Hello lovelies and welcome to September’s blog instalment. As the seasons turn with promises of autumn swirling in the air, we start thinking towards darker, cosy evenings with time to reflect on the year so far and take opportunities to slow down the pace a little, a time to reconnect with ourselves, physically, spiritually and emotionally, and with our loved ones.
This precious time of gathering together, teamed with thoughts of thanks for Autumn’s harvest lingering all around, incited us into thinking about the importance of also giving thanks to our hardworking bodies and the importance of touch as a form of communication at its most basic level in realigning us with our own well being, improving our relationships with others, healing our bodies and opening our hearts to love, particularly directed inwards.
Let’s share some pearls of wisdom:
“The human touch is that little snippet of physical affection that brings comfort, support and kindness. It doesn’t take much from the one who gives it but can make a huge difference in the one who receives it.”
Read on to join us in giving thanks to and celebrating our body’s precious tools, through the mode of touch, how we can foster and master the art of loving ourselves and tips on how we can respect and care for our hardworking hands and feet.
Touch and Tread a Grateful Path: our hands and feet as powerful, precious tools
At this time of giving thanks for nature’s abundance and to our very own hardworking bodies, let’s reflect on how our hands and feet are our very own powerful, precious tools that have seen us through this, and many, summer seasons and beyond. They have been working hard tending to our gardens, growing and cultivating our own sustenance perhaps, cooking, cleaning, helping others, planting to help the bees and the nature around us – instrumental in giving us direction, comfort and life.
Our hands and feet do so much for us in our day to day lives – they help us express our feelings, enable us to grasp opportunities, to explore the world and discover nature’s bounty all around us. Both the human hand and foot represent a triumph of complex structure, exquisitely evolved to perform such a wide range of tasks for us.
The hand is one of the most beautiful pieces of natural engineering in the human body, giving us a powerful grip but also allowing us to manipulate small objects with precision. This is the versatility that sets us apart from every creature on the planet and allows us to do so much. Just consider the impressive strength of a climbers’ hands thorough to the finesse needed from the hand’s intrinsic muscles for a concert pianist to perform. Each single one of our fingers is powerful enough to support our entire body weight! (The incredible human hand and foot - BBC News).
And then there’s the skin on our hands and fingers which is designed to be so specialist, packed with nerve ending receptors that allow us to experience smooth or rough textures, distinguish between wet and dry and hot and cold. Even our fingernails are vital - without them we would be unable to judge how firmly to hold anything.
And what about our amazing feet? They are strong enough to deal with some of the greatest forces experienced by the body, to absorb everyday shock and spread the load of our body weight. They are there supporting us throughout our working lives, with us as we roam the countryside, dig our garden beds and providing us with balance to partake in our hobbies. In fact, did you know the average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps each day, which adds up to approximately 115,000 miles in a lifetime - that’s the equivalent to circling the globe more than four times! No wonder they need some TLC at times!
Healing Hands: channel wellbeing through the Power of Touch
A human touch is explosive. Touch by another human being is a relaxing, caring, anxiety reducing action for most people. It’s so warm, healing and powerful that it has the ability to melt everything away.
Too often we have tended to underestimate the power of touch for our health but I think during the pandemic social distancing really reminded us of its crucial role for our overall health. Did anyone try a 'cuddle curtain' during the pandemic? It just wasn’t the same was it – hugging without actually touching skin to skin? Touch is often the sense we most take for granted but is greatly missed when it’s gone – in fact psychologists have a term for the feelings of deprivation and abandonment we experience: “skin hunger”.
Bodily contact is the first endorphin-releasing language we learn as babies - it offers the knowledge of the solidity of things other than ourselves. As a newborn touch is our first sensation used to calm and reassure both Mother and baby. The earliest forms of medicine drew on this human need to touch and be touched with the practice of healing massage emerging in India, China and Southeast Asia by the third millennium BCE before spreading west. In the gospels Jesus cures the sick through the practice of “Laying On” with hands.
In recent years more scientific weight has been given to the validity of the practice of healing through touch and it is now recognised as an effective complimentary treatment for many ills. The caring professions have lately revived the exercise of healing by touch. The tender touch of others has now been scientifically proven to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease stress and ‘trigger the release of the same kind of opiates as painkilling drugs' (The power of touch: is this the sense we’ve missed most? | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian).
