Monday 15 December 2014

Are We Becoming a Chronically Ill Society?

The BBC last week that one of the most comprehensive health studies conducted recently found that over 50% of women regularly take 3 or more prescribed medications (43% of men). 5% of all prescriptions are for antidepressants, taken by 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men.

Cholesterol-lowering statins, pain relief and antidepressants were most commonly prescribed, and with an average of 18.7 prescriptions were issued per person, the total cost to the NHS was in excess of £15bn.

So there begs the question - are the nation's medics getting better at diagnosing illness?
Or rather - are we becoming a chronically ill society?

One wonders how much of this is down to people ignoring their body's warning signs and pushing themselves to the limit by working harder, faster and longer.

As a nation, our approach to our health tends to be reactive rather than proactive - we are more likely to seek medical help only when it is necessary, often by which time it is too late - we're possibly in need of medication and are already on the slippery slope to a lengthy period of recovery.

Taking responsibility for ourselves and adopting a proactive approach to healthcare means that looking after our own health and well being becomes a priority. Being more aware and listening to our bodies ensures that potential ailments can be nipped in the bud, or better still, we can choose to ease off sufficiently and allow ourselves time to recover and replenish before any signs of symptoms or illness arise.

But best of all would be to adopt a health maintenance regime in order to look after ourselves when we are in good health and to make sure we stay that way.  Whilst a healthy diet, regular exercise, taking regular breaks at work and having sufficient sleep will all help, these can be difficult to sustain at times. Far simpler would be to have monthly or seasonal acupuncture maintenance treatments - this will serve you very well and keep you on the right track health wise.

'If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, who am I?
If not now, when?'                    Hillel, 12th Century

One for the New Year's Resolutions list?

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Confused by the Weather? You're Not the Only One ...

My garden doesn't seem to know what season it is at the moment!

My Japanese Maple has been in its full autumn glory for a couple of weeks now, but its not-so-distant cousin gave up the ghost about a month back and is absolutely starkers! Big brother, on the other hand, has hardly shed a leaf and is as green and lush as it was in the Springtime. 

I have winter-flowering cyclamen happily nodding their heads alongside pelargoniums and fuchsias, still going strong after having flowered all summer long. There are even primroses in full bloom, with daffodils and grape hyacinths promising a splash of colour this side of Christmas.

Mother Nature is sending us mixed messages too. The lack of daylight is telling our bodies that it's time to hurry indoors, to close the curtains and snuggle down in preparation for the cold nights ahead. But we've barely had a frost as yet, and the midday sunshine is enticing us outdoors without a coat. 

If our bodies haven't worked out what season it is then it's no wonder that so many of my patients tell me that they are really struggling with seasonal change at the moment. Having been buoyed for so long by the glorious summer, it seems that the number of daylight hours has decreased far faster than the temperature has outside, and as a result many people's energies have plummeted.  

If any of this is resonating with you, then this is the ideal time for a Five Element Acupuncture seasonal treatment - to address any imbalance in energy, and to fortify you for whatever time ahead may bring.

Treatments for general well being offer an opportunity for reflection, replenishment and relaxation, and some well-deserved 'Me Time'.

I always recommend that patients adopt a proactive approach to their well being rather than a reactive one - if we only seek treatment for illness and pain then we've already left it too long. 

It is vitally important that we take responsibility for looking after ourselves and our health - because if we don't do it,  then nobody will do it for us. 

Monday 20 October 2014

Back to Basics - the Simpler, the Better

Whilst listening to Radio 2 the other day I heard a very interesting interview with Noel Fitzpatrick, Channel 4's 'Super Vet'. He was talking about his new TV series (of which I have yet to catch an episode) and my ears pricked up for several reasons - his obvious enthusiasm, love and devotion to his job; the lovely Irish lilt in his voice, which carried a real smile; but mostly because of something he said which really struck chord with me.

Noel was asked if he had ever come across a case which he didn't know how to treat, and it was this reply which will stay with me for a long, long time.

He said, 'People don't care what you know, they want to know that you care. That's the trouble with the medical profession these days - there's no point in having all this knowledge and qualifications if your bedside manner is zero. What's wrong with giving someone a hug in their time of need?'

He went on to say that because animals can't tell you what's wrong, vets have to really rely upon their senses to make a diagnosis - touch, sound, sight, smell, and their intuition. How very Five Element!

