Let’s talk about stress!

Let’s talk about stress!

Let’s talk about stress

Whilst it’s generally thought that having some stress in life is a good thing (otherwise nothing would get done!) What happens when we have too much stress? When we have too much stress it is a bit like driving constantly on full throttle. Whilst it’s great to be able to put your foot down to the floor of your car when you need to escape from something, driving along like that all the time is going to cause problems. It is the same for being constantly stressed.

Our bodies are amazing in that they release a hormone called cortisol whenever we have cause to activate our fight/flight/freeze reflex. So when faced with danger our bodies can quickly shut down any unnecessary processes (like digestion, reproduction, and to some extent deep thought!) and receive a big whoosh of energy to provide our muscles with the right amount of glucose to be able to run as fast as we can!

Normally this level of stress only lasts for a few minutes or an hour before the danger passes, or we find a solution or we have run away far enough for the issue to no longer be causing us a huge amount of hassle.  But when we are constantly in a state of stress, this doesn’t happen.

What happens when we’re constantly stressed?

We find that we may have a constantly raised heart rate, our blood pressure stays up, digestion is compromised, we find it hard to switch off and sleep, we get headaches, low mood, we feel tense, our heads start to ache, we get muscle pain and have trouble thinking straight. This means we might end up feeling tired, unable to cope, irritable and exhausted. We may make poor choices or reach for quick snacks rather than eating proper meals. Then everything begins to spiral.

image of woman who is stressed.

Having any of the above issues is enough to put your body out of kilter. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome for instance you may feel anxious about where the nearest loo is, or find it hard to eat out in case you come across one of your trigger foods. Or you might be worried about the pain you might be in.

If you struggle to sleep you might find it hard to concentrate and then get behind at work. Or you might find that you lack energy to prepare healthy meals for your family or you might feel irritable over the least little thing.

Life becomes hard. Daily activities can seem too difficult to do.  Everything annoys you. Everyone annoys you. You start to feel overwhelmed. 

So what happens when you do get your stress levels under control?

You find that you’re more able to cope, your brain is clearer and more able to make good choices and focus on the task in hand. You find that you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead. Your blood pressure returns to normal and your heart rate slows to a normal pace. Any tension you may have been carrying in your back, neck and shoulders starts to melt away.

You find that the tension you’ve been feeling in your jaw starts to ease a little which helps you have fewer headaches. Life slowly starts to feel normal again.  You start to feel lighter and brighter and more able to tackle difficult things.

How do I stop feeling stressed?

One easy way to ease stress is to have a series of either Reflexology, Massages, or Reiki Treatments. These all help restore your body to a state of calm and help put a space between you and whatever is stressing you out.

Having treatments is a bit like having a mini holiday, it can allow you to be able to see things more clearly once you’ve put a little distance between you and them.

Plus when you come for a treatment you normally get to not only unwind and switch off for an hour or so but also we have a chat and a giggle and that too can be good for the soul and stress levels alike. They also feel amazing.  

10 Simple ways to help you feel better about yourself

10 Simple ways to help you feel better about yourself

10 Simple ways to help you feel better about yourself.


1 Accept yourself warts and all.

Many of us feel that we have to be perfect, to give perfection and to be 100% happy, sweet and nice all the time. It’s simply not true. We all have our faults, our limitations, our sheer humanity and instead of seeing ourself as broken, flawed or imperfect we could simply embrace our ‘warts’ and hug them to ourselves. Just as the golden bits of a kintsugi pot stick the broken bits of a pot back together to make the whole thing more valuable, our humanity, our ‘broken-ness’ is what makes us interesting.

Imagine being with someone who was 100% perfect? I imagine that I’d be bored within 20 minutes. I love hearing the quirks and foibles of people. I’m always curious to know what keeps people awake at night, what makes them happy, what their biggest fear and greatest achievement is.

self love

2. Know that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved, loving and loveable

For many years I believed myself to be unloveable because I wasn’t perfect. It never occurred to me until relatively recently that the things that make me imperfect are pretty much the same things that make me loveable. Know that it is safe to be you, and that people will love you anyway. Dare to be you. Perfectly, imperfect, loveable you.