Did you know that massages reduce pain all over the body and that people with dementia who are hugged and stroked are less prone to irritability and depression? (The Essential Power of Touch)
But why are these modes of self-care through touch so powerful and why should we make time for them?
Massage, self touch, reiki and reflexology are not solely about ‘taking time out’ because 'it’s nice' or about kneading knots out of muscles or physical manipulation, but rather the latest science has centered on how through these practices we, or our therapist, are stimulating our nerve endings that then send messages to our brain. This can be done through the gentlest touch or by a firmer touch depending on a person’s individual needs to stimulate their unique nerve receptors. The stimulation of these nerve endings send messages to our brain to relax, leaving the path to our muscles and organs unblocked from tensions and stresses to allow for healing.
Our hands have the powerful ability to give and receive these healing touches through practices such as massage, reiki – read more about this practice for well being HERE - and reflexology.
As it is reflexology week, we thought we would have a look at how our hands and feet can be a doorway to improved health and wellbeing through the receiving of reflexology treatments.
The beautiful healing art of Reflexology – What is it and what health benefits does it bring?
“Reflexology works to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, releases built up tension in your body and helps the body to detoxify, so that it can be restored to its natural state of calm and equilibrium”
Reflexology is a non-abstruse, natural therapy that can help alleviate a wide variety of health and wellbeing challenges and involves the application of pressure to specific reflex points on the foot that correspond to organs and areas of the body to induce a healing response. It can also be performed on the hands, ears and face.
Reflexology works on the premise that by pressing one point you affect another point in the body and it’s not just for the body, but also for relaxing the mind and emotions through the nerve ending stimulation we addressed earlier.
Reflexology sessions offer you ‘time out’ so you can repair internally and destress - allowing your physical body to get back into balance. Reflexologists stimulate and clear congestions along the six main ‘Meridians’ found in the feet and toes, allowing energy to flow freely and return the body to a state of balance. The Meridians penetrate the main organs - the liver, spleen/pancreas, stomach, gall bladder, bladder and kidneys – this ancient Meridian system discovered by the Chinese has gone from strength to strength in recent times to become a well-developed, researched and recognised science today.
The electric energy that runs through these meridians is known as ‘chi’. A poor diet, lack of exercise, poor posture and high levels of stress all deplete chi, causing imbalances that may ultimately result in disease (About Meridians and Five Elements | The International Academy of Reflexology & Meridian Therapy (reflexologycourse.co.za) For more info on how imbalances within the body are identified through reflexology click HERE.
Isn’t it interesting that when trying to find natural health solutions sometimes ancient wisdom can be some of the most cutting edge? Most recognised of all perhaps is that it has been well established that the risk measure of heart disease has been greatly reduced with the help of reflexology and that reflexology treatment is offered to cancer patients to successfully ease their pain and distress - for more information on this have a read HERE.
Other Health Benefits of Reflexology
- boosts immune system
- reduces stress
- reduces pain
- improves general well being
- fights cancer
- clears colds and bacterial infections
- clears up sinus issues
- helps back problems
- corrects hormonal imbalances – particular helpful to relive symptoms or perimenopause, menopause and post menopause
- improves digestion
- eases arthritis pain
- treats nerve problems
In fact, you can even treat yourself to the benefits of reflexology from the comfort of your own home. Practise self foot massage regularly, keep your feet and hands well exfoliated, moisturised and pliable and touch them often.
Many find that connecting your hands and feet creates a magical feedback loop that activates your soul’s growth and divine life path, leading to a feeling of serenity.
Try this massage routine which can be used on both your hands and feet:
- pick an oil, cream or balm to apply to help glide with a scent that helps make you feel happy and relaxed
- rotate your wrist/ankle to the right and then to the left a few times to encourage mobility and release stiffness
- gently squeeze your hand or foot to aid circulation
- use a technique called ‘thumb walking’ to stimulate your reflex points: apply pressure to a point, make circular motions and then shuffle forward lightly. Have a look at the diagram below to see what points to stimulate and apply as much or as little pressure as feel comfortable to you.
If you are intrigued and would like further advice on how to practise DIY reflexology please have a look at the following useful articles:
Our Top Tips for ‘Hap-Bee’ Hands and Feet
When we think about it, how amazing are our hands and feet that do so much for us – feeling truly thankful here. So, how can we help them do their best for us?
