I was on the radio tonight with the ‘Gorgeous Danny Smith’ on his Drivetime show on Radio Verulam (you can listen again for a week here – monday 5.30-6pm), talking about ‘Self Love’. It’s a bit cliched maybe, but also really important, and something I’ve been thinking about and wishing a few of my friends would practice more this month.
First off, I need to explain to you why it is so important to you and to the ones you care for, and your success that you love yourself.
1) Healthy relationships – when you don’t love yourself, you will attract people looking for someone damaged. Not being nasty, but they are either a hero type looking to rescue you (not always healthy, as it creates co-dependence) or take advantage of you (which can turn really abusive).
2) Your Vulnerability – This means that you will be much more vulnerable in your relationships, and often rather than considering your opinion of yourself to be really important, you can prioritise that of the person taking advantage of you, who is unlikely to give you a balanced view. This could be someone tending towards the abusive side of the behaviour spectrum, or someone definitely that way, so the temptation to make you feel small and reduce your confidence will be too big for them to ignore. I’m not suggesting that you become an arrogant person who only considers themselves – I’m just suggesting that ‘To thine own self be true’ is an old and wise adage (Danny being much younger than me, hadn’t heard this one!).
3) You Loved Ones – Meanwhile your ability to give the people you love what they deserve will be severely effected if you don’t rate yourself and take care or nurture yourself. You won’t have enough energy to show them you love them or confidence to go out and achieve success and follow through of your purpose.
How To Do It?
So hopefully you have heard all this ‘put yourself first’ and ‘love yourself’ malarkey enough, for this post to be pointing you in the right direction. The problem is, how to convince yourself you are worth it and keep at it.
1) Time: Honestly, this is something that takes a time. For some it could be 6 months, but for many of us, it’s more of a ‘journey’. The good news is, that once enroute, you will start to get immediate rewards; you don’t have to wait for the end when you totally love yourself unconditionally.
2) Compare like for like: You need to start comparing like for like. That is, YOU ARE NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE, so stop feeling guilty because you need more support than Mrs X or you aren’t as brilliant as Mr N! No you are not as brilliant at that, but there will be SOMETHING ELSE that you are better at. Yes, you might need more help or support than her, but you are in a DIFFERENT situation. Plus you don’t know the whole situation they are in, as people always lie and keep stuff quiet!
3) Stop Aiming For Perfection: All this stuff you judge yourself for; what are your expectations, are they possible? Maybe there is something that you could improve. Great. Go do it, and don’t worry about it anymore. But I bet you a huge amount of stuff is things that aren’t that important, or aren’t you at all, or aren’t possible. I have an issue where I don’t judge other people for their standard of living at all, but for some reason I have very high expectations on myself; ridiculous! The true me is happy wherever she is, as long as she has access to fresh air, a few pretty things (gotta love some vintage pretties!) and happy kids.
4) Think about your loved ones: When you are struggling, think how will it help your loved ones for you to love yourself more. You’ll be so much more able to be present with them, plus you’ll be mentoring a healthier way of living to your children.
5) Your Goals and dreams: In order to achieve, we need to feel that we are worth it, and deserve the success and abundance. So remember your biggest dream the next time you are mean to yourself!
6) Make mistakes: Allow yourself the right to make mistakes, take responsibility for them and gain the confidence to accept them. It is HUGE to be able to feel confident enough to accept when we didn’t get something perfect, or could improve something, or made a mistake. It’s actually a lovely feeling to be able to put your hands up and accept responsibility for it. Only then can you actually move forward and improve things as well. This will ensure you are much better at your job as well; as an employer I can tell you it’s not the mistakes that bother me, but the backstabbing and trying to cover their butts that is the issue (don’t ever try that with me, I always know!).
What is it
So you want to learn to love yourself? How will you know you are doing it? When you naturally act as though you have:
1) The right to the basics: Many mums refuse themselves tea, flossing and peeing, but we deserve those 2 minutes!
2) The right to health: We all deserve refresh air, exercise, fruit & veg, water, rest and sleep. Yes, I know it may not be viable for you to get everything you would like (e.g. Mums), but we all deserve some time every week to nurture ourselves and look after our health.
3) Your thoughts: Think kind thoughts about yourself and stop saying horrible things to yourself.
4) Friends: Busy lives are a given, but we all have the right to see/talk to friends sometimes. I’ve just seen a friend who I haven’t seen in 2yrs. Yes, I would have loved to have seen her more, and no it wasn’t possible. But I took the whole 2.5hrs available when I did get the chance, and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Move soon please hun!).
5) Pamper: It might only be once a year, but we all deserve to have a haircut sometimes, or a treat. I wrote lots of ideas in this previous post about pampering.
6) Hobbies: Again I know that time is restricted, especially if you have a baby. But life comes back to some form of normality (ish!) eventually, and everyone has some kind of creative urge or favourite hobby that is a break from every day life and expresses themselves. I’m not good at it, but I love to draw, and have even made a few things with my sewing machine.
7) Good Boundaries: We all have the right to refuse to be treated badly. I’m not suggesting you start an argument, or create conflict, or try to change your partner. Just that it’s Ok to be clear on what behaviour you can and can’t accept. How to explain to people and teach them how to treat you, is one of my most popular blog posts here.
I hope that this blog post is the one that kicks you into action to show yourself more compassion, love, and appreciation! If not, I hope that it’s not far off and the next time someone mentions it, you decide it is time. Remember that everyone wants to be loved, but the most important person to love you is yourself.
I was chatting with Curly headed boy the other day, as he’d been giving us some serious attitude for a few weeks. He was clearly angry with me, but I couldn’t work out what on earth was the matter.
So I picked one of those evenings – you know the ones when they want to chat lots, and talked him through anger and explained what it is.
