How Well do you Know your Own Personality?

How Well do you Know your Own Personality?

As we approach Mental Health Awareness week next month, I am keen to focus in on this topic for the next few weeks posts. It seems to affect so many people.
Every week 1 in 6 of us experiences mental health problems.
The tagline this year is “Surviving or Thriving?” and this seems very pertinent to those of us dealing with Chronic Illness and our families also.

Personality test

Last year I came across this personality test and had a go. It only takes 10 minutes. It’s so interesting and a lot of fun. My assessment was really spot-on. I really encourage you to have a try.
However, I am not overly keen on placing labels on people and I think it’s important to remember that we are also influenced by our environment and experience. Let us not be limited by these assessments. This personality test is based on  Five Factor Personality Traits (Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics, and Identity) and a combination of a Jungian model and a Myers-Briggs test.
My personality type came out as an  INFP-T or a MEDIATOR.
MIND: 59% Introverted ( vs Extroverted)
ENERGY: 61% Intuitive (vs Observant)
NATURE: 75% Feeling (vs Thinking)
TACTICS: 51% Prospecting (vs Judging)
IDENTITY: 74% Turbulent (vs Assertive)
This type of person is described as:
  • a true idealist, always looking for good in people
  • often may be perceived as calm, reserved or shy.
  • have an inner flame that can really shine (Oh yes I like this one!)
  • can be easily misunderstood.
  • diplomats and tend to be guided by principles rather than logic, excitement or practicality.
  • having strong personal values.
  • creative and seek order and peace.

Mind

The first scale in the test, Mind, measures how we interact with our surroundings. Introverts prefer solitary activities and tend to be sensitive and extroverts prefer group situations and are energised by interaction. Introverts tend to avoid excessive stimulation and extroverts seek it out.
I wasn’t surprised to find that I was 59% introverted. I am very shy at times but I also have a social side that likes to come out to play. I find it much easier in a one-to-one situation or a small group rather than a larger group.
It is a normal characteristic of humans to take some time to get used to a new stimulus (new people, new situation) before we begin to explore the unfamiliar. The new stimulus may be something dangerous or important. Apparently, shy individuals do not accommodate to new situations easily because they sense danger where it does not exist. Their nervous system is on high alert when it doesn’t need to be. That makes sense to me and having realised that a lot of my issues over the years have come from an underlying core belief of not being safe in the world, it is all falling into place.
personality

Energy

The second scale in the test measures Energy and determines how you see the world and what kind of information you focus on. Being intuitive means being more visionary and focused on ideas, whereas the observant is more interested in facts and observable data. I wasn’t surprised that I was 61% Intuitive as that is how I work artistically and I value intuition in life,  although I do find it hard to access at times.

Nature

The third scale measures Nature and determines how we make decisions and cope with emotions. This is very interesting for me as I place great significance on how we identify and process our emotions in regard to health. People who have a thinking personality trait rather than the feeling one, are thinking with their head more than their heart. They may use logic to override their emotions and tend to hide their feelings. I tested as 75% Feeling which is a considerable amount, but again it doesn’t surprise me as I have known I was empathic for many years and am well acquainted with its’ benefits and dangers. Feeling types are sensitive, empathic and emotionally expressive. They still use logic and have strong beliefs but tend to consider everyone’s feelings in a decision.
Personality

Tactics

The Tactics scale focuses on our approach to work, planning and decision-making. Judging individuals are decisive and highly organised. They prefer structure and predictability. Prospecting individuals are good at improvising and tend to be flexible and nonconformist. I came up as almost 50:50 in this one which also feels accurate to me, as I like planning and spontaneity. I like to keep my options open with some things and at other times to have thought through all possibilities.

Identity

In the last part of the test a final scale measures Identity, showing how confident you are in your abilities and decisions. You are placed on a scale from assertive to turbulent.
Assertives are self-confident, self-assured and resistant to stress. Turbulents, on the other hand, are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They experience a wide range of emotions and tend to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve.
While the Assertive variable may seem more positive, there is a positive side to the Turbulent in that they may be more driven to succeed. Being called Turbulent is not something I ever expected as I am pretty unflappable and only my children seem to drive me to lose my temper (as only children can!). I understand now that they are using the word turbulent to mean something different.