Read on for our top tips for dealing with hand and foot frustrations and how to keep on caring for and respecting our most precious tools:
My hands feel so rough and dry from washing, gardening and day to day duties? What can help?
Try using a natural soap to moisturise without stripping your natural oils. For one that contains no harsh chemicals - and what's more no plastic to impact on our environment - have a look at a sustainably made and packaged soap such as our natural raw honey and beeswax soap in a range of plant-based scents to suit all moods and skins HERE.
Make sure you place a jar of hand cream next to every washing station so that you can't forget to use it after every single handwash. This will seal in the moisture from washing your hands and keep your hands in tip top condition throughout the day.
Of an evening or overnight, opt for a smoothing and nourishing beeswax balm – sure to protect, moisturise and bring relief to the driest of hands! The balm acts as a barrier to seal in moisture and repair damaged skin. The longer you leave it on the skin the more benefit you will get which is why using it overnight works so well. Also great when rubbed over dry heels, and, don’t worry if you have a loving (licking!) pet – these are all natural, cruelty free and safe for our four legged friends!
How can I get rid of dry cracked flaky skin on my feet and hands?
It’s important to naturally exfoliate these areas to slough off dead skin and promote cell rejuvenation – try using a scrub with naturally moisturising ingredients such as sugar or salt. Have a look at our oil based pink Himalayan salt scrub which works effectively to gently break down dead skin with the added extra of antibacterial, antifungal lemon and rosemary essential oils for a zingy fresh smell to soft heels and hands.
How can I moisturise very dry cracked heels and flaky, scaly skin on my hands?
Our Garden Bee balm with raw honey, bee propolis, and pure beeswax works great on thick, scaly, cracked skin patches. Rub into cracked sore heels, backs of hands and dry cracked toes. Again, this works as a barrier, so you get maximum performance as an overnight treatment. Use religiously for a week and your cracks will disappear before your eyes.
A fab tip is to pop on cotton/bamboo gloves and socks while you sleep and you’ll be sure to wake up with super soft and smooth hands and feet.
For the toughest of dry skin, then I can't recommend enough to carry out a pre soak of your hands and/or feet in the bath or in a simple bowl of warm water. Simply cut one of our creamy, all natural sumptuous bath melts in half and melt it in a bowl/bath of hot water. Once the water is at a comfortable temperature, pop your feet in and let them soak for 20 minutes – your feet/hands will be left supremely moisturised - highly recommended for the driest of skins. It will also leave your dry skin much softer and far easier to exfoliate with either a natural scrub or a manual exfoliation tool such as a foot file, pumice stone or electric exfoliator.
My nails are flaky, and my cuticles are sore and splitting - what can help?
Channel shiny, clean fresh nails and soothed moisturised cuticles whilst alleviating any peeling and splitting by rubbing in a few drops of our all natural Worker Bee Cuticle Oil. The perfect solution to get your nails and cuticles in tip top condition before the cold weather and before we fire up the heating (albeit very cautiously in these times!). No fussy applicator or dropper here – our Cuticle oil comes in an easy-to-use roller ball applicator bottle – perfect for using anywhere, anytime.
I always notice my hands feel rough when I’m out and about – is there a solution I can pop in my bag to soothe dry hands on the go?
Have a look at our eco friendly bee balms – in 4 different aromatherapy scents – great to pop in your handbag or in the car for instant dry skin relief on the go, whilst benefiting from the natural therapeutic aromas they are great to rub on pulse points to destress and relax when you are out and about and need a helping hand. I have also recently been using them on my dry legs after shaving and I find that this provides a much longer lasting moisturisation which continues to the next day!
We hope you enjoyed reading about the amazing spiritual, practical and emotional importance that our hands and feet hold and their key to our well being. We would love to hear from you if you have tried reflexology treatments yourself and how you have found them? Or, if you have any tips of your own for practicing self-care through touch, please share with us!
Also, if any of you ‘bee-utiful’ followers are local we would highly recommend visiting the lovely Dany Mitchell- Lowe for all your reflexology needs, here are her details:
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like any advice for hand and foot care or for any skincare issues at all - we would be delighted to help :) When it comes to advice on hands and feet you are in safe hands here (pardon the pun!) - Cath is very knowledgeable and qualified in complementary therapies and Bec has many years of experience in helping ladies in the footcare and footwear industry. So, if you think we can help you in any way – just hit reply!
Cath & Bec