Food as a Mood Booster

Food as a Mood Booster

I think of local vegetables and fruit as being gifts from nature with the perfect constituents to keep us healthy. In my mind, the way we assimilate these beneficial substances from food is superior to taking a supplement and certainly a conventional medicine. With some careful planning and thought, we can introduce specific food as a mood booster into our diet to ensure that our minds and bodies are working in harmony and health.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat a lot of white bread or greasy chips, for example, you can end up feeling sluggish, bloated and grumpy?
Are you having severe mood swings due to the effects of caffeine and sugar?
 
Could you be deficient in essential minerals and vitamins due to eating a standard western diet that is not optimised for your well-being?
It is becoming more and more apparent that a diet rich in plant-based food is the most healthy for humans at this time. Avoiding processed food and as much sugar as possible is essential to promote health. We were just never meant to eat all those weird unpronounceable substances on the back of the majority of packaged food. Whether you then add in grass-fed meat and safe fish with your vegetables is your choice. However, if you are avoiding grains and pulses to reduce inflammation, then it will most likely be essential to add that protein back in.
I have been following the Autoimmune protocol diet for a couple of years and have enjoyed huge improvements in my health because of that. It is very restrictive and can be difficult in social situations but it is worth it to experience a transformation in your well-being.
Thankfully now there are huge online resources of information and recipes to make it easier. There are even Facebook groups and books written to guide you through the transition to the AIP diet. Essentially the Autoimmune Protocol Diet is the paleo diet with the removal of additional foods, such as nightshades, which are considered to be inflammatory. The aim is to heal a leaky gut membrane and then once that is improved, additional foods can be re-introduced in a careful manner. For more information on the AIP diet see my links page.
All the suggestions below, therefore, are in keeping with the AIP diet (with the exception of the nuts and seeds which could be an early reintroduction).

How can we use food as a mood booster?

One way is to add more protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates into your diet to help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
When your blood sugar levels drop, you can start to feel stressed and down. The beneficial fats and complex carbohydrates help to make hormones and neurotransmitters in the body that help make you feel better. Also, many people are deficient in essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium due to our depleted soils, so adding these in is also an instant mood booster.

1) Coconut oil

Coconut oil consists of medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat which is turned into energy quickly and efficiently. This type of fat is easily used by the body so it doesn’t tend to be stored as fat deposits. It provides lasting energy and has a whole host of other benefits, such as being antibacterial, antifungal, boosting brain function and reducing cholesterol. Make sure you are buying a good quality organic extra-virgin coconut oil.

2) Bananas

There is hardly a day that goes by in the last few years that I don’t eat a banana. Bananas supply your body with lasting energy. They are rich in potassium and vitamins A, C and B6. The carbohydrates provide your body with a sustained release of energy and maintain blood sugar levels. The fibre helps fill you up and slow down digestion. The potassium assists with fluid movement in the body and consequently helps your muscles work efficiently. Also bananas help with the absorption of Tryptophan and the vitamin B6 is important in the conversion of the Tryptophan to Serotonin.  Serotonin decreases appetite and improves mood and heart health.

3) Raw nuts

Nuts are a fantastic source of long-lasting energy and protein. Almonds, cashews and hazelnuts are all high in magnesium and help convert sugar into energy. Brazil nuts have high levels of selenium which can improve mood and reduce anxiety. Avoid processed, smoked, highly sweetened or salted nuts. Go for the raw plain organic ones. You can always find a healthy recipe for a way to season them. Of course, some people can be highly allergic or intolerant to nuts, so if you are reintroducing them, do it with care and attention.

 

Food as a mood booster

 

4) Asparagus

Asparagus is a fantastic plant source of Tryptophan, one of the building blocks of Serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter in the brain. Asparagus is also high in folates which have been shown to be important in reducing depression.*

Food a sa mood booster

5) Avocados

Avocados are an incredibly versatile food that many just swear by for boosting health. I also eat these most days, whether in a smoothie, a delicious salad or a yummy cacao desert!!  Avocados are natural hormone balancers, and that is what you want to keep your brain happy and functioning well.

 6) Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds make a wonderful seasoning and contain tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid which boosts the brain’s dopamine levels. Dopamine is the chemical that allows us to have feelings of bliss and pleasure. When it is deficient, the brain cannot send messages easily. This affects behaviour, mood and cognition adversely. I like Tahini as an alternative to hummus which is not allowed on the AIP diet. Recently I had black roasted sesame seeds for the first time on a delicious meal and I adored the smoky flavour. Black sesame seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium, calcium and vitamin B1, and so are beneficial in a multitude of ways.
 

