Creating a connected circle – an Advent ritual

The Terrace Advent candle

The Terrace Advent candle

This is another Christmas tip from Jane Gotto at The Terrace – a rather special one that you could use in a family group, in a circle of friends or in a workplace.

December begins on Sunday and with it comes the thrill of the Advent Calendar. Sadly, the ritual of opening a door a day to reveal the Christmas story, or if preferred, the classic pagan and secular images of Christmas , has been overtaken somewhat by commercialised chocolate calendars. It can still be fun, but essentially it means little and can’t even evoke feelings of nostalgia for Christmas past. Of course, that nostalgia can be a sentimentalised version of the festive season and depicts a celebration many have never enjoyed. So perhaps it is time to do something different? To create a new meaning, or rekindle old feelings?

A regular December ritual of giving at The Terrace involves the distribution of Advent candles. All in the connected circle lights the candle for the day marked (being careful to blow it out as the next mark is reached!) and takes time to contemplate what this time of year means to them and the things that are important to them. It doesn’t have to be at the same time of day and no-one is checked up on so everyone loves it and feels connected through the Christmas period – thinking of each other and the year travelled, and offering a reminder of years past.

So why not pop out and buy some candles to offer to your own ‘circle’? They aren’t expensive and don’t tempt you to eat a week in one go as some of the chocolate calendars do! Perhaps some people won’t be able to engage with the idea – that doesn’t matter. It still offers them the chance to think about the people they connect with and could prompt a rekindling of relationships that have drifted over the year.

Guess who! Is a ‘Secret Santa’ a ‘stressbuster’ for the festive season?

santaSo – we are already on to Christmas Tip No. 3 and it isn’t even December yet – but have you seen how so many people are already looking frazzled, carrying bags full of gifts they are not sure anyone will even like? Have you already browsed the ‘3 for 2’ shelves in department stores, wondering who the third, ‘free’ gift might do for? Can you actually remember what you bought people last year anyway?

You wouldn’t be alone. Many people think that the best way to ease anxiety over the ‘Christmas present rush’ is write long lists and get started early. Trouble is – too many others feel the same way…..Many people aren’t present buyers anyway; some feel it is all too commercialised, or have little money to spare and are worried that their presents won’t meet expectations. What a horrible way to celebrate what should be a time for loving and giving – with the emphasis on the loving.

So – think about a Secret Santa. It may remind you of office parties but  it can be great fun, and everyone gets one present of greater value. It also means people have more time to think about what the person they have ‘drawn’ would really like. Or people can circulate a Christmas list from which the gift can be chosen.

If you are worried about the cost, discuss a price limit. When these conversations happen well in advance they can make people feel more relaxed.

How do you cope with present shopping? Is it a trial or is it an opportunity to really show appreciation for those you love? Do you get more enjoyment from buying and giving than getting anything in return?

let’s talk! & The Terrace would love to hear from you!

Boost your immune system – using aromatherapy in the home



On Monday 18th November The Terrace hosted a free talk given by three of our highly trained complementary therapists.

It was so popular we thought we should share the fabulous tips the therapist offered. Today we focus on the work of Irene Cox, who offers advice on the use of aromatherapy to promote well-being. If you would like to know more, or have questions for Irene, do get in touch with us here at the terrace – our email is

So here they are – simple and easy to achieve with a little initial outlay, these aromatherapy ideas will support your immune system through the harshest of winters!


Around the home:

  • Vaporize in an electric vaporizer or in an oil burner – suggested oils Tea Tree, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Thyme, Lemon
  • In a vaporizer put the oils onto the pad and switch it on. Follow instructions for individual vaporizer.
  • In an oil burner mix 20ml of water or hydrolat (flower water) with 12 drops of essential oil. Place in the top of the burner and light the tea light.
  • Another way is to drop 7-10 drops of essential oil onto a cotton pad and place on a radiator.

Inhalation by:

  • Steam – place a large bowl on a sturdy surface. Half fill with boiling water and add 6 drops of essential oil. Place your head over the bowl and put a big towel over your head. Close your eyes and breathe in and out normally for 5 minutes
  • Mask (the type used by builders/ decorators) – place 4 drops of essential oil onto the mask, place it over your nose and breathe normally for 5 minutes. Great to do while watching TV or doing the ironing!!
  • Tissues – put7-10 drops of essential oil onto a tissue and place inside your pillowcase at night.
  • Cotton Pads- use as for tissues or place by the bed at night
  • Inhalation on the go!! Put 7-10 drops of your chosen oils onto a tissue or handkerchief and carry with you during the day smelling as necessary
  • In the bath – put 8 drops of essential oil into 20mls of milk. Mix well and pour under running water. If you drop the oils straight into the bath they will float on the top and won’t be absorbed into your skin
  • Washing floors – add 4 or 5 drops of essential oil to the water you are using. Not only do you rooms smell wonderful but the oils will have had an antibacterial action.

