Learning how to relax in these hectic times is a skill in itself. Many people find that they simply can’t stretch to all the tasks that are before them and often the one thing which gets left undone is making time for yourself. Anna Maria Carroll at the Old School of Holistic Therapies in Carnalasson, Fourmilehouse, is in the business of teaching people how to relax, how to make time for themselves and how to make the most of that time. The Old School of Holistic Therapies is located in a countryside setting in a former national school in Fourmilehouse, built during famine times and now redeveloped to house The Old School of Holistic Therapies. The Old School of Holistic Therapies has three major strands to its service, holistic massage, an injury treatment clinic and Relaxation Days. Speaking of the Relaxation School Days, Anna Maria Carroll said, ‘For quality time out, press the pause button and allow yourself to unwind. The Relaxation School Day starts with a gentle relaxation or meditation time followed by an holistic treatment and delicious home cooked lunch. The emphasis is on learning how to relax and meditate. Experience the feeling and take it with you.’ ‘The Relaxation Days are different from a spa, it’s about teaching people how to relax,’ said Anna Maria. ‘I would like to teach people how to relax so that they can feel confident and help themselves. I hope that during the relaxation days, which are short days (10am to 2.30 pm), this can be achieved. I recently reviewed the time allocated to these days and thought a shorter day would be more convenient to most people.’ ‘Alternatively if some people are interested in cookery, I can substitute the relaxation for a short cookery demonstration where everybody gets involved as in bread making, vegetarian dishes, but this can vary.’ Holistic massage is a natural therapy, practiced by many cultures for thousands of years. While the muscles and soft tissue are being manipulated, massage helps restore and revitalise the body and mind, soothing away the aches and pains of injuries and everyday stresses. The word holistic comes from the Greek word ‘holos’, meaning whole. Holistic massage means treating the person as a whole, mind, body and spirit. As the body relaxes, so does the mind, increasing self awareness and sensitivity, reducing stress and tension levels and giving a feeling of total well being. Benefits of massage include relieving tense and sore muscles, soothing tension and stress, promoting relaxation, improving circulation, strengthening the immune system and detoxing the body. Reiki is a Japanese word which means ‘universal life force energy’. The treatments are hands on, gentle and relaxing, but a very effective healing technique. It is an holistic system for balancing, healing and harmonising all aspects of the person – and it can also be used to encourage personal and spiritual growth and awareness. More and more people turn to Reiki for healing relaxation and general wellbeing. Indian head and shoulder massage is one of the oldest treatments known. In India, head and shoulder massage is part of daily life. Family members often massage each other to relieve tension and stress. A wonderfully relaxing massage, including the upper back, shoulders, neck, head and face. Indian head massage benefits muscle relaxation, relief of migraine, and promotes detoxification and the release of facial tension. It also helps calm the mind, reduce hair loss and premature balding. The injury treatment clinic deals with both sports injuries and non-sport associated injuries, such as muscle strain, tension, and back muscle problems. These are treated with deep tissue massage and other special relieving techniques. Anna Maria can also help with pre-event support strapping and rehabilitation exercises. Anna Maria is a native of County Kilkenny who has been living in Fourmilehouse for the past ten years. A trained nurse, she worked for ten years in the A&E of St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, so there isn’t much that Anna Maria doesn’t know about working in a stressful environment! She moved to Fourmilehouse ten years ago and lives in Carnalasson with her husband Pat and her two children, Rebecca (7) and Andrew (5). After making the move west, she spent nine years working in a general practice in Mountbellew, but has now given that up to concentrate on developing the business at The Old School of Holistic Therapies. ‘I was travelling 27 miles to work and when the children started school I wanted a career that I could work from home. I always had an interest in complementary therapies and for the last five years I have been studying various aspects of complementary therapies.’ ‘Stress is a reality in all our lives. The effect of bad stress and not taking some time for ourselves are well documented. People say ‘I know what I should do, I just can’t get around to it.’ Sometimes it’s a matter of prioritising, of getting help, delegating work, some people think they must do everything themselves, sometimes it’s a matter of getting up earlier.’ Opening hours are flexible. Anna Maria works mornings and two evenings per week and at other times by appointment. Vouchers are also available and are a great present for anyone in your life. So, for a happier and saner future, the first step is to contact Anna Maria Carroll at the Old School of Holistic Therapies on (086) 1598295.