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Keeping that holiday high

Find yourself wishing you were back swimming with dolphins in the Aegean? Or lying on the deck of a South-Pacific bound yacht? Zoi Constantine has some advice on how to keep that holiday high.

Coming back from a holiday can be a shock to the system. Facing the reality of a new school year or going back to work can be even more distressing. So, what can we do to try to re-capture that carefree holiday feeling?
Regardless of whether your holiday was in fact a relaxing and uplifting experience, or you are simply travel-weary, it is important not to let the new school year or being back at work bring you down. So, sit back, relax and soak up the information that will transport you (back) to a calm and tranquil state of mind.

There are countless natural alternatives when it comes to relaxation and boosting your energy. Whether you simply relax with a cup of tea or take the time to pamper yourself with a spa treatment, there are many ways to beat the post-holiday blues.

The Emirates is now home to many centres and spas that cater for those who embrace complementary therapies, so it is relatively easy to find a treatment that suits you - perhaps even one that you experienced on holiday.

Supplementary Benefits
Everything from your diet to your exercise routine (or lack thereof) impacts on how you feel on a day-to-day basis. One quick way to promote a healthy outlook on life is to take some dietary supplements.

The debate over whether vitamin supplements truly work - or whether they are simply a money making scam - continues but my belief is that the term ‘supplements' easily conveys their raison d'tre. They are meant to supplement the average diet and provide the necessary vitamins and
minerals that are often lacking. Vitamin supplements are therefore not meant to be taken as an alternative, but in conjunction with natural sources of vitamins and minerals from foods.

The same applies to supplements that help with the stress and pressures of everyday life. These vitamins and herbs are not designed as a quick-fix solution but for the overall promotion of a calm and healthy lifestyle.
Some of the most effective stress fighters are (the perennial favourite) vitamin C, kava, St John's wort, gaba, vitamin B complex, Korean ginseng (a natural cure for calming nerves) and Siberian ginseng (nerve tonic for mental clarity, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, tension and fatigue). Some of these supplements work on a physical level, relaxing your muscles and improving adrenal gland function (which can be depleted by stress), while others work on an emotional level, calming and soothing your mind.
One of the most sought after of the above-mentioned herbs is kava, a root based herb traditionally used in the South Pacific in a soothing drink. Kava's main calming ingredients are known as kalavactones, which relax the body and can induce a restful sleep.

Like all vitamin and mineral supplements, high herbal quality and content is advisable when purchasing anything from vitamin C to lesser-known substances, and German brands of kava are regarded as particularly high quality.
An even easier option is to reduce your caffeine intake and opt for a cup of herbal tea, at work or home, instead of multiple cups of stress inducing coffee. Chamomile tea tastes great, is highly relaxing and particularly effective if drunk just prior to going to sleep.

Alternatively you can try a combination of flowers such as the tranquil coupling of one teaspoon of chamomile and one teaspoon of lavender flowers. You will immediately feel the difference as the calming and soothing herbs eradicate your tension. Try placing some lavender flowers or drops on your pillow before going to sleep to promote a peaceful and deep rest.

Essential oils
Lavender is one of the most powerful herbs for its calming properties and can be found and used in a variety of forms. Apart from the core flowers, you can purchase lavender massage oil and essential oil, as well as derivative products such as perfume, soap and shampoo. It is no wonder that so many products use this flower as an inspiration and core ingredient as it relieves insomnia, stress, depression, nervousness and irritability.

Aromatherapy oils can also be used in the promotion of a stress-free lifestyle. Zoe Duncan, aromatherapist and reflexologist at Reflection Hair and Beauty Care, recommends the use of neroli and ylang ylang oils as they have a regulating effect on the nervous system and
promote comfort, strength and hope. For a more uplifting outlook try citrusy oils such as bergamot or lemon.
Aromatherapy can be administered in several ways including massage, via oil burners, by putting a few drops on your pillow, in your bath or on a tissue to keep with you throughout the day. According to Zoe: “One major misconception about aromatherapy and other complementary therapies is that their effects can only be beneficial. In fact, aromatherapy is highly potent and if used incorrectly can result in negative side effects.” Therefore, it is recommended that you consult an aromatherapist to determine which oils are most suited to you and your needs.

Zoe cites ylang ylang as having a particularly potent quality which can result in a drop in blood pressure - beneficial if you have high blood pressure, but detrimental if you don't. “Make sure you dilute all oils, apart from lavender and tea-tree, before applying them to your skin and always remember to add only a few drops of oil to the water in an oil burner,” says Zoe.