3. Acknowledge that you’re doing your best with the information, resources and knowledge that you have available to you.

You are doing your best, and that’s all that matters. We often worry that we could have done better or if only we’d known then what we know now we would have done things differently. It’s important to realise that we’re always doing our best, and when we have more skills, more knowledge and more experience we will do better! 

comparison is the thief of all joy

4. Comparison is the thief of all joy.

Never compare yourself to the illusion that anyone else is projecting. We will never really know what is going on in another persons life, and to compare ourselves negatively to the image that another person is projecting is only ever going to end in tears. Your next door neighbour may look like they have it all (in comparison to you) but you don’t know if secretly they fancy having a quieter life (Like you!) or whether they think you’re doing way better than them.

When my children were at primary school their headteacher raised a really good point. Each of us are given a tree to climb but the trees aren’t equal trees. Some trees have easier branches to climb so they will allow people to climb higher in their tree, but your tree might have an easier bit towards the top. I thought that was a nice way to think of it. I’ve now realised that putting my energy into what I’m doing is way more productive than fantasizing about how well everyone else is doing in comparison to me!

5. Speak kindly to yourself

What we say to others and what we say to ourselves can be two very different things. If you are kind to other people when they make a mistake and mean to yourself over the least little thing then please stop! I once heard someone say that ‘if you wouldn’t say that mean thing you’ve said to a child, don’t say it to yourself’ and that was incredibly powerful. 

We are delicate beings and need to be treated with kindness. So next time you’re about to tell yourself off for some minor misdemeanour, stop! Tell yourself that you’ve tried your best and that you’ve now learned from your mistake and move on. Vow never to say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a child! 

6. You are stronger than you think.

Even if you don’t feel it at times, you are strong. We all are. We all have our inner tiger ready to roar when necessary. It’s ok to allow that kitten to roar when needs must. You can still be a fabulous person and be assertive too.

If you find something seems a bit scary, maybe take the pressure off yourself and allow yourself to be playful and simply ‘see what happens if…’ Without the pressure of having to be successful, or having to pass that test, or get everything right first time you will gain confidence to experiment. 

7. It’s ok to experience a range of emotions

You don’t have to be happy 100% of the time. Everyone experiences a range of emotions, including joy, sadness, fear, elation, anger, pain. And that’s ok. It can be hard when we feel we always have to be in a positive mindset. We really don’t. Whilst it is helpful to have a positive mindset some of the time, it is also perfectly normal to have times when you’re sad, angry or just plain bored. I always used to believe that I had to be happy all the time, that I wasn’t allowed to have a down moment or to feel angry or upset. That’s simply not the case! 

8. People Make Mistakes

You can’t get everything right all of the time, so don’t beat yourself up too much when you make a silly mistake! Simply accept your humanity and be kind to yourself. I’ve wasted way too much of my life worrying about little mistakes that really didn’t matter in the long run. If necessary apologise and then move on with your life. Don’t let silly mistakes ruin the rest of your life!

9. It’s ok to do things that only make sense to you! 

You don’t need to follow anyone else’s path nor dance to anyone else’s tune. I know way too many people with a story which goes like ‘ My……………. forced me to do ……….but I wanted to do  ……..instead. I was unhappy. Now I’m doing…..and feel so much better.’  Follow your own path, dance your own tune. Don’t feel you have to get a glossy corporate job (unless you want a glossy corporate job!) If you would feel happier doing something creative, do that instead. Do whatever feels right for you. It doesn’t matter if other people don’t get it! Do it anyway! 

10. People aren’t watching you as much as you might think!

In the past I’ve been held back by this thought that people are actually interested in what I’m doing, to the point that I worry that they’d have an opinion on how well I’m doing things etc. I’ve finally realised that people have so much stuff going on in their own lives that they literally don’t care what I’m up to. So do whatever makes sense for you and don’t worry about what other people think! 

What is plantar fasciitis and what can help it?

What is plantar fasciitis and what can help it?

 What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is where the thick band of tissue running along the underside of the foot (the plantar fascia) becomes sore and inflamed. This causes pain around the heel area underneath the foot, although it can also hurt along the length of the foot. 

The pain can be more severe first thing in the morning or after exercise. It is particularly common in people who are constantly on their feet for work or who are training for a sports event. It can especially affect hospital workers and waiting staff in restaurants as well as ballet dancers and runners.

It can be painful to flex the toes upwards towards the body and is often more painful when you get up after a period of rest. People who are overweight or who wear shoes that don’t fit properly (especially very loosely fitting shoes) can also find themselves suffering from plantar fasciitis. 

What can help plantar fasciitis? 

Depending how sore the feet are, massage may help, but in some cases it will be too sore for massage to be tolerated effectively. Where massage can be tolerated, massaging the whole leg may be helpful as often there is a link to the gastronemius and soleus muscles in the leg being tight and shortened.

