05/02/2016 05:24 GMT | Updated 03/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Recharge With Reflexology

January is synonymous with overhauling our lives with positive intentions. When my doctor suggested to focus on regulating my stress levels, he assured me that everything else that I desired for the new year, would fall into place. After reviewing my blood work and scans, it became clear that my exhaustive pursuit of trying to be healthy was sending my hormones on a stressful roller coaster ride. When I was offered a reflexology treatment by the Association of Reflexologists, I was intrigued to see if I could unwind, in a way that I hadn't before.

Reflexology has been practiced for thousands of years, dating back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. It is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the nerve endings on our hands, feet and ears which trigger certain organs, tissues and glands in the body. While reflexology will not cure ailments or illness, it can alleviate stress which helps to regulate hormones and ease muscle tension. Treatments are bespoke to each client, focusing on specific areas of concern. Prior to my treatment, Alexandra Swann, my reflexologist, inquired about my health and other aspects of my life that might affect my wellbeing.

From start to finish, the experience was therapeutic. The lights were dimmed, candles lit and soothing music filled the room. My feet were bathed, I was draped in a warm blanket and was instructed to relax. The treatment itself took place in a special reclining chair, which elevates the feet so that they are parallel to the heart. As Alexandra got to work using her hands to manipulate my feet, I realised that this was much more than just a massage; she was examining every square inch of my foot. In the early part of my treatment, I felt my throat become a bit tight and I tried to swallow saliva several times to clear it. That was when she informed me that she was working on the part of my foot that was associated with my throat. I was fascinated that I could actually feel the connection and tried to see if I could sense any other correlations.

After my treatment, Alexandra pinpointed what stood out in her assessment. She could feel through my feet that there was something amiss in my ovaries and pituitary gland. Coincidentally, these are two areas of the body that regulate hormones. I hadn't spoken about my hormone imbalance before my treatment as I did not think that it was relevant. Little did I know! Interestingly, my feet did not indicate that I stored too many toxins in my body (my slap-dash attempt at 'Dry January!') and that I did carry quite a bit of tension in my neck and upper back. Coincidentally, my chiropractor also focuses on this area of my spine.

How did I feel after my treatment?

That same evening, I took a Bikram class during which I was more energised and focused than usual. My mind wasn't as preoccupied with tackling an endless to-do list, I didn't find myself scrutinising my body in the mirror or worrying about trivial bits of life. Reflexology helped me unwind and for that, I am grateful.

Since having reflexology, I have read a lot about how strong the relationship between stress and our hormones is. The stress hormone, cortisol, for example wreaks havoc on our immune system; increases inflammation; affects metabolism, digestion, and fertility; can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disease. There have been many studies that suggest that reflexology can relieve the internal effects of stress. If reflexology can help us reduce stress, relax our muscles and ease tension, I'd recommend it to anyone who's body is looking for a bit of TLC.

Thank you to the Association of Reflexologists and Alexandra Swann for treating me. All opinions are my own.

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