“Constant Improvers” (Introverted with Turbulence)

Constant Improvers are apparently sensitive and contemplative individuals who enjoy having their own space and freedom. The website goes on to say that Constant Improvers have a strong drive, but it comes paired with a strong fear of failure. They invest a great deal of their identity in their successes, and even a minor misstep or embarrassment can be crushing. This is so totally me, always striving, terrified of messing up and secretly very ambitious.
The term Constant Improver reminds me of my school reports: Aoife could do better. It also makes me think of an unending hamster wheel so I am going to try to concentrate on patting myself on the back for the things I do achieve and try not to berate myself for my mistakes.

 

All in all, I learnt an enormous amount about myself in this test. A lot of it I was already aware of, but to have it confirmed and recognised was very helpful for me. I could read about my strengths and weaknesses, some of which were not so obvious to me but I can see that they are true.

I was also able to read about career paths that suit me and about how I tend to operate in a workplace and as a parent. I am going to elaborate on the reason why I found this test really useful and interesting in my next post.

In the meantime, I encourage you to give it a try and find out which one of the 16 personality types you are. I feel that becoming more aware of our psychological profile could help us play to our strengths and bring awareness to our weaknesses.

By being more aware of how we operate, we may enjoy better mental health and so be happier. Click To Tweet

 

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Have your Yearly Goals Gone by the Wayside?

Have your Yearly Goals Gone by the Wayside?

So it is April. That means it is the second quarter of the year guys!  How the heck did that happen. I mean January and February went fast, but March was a speeding arrow of a month that I didn’t quite grasp hold of until it was almost over. 

 

In our little family of four, we have birthdays in each of the first four months of the year. That means we seem to just go from one birthday celebration to the next in the first quarter of the year. Mind you, it must be worse for our extended family trying to remember it all!

 

In the last few weeks, I have had a bit of a slump. I have fallen off all my practices, including my Bullet Journaling (which helps to keep me on track). Bullet Journaling is the one thing that helps to keep me on track with what I am supposed to be doing! This feels disheartening, but I am remembering that I am human, and a human with incapacitating fatigue for that matter. So I am trying to be kind to myself and accept what is happening.

 

Goals
At the start of 2017, I spent quite a lot of time reviewing the previous year. I set lots of intentions and made goals in all areas of my life for the coming year. I have done this enthusiastically in previous years also.
One year, quite a while ago, I even came up with 200 separate goals that I wanted to achieve! Quite soon afterwards this seemed completely ridiculous. I was laughing at myself, along with some of my friends who were also laughing at me! In addition to this blind ambition (my Capricorn traits showing!), I hadn’t really formulated any plan of action that would get these things done.
Needless to say, the number of items on my list that I achieved that year were not quite into double figures. Interestingly though, on reflection, the ones I did manage were the ones that were the most important to me. I might not have picked those ones out consciously at the time but looking back on it I can see now that those were the ones that really mattered. I had completed the ones that spoke to my heart and not my head.
goals

 

 

So in recent years I have been more restrained and focused in my goal setting. Also, I am resonating with the notion of setting intentions but allowing for change and surrendering to the bigger picture of how those intentions will play out. It is interesting… and challenging.

 

Intentions aren’t much without action. Action can be so rewarding when you are in the flow. It can also be like banging your head against a brick wall at times when nothing seems to go as planned. I have wondered whether that means I am trying to go in the wrong direction. I have also wondered whether that just means I need to keep trying and persevering, like those inventors who only succeed on the 99th attempt.