 7) Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a revitalising leafy vegetable that is packed with magnesium which is needed for over 300 different chemical processes in the body. To find out more about why Magnesium is beneficial for mood, read this great article in Psychology Today. It is delicious in vegetable broth or stir-fried with garlic and lemon juice. If you aren’t a leaf loving person, you can always stick it in a green smoothie.
Food as a mood booster

8) Foods rich in probiotics

Include water kefir/ kombucha/ raw sauerkraut in your diet for the beneficial effects on your gut microbiome. The number of probiotic cultures in these foods exceeds natural yoghurt by far.  A healthy microbiome can also help a person to stay calm and relaxed.
Food as a mood booster

What we eat and how we feel is obviously intimately interlinked. Also, food intolerance reactions can affect you days after ingestion. If you suspect that you have some food intolerances, I strongly suggest seeing a qualified nutritionist to get some help with your diet.

Food as a mood booster is an easy and wholesome way to increase vitality, positive outlook and energy.

Why not have a look at your diet and see if you can incorporate some of these mood-boosting foods daily.

J Affect Disord. 2000 Nov;60(2):121-30. Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Coppen A1, Bailey J.

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What I Learnt this Week about my Personality Type

What I Learnt this Week about my Personality Type

So what kind of personality do you have?

 

In my last post (How well do you know your own personality?), I wrote about how I had fun with the online 16personalities test last year. Not only was it entertaining but it also helped me feel validated and encouraged as it was so accurate in its’ assessment. Today I want to elaborate on why it was really helpful and interesting to me when I retook the test this week (6 months after the first one).

What I learnt last year about my personality type:

 As a Mediator:
  • We seek harmony
  • We are flexible, open-minded and passionate.
  • Mediators are dedicated and hard-working.
  • Mediators are hopelessly romantic, poetic and kind-hearted.
  • Beware of withdrawing into hermit mode. (I definitely have a tendency to do that and stop contacting friends.)
  • Gift for languages. (Maybe I need to take up a language again, I certainly loved languages at school.)
  • Difficult to get to know. (It takes me ages to bond with people on the whole, apart from a special few who must be soul mates because as soon as I met them I felt like I had known them forever.)
personality type

Under the career section for my personality type it said this:

“It is perhaps more challenging for INFPs to find a satisfying career than any other type. Though intelligent, the regimented learning style of most schools makes long years earning an advanced degree a formidable undertaking for people with the INFP personality type – at the same time, that’s often what’s needed to advance in a field that rings true for them. INFPs often wish that they could just be, doing what they love without the stress and rigour of professional life.”
This rings so true for me, as I found professional life very stressful and overwhelming. It goes on to say that writing, if not a novel, then blogging is perfect for my personality type as well as service careers such as working as a holistic therapist.

Yay, I seem to be heading in the right direction..at last!

 

 

Personality Type

Here is the interesting bit:

Comparing results

When I took this test 6 months ago I wrote down the results and then pretty much forgot about it. When I came across the results again whilst looking through my old Bullet journal I thought I would write this post but also take the test again to see if the results were repeatable.
I like to be critical of data and stay grounded in science despite my more mystical side, and so I was curious about whether the results would be the same. I am aware that we change energetically from moment to moment and also that our moods might affect how we answer the questions.
In fact, I got very similar results to last time but came out as more introverted (74% – this feels more accurate). The other results were very much similar to before but one variable had changed by 3%. This meant that I now was 55% Judging ( I had been 49% before) and interestingly this made me now a INFJ-T.

That small change had made me a different personality type!

I am now an Advocate!

Now, I hear you cry, that it is all a load of rubbish as I got a different result the second time. The way I see it is that the change from INFP-T to a INFJ-T is a subtle one. Only one variable has changed and only by a few percent, but that has been enough to put me in a different category.
Advocates only make up 1% of the population. It is interesting as the personality type is very similar to the mediator but is more decisive and organised. Over the last 6 months, I have been focused very much on getting more organised and planning with my bullet journal system both for my blog and my personal life. So it is fascinating to me that this effort on my part has produced a shift in my results. 

 personality type

Neuroplasticity

Scientists tell us about plasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity is where experiences, behaviour and neural changes can reorganise new circuits in the brain. I find this an exciting prospect. This means we have some control over who we are and how we function and cope with life.
Barbara Arrowsmith is an amazing example of what brain training can achieve. Since her childhood, she suffered from several severe mental disabilities. She did not allow that to stop her. She had an inspiring inventor father who told her that if there was no solution yet for a problem, then you had to find it yourself. She invented her own method to rewire her brain and make the healthy parts of her brain perform the functionality that the damaged ones could not do. Her inspiring TED talk is here if you would like to hear more about her journey and neuroplasticity.

