Tag Archives: stress

Do a few things slowly…

“Dublin, and its ever-increasing sphere of influence, operates increasingly along such alien notions as a full appointment book, designated quality time, and death by stress. But once you cross the Shannon – even though geographically you have only come a short distance – different rules of time apply, and most people still understand the crucial secret of human happiness: that it’s better to do a few things slowly, than a lot of things fast.” – McCarthy’s Bar: a journey of discovery in Ireland. p 300. (My italics).

Most people who know me, know that I love Irish music and dance and my whole reason for doing Nia was so that I could stay fit enough  to continue Irish Set Dancing. When I started dancing, I read all sorts of books about Ireland and visited the country a number of times. In recent weeks I’ve been re-reading some of those books and came across the above in McCarthy’s Bar. 

The crucial secret of human happiness?  Maybe this is why we hear so much about mindfulness these days and why multi-tasking seems to be falling out of fashion. I know I’m guilty of trying to do too much at once, and often find that everything takes twice as long as I think it will. Can you identify with that?  Maybe the Irish have got it right west of the Shannon?

Have a great month.

Nia move of the month – Fingers:
Catching Flies

One of my regular class members really didn’t like this move – or maybe it was the way it was integrated into the routine. However, it’s a really good move for improving hand/eye co-ordination as it connects hand, head, eyes and encourages speed and dexterity. In fact, your eyes lead the move as you chase imaginary flies and then extend your open hand to close around each one and bring it in towards you. As you move your head and eyes you will integrate your spine into the move too.

The speed of the move can vary and you can catch flies above you, low down or even behind you.

What I’m listening to

I saw Barbara Dickson in concert last weekend. She’s now 70, looking fabulous and her voice is just as powerful and beautiful as I remembered. She spent ages signing CDs and having a word with everyone who approached her after the concert. Just shows what doing something you love can do to help you stay young. I’ve enjoyed listening to some of her greatest hits again this week. I had forgotten how many songs there were to choose from. This is one of my favourites from “Evita”;  can you guess which one?

What I’m reading

McCarthy’s Bar: a journey of discovery in Ireland, Pete McCarthy,Hodder & Stoughton, 2000. See above!

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All Tangled Up: mindful stress buster?

I hope you had a good break during the Easter weekend. After working on Good Friday, I had a full three days off. I saw family on Easter Sunday and pottered around the house on Monday, determined not to do anything remotely connected with work in any way, shape or form. I spent ages on my latest hobby – Zentangle. I’ve discovered some new Zentangle patterns, or “Tangles”(see right), via a great You tube channel that presents a new tangle nearly every day. I find it’s a nice restful way to begin the morning. It’s designed to be very mindful and a good way to release stress.

My new job means I sit at a desk more than I used to, and I do find my hips stiffen up if I don’t move around. So, since  deciding to take some time out from teaching Nia classes, I make sure I walk for at least half an hour every day. The fresh air helps clear my head at lunch time and I get to explore the area around the building where I now work. From time to time I also take some of my own advice, put on some of my favourite music  to find which Nia moves are a good fit.

Have a great month.

Nia move of the month – Fingers:
Spear Fingers

For me, this wasn’t the easiest move to practise. It creates tension in your hands, fingers and forearms. The first two fingers are extended, the second two folded  and the thumb presses down on the knuckle of your first finger.

You can spiral your hands, change palm directions and “dance” your hands in space around you.

What I’m watching

Two great history programmes on tv at the moment – Britain’s most historic towns with Prof. Alice Roberts on Channel 4 and Britain’s great cathedrals with Tony Robinson. The former featured Chester on Saturday and the latter was all about Canterbury cathedral on Friday.

Dates for your diaryCalendar

See the Classes and Events page.

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Take 5 & Don’t Stress!

Tangled treeWell, that’s it. The last of the shopping done, the last cards made, written and distributed (oh, apart from a couple of people I can hand them to), and time to start on the bit of Christmas I really enjoy (not that I mind sending cards, it’s good to get in touch with friends I haven’t seen for a while): I love wrapping presents; making gift tags; preparing the mince pies and the chocolate caramel shortbread (I know the latter isn’t traditional Christmas fare – but it is in our family); meeting friends who are taking a break over the holidays and finally switching off the computer and taking a proper break myself for a few days.

I really don’t intend to get stressed. Luckily I’m one of a large family, so we share out the tasks – I get the afore-mentioned baking jobs and veg preparation, while other family members make and ice the cake and cook lunch on the day. We split the cost of Christmas presents and Christmas food too. It will be great fun to be with family and, as for many people, the day will also tinged with some sadness as we remember those who can’t be with us for a whole host of reasons.

I’ll write again in the New Year, but in the meantime if you need to escape just after Christmas and find a bit of “me” time, come and join me at a Nia class. give yourself a breather, connect to what’s important and start to tone up after the festivities!

And if you’d like to come to a Nia class -a chance to discover something amazing – here’s my special Christmas & New Year offer to download. Check out the class times over Christmas and New Year.

If you can’t make it to a class and want to take the lazy exerciser’s way to fitness, here’s my 5 min foot workout and a 5 min hand workout you can do sitting down!

Wishing you and your families best wishes for the Christmas Season and much health, wealth and happiness for 2016.


Take 5 & Celebrate the light!