The problem with anger, is that most often it comes from us not actually knowing how we are feeling and what has triggered us. So it often doesn’t achieve what we really need. By understanding it a bit more, we can make sure that things change.
This is the good anger. The one you don’t want to suppress. The one that will protect you and make you stand up for yourself.
This is all about when you know something isn’t right, it’s not fair, or is unjust.
It’s not always the right answer to compromise and keep the peace. Especially when we are people pleasers!
It’s also a protective anger – this is the one you would see in me if my ‘mother lion’ got triggered. It’s the the full on, controlled, ‘don’t mess with me’ anger.
2) Anger with someone else
Ironically we can often be angry with someone else, but get triggered by someone who isn’t actually anything to do with it. They do something minor and then get it in the neck because we are so angry with the other person.
Sadly the person that we are angry with are often less intimidating and easier to take our anger out on as well, so we find someone who is less threatening that the real person we are angry with.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to know why we are angry, because it’s not fair to be angry with the kids just because our boss is causing us trouble. Or even worse in the case of a divorce, it’s not right to be angry with the kids when it’s got nasty between the parents.
3) Overwhelmed anger
This is when there is something else that has stressed you so much, that suddenly you flip at the slightest thing. Stuff that would normally not bother you, that you can deal with, suddenly is too much. It’s often nothing to do with the person who we are actually with.
This is something us Mum’s are terribly prone to doing – we get tired, overwhelmed and stressed, and then at the end of a long day find ourselves shouting at the kids and threatening them with something really over the top.
Kids are good at this too – if mine get angry, I will first check to see if they are hungry, thirsty, tired or need fresh air. Then I look to see if they are over stressed for some reason. The thing is that they are kids – I can’t expect them to manage their emotions, so if they are in one of these states I am much more cautious with my punishments.
Did you know that teenagers literally have all the wires (technical term!) not work in their heads properly? They can’t recognise expressions as well as a toddler. Hence they jump to conclusions and get grumpy at the simplest of things. I used to find Reiki really helps them – it’s amazing how they can express themselves afterwards. Anything where they get some relaxing downtime will help them come back to themselves. (Plus food, drink, sunshine and sleep of course!).
The ideal here is to put our hands up and say ‘sorry’ – after all we all make mistakes and everyone gets tired and grumpy.
4) Not saying what we think anger
How often have you been angry with someone because they’ve done or not done something? But did you tell them? Or did you let it boil inside?
This encourages us to think that other people are to blame for how we are feeling. But the question is are they? Or is it purely our inability to deal with them? I’m not talking about serious and obviously wrong behaviour that would trigger No1 – I’m talking about us all seeing the world slightly differently.
This is often really difficult, because we ignore the first signs of small irritation or discomfort, and only take notice when it’s bigger. So if you’ve waited too long, try to step aside, write down the facts and then have a chat with the person on neutral ground.
5) Pretending we aren’t angry
This is technically ‘not angry’, but we are angry, we just pretend we aren’t.
This is when people do those passive aggressive posts on Facebook. Or make sarcastic digs that are meant to be ‘funny’.
It can also make us into bully’s (check out my posts on bullying – I just got picked as one of the top websites worldwide by an Anti Bullying website).
6) Serious anger issues
Then there are times when it’s not that simple, when the anger is too frequent and starts to control us. When it means that we are aggressive, scary, violent, and it starts to affect our relationships.
If you have this sort of anger, then first check with your Doctor, as you might have a physical problem, that is causing it. If it’s not physical then they should be able to get you help from someone specialised in anger issues.
So for this months chat with Danny Smith at Radio Verulam on his Drivetime show, I thought we’d talk about ways to help you feel more secure in 2014.
(If you fancy listening to us, you can for ONE week only here, I’m at 5.30-6pm).
Christmas is a very stressful time that can make us feel insecure. Plus, although it seems as though the recession is turning around, I think it might take a bit longer to kick in for some parts of the country than others.
Lots of things make us feel secure: friendships, relationships, health, jobs, money and family. It’s about finding a balance that counts.
So for those worried about 2014, I thought that I’d give some tips on how to make sure that you are safe and sound:
1) Be nice.
I have a friend who is a ‘Nomad’ – i.e. technically someone who has nowhere to live. She’s been a nomad for nearly a year, and has always had somewhere to stay. The main reason being she is genuinely lovely. People love having her around (check out her blog, it’s fascinating reading). Being a nice person, must therefore be one of the the best insurances that there is. Never ignore your friends; you may need them one day!
Always be gracious and think the best of people; it’s amazing what can happen when you are like that as opportunities can come from everywhere (and if you are ungracious you will lose out).
2) Ask for help
But of course, she wouldn’t have got any help if she didn’t ask! If you let people know that there is a problem, then they will help out, and EVERYONE deserves help in a time of need.
There are also some great charities out there providing support like Homestart or food banks; there should be no shame in asking. When I spoke to someone from Homestart last week, she said that this year there are families struggling terribly, much more than in recent years. You are not the only ones. (A HUGE thank you to all our customers, friends and neighbours btw – we managed to collect a staggering 85 presents for Homestart Watford this Christmas!)
3) Give back in return
In return my friend helps people out – she’s been a godsend for us for the past few months. It’s quite true that people will get sick of a taker, but if you always make sure that you give in return (but don’t over give), then they will feel fulfilled by helping you. It might be that you can’t do anything in return for a while, but that’s OK. Also, it might be that you are limited in what you can do; don’t worry about that, and don’t under-estimate the value of what you CAN do.
4) Listen to your intuition
In a busy world, your intuition can save you time, and warn you of things that you are ignoring that could cause a problem. Taking time to chill every day for a few minutes, try a simple meditation, go for a walk, or have a bath, can really help you to hear your intuition more.
Try putting a little away each week, even if it is just £1. Even if you are in debt. Aim to build up to 10% of your income. This sounds crazy, but it has a magical effect and it’s never too late to start.