 

All in all, I don’t mind whether I am categorised as a Mediator or and Advocate as they both ring true for me. However, as I have essentially ended up being an Advocate for people with Rheumatoid Disease, then that is perhaps what I have become! Also, advocates are apparently suited to writing and also art and music.

So I am still on the right lines ..yay again!   

 

Personality type

 

So, in the context of mental health, I am thinking that this 16personalities test could be very helpful for people with mild mental health issues. (Of course, if you have a more serious mental health condition this is probably not going to be right for you, and it is advisable to see a professional for help.)

For example, if you are experiencing slight anxiety or depression, then perhaps by knowing your personality type you may be able to make adjustments to your lifestyle, work or social life that could be more beneficial to you.

Also, an understanding of your personality weak and strong points may help by giving an insight into how you deal with life and provide you with some tools and pointers to help along the way. Encouraging your nearest and dearest to also take the test could help you to relate and understand one another better.

Sometimes other people’s behaviour can be baffling and seem insensitive, but if we can see that they are actually running on a different operating system, (their personality type), then perhaps we can be more accepting of their behaviour and differences.

A lot of different flowers make a bouquet. Muslim Origin Click To Tweet

Why not take the test?

Comment below on whether you found the test helpful and accurate.

www.16personalities.com

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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Surrender to Chronic Illness as a Way to Wellness

Surrender to Chronic Illness as a Way to Wellness

Surrender to chronic illness

I have been thinking about surrendering in general, but also a surrender to chronic illness. For those of us with chronic health issues, accepting and surrendering to the realities of our lives is a crucial step forward. On diagnosis, many will go through periods of grief and anger, defiance and depression.  In the past, the Kübler-Ross model suggested five stages of grief, which were denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, this model, although helpful, has less significance now as we realise that grief is not linear. It can’t be encapsulated by a timeline. It is organic and we jump from stage to stage, emotion to emotion at any time. Emotions are feelings “in motion” and the best way to process them is to keep them moving. It is when emotions become trapped or stuck in our energy bodies that we start to run into more physical and emotional problems.
Resistance to a situation creates more rigidity and stress. I am learning this through parenting my boys! So it is best if we can come to some state of acceptance and surrender to the situation.

How can we surrender to chronic illness and the consequences?

I would like to divide this into four areas related to the different levels of our being: Physical, Mental, emotional and Spiritual.

Physical Surrender:

This means rest, rest, rest, (let go of the guilt), and rest some more. I personally find this really difficult. I often want to fill every moment that I can, catching up with everything that I have missed. This is very counterproductive. Letting go into resting is vital for people with chronic health issues. Even taking a catnap where you don’t fully fall asleep counts. When you doze, you allow your brainwaves to come down into an alpha or theta state where your sodium potassium pumps can be rebalanced and cellular renewal can take place. This means you wake up feeling much more refreshed than you would expect.
Other suggestions:
  • Restorative Yoga,
  • Massage,
  • Floatation tanks
  • Having a self-care day where you rest, journal, watch movies and meditate.

Mental Surrender:

When you are in a state of anxiety and mental tension, you are producing stress hormones which are affecting your body adversely. It is so important to let go of the “what if’s”, and blaming yourself or others for your health situation. It just takes you into the past which has already happened and cannot be changed. Focus on the present and what you can do today to help your mind be calm and clear. If you are finding this difficult Byron Katie’s The work is a very helpful method of self-inquiry to help work through this. Of course, a meditation practice helps enormously with mental equanimity but even as little as 10 mins a day will be a positive start.
Other suggestions:
  • Listening to calming high vibrational music.
  • Walking in nature: The Japanese advocate “forest bathing” for health. It has now been shown scientifically that trees assist the human body in boosting immune response.  The molecular interactions between certain tree species and human bodies trigger the production of Natural Killer (NK) cells in humans. NK cells are a type of white blood cell that attack virally infected cells and tumour growths. So go and sit under a tree and relax!
  • Learning to stay with your own energy and not getting too involved in others business.
  • Getting grounded which helps to reduce overstimulating mental activity.
Surrender to chronic illness

Emotional surrender:

