Self-Care is Simple!

Self-care is extremely important for your health and well-being. Too often, people wait until they are sick or under a lot of stress before they think about looking after themselves. What does self-care mean anyway?

It simply means putting your own needs first. Regularly doing things that are beneficial for your mind and body; every day if necessary!

Prevention is always better than cure and just because you feel good and life is treating you kindly, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t indulge in treating yourself to a little bit of ‘me time’ now and then. If you lead a stressful life or suffer from worry or anxiety, then self-care for you is even more important. Get into the habit of doing things for yourself every day!

For those of you who are not in the habit of putting yourself first, then it’s time you started. Look at it this way – if you don’t take care of yourself, then who is going to do it for you? It’s your responsibility to take care of your own body, mind and spirit.

Continue reading “Self-Care is Simple!”

“You can be Happy When you Have SAD”.

We’re all allowed to feel gloomy or sad every now and then, regardless of what season it is, but do you find yourself struggling on a daily basis with feelings of sadness and depression as soon as the winter months arrive? Would you rather sleep than make love, only to lie awake half the night feeling anxious about everything and anything? Do you find the long dark evenings depressing?

It is possible that you may be suffering from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD. Other symptoms you may experience with this condition are irritability, mood swings, difficulty getting up in the mornings and a craving for carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta. The most obvious sign that you may be suffering from SAD is that the symptoms come and go at the same time every year, more commonly during the dark winter months: December, January and February in particular. Continue reading ““You can be Happy When you Have SAD”.”

A Beautiful Aromatherapist!


Have you ever had that moment in your life when you thought to yourself, ‘Dreams really can come true’? I had that moment just a couple of months ago. It was a moment when everything seemed complete and wholesome. I had just become a beautiful aromatherapist at the age of 48 and it was a wonderful feeling! I left Green Tara College after sitting my final exams and I had tears of joy and happiness in my eyes. This was everything that I had worked so hard for. Yet again I told myself, “I am strong, loving and powerful”.

Making Changes

My name is Eileen Smyth and I started my career as a bank clerk when my son was eight months old and for many years I enjoyed my work but I later found myself wishing for a new career. I longed to be in an environment where I could be myself. I wanted to explore my creative side and find out what else I was good at. It was when I reached the age of 40 I felt I had to change a lot of things in my life. Bit by bit I did make changes and I’m still making them.

When I fell into ill health as a result of a very bad back and ended up on crutches for nine months, I found myself in a situation where I had no choice but to make some major decisions. I decided that I had come to the end of my career in the bank and after eighteen years in a pensionable job, I resigned. During this time there was a lot of uncertainty in my life and I had a fear of the future, especially in terms of financial independence. Here I was, embarking on a whole new journey with no fixed agenda, except a yearning to do something with my life. Something for me!

A New Beginning

Still feeling crippled with my back problems, I began to explore ways in which I could self heal. I became interested in energy and chakra healing and I began experimenting with angel meditations. I then decided that I wanted to learn more about reiki. In April 2014 I visited Green Tara College where I met with College Director, Majella Fagan. I was immediately captured by Majella’s obvious passion for reiki healing and the peaceful and harmonious energy in the college really impressed me. And so began my journey of self healing.

I completed levels one and two in reiki and I absolutely loved it. I was enthralled by the whole holisitic approach of Green Tara College and I knew that I was on the right path. I wanted to take my holistic therapy training to the next step and with so many therapies to choose from, I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to study. Since anatomy and physiology (A&P) is a mandatory unit in the ITEC diploma courses that Green Tara has to offer, I decided to enrol in this to get a head start.

Finding my Inspiration

When I left my job in the bank I moved out of town into a lovely little cottage surrounded by beautiful fields and plenty of places to walk our dog Bruce. It is while I’m out walking in the peace and quiet that I am at my happiest and it’s a time when I like to meditate and ask for guidance about what is next for me. Throw it all out to the universe! This is also a time when I feel inspired to try new things. New ideas! I decided that I wanted to be an aromatherapist. This wasn’t exactly a new idea because aromatherapy is a subject I have always had a special interest in. Down through the years I have enjoyed making lip balms, bath salts, facial creams and blending oils for treating aches and pains. I love the synergistic effect of the oils and I enjoy experimenting with them. I have always been very much aware of the diverse effects of the individual aromas on our emotions. Many years ago I worked for a wine and spirits company and I very often nosed drinks for them. I was known as a “good nose” in the company and I really did get a kick out of this.

One Lavender

As soon as I made the decision to sign up for the ITEC diploma in aromatherapy, I was very excited about it. Excited about the fact that I was now on the road to becoming a qualified aromatherapist and I will learn how to mix unique personal blends for my clients. I started in November 2014 and I was hooked from day one. When our lovely teacher Gloria, explained the concept of aromatherapy and how it works, I was intrigued. Although I had some insight into the world of essential oils, I knew I had so much to learn. I made a personal commitment there and then that I was going to become the best aromatherapist I possibly could be.