Reflexology may be helpful especially if combined with massage of the lower legs. It is likely that you would need a course of treatments to help your plantar fasciitis.

Taking a short walk around the office can be helpful to avoid you being sat down for long periods of time. If you enjoy exercise and running it can be helpful to build up slowly over a period of time. Is is vital to have well fitting running shoes that adequately support your feet.

Doing a variety of forms of exercise types can is essential so you don’t overwork your feet on a daily basis. If you enjoy doing exercise and need it to help your mental and physical health maybe swap things around and try doing a cardio workout or go swimming a couple of times a week.

Having only a very light sole between you and the road or other hard surface can make plantar fasciitis worse, so ensure your feet have adequate protection when running.

plantar fasciitis

Things you can do at home to help plantar fasciitis

Wear supportive footwear that grips your feet snugly but doesn’t rub or hurt. Loose fitting shoes can make plantar fasciitis worse as your feet feel like they’re having to clutch on to the sole of the shoe.  Having shoes that have soles with a bit of bounce to them can be helpful, hard soles that are unforgiving should be avoided at all costs, or a comfortable insole should be inserted to help the pain on the heels.

Varying the height of your heel can be helpful. Having a small heel that isn’t too high but also isn’t completely flat can help. Avoid being barefoot on hard surfaces for any length of time and avoid ballet style pumps without a heel. Sandals and flip flops should be avoided as they don’t generally provide the feet with sufficient support. 

plantar fasciitis


Massaging the sole of the feet using a tennis or golf ball can be useful or if that is too painful try putting a bottle of water in the freezer and then using that to massage the underside of the foot. It would be a good idea to pop a sock on either your foot or the bottle to avoid getting frostbite! 

Exercises to try to help with your plantar fasciitis Click Here (disclaimer do anything suggested on youtube at your own risk 🙂 )

Take painkillers such as paracetamol regularly. 

If the pain is severe, prolonged or not eased by regular painkillers make an appointment to see your GP. 

Over to you!

What helped your plantar fasciitis? Please let me know in the comments box below. 

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Relaxation: What is it and why is it so important?

Relaxation: What is it and why is it so important?

Relaxation: What is it and why is it so important? 

Relaxation is  a state of deep rest, where the body and mind are calm, free from stressors. Where the fight/flight/freeze response to is deactivated and no threats are immediately present. At state where no danger is detected, there is no need to panic. A state of all being well. Put simply, relaxation is the polar opposite of stress. 

What happens when people are stressed?

When people are stressed they find that their heart rates are faster, blood pressure is higher, their breathing fast and shallow. Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome can appear. Anxiety levels are elevated and concentration levels impaired.

Stress can have a negative effect on mood, blood sugar levels, menstrual cycles, symptoms of perimenopause and hormone levels. It can also result in frown lines and wrinkles and outbreaks of spots on the skin. It is thought that stress also has a negative impact on the immune system. Sleeping schedules are negatively affected with people experiencing insomnia, broken sleep or trouble getting to sleep. All these things make the body work super hard and can leave people feeling grumpy, exhausted and unable to cope.

Why is relaxation so important?

When people start to relax, they start to breathe more slowly and deeply, heart rate slows down to a normal level and digestive problems start to resolve. Being relaxed reduces the pressure on the body, putting it in an optimal state for it to heal and repair itself. This in turn lessens the effects of stress on the body. So being relaxed is very important to our health and wellbeing (and not a wanton act of self-indulgence as some trains of thought would have us believe!) Relaxation brings us back to ourselves and allows us space to think clearly. 

Relaxation: what is it and why is it so important

Do we have to go to relaxation classes in order for it to count?

Absolutely not! There are many ways of relaxing. A day pottering around at home can be very very relaxing, especially if you have nothing specific planned and can be spontaneous in what you do (or don’t!) do. Making a pot of tea, reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, listening to a podcast, or just snuggling under a blanket can be great, low energy ways of relaxing. 

Having an allotment or spending time in the garden can be deeply relaxing, as can playing a musical instrument that you’ve got stuffed in the back of a cupboard. Or doing some art or writing a poem. It doesn’t need to be good art or a particularly amazing poem. Or whatever you love doing. 

Being absorbed in a hobby for hours can help take your mind off whatever is causing you stress. It is always useful to have something you can do when life gets too stressful. I love writing so often turn to writing in some form when I need time out. Other people love going for a run, having a bath, taking a walk in a wood or paddling in the sea. 

