‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year...' or is it? Christmas can actually be a great source of stress and anxiety - the combination of gift giving, hosting, financial pressure and increased workload can all result in a reduced mental wellbeing. Not to mention the increased consumption of food and alcohol, and the reduction in exercise which can impact your physical health as well! To help combat these effects, we have put together our top tips for looking after yourself over the Christmas and New Year period. We hope they help you to make this Christmas the wonderful time you deserve!
As a professionally trained actor and yoga teacher, Matt has always had an interest in bodies and movement. He has recently completed a BTEC Level 6 Diploma in Advanced Clinical Massage and Sports Massage, which is the only degree-level qualification for massage therapy available in the UK. He specialises to help patients manage both short and long-term chronic issues, including pain in lower back, neck and shoulders, (including ‘frozen’ shoulder) sciatica, tennis elbow, and other musculoskeletal and systemic pathologies.
What made you pursue a massage therapy career in the first place?
I’ve always been involved with bodies and movement. I am a trained actor and also completed an MA in advanced theatre practice specialising in physical theatre and latterly six years practicing yoga regularly. Massage seemed a natural progression for me
What do you enjoy most about being a massage therapist?
I love meeting new people and working together for whatever outcome their mind and body needs at any given time. I love the fact it is a job that doesn’t feel like work, and that I can use my head, hands and heart!
There is nothing worse than feeling absolutely exhausted and yet unable to fall asleep - even more so when someone is sleeping soundly next to you! For some people, this becomes chronic insomnia - a condition whereby sleep is affected for at least three days a week during a three month period. For others it is acute insomnia - more infrequent, but still very frustrating. Below are some tips we have put together, to help you float off into slumber and wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Natalie Heng is a clinical massage therapist, writer and general life enthusiast. In her spare time she loves running along towpaths, making friends with strangers and narrating audiobooks. She believes if there’s one thing better than a rich chocolate cake, it’s having your joints mobilised by a good shiatsu-style squash on the massage table!
What I love most about being a massage therapist is that I get to affect change in someone else’s body - someone else’s problems - through the silent, respectful and understated power of touch.
I love that as a practice, the mastery of massage lies at an intersection of artistry and science - a good massage isn’t just about technique, it’s about intuition. It fulfils me as both an artist and a pragmatist.
There are many benefits to exercise. It helps to keep us fit and healthy, build strong bones and lean muscle mass, lose body fat and keep our weight under control. It also helps our mental health, by helping to relieve stress, anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins which make us feel happier . Exercise also helps us relax and sleep better, as well as boost our energy levels during the day.
But exercising locally, close to where we live or work, can have even bigger benefits! Let’s take walking and running as an example. It’s easy to get caught up on the walk to the train station, or by doggedly focussing on the finish line of a run, and not even notice where we are. But if we moved about more mindfully, and took notice of our surroundings, we may well discover things we never knew were there, even on our own doorstep. (Although obviously, we also need to be aware of the hazards around us, especially if we’re running, and wearing headphones.)
We’ve all heard the old adage, “everything will feel better in the morning” at some point in our lives. And it’s true, things often do feel better after a good nights’ sleep. But have you ever stopped to wonder why?
It’s far more than just being rested, and better able to tackle what life has to throw at us.
As little as one night of bad sleep can set us up for a bad day ahead. If our sleep is chronically disturbed due to stress, insomnia or a teething baby, our lives can be seriously affected.
A lack of sleep affects our physical, mental, reproductive and brain health. It also affects our ability to learn and progress at school and work, and our likelihood of becoming obese, being in an accident and developing life-changing diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. 
As the weather turns cold, wet and possibly even snowy, leaving the comfort of your sofa to head out to the gym can seem like a mighty task - especially when it’s dark outside. But to stay healthy, you need to stay active, whatever the weather.
You did it! Those months of training and effort have finally paid off, and now you're looking forward to some well deserved recovery. But how do you give your body the best chance of repairing itself with as little discomfort and stiffness as possible? These five tips from owner and massage therapist Sophie Rose should help...
Running a marathon requires many things - grit, patience, sacrifice, and a determination to carry on even when your body is exhausted and aching. The months leading up to the race will require you to spend hours of your free time pounding the pavements, missing drinks out with friends because you have your long run the next morning, and heading out when it's cold, dark, raining, or all three during the winter months. So with just 24 hours to go, here's a few tips from Soma Room owner and massage therapist Sophie Rose on how to make it past that final hurdle.
Donna Wilkinson is an advanced clinical massage therapist and an experienced meditator, having attended three 10 day silent meditation retreats over the years. She has an interest in indigenous healing practices and has spent two years training with a traditional shaman from Ecuador, including a month spent living with indigenous tribes in the Amazon jungle. She currently lives in Lewes with her partner and her two pet sugar gliders.
What is meditation?
I would really consider meditation anything that allows you to come back to yourself where you are – something which allows you to become present in the moment. There are many different techniques that you can use, but in its simplest form it’s really just something that catches the attention of your mind and brings it closer to one place.
Why do you think people should meditate?
I think for a lot of us, our brains are constantly on over-drive, running through our ‘to-do’ lists and trying to sort out a million things at once. We often forget to be in the moment, and although ‘mindfulness’ is a bit of a buzzword right now, the truth is that we often don’t take the time to slow down and see right what’s in front of us. How often do you notice details such as the pictures that are hanging on a wall, or really focus on what someone in front of you is saying. These things could be considered a form of meditation – it’s just really bringing your attention back to yourself and your space, and what’s going on.
We live in an extremely busy world, and when your mind is in hyper-drive it can eventually lead to feelings of worry and anxiety. Through meditation, you can start to focus your attention on one thing, instead of spending hours going over a problem again and again in your mind, worrying about all the things that could go wrong. You find that often after meditating, the solutions to your problems come much more easily. And you realise that really, you just had to stop thinking so much.