My Highs and Lows

By this stage I was half way through my A&P course and the exams were approaching, so I was a little bit stressed to say the least. I found it very factual and quite difficult. I couldn’t afford to fall behind. I learnt the importance of staying focused and sticking to a study plan. My biggest challenge was keeping my nerves and anxiety from holding me back – I get very nervous when I’m under pressure – so I had to work very hard at staying calm. I use affirmations and my favourite one during times like this is, ‘I am strong, loving and powerful’. When I got the call to tell me I had successfully passed my A&P I was absolutely thrilled. It gave me a boost in confidence and encouraged me to push forward.

The weeks flew by after this and in no time we were half way through our aromatherapy course. I absolutely loved the aromatherapy lectures and I looked forward to each class so much. The encouragement and enthusiasm of our teacher was outstanding. I loved everyone in the class and we had many laughs. We really were a great bunch of budding aromatherapists.

I am an honest person and I do not mind sharing that I did struggle enormously with learning the massage. This was my biggest fear! I did not feel good enough. From the moment we started to learn the massage routine I struggled. I felt awkward and clumsy and I found it extremely difficult with my back being so bad. Some days I was very stiff and sore and I felt like crying and running out the door. I also struggled with my self confidence. There were times when I just froze during class and wasn’t able to think – as if my mind just shut down.

I come across as being a very sociable and chatty person. I look well and can present a very positive and competent attitude, but inwardly I struggle during times like this. It brought back some sad childhood memories for me. I was bullied and picked on by a teacher when I was in primary school and it is something that I have had to come to terms with as part of my own personal healing journey. This was about me and nobody else and it was up to me to overcome it.

Affirmations no image


I believe what helped me the most was being honest with myself, my teacher Gloria and my class mates. I was not afraid to ask for help. One day I picked up the phone to Gloria (who I always received plenty of good advice from) and I explained how bad I was feeling.

This really helped me. During my low points, my self esteem would slip and yet what comforted me was the fact that I knew I was not giving up. I have had some low points in my life and I have had to pick myself up and carry on as best as I could. Now I had discovered in myself a new determination. What also helped me throughout many challenges in my life was my faith and spirituality. I used meditations, walks, many prayers seeking guidance and reassurance and regardless of how I felt at times, I found this to be of great benefit.

Learning to Say ‘No’

Outside of the lecture room and away from the banter of my ‘Aroma Buddies’, I threw myself into my work. I found the case studies quite challenging but I enjoyed doing the consultations for clients and making up the blends for them. It was interesting to see how they progressed from week to week. In order to keep up with the case studies I had to remain focused and firm in my decision to say ‘no’ at times to family members and friends. Although this was difficult at times, ‘no’ had to really mean ‘no’! Definitely a word we all need to learn how to use effectively.

As the exam dates approached, the pressure was on in the college. We had to start putting all our new found knowledge together like a jigsaw puzzle. Perfect our practical skills, get our timing right, display our understanding of hygiene and safety regulations and the importance of client care and communication. By now we had to be more particular about blending our oils to perfection and work hard at improving our oral skills. I was very scared by now.

A Friend in Need

I got along particularly well with one of my class mates Dawn. I teamed up with her and she came around to my house every week from March until exam day. We worked really hard together and kept each other motivated. We laughed and we cried but we stuck together because we were so committed. We made up funny poems (which I don’t think I’ll ever forget) about the chemical constituents of essential oils to help us learn them. I did this a lot to help me remember things associated with aromatherapy and A&P. I would highly recommend this as part of a study plan.

I always say that if I could put Dawn into a bottle, I would label it ‘The Best Tonic Ever’. She really kept me going at this stage of my training. She had the ability to make my world brighter and more beautiful.

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

Because of my bad back, I personally felt that I was weaker at massage than the other students. It was the thorn in my side and it meant I had to work extra hard to keep up the pace. This proved to me though, that it really is possible to achieve anything once you put the work in. Practice really does make perfect!

Dawn and I kept up the pace until the final exams on the weekend of the 6th and 7th June and along with the other students we completed our final exams. The atmosphere in the college that day was amazing. All the students were looking so well groomed and professional. I put my heart and soul into it that weekend and I felt very proud to have come so far. And even though I was nervous I kept it under control and didn’t let it show. I just kept repeating to myself, “I am strong, loving and powerful”. We all received very positive feedback from the examiner. We all did extremely well and we were so proud of ourselves. I even thought to myself, ‘What was I worrying about?’

When I left the college that day, I knew I was highly capable and yes, I had become a beautiful aromatherapist.

My Future

The experience of studying in Green Tara College as a mature student has helped me enormously. I have gained more confidence despite my inward struggles and I feel I have healed some more. I am excited about my future and I look forward to developing my skills further.

