Why Are Animals Good for Your Health & Well-being?
What is it about being around animals that makes us feel so good?
I’m not just talking about the fresh air and exercise you get when you walk your dog, or that warm fuzzy feeling when your cat purrs in your ear; I’m talking about that happy feeling you get when you come across horse, sheep or cows grazing in fields, the glimpse of a hare running for cover, the site of a buzzard high in the sky, or simply watching the birds in your garden, cup of tea in hand.
Scientists believe that it’s mainly down to oxytocin, the hormone involved in bonding, empathy and trust which, along with dopamine and serotonin, is often called the ‘love’ or ‘happy’ hormone . It’s this hormone that is released by the brain when we interact with animals, lowering our blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, and enhancing our feeling of health and well-being.
So, if you’re looking to take a more holistic approach to your health and well-being this year then look no further than animals – create a garden that attracts wildlife, find a walk that takes you past some livestock, or grab yourself a cup of tea, put on the fire, and snuggle up with your cat…that’s if it will let you because mine won’t!
Sarah Rawlinson from Day Design is the talented artist behind the pictures in this post. She’s available for commissions and is at the Festive Makers Market on Saturday 5th and 12th December at the Unitarian Meeting House on Churchgate Street in Bury St Edmunds. You can contact her at [email protected]
Our Special Friends is a charity based in West Suffolk and Thetford and has enhancing human wellbeing through animal companionship at its core. They provide practical and emotional support during illness, bereavement or other crises, including a ‘visiting’ pet service. You can find more information about them at https://ourspecialfriends.org
In a past life, I was a Fundraising Manager for The Dogs Trust, so just a quick reminder that “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.”
Find out more information on how to create a garden to attract wildlife from the Woodland Trust at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/06/attract-wildlife-to-your-garden/
5 Reasons to Book Your Holistic Treatment Now
Let’s not beat around the bush - is it safe to go and see a therapist while we are in the grip of a pandemic? The simple answer is yes.
With the current lock-down ending as planned at 12.01am on Wednesday 2nd December I’m going to give you 5 reasons why you should book your holistic health treatment now, including why having a treatment has been made as safe as possible, the positive impact it can have on your health and well-being, and how some hands-on therapies come with social distancing as standard.
# 1 Your Safety is My Priority
Like every business, I have a strict Covid-19 policy in place to mitigate the risk of transmission, and for me, this includes:
- A separate entrance into my home treatment room
- Separate handwashing and toilet facilities for my clients
- Clean, fresh linen for each client
- Cleaning and ventilating my treatment room between each treatment
- Wearing appropriate PPE in the form of a type II face mask and a visor
- Leaving a 30-minute gap between each appointment
Find out more about the holistic treatments my colleagues and I offer at Neal’s Yard Remedies in Bury St Edmunds
# 2 The Importance of Touch
Touch has a huge impact on us from the day we are born to the day we die, and ongoing research continues to prove how integral it is to how we communicate, how we with bond with others, and to our health and well-being. As humans we need touch: touch is “…our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion” . And what is the one thing that many of us have missed during this pandemic? Yup, touch - as Michelangelo once said, “To touch is to give life.”
Aside from the specific support that a holistic treatment can give you, the benefits you receive from that human interaction, of social touch, can be just as important. It can help to stimulate an immune system response, it encourages the release of oxytocin (the ‘happy hormone’), and it calms and relaxes you - all factors that support good social, mental and physical health and well-being. Dacher Keltner from the Greater Good Science Centre at Berkley explains this in more detail in the short video below:
# 3 Social Distancing Can Come as Standard
Not every holistic treatment requires you to remove your clothing, to be close to your therapist, or even to be in the same room as them for very long, and the two main therapies that I offer, Bowen Therapy and Reflexology, are great examples of therapies where social distancing comes as standard.
If the idea of getting undressed for your treatment causes you concern or makes you feel uncomfortable, then Bowen Therapy and Reflexology could be the perfect treatments for you. The only things you need to remove for a Reflexology treatment are your shoes and socks, and while Bowen can be performed on the skin it can be performed just as effectively through light clothing.
Time and Distance
With the average height of a man in the UK at 1.75m and a woman at 1.62m Reflexology is perhaps one of the best examples of a socially distanced therapy there is. Sitting at your feet I will be well outside the government’s minimum social distancing guideline of 1.0m.
Bowen Therapy incorporates social distancing into each treatment because every 4-6 moves I leave the room to give your body a short break of around 2-5 minutes. Don’t worry, this is not something new I’ve made up! These breaks are fundamental to the treatment and are a chance for your body to absorb and react to the work that I have done on one area before I move on to the next.
Find out more about what Bowen Therapy is and how it can support your holistic approach to health and well-being here
# 4 Making Each Penny You Spend Count
When it comes to holistic treatments, I'd argue it's not about watching every penny you spend, but about making every penny you spend count. Holistic treatments can be an integral part of your health and well-being, whether the treatment is going help you relax and recharge, ready for whatever the next few weeks or months are going to throw at you, or if it's for some long-overdue support for pain and discomfort that's wearing you down.
And having a holistic treatment doesn’t have to cost the earth:
- You don’t have to have a full price treatment. Many therapists, including me, offer short 30-minute treatments at a reduced rate.
- One treatment is sometimes all you need: I know regular treatments can really make a difference when it comes to health and well-being, but not at the cost of any financial stress you may feel. My view is ‘something is better than nothing’, so there's nothing wrong with having one treatment as and when you feel you need it.
- You set your level of commitment. If you know you would benefit from more than one treatment, then work with your therapist to agree the number of treatments that you are happy with - there is no point feeling financially stressed! I usually suggest starting with a set of 3, where the first is the rebalancing treatment, setting the ‘healing’ process in motion, and the second and third are about reinforcing those changes. Often this is enough to bring about a positive change to even long-standing health and well-being issues.
- Aftercare always comes for free. At the end of your treatment, like all therapists, I will provide you with some aftercare advice and, if you want them, links to resources that will continue to support your health and well-being beyond the treatment room.
TIP: I’ve put together some video’s and guided meditations that you can use to start supporting your health and wellbeing now
# 5 Spend local, support local
If you’re passionate about supporting local businesses, then look no further than your local holistic therapist – you might be surprised at the number of therapists and therapies available on your doorstep. Many therapists also provide gift vouchers if you want to send the gift of health and well-being to friends and family this Christmas.
TIP: Find a professional therapist local to you by using the Federation of Holistic Therapists ‘Find a Therapist’ function. The FHT are the UK's largest professional membership association for holistic therapist’s link to FHT
Looking after your health and well-being has never been so important, and what better than a professional holistic treatment? It's safe, it's good for you, social distancing can come as standard, and you will be supporting a local business.
Whether it’s for a one-off treat or because you need some specific health and well-being support, whether it’s to relax, repair or rebalance, now is the perfect time to book your holistic health and well-being treatment.
Further Information & Resources
For more information about Bowen Therapy, Reflexology or any of the other therapies I offer, head on over to my home page. You can also sign up to my newsletter to receive £5 off your first full price treatment with me during December 2020 and January 2021.
Greater Good Science Centre at Berkley: Keltner PhD, D. (2010) Hands on Research: The Science of Touch. Available at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hands_on_research