Classes that can aid relaxation

Whilst you don’t have to attend a class to help you relax, there are lots of classes that can help you to relax. From mindfulness and yoga nidra to yin yoga, qigong, tai chi and sound baths, all of these will help you relax by helping you to calm your mind and slow down your breathing.

If you wanted something more energetic, something like aerobics or zumba are great fun and relaxing with and will allow you to take some time out for yourself, away from the stresses and strains of day to day life.

Other great ways of aiding relaxation

There are also apps like Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm that can help. Or have a look on YouTube for meditations.

Having a regular reflexology treatment, reiki session or massage can be hugely relaxing. Especially if you know that you’ve got it booked into the diary in advance each month. 


What do you do to relax? Please let me know in the comments below!


5 Reasons why I love Reflexology

5 Reasons why I love Reflexology

5 Reasons why I love Reflexology

1. It feels nurturing and safe.

If I had to pinpoint my absolute favourite reason why I love reflexology I’d have to say it’s because it makes me feel nurtured and safe.

Unlike massage, it doesn’t involve you having to strip down to your underwear within the first 10 mins of meeting your therapist, so you don’t have to get overly vulnerable. All you need to is take off your shoes and socks, get snuggled under a blanket (if you’d like) and switch off!

As an adult, there probably aren’t that many times when we get to be tucked up under a blanket by someone else and asked to do nothing but rest for an hour.

That restful space can be incredibly healing in itself. Reflexology allows us to put our feet up, take time away from whatever is worrying us and to deeply relax.

2. It allows me to take a guilt-free break from everything else

There are times in my life when I need to put down all the other things that I am carrying and have time and space held just for me. This helps me to feel my best for other people.

I hold space for a lot of people including clients, friends and family so it’s important that I look after myself so I am able to effectively serve them. I need to replenish myself and recharge my own batteries to keep my own energy channels free-flowing so I can be my best for those around me.

If I am calm, centred, nurtured and able to cope with whatever life throws at me, I am way better placed to help other people.


3. It is gentle but powerful and can be adjusted to suit you.

The third thing I love about Reflexology is that it has an all-over-body effect, despite only working on the feet (hands or face).

Reflexology works on the principle that on the feet, hands and face there are certain areas (reflexes) which when pressed in a specific way help bring the corresponding organ, limb or tissue back into balance. It may sound a bit counter-intuitive to say that pressing on the feet can make the whole body feel better, but it’s true! I’ve felt it myself. 

Reflexology usually doesn’t tickle and the pressure we use can be adjusted to suit you. If you like a deep or firmer pressure, we can do that (up to a point!) and also if you prefer a lighter pressure we can do that too.

Please let your reflexologist know what pressure you prefer and ask them to adjust it if necessary.

4. Reflexology is fascinating

The more I learn about reflexology the more I am fascinated by it. You can learn so much just from looking at the feet (or the face) From where hard skin has formed, to the colouration of the skin, even sock fluff sticking to your feet in certain places tell us things.

We can also feel areas that are out of balance, normally we find either crunchy reflexes (often in the shoulders, jaw and neck reflexes, in particular) or we find areas that are full of a buzzy energy or feel flat or lacking in energy.

Often the digestive reflexes feel fizzy when we work over them which is always very interesting. No matter how many feet I treat I always seem to find something interesting or new most treatments! 


5. Reflexology has many Benefits

Reflexology has many benefits including

  • Helping release tension,
  • Relaxation,
  • Improved mood,
  • Better sleep patterns 
  • Promoting wellbeing.

It also helps us release endorphins which is one of our bodies feel-good hormones, soothes and allows us to unwind our busy minds.

If we feel relaxed, are in a better mood, sleeping well and not feeling tense, life is way better (for everyone!)

So what’s not to love?! 


My blog post ‘What is reflexology’


 My Blog Posts Category ‘Reflexology’


To Book a Reflexology Session with me www.sarahcooper.co.uk/book 

Read Article by Association of Reflexologists https://www.aor.org.uk/what-is-reflexology/

Watch this video made by the Association of Reflexologists entitled what is reflexology

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What do YOU love about Reflexology?

Please leave me a comment in the box below

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What it is and what can help

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What it is and what can help

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the name given to a collection of symptoms that leave you feeling permanently exhausted. No matter how well you sleep or how much you rest, you still feel exhausted all the time.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is thought to affect approximately 260,000 people in the UK alone.