I don’t mean ‘take the blame’, but I do mean looking at what you’ve been feeling powerless about and taking responsibility for your part in it. Your attitude will affect your job and your relationships. Ironically it is very unattractive to be around someone who is full of excuses, always blaming everyone else and feeling victimised by situations that others see differently. Whereas someone who is strong enough to see their mistakes and their part in a situation is much more attractive in a relationship or workplace.
9) Take care of your health
Don’t ignore those niggles. Stop putting it all off. One of my best friends died 2 weeks ago – sometimes the body gets irritated with waiting for us and there are no more last chances. It doesn’t have to be momentous, just take little steps. A little more exercise, drinking enough water, improving your posture and breathing, and eating healthier will make a big difference.
10) Make contingency plans, then put them away
I don’t believe in worrying. But I do believe that insurance and planning ‘just incase’ is worth it. But once you’ve done it, put it away until you need it. Face your fears, don’t let them run you.
I wish you all a wonderful 2014, because we ALL deserve it this year!
I’m going to give you several ideas for quickly taking a pause in your day, and you can then proudly say that you ‘meditate’ every day!
3 Rules For All Options
1) Breathe in through your nose (it calms you) and out through your mouth
2) Breathe into your abdomen/tummy – you want it coming out as the air goes in, and then flattening as the air goes out.
3) If a thought pops into your head, don’t worry about it, just stop thinking about it and go back to the exercise
A Quick Reconnect Option
This can be from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
Follow the rules while standing, sitting or lieing down, whatever works.
Imagine that there are roots coming out of your feet and going down into the ground.
Imagine that as you breathe in and out there is energy coming up to your from the ground and all your stress is going back down into the earth.
Imagine a string from the top of your head up into the sky.
Imagine that as you breathe in and out there is healing coming down from the ‘universe’ (or whatever you like to think as out there) and all your pains and worries are leaving as you breathe out.
Keep breathing a little longer now with energy coming into you from both the earth and the sky and your stresses and worries going out.
Making a Cuppa, Showering or Brushing Your Teeth Or Anything
Make a habit of taking a pause and being really PRESENT (i.e. not worrying about what happened or what is to happen) during one of your normal daily routines. You are going to focus on just that exercise for the next 1-3 minutes.
Follow the rules above.
Focus on the SIGHTS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTE and TOUCH only.
Obviously this is tricky when the kids are in the room and it can be difficult in the early months to get any time without a child – do what you can and adapt the idea. It can even be done with children e.g. while cuddling a child to sleep or feeding them.
Making tea – the sound of your feet moving across the kitchen, the sound of the water going in the kettle, the heaviness of the kettle as the water goes in it, the slight coldness of the water splashing, the click of the kettle going back on it’s stand, the boiling of the water, the smells wafting out of the fridge as you open it to get the milk etc etc
Showering – the feel of the water (this is great for imagining it washing away all your stress), the temperature in the room as it warms up and gets steamy, the smell of the soap, the look of the water dropping down, the shinyness of the taps, the sound of the water dropping etc etc
Brushing your teeth – the sensation of the toothpaste hitting your tongue, the sound of the brushing in your head, the different areas of your teeth, the sound of the water, the taste of it when you swill your mouth out, the coldness of the tap etc etc.
Lieing next to a child as they fall asleep – this is a great exercise because calming yourself will calm them more quickly. Focus on hearing their breathing, maybe the feel of their skin if they need you to stroke them, the temperature in the room and feel of the bed, then REALLY notice their hair, eyes, ears and hands.
During Walking Or Exercising
Anything from 5-30mins.
If you get a chance to go for a walk or a run, cycle or even a swim on your own, then you can extend the exercises above.
Start with a quick reconnect (you can do this on the move once you’ve practiced it a few times).
Use the 3 rules.
Plus be present by focussing on the SIGHTS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTE and TOUCH.
If you can be out in nature that is ideal as it is grounding, but needs must and a treadmill or pool will also work.
You will find that as it is probably a longer period of time that thoughts will start to pop into your head more often. I find it particularly difficult to do with without ideas for blog posts to pop in (I ask them to come back later!). You have 2 options on how to deal with these thoughts:
1) Notice what the thought was about, don’t beat yourself up, and move on to focussing on being present again.
2) Notice the thought and rather than ‘thinking’ about it, keep noticing it.
This is more tricky, but what you are aiming to do is to be ‘present’ with the thought or worry or stress. So don’t try to fix it, don’t think about it and don’t worry about it. Just notice it. How strong is it? Where does it affect your body? How strong is the effect? You are basically saying ‘yes, hello worry, you don’t need to worry, I’ve seen you’. Over time it should lessen it’s hold on you, a bit like an insistent toddler or dog that nags and nags until it knows you’ve seen it.
So there you have it, 3 different ways to add ‘meditation’ into your day as easy as pie. They follow the concepts behind Zen or Mindfulness meditations, but from the perspective of a busy mum, who hasn’t got time to study anything really complicated!
If I get a chance I’ll do a blog post soon about Shamanic meditation and the ways that you can use meditation to actually ‘answer’ questions or help you make decisions. It’s pretty cool!
Have a go and let me know how you do – if you have any questions, just pop them below in your comments.
But you need some outside help from a professional, so where to go?
I’m going to give a brief introduction to some of the therapies that might help. They are all my views, based upon my experiences, so some people may disagree! However, the idea is to have a look and see which ones jump out to you as suiting you.
Available free from NHS if you can wait, or private.
Tends to be pretty cheap e.g. £40 per session.
Face to face.
But takes a long time.
Basically the idea is that you talk about stuff, so that you can dig down to find out ‘why’ you feel the way that you do. It is really useful if you aren’t sure why, and for some people just understanding can shift the problem.