It just so happens that my late Father was a vet, and I was all set to follow in his footsteps until my body decided that it wasn't a great career choice for me (severe allergy to animals!). I used to spend as much time as I could with my Dad whilst he was working, despite the sneezes and wheezes. He was very much 'old school' in his approach and I remember him saying over and over how important it was to use the senses before anything else. He would despair at the new graduates came to work with him as they would run up enormous lab bills with blood tests, x-rays etc before even hinting at a diagnosis, and then they would proceed to prescribe very sophisticated (ie expensive) drugs. Dad always stuck to the generic forms - simpler, effective and much cheaper, and resorted to using the branded medications as a back up.

One other characteristic which my Dad definitely possessed, which I sensed this Vet also had, and which I aspire to possess - is courage. How courageous is any person who takes on cases when others have failed, given up on or who have shied away from, be it through fear (of failure) or lack of knowledge.

Our practice is a life long lesson which we undertake with honesty and humility. Often the most valuable lessons we learn are not through study or university, it is through life itself and our patients. It is up to us to be open and receptive to this knowledge, and never arrogant in assuming there is nothing more to learn.

Monday 13 October 2014

Searching for the lost Mojo

'All illness comes from within, so don't just scratch the surface.'

I came across this statement the other day and it got me thinking. Of all the patients who have presented with physical symptoms or chronic medical conditions, I can safely say that in every single person there was a significant emotional undercurrent present.

These heightened emotions arise from a wide range of situations, most commonly relationship difficulties, bereavement, stress (financial, and work-related) and detrimental life-style factors.

The ancient Chinese were the first to recognise the correlation between emotional health and physical health, which is why Five Element Acupuncture is concerned with regaining a better emotional and spiritual as well as physical balance.

Many of my patients found they were able to talk about their emotional issues during their first acupuncture appointment, and for some it was the first opportunity they had had for years to 'get things off their chest'. What the sessions offer is the opportunity and time for patients to say whatever is on their mind, in a safe place where they can be heard without fear of being judged or discriminated against. There is no prescriptive advice offered, merely encouragement to discover alternatives and explore options.

The result is usually a mixture of relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted; clarity, with a plan for a way forward; an increase in motivation, self-awareness and self-esteem - and exhaustion, always!

And why exhaustion? Think of all of your holiday stuff being packed into a bag and held out at arms length. It's not how big or how heavy the bag is that matters - it's how long you hold it for. You have to let it go eventually to give yourself a break. Same goes for your emotional baggage.

We all deserve to give ourselves a break sometimes.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Sunbathing in the Rain

I've just read 'Sunbathing in the Rain' by author and poet, Gwyneth Lewis. She describes it as a 'cheerful book about depression'. A bit of an oxymoron it ever I've heard one, but it's exactly what she says it is. It is the author's account of her experience of severe depression - and she writes it very well, with wit, humour and a huge amount of honesty and humility.

One passage near the beginning of the book is particularly poignant and contains some very wise words which have arisen from her close observation of the illness.

She says, 'If you can cope with the eternal nuclear winter of depression and come through it without committing suicide - the disease's most serious side effect - then, in my experience, depression can be a great friend. It says: the way you've been living is unbearable, it's not for you. And it teaches you slowly to live in a way that suits you infinitely better. If you don't listen, of course, it comes back and knocks you out even harder the next time, until you get the point.'

She has realised that her depression 'isn't a random chemical event but has an emotional logic' which kicks in when she's not listening to what she really knows, when she's being wilful and harming herself.

Depression can be caused on the one hand by a significant imbalance in the blood's chemistry, the result of some underlying pathology of  an organ responsible for the body's day to day function; it can also be down to a combination of genetic inheritance, emotional habit and stressful life events.

Stress is the precursor to depression if ignored over a period of time. So if you're constantly feeling stressed out, then this is your body telling you something. It's saying to you that the way you're living is not working for you and something needs to change. Stress is enormously sapping of energy, but change requires energy and a lot of effort in order to initiate and sustain it. 

Depression sets in when your energy supply has been exhausted - you no longer have the resources to sustain the lifestyle you have chosen, but unfortunately you don't have the energy to initiate change either. This is the point when your body will go into recovery mode - and you may become incapable of doing anything other than sleeping. Minor day to day chores can become overwhelming and even the energy required to get dressed can seem more than is needed to climb Mount Everest. 

