How to relax, how to let yourself go – even if it is just for a few minutes every day or for a good night’s sleep – is a secret well worth knowing. It really doesn’t matter how busy you are at home with your household chores and children, or at work with a profession, learning to relax and being able to enjoy sound sleep are the secrets of peace of mind and happiness.

Sleep

A minimum of 8 hours sleep each night is a necessity for beauty, and an extra bonus of sleep each night will often improve the looks as much as a holiday. When eyes are tired, the complexion drab and the spirits low, the cure can often be found in sleep, but the sleep must be sound sleep: it must have quality as well as quantity.

To ensure sound sleep, the room must be quiet, dark and airy. The mattress must be smooth and straight, firm but resilient, the pillows neither too soft nor too hard, and the bedclothes warm but light.

If you sleep badly. check for constipation or indigestion. It is said that insomnia is often due to mild indigestion caused by a heavy or indigestible meal taken too near bedtime, or to some barely noticeable acidity. Try making the last meal of the day light and digestible, substituting a cup of peppermint tea or lime tisane for the possibly too stimulating tea or coffee Most cases of insomnia will react favourably to a warm bedtime bath. An excellent go-to-sleep bath is as follows: Use hot but not too hot water to which you have added a measure of pine-needle oil. Relax in the bath, dry slowly and without

effort, then have a soothing drink and go straight to bed. When you go to bed, think about relaxing rather than about sleeping and, in fact, refuse to let yourself go to sleep until every muscle in your body is completely relaxed. If you find

this difficult, do a few relaxing exercises before your drink When the whole of your body is as relaxed as you can get it, it will begin to feel heavy and you won’t want to move. That’s fine – at bedtime! At other times, you may feel so comfortable and lethargic that you will want to drop off to sleep. If you have to get up and get going with other tasks and activities, be warned: your body is now working at a lower level, so take your time to return to normal. Never jump up quickly from relaxation – you might feel giddy. Clench and unclench your fists several times before you sit up, and sit up before you stand.

Relaxation

With practice, you can indulge yourself in a relaxation treatment whenever you like. You can do it lying on the floor or on the bed, or even sitting in a chair, although it does help you can lie down. Stretch yourself out, close your eyes, let yourself go, and relax from your toes right up to the scalp and hair. Don’t think of anything except your relaxing body. Relax your toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs and gradually, in your thoughts, come slowly up and up through your body until you reach the tips of your fingers, and lastly your hair. Keep going over in your mind – from feet to legs, from fingers to arms and then, lastly and most important, to face, scalp and

If you have time to relax further, start to concentrate on your weight on the floor: feel the heels pressing hard on the ground suddenly you feel your legs are like lead then slowly the upper part of the body, the arms and the head, all feel Still with eyes closed, concentrate on breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep on breathing in and out very slowly until you feel that you are starting to float in the air, like a cloud floating in the sky. Try to spare 10 to 15 minutes a day for this kind of mental

exercise for your mind and body. You will feel wonderfully relaxed and content and your nervous system and body will have a new

When we deliberately relax our muscles, many other changes follow naturally. Blood pressure drops, heart beat and breathing slow down. The only trouble is that it isn’t easy to learn to relax all the muscles in the body completely, and at will. Most people find it much easier to relax if they can lie in a really comfortable position, like one of the three illustrated on the opposite page. You’ll probably need a heap of pillows under your head and

shoulders, and one for your knees. If you’re skinny, you might need support under your elbows too. Experiment until you have found which position is best for you, wear loose comfortable clothing, and remove any hair accessories or chunky jewellery You must accept the fact that a woman’s work is never not try to prove it false. You may be doing unnecessary jobs never finding time to relax – because you have created rules you won’t break. Monday is washing day, but one Monday you feel washed-out. Do you switch your timetable? All too often you struggle on with the chores and find that you are completely exhausted and miserable at the end of the Better to miss out and put your feet up for a couple of hours –

you will feel much better in the long run.

Lie on your right side. Extend your right leg and bend your left knee up. Bend your left arm so that your hand is on a level withyour face, and relax your right arm behind you, palm up Close your eyes and relax To rest and relieve aching or tired leg muscles and feet, lie for a few minutes with your feet on a pillow or book, to raise them slightly above your head 

Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides, palms up. Let your arms and legs go limp and allow your feet to fall gently apart. Raise your chin, close your eyes and breathe deeply and regularly

health fitness

Yoga

It’s to think of with its Indian origins, as form religion but that not necessarily the case. Physical or Hatha Yoga is series of well postures or poses that can benefit almost every part of the body. Not least of the merits of yoga are the relaxing properties. Many woman under pressure would let everything else go by the board lunch with girl friend, hair appointment, shopping spree rather than miss out on her yoga class.