One of the best and easiest ways to de-stress is to relax in a bath with added aromatherapy oils. Make sure the bath is just a few degrees above body temperature and not scalding as this will just increase your blood pressure and make you uncomfortable.

Zoe recommends that you use about six drops of essential oil in the bath and warns not to equate more with better results as not only are the oils powerful, you will be receiving the benefits both through your skin and by inhaling the vapours.

Complementary therapies
Alternatively, if you feel like indulging in a trip to a spa or salon, there are numerous stress-reducing treatments available here in Dubai, ranging from basic massage to crystal healing.

Reflexology is one of the most popular therapies as not only is it a remedial form of massage, which can often pick up on problem areas elsewhere in your body, but is a highly relaxing experience. Whether you are run-down, depressed or simply tired, reflexology can help you to recover your
energy and promote a healthier outlook on life. It is a wonderful experience - you can feel the tension release in the targeted areas in your body as the corresponding point on the foot is massaged and kneaded.

Apart from the tremendous benefits of reflexology many people opt for the treatment instead of massage simply because it is a time effective form of relaxation, which may sound paradoxical, but is a major concern for many. According to Zoe: “You name it, reflexology does it - from balancing and stimulating your entire body, to promoting fertility and helping regulate blood pressure. Plus you don't have to walk around afterwards with oil all over your body. Someone can just come in for a treatment, feel relaxed and invigorated and go back to work.”

Reiki is another great way to feel instantaneously energised and relaxed. An ancient healing technique, Reiki harnesses life-force energy and is a perfect example of a holistic treatment. Like many complementary therapies, Reiki works on all aspects of the human being - spiritual, emotional, physical and mental - thus treating the individual as a whole and unlike allopathic medicine, does not compartmentalise specific illnesses or emotional problems. It harnesses what is referred to as the ‘intelligent energy' and the practitioner acts as a conduit, channelling energy to the client concentrating on the seven main energy vortexes or chakras.

Many people experience different sensations during a Reiki session. However, the predominant feeling is a comforting warmth, creating a relaxing experience. According to Reiki Master Lesley Court, many of her clients use the healing power of Reiki for basic relaxation and well-being to concurrent treatment for serious illnesses. Reiki is also often used to speed up the healing process and can be administered in small doses to localised injuries.

Lesley Court is also a crystal healer and advocates the use of crystals to promote general well-being. Crystal healing, like most erroneously dubbed ‘New Age' therapies, has been in use for thousands of years and “the healing properties of the stones are used to make beneficial changes,
affecting mind, body and spirit,” says Lesley.

Like Reiki, it focuses on different areas of the body. Specific crystals are placed on the corresponding areas - primarily blue crystals are used for the throat region, for example, with each type possessing a specific power. Turquoise is said to promote mental clarity and communication skills; rose quartz works on the heart and projects feelings of love and peace; and hematite is a blood cleansing crystal, which promotes focus and clarity as well.

Crystals can be placed around the home to promote a peaceful and productive atmosphere and Lesley recommends that you go with your instinct when choosing a crystal as you are invariably drawn towards the hue of a crystal whose powers will be beneficial to you. This was no more evident than when I met with Lesley and wore a turquoise necklace - clear evidence, according to Lesley, that my intuitive powers picked out a stone that would help me to conduct a clear and concise interview.

So, whether you opt for small changes to your routine and lifestyle, or decide to indulge in a dose of post-holiday complementary therapy, keep in mind that arriving back in the Emirates does not have to be a stressful experience. And, if you find yourself pining for the crystal waters of the Aegean, then hop in an essential oil bath and take time out from the rat-race...
Reflection Hair and Beauty Care, tel: 04-3944595

Lesley Court, tel: 04-3482254

Five quick ways to beat stress:

1 Keep a crystal (or crystals) near you or around your place of work. They help to energise and rid the work area of any negative energies emitted from lights, computers or electronic equipment.

2 Go for a long walk on the beach instead of hitting the gym every night. The negative ions will refresh, energise and be beneficial to your long-term health.

3 Exercise during your lunch break as you will release tension harboured during the morning and feel energised for the afternoon.

4 Keep a tissue with you throughout the day sprinkled with a few drops of essential oil: lavender to relax, bergamot to uplift.

5 An easy way to release tension and deplete stress is with products such as the cherry stone cushion. The cushions, stuffed with dried cherry stones, are heated in a microwave and then placed wherever your tension ies, providing a soothing effect. Available from Lifestyle stores, call 04 3380478.

A healthy Lifestyle (Previous Features)

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