Tag Archives: stress

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. 

Take 5 & Simplify!

How’s your week going? Mine’s just going too fast; here we are at Wednesday already. So I had a busy weekend. But I also used to be a week ahead in my preparation. What happened? Other tasks just got in the way I suppose or some of them took longer than I expected. So I find myself asking, what can I simplify? Are there tasks that I can eliminate or break down into easier, smaller ones? (That question always reminds me of the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time”.)

multitaskingThe trouble is that in our 21st century world, we’re expected to multi-task. How often do you find yourself doing two or three things at a time and not paying full attention to any of them? I catch myself doing it all the time.

I had a conversation about this last week. The person I was talking to had been in a local restaurant and observed a couple at another table having dinner together. The wife spent the whole meal talking on her mobile phone, playing with, and occasionally eating, her food and never spoke to her husband. The observer was horrified yet fascinated. Now, there could be all sorts of reasons for that conversation, but what a shame she couldn’t just switch off the phone and enjoy her meal.

The advice I’ve just read to deal with out “busyness” is to stop and breathe. To MP900387543relax about how much we need to achieve and simplify! Do one thing at a time and enjoy.

Here’s an exercise to get you started. Lie or sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Focus on different areas of your body – your shoulders, your head, neck, arms, chest, hips or knees and imagine breathing into each area. Try it for five minutes (use a timer if you need to) and then ask yourself, “How do I feel?”  Here’s business coach Kate Gerry someone else saying roughly the same thing about taking a bit of time out.

MindMapGuidlinesThe second thing that really helps me to simpify and do things one at a time is to write lists. And then prioritise. Ticking off items on a list as I complete tasks makes me feel better. Some people prefer a mind map – like the one on the right – where you plot ideas on a whole page (looks like a spider to me), but at least it helps to get an overview of a task or situation.

Dates for your diary

Saturday, 19 September: This Saturday is the “Myth of Ageing” workshop at Woodham Community Centre. It’s not too late to join us. Contact me now or come along on Saturday – there should be room, it’s a BIG hall! More

Saturday, 26 September, free Sound healing workshop at Woodhouse Close.

Thursday, 1 October, Celebrating Older People Day at Newton Aycliffe Youth and Community Centre. I’ll be there to do a Nia taster session at 11 a.m. Do come along and join in. And if you’d like to have your say about health and wellbeing, then you can join in the Older Adults Engagement Forum in the afternoon.

Thursday, 8 October, Move and heal – gentler paced Nia class at Woodham Village Community Centre. Beginners welcome. More

Take 5 & Dance like there’s nobody watching

You’ve heard it before – “Dance like there’s nobody watching”. I have been given a mug with this on and a beautiful cross-stitched picture with these words and a figure dancing with gay abandon (see below) because I think I must say them quite often in Nia classes.

But that’s exactly what I hope people will do. They don’t need to get it right, be able to dance or even be co-ordinated – Just Dance. I’ll explain why I’ve concluded it’s so good for you below and suggest a few dance styles you might like to try.

Please note the changes to classes over the summer and have a great week.

Summer break

Both the Oakleaf and Woodham Nia classes are taking a break from now until September. With people on holiday at different times, numbers were just too unpredictable. Watch this space for new start dates. See Classes & Events for details.

If you’re away over the summer, you can search for a Nia class anywhere in the world in the “Find Nia” section of the main Nia website.

Tip of the week: Dance like there’s nobody watching


  • Because it makes you smarter!
    And the “New England Journal of Medicine” says so. This follows a 21-year study in New York of “recreational activities on mental acuity in aging“.  Read the full article, or a summary.
  • Cross stitched by Carol
    Cross stitched by Carol

    Because it’s fun!
    Have you ever watched small children at a live concert, ceilidh or wedding reception? Usually down at the front of the room, moving and giggling, enjoying the music and totally oblivious to anyone watching them? Where does that unself-conscious spirit go as we get older?

  • Because it can help your health!
    I’ve already posted on how Irish Set Dance can relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and how Nia has helped people recovering from breast cancer (and if you’ve read the About Me section, you’ll know how it helped my arthritis).

So, do you want to give it a try? There’s something for everyone.

I have friends who go salsa dancing in Darlington and Durham,  and others who do French and Breton dancing on the second Sunday of the month in Newcastle (note to self: must put that in my diary).

I used to go to an Appalachian step dance group just north of Durham (watch some here) until circumstances prevented me from attending regularly. And there’s Irish Set Dancing of course in Newcastle Irish Centre on Tuesdays and in Croxdale Community centre on Thursdays (and lots of other places too, at home and abroad).
You might also consider the Saltaire Day of Dance – a charity event that takes place twice a year. You’ll find me leading an Irish Set Dance workshop at the next one on 17 October and you can try just about any style of dance you can think of.

And they’re only a few of the ones I know about!

But you don’t have to join a group or feel you have to get it right (although sometimes it helps), just put on your favourite track and dance round the house – nobody’s watching! What’s your favourite track for dancing round the house to?

DR 5 stagesWhat I’m watching

Here’s a short interview with Debbie Rosas co-creator of Nia talking about the healing power of movement.

Where you’ll find me

Did I mention the workshop I’m going to in Edinburgh this weekend? Yes? Wellm maybe just a few times. And did I tell you about next weekend,  when I’m going to an event with Sarah Seed who does the most amazing confidence-building coaching and retreat days?