A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

Gratitude List (July 10, 2021) #TToT

It’s been a while since I last did a gratitude post. Today I feel pretty good. Not that I need to feel good in order to do a gratitude post – I’ve written them to cheer myself up on many occasions. However, feeling good is also a good time to express gratitude. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT.

1. I am so grateful for no side effects from my topiramate. I am not yet sure whether this medication will be working, although my staff say I seem calmer than I was before. It’s only been a week though, so we’ll see. I am however so happy I at least tolerate the medication, since many people don’t.

2. I am so grateful for increased motivation and creativity. Although this has been going on for a few weeks already, I’m really hopeful it’ll not just be an episode and, if it is, will last longer than usual.

3. I am grateful for pretty good sleep particularly early in the week. During the first few days of the week, my sleep quality was truly amazing. Last night it was a lot poorer, but I’m still happy to report I don’t experience major effects today. And it may or may not be the topiramate already working, but I haven’t had nightmares at all.

4. I am grateful for a hair clip my sister gave me for my birthday. I wear it in my new profile pic and, although I still prefer my hair mostly loose with just one small clip at the front, I do like this new look.

5. I am grateful for warm and relatively rain-free days. We’ve had more rain than is usual for the summer here so far, but it’s still okay.

6. I’m grateful my mobility seems to be returning to some reasonably acceptable level. Up till a week or two ago, I could hardly walk a kilometer at a time or I’d feel my legs get tired. Now I can walk somewhat longer distances again. I managed to reach 10K steps several days this past week and almost got it on a few other days.

7. I am grateful for delicious treats for lunch several times this week. Like, today we got mini pizzas.

8. I am grateful for quick package delivery. I ordered several things online Thursday evening and yesterday and they all arrived today.

9. I am grateful I decided to finally order some relatively expensive essential oils. I ordered Roman chamomile, sandalwood and vetiver. I also ordered sweet orange, because I’d used up all of my oil already a month or so ago. I’m so excited about all the delicious essential oil blends I can now make.

10. I am so grateful my staff killed the fly that had been annoying me buzzing around my room all morning before her shift ended. I’m probably not supposed to take delight in animal death, but I’m glad to make an exception for a fly.

What are you grateful for?

When I Can’t Sleep

Today, Sadje asks in her Sunday Poser what we do when we can’t go to sleep. Now I must say I only occasionally suffer with insomnia nowadays. As a child, teen and young adult, I’d suffer with it a lot more often. When in the psych hospital, I even tried a handful of different sleep medications until they all stopped working and I just accepted lack of sleep. The one sleep medication I remember that actually worked for a relatively long while if I didn’t use it more than twice a week or so, was zolpidem. I liked that one best, but I actually still have a kind of psychological longing for the floaty feeling it gave me.

Anyway, now that I only occasionally suffer with insomnia, I usually still don’t like to just lie there and do nothing. The nice, floaty feeling on zolpidem would’ve helped with that at least. Rather, I usually get up and do some reading on my phone. Of course, I know that electronics are supposed to keep you awake and this may be the case for me even without the blue light (being that I keep my screen completely black). Indeed, I don’t usually find that reading helps me fall asleep, but at least it helps me pass the time until I’m naturally tired enough to fall asleep. Or until it’s morning.

I wanted to go off on a tangent here and talk about other sleep issues too. The most annoying of these is finding myself in a half-sleeping, dreamlike state where my mind seems to want to do things but my body won’t. This experience, which some people I know have said might be sleep paralysis, is extremely frightening. It usually happens when I take a nap, which is why I avoid taking naps if I’ve had this experience recently.

Which gets me to fear of sleep due to nightmares. I experience nightmares that actually affect my daytime functioning at least a few times a week. I don’t always remember my nightmares exactly and I’m not even sure those I do remember count as nightmares, as sometimes when I’m in them they aren’t fear-inducing. They however do trigger my PTSD flashbacks, if that makes sense. They usually are very vivid. I have had this issue more since starting on my antipsychotic, but now that I think of it, it’s probably more of an anxiety or PTSD symptom. I am really hoping the topiramate, which I’ll hopefully be starting within the next week or two, will help with this.

Xanax From Nature: Calming Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter X post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for the weird title, but I had to come up with something starting with X. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety and sleep medication. Here in the Netherlands, benzodiazepine medications aren’t covered by insurance, at least not when used for sleep or relaxation. In the spirit of finding alternatives to benzos, today I’m sharing what essential oils can do to promote relaxation. Now I don’t say that essential oils are as effective, but in some cases, they might just be, especially since benzos are highly addictive.