The solution? Listen to your body. If it's telling you to rest, then do just that. Nourish yourself - physically and emotionally. Don't be afraid or too proud to ask for help. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness - it's a sign of maturity in that you have recognised that there's something you're struggling with - and you're willing to take responsibility and to do something about it.

And tap into your support network - family, friends, GP, therapist. Talk to someone - it's always good to talk, when the time is right and when you feel ready to do so. Sometimes you just need to hear yourself saying out loud all of those things that are going round in your head. Find someone who will listen to you without judging you or giving you advice - the answers to all of our problems come from within, we sometimes need a bit of time, space and guidance to find them.

'If you bring forth what is in you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.' 

Monday 21 July 2014

Do you Love Your Car More than Yourself?

I have come to realise that as a nation, and perhaps even as a species, there is a tendency towards a reactive rather than a proactive approach to health and well being.

Whilst most of us will seek treatment or advice when we're ill or in pain, on the whole we're not very good at looking after ourselves in order to prevent illness and to STAY WELL.

Certainly, most of us take our car in for regular service and MOT - whilst the latter is a legal requirement, the former is because it's such a pain if the car breaks down. Why then, don't we do the same for ourselves? After all, if a car is broken beyond repair it's easy to just buy another one. The same cannot be said about the human body.

Increasingly, we push ourselves to work harder, longer and faster until - guess what? The body says 'Enough!' - the result being the sudden onset of illness or pain, or a recurrent or chronic symptom. We duly trot along to the GP or therapist in search of that 'quick fix' that will help us get better and back onto that gruelling treadmill as soon as possible.

The trouble is, although we may feel better in the short term and we're able to pick up from where we left off, if we keep going at the same pace as before it's pretty certain that a recurrence will be on the cards sooner rather than later.

So how can we prevent this happening again?

The answer is to implement change. When illness, pain and symptoms occur, it is your body telling you that something in your lifestyle isn't working well for you. It is a warning sign - and you need to listen.

One change could be to ease up on yourself - don't work so hard, long or fast. Easier said than done though, in today's climate of financial and peer pressures.

If this is not an option for you, then TAKE TIME TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Ring-fence an hour a month minimum for 'Me Time' - and hour a week would be better - to replenish and nourish yourself. Do an hour of yoga; have a treatment or a massage; go for a quiet walk; have an uninterrupted soak in the bath; SWITCH OFF YOUR PHONE!!

And don't give your car more TLC than you give to yourself.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Cruelty or Kindness?

I've had this problem ever since I qualified as an Acupuncturist and started my practice. As it turns out, this problem is a recent manifestation of a pattern of behaviour that I've adopted for most of my life, and now that I'm aware of it, I have made it very much a work in progress.

The problem I've had is that of charging patients a fee for the late cancellation or failure to attend an appointment.

I've always prided myself in being flexible and have been eager to accommodate last minute rearrangement of plans. I've shown limitless patience and understanding towards people in general, particularly of late to patients who either change their appointments at the last minute or just plain fail to turn up ("I got my phone reminder five minutes ago but I'm in Braintree" - that type of last minute!). 

I've always smiled, shrugged and said "Oh never mind, just one of those things, happens to us all", in the hope that patients will re-book (which they mostly have done) and I've absorbed the inconvenience, the disruption to my work pattern and the cost of putting the heating on for two hours prior to the appointment.

When this degree of acceptance has been challenged in the past (by my clinical supervisor, my peers and my husband) I have justified my actions by saying things like "Such is life", "Can't be helped" etc, but mostly it was because I thought I was being kind.  In my mind, to make a charge for late cancellations or missed appointments would be a punishment for something that was unavoidable, and so would be cruel. There was also the resonance of knowing that actually I too was once that person who would change arrangements at the drop of a hat because someone or something else took priority.

And that's the crux of it.

I would allow other people and their arrangements to take priority over my own plans. But who was to say that their stuff was any more important than my own?It was purely my perception and I had chosen to put myself in second place - because I felt that other people were more important than me. And this is a mindset I'd adopted for most of my life.

That is, until I decided to change this mindset - and in so doing, also changed the habit of a life time.

