Ways to Make You Feel Better: Part 1 of 2
Starting with Sleep
Now that winter will soon be upon us, I set about making my bedroom feel cosier. Here in Mallorca the floors are wooden planked, but they feel cold underfoot so we layered rugs down and cozified the bedroom lighting. I chose a warm pinky shade for the bedside lamp so the light would reflect the warm wood of the cabinet to help induce sleep. I made my pillows fluffy, always kept the bed sheets clean and I had heavier curtains drawn across, but a small window open to keep the bedroom ventilated so the ideal temperature would be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15–19 degrees Celsius).
Avoid blue light. At least an hour before bedtime I stopped using my laptop and phone. It's because blue light coming from a mobile or computer screen actually wakes the brain up, making it much harder to fall asleep. But if that is unavoidable, then a good fix for this is getting a free app called F.LUX At sunset, this automatically changes the colour of your screen, depending on what time evening it is in your country. You can adjust the brightness or dimness, or shut it down if uploading images.
Avoid heavy meals at night or foods that are considered stimulants including coffee or Coke. When I began having decaff, I saw a marked improvement in my quality of sleep, and found a herbal nightime suppliment valarian to help induce sleep. To be on the safe side, always ask your doctor before taking calming or anxiety reducing supplements. Poor sleep doesn't just affect concentration and energy levels, it can also lower immunity, increasing your risk of certain diseases - and even leave you vulnerable to weight gain, according to my doctor.
Except The Sleep Council's survey found that more than a third of us only manage 5 to 6 hours sleep a night, so if you feel like you're losing out, then you need to address this. Here is Seven Steps To A Better Night’s Sleep:
According to my aunt who had a course, it took her about a fortnight to notice any changes. Her therapist told her that one of the problems with chronic insomnia is that we tend to associate bed with wakefulness rather than sleep. CBT can help people develop a pro-sleep routine to achieve a strong connection between her bed and getting beneficial sleep. This meant aunty found falling asleep became more natural, so much so that she stayed asleep all through the night. See MOODZONE - NHS Otherwise and this could be helpful, but your GP might prescribe you a short course of sleeping tablets that, when taken over a period of not longer than a fortnight, could help you find a rhythm that will will return your normal sleep patter. In the meantime don't get stressed if you can't sleep - get a book out and read, listen to calming music or watch some TV and only go back to bed when you feel sleepy. Always consult your doctor for advice - never self-diagnose!
Alternatively, try an online sleep programme called SLEEPIO
Start Eating Better
Since dealing with my eating disorder, I felt more able to refrain from jumping on weighing scales. Seeing the telltale pointer swinging up did nothing for my self-esteem. It was fast becoming counterproductive. Instead, I started tracking all the food I ate for a week. Loving lists, I made a list of everything that I ate. During that time I figured out which meals I had that fell into healthy and which didn't. I avoided processed food such as ready-meals because basically they contained either too much salt or sugar and were unhealthy. And also during this time of adjustment, I began learning how to cook on my own. Essentially, learning to cook on your own is a positive way to staying healthy in the long run.
Together we created a meal plan by first creating a grocery list relating to recipes we decided on and that way we created a useful meal plan. Even better was saving it to our phones so they could be propped up in the kitchen while we prepared our meals. And from that, we tracked all our meals to ensure I was actually adhering to what had been planned. It eliminated cheating, and our grocery plan relating to the recipes of which were a great many meant that I never grew bored.
We used our grocery plan in conjunction with a fine book called The Food Medic by Hazel Wallace.
In the early hours of the morning or when dusk falls, this is the time when anxiety can feel so overwhelming, think for a minute. Anxiety is not dangerous - it’s just uncomfortable. I won't die or go crazy. But I remind myself that my body is having a false alarm, that's all. Nothing, I remind myself, is going to happen. I've survived anxiety attacks before so I will this time, too. I'm not going to fight my feelings. I'm going to let them come and then I'm going to ride them out. So I focus on a task like counting backward from 100. Or sitting in the park in the shade of great big tree and there are squirrels around, and lovely green grass. All is peaceful. I've closed my eyes to think on these things. Like sitting in a meadow among wild flowers and tall grass, swaying in a gentle breeze. Use this to help you relax and keep your mind focussed.
When a feeling of panic sweeps over you or when having an anxiety attack, get a friend or a relative to sit with you. Here are some things I'll want my friend to help me with...
Talk to me and assure me that you will not force me into anything I don't want to do, and that you will take me to my safe place if need be. Just gentle conversation, please. And some laughter would be great. Help me get involved with something - like focusing on something else. For me, I need to hear sounds and laughter but the most important thing for me is to have someone to talk to who understands and we can just talk through this, all this that is troubling me. Try and find something that distracts me. Start talking about other things. Be supportive, listen to what I am saying. We all need different things- all of us have different things that help us. Encourage me in my successes and buoy me up when I feel like I've had a failure. And please stay with me! Do not leave me - talk to me, touch me, rub my back, and reassure me. Just keep talking about anything so that I have to concentrate on your talking and can try to ignore the panic.