Looking back on my goals for the first quarter of 2017, I have only managed four (and a half!) out of fourteen. That is a 30% success rate! Or a 70% failure rate on a bad day! However, I gave a talk to a group of 15 people, overcoming my severe fear of public speaking (to a degree), I saw more of my family (very happy about that!), and I painted 6 paintings (3 more than intended).
I might not have grown my blog to 1000 subscribers (nowhere near!), I didn’t swim weekly or do yoga, in fact, I have never been so inactive physically. My fatigue has been really incapacitating, so I have to forgive myself and move on. I have got a new supplement that will hopefully help.
Spring has sprung now, so hopefully, things will look up. I will get moving as I know this stagnation is a bit of a vicious circle. Too much sitting at the computer trying to work out how to make my blog successful I think! And I guess that is my point.
Perhaps what we most wish for, whether it is a new car, a promotion or a new house, is not actually what is best for us or what we need. In the chronic illness paradigm, we struggle with a seemingly unending list of unexpected and predictable variables that can upend the best of intentions. Acceptance and surrender are the keys here.
Goals
“We should not be discouraged at our own lapses … but continue. If we are discouraged, it shows vanity and pride. Trusting too much to ourselves. It takes a lifetime of endurance, of patience, of learning through mistakes. We all are on the way.”
Dorothy Day

Please comment below:

Let me know how you are progressing with your goals and intentions for this year.

You could even make some new ones!

Fall in Love with Podcasts: Inspiration for Free!

Fall in Love with Podcasts: Inspiration for Free!

Why you might fall in love with podcasts:

Many people may be aware of podcasts but have never checked them out. They are a fantastic resource for those with chronic illness. Like with listening to radio, you are free to close your eyes and listen or get on with a task or creative pursuit as you listen. The bonus is that you get to choose what you listen to and there are some amazing inspirational podcasts out there.
It is easy to access podcasts and you can listen to podcasts on anything that will play an MP3. If you find a podcast host that you really like you can set their podcasts to be downloaded automatically to your device so you have them there ready to be listened to wherever you are.
Another mega plus point is that they are mostly FREE and produced by people who are passionate about what they are doing!
podcasts

Recommended Podcasts

Here I have listed some podcasts that I have come across recently that I am enjoying listening to as I go about my day. There are podcasts available on virtually every subject and it is easy to find information online on how to set up a podcast app on your phone or computer. The ones I have listed are either related to chronic illness or inspirational in a holistic way.

 

Phoenix Helix Phoenix Helix: Maximizing autoimmune health through the paleo diet and lifestyle

With Eileen Laird

Description

This bi-weekly podcast combines personal stories of the autoimmune experience, with interviews with experts in the field of health and nutrition. Eileen is an inspirational woman who has managed her Rheumatoid Arthritis through the Autoimmune Protocol diet and other holistic practices for many years and has now been forced to add conventional medicine into the equation. Her authenticity and knowledge about the autoimmune protocol have made her a fantastic source of information and empowerment.

The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast

With Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt

Description

This podcast series was created as a free resource to accompany Mickey and Angie’s book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness.  Their mission with the book and podcast series is to spark a major shift in how autoimmune disease is viewed and treated all over the globe. These podcasts along with the other information in their books and blogs are incredibly useful for anyone ready to learn more about their condition and find a holistic path to managing all autoimmune disease.

I have personally found this series of podcasts amazingly helpful and it is so reassuring to hear about others going through the same experiences.

Autoimmune Adventures Autoimmune Adventures

With Julie Stiles

Description

Autoimmune Adventures is a podcast, created and hosted by Julie Stiles, dedicated to helping people with autoimmune disorders reclaim their health and their life. The mission is to share cutting edge information and tools for people living with AI disorders and to create a community of support.

Adventures in Happiness

With Jessica Ortner

Description

New York Times Best Selling Author Jessica Ortner takes you on a journey to explore strategies and ideas to help you feel your best. Life is an adventure, and it would be boring if it was always perfect and predictable! Jessica shares how to find your bliss within all of life’s complexities. This is a fantastic resource with so many inspiring interviews with top experts and inspirational speakers..and all for free!

Here is one inspiring episode about finding hope after the disappointment of Chronic Illness with Amy Kurtz.

