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Time to relax! – Beauty Progress

The universe seems intent on ensuring that we Cantabrians never have a dull moment as we hurtle towards the third decade of the 21st century. While on the plus side of the ledger we are never twiddling our thumbs, wondering what to think about, or searching problems to solve; the pace of change and the idea of a future very different to one we had planned takes a toll on our wellbeing.



Stress and anxiety, or perhaps simply the mechanics of a jerry-rigged home office on the dining table is having an effect on the way we hold our neck and shoulders, setting us up for pain and stiffness.

At Beauty Progress, an extensive menu of authentic Thai massage therapy is available from trained Thai masseuses Anne and Orn, to help you regain full range of movement, reduce pain and completely relax.

Owner and Beauty Therapist Wendy Barker can help you choose the right massage, and if dry skin or breakouts have been your lockdown issue, Wendy selects from the incredible range of Gernétic therapeutic products to create a facial that is tailored to your skin and its issues.

Gernétic skin care products work at cellular level, stimulating the natural healing capabilities of the skin.

At Beauty Progress hygiene is always a priority.

“Under normal daily routines in our clinic we use absolutely the best practice cleaning and sterilising routines, however during this time we are following our beauty industry guidelines for sanitising within the clinic. You can rest assured that you are in safe hands,” Wendy says.


The stress eating equation

For many of us, stressful times means picking up the packet of chocolate biscuits instead of the kale salad. Dr Libby Weaver breaks down the ‘why’ for us and provides us with some effective strategies for eliminating stress.


Many people believe weight is all about calories in versus calories out, why do you think it is so much for complex than that?

The calorie equation, which was first published in 1918, and on which today’s dieting mentality is still based, fails to factor in crucial elements of the modern world.

For example, it does not consider the metabolic consequences of modern day food.

It continues under the false belief that all that matters to body shape and size is your fat, protein and carbohydrate (and alcohol) intake: the macronutrients from where you obtain your calories.

Yet there are nine factors that influence whether the body gets the message to store fat or burn it.

For example, when your fight or flight response is activated – done by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – your body gets the message that your life is in danger.

To supply you with fuel to escape from the danger, you need one that is fast-burning.

The only two fuels for the body are glucose (sugar) and fat so the body will preferentially utilise more glucose than fat in this situation.

As a result, too many people have lost the ability to efficiently burn fat as a fuel due to stress, so they store more fat and crave sugar to top up what they are burning.

Yet the stress we face these days is primarily psychological rather than a physical threat to our life so the SNS is constantly and relentlessly activated for many people these days.

Another example involves our gut bacteria.

Research published from 2008 onwards has shown that the types of bacteria you have inhabiting your colon can influence what calories are worth – yet another example of how a calorie isn’t always a calorie.

There’s far more to it as most women who have tried a calorie-restricted diet from about age 35 onwards will attest and all of this is a major focus of my work.

How does stress make you put on weight?

Stress—whether real or perceived—communicates to the body that it is in danger and triggers the production of stress hormones.

It’s just how we are biochemically wired.

When that stress becomes ongoing and persistent, our long-term stress hormone, cortisol, begins to rise.

Because this hormone is linked to times historically where food was scarce (think of long-term stress sources in the past such as war, drought or famines), it signals to the body to start storing body fat as this can be used as energy.

To do this, it has a catabolic effect, meaning it breaks your muscles down so you’re your metabolic rate is slower, giving your more of a chance to still be alive when the food supply is restored.

However, for most people in our modern world, food isn’t scarce so all of a sudden we’re getting the message to store more body fat and it often influences us to make different food choices as well.

How does that stress influence whether we pick up a bag of chips or a kale salad?

There are two aspects to this—one is biochemical and the other is emotional.

Biochemically, as I just mentioned, the stress hormone cortisol, communicates to the body that it needs to start storing body fat in case food becomes scarce.

The quickest and easiest energy source for us is glucose (sugar) and so when our cortisol levels are raised, not only will we be more likely to store instead of burn body fat, we’ll also be more drawn to carbohydrate-rich foods which are broken down into glucose in the body.

Emotionally, when we are stressed we tend to feel less motivated and lack energy.

This in itself can lead us to make different food choices.

Throw into the mix that many people use food to TRY to make themselves feel better or numb out to what might be uncomfortable feelings (even though you may not recognise that this is what you are doing at the time), and you’ve got another scenario in which you’re more likely to opt for potato chips over kale salad.

What are some of the best foods that we should be reaching for during particularly stressful times to support our overall wellbeing?

When we experience stress, our need for nutrients increases because now, on top of all the other important biochemical processes that happen within us all day every day, we also have to build stress hormones as well.

Our body requires specific nutrients in order to build these stress hormones—many of which are needed for other vital biochemical processes – things like B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.

Yet stress hormones are considered the priority so the nutrients will go to their creation before anything else.

This is one mechanism through which stress can begin to take a toll on our health and we may begin to experience symptoms in our body that we don’t initially connect to extended stress.

So what we really need to focus on during times like these is increasing our intake of whole, real food—especially plenty of vegetables.

What are some of the most effective strategies for eliminating stress?