The downside is that for others, they just get stuck deeper in the story of their lives and become more of a victim.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Available free from the NHS if you can wait, or private.
Tends to be pretty cheap e.g. £40 per session.
Face to face or over the phone/skype.
I love CBT, it’s what got me interested in personal development in the first place over 20yrs ago. It helps you to tackle the thoughts that are running around in your head and look at life a different way. The idea is that by behaving differently we will get a different outcome from situations.
I think it is quicker, but maybe less deep and therefore if you don’t understand much about your thought processes/past it will be difficult to use it to get over bigger problems. Plus, behaving differently doesn’t always make people react differently.
Tends to be private and ranges from cheap to very expensive.
Face to face or over the phone/skype.
A coach is more focussed on the present and giving you goals that you can aim for and less about trauma’s from your past.
Be careful and thoroughly check their training and experience, as currently there aren’t any laws about who can and can’t call themselves a coach.
Some people use NLP (neurolinguistic programming) in the coaching, to help you. Simply put they look at how your language affects your mind and therefore your behaviour. I personally find it a little too orientated towards the mind. I prefer a more intuitive approach with a more feeling/heart centered objective. It can feel very manipulative, but it is’t without merit.
Normally private. Starting to get more expensive probably £60 or more.
You MUST get a well trained, well experienced hypnotherapist. But if you get one, this can be a quick method of going into the past and working out what is causing your pain and then dealing with it. Make sure that if they ‘remove’ a negative habit that they replace it with a positive alternative.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
Private. But can be cheap and you can learn it yourself. Probably £60.
I suspect the usefulness of it depends on the experience and intuition of the practitioner and how comfortable you feel with them.
EFT has been around for a while, but I didn’t become interested until recently. I think that it has settled down now and is a very well established option. The idea is that by discussing our problems whilst tapping on certain meridian points (energy points in the body), it reduces how upset we are about it, then we will be able to see things differently and find a new way of seeing our life or tackling the problem. It can be very light e.g. just looking at a headache, or go deeper into why.
I learned a form of kinesiology 10yrs ago (Resonance Repatterning) which is very quick at dealing with people’s problems (I used to specialise in serious mental health issues). The body has a muscular on/off reaction which you can use to check what beliefs and problems you have. It’s great because it bi-passes your opinions and the potential biases of the practitioner, to make sure that you actually get to the ‘real’ truth really quickly. Then a healing technique will be used to ‘shift’ the problem and replace it with a more positive option.
There are several different options, some more structured than others. It can be a bit wacky, but very effective.
Normally private (dieticians might be free). Mid-priced around £60
It’s amazing what physical problems and some emotional ones can be resolved with the help of a nutritionist (better than a dietician in my opinion) or naturopath. The naturopath training is longer and more rigorous, but they are also more likely to suggest bigger changes to your patterns and they can suggestion supplements and herbs to help you out as well.
Never under estimate the power of a simple supplement, mineral, vitamin or herb. In fact if you start to take a few, I would recommend checking in with a professional to make sure that the combination you are taking is OK.
Private. Often after a long initial session, they can help you quickly and you only pay a small amount.
I’m a big fan of homeopathy, but it hasn’t worked well for me so far. You get a little sugar pill that is meant to redress the balance in the body and can help with emotional, mental or physical problems.
Herbalism has helped me a lot and is of course where modern medicine started.
Private. But normally cheap and you can learn it yourself. Probably £60.
Reiki is a lovely form of hands on healing where the practitioner gently touches or hovers their hands just above the body. It can help physical, mental and emotional problems. I became a ‘Reiki Master’ 13 yrs ago – it’s not that clever actually, it basically means ‘teacher’. I LOVE Reiki for it’s simplicity. But be warned, some of the people who do Reiki are mad as a box of frogs (in the nicest way!) and although it has improved, there is no standard teaching, so some people mix in other alternative therapies e.g. crystal healing and all sorts.
Please don’t jump to learn it straight away – take some time out for yourself first. If you do learn it, remember to focus on just yourself and your family first. Don’t run off to heal the world!
There are also other forms of healing. Some people are just ‘natural’ healers, i.e. they are born with or got the ability to give healing to people. Others are ‘spiritual healers’, which means that they believe they get help from other spiritual beings.
Private. Can be cheap if you find someone local, but expensive in salons.
E.g. Massage, Reflexology, Shiatsu Massage, Bowen Technique, Chiropractor, Osteopath
You could easily get a lovely therapist to give you a massage or reflexology session, talk through your worries and get a lovely relaxing treatment at the same time. This is a very viable alternative and helps support the body while you are stressed.
Demartini Method – this was the final therapy that I learned (I’m a senior certified facilitator). It tends to be more expensive, but very transformative and is based upon the healing power of gratitude.
Meta Medicine – a great method for discovering hidden reasons or potential events that had a hand to play in physical illnesses.
The Work of Byron Katie – A very simple method with just 4 questions, that you can also read about and use in your own life. I find that one of the questions reduces about 80% of my stress levels.
My advice is that we ALL need OUTSIDE help from time to time and sometimes our friends and family are not the right people to help us.
However, it would be unwise to ALWAYS rely on outside help as that doesn’t help to improve our self-esteem and sense of independence and self-sufficiency.
When picking someone to work with, they need to be strong enough to challenge you a little, otherwise you won’t be able to break out of your patterns. However, you need to have a good rapport with them and feel very safe and certain of them – that is probably the most important thing.
You are also looking for someone you appears to be pretty sorted, or at least more sorted than you are in the particular area of life that you are struggling with. It’s fine if they have experienced the problem, it’s just that you want them to be past it!
Another ‘rule’ is not to ‘overwork’ yourself. So don’t have a massage in the same week as a therapy session etc. Always leave time for you to adjust after a session.
