and start putting the steps in action and walk steadily towards your north star. Any form of creative expression helps nourish and channel Wood energy in a healthy way.
- Eat Green. Not surprisingly, green is the colour that goes with spring, wood, and the liver. Green, leafy foods are especially helpful to the liver chi. If you can find in-season baby greens, that’s the best! , spinach, fiddle ferns, wild leeks, watercress, etc., sprouts – all can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of chi.
- Taste Sour. Sour foods also help soothe and smooth the liver chi, and can ease the transition into spring. Add lemon to your water, pickles to your sandwich, vinegar and olive oil dressings to your salad.
- Stretch. Taking a few minutes to stretch, do yoga or Tai Chi in the morning can help you move more fluidly through the day.
- Be Gentle. The Wood element in Chinese Medicine has a tendency towards frustration and impatience, so acknowledge yourself for your efforts, and kindly give yourself some time and space to get to where you’re going.
Adapted from deMamiel blog
|Communicating Anti-aging Skin Care Benefits to the Consumer: Part ICommunicating Anti-aging Skin Care Benefits to the Consumer: Part II|
|This dialogue is based on a presentation given by Katerina Steventon, PhD, at the Anti-Ageing Skin Care Conference on June 12, 2012 in London. It establishes a conversation with Steve Barton, a skin biologist, to discuss concerns and perceptions of British consumers related to skin care. Barton has extensive experience working with marketing teams to improve communication of skin care benefits to consumers, to initiate a dialogue between the consumer and the formulator.|
If interested in learning NEW facial massage techniques when applying skincare, read my December article in Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Regular facial massage is beneficial for both the structure of your face - muscles and deeper layers of skin – as well as the condition of your facial skin. It helps to prevent and reduce facial wrinkles and sagging by increasing blood flow, draining lymph to the nodes and helping skin exfoliation. It can also increase your wellbeing.
Be it a short lymphatic drainage in the evening according to Olay
or a longer gentle facial massage by Shiseido, it is important to massage your face slowly and rhythmically, matching movements to your breathing!
Slow down the pace as your massage progresses.
Please have a go and let me know how your face feels in the comments section below.
Gentle Facial Massage by Shiseido, Japan
Step 1: Forehead – Tones muscles to prevent the formation of horizontal lines.
Starting at the center of forehead, gradually move fingers across the brow in 6 complete circular motions. Repeat 3 times. Finish by gently pressing the pressure points at the temples for 3 counts. To locate your pressure points, feel for slight depressions between the bones at the temples. Pressure applied should feel pleasant and invigorating, never painful.
Step 2: Nose – Prevents the formation of horizontal lines.
Slide fingers downward along the sides of your nose, starting from the inner hollow of the eye. Use left hand to massage the right side of the nose, and the right hand for the left side. Repeat 3 times on each side of nose.
Step 3: Nostrils – Helps unclog pores and prevent blackheads and blemishes.
Circle back and forth around nostrils, applying extra pressure during the upward stroke. Repeat 6 times.
Step 4: Mouth – Minimizes lines around mouth and sagging at lip corners.
Massage along the lower lip, moving outward and upward to lift the corners of the mouth. Release gently. Repeat 3 times.
Step 5: Cheeks – Helps prevent sagging.
Massage outward from the chin to the earlobe, in 6 circular motions, focusing on the jawline. Glide fingers to corners of the mouth and massage up to the middle of the ear. Glide again to the nostrils and massage to the temples. Glide back to chin and repeat all steps 3 times. Finish by pressing the pressure points at your temples.
Step 6: Eyes – Prevents the formation of wrinkles and sagging under eyes.
Makes eyes look less tired by minimizing dark circles and puffiness. First, press the pressure points just under the brow bone below the inner eyebrows and count to 3. Then glide fingers under brow, around and under the eyes, and back to the starting point in 6 counts. Repeat entire procedure 3 times, moving gently over the eyelid to press at temples on the final count.
Step 7: Neck – Prevents the formation of horizontal lines and sagging.
Helps ease tension and stiffness at the nape. Using the palms of your hands, massage your neck by gently stroking upward from the collar bone to the base of the chin. Alternate hands as you move from the center to either side with 6 strokes out, then 6 strokes back. Glide lightly at the center of the neck and increase pressure as you move outward.
Step 8: Chin – Tones muscles to prevent sagging.
Grasp your chin between your index and middle finger at the jaw, and gently slide your fingers across the length of your jaw, creating a scissor-like motion. Bend index finger and place it under the jaw. Use the side of the index finger and pad of the thumb, massage back to right ear. Repeat with left hand. Repeat entire procedure 6 times.
Step 9: Ears – Regulates the body’s overall balance through stimulation of pressure points that send reflexes to other parts of the body.
Massage upward in spiral motions, using the thumb and index fingers, counting to 5. On the 6th count, slide your thumb down the jaw as close to the ear as possible, and back to the earlobe to stimulate the numerous pressure points in this area. Repeat 3 times.
Research on yoga & brain changes
Yoga and the Brain
- In 2010 Dr. Streeter at Boston University found that one hour of yoga practice increased GABA levels in the brain as measured against a control group engaged in walking. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This means it inhibits action or transmissions in the brain. In the mental health arena we are interested in GABA as it helps to curb anxiety, partially because GABA prevents a brain structure called the locus coeruleus from producing too much of a stress causing neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. We are not yet aware of the domino like effect on the brain of increasing GABA levels from yoga practice, but certainly we can hypothesize it includes easier access to relaxation and reduction of stress related networks. Possibly other long reaching effects are also occurring.