CandlesWasn’t it dark this morning? I had to check the clock to make sure I hadn’t got up an hour early! At 7.45 it was still dark outside, but the Christmas tree lights did look beautiful shining out from my tree and from a couple of windows up the street. I love to see Christmas lights and lots of sparkly things at this time of year.

An outstanding memory is being in Stockholm in December around 20 years ago. It was 2.30 p.m. and it was already dark. I noticed a block of flats where just about every window had a candle bridge in it. Stunning! And I’ve never forgotten it.

This time of year has long marked a special moment in the annual cycle – the longest day marking the point when for many peoples going right back to ancient times there’s the promise of rebirth – the sun, the light, the seasons. The Romans menorahcelebrated Saturnalia – a festival of indulgence and lawlessness; for Germanic and Nordic peoples it was Yule – a festival which also included feasting and drinking.In the Jewish tradition, the festival of Hannukah (known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication) is observed at this time of year by lighting the nine-branched menorah. And Christians marked the time by remembering the birth of their own “sun”.

Current customs seem to mix up pre-Christian and Christian traditions., but most seem to agree that it’s a time to feast, celebrate, spend time with those we love and do what we can to rekindle hope, joy and peace. However, reality these days seems to turn this time of year into a frenzy of buying, cooking and running around which mothers seem to find particularly taxing.

Did you watch “Back in time for Christmas” on BBC2 last night (a postscript to the excellent “Back in time for dinner” earlier this year).  Last night’s programme looked at Christmas in the 1940s and 1950s and, apart from offering vivid flashbacks to my Granny’s kitchen and explaining why Grandma always put grated potato and carrot in the Christmas pud, it provided very contrasting views from family members about what it was like to celebrate Christmas in times gone by.

Dad thought it wasn’t bad to have a more austere Christmas; you didn’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy it. Son, aged about 11, couldn’t wait to go forward in time for better presents while Mum concluded it was a feast for Dad and the kids but she’d spent most of the day slaving in the kitchen and would be happiest when it was all over.

Times may have changed, but most women I know seem to find the end of the year particularly stressful.

Back in the ’40s and 50s, people hadn’t heard of life coaches or blogs, so I count myself lucky to have a number I can turn to for tips on how to survive the festive season as a 21st century woman! There’s Gillian Smellie of Lifecycles Growth’s “Fifteen Days to Organised… One simple tip per day and you will be the most organised and relaxed person you know…..  just in time for Christmas.” There’s self carealso a lovely thoughtful article about Advent Candles on her blog. Kate Gerry’s blog on giving yourself permission to take a break is very sound advice. and Sarah Seed has some great tips on setting boundaries in order to take care of ourselves. All useful advice at this time of year.

And my advice – Give yourself some “me” time, to dance away the stress, re-connect to what’s really important and ready to face the world again chilled and refreshed by offering savings on my Nia classes over the Christmas and New Year period. Download the flyer and come along on your own or with a friend to experience what others constantly tell me they find at a class: they move everything, yet feel relaxed not exhausted at the end, and ready to Celebrate the Light!

Have a great week.

For changes to classes over Christmas and New Year, please see the Classes and Events page.

What I’m watching

Fab video of Nia trainer Ann Christiansen in London last weekend.

Take 5 & rest your eyes

HaybergillHave you noticed the wonderful colours outside as the leaves begin to fall? Have you felt the chill in the air in the mornings? Have you “smelled” that autumn smell? There’s a particular feel to this time of year for me, perhaps associated with going back to school and starting a new year of learning and growing.

We appreciate the beautiful autumn colours and so much of what’s going on around us through our eyes. I don’t often ponder the fact – until there’s a problem. Yet, we use our eyes constantly – to get around and to do our jobs, interact with others as well as appreciate beauty. Read on for a way to rest your eyes (and steal a bit of a break), particularly if you use a screen at work.

I had a great time on Saturday at Vitality Pilates, in Langley Park. The studio is beautiful, and is tucked away through some big black gates at the end of the main street (behind the shops). It’s up on the first floor and they offer a whole range of classes. There’s something to suit everyone.

There’s lots going on this week and over the next few weeks too, but remember there’s no Nia class at Oakleaf Sports Complex tomorrow (Tuesday 6th October) as the room isn’t available on the first Tuesday of the month.

Have a great week


Rest your eyes

Sitting comfortably, rub your palms together, creating some warmth and energy and place them over your eyes. Eyes closed! Take a few seconds to sense the warmth from your hands and then take a few deep breaths. Leaving your hands where they are, take a few more breaths and pause. And finally, repeat the deep breaths.

Leaving your hands over your eyes, open your eyes and then gradually let the light in and remove your hands.

This exercise is called “palming” and I first came across it years ago and again just last week. It seemed too good not to share, especially as it can give you a few minutes of “me” time in the middle of a busy day – as well as resting your eyes.

Dates for your diary

Tuesday 6th October – NO Nia class at Oakleaf Sports Complex
From next week we’ll start a new block of 4 classes. Cost: £20.

Thursday 8 October, Move & HealNia classes at Woodham Village Community Centre are starting again at 3.30. Beginners welcome

10 – 11 October, POSTPONED – session on the Divine feminine: discovering the MBS Fair Hexham 7 November '15sacred feminine role for contemporary women. Look out for new dates in 2016.

31 October deposits due for Relax your Mind, Move your

Saturday 7 November, Hexham Auction Mart, Northumbria Healers Mind Body Spirit event – Health & Wellbeing Festival.