I hope that this gives you an nice easy introduction to some of the options, therapies and alternative treatments that are available. You are very welcome to tweet/facebook me for more information or if you hear of a therapy I haven’t mentioned.
It has good bits and not so good bits, but that’s life heh!
It explains why I’ve been a little quiet (but you may not have noticed).
It explains why I’ve been a bit flakey and unreliable (I hope you haven’t noticed).
It’s also about the next 6 months
What’s been going on?
I’ve been struggling with ‘back pain’ since January, which just seemed to get worse and worse. I’ve tried a very experienced Osteopath and her Physiotherapist, then an Acupuncturist.
I also started looking at potential emotional stressors, as my opinion is that there is always an emotional/mental aspect to an illness, as well as a nutritional/environmental/genetic/physical reason (I’m going to someone who does a form of behavioural kinesiology that I used to be a practitioner of).
But it got worse and worse, and then I realised that I had gone from just a general tired lethargy to being properly depressed, isolated, feeling hopeless and miserable, as the pain was excruciating.
So I went to the doctor. It took me a while because of the receptionists and ridiculous booking policy. But I got some anti-inflammatories, that helped to turn the pain levels down.
I was so frustrated with myself. 13 years ago when I had a lovely little Reiki practice, I used to be able to turn a bad back (one that needed surgery) around in under 3 months. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t fix myself. Of course this didn’t help!
I was also beginning to worry that I didn’t have a bad back, because my Dad died after 6 months of a bad back from cancer.
Then I decided to try a Pilates studio who did a mixture of Pilates and Osteopathy called Osteolates, which at last seemed to make a dent in the pain. After I had to go back to the doctor for more pills, the Pilates guy had a talk with me and told me to go back and get more help.
The doctor listened and then said ‘have you heard of Fibromyalgia?’.
And so it is a few weeks later after some tests that I now understand, not just why my back hurts, but also why my tummy has been worse and I needed the probiotics and why I’ve gone from being quite organised, to being so flakey that I can look at my diary and STILL double book something.
For me it is pains down both arms, hips, legs, across my shoulders, right hand side of my back, left hand side of my neck, sometimes head, right hand side of my jaw, and a feeling of something trapped behind my left hand shoulder.
It’s really bad in the morning, and I HAVE to have a warm shower to get moving. It will ease off by mid-afternoon, but is awful in bed at night, so has disturbed my already disturbed sleep.
Others have it a loss less, and it’s more of a tingling or lack of sensation in hands and feet, which is scarily reminiscent of MS.
Some have it a lot more and can hardly work or move with it; I’m very lucky this is not me and I’m focussed on improving my symptoms, so that I don’t end up debilitated by it. (It’s not however a degenerative or terminal illness luckily).
I also have had a return of my old IBS symptoms and worse sleep (they don’t know if sleep is the cause or bad sleep happens because of Fibromalgia).
Worst of all is the fibre-fog which had me forgetting 2 appointments with a health visitor, and Curly Headed Boy one day telling me off for being so disorganised.
At first I was a bit shell shocked as it seems a much more complicated thing to tackle than just a bad back. I’m also not very keen on ‘labels’. But now I’m getting my head around it, I think that Im much better off knowing, as I can now make some changes. I’m really lucky my doctor was aware of it and open to it, because many aren’t.
So my plan?
I’m backing off work big time for the next 6 months:
Paid blog posts are too much effort if you do them properly, they also add to the list of ‘To dos’.
I’m still on facebook and twitter; but I’ll be around a lot less
I have an existing client who I will continue to support as she doesn’t need weekly help, but I wont take any more on.
This also takes the pressure off finding a nursery for Little Dimples (which has been disastrous).
I’m going to play more with the kids and have tea with mates more.
I’ll keep blogging once or twice a week because I love it and doing my monthly Lifestyle feature for Radio Verulam.
The doctor has just started me on some pills to give me better sleep and help with the pain. They are actually a mild-antidepressant when taken in bigger quantities, so I don’t think I want to stay on for too long. But a break and a chance for my body to recover seems like a good idea. Apparently it also confirms the diagnosis, if they work (which after one night I’m pretty sure they do).
The dentist has referred me to the hospital to see if they can help me with the jaw pain. Apparently my teeth are wonderful, which must be down to the little water-spray gadget I got from Britmums live, as I’ve always been rubbish at flossing!
I’ve improved enough to start going to the Pilates classes at the studio (rather than 1to1’s), so I’ll stick with that to keep my spine moving and get my core stronger. Non-pounding exercise is meant to help a lot, so I need to gradually add 3 more things per week.
I’m going to start ‘meditating‘ once a week, which is meant to be great for stress (which escalates the pain dramatically); but I’ve found a fun way, which I’ll tell you all about (it’s slightly wacky!).
I’m going to meet with a few other people who also have it to swap stories and ideas on how to tackle it.
I might look at hypnotherapy to improve my sleep as I had it once at 26 and it lasted brilliantly for 10yrs. I know loads about sleep improvement, because I’ve had so little for so long, but it would be easier to just sleep! We’ve also moved the beds around in the house and bought me a new bed to make it easier.
The doctor is going to put me down for some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which is meant to help loads with dealing with the pain.
I have a huge belief in the power of nutrition, so at some point I’m going to have to face a big change in the way I eat; probably once some of the other bits and pieces are in place. I have been a big fan of the Food hospital on channel 4 and they definitely had both eating plans for improving neurological issues and also inflammation (which are the main symptoms).
I’ll keep up with the kinesiology to dig up any emotional/mental aspects, which I suspect are from a long time ago.
I’m sorry if I’ve not always been very ‘present’ recently; it’s been because of the pain that I got bored of mentioning and the fog that has clouded me from the world.
If you need me I’m always here at the end of my blog/facebook/twitter and I love to help, so it will ‘help me to help you’ (hows about coming over for a cuppa instead?). So never feel bad about asking. However, I’m not going to look for people to help.
