It’s all about small steps, spring and well-being

In my last post I said I’d write about few things. I said I’d reflect on holidays, diet, applications and the course I’ve been to. It would be too long for one post so I think I’ll concentrate on the course and holidays first.

I love spring. When the weather becomes nicer and the flowers start flowering I think the world is a better place. And although I do feel better I still get my usual fears. So even though I love spring, the feeling this morning reminded me of last year summer when Graham had chemo and then the memories keep coming back. And then it’s just an easy way to remember seizures and here we go again. The memories are so vivid.

But the fear is not as overwhelming. And it’s not as overhelming not because it became so much better. I think I learn better ways to cope with it. But if I let my mind go wild,  it will overpower me easy and quickly. It feels a bit like an animal in a cage. Exactly this – a wild anima in a cage. But it is still there, still alive and still wild. Maybe I should give it a name?

I still struggle to fall asleep. I’ve found Melatonin a great help. I went recently to Poland where it is widely available. And actually recommended for shift (especially night shift) workers. But what I found really interesting is that in Poland I had absolutely no problems sleeping. No fear.  The holiday was actually so relaxing – I relaxed more than I imagined. Or hoped. And I don’t know if it is because all what happened last year happened in my house in UK. So I have no bad memories in mum’s house in Poland. Or maybe it was the thought that there was someone else with me in the house (mum). So I didn’t feel alone. Maybe it’s the feeling of being alone which is daunting. So although I do know that mum wouldn’t be much help in an emergency situation… maybe just knowing I wasn’t alone was enough. But I have rested and I have relaxed. I haven’t relaxed mentally so well in ages. I could say that my fear-wild-animal in the cage was asleep.

But on the positive –  since I’ve been back I attended a Wellbeing at work course. It was work related but we have talked about wellbeing in physical and mental sense. We were also discussing what’s available in my place of work but also in general what is good for our wellbeing overall.

I thought I’d summarise few things here so I wont’ forget what’s been said.

First of all change – The less we think of condition (reason) the less likely we are going to make changes. People continue to practice unhealthy behaviours because of incorrect perception about the risk they bring. If you perceive condition/reason as serious – you will more likely change habits.

We should be doing 30min of physical activity five times per week. And we need many different types of exercise, yoga, body pump, spinning or resistance exercise (I need to check what resistance exercise is and how can I fit it into my routine!). I was also thinking of doing some yoga. Need to check yoga CDs or books. Or you tube. I’m not very good with YouTube I have to admit.

The other thing for me to check is Dr Jayson Funj and his recommendation about fasting. Which would go nicely with my low carb diet and book by Tom Kerridge. So, just to touch on that – 25th of March I started low carb diet. I knew Tom Kerridge lost a lot of weight but I didn’t know that he did exactly that. Low carb diet. I got his book as it was a very good price on Kindle… only about £2!! so recipe book is not the best on Kindle but  hey, beggars can’t be choosers!! I got inspired by his introduction and advice. I think it summarises the diet very well. I only glimpsed on the recipes so far, but will have a proper look later. They use quite a few fairly expensive and fancy ingredients so not sure how well it will suit me.

Apparently Happiness is 50% genetics, 40% our control and only 10% external circumstances. I’m not sure what can or can’t we do about the genetics, but 40% in our hands is huge, isn’t it?? And we are not happy when we are stressed or worried. I had no idea that a stress curve existed. Because when we don’t have enough stress – we are in stagnation, have no motivation to do anything. The same if we have too much stress – we start to have physical symptoms and be unhappy which can lead us to being Overstressed and eventually to a mental breakdown. So the point is to keep ourselves in the middle – it’s always about balance. Too little stress isn’t good for us either. I have not really thought that some stress is needed. It motivates us. So we can have many activities to manage stress. We tend to do things to di-stress. We can do things like walking, yoga, reading, meeting up friends – which cover up the stress but don’t take it away (called palliative). Or we could for example drink more alcohol or eat chocolate – they help us feel better for a short while but the stress does come back and they can be harmful (called Indirect activities). And finally we could do meditation or mindfulness for example which would be a Direct activity which helps us acknowledge the problems and improve the situation.

It is recommended to have a selection of palliative type activities so we don’t rely only on one. They help us to reduce stress. I think it also works for worrying and anxiety. That leads us to the Fight or Flight response of our brain. I admit this is something I have to look into more. But one sentence I’ve heard which caught my attention was: in stress our mind can manage only two decisions – it either fights or flight. And nowadays, in current society exposure to prolonged stress keeps our mind in that state for too long. Plus neither of them really works. You can’t fight or flight really from your problems. To help ourselves dealing with stress it is recommended to increase physical activity or keep stress diary and mindfulness.