Like many syndromes chronic fatigue can flare up and get worse or you might find that it gets better or goes into remission for a while.

In extreme cases the patient may not be able complete simple every day tasks like getting out of bed or brushing their hair or teeth. When the flare passes, the person may be able to get through a day at work or meet up with friends.

What causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

There are various things that can trigger CFS including viral or bacterial infections, trauma and stress, imbalance of hormones, mental health challenges, problems with your immune system and genetics.

If you are chronically tired, think back to when you started feeling this way.

Have you always felt this way or has it got gradually worse over time? Did it come on suddenly?

Had you had an illness like Glandular Fever or a severe infection? Had something particularly stressful or traumatising happened around that time?  Does anyone else in your family also have it? 




What are the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The main symptom is feeling constantly exhausted

Other symptoms include

  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Sore throats
  • Brain Fog/ Inability to concentrate
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness and Nausea
  •  Sleep disorders
  • Low mood

Like all syndromes, people may get some symptoms but not others or they may get all of them.

What can be done about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Until recently, the main treatment for Chronic Fatigue was a combination of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and GET (Graded exercise therapy)

Recently these treatments have been recommended to be removed from the NICE guidelines for being not as effective as previously thought.

There are other things that can be done to help people living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

These include looking at the individual symptoms and treating those. Also managing your stress levels and tweaking or adjusting your lifestyle according to what you’re able to do each day.


Speak to your GP

Sometimes exhaustion is caused by a lack of a particular vitamin, mineral or hormone so it would be good to speak to your GP about having a blood test.

Vitamin B12, Iron, Vitamin D deficiencies and thyroid disorders can all cause or exacerbate symptoms of fatigue.

It would be good to rule these out. They’re all usually fairly easy to fix too.

If you find getting to sleep, staying asleep or you find you snore a lot or wake up in the night, speak to your GP about this. They may want to run tests for sleep apnoea.


If you feel nauseous

If you are feeling nauseous and have little or no energy for cooking, try eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as sandwiches using wholegrain bread and some protein.

Having snacks based on carbohydrates and protein can help you have more energy. Eating a small meal every 3-4 hours can be helpful.

If you find that you have more energy in a morning, try using a slow cooker as you can pop the ingredients in there first thing and then when it’s dinner time you can come down to a hot meal without much extra fuss.

You can use frozen diced onions, frozen sliced mushrooms and frozen peppers to add flavour to your dish without having to do any chopping.

Helping Brain Fog

There are various things that can help brain fog.

Having a set place to put things like your glasses, bag and car keys can be a huge help. It’s one less thing to think about! I take this one step further and always put my car in the same part of the same car park when in town so I don’t have to think about where I put it! Do whatever works for you! 

Writing things down can be helpful.

Having a notebook can be very useful for coping with brain fog to help you keep track of things you need to remember! Or use the ‘notes’ facility on your phone or tablet.

Essential oils such as either Basil or Rosemary oil are great for helping brain fog. Diffuse a couple 3-5 drops in a diffuser (but not if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure)

Orange Essential oil is great for lifting low mood.

Always consult a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils. Always keep essential oils out of the way of children and pets

Muscle / Joint Pain in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients

One of the best things for muscle or joint pain is massage as it not only helps relieve pain and reduce stress and tension.

Whilst having strenuous exercise is NOT generally recommended for people with CFS, having a little walk even around the house can be helpful. Without gentle exercise you can find your body starts to feel tense and stiff. Having a short walk also helps your circulation and lymphatic system work effectively. 

Aromatherapy Massage using essential oils such as marjoram essential oil may be useful for this too.

Eating a Mediterranean style diet with plenty of olive oil and oily fish may be useful too.

Managing Relationships when one of you has CFS 

It can be really tough when one (or both of you) are unable to get out of bed or lead an active life due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Communication is key. It can be hard understanding truly what it is like for the other person, especially when one day they may have some energy and the next they are bed bound. So if you feel something- tell your partner. Help them to understand your point of view.

Having chronic fatigue can play havoc with your self-esteem levels and your own feeling of self-worth. It can make you feel depressed knowing that you often can’t lead the full life you’d like to lead. Be as honest as you can about how you feel. Don’t be afraid to reach out for outside help too.

There are support groups and counselling available to help support you through this.

Over to you

Are you or your partner living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? What do you find helps? Please leave me a comment in the comments box below

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You may also like my blog post  5 Great ways to boost your energy naturally

or my article Why am I tired all the time?

NHS Article on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 


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