WE automatically put our hand to our forehead when we are in a state of alarm, shock, or stress – but did you ever wonder why?
“People instinctively know how to do this,” begins June Tranmer, the tutor taking the Touch For Health workshop at the Healing Clinic in York.
“Often, we can deal with unknown stresses and things we feel agitated about, but don’t know why.”
This simple move, which involves touching two acupuncture points on the forehead (linked to relaxing the mind and body), can also help ease aches and pains, she adds.
To illustrate her point, she asks us to place one hand on our forehead – “gently, with a butterfly touch,” – and think of something we are worried about.
For aches and pains, she suggests placing one hand on the forehead and the other on the trouble spot.
Following orders, the feeling is one of relaxation, as if a slow release of calm is spreading through the body.
June, who has been practising kinesiology and acupuncture for 30 years, says the idea behind Touch For Health is to provide people with easy and effective techniques that they can use daily to tackle many of the problems of modern life such as stress, headaches, tired eyes and neck and shoulder pain.
The programme dates back to the 1970s, when a team of chiropractors wanted to give patients techniques they could do by themselves without relying on a practitioner.
I am joined for the two-hour, taster session at the Briar House venue on Museum Street by two other ‘patients’: Rowena Field and Caroline Hayward.
Rowena is an alternative therapist who is looking to pick up some techniques to share with her clients. Caroline hopes the methods will help some of her problems, which include dyslexia and poor coordination.
The session is very hands-on, and soon June has us on our feet, carrying out ‘Cross Crawling’ – a set of exercises where we move opposite arm and leg at the same time.
At first we raise our left knee to meet our right elbow, then vice versa. We do this a few times until we get a rhythm. Caroline finds this the hardest, but the longer we do this, the easier it becomes for all of us.
Then June shows us some more complicated exercises where the right hand is raised while the left leg lifts and turns out.
I make a hash of it; and I’m not surprised. I struggle to instinctively know my left from my right and always go the wrong way in an aerobics class.
Doing more of these exercises should help, says June. “Cross crawling helps integrate the left and right brain hemispheres,” she says, which can improve concentration, co-ordination and make us feel more focused and energised.
One other useful quick fix we pick up is the ‘Eye Balance’ technique, designed to help people who fall asleep or feel tired when reading, get eye strain when focusing on close-up work, or when looking into the distance, or have difficulty with rear-view mirrors.
We place one hand over the naval (an acupuncture point for centring, explains June) and with the other hand rub just under the collarbones.
Now we are told to imagine a large clock in front of us. Keeping our head still and our nose pointing directly towards the middle of the clock, we gradually move our eyes around the clock face, starting at 12 and every 30 seconds moving on to 3, then 6, 9 and back to 12.
Then we go round again (still holding our navel and rubbing under our collarbones), this time stopping at every hour. Then we do this in reverse.
Not convinced? A simple way to check if this is improving your eyesight is to test your peripheral vision. Before doing the round-the-clock exercise, hold your arms out to the side and parallel with the floor (in a T formation) and wiggle your fingers; keep your head facing forward and without moving your eyes, notice the position of your arms when you can just see your hands on the edge of your field of vision. After the round-the-clock exercise, repeat this and see if the distance is further.
It worked for us, as did several of the other methods June shared with us.
She is running a two-day Touch For Health course next month; if you are looking for some simple ways to help yourself beat stress, this could be an ideal starting point.
• Find out more at JuneTranmer.co.uk