dear diary ~ well-being gets underway

No photos today as yesterday we had a trip up to see my mum – she lives in North Yorkshire 90 miles away and a day visit is rather exhausting and a bit hard on my back. She looks increasingly frail everytime we see her now but she seems more content in herself and has finally accepted she can do very little though she still talks about ‘when she gets better’ she will take us to x, y and z.

Its sad isn’t it as in reality she will never get any better. Which again leads me to think deeply about our own health and how to live the longest life and avoid chronic illness and mobility issues.

When I had thyroid cancer in 2008 I did a lot of research at that time to find anything helpful to recover my health. I say had cancer but the truth is I live everyday not knowing if I have any remaining rougue thyroid cells in my body – after two lots of radio active iodine treatment (not to be recommended as you become radioactive yourself!) there should be none but if there are there is no way for the doctors to know if they are cancerous unless they begin to grow and it can be picked up on the blood tests. With thyroid cancer patients the dose of medication (Levothyroxine) is always kept slightly higher than need be so that any lurking cancer is supressed.

At the time I came across a list termed The Heirarchy of Healing – a list of actions you can take that will improve any health condition starting at the top with the one that will have the most effect – although I saved the list I no longer have the link of where I found it.

Surprisingly, it is not food or exercise that is at the top of the heirarchy list but Meditation, Visualisation, Relaxation, Releasing emotions and of course Sleep that preceed these. I remember my own oncologist was a big supporter of this and would refer us on to a lady that did a meditation class every month for cancer patients.

Breathing correctly and deeply is part of this process.

One of the suggestions by many of the experts involved in healthcare that I have been listening to is practising some simple breathwork and one in particular I began whilst at the cottage (with all the new neighbour problems up there I needed a few relaxation techniques to control my blood pressure!).

The 4,7,8 breathing was developed by Dr Andrew Weil. For anyone interested in this technique just Google it or this is the link to his video https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

It is a simple technique, that only takes a few minutes, to be done twice a day (more if you are feeling quite stressed). I do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night and again mid afternoon. It does as it says on the tin – it calms the mind especially at night before sleep.

This is the logic behind it – ‘The sympathetic nervous system controls your body’s stress response. The parasympathetic nervous system controls your body’s rest and relaxation response. When you activate one of these, you suppress the other. This is why deep breathing is so effective at causing the relaxation response’.  Also ‘when you breathe through the nose a molecule called nitric oxide, is produced. Nitric oxide is a very important participant in the body’s defence against oxidative stress (free radicals). In addition it helps opens the airways so you get a higher concentration of oxygen into the tissues and the brain.

I have been practising this technique now for over three weeks and I can’t recommend it enough and is well worth having a go – it can be done anywhere even whilst making a cup of tea.

But has it made a difference to me?

Recently with all the anxiety I feel over our new ‘cottage’ neighbour, my mum’s declining health and the impending birth of our 4th grandchild (it has not been an easy pregnancy) I have gone to bed and been aware of a pounding heartbeat in my ears when I lay my head on the pillow. Those unwanted thoughts come crashing in to my mind as I am trying to go to sleep – doing the breathing technique for a few cycles eventually calms everything down again and surprisingly, I have gone on to sleep quite well.

In fact it has been a gradual realisation that over the last couple of weeks I have noticed I have slept better and have had many more nights where I have slept through the night uninterupted which is a big plus for me. Of course that might be from being thoroughly exhausted since arriving home and looking after Master Freddie, doing a lot more gardening than I should and the trip to see mum but I have frequently had exhausting situations before and gone to bed feeling really tired yet my sleep has been irratic and interupted and I have often laid awake for ages with unwanted thoughts whirling around.

So I would say this is one benefit I will be continuing with and I will see if my sleep patterns continue to improve.

So today is recovery day – there is washing to do, seeds to water and soup to make. It is now more than a week since we went shopping (we went on 3rd May) but I think with a bit of creativity I can stretch it further although I have a feeling come the weekend we might need some fresh food and there is no way I would want to shop on a Saturday or Sunday – if at all possible I will aim for next Monday and just pick up some milk and whatever fresh veg we need from the local village Co-op.

Have a good day everyone.

4 Replies to “dear diary ~ well-being gets underway”

  1. I’m sure your mother appreciated your visit. I’m sorry that you have on-going health problems and I hope your breathing exercises help you. Life can get busy at times so I hope that you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend.

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    1. Mum was overjoyed to see us as she only sees my sister now and the carers, and a neighbour who pops in for 5 minutes to collect the paper each day. I do wish we lived a bit nearer.
      I have niggly little health problems – nothing major really other than not having a thyroid – but I don’t want them to get any worse.

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