If you can, have a really good cry! This is emotional letting go at it’s best! If you find it difficult to cry, sometimes watching a sentimental film can help you release those tears. The tears produced in high emotion actually have stress hormones in them and so that may be why you feel better once they are released. In Japan (again – they must be on to something!) it is possible to go to organised crying sessions. They show sad films to help the participants release emotions in an environment where they feel safe to do so. It is especially popular with men and is an interesting contrast to the Japanese culture of not showing emotions or anger, similar to the culture in the UK and Ireland.
Emotional surrender means identifying your challenging emotions and allowing them to be really felt and then expressed safely or released through an energy practice. Remember, “You are not your emotions”, they are just moving through you.
Here is a link to a great TED talk by Dr Judith Orloff all about surrender where she talks a lot about emotional surrender.
Other suggestions:
  • Singing/ Sounding: Toning a long “AH” sound from the heart or even just sighing “AH” on an exhale is great for letting go of stress and anger. Try doing it for five minutes and notice the difference in how you feel.
  • Self-compassion and self-love. Check out my post on self-care tips for ways to show yourself love.
  • Remembering not to take things personally and realising that you don’t need to be approved of or liked by everyone.
  • Let go of intensely researching cures and ways to get better for a while as it is very draining.

Spiritual Surrender:

This is about trust. Trust and faith. Trust that the Universe/God/ “Power greater than yourself” has got your back. You don’t have to believe in God to surrender in a spiritual way. Surrender to whichever higher power you are comfortable with, it could be your intuition, for example. We can’t always understand why we have all these challenges and turns in the road. Surrender to that mystery and trust in it. Our souls are on a journey much more immense than we can fathom.
Ways to foster this are:
  • Source meditation (spending time in meditation allowing energy to pour into your body from above through the crown of your head).
  • Learning to communicate with your guides.
  • Trusting and listening to your intuition.
  • Being in gratitude.
  • Make decisions from your heart , not your head.
  • Practicing letting go of fear.
  • Prayer
Surrender to chronic illness
So surrender is not being submissive and it is right to still take actions. It is more an opening, an allowance of what is..an acceptance. I believe that from this place of least resistance, healing can start to take place.

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Please share any other ways you have found to surrender to your situation in the comments box below.

I would love to hear your tips!

Guilt free self care tips : Love yourself!

Guilt free self care tips : Love yourself!

Go guilt-free and love yourself!

I think most people have got the message by now that loving oneself is essential for health and wellbeing. We have heard the analogy of placing the emergency oxygen mask on ourselves before the child so that we can help them. However, when we are caught up in the hustle-bustle of daily life, it can be so common to put our own needs last on the list or feel guilt that putting ourselves first some of the time is selfish. That leads us to become more and more depleted emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
It is important to remember that even though we make mistakes and are often imperfect in our own eyes, we can be our own worst critics. Making mistakes and errors is part of life and is best dealt with gently ( as we would with someone else) and with a sense of humour if possible.
Just setting aside a short time each day to lavish care and love upon our bodies and spirits can really make a difference to how we cope with stress and adversity.
Here is my bullet journal list that I use as my reference to help me find a solution to more negative mind states (printed below). I also set aside one day a week as a “Me” day where I make sure I have a number of hours to do something that feeds my soul and banks nourishment in my being to keep me topped up with good feelings.

When you are feeling down:

  • Make a herbal tea and read an uplifting book.
  • Sing along to your favourite music tracks.
  • Take some time to pamper yourself with a face mask and paint your nails.
  • Write a letter to yourself a year from now.
  • Cleanse some crystals and place them on your body as you rest.
  • Get a new hairstyle.
  • Go to the cinema and watch something uplifting.
  • Do something to help someone else.
  • Make a Golden Milk drink as a natural anti-depressant.
  • Write a gratitude list.
  • Journal about what is getting you down.
  • Watch a motivating TED talk.
  • Remember to not take things personally and keep perspective. See The four agreements.

When you are feeling exhausted:

  • Make a delicious green smoothie to energise you.
  • Massage your feet with some aromatherapy oils.
  • Give yourself or receive some Reiki/ Healing.
  • Take a nap. I give you permission, no guilt required!!
  • Do some gentle movement exercise to get your energy flowing again. eg the energy routine.
  • Make a list of the people, places, habits that are draining you and consider leaving them behind!
  • Have a device detox and unplug from social media etc.
  • Say “No” in a kind way to requests that are too much for you.
  • Ask for help from family / friends in a specific way so that they know what can help you and when.