The Notable Woman 

With Cristin Downs.

Description

The Notable Woman Podcast interviews powerhouse women about the inspiring ways they are making an impact on their communities and the world at large. The Notable Woman is also for women who know they want to make a big impact in the world but haven’t figured out how yet. The podcast features content series of different lengths.

 

In the episode in this podcast link, Cristin interviews Julie Morgenlender about breaking down the stigma around chronic illness. They speak at length about Julie’s own diagnoses, what those illnesses mean for her and her daily life, and what sort of assumptions people make about her as someone with a chronic illness.

Invisible Warrior RadioInvisible Warrior Radio - Chronic Illness Support

With Adrienne Clements.

Description

Adrienne Clements is an Illness Advocate + Empowerment Coach, and on this show provides you with simple strategies to navigate the various mental, emotional, relational, and existential challenges of living a life with chronic and invisible illness. Filled with practical psychology, empowering expert interviews, and personal insights and observations from her own journey as an Invisible Warrior.

Good Life Project Good Life Project

With Jonathan Fields

Description

Inspirational, unfiltered conversations and stories about finding meaning, happiness, purpose, inspiration, creativity, motivation, spirituality, love, confidence and success in life. From iconic world-shakers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Sir Ken Robinson, Seth Godin and Gretchen Rubin to everyday people, every story matters.

The Wellness Buzz Podcast 

With Carolyn Gray

Description

Holistic Nutrition & Wellness Coach, Teacher, Writer, Speaker, Wellness Advocate, Blogger and Primal Blueprint Certified Expert Carolyn Gray explores the topic of Wellness while discussing her own recovery from chronic illness. Learn how a Paleo diet enabled her body to heal, her dedication to Food as Medicine, a move away from chronic cardio and exercise to lead a more balanced life so that her body could heal. Carolyn explores the topic of Wellness from a Holistic Perspective, talks about the more balanced life she is creating and interviews some amazing Wellness advocates who share their own stories of illness, healthy crisis and the lives they are living today.

So there are hundreds of hours of fascinating and inspiring listening to be going on with. I will be adding to this list as time goes by and making sure to link in any podcasts I find specifically relevant to autoimmunity and chronic illness. (I haven’t added specific podcasts on Rheumatoid Arthritis as they tend to be focused on conventional medication but just to let you know, there are podcasts like that out there should you wish to focus on that.)

So why not make yourself a cup of tea, get cosy and have a little rest as you listen!

Please comment below

Let me know if you found any of these podcasts especially helpful or if you have some new suggestions for me!

Instantly Help your Friends and Family Understand your Invisible Illness.

Instantly Help your Friends and Family Understand your Invisible Illness.

Is your invisible illness being seen?

Do your friends and family sometimes have difficulty understanding how your symptoms such as extreme fatigue, dizziness, pain, and brain fog can be so debilitating to you?
Do you often feel isolated and left out of social circles because you are often unable to join them?
Do your friends and family have unrealistic expectations of what you can achieve in a day?

My family are amazing at being understanding of my conditions and situation but I often find that friends just don’t get it. It’s understandable, they only see me when I am feeling great (comparatively).

That is, when I am free from infection and viruses, my dry eye symptoms are minimal, my joints are not in a flare-up, my skin is hive-free, my endometriosis or period pain isn’t severe, my anxiety levels are low and my fatigue has abated for a day. No wonder I am a bit of a recluse!

Things to learn and know about invisible illnesses:

People with some kinds of invisible disabilities, such as chronic pain or some kind of sleep disorder, are often accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. These symptoms can occur due to chronic illness, chronic pain, injury, birth disorders, etc. and are not always obvious to the onlooker.

