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! 🙂

 

Change is possible

I haven’t written for a while. And I’ve missed it. I have so many thoughts in my head and I think it would have made few excellent posts. But then I have no time to write.

I actually started a post couple of weeks ago and I’ve deleted it. It was very negative. I was in a point where life got on top of me. Too much stress, tiredness. Mainly at work. But it influenced the rest of my wellbeing.

I have always been a believer (even though last year challenged it big time), that when we have a question in life an answer will be given to us in one way or another. It may not be presented as an answer – we may need to put some jigsaw puzzle pieces together, but nevertheless the answer will come. Last year I did not have patient to wait for answers also they were particular answers I wanted. Not even answers, I wanted certainty. All my world has been collapsed and put upside down. But since, when I calmed down I can see that some answers are given to me one way or another.

I have been to a wellbeing at work course and it was absolutely packed with information relevant to me. The counselling course I’m doing all about self exploration and self discovery.

But I would like to start from few quotes….. The first one is

“Learn to wait; invariably either things will change or your heart will”.

And that is so true. If someone told me last year I’d feel better, I wouldn’t believe. I’m not all right, I’m not 100%. I’m not and maybe never be in the place I was before. But I’ve heard today that change is good. Embrace change as it makes us grow. We should be like bamboo sticks in a hurricane. We should bend but not snap. And when the hurricane goes away, we should bounce back to even better place than before.

And that leads me to another quote of today:

“You can’t stop the waves. But you can learn to surf”.  John Kabat Zinn

I tell you my list of books to read is even longer…. But anyway, we CAN change. It is like the quote I loved so much before by Frankl – When you can no longer change the circumstances, we are challenged to change ourselves. And we CAN change.

This post becomes slightly long now and   I won’t cover everything I want… but I’ll make myself a little reminder what I need to do.

  • Go through my audiobook The Worry Trick
  • Summarise my todays course
  • Review some new applications
  • Reflection on holidays and diet

Positivity

I was meant to write last few days actually but it got so busy at work and I become frustrated and very tired. Frustrated about work and politics. I was going to write that I felt so much better. I was thinking about last year, how difficult it all was and how low I felt. It is a horrible place to be.

I don’t think it’s the best method in mental health problems but “it could always be worse”. Also I remember when I was in the middle of last year I was going through all of it, I discussed it with one of my friends and she said “I can get used to anything”. Why can’t I? Flexibility.

So, I feel better. I am doing positive affirmations as much as I can, when I remember and have time. But as soon as I have few things piling up or change of my routine – the anxiety comes back. My daughter isn’t well, I’ve been up most of the night with her. The dark scenarios I saw in my head…. But after imagine the worst, I felt – it’s not bad. What I have now it is NOT bad. As it could always be worse. Maybe if I tried I could get used to anything as well???

My evenings are much better. My nights… not. I have problems falling asleep and then I wake up with any noise. But the falling asleep is difficult. I increased my melatonin to two tablets 2mg. It’s not a big dose at all. But sometimes it helps. I still take sleeping tablets but I try not to rely on then and take them occasionally. It’s sad as sleep was never ever my problem. I could sleep anywhere, anytime – no problems. Fell asleep in 30seconds!!

Maybe it’s just time. Maybe at least I know what I’ve got and I can deal with it – at least it is not worse. But tiredness and change of routine definitely triggers my anxiety so need to remember that. I need to remember that whatever I think in moments like that is NOT prediction of the future.

Sometimes I think life is so much piling up. I have no time to catch up with everything I want. But need to take day by day, moment by moment. Not to overthink, not to go ahead in the future. I am actually coping all right. I’m trying.

To add to it even more, I started diet. I looked at the mirror and thought – enough is enough. It’s only good to say – don’t think of it now, there will be time to lose weight. Well, the time is now. I started swimming lessons so that’s completely new to me 🙂 I try to get going with the law of attraction – good thoughts bring good events. But I also get on with my crocheting. I finished one blanket and the second project is well underway 🙂

So maybe flexibility and change of focus is the answer. Law of attraction, positive affirmation and change of focus. Yes, life is not easy. Yes it’s more than I could think I would have to deal with. But I am strong.

Finished blanket 🙂
Pepper’s favourite!

Positives

I was meant to write few positives each day. I have to say that the intolerance to uncertainty was such an eye opener…. I feel like walking on the edge… still so very very close to the precipice…. but holding on the edge standing. I don’t even allow myself to doubt it won’t work. I believe strongly it will work 🙂 I have stopped my mind wandering towards old habits and imagining the seizures so many times. I have taken small steps and tried to do behavioural experiments and do what I’ve never done – act to situations different way and see if it works (basically increase my tolerance to uncertain situations rather then try to increase certainty by worrying). I have done Headspace 4 days in a row now 😉 and my anxiety is lower. I don’t feel by any means comfortable in doing it, it’s not something I do automatically I have to watch and question my own thoughts all the time. But I do feel less anxious and today I even felt somehow happy 🙂

Another positive and it’s a bit step is my husband relationship with my older daughter. So it’s quite obvious Graham has been going through a very difficult time in his life. I can’t even imagine how he felt, although I can see the physical symptoms of chemotherapy, how sick, weak, washout he was and how much trauma it’s been for his body to cause seizures (possibly the reason, but definitely not helping). He’s been very strong psychologically and emotionally. I’ve struggled mostly emotionally side which has been described in depth through here. But the girls struggled too. The little one picked up on the routine change. But the older one… had good and bad days. On some days she didn’t want to eat, couldn’t sleep, had nightmares, burst into tears randomly. She had mood swings, insecurity issues and she stopped sleeping alone. And most of all she didn’t want to stay with Graham on her own. I know how it hurt him. Today it’s the first time since 28th January they spent few hours on their own and they really really enjoyed it! 🙂

I would normally say – I don’t know if it lasts… (see – again, trying to predict the worst scenario) but the new me won’t say that. It is now, now they are happy. And we don’t need any “what if’s”. Let not allow my mind to wander. But that’s the point, need to stop myself. I’m so tempted to imagine worse case scenarios all the time but I’m making a conscious effort not to do that and also trying to distract myself.

And speaking of distraction – another positive, our little hamster Mr Fuzzy (turned out to be HIM not HER) got some treats today and he really seemed to enjoy them 🙂