I started making soap for my children and their ongoing struggles with eczema. After years of balancing soapmaking, a full-time job and studying, I have finally taken off my crazy hat and have decided to concentrate on soapmaking full time. Fuelled partially by long late nights making and wrapping soap, and partially to a long list of chronic medical conditions that have all reared in the past three years. It was time to full embrace my new path and let the past go.

And the studying? Well, living with chronic medical conditions means I get given a lot of medication. I’m grateful for it, of course, as it’s saving me but the whole experience has also drawn me into a deep and involved interest with the ways in which we can encourage the body to return to a balanced state of health more naturally and gently through simple everyday practices. Most recently, I’ve qualified as a reflexologist. I have no intention of leaving soapmaking and going off to faff with feet! While I’m fascinated with and respect the practice, I’ve studied it as a way to further my understanding of my own conditions and how we can use simple techniques to better our everyday.

And with that in mind, I’ve reached out to some amazing practitioners and makers who are going to share some tips and tricks with us in the coming weeks – aromatherapists, reflexologists, mindful practitioners, crystal healers, and more. Everyone has a nugget of wisdom that they are happy to share with you in a blog post here, so we can all start working together to banish the stress (sounds impossible!), encourage healthy, happy bodies (sounds great!) and restore balance (yes please!). Are you ready? Follow along on this amazing journey!

So let me tell you a little bit about reflexology. Basically, it’s the art of applying specific techniques and pressure to specific zones on the feet to stimulate a response in the body. It sounds crazy I know. Imagine that there’s a map of your body, and it’s superimposed on the soles of your feet. Reflexology uses the whole foot, but let’s just think about the underside of your tootsies for the minute. Your head is at the top, your pelvis at the bottom. Look at the map above, it will give you an idea.

You then use specific pressure and calculated movements to apply pressure to affected areas, and this stimulates the nerve endings under your feet (yes! science!) and these send messages to the area you’re working and say HEY! LET’S GET WORKING HERE! These messages help the body to direct increased blood flow to the affected area, and stimulates a rebalancing and return to a natural, healthy state. I’m being very careful not to use the words “healing” here because you’re not allowed to say that if you’re not a medical professional, but you get the gist.

Have you ever squeezed the fleshy bit on your hands between your thumb and forefinger for a headache? Or used “sick bands” on  your wrist to stop nausea (or even just pressed your wrist on the underside)? or rubbed your temples to relieve a migraine? You’re already using reflexology.

Reflexology can be used to calm headaches, to make back pain more bearable until you have time to get to the chiropractor, it can be used to relieve sinus build up, and even help cheer you up when you’re feeling blue. You need to know how and where to press when you’re going to start working the feet, but if you’ve got so me information from a professional practitioner, and you’re armed with basic techniques as well as a rudimentary understanding of anatomy and human physiology, then will do you just fine.

The best thing about reflexology is that you can do it yourself, quietly while you’re watching TV at night. Worst case scenario, you end up with a jolly good foot rub. You can practice surreptitious hand reflexology at work if you’ve got a banging headache, and nobody even has to know what you’re doing.

I’ve got a few DIY techniques to share with you in the coming weeks, and I’ve got a lovely professional reflexologist joining in for a few guest blogs too – I’ll introduce her later this week. If you’re particularly interested in something, give me a shout on instagram and join the convo! Are you excited? I am!

Also as a side note – the chart used in this blog post is the one that every school gives you, every blog post uses, every chart you can download or buy. And they all have the same spelling mistake! Every single one! It makes me chuckle. See if you can find it. I’ve since started working on making my own arty charty with linocuts. It’s a slow but incredibly rewarding process.