- In a small study in 2000 researchers at Shimane Institute of Health Science, Izumo, Japan found that 1 hour of yoga decreased cortisol levels in the body and increased alpha waves. Alpha waves are a type of brain wave found during periods of wakeful relaxation. These brain waves are almost important as they indicate coherence in the brain. Coherence means brain structures are working together as a team. Low levels of coherence relate to a subjective feeling of fragmentation and poor emotional control. High levels of coherence indicate integration of experience and thoughts and coincide with emotional well-being. Alpha waves are likely to increase plasticity because brain regions are connecting well, talking to each other and strengthening their pathways. Cortisol is a hormone released during stress and an overabundance is common with those who suffer from mental health problems. High levels of consistently high levels of cortisol give rise to a host of health problems and cause atrophy in certain parts of the brain.
- In 2010 at Harvard University Lazar et al found that those who engaged in long term yoga practice had increased areas of volume in certain brain structures. Most notably, the insula cortex a center of emotional and sensory integration in the higher brain, and the prefrontal cortex, which modulates behavior and thought; showed increased volume. This is extremely important as those who suffer from PTSD and also other acute mental health issues often have reduction in insula volume, which may explain experiences of dissociation, while reduced prefrontal cortical volume signifying a reduced capacity to regulate emotions and engage in rational responses is found in depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
- Another study conducted in Japan using a special yogic breath technique called Sudarshan Kriya found that levels of neuro-chemical called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) increased. BDNF is a necessary component in neuroplasticity. Hence if a yogic practice is able to increase levels of BDNF this means that change is likely to be taking place.
Source: The Minded Institute
Body postures change how we approach problems
Contemporary dancers use the Limon Technique to release their demons through dance. Movement to music means more energy, good mood and feeling of wellbeing, less dark thoughts and less anxiety.
We still believe in separation of the body and mind but they are connected. Using your body to help you with mental strength is best achieved in a community. Dance, yoga or Pilates in a church hall, anyone?
School of Life: Peter Lovatt on Good Moves Vimeo
I am attending seminars on Yoga & Mind in London next week and will be updating this blog with news.
Heart & Mind Connection
Our emotional health and wellbeing requires harmonizing the interplay between the heart and the brain and I advocate focused relaxation – an hour or so away from the daily stressful life – among my clients.
Alleviating Stress and Anxiety
By changing breathing patterns, we can alter the messages from the body to the brain. Through these pathways, we can see how specific breathing techniques can alleviate anxiety, insomnia, intrusive memories, over-reactions, distorted body perceptions, disconnectedness and loss of meaning. This research attracts worldwide attention and reflects a new development that crosses psychology, psychotherapy and physiology.
“By doing yoga, we are rooted in the body when the mind focuses and settles.”
Open Hearts – positive emotions induced by loving kindness meditation - help us to be healthier.
I have been invited to give a talk about Wellbeing in Skincare to the Society of Cosmetic Scientists (RGN) in summer 2013. I am looking into what constitutes our sense of wellbeing – and how can skincare help – and will be updating this blog with new findings regularly.
For now, just a few notes:
58 % of Americans say that their beauty and personal care products give then a boost of self esteem [Mintel by twitter]
Appearance and Self-esteem
Our society is ageing rapidly. Skin is a visible organ of emotional expression and social communication – skin condition impacts on how others perceive us and how we see ourselves. Both skin texture and colouration play a role and Professor David Perrett (University of Aberdeen) suggests that Face Can Monitor and Motivate Health.
Dissatisfaction with facial appearance causes distress, low self-esteem and compromised relationships [Kligman 1997] as our society views visible ageing differently to internal diseases [Morgan 1997]. Ageing women paid less attention and given less visual contact, making them feel invisible [Fink 2008]. Media have a negative impact, exposure to the ideal images are detrimental at times of greater self-monitoring (puberty and menopause) [Newton 2005].
Self Esteem Programme by Dove and CTPA
Dove has launched 2012 Self Esteem Programme to help self-esteem education in schools. They want to help teens to develop healthy body confidence and realistic beauty ideals. “The school years are such an important tim in the shaping of future confidence, and skincare and make up can make a real difference to how confident teens feel.” [Pure Beauty 2012]
CTPA argue that self-esteem is more important today than ever before. We lead increasingly open-ended lives, with fewer universal values, where people are responsible for creating their own individuality. However, we live in a society of high aspirations where our self-confidence is regularly tested as we struggle to meet the standards we create for ourselves. The CTPA report allows us to better understand what makes up self-esteem by analysing a range of influences including family, financial status and appearance.
“The more healthily you live, the better you look. You still want to look like yourself when you grow older. You lose your sensuality when you have surgery, it takes away a part of who you are.” Sharon Stone
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We want to know!
French LVMH Research published an article in the Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2008, looking at the role of make-up in our lives. Make-up application stimulates three of our senses:
- touch (application)
- smell (fragrance)
- sight (the process of becoming and looking beautiful).
The positive stimulation of these senses can induce sensory as well as psychological pleasure.
The researchers interviewed different groups of women on their quality of life and make-up habits (using standardised and validated psychometric tests) to see the link between the need to apply make-up and specific psychological features.
- The results show that make-up application has two opposite functions - Camouflage and Seduction.
- Women of the Camouflage group are more anxious, defensive and emotionally unstable compared to those of the Seduction group who appear to be more sociable, assertive and extroverted.
The study confirms that beyond the simple application of “colour” on the face, make-up has two functional implications depending on specific psychological profiles of women. Why do you use make-up? What personality type do you consider yourself to be? Please comment on this blog..