The most well-known oil for tranquility is, of course, lavender. Lavender is thought to help relieve anxiety by affecting the limbic region of the brain, the area that involves emotion. You can either use some lavender essential oil in a diffuser blend or enjoy a lavender bath. To do this, combine a few drops of lavender essential oil with a teaspoon or so of the carrier oil of your choice or an unscented bath gel.

Valerian is up next. I don’t own this oil and haven’t talked about it. Valerian is an herb that has been used since ancient times to promote sleep and relaxation. The herb can be used in herbal teas, but there’s also an essential oil derived from it that can be used in a diffuser blend.

Jasmine is also sometimes used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. It has a beautifully floral scent and, in helping with anxiety, has the advantage that it doesn’t cause sleepiness. Jasmine is usually sold as an absolute and even then can be quite expensive.

Chamomile essential oil, particularly Roman chamomile, is also commonly used for helping reduce anxiety. I do not own this oil, as it is pretty expensive, but would love to in the future. I did at one point use chamomile in herbal tea.

Lastly, frankincense and vetiver essential oil both have calming properties.

There are also oils that have both calming and uplifting properties. For example, I personally didn’t expect patchouli essential oil to help with anxiety, as it is mostly thought of as an uplifting oil. However, of course, oils can do both. I will discuss more uplifting oils later.

Lavender and Lavandin #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter L post in my #AtoZChallenge series on aromatherapy. Today, I’ll share about one of my favorite and most commonly used essential oils: lavender. I will also discuss its cousin, lavandin.

True lavender essential oil is distilled from the flower spikes of the plant Lavandula angustifolia. It has a sweet, floral yet slightly herbal scent. Lavandin comes from a hybrid between true lavender and Lavandula latifolia. Lavandin’s scent is more herbaceous and camphoraceous than lavender, but it still retains some of lavender’s floral scent. I like to describe it as “lavender light”. Lavandin was originally introduced to the cosmetic industry in the 1970s because of it being more affordable than lavender. For this reason, some essential oil profiteers adulterate true lavender essential oil with the less expensive lavandin.

Lavender essential oil is very well-known for promoting relaxation and sleep. There are no controlled clinical trials of lavender essential oil in people with anxiety, but some less well-designed studies show that lavender may definitely help lessen anxiety as well as improving one’s mood. A study I found reported that internal use of lavender might work as well as lorazepam in treating anxiety. However, please note that I do not recommend using essential oils internally. Besides, this study was done over a time of six weeks, which is enough time for people taking lorazepam to have developed tolerance.

Lavender, when consumed as a tea (not the essential oil, but the herb itself!), is reported to help with digestive issues such as nausea, intestinal gas, an upset stomach and abdominal swelling.

Lavender and lavandin essential oils blend well with many other oils, including clary sage, citrus oils such as bergamot and orange, ylang ylang and patchouli. I like a blend of eight drops of lavender oil and two drops of geranium essential oil to promote sleep.

Do you like the scent of lavender?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 22, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all on this lovely Monday! I am so excited to have discovered the Weekly Smile. This is, as the name suggests, a weekly blog event in which participants share what made them smile. Having discovered this meme itself is a reason to smile. I love being positive! Let me share what else made me smile.

First up is my new assigned staff’s kindness. Like I said in my #WeekendCoffeeShare post on Friday, I have a new assigned staff. She is calm, kind and very dedicated to her job. I initially worried she might get too attached and then have to withdraw as my assigned staff. She reassured me though that she maintains her professionalism.

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit triggered. The student staff, with whom I am not fully comfortable yet, had been my one-on-one for the evening. In addition, a male staff may get to work in my home soon. He seems kind enough, but still, it’s an adjustment. All this led me to feeling a bit stressed out when I was going to bed. Thankfully, my new assigned staff comforted me.

After the staff had taken me to bed, I pressed the call button a few times for the staff to come back, but she didn’t mind. She has this little rhyme she tells me each time she puts me to bed. It goes something like this:
Sleep well,
Head on the pillow,
Ass in the straw,
Then Astrid sleeps soon.

This time, the staff adjusted the rhyme to address not just me, but all of the voices (alters) inside my head. That definitely made me smile.