Ideally, for the best possible introduction to yoga, go to class, simple poses, however, can be practised at home. It is important to do movement slowly and smoothly, and good deal of practice is needed before some of the advanced poses can be attempted.

You should breathe slowly and deeply through the nose while doing yoga. Performing the movements correctly is priority: more detailed breathing instructions come into play when you are more advanced. Whether you practise for a few minutes or half an hour, concentrate completely on what you are doing. Shut out sounds, any distraction whatsoever.

One of the most relaxing exercises is to flop like rag doll. Stand with your feet apart, arms at your sides. With your head and arms hanging, let your body bend forward as far as it will go. Count to then slowly straighten up. With practice, your body will bend until your hands touch the floor. This exercise relaxes the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and back, and gently stretches the lower back and backs of the legs. Also, blood can flow to the head and this has a very refreshing effect.

Rolling the head is another very relaxing exercise which helps reduce tension in the neck and is very soothing to do. To avoid headaches and tensions, it is essential to keep the muscles and bones of the neck lubricated and free of settling toxins and poisons. You can do this exercise standing, but it’s easier when sitting down, either on a chair or cross-legged on the Do not attempt the Lotus position shown in the picture opposite: a good deal of practice will be necessary before you are able to hold this pose. For the time being, just sit with the legs comfortably crossed

Head rolling:

With eyes looking straight ahead, turn head to the left and hold for a couple of Roll the head round to back and hold. Then roll the head around to the right and hold, before turning the face completely to the right with the chin raised. Drop the head forward, letting it feel heavy – be aware of the muscle pull on side of the Gently push the head down as you bring it round to the front again.

Repeat once or twice in eachTo show how yoga can let you extend yourself without strain, here is an exercise which stretches and elongates the sides of the body, firming the torso as well as the legs and arms. Stand with your feet well apart and your arms stretched sideways from the shoulders. Slowly bend to the left from your hips, keeping your right arm in line with your shoulder and holding your left knee with your left hand – both arms should be straight. Bring your right arm over, still straight and as close to your head as possible, and hold for a count of 5. Repeat on the other side. As you repeat this exercise, you will find that you can bring your arm over a little further until, eventually, it is parallel to the floor. You will be able to bend the supporting elbow so the body is brought over still further from the hips.

Stand with your feet apart, arms at your sides. With your head and arms hanging, let your body bend forward as far as it will go Count to 10, then slowly straighten up. With practice, your body will bend until your hands touch the floor With eyes looking straight ahead, turn head to left.

Hold for a couple of seconds. Roll the head round to the back and hold. Roll to the right and hold, before turning face completely to the right with the chin raised. Drop the head forward, letting it feel heavy, then gently push head down as you bring it round to the front again. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Stand with feet well apart, arms stretched sideways from the shoulders. Slowly bend to the left from the hips, keeping right arm in line with the shoulder and holding left knee

with left hand – both arms should be straight. Bring right arm over, still straight and as close to the head as possible. Hold for a count of 5. Repeat on other side.

HEALTHY EATING

To maintain good health a well balanced diet is essential; i.e. one that provides adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins and

minerals with the correct energy requirement- calories. Each person varies in their requirements of nutrients and energy, and these change during their lifetime, i.e. during growth, pregnancy and breast feeding, and in old age. If certain nutrient needs are not met, this may lead to minor ailments, such as lethargy and poor complexion, whilst greater deficiency can lead to more serious illnesses, such as anaemia. Excess of certain foods can also be detrimental to health.

The Main Nutrients Proteins:

These provide the materials (amino acids) which are

required for growth and repair of body cells. Some of the amino acids are classed as essential in that they cannot be produced in the body so have to be included in the diet. If there is an excessive intake of protein or a lack of calories, protein is broken down to provide energy. Protein can be provided by animal products, such as meat, fish, milk, eggs and cheese, and/or plant materials cereals, nuts, beans, pulses and vegetables Animal sources contain all the essential amino acids whereas plant materials may have one or more essential amino acids missing. This is overcome in vegetarian diets by mixing nuts, pulses and cereals so that the amino acids become balanced.

Fats:

These provide a concentrated form of energy, i.e. they provide 9 calories/gram compared to proteins and carbohydrates which supply 4 calories/gram. Our diet consists of visible fats. such as butter, margarine, cooking fats, oils and fat on meat. and invisible fats, such as those in cakes, biscuits, nuts and lean meat.

