The Winter Blues

BLOG by Rosalyn Stanger (Palace Spa Therapist)

The nights are drawing in and there's a familiar nip in the air...yup, winter is just around the corner! And for many of us this means starting to put a little aside for Christmas shopping. However, most of us neglect to put anything aside for ourselves during the season when we need it the most! So let me explain to you how a little visit to us girls at Sleeping Beauty would really benefit your physical and emotional state during these dark, cold winter months.

At this time, when the days are becoming shorter and the nights longer, our sleep and wake cycles become disrupted. This is because less exposure to sunlight triggers our brains to produce more of a hormone called Melatonin, which is responsible for making us feel sleepy. For about 1 in 15 of us this change can also trigger a more serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly known as, "the winter blues" or "winter depression". Moreover, the longer nights can make us feel as if we haven't enough hours in our days and start to lack quality time to ourselves, which can lead us to feel low and stressed.

Amidst Christmas shopping carnage and organizing dinner with the family, I want to emphasize how essential it is to watch your stress levels - at this time of year especially! This is because when our bodies are under stress, we produce hormones called Cortisol and Adrenalin as part of our, "fight or flight" response. The purpose of these hormones is to prepare our bodies for sudden physical exertion but for prolonged periods they suppress our immune system leaving us vulnerable to common winter illnesses such as colds and flu as well as raising our blood pressure and causing our muscles to tense. Stress can also contribute to feeling tired and can disrupt our sleeping pattern even more during winter.

So what can we do to boost your energy, reduce your stress levels and uplift your mood? The answer may lie in a good quality massage! First of all massage has been proven to stimulate the production of the pleasure hormone Serotonin that is responsible for giving us feelings of well-being and euphoria. Where Melatonin makes us feel tired, Serotonin makes us feel more awake, therefore by booking yourself in for a massage you will be helping to counteract the tiring effect of excess Melatonin resulting in more energy, while at the same time helping to re-establish your normal sleep cycle, boost your mood and relax your mind and body. I would recommend any massage treatment that involved heat during winter such as hot stones, lava shells, herbal Thai compress or our new massage using a Rose and Jasmine scented candle. This is because the cold weather can aggravate conditions such as arthritis and joint pain and can make our muscles tense and sore. The heat from these treatments will help soothe these aches and pains and our new Rose and Jasmine candle massage has the added benefit of including Rose essential oil – one of the most highly regarded essential oils for bringing comfort to people feeling low. And why not tailor your treatment to include warming paraffin wax to give it an extra boost!

There’s one final point I would like to make about how winter affects us and that’s how it affects our skin. Our bodies react to colder weather by drawing more blood towards our vital organs to keep these warm but in doing so restricts the blood flow to our skin. This inhibits the production of sebum from our sebaceous glands meaning our skin cannot moisturize and protect itself as efficiently and this coupled with external factors such as low humidity outside, central heating inside plus cold wind enhances the drying effect resulting in sensitivity and irritation. When the water content of our skin reduces both inside and outside, our skin cells become shrunken and dry, causing skin flaking on the surface and a rough texture. Finally, the lack of oxygen and nutrients being brought to our skin cells impacts our skin by making it appear dull and lacklustre. I would recommend Microdermabrasion for removing dead skin cells from the surface to reveal fresh new skin and a smoother complexion but also because Microdermabrasion stimulates blood circulation to the skin improving its overall health. This treatment can be upgraded to a Beauty Flash Microdermabrasion to include a soothing or hydrating mask tailored to your skins needs or for your ultimate winter fix, choose our Deluxe Microdermabrasion and receive a tailored mask, a back neck and shoulder massage and a collagen firming eye treatment. And don’t forget to take advantage of our not to be missed Christmas Elemis skincare gift sets available in salons. They offer amazing value for money and are a great opportunity for those of you who haven’t established a skincare routine to try new products and for those of you already using Elemis to stock up!

I hope this blog has helped explain how you can benefit yourself by paying us a visit this season and we look forward to seeing you!