Second is my sensory room experience that I was able to create in my own bedroom. First, I found a calming essential oil blend to put in my diffuser. Then, I found the album on Spotify that I used to have in the CD player in the day center’s sensory room. It is called Songbird Symphony. Lastly, I crawled under my weighted blanket and had my staff cover me with the ball-filled blanket that came with the sensory bed from our makeshift sensory room. In total, I had at least 20kg of weighted blankets on top of me. This probably isn’t healthy for actual sleeping, so I threw off the ball blanket before actually drifting off to sleep. However, the feeling before this was so peaceful. It reminded me of Temple Grandin’s “hug machine”. Reading about that introduced to me the comforting effect of deep pressure years before I felt able to explore my own sensory experiences. Now, I totally appreciate my care staff, physical therapist and the manager for having helped me find my sensory comfort.

What made you smile this past week?

Grateful for My Health

Hi everyone, how are you? Today, I want to write, but didn’t know at first what to write about. For this reason, I looked at the eBook Journaling with Lisa Shea, which is really a collection of eleven of her eBooks on journaling. In the one about gratitude, one of the prompts asks us what we’re most grateful for with respect to our health.

I often worry that I’m deteriorating. In truth, I may or may not be, but I have the health I have now. Here are some things I am grateful for about my health.

1. My mobility. I know, I know, I want it to be better. I wish I could walk with the stamina and speed that my husband can. Then again, he’s much taller and skinnier than I am and doesn’t have a physical disability. Considering this, I am so grateful I am able to walk over 10K steps most days. When I wrote a post on my old blog several years ago about what optimal health would mean to me, this was one of the things I listed.

2. My energy level. Generally, difficult as I may find it to see, this has improved much over the past several years. Ten years ago, I struggled greatly to even write one blog post a week. I also slept on average ten to twelve hours a night, sometimes more. Now, I rest for about an hour in the afternoon sometimes, but not always. I also don’t need the long nights I apparently needed some years ago.

3. My sleep. I said above that I need less sleep now than I needed some years ago. Part of the reason may be an improved sleep quality. Though my sleep is still disrupted a lot, it’s much less so than it used to be. I used to snore horribly. Either my husband got used to it or I snore a little less now. I think it’s the latter, as I rarely wake up gasping for air now.

4. My mood. I still experience meltdowns and emotional outbursts almost on a daily basis. However, it’s been months since I’ve been depressed. In general, I feel my mood is pretty good overall.

5. My skin health. Many people experience dry skin in the colder months and it isn’t helped by the need to wash your hands like all the time. I, indeed, do have dry and eczema-prone skin sometimes, but haven’t had a flare up of this since last summer. My hands feel remarkably smooth compared to others’.

6. My heart health. It could definitely be better, but it could also be a lot worse. My resting heartrate is within the normal range and so is my resting blood pressure. As regular readers may know, I had a scare related to possible hypertension last October. The doctor reassured me that it’s okay now.

Of course, there are still areas in which I could improve my health, but overall, I’m pretty content.

What are you grateful about with respect to your health?

My Random Musings
loopyloulaura

Also joining in with Grace and Gratitude. This linky really inspired me to write about gratitude.

Gratitude List (January 29, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone on this rainy Friday. I didn’t write anything yesterday or on Wednesday, because on Wednesday I was feeling uninspired and yesterday I was in bed all day feeling like crap. Today, I want to write again and I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list.

1. I am grateful for a beautiful sunset on Monday. I’m also grateful for still having the residual sight to actually enjoy it. By the time I got my camera to take a picture, the sun had already set a little more than it had when I first saw it. Therefore, the actual thing was even more beautiful than the picture.

Sunset

2. I am grateful my husband is feeling better. This week-end, I get to go to our house.

3. I am grateful for still no COVID among my family or close relatives. My mother-in-law had to get tested last week, but thankfully, she was negative.

4. I am grateful I’m feeling slightly better today than I was yesterday. I have been horribly constipated for about a week now and yesterday evening, was nauseated from it. That has thankfully gone.

I am hoping to get a new medication for the constipation later today. I currently take Macrogol, which gives me horrible gas and cramping. The staff called my GP this morning and she’s going to send in some different kind of medication. I forgot to ask what she’s prescribed exactly, but I’ll find out.

5. I am grateful for rest. I was able to sleep pretty well last night despite having been in bed all afternoon yesterday and having gone back to sleep at 8PM. Thankfully, I feel rested now.

6. I am grateful for my sensory cat soft toy. It can be heated in the microwave and then gives off heat and a lavender scent. I had it in bed with me last night.