When you are feeling irritable / frustrated:

  • Go for a stroll.
  • Drink a big glass of water.
  • Treat yourself to a few squares of dark chocolate to boost your Magnesium levels.
  • Take some photos outside in nature.
  • Visit somewhere new that you haven’t been to before for a new outlook.
  • Go to the theatre or a music concert.
  • Drive somewhere high up to watch the sunset.
  • Go out to a cafe for breakfast and read a quality magazine.
  • Have a facial at a beauty salon.
  • Breathe more deeply and have some quiet alone time.
  • Allow yourself to really feel your feelings so that they can move and evolve. Don’t repress them as they can get trapped in your energy field which can lead to further imbalances.

When you are feeling stressed:

  • Create an art journal page.
  • Have a swim and a sauna.
  • Play with clay.
  • Cuddle a pet or even a teddy if you aren’t receiving any human hugs.
  • Find a new guided meditation to follow along with.
  • Plan a trip away.
  • Enjoy a great yoga class.
  • Take up knitting.
  • Walk barefoot on the grass.
  • Write a Brain dump list.
  • Forgive yourself and others.
  • Declutter and clean one cupboard.
  • Join an online support group on facebook or similar.
guilt

When you are feeling lonely:

  • Meet up with a friend in a cafe.
  • Invite a friend around to watch a funny film together.
  • Bake a cake and take it to someone to enjoy together.
  • Go camping for a night to meet new friends.
  • Join an online class to learn something new and make new connections.
  • Listen to an audiobook wrapped up in a blanket with hot chocolate.
  • Say “I love you” every time you look in the mirror.
  • Connect with Source energy to remember you are never alone and you are always supported and loved.

When you are feeling sad:

  • Find a dance class or put on your favourite music and dance at home to lift up your energy.
  • Swim in the sea, a lake or a river.
  • Get up early and watch the sunrise.
  • Burn some uplifting aromatherapy oils.
  • Watch some old comedy that really makes you laugh.
  • Go to an art exhibition.
  • Learn a poem or try to write a song.
  • Buy yourself some pretty flowers.
  • Be around trees.
  • Use some vibrational essences eg Bach flower remedies to help shift your sadness.
  • Do some chanting and/or vocal toning to raise vibration.
guilt

In essence:

Take some time for yourself and allow stresses and strains to fall away. Life is too short to be spending most of it wound up and overwhelmed. You deserve time for yourself. You need alone time, some people need a lot of alone time. As they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Why you would be pouring from a cup and not a teapot or jug, I don’t know, but you get the meaning!

“Well ordered self-love is right and natural.”    Thomas Aquinas

I have found as someone with Chronic conditions that I am always frustrated that I am not managing to get on and do what I want to do and that in turn means that I find it really difficult to allow myself to rest and take a nap. I always want to be doing stuff and I suppose In feel that I have missed out so much on doing what I wished to do that I don’t want to “waste” a single second of the rest of my life. Resting is not wasting time however and often more can be achieved post power nap than would have been done otherwise. So ditch the guilt about the housework or the garden or the long “to do” list and take some nurturing time just for you. You deserve it!

Schedule some self-care.

Today: Schedule some self-care. Find at least 15 mins in the day where you can choose a self-loving activity and try to stay aware of how it affects your mood.

Also: pick a day to be your “Me day” where you go some where new or take a yoga class or whatever feels the most nourishing to you. Scheduling it in your planner, diary or phone will ensure that you don’t put yourself at the bottom of the list again.

Share: Please comment below, what are your favourite self-care practices and what difference does it make to you when you make time for them? I would love some new tips!!  

guilt

Is Anger Slowly Killing You?  Choose Forgiveness!

Is Anger Slowly Killing You? Choose Forgiveness!

As January draws to a close, many of us will be looking forward to the rollercoaster of a film that is T2. Trainspotting was a groundbreaking film for my generation and its long-awaited sequel T2 has a lot to live up to. Hearing Renton choosing Twitter, Facebook etc in the trailer has made me realise what a different world we live in now compared to when the first film came out in 1996. In a week where we have had the inauguration of the new POTUS and Theresa May initiating some of the impending Brexit negotiations, many will be feeling anger and frustration. The women’s marches have inspired me this week and I choose to focus on positivity. So here are some tips and thoughts on how to:

Choose forgiveness.

Choose peacefulness.

Choose happiness.