Room Spray

Fill a 50ml or 100ml spray bottle with water or hydrolat leaving room to add the essential oils. Add 15-20 drops of essential oil to the 50 ml bottle and 30-40 drops to 100ml bottle. Shake well. DO NOT SPRAY NEAR POLISHED FURNITURE

 Essential oils are very potent and can be toxic if used incorrectly
 Don’t use more drops of oil than recommended
 Halve the amount of oil when using with children or the elderly
 Don’t take orally
 Don’t apply neat to the skin with the exception of lavender or tea tree
 Essential oils should only be used with babies and in pregnancy in consultation with a qualified aromatherapist

Oils which help to boost the immune system and have antibacterial and antiviral properties:
essential-oils• Basil – bronchitis, coughs, sinusitis
• Benzoin- asthma, bronchitis, coughs, laryngitis, flu
• Bergamot- sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, fever, flu infectious illnesses
• Camphor – bronchitis, coughs, colds, fever, flu, infectious diseases
• Cedarwood- bronchitis, catarrh, congestion, coughs
• Cinnamon – there are two types bark and leaf. Only use the leaf oil on the skin. Helps with colds, flu and infectious diseases
• Clove bud oil – don’t use leaf or stem oil. Asthma, bronchitis, colds and flu
• Cypress – asthma, bronchitis, spasmodic coughing
• Eucalyptus globulus- asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sinusitis, throat infections, flu
• Eucalyptus staigeriana – has a lemony/ rosemary undertone – asthma, bronchitis, flu
• Eucalyptus smithii – coughs, colds, flu, decongestant DON’T USE ON CHILDREN UNDER 3
• Frankincense – asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, laryngitis, colds, flu
• Geranium – sore throats, tonsillitis
• Ginger –catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throat, colds, flu, fever, infectious diseases
• Grapefruit- colds, flu
• Jasmine –catarrh, coughs, hoarseness, laryngitis Expensive to use for non massage purposes
• Juniper – colds, flu, infections
• Lavender angustifolia – asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, laryngitis, throat infections, whooping cough, flu NB some asthmatics find lavender aggravates their symptoms
• Lemon – asthma, throat infections, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, flu and infections
• Lime – asthma, throat infections, bronchitis, cataah, colds, flu and infections. A good antiviral to use in a room spray
• Manuka- similar to Tea Tree. Coughs, colds, sinusitis, bronchitis. Use in steam inhalations
• Myrrh –asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sore throats, voice loss, colds
• Nutmeg – bacterial infections
• Plai – alternative to Tea Tree. Immune system booster. Colds, catarrh, asthma, flu
• Sweet Orange- Bronchitis, colds, flu
• Ravensara – alternative to Tea Tree. Strong anti-viral properties to help fight illnesses and infections. Great to put on a tissue when flying!!
• Rose – asthma, coughs Expensive to use for non- massage purposes
• Rosemary – asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, colds, flu, infections
• Rosewood – coughs, colds, infections
• Sandalwood – bronchitis, catarrh, persistent dry coughs, laryngitis, sore throat
• Saro – Don’t use with epileptics. Immune stimulant, antibacterial and antiviral. Coughs, colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis.
• Spanish sage ( lavender sage) – asthma, coughs, laryngitis, colds, fever, flu
• Sweet marjoram –Asthma, bronchitis, coughs,colds
• Tea Tree – asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sinusitis, whooping cough, colds fever, flu

Summerbee Products: ready prepared strong antibacterial oil However don’t use this for massage despite what it say’s on the bottle as it contains cinnamon bark which can irritate the skin.

Essential oil suppliers that I use :

Some manufacturers dilute essential oils with carrier oils or cheaper essential oils so they do not have the same therapeutic effects.
If you buy oils in health shops or chemists, brands to buy include Tisserand and Neal’s Yard.

Keeping Christmas fresh and interesting…

freshchristmasOur second ‘Christmas Tip’ of the week, to ensure you come through the festive season healthily and with your relationships intact…

So today we ask the question – Has the Christmas ritual become stale, and boring?

Sometimes we just repeat what used to work, and wonder what has happened.

What can have happened is children have grown into teenagers, or left home, or formed their own relationships.  A family member may not be able to be there due to health or a bereavement.

Or perhaps it has just become ‘samey’, with any meaning drained out of it for you?

So think it through and see what would freshen it up; perhaps you could arrange a different venue? Could you think of a different mix of people, change the timing, or add in an ‘event’?

Now is the time to talk to everyone concerned, and doing that in good time means people can think about it themselves and come up with their own ideas. It doesn’t have to be more expensive – in fact it could be more meaningful to really think  about what part of the celebrations are most important to you.

When a ritual has become dead for one person it normally has for others too – naming it can be a relief and stimulate new ideas. You might be concerned about upsetting other people’s routine – but they may just be waiting for someone to take that step for them!

Perhaps it could be you?

Christmas tips for a healthy & happy festive season….

smythson-Christmas-cardsWell there is no getting away from it – the shops are full of sparkle. They are also full of expensive gifts we may not have the money for and are playing background music that grates like nails down a chalkboard. With only a few weeks left until Christmas we thought that our popular  ‘Relationship Tip of the week’ slot should morph seamlessly into a ‘Christmas Tip of the Week’. It can be a stressful and difficult time of the year for many people, of any faith or none.  Saying, bravely, “Well it’s just a few days,’ can end up having a detrimental affect on health, sleep and general well-being.

So here on  ‘let’s talk’ Jane Gotto is offering some sage advice to ensure our relationships have the resilience to last beyond the festive season. The top tip is not to agree to anything you do not want to do – it creates stress and there are usually alternatives which  create a happier event for everyone.  Talking through options now can smooth the way for a better time together.

So Christmas tip No.1 is:

Think about what you would like to do for Christmas.

If you are filled with dread, allow yourself time to think it through and come up with some alternatives. Talk to others about what would work for you, and find out how a change or re-organisation would affect other people. Do NOT allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is not going to work for you. If you cannot say ‘No’ outright, say you would like some time to think about it and let the other party know a time when you will get back to them.

Jane Gotto. UKCP Reg. Psychotherapist

In future weeks, right up until the big day,we will be passing on some ideas to make sure the year ends with relationships unstrained and health intact. If you have any tips of your own to ensure the festive season retains its message of hope and peace, we would love to hear them.