It’s very difficult to reduce your experience of stress without exploring your perception of pressure and urgency as well as any beliefs you have that might be creating perceptions of stress.

Restorative practices such as diaphragmatic breathing, restorative yoga, tai chi, meditation or qi gong are wonderful balms to a stressed nervous system, however, we need to get to the heart of what is causing our stress in order to transform it.

Most often it is our mind.

To examine what’s truly at the heart of our stress, instead of scrutinising WHAT stresses us out, we need to examine HOW we actually think.

This is a concept I dive into deeply in my book, The Invisible Load.

For example, when a colleague phones you and asks where some work is as she needed it yesterday, we often don’t really hear what the person has said – instead we hear what we think they meant.

Behind their request for work, we’ll perceive that they think we are lazy, or inefficient, or not a hard worker – in other words we perceive that they now see us in an unfavourable way.

So the stress comes from worrying about what they think of us. Yet we dreamed that bit up. All they did was ask for work and we created their “disapproval” of us with our thinking. That’s the type of “stress” we can change. That’s the part I’m interested in.


Hormonal Help

Modern times provide us with unprecedented levels of convenience, creation, and connection. But with everything accelerating at such a rate, so too is the level of stress being placed on our systems; disrupting our hormone health and straining our ability to keep up with everyday life.



“Stress is a survival response,” leading Clinical Nutritionist Ben Warren explains.

“It’s important to be able to separate the stresses we can’t control from the stresses we can control and take a mindful approach to influence how it affects us.”

Ben is hosting a nationwide tour Back to Balance with Beatrice Thorne from Eve Health, with the pair hitting Christchurch on 7 April for women eager to learn more about the intricate role that hormones play in their entire body’s system and subsequently discover how they can support their own hormone journey.

Resolute on restoring balance is Ben’s life goal. The founder of BePure, he has developed two new products based on science, research and 15 years’ experience to support women at every stage of their hormone journey; ProgestoRenew and Prenatal Nurture.

BePure Health’s latest research, surveying more than 14,000 women, showed that more than 87 percent of experienced hormone issues that impacted them on a daily basis, citing heavy, painful periods – or no periods at all – anxiety, irritability, fluctuating moods, insomnia, chronic stress, brain fog, skin issues, weight gain, poor energy, bloating, water retention and difficulty falling pregnant.

Of all of the women studied who experience hormonal imbalance, issues with stress and adrenal function as a result of lifestyle, diet and environmental factors was a key determinant.

“It’s important to make use of every tool available to you,” Ben says. “We want to help women achieve optimal wellness, addressing which diet and lifestyle factors have led to the environment for imbalance to exist.”


Let’s talk tension!

For many, tension headaches have become an unfortunate side-effect of modern-day living, as we find ourselves at desk jobs and staring at computer screens for long periods of time. The good news is there are exercises and techniques that can help to relieve and prevent the pain.


Metropol caught up with Oxford Women’s Health Massage Therapist, Stacey Harris, to find out more.

Tell us about tension headaches and what causes them?

I’d say up to 70 percent of my clients have headache issues at times and the vast majority of these would be tension headaches.

We spend a lot of our time with our head in a forward position, which tightens and stretches all the muscles in the back of the neck, and shortens the muscles at the front.

We see this with people working at computers, reading books, studying, or on phones.

How do we know we’re experiencing a tension headache or if it’s something more serious?

As a massage therapist, I’m not qualified to make a medical diagnosis, but I always look for red flags.

A tension headache is more likely to be worse at the end of the day.

They happen when you’ve been working long hours, are under stress, have been grinding your teeth or experiencing muscle tension.

But headaches can also indicate an ear or tooth infection, or a migraine, which is a completely different ballpark and you need a doctor to diagnose it.

If in doubt, see your GP, especially if you’re experiencing double-vision or dizziness.

How does the tightened muscle actually trigger the headache?

A thick band of connective tissue connects muscles in the front of our forehead to muscles in the back.

If you have a restriction, like a tight muscle in the back, then it can affect the muscles in the front, causing headaches.

What techniques can you offer at Oxford Women’s Health to ease tension headache discomfort?

Primarily deep tissue massage and relaxation techniques.

I work on the shoulder and upper trapezius muscles that go through the shoulders and right up into the neck.

I aim to stimulate the client’s own relaxation responses and there are other techniques, like dry needling and cross-fibre techniques, that can be used.

What can we do at home to avoid headaches?

If I get a headache, I don’t use a pillow if I’m lying on my back.

It gives the muscles a chance to relax.

Exercises can strengthen the muscles in the back of the neck to balance any issues and drink water, it’s good for you.

Hydration is key.

Above all, get up and move every hour for a few minutes. It’s about doing little things. Prioritise yourself.

Taking 10 minutes out regularly during your day is important!

What are you working on in 2020?

My primary focus is the connection between physical and mental health.

I’m in my second year of a Graduate Diploma studying psychology and intend to work with people who have chronic pain conditions.

I believe we can’t isolate our emotional health from our physical health.

Our biology, along with the environmental and psychological factors that come into play in our everyday lives, all contribute to our health.

I start my Master’s degree next year and want to hone in on the body-mind connection. It’s a fascinating thing to be studying.