If I don’t get involved with your event, charity, project or other thingy, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s just that I’m taking some time out for me.
I was a bit embarrassed that I’ve gotten myself into such a state, but it’s daft to worry about that right? At least some of you Mums out there will see what can happen when you keep trying to juggle all the balls, just because you’ve been able to in the past.
Luckily I never pretended I was perfect, and hopefully my blog posts about my improvement (the power of positive thinking and all that), will help other people.
If you know anyone with one of ‘those’ illnesses which are difficult to diagnose like Fibromalgia, M.E. or CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), then you might want to point them in this direction for a while. I’d also love to hear of any blogs that you know.
Hopefully at the end of all this I’ll be a lot stronger and ready to take over the world with my books again!
Update: I’ve set up a page to record all the useful information and people that I find in my fibromyalgia journey. I’d love to hear more from fellow sufferers either here or on that page.
Sorry for the delay in posting it, my life has been a bit stressful!!
The big question is, when should you do something about being stressed and when is it just normal every day stress that goes away?
Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.
(You can either read it, or listen to the audio at the bottom if you prefer to listen to my dulcet tones!).
What is Stress
Life is always going to have it’s ups and downs, and we’ll be disappointed if we think that it’s possible to remove stress or difficulties from our lives.
But what we talked about on the show was the fact that some stress can be healthy and in a weird way enjoyable, whereas long term stress can start to have a detrimental affect on us.
So how can we tell?
It’s when it gets out of hand, and you are either constantly in fight/flight with constant adrenalin or totally shut down.
It’s an inbetween place between a difficult day and more complex problems of mental/physical health. So from that perspective it’s a good place; because it’s like a warning sign and opportunity to put things right in your life.
I was a massive stress junkie when I worked 13hrs a day, 6 days a week in IT and could easily smoke, drink coffee, nibble my nails, eat chocolate all at the same time; which is why they sent me on a pile of personal development courses and I ended up with my fascination for it. People think I’m pretty calm nowadays, but I do get stressed, maybe I just know more about dealing with it, or getting rid of it, that’s all (or I’m a good faker!).
So what causes stress?
Finances: at the moment is obvious! Being out of control, sticking your head in the sand and feeling powerless with long term financial problems which will take time to resolve is very difficult. Check out my posts about saving/managing your money, especially the last two I did for Radio Verulam on budgeting.
Physical pain or problems: This I’ve had lots of experience with for the last 6 months or so and started to understand how very stressful it can be. Especially constant pain for older people or some physical challenge that is stopping you from doing things. Check out my posts on Fibromyalgia for more info. Update: Your body can also come under stress due to allergies, intolerances, over exercise i.e. anything that put’s pressure on it and makes it feel concern for it’s safety or that it is under attack.
Work: some people love the stress of work; I love the excitement or nerves of being on radio and used to find it really helpful when I was a trainer in IT. However, you can end up overworking, or underworking or doing a job you don’t enjoy which can be constantly stressful. It does depend on the person though; if I’m bored I’m very stressed, whereas other people would love a job that was less challenging.
People: People get everywhere don’t they and they don’t half cause a lot of trouble! Friends, workmates, partners and kids are all potential creators of stress. Holding onto things that have caused you pain/trauma, that will sit in your body and eat at you. Remember, it’s worth letting go because it’s not about them, it’s about the price you pay for still being hurt or upset about something. Doing what other people think you ‘should’ do, can make you very stressed.
The good news is that we can’t always change the world around us, but we can change how we see it; so we don’t have to stay stressed.
How you know whether you are stressed?
People often ignore stress, and that can be wise if short term; I’m not recommending that you become worried about stress as it can be really healthy. After all it’s the stress that raises our adrenalin levels that got us running away from those dinosaurs all those years ago, and now keeps me on the ball when I’m doing something scary like a radio show!
But one sign that it needs looking at is when it is long term with no let up (i.e. more than a few weeks or months).
There will be also be an obvious hint because your family/friends/body will tell you. They’ll either be getting grumpy with you or if you’re lucky they’ll sit you down with a cuppa/glass of wine and ‘give you a good talking to’. Your Body will either keep getting sick or ill or give you stomach cramps. It will keep giving you warnings and when you don’t listen it keeps upping the ante so that you listen to it. (It’s trying to be helpful, even if we don’t see it that way when we have a headache!).
As the stress kicks in we become more worried, have memory problems, become indecisive, our thoughts start to control us, we have less rest, our brain going constantly, we get moody, isolated and start to feel helpless.
So don’t ignore stress as ‘just one of those things’.
It’s not ‘one of those things’.
It’s a sign that a change of some sort is needed, or at least a plan for a change.
Look after yourself when you are stressed, and don’t let it turn into a full blown illness or depression. I’m a good example of ‘cobblers shoes’; I’ve been pushing myself just a little too far, for just a little too long, because I’ve always been able to cope. But I didn’t make the time to go to Pilates or rest and my body is well and truly telling me off about it.
When we don’t reduce the stress it becomes a cycle where we eat worse, drink more alcohol/caffiene, eat more chocolate, go to bed later, and then pull away from friends who would be able to help us and become isolated. So we get more stressed!
What to do about it?
This is the great place to start because if your body is happy, your emotions will be steadier and you’ll have more energy. From there you will be able to tackle your problems more easily.
Exercise 3 times per week even just for a brisk walk, get some fresh air, get a little out of breath even if it’s just 15 mins per day. This isn’t about becoming a Triathlete, this is about having some fun and rejuvenation.
Drink water, have a habit like drinking a glass whenever you brush your teeth or come back in the house. Remember your body is like a car which won’t work without oil; we don’t work without water.
Sleep; start following a regular repeatable sleep pattern and stick to it!