Invisible disabilities are chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living. In the United States, 96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness, and 10% experience symptoms that are considered disabling.*

I wrote this for all of you with invisible illnesses to share with your friends:

When you see me I am at my absolute best (unless I am on the school run or in the supermarket and avoiding eye contact because it is too exhausting to communicate!)
When I occasionally go out at night I have been excited about it for months and my adrenaline is flowing like crazy which gives me an artificial burst of energy. (I will pay for that!)
You might see me swimming or participating in a yoga class. This helps to get my body moving and can be painful, it doesn’t mean that I am physically capable.
My fatigue is not the same as when a healthy person is really tired. It is more like how you feel when you have flu.
As well as my main condition, I often have a whole myriad of other symptoms related to various other parts of my body that you are not aware of. These can range from excruciating dry eyes to hair loss to infections to rashes etc.
My immune system is compromised so please don’t be offended if I don’t want to be around your children if they have chickenpox or if you have shingles or a similar virus.
I often feel so tired and run down that any social contact is very difficult, that doesn’t mean that I want you to forget about me. Please don’t stop inviting me to events. I would love to come if I can.
Please forgive me if I didn’t manage to get you or your kids a birthday present or I forgot a special occasion, sometimes my brain is in a fog and it takes all my effort to remember what day of the week it is!
Invisible illness
Invisible disabilities include chronic illnesses such as renal failure, autoimmune conditions, IBS, diabetes, and sleep disorders if those diseases significantly impair normal activities of daily living.
Those with joint conditions, Fibromyalgia or CFS who suffer chronic pain may not use any type of mobility aids on good days, or ever.
Chronic Pain: A variety of conditions may cause chronic pain. There may be back problems, bone disease, physical injuries, and any number of other reasons. Chronic pain may not be noticeable to people who do not understand the persons’ specific medical condition.
Chronic Fatigue: This type of disability refers to an individual who constantly feels deeply exhausted. This can be extremely debilitating and affect every aspect of a persons’ everyday life.
Mental Illness: Depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, and many other diseases can also be completely debilitating to the person, and can make performing everyday tasks extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Chronic Dizziness: Often associated with problems of the inner ear, chronic dizziness can lead to impairment when walking, driving, working, sleeping, and other common tasks.
96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with an illness that is invisible.*
Many people living with a hidden physical disability or mental challenge are still able to be active in their hobbies, work and even be active in sports at times. Others struggle just to get through their day at work and some cannot work at all.

So please, if you know someone with an illness or disability that you don’t fully understand. Ask them about it. Find out how it affects them and how you can help. Invite them out and visit or call them, it might be the only contact they have had all day.

If you are the one with the invisible illness, share this post with your friends and family so they can support and connect with you better.

 Understanding is deeper than knowledge.

There are many who know you but few that understand you.

Please share in the comments below the ways in which your invisible illness affects your connection, confidence and sense of community.

Fatigue and Energy Management

Fatigue and Energy Management

Why is energy management important?

If like me, you are suffering from an Autoimmune condition(s), then you will most likely know all about the frustrations of limited energy. In this modern world where we all seem to be pushing ourselves to the limit and beyond, energy management is a great tool for everyone.
I often wake up in the morning feeling totally exhausted after a good eight hours sleep. It then affects everything else in the day. I have come to realise that energy management is really important. On a good day I get overexcited because I am feeling better. Then I try to do everything that I have had to put off in the previous days. This leads to more exhaustion as I have done too much and I then suffer increased fatigue again. This vicious cycle is really unhelpful and one that can be avoided with practice and awareness.

How is fatigue impacting sufferers of auto-immune disease?

Here are some of the major findings of a new online survey of autoimmune disease patients conducted by the American Autoimmune Disease Related Diseases Association (AARDA), to examine the connection between autoimmune disease and fatigue.
● Nine-in-10 (89 percent) say it is a “major issue” for them and six-in-10 (59 percent) say it is “probably the most debilitating symptom of having an Auto-immune disease.”
● Three-quarters (75 percent) say their fatigue has impacted their ability to work; nearly four-in-10 (37 percent) say they are in financial distress because of it; one-in-five (21 percent) say it has caused them to lose their jobs; while the same number (21 percent) report they have filed for disability as a result of their fatigue.
● Fatigue impacts nearly every aspect of AD patients’ lives including overall quality of life (89 percent), career/ability to work (78 percent), romantic (78 percent), family (74 percent) and professional relationships (65 percent) and their self esteem (69 percent), among others.
“In this busy, busy world, it’s normal to be tired, but the kind of fatigue autoimmune disease patients suffer from is anything but normal,” said Virginia T. Ladd, President and Executive Director of AARDA.