Interestingly we covered a bit of CBT as well.

We have an event A and we have it’s consequences C. And event makes us feel in a certain way. But in between A and C is – B our perception of the event which can change the consequences. This is a pause. In fact instead of REACTING to an event we should pause and learn to RESPOND to it. it is so powerful, isn’t it? We have a choice how we RESPOND. And the way we respond we can learn. Pause is good. We can re-train our mind.

I think I’ve written it before here but it comes back to the positive affirmation and law of attraction. If you say something often enough you will believe in it. And we tend to do that we negative things and take them as facts. “I’m useless”, “I’m fat, ugly, worthless” etc etc But instead let’s talk to ourselves “I’m pretty, sexy, intelligent”. Why do we believe more ourselves talking negative things than positive?? I’m sooo guilty of it. But actually – why do I repeat to myself all those negative comments and BELIEVE in them but when I try to say something positive I dismiss it straight away. Oh no, let’s try it. Let’s talk to ourselves positively and imagine if only it’s true – if we repeat it often enough we may actually believe in it as well 🙂

Thoughts are not facts. Especially negative as they can cause more harm. Change your mind, imagine you are in a court and put your thoughts for a judgement. Challenge your thoughts like in a court. What evidence do we have it is true? Our brains have a negative bias.

We are spending too much time to try to control things we have no control over. What we can’t change we need to accept and try not to make judgement. That brings us up to John Kabat Zinn as someone who brought us mindfulness. And as in a circle  – brings me back to Headspace. Meditation. Something I started last year and stopped.

And just to end this rather long post, apparently we should be doing 3 things each day to promote mental wellbeing.

  1. something which makes us happy
  2. something which gives us sense of achievement (even small, like cleaning, knitting etc)
  3. something which makes us close to someone, intimate (can also be small – to open up to someone or even just stroke a cat

There are also 5 ways to wellbeing. CLANG

  1. C – CONNECT friends, family, relationship at work or outside
  2. L – LEARN learn something new
  3. A – ACTIVE physical exercise
  4. N – NOTICE take a notice, mindfulness, be in a moment, practice gratitude, consciously think of few things you are grateful for
  5. G – GIVE give to others, but don’t forget to give to yourself too.

But if I go back to the beginning, where I said that my PTSD/anxiety – my fear – I cope with it better. If I look back – I did unconsciously exactly what’s been recommended in the course. I love my friends and appreciate friendships so much in life. I try to learn something new – I signed for swimming lessons and I do mean to learn Spanish. I try to be more active. I practice gratitude and positive thinking. And I learnt to give and be kind to myself. And I think the diet helps as well.

So overall – small steps. It’s all about small steps. You can’t overcome fear and anxiety all at once. And that’s what I wanted to do. But the small step technique is like a water going around a stone. If it goes long enough it will finally make a change.

Happy Easter if you celebrate! 🙂

 

Meet Fuzzy

As an impulse of a moment I decided to buy a hamster. She’s Russian dwarf hamster. I thought it would help my older daughter to adjust to the difficult situation we are in. She doesn’t like talking about her feelings so maybe if she had a “friend” it would help her. Also maybe life would be less scary. She really warmed up to the idea, thought about names, promised to clean the cage etc etc. Obviously when we finally got it, she cooled down a bit ha ha but hey. That’s life. I spent lots of time reading about taming hamsters… types of hamsters, food for hamsters. You can train your hamsters etc. I tried to approach it today and after giving her few days to get used to us and the new environment I used the chance of cleaning her cage to try and handle her. Nothing is as easy as it seems.

But maybe that’s part of my answers. Maybe in life nothing comes just like that and we need to put some effort into things to achieve success. I have to say the hamster didn’t bite me but she was nowhere near feeling comfortable or liked being handled. She was petrified. It will take a lot of time to become friends. And my excitement got a bit less. I was feeling fed up a bit. I think it’s a part of my character I’ve never before realised. I didn’t know I have problem facing troubles. I thought I was strong and facing difficulties with pride. The last six months was a very deep journey inside myself. It’s amazing how little we know ourselves.

Happiness

What’s happiness? Today it’s sunshine, new Pusheen cup and coffee, own grown strawberries and my cats 🙂

Today is chemo number 6. It’s 3 more to go but we know now what is coming. How much we didn’t want to go it’s even difficult to imagine. I’m anticipating the worst. But maybe this time I am prepared? I can’t quite work out if I feel better and stronger or I am letting myself fall into the false sense of security….

It is good apparently to find at least one positive in a day and mine are listed above.

What this chemo brings we will see. Hopefully whatever it is I can cope better.