Carbohydrates:

These are also used to provide energy, and can be divided into: Sugars – those naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables, plants and honey, and those that are refined into a concentrated form

such as table sugar, syrup, etc. Starches – present in potatoes, bread, flour, cereal products rice, pasta, etc, Starch is not as readily digestible as sugars but cooking makes it more so Cellulose and related substances – these form the fibrous structure of the cell walls of plants and are mostly indigestible even after cooking. The fibrous buik is essential in the diet for bowel functioning.

Vitamins:

These are only required by the body in very small amounts. There are two groups of vitamins – fat soluble A.D. and K) and water soluble (B group and C). The fat soluble E vitamins can be stored in the body whereas water soluble vitamins cannot and therefore have to be eaten every day Vitamin A – essential for vision in dim light, healthy skin and surface tissue. It is only found naturally in animal foods especially liver, kidney, dairy produce and oily fish. The body can also obtain Vitamin A from carotene which is found in yellow and green vegetables. Another source is margarine which is fortified with vitamin A. Excessive intake of this vitamin is toxic

Vitamin D- necessary for absorption of calcium and maintaining its level in the blood. Deficiency can lead to deficiency in calcium and hence rickets. Excessive intake can cause deposits of calcium in the kidneys (stones). Vitamin D can be produced by the action of sunlight on certain substances in the skin so dietary needs are small, except during pregnancy and lactation or if a person has little exposure to the sun. Dietary sources are oily fish, butter, and margarine which is enriched. Vitamin E – the function of this is not fully understood but it is widespread in foods and a deficiency is unlikely Vitamin B group – these vitamins are required for the utilization

of energy Thiamin (By) – widely distributed in foods, rich sources being milk, offal, pork, eggs, vegetables, fruit, wholegrain cereals and fortified breakfast cereals. Riboflavin (B2) – widely distributed in foods. The main source in the UK being milk Nicotinic acid – there are many sources, the main ones being meat, fish, cheese and bread.

B, – used for the metabolism of amino acids. Occurs in meats, offal, raw green leafy vegetables, pulses, bread, oranges Vitamin C- essential for healthy tissues. The main sources of vitamin C are fruit and vegetables. Care has to be taken because it is easily lost during storage, preparation and fish, eggs and wholegrain cereals Baz – needed for the production of blood and found only in animal foods, especially liver. Folic acid – also needed for blood formation. Sources include cooking.

Minerals:

These control many bodily functions. Iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium chlorine and potassium ar the major minerals; others, such as fluoride, are required but only in trace amounts Iron – essential for blood. Deficiency causes anaemia. Sources in the diet include meat, especially offal, eggs and vegetables. Calcium – for bones, teeth and muscles. Sources in the diet are cheese, milk, bread and flour which are fortified), and green vegetables Phosphorus foods. abundant in the body, and present in most Magnesium – in bones and all body cells. Widespread in food, especially vegetables Sodium and Chlorine – in all body fluids with the main source

being salt. Usually consumed in excess of need. Potassium – in body fluids. Sources include vegetables, fruit,meat and milk

A Healthier Diet

Although malnutrition is quite rare in this country, problems arising from excesses of food are not and a large proportion of the population is overweight. Many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and gall stones, are linked with overweight. For a healthier diet try to adapt your caring

pattern as follows:

• Consume less fat – from both visible (butter, margarine, fats and oils, fat on meat) and invisible (cakes, biscuits, fried foods) sources. Obtain fat from vegetable sources rather than animal so that polyunsaturated fatty acid intake is increased at the expense of saturated fatty acids. Fat intake affects the cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in the blood which have been implicated with coronary heart disease.

• Eat less sugar – sugar is a carbohydrate source that provides only calories and no other nutrients. Sugar also encourages dental decay.

• Increase fibre intake – by eating wholemeal

bread, wholegrain products, brown rice, bran products, beans, pulses, fruit and vegetables. Fibre has been shown to help in the prevention of bowel disorders, such as constipation and diverticulitis.

Increase intake of fruit and vegetables – to provide fibre and carbohydrate in a form which also supplies vitamins and

minerals (unlike sugar). Decrease salt intake – avoid eating too many highly salted

Processed foods. Reduce amount of salt added during cooking at the table. High sodium levels can increase blood pressure, which is implicated in cerebro-vascular disease (stroke). • Moderate alcohol intake. Alcohol provides a high number of

calories with few other nutrients.