Now it’s time to calm those brains down. (We’ll come back to ways of letting go of your problems, pains and hurts another time when we have more time).
Each night Count 3 blessings a night; it’s a great way to go to sleep and I promise you that you will have 3, even if it’s just a good cup of coffee or a sunny day.
Go on a complaining diet and stop talking about the stuff you don’t want or like in your life. Seriously, no talking about the horrid stuff, no thinking about it, you are totally banned unless you are sitting down with someone to make a plan to change it.
Can a book help you if you are stressed or overwhelmed or depressed?
Yes, it totally can. BUT it’s always sensible to mix being self-reliant with a bit of involvement from other people; so reading a great book doesn’t mean that sometimes we might need someone else’s help as well; wether that’s a chat with a mate, or a session with a professional.
There are some amazing books out there based on both solid theory and practical testing, which really work when dealing with emotional or mental health.
There are also some shockingly awful ones, that might sound impressive, but should be avoided with a barge pole.
What to avoid
Anything that mentions the word ‘Happy‘ – it’s not possible to be happy all the time, you will drive yourself crazy.
Anyone offering world peace – yep, that’s not going to happen either. Philosophically speaking, true spirituality/religion will match science; and we will always have a duality in this world of ours.
Anyone mentioning the ‘Law of Attraction‘ – at least 90% of these people don’t understand the full law and think that by focussing on what you want you will only attract those positive things into your life.
Anyone suggesting they can quickly or completely fix you and that you’ll never have to do anything about it again – yep, that’s just not the way the world works; they are probably actually very well meaning, but naive.
Books that really helped me
I have a HUGE bookshelf full of books on health, personal development, therapy and spirituality even after several massive culls. However, a small number of books have been crucial to my life. I’m listing them in order of reading, rather than priority:
Dr Phil Mcgraw
Life Strategies – He might not suit everyone, but this short, pragmatic, straight talking book was a real help to me a long time ago and I think his ‘rules’ help us ‘romantics’ to get a firmer grip on reality and how life actually is.
‘Loving What Is’ – Byron created a method called ‘The Work’ which is 4 simple questions and brilliant at dealing with some of the stresses about how people behave in our lives. I find it particularly useful from a Mum’s perspective and having only read the book (I haven’t had sessions from practitioners of ‘The work’) I can apply what she calls the ‘turn around’ to probably 80% of irritations.
Dr John F Demartini
Many books – this guy is my mentor, and I’ve studied with him for 10yrs now. He has studied more than anyone else in this field and created a great methodology for resolving stress and trauma. The most important part of his philosophy is the power of gratitude. The only problem with his work practically speaking is that if you are a busy mum juggling many things, his books might be a little too complex and challenging to start off with. They are definitely a good place to end up though. If you are into what makes people tick, then I would go for ‘The Heart of Love’. For an introduction into gratitude ‘The Gratitude Effect’ is great. For a full on introduction to his methodology go for ‘The Breakthrough Experience’ (but expect to find it challenging).
The Secret – I watched the DVD, which I think is better than the book. I would add a HUGE health warning to it as it has loads of all the things that I said you should avoid. However, it was a brilliant pick-me-up at a time when I really needed one, and being a DVD it really gets the message across that there is a lot we can control about how we think about life.
The Magicians Way – I love the simplicity of this book and the way that it is woven into a story, which makes it subtle and recommended to re-read.
The Artists Way – I’ve only just started doing this, but one aspect that she recommends I’d funnily enough also recommended in my book (she calls it the ‘morning pages’, whereas I had a section about writing our problems down). It’s a 3 month course you do yourself and is both therapeutic and also great for anyone who wants to improve the creativity in their lives. Personally I would do it in a group or with a mate and not on your own. A friend of mine who studied counselling for years said that she got more from this course than everything she had done previously, which is a huge testimonial.
Can Depression Really Go Away?
When I say ‘help’, what do I mean? Do I mean, ‘improve’, ‘change’ or ‘fix’?
I was involved in an interesting talk about this on a Facebook group the other day (which inspired me to at last write this post). It’s an interesting quandary; to give depression enough importance for it to be tackled and dealt with effectively, without giving it too much power and suggesting that it has to rule our lives forever. Remember that the stats suggest that 1 in 4 of us will at some point struggle with our emotional and mental health, but there is a huge range a difference in the types.
The difficultly is that the symptoms of depression make it tough for sufferers to have the energy to get help. Then they have to find enough energy to get the right kind of help. It does often feel like a lottery as to who does and doesn’t get good help and can be a hard slog. It can be a lot quicker to get help privately than via the NHS, but it can be a minefield to find a good therapist privately and understand all the different options.
So can depression ever really go away? Or is that only possible if you have a lighter form of it?
From my experience both personally in my life and having specialised for a many years with helping people with serious mental health issues I would say the answer is neither ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
For some people the depression might be a fleeting thing caused by life events, which once they have received some help, will recede probably never to return.
For others of us who succumb more frequently due to habits in the way that we think and see life, we might have to have considerable help in the beginning, but over the years become more and more capable of managing ourselves and the blips; therefore only having to touch in with external help every now and again. So it’s more that we learn to make sure we stay above the red line and know the warning signs of trouble coming so can get help more quickly.
For those were it extends to chemical imbalances, it is still possible to get it under control, but practically speaking there is more work to be done, and I’m not sure that standard treatment for mental health will really get people as far as some alternative therapies, which of course have the downside of being private.
So yes, I think at the very least it can be managed and improved, it might even appear to ‘go away’. But I for me it doesn’t feel as though I could now go off and forget to drink water, eat healthily, exercise, and manage my life and thoughts carefully. I don’t mind having to do those things as they have other benefits to the quality of my life, but I couldn’t stop. Maybe in another 10yrs it will be different; I hardly ever remember that I smoked for 10yrs having been ‘clean’ for over 15yrs now. Perhaps I will gain greater trust in my system to maintain itself as the years go by.