I now put myself at the top of my list of priorities, especially when it comes to arranged appointments. And because I have greater respect for myself, I am able to consider my own arrangements important enough to take priority. This level of commitment also reflects the fact that I have, and show, an equal respect for the person with whom I have made the arrangement, and so I will keep to my word and will not let them down.

The minute I allow something else to take priority and fail to keep to a commitment, it immediately intimates to the other person that they are no longer as important to me at that moment as they were previously. It is one thing to have a lack of respect for yourself, but to disrespect others is lamentable. 

In conclusion, my perceived 'acts of kindness' were a total misconception. I was in fact denying myself respect - from others and well as from myself; I was enabling and actively encouraging disrespectful behaviour; and in relation to patients, I was denying them the opportunity to commit to looking after themselves and to gain their own self-respect. 

And how can we possibly expect others to respect us if we fail to respect ourselves?

I now regard my insistence on payment for late cancellation and failure to attend appointments as a true act of kindness. It would be a misconception to see it as a cruel, financial punishment.

Friday 2 May 2014

What is Normal?

Wednesday 23rd April 2014 marked the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. It also happened to be World Book Night 2014.

World Book Night happens on April 23rd each year and is an initiative started by The Reading Agency, a charity with a mission to encourage people to read books for pleasure.

Volunteers across the UK and Ireland sign up to receive a consignment of books which they give out to non-readers or to people who don't regularly read - FOR FREE.  Why? Because everything changes when we read.

For the third year running I volunteered to be a Book Giver. I stood in the greengrocer shop on Nacton Road and gave away 18 copies of 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' - or at least, that's what I tried to do.

Giving away free books is actually more difficult than you might think. People are naturally very wary of being approached in the street. I was in a shop, which I thought would be less threatening both for myself and the recipient but folk seemed to be really reluctant to accept a gift from a stranger - they wanted to know if there was a catch.

I tried to explain the concept of World Book Night (which incidentally, only one out of the eighteen had actually heard of it) but still people were fearful of there being religious, political or monetary overtones. Several people just wouldn't entertain the idea in any shape or form; one or two declined the book, saying they didn't have time to read, but most accepted the book, albeit reluctantly, before making a hasty exit from the shop (I did wait until after they'd made their purchases before speaking).

Only one person accepted the book enthusiastically - she asked what the story was about, listened intently to me talking about WBN and even asked how she could get involved herself for next year. And yet she was the least likely person that I expected to have such a response. She was dressed in black punk gear, had black and red hair, numerous piercings and tattoos. She said she worked in a youth center and thought people there might be interested. So I gave her two books.

This experience left me feeling bemused, mostly because people were prejudging me and seemed unable deal with a 'normal' person trying to give away something completely harmless, as an act of kindness. At least, I regard myself as normal, and I think I look fairly normal in an average kind of way - but then, what is normal? Certainly, giving away books on a Wednesday evening in the local greengrocer shop is not normal, but has it also come to pass that acts of kindness are also now considered not to be normal?

Perhaps if I had looked less normal and more like the punk girl, then my random act of giving would have been more acceptable - odd behaviour from an odd-looking person.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

I Love My Job!

I love my job!

How many people can say this, with hand on heart, and really mean it?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a job as 'A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one's trade, occupation, or profession'.

That definition seems far too shallow to me. Certainly, acupuncture treatments are indeed a regular activity, particularly in the initial stages until the patient regains a better physical and emotional balance; and of course this involves an exchange of payment. But there's far more to acupuncture than this.

When a patient comes for treatment, I have the privilege of being allowed into their life and I am invited to embark upon a journey with them - a journey of discovery, about themselves and their interactions with their nearest and dearest, and an exploration of options and the initiation of change.

Every encounter with a patient fills me with humility as I am left wondering 'Why me? Why have I been chosen to walk hand in hand with my patient,  into their unknown territory? Why are they seeking support and reassurance from me during this period of transition? Surely there are other practitioners out there who have more experience, greater knowledge and profound wisdom who would be their preferred choice?'

I have come to realise that when a patient's path crosses my own it is because we both have valuable life lessons to learn. We have been fortunate enough to have been put together at this particular time and place, and have been given the opportunity to learn these lessons from each other. 