I have a fondness for the story of how French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé realized the exceptional healing qualities of lavender essential oil as far back as 1910. This piece of history along with my love for aromatherapy and the french language, prompted me to choose the words ‘J’adore L’aromathérapie’ for my business card caption. I aspire to be the best therapist I can be and take special care of my clients and it is my aim to share my new found and on-going knowledge with those who come my way.


Yes it’s a cliché, but “If I can do it, anybody can do it”. Sometimes, the first step is making the decision in the first place. Follow your heart and start as you mean to go on. When you are passionate about something, you will learn more and you will have the motivation to carry on. Draw up a study plan and stick to it. Be consistent with your studies. Keep on top of the case studies as they are very time consuming but they are a very important part of the learning process. If you are struggling, say so and confide in someone you trust in. A problem shared is a problem halved. Team up with like minded people. Remember to put yourself first and learn how to say no. It is also very important to take time out for yourself. Keep a journal of your dreams and ideas and tick them off when you complete them. Keep believing in yourself. Things are not always how we imagine or perceive them to be. You don’t know what is around the corner for you.

Thank you Green Tara College

I am grateful for what I have learned in Green Tara College. My journey with holistic therapies began here and no doubt part of it will continue here. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I will always remember the great support that I received from the college staff, my family and my friends.

Well done Eileen

Thank you so much Eileen for sharing your story. I have no doubt that you will be a very compasionate therapist and I wish you all the best for the future. You can connect with Eileen and learn more about her on Linkedin



The Caring Touch From Denise O’Connell.

When I ask holistic therapists what they like most about their job and the caring profession, I get mixed answers. But the one thing that is common with most is that they find their job very rewarding. They like to help people and they get pleasure in knowing that they helped to improve the quality of another person’s life.

Some therapists are natural carers and good listeners. Some have to work at improving their skills and that’s good. We can never know enough and there’s always room for improvement. A holistic therapist has certain characteristics, (which you can read about here) many of which are important qualities to have when working with sick or vulnerable people. This is an area that many therapists are naturally drawn to while others may not feel so confident and choose to work within their comfort zone.

Following on from a post I published recently about holistic care of the elderly, Denise O’Connell kindly got in touch to share with us some advice and information about working in a care environment.

Denise from Co. Kilkenny is a qualified complementary therapist with over 15 years of clinical experience, mainly in the field of aromatherapy massage and reflexology. She is particularly drawn to pre and post natal care, cancer care and end of life care. Denise is the co-founder of Cois Nore Cancer Support Centre, which is affiliated with the Irish Cancer Society. She offers complementary therapies in two district hospitals in her locality – mainly hand massage, back massage and limited reflexology.

Being very much aware of the importance of maintaining skin integrity in older people, Denise takes great care by using her own homemade skin creams and balms, Her products are certified, contain only natural ingredients, and they’re not tested on animals, an aspect which I am always in favour of.

The treatment times vary between 5-20 minutes per client. Cancer patients who receive treatments from Denise are funded through a local cancer support charity and non-cancer patients pay for the service themselves. To enhance her work Denise has done further education in clinical aromatherapy, courses in death and dying and palliative care.

Of course, working with the elderly does not necessarily mean that you will be dealing with death and dying, but as long as you work in this environment, there is an increased chance that someday you will find yourself faced with this prospect. If you feel drawn to working with the elderly or terminally ill patients, you would benefit greatly from doing some training around issues that carers deal with while tending to very sick patients. Open University offers distance learning courses in death and dying/palliative care. By doing a course such as this, you would learn how to deal with many issues that surround death. Your caring skills will be enhanced as you learn how to best deal with grief and bereavement.

The provision of complementary therapies is now quite often a part of individual care plans in many eldercare facilities. Find out if your local hospital, hospice, care home or retirement centre offers these therapies. You could pay them a visit and introduce yourself or simply drop in your CV. Bear in mind that in order to work in a care environment, you must have Garda vetting, a tax clearance certificate and suitable insurance cover.

Caring Hands

Denise highly recommends ‘From the Heart Through the Hands: The Power of Touch in Caregiving by Dawn Nelson. This book offers invaluable advice and information to anyone wishing to improve their communication skills through touch. It explains how the power of practiced and skilled touch can benefit sick and elderly people.

Connect with Denise on her Facebook page and Twitter

Denise O'Connell

 Thank you very much Denise for getting in touch with We are Holistic. You are always welcome to stop by and share with us any advice and inspiration that will benefit therapists in all areas of the profession.

Holistic Care of the Elderly.

Age is a question of mind over matter

Old age creeps up pretty quickly and that’s for sure. My 10 year old grandson said to me recently, ‘Nanny, you’re not very old, you’re just old and granda’s not very very old, he’s just very old’. That’s my father he’s talking about there, who is only in his 70s, which is not even considered elderly in some countries. But in the eyes of a 10 year old, a 47 year old woman is old! Not good news for us that have been told that life begins at 40! My grandson and I need to have a very serious talk.

Continue reading “Holistic Care of the Elderly.”