Time and energy management:

Time management is, of course, a sensible and helpful practice. It can be incredibly useful for a busy person to see where they are wasting time and work out how to use it more effectively. The problem is that time is finite and comparatively irrelevant if you don’t have the energy to do anything in that time. This is where energy management comes in. If we can track the ups and downs of our day then we can start to see some correlations between the time of day and the energy available. This makes it possible to then plan our day around these peaks and troughs which will help conserve energy and avoid over-exertion.
fatigue and energy management

So what can you do to manage your energy?

I consider this to be divided into three areas: Building energy, Storing energy and Using it wisely.

 

Building energy stores:

If you are suffering from chronic illness I suggest the following ideas. However, it depends of course on your condition and situation as to what are the most helpful tips to implement.
Physical:
  • Rest as much as possible: see my post on resting well for tips.
  • Healthy diet: (Follow a protocol that will be most suitable for maximising your energy production. eg. AIP, Wahls, GAPS, Paleo, Paddisons etc. It is important to get professional help with this decision.)
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar as this can lead to crashes in energy.
  • Make sure you are well hydrated with good quality water.
  • Gentle exercise:  if your condition allows it can help boost energy levels.
  • Deep breathing: making sure that you are breathing to full capacity so that you receive the maximum amount of oxygen.
  • Energy Medicine Routine: follow a video of the energy routine here.
Emotional:
  • Practicing gratitude: try writing a list of gratitudes in a journal each day.
  • Practicing forgiveness: Read my post on forgiveness for help with this.
  • Energy practices to help release dense energy eg. EFT, Emotion Code, Theta Healing etc.
Mental: 
  • Letting go of stress and tension and accepting what is: see my post on surrender.
  • Meditation: Even 10 minutes a day will allow for a “reset” of your system Headspace
  • Avoid disturbing programmes/ films that have a negative affect on you.
Spiritual:
  • Follow your heart and do what you love or you will be running yourself into the ground.
  • Make a list of activities that feed your soul and leave you feeling energised. Try to do one every day.
 

Storing energy:

  • Get some help if you have anxiety issues as that type of nervous energy is very draining.
  • Follow The Four Agreements and you will avoid needless over-thinking and rumination on past actions which decreases energy.
  • Rest some more!!

Using energy wisely:

  • Pacing your activity so that you don’t overdo it on a good day. (This ME Diary app is helpful for anyone with chronic illness)
  • Track when you have most clarity in the day and scheduling your most mentally demanding tasks for that time. (Free tracking printable below).
  • Track when you have energy highs and lows over a week so that you can plan accordingly.  (Free tracking printable below).
  • Track your sleep patterns so that you see the connection between amount of sleep and energy the next day.
  • Also for women it is very important to reduce energy usage around the time of menstruation. Doing too much at this time just adds to fatigue and PMS symptoms.
  • Use a planner or Bullet journal to plan and prioritise your days wisely.
  • In the same way as we have cycles of sleep we also have daytime circadian cycles of 90mins. So it is important to schedule breaks in any period of work or activity. Ideally for 20/ 30 minutes every 90 minutes.
  • Focus rather than multi-task so that you are using your energy in an optimal way.
  • Rest ..again!

 “I’m not lazy, I’m on energy saving mode”

I hope that these tips will help you create, conserve and allocate your precious energy. If you only have limited resources it is well advised to be smart with your use of them.

Please do download my energy tracker and planner below.

Once you have tracked your energy levels for a couple of weeks, plan out your day using the energy management planner to maximise your high points and honour your low points.

Energy management
Fatigue and energy management

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