There have been instances in my practice when a patient's predicament resonates very strongly with me and with a similar situation that I have been through in the past. In such instances, perhaps it is the benefit of hindsight and experience which are useful in helping to explore options. But I am also often challenged to reflect upon my own past events in order to reassess as to whether I could have done things differently, or more importantly, better - not always an easy or comfortable exercise, but nevertheless always best tackled face on rather than burying my head in the sand.

I have also treated patients presenting with extremely challenging conditions, some of which I may not have encountered before. I welcome these patients with open arms, an open mind and an open heart, for it is here that I am given the chance to learn the greatest lessons of all - to be open, honest and receptive to all things, to listen to my patient and to assess their needs, and to quieten my own self doubt so that I may do my best by my patient, with every good intention. If my best does not seem good enough, then I will have had the privilege of encountering a new experience and an invaluable opportunity from which to learn. 

What more could anyone ask for? This gives 'learning on the job' a whole new perspective.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Mums Need Looking After Too!

Calling all Mums out there! 

Mother's Day is the weekend after next and our little darlings are racking their brains to think of a suitable gift. Will it be chocolates, flowers, smellies or the latest Micky Bubble CD?

Whatever the gift, we'll be touched and really, really appreciative - won't we? Because it's the thought that counts. 

Hands up if you're that person who, when asked what they'd like for Mother's Day, says "I don't want anything, just a hug and a kiss will do me".

Hugs and kisses are wonderful gifts - so simple to give but so often overlooked. A tender touch and a warm embrace speak volumes - what's not to want?

But what do Mums really NEED?

Without a doubt, ALL Mums definitely NEED some time out for some quality ME TIME.

Mums spend so much time looking after children, partners and sometimes pets too, caring for their every need and giving their absolute all. It's all give, give, give but if we're not careful, before we know it we're all given out and there's nothing left. Our pot of giving is empty and needs replenishing. To carry on giving from an empty pot will leave us feeling empty, resentful, out of sorts and at risk of burn out.

For many Mums it is their very nature to put others before themselves, assuming the position at the bottom of the pile. These Mums do a brilliant job at caring for everyone else but are just rubbish at caring for themselves. They need to be reminded that it is OK to be on top of the pile once in a while - it's not being self-indulgent or selfish - it's called self-preservation.

One hour a month of quality 'ME TIME' would be the bare minimum. One hour a week would be amazing. Mother's Day would be a good day to start.

And remember - if we do not care for ourselves, we cannot care for others; if we cannot look after ourselves, we cannot look after others; if we do not respect ourselves, we cannot respect others.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Another One for all Mums-to-Be (especially if you're fed up and/or impatient)!

You've waited 40 weeks for this - and nothing's happening. You've driven up and down the bumpiest road in the neighbourhood, eaten a red hot curry and even tried sex (hopefully not after the curry - too much) - but still Baby refuses to make an appearance.

If you're looking for a more holistic approach to induction of labour and the birthing process, then Five Element Acupuncture is definitely an option worth looking into. It offers a safe, drug-free and relaxing alternative to the Western Medicine approach and can be undertaken once pregnancy has reached full term. It is especially useful if Mum is feeling anxious or fearful about the forthcoming labour.

Often only a single treatment is required, and then Mum is sent home with instructions of how to reinforce the treatment at home (but not with needles) with the help of her Birthing Partner. If required, two treatments can be carried out within 36 hours - this is particularly indicated if the deadline for conventional intervention is very close. 

Mum will also receive an information sheet of acupressure points which are really useful during the various stages of labour, including points which help to get and keep things going, through to points for relaxation and pain relief. This is a wonderful way of involving the Partner and helps the couple to bond during this very special time.

Once Baby has arrived, there are things that Mum and Partner can do to help the womb contract after birth and to help with pain relief and healing.

Five Element Acupuncture is also helpful in instances of breech or transverse presentation - see my blog

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Can a Leopard Change its Spots?

So here's the thing. I had the most exciting shopping spree of my life last week, I went out of my comfort zone and tried on lots of 'different' things and came away with a new look and four new outfits.

Easier than I thought and much more fun than I expected.

Then came the hard part. I've actually got to WEAR these clothes - and for a whole day at a time, not just for a couple of minutes flouncing around the changing room in front of the mirror.

I have to admit that I am that person who buys something new but leaves it in the shopping bag for weeks on end before even hanging it up, let alone wearing it.