Whatever your particular situation, just remember that you are not alone, there’s nothing to feel guilty for, look after yourself physically as much as you can, get some help and don’t put up with sub-standard help or prejudiced attitudes.
If you have a favourite book that has helped you, I’d love it if you would post it below, or a blog post about books that you enjoyed.
Or if you try any of these books, please do let me know and if you have any questions about them I’m always here.
But I’m not sure that you want to know that I still have bad days? Or that sometimes I literally have to make myself read my own stuff to sort myself out? Or that this means that there is no ‘permanent fix’ out there? Is it more helpful to see a constantly positive image like Annabel Karmel gives?
So I’m having a ‘bad period’ at the moment.
Looking at the list below, it’s nothing major, it’s more the quantity. If I write down everything that has happened it makes total sense that I’m knackered, shattered, overwhelmed, and not sure which way to turn.
1) Constant side of back, shoulder and jaw pain – improving, but had it for a couple of months, and haven’t been as often to the Osteopath as I needed to go because family life ‘got in the way’ (that old excuse). So can’t run and get the escape I used to get and it’s affecting what little sleep I get.
2) Unreliable childcare – the lovely Nanny bets was ill, so the big northern one offered to cover my client sessions, then he couldn’t do it either. I’ve literally stopped booking client sessions until I can be sure of my availability, and I’m frustrated by not having had enough time to publish V2 of my book with a paperback version and get on with my new book.
3) Unreliable cleaner – it was only a couple of hours a week, but it meant that I had 2hrs that I could play with Little Dimples or not do 1/4 of the weekend doing chores. Don’t know what it is about me and cleaners, but I must have been through nearly 10 in the last 7yrs.
4) The journey to find a nursery – I must have been to every single one locally now, confusingly ranging from £14-£37 per morning. I was hoping for a cheap option in order to reduce the worry about paying for nursery, but ended up in tears just before the Jubillee after a rubbish settle; they didn’t introduce themselves to Little Dimples and only spoke to her for 5mins. When I asked how come they thought she would stay with them next time they just looked bemused. I’ve found a great one, but it’s in the expensive list and I still have the settles to do.
5) I’ve missed my mum; I’ve pretty much sorted my grief i.e. I remember her without pain, but it’s the best times and worst times that I miss having a Mum most. I’ve also not been chatting to my mates enough on the phone because I used to phone them on the way back from the school run. Last week I found my Mums favourite cousin had died; he was 88 and I saw him last year and knew I probably wouldn’t see him again; but I’m still very sad about it.
6) Of course I’ve been worried about Curly Headed Boy changing from private to state school, and there have been times when the nerves and excitement meant he’s had a few massive meltdowns. Little Dimples has not adapted to the new school run at all and I regularly have a screaming child on one of the trips.
7) I got a stomach bug, which left me exhausted and feeling nauseous just before the half-term.
8) I’m finding it weird adjusting to the northern one being a contractor as it means not taking a monthly salary and I worry that we’ll over spend. Ironically he doesn’t appreciate the fact that I don’t want to spend too much, so it’s not a popular thing to be worried about at home.
9) I just don’t seem to have the time to get all the work, family and to do’s done and it feels like walking through thick mud trying to get anything done. For example, we’re trying to work out what we need for our first camping trip, but the time it takes is ages (I’m making some Pinterest boards so that if you guys need help I can make it quicker for you). We’re worried that we picked the wrong tent and went to see another one at the weekend, but the horror of the ugliness of them all literally had me in tears ….. yep that’s the other problem, I’m like a walking waterworks at the moment. Plus I’m behind on all my health stuff – I need to see a dentist, reckon I need glasses and the old smear test reminder came through the other day. Just looking at my diary to see where I can fit them in is stressful.
3) I’ve been really lucky with treats for me and the kids from my blog, from a wooden trike, to visit to whipsnade, and outfit from Joe Browns for Britmums, an invite to both the Penn Festival and Just So Festival and a weeks holiday in Siblu france.
4) The big hairy northern one’s contract seems to be going well at the moment and there are possibilities that it will be much longer than thought.
6) Curly Headed Boy has just taken up Tap and Street Dance, so there will be lots more time for me to get some writing done on my book before the summer holidays. Plus, although it’s taking a while to settle in with the kids he’s loving the school and it’s making a big difference for him (more about that soon).
7) The nursery I’ve eventually found for Little Dimples looks really good and will take her straight through to school, with great gardens and lots of space.
8) I’ve loved the Jubilee parties, it was all great fun and felt very community orientated.
9) I’ve got a new pillow which has really helped and a new mattress arriving tomorrow.
It’s just going to be a matter of writing a list following my Dump/Delegate/Do/Delay motto and slowly working my way through all the things and accepting that I can’t click my fingers and make it better tomorrow.
But I’m going to make sure it’s better in time for the summer holidays so that I can have a lovely few weeks with the kids – that gives me 5 weeks to get through the list.
Here are my promised 6 Top Tips for beginning to turn your life around and reduce the stress and overwhelm in your life.
When Nick coffer (My Daddy Cooks) asked me to summarise my book of over 100 pages into 6 simple tips on his radio show it made my brain ache. But this is what I came up with, because without these steps the others in my book wouldn’t have worked.
In last weeks post on surviving my mental health problems I explained how come I know so much about this and why I know that the MOST important thing is to take care of your basic physical and emotional health.
Other things have helped, but this is the first step.
Life is difficult, but before you try to change everyone else and your circumstances, you can make a massive difference by just looking after yourself.
There’s no ‘one’ immediate click of the fingers answer, but this will help to get you back ‘on the right track’ and reduce the stress and discomfort. From there you can decide how far you want to change things.