Anger

In my role as a mother, I feel that teaching my kids how to recognise, identify, and process their emotions is one of the most important skills that I can teach them. There are often outbursts of anger from both of my sons as they have fiery personalities. One evening recently irritations were rising and they started to get a bit physical with each other. We separated them and they both went to bed incredibly upset. My husband was angry too. It is hard when faced with flaring anger and confrontation to stay calm. We always try to assure the boys that we love them even when they have misbehaved as we want them to know that our love is unconditional. Interestingly on this occasion, it was by showing them lots of love in their grief and extreme anger that allowed them to apologise and make friends again.

I have noticed that one of my boys tends to want to cover his ears, hide and run away from situations when he is overwhelmed. often followed by an earache the next day interestingly.  The other gets enraged, loses his temper and then tends to move into a self-blaming place of shame which is overly dramatic and also detrimental to his health and happiness. I grew up in a household where there were next to no shouting or raised voices. I like fact that my kids express their anger but the trick is to get them expressing it safely and without collateral damage. We aren’t there yet. In fact, I am amazed our sitting room door is still on its hinges after the repeated slamming!

anger

Communication

A few years ago I attended a course on Non-Violent Communication. It was one of the most challenging activities I have ever undertaken. It felt like learning a totally new language. Not that I was particularly aggressive or violent in my speech previously, but there were subtleties that I had not previously thought about that could be improved upon. One stumbling block was that even at age 40, I was struggling to identify what I was actually feeling. We were given a list of emotions to peruse and that helped a lot but I really did feel a first like I was having to recognise a whole new vocabulary of emotions in my being. It was noticeable however that by being more specific about the quality of the emotion I was feeling, I had more chance of communicating clearly and with empathy.
anger

Non-Violent Communication

The four components of Non-Violent Communication (as developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg) are:
  • Observing (and being aware if we are also evaluating)
  • Feelings ( identifying and expressing how we are feeling in a responsible manner)
  • Needs (identifying one’s own needs and enquiring about and sensing others’ needs)
  • Requests (asking for actions that might fulfil our needs and enrich our lives)

Do visit the link above to learn more about NVC and to find out about courses and resources on how to communicate with compassion.

Is anger slowly killing you?

Now that the statistics on the likelihood of developing cancer are so shockingly high, I feel that anything we can do to reduce stress and anger in our lives is extremely important. After all, resentment and stress have been shown to depress immune function* and cause all sorts of physiological problems. If our immunity is down then cancer is more likely to grow. Of course, the aetiology is multi-factorial but if we can maintain a harmonious energetic field in our bodies then we are well on the way to staying healthy. Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that by 2030 depression and stress-related problems will be the most debilitating and widespread health disorders on the planet, closely followed (rather tellingly) by autoimmune disease and allergy.**
*Brod S1, Rattazzi L, Piras G, D’Acquisto F. “As above, so below” Examining the interplay between emotion and the Immune System. Immunology. 2014 Jun 18.
**The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger. Glen Rein, Mike Atkinson, and Rollin McCraty. Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 1995; 8(2): 87-105.
Anger

Trapped Emotions

If we are to teach our young people to manage and express their anger in a positive way and to show forgiveness, then we must model these qualities ourselves. If you are a parent, it’s easy to insist that your child apologises and let’s go of their frustration but perhaps we as adults struggle with that too. Forgiveness can be difficult, but one thing is for sure, if we don’t forgive, the person that mostly suffers is ourselves. Emotions that are unexpressed and unresolved can become trapped in our bodies and lead to more stress and eventually illness. Louise Hay wrote in her book Heal your life that the underlying emotional basis for developing cancer is longstanding resentment and hatred. It is crucial that we learn to release these trapped emotions and improve our ability to understand others’ choices, with compassion and empathy. Options to help release these trapped emotions are Emotion Code and EFT, Matrix Reimprinting and sound therapy. I explain more about these modalities in my post on energy healing.

Forgiveness

A great resource if you are having trouble forgiving yourself or others, is Colin Tipping’s Radical Forgiveness website. There are many free downloads of worksheets to guide you through forgiveness processes. Sometimes this processing approach to letting go of resentments is needed along with the energy work, to ensure that the negative emotions don’t return. The Work by Byron Katie is another self-enquiry approach that is incredibly helpful at turning your perception of a situation around and developing empathy for yourself and others.

Are you holding onto resentment and anger?

You would be so much lighter and happier without them. Have a go at releasing negative emotions using one of the methods mentioned above. Do let me know in the comments below of any times where you have seen the direct benefits of forgiveness on your health.

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