So this time I did it differently. The outfits came out of the carrier immediately and I hung them on the outside of my wardrobe so that they could shout 'WEAR ME' every time I looked at them.

Day 1 went well - piece of cake - even sent Nicki at 'Dream On' a text to boast about my achievement.

Day 2 - slight waver. Almost reached for the good old, comfortable favourite, but resisted. But already I could feel the pull of familiarity trying to edge its way back in. I realised that Day 3 would fail unless I acquired a couple of additional items (leggings and flatties), so I took another trip out and snapped those up, easy as wink.

Which meant that Day 3 was a success - three new items all at once. And armed and ready for Day 4.

But all of this got me thinking. How ridiculous does this sound?  How difficult is it to buy new clothes and to wear them? Well, for most people it's not difficult at all, but it is for me.

The reality of this is - it's not the clothes that are the problem, it's change. Initiating change in our lives is hard. First we have to recognise the need for change, then we have to implement it. This may require us to seek help but we must be willing to not only ask for help, but also to receive the guidance that is offered (thank you, Nicki).

But it doesn't stop there. We need to work hard in order to keep the momentum going, to recognise our potential to revert to old, to anticipate this happening and to put things in place to ensure we stay on our new path. And the beauty of it is - the more we do it, the better we get at it. Yes, change is hard - it requires constant awareness and effort in the beginning, but soon it becomes second nature and is our new zone of comfort.

Day 5 and 6 a breeze. Day 7 was a slob out day so back to days of old, but Week 2 - here I come and I'm on to it!

Tuesday 18 February 2014

I Hate Shopping! (Or rather, I used to ...)

I have always hated shopping.

Living as I do with a family of termites, I regard the onerous task of food shopping along similar lines to painting the Severn Bridge. Whilst I couldn't physically squash any more food into my trolley or my cupboards, there never seemed to be anything to eat in our house. My big shop was not so much monthly as bi-weekly! I flirted once or twice with the internet variety with free delivery, but still lost the will to live.

My saving grace was making myself shop in a different store and being determined to buy totally different products. OK, so there was still nothing much to eat in our house, but it certainly was a lot more interesting than the same old, same old in Sainsbury's. And I sort of enjoyed the experience - rash words, coming from me!

My biggest stumbling block however has always been shopping for clothes. At 5'2'', size 6/8 and long body/short legs,  I could never find anything to fit. I often resorted to browsing the children's departments - cheaper by far, but at 51 years of age, didn't think Tinkerbell fairies and butterflies was a good look for me. Teen clothes were a slightly better bet, but didn't want to risk the mutton/lamb dilemma and Grown Up's shops seem to assume that everybody my height is also fat.

I've never needed an excuse to give up on shopping - that feeling comes naturally and very quickly, usually overwhelming me after the first 5 minutes. That is - until today!

So what was different about today? I went to this fabulous shop - Dream On - I allowed myself plenty of time, opened my mind to new ideas and allowed someone to help me. Nicki fetched and carried for me, found me loads of things to try on (and in my size, AND most of them fitted). She could instantly pick up on how certain outfits made me feel, and didn't ever try to pressure me or push her own opinion onto me.

With Nicki's help, I brought about change and it feels GREAT!! Sometimes we all need a Nicki - but we also need to open our minds, move out of our comfort zone, give ourselves time and accept help.

Monday 3 February 2014

Who's for the Chop?

Demand for cosmetic surgery rose by 17% last year, the biggest increase since the onset of the recession in 2008, leading to such comments as 'The UK public as well as the economy are getting back into shape'. 

Apparently requests for liposuction increased by a massive 41%, with breast implants, face lifts and Botox becoming increasingly popular.

But I find all of this quite frankly, rather worrying. I feel that it's a sad state of affairs that some people put so much importance on their looks. The surgical option is a form of denial - people are refusing to accept the course of nature and are trying to become something that they're not.  

I also see this as a form of insecurity, poor self-image and low self-esteem. Some are convinced that their small breasts/baggy eyes/wrinkles/wonky nose make them completely unattractive to others. How wrong can they be? After all, real beauty is on the inside and not just skin deep.

