Saturday 17 August 2019

11 ways to achieve a happier body and mind

Our lives are busier than ever, but Gloucestershire is home to hundreds of ways to relax, unwind and improve your mental and physical health. Check out our favourite selection in this hot list.

There’s always something on the to-do list. Whether you’re juggling a family and work, holding down a stressful job, or planning the wedding of the century, it can be difficult to find time for you.

Wellbeing is now recognised by the government in its 2019 health policies, being attributed to the extension of life expectancy, improving recovery from illness, and even influencing the positivity and mental health of those around us.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to take time out from our busy schedules to turn off the notifications, and take an hour to unwind, work out or meditate – taking time to concentrate on you!

About the sponsor


The Isbourne is a hub of wellbeing and spiritual development in the heart of Cheltenham town centre. Alongside its educational arm, which offers endorsed and accredited courses to professional practitioners and members of the public, The Isbourne also hosts an impressive range of courses and classes, with weekly classes in yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates, to name a few.

In addition to its on-site offering, The Isbourne partners with local businesses to provide Workplace Wellbeing – aiming to boost morale, increase productivity and decrease sick days as an investment in staff.

For more information see isbourne.org.


1. Mindfulness and Meditation


Concentrating on the present and living in the moment is what mindfulness is all about. Coming from Buddhist practices, mindfulness is developed through the practice of meditation, and can help people to stop dwelling on the past or future, and become more aware of what’s going on in their lives at any given moment.

It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve wellbeing and help to form better relationships.

Courses in both meditation and mindfulness are available at The Isbourne from a number of different practitioners, but there’s also some brilliant apps available for those who want to practice meditation in the comfort of their own home.

Check out what we thought to the experience in our review of Mindfulness and Meditation with Kathryn Buxton.


2. Dance


It’s not just that glass of Prosecco that makes you love dancing with your friends! It’s actually proven that dancing with others helps us to create social relationships, improves our mood, burns calories and gives our whole body and mind a workout.

That’s why dance-based workouts can be a brilliant way to help improve both your mental and physical health. The Isbourne in Cheltenham runs classes in Egyptian Belly Dance and Fitlines – both dance-based classes. But across the county there are hundreds of local groups in Zumba, Aeorbics, Ballet and Clubbercise.


3. Tai chi


A combination of deep breathing and relaxation through flowing movements, tai chi was originally developed as a Chinese martial art back in the 13th century.

It can help to reduce stress and mobility, increase the strength in your leg muscles, and is particularly helpful for people over the age of 65.

Qigong is another form of Tai Chi that’s available at The Isbourne, but there are also dedicated Tai Chi groups available in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, if that fits better with your lifestyle.


4. Reiki


This Japanese spiritual healing treatment was developed in the early 20th century, and involves a healer placing their hands on or near your body. Some people feel heat, tingling or can even see colours.

The results are reported to be deeply relaxing and promote a sense of peace and positivity.

Around 10 practitioners at The Isbourne offer Reiki treatments, along with a range of healing classes, and training courses in how to become a healer yourself.

Check out what we thought to the experience of Reiki in our review of Reiki with Bridget Hooper.


5. Running and Exercise


If you’re completely new to running, it can be really difficult to run for long periods or distances, so the trick is to gradually increase your distances through interval style training.

One way to get started is by using the One You Couch to 5k app, it’s free and builds you up to running 5k over nine weeks. There are also a number of park runs across Gloucestershire, where you can get involved in weekly 5k and 2k races.

According to the NHS, regular running can reduce your risk of chronic illness, can boost your mood and help to lose or maintain weight. If running isn’t for you, there are other exercise options such as regular walking and swimming which are much lower impact on joints, but will still help you to keep active and fit.


6. Massage


Aside from being a luxurious treat every now and again, massage can have huge health benefits, especially when it comes to mental health and self-care.

Used to relieve pain and reduce stress, the experience can be relaxing and therapeutic, and is readily available at spas and holistic centres across Gloucestershire.

The Isbourne is home to a number of practitioners who practice many different forms of massage from Shiatsu and Chinese, through to Swedish and sports massage. There are even courses in massage if it’s something you’d like to practice on friends and family.


7. Counselling and Psychotherapy


Focussing more on looking after the mind, counselling is a form of talking therapy, offered by trained therapists to treat issues including anxiety or deal with bereavement or relationship problems.

Those needing help with mood disorders including depression, PTSD or bipolar could also benefit from psychotherapy, which can sometimes take place in a group.

Often, these treatments might be recommended through referral from a GP, but are also available privately through centres such as The Isbourne, or through independent counselling practices.


8. Reflexology


Reflexology is a non-invasive, one-on-one treatment performed by a holistic therapist. Concentrating on the feet, hands and sometimes head, a therapist will massage different reflex points which are linked to every part of the body.

The experience is deeply relaxing and also has the benefit of being regulated by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.

Check out what we thought to the experience in our review of Reflexology with Cathy Bebbington.


9. Yoga or Pilates


Helping to improve circulation, muscle tone, promote flexibility and offering the opportunity to meditate through flowing movements, Yoga can be beneficial for the wellbeing of both the mind and body.

There are a huge number of options for Yoga and Pilates in Gloucestershire, with classes in different specialisms available at The Isbourne, Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga, and gyms such as Leisure at Cheltenham or GL1.

Meanwhile, Pilates is a low impact exercise that pays attention to the tummy, chest and back. It can be conducted on a mat or using reformer apparatus, where pulleys and weights can provide more support or intensity, depending on your experience.


10. Aromatherapy


Essential oils made up of the intense fragrance from different plants are used to help improve emotional wellbeing.

They can be blended with carrier oils to be used in combination with other complimentary therapies such as reflexology or massage, or sprayed or diffused through special burners.

They can help to promote sleep or even to enhance memory, with specialist practitioners available through The Isbourne in Cheltenham.


11. Healthy Eating


As the title suggests, eating healthily can be a productive change if you’re looking to lose weight, or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

A healthy diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, help to promote better sleep, improve your skin, help you to lose weight, and can assist in improving or managing mood.

In Gloucestershire you can seek support privately from independent nutritionists and personal trainers, or through your GP and the Gloucestershire’s Healthy Lifestyles team, which aims to promote taking care of yourself through improved diet, quitting smoking and getting active.


By Melissa Hamblett

© SoGlos
Thursday 21 March 2019

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