And how shallow is the person who says, 'I don't fancy my partner any more because they're going bald/they've got middle-aged spread/they've got a saggy bottom and breasts'? What about the person on the inside? Quite likely they're not the same as the 'younger model' - rather, they have probably become more rounded and mature, like a fine wine. Perhaps it's time for that person with shallow sentiments to follow suit and to work on seeing the bigger picture. 

So before you bare all and put yourself under the knife, consider the alternatives. Far cheaper, safer and much more fulfilling is to work on your INNER beauty - and this you can only do yourself, when the time is right and when you are ready to do so. And because it comes from you, and only you, it brings with it an immense sense of achievement and a change in attitude - and many rewards which will last a life time. 

Five Element Acupuncture can help you find your way back to you, to rediscover your inner beauty so that you can glow once more. - ring for a no obligation, informal chat in strictest confidence.

And unlike surgery, it's relatively pain free!

Monday 20 January 2014

Life is an Attitude - If you Don't Like your Life, Change your Attitude

For some, the January Blues are really here - good and proper.

It's the time of the natural down turn after all the hype and frenetic lead up to Christmas; the weather's cold,wet and dull and the next payday seems YEARS away.

This is the time of year when those who are prone to depression can experience their lowest of lows, and even some naturally cheerful souls struggle to keep their chins up.

It is human nature to have the tendency to point fingers and to heap the blame for how we're feeling onto something or someone else. How often have you heard yourself saying 'Life would be so much easier if only I just had more ...(money/time/etc)' or 'I'd be so much happier if my ..(job/partner/car/etc) wasn't so rubbish' and so on.

None of those things are MAKING us feel the way we do - we're actually doing that all by ourselves. It is us, and us alone, who are solely responsible for the way we feel. We're the ones doing the feeling - nobody else is doing the feeling for us.

So - how to change?

Here's where the change in attitude comes in. Focus on the positives - the things you HAVE got and the things you HAVE achieved. OK, so things perhaps aren't perfect and there may be room for improvement - but equally things could be far worse.

Accept yourself for who you are - be a bit more forgiving of yourself and others. None of us is perfect and the sooner we realise that, then the easier life becomes.

Praise yourself for doing the best you can at any one time. Keep your expectations more realistic and aim for 51% achievement - that's enough to start with.

Subtle changes in the way you relate to others can bring about significant changes in the way others relate to you - sometimes you have to be the bigger person and make the first move (if you don't, then you may have to wait a lifetime for other people to make the changes in themselves that you're looking for!)

Five Element Acupuncture treatment can facilitate change and support you through a period of transition. If any of the above resonates with you and you would like to work on your own changes, then please don't hesitate to contact me -

Monday 6 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions: Good Idea/Bad Idea?

Well, here we are - we've made it through the silly season and into the New Year. We may have over-indulged slightly (understatement!) and are probably feeling unfit, unhealthy, fat and frumpy. And then, lo and behold, before we even realise what has happened, in a moment of emotion-fuelled, good intention and madness - there! It's been said - the dreaded NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION!

Soo - what has been your tipple this last year? Alcohol, smoking, drugs, energy drinks, junk food, cake, chocolate?

And which of these have you pledged to give up, as of the first of 2014? One week in - how's it going?

If it's all going good guns - then well done you! Way to go!

If you're starting to weaken, or have thrown in the towel already, then don't be too hard on yourself because chances are, you were probably not destined to succeed from the very outset. 

And here's why.

Consuming any of the above-mentioned tipples may have started out as being a bit of a treat, a spot of harmless indulgence. They can pick us up when we're feeling a bit down, or give us a bit of a boost when we're feeling flat. But before we know it, the harmless indulgence has become a habit - and we need more and more of the same in order to achieve anything like that original 'buzz'. Habits can be very difficult to break - and there is a fine line between a habit, an excess and an addiction - it's all down to quantity.  

If a tipple is proving difficult to give up then it may be because it is being used as a coping mechanism, serving to fill a void left empty by a very stressful, traumatic or unhappy time in life. Quitting will always fail unless we go some way to resolving the source of unhappiness or stress, and our body starts to regain a better balance. 

So we shouldn't beat ourselves up for not succeeding - we have to be in the right place emotionally for anything to stick. Five Element Acupuncture can be a very beneficial treatment regime to help reconcile emotional issues. For more information or to find out whether you might benefit from a course of treatments, then visit All enquiries in strictest confidence.