7. I am grateful for my new AFO or foot brace or whatever it’s called. The original one came on Monday, but it was painful to wear in a way that the physical therapist thought wouldn’t go away with practice. Thankfully, I now have another one. It’s still painful to walk on uneven ground wearing it, but that’s supposed to go away when I get used to the thing.

8. I am grateful for delicious Turkish pizza. A staff brought me some today and I ate it with salad and mayonaise. It was awesome!

9. I am grateful for some DIY inspiration. Today, the staff (same one who brought the pizza) helped me create some air-dry clay figures which I will later hang onto something for decorating my room.

10. I am grateful for books and Netflix shows. I was able to read again on Wednesday and really enjoyed it. I also got a Netflix subscription again last week. Though I’m not sure for how long I’ll keep it, I did enjoy watching some shows.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (December 26, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone and a belated merry Christmas to you all! As usual on Saturdays nowadays, I’m writing a gratitude list. I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Enjoy!

1. I am grateful for Jesus! I’m so grateful I became a Christian this year and this time hopefully for real. I say this because I’ve been a progressive believer for many years but hardly took my faith seriously at all. I still could take it more seriously and I’m praying God will open my heart and mind to him even more.

2. I am grateful for my family. My parents sent me a Braille-typed Christmas card and my sister sent me a card too. This reminds me that, even though we don’t have the closest relationship, I still matter to them.

3. I am grateful for my husband and in-laws.

4. I am grateful for great Christmas meals. Yesterday, my husband and I made use of the fact that people can legally have two (actually three on Christmas and boxing day) visitors and celebrated Christmas with my in-laws. We had a delicious dinner.

Also, the bakery in a nearby village sent the entire care facility a Christmas lunch of freshly-baked buns. Normally they give it to the day center in that village, where the clients help package their goods. However, that day center is closed due to COVID. Most clients from my care facility don’t work at the day center there, but some do and the bakery was so generous as to give us all the lunch.

5. I am grateful for my psychiatrist. As we wrote on Tuesday, she completely validated us. I haven’t yet needed my new PRN medication.

6. I am grateful the days are getting longer again. Ugh, how I hate the dark days!

7. I am grateful for the motivation and focus to be able to read again. I’m reading a middle grade novel, but that’s okay.

8. I am grateful for uplifting, Christian music. My husband has some on in the car and I discovered some on Spotify.

9. I am grateful for sausage rolls this morning. My husband joked that he was going to eat them all if I didn’t make it downstairs soon enough. I guess I did though.

10. I am grateful for a lie-in this morning. My husband didn’t get up at 7:30AM like usual on Sundays (maybe because it’s Saturday today), so I slept in longer than usual too.

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. What have you been grateful for lately?

Gratitude List (December 5, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone. I hope you’re well. Last week, I said I’d like to make gratitude lists a weekly habit again. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. My mood being slightly better than it was last week. I seem to be slowly climbing out of the pit of depression and overload. I am still in crisis multiple times a week, but it’s no longer an almost-daily occurrence.

2. St. Nicholas. This is celebrated today here in the Netherlands. Usually, kids get gifts then. We no longer celebrate it in our family and my niece is probably too young to understand the concept too. We don’t really celebrate it in the care facility this year either. However, we do have lots of special St. Nicholas candies.

3. My mother-in-law. She visited me on Thursday, which was good. I really had a good time.

4. Reading. Like I said earlier, the second novel in Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy is out this week and I immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. It’s a true page-turner.

5. Playing cards. I love to play the game of mau-mau or “bullying”, as it is called here.

6. A rainbow-colored ball. I can’t remember how I got it, but it’s among my toys. I have been loving throwing it back and forth with the staff.

7. The snoezelen® equipment we got at the home now. I may have said before that there’s an empty room that the staff had turned into a snoezelen® room when the day center closed. Then we got a client temporarily placed in that room, so its sensory equipment had to be removed. That client left though and it’s unlikely we’ll get a new placement anytime soon. So our staff bought some more sensory equipment. We now have a special sensory bed with speakers installed in it. I lay on the bed yesterday and loved feeling and hearing the soothing music.

8. Getting to the psychiatrist sooner than expected. Originally, I heard me appt isn’t till sometime in January. Thankfully though, the psychiatrist had a cancellation or something, so I was fitted in for December 22. Though my mood is slowly lifting, I am still glad I can see her.

9. Essential oils once again. Okay, I’ve shared about those before, but I keep discovering new blends. Yesterday I had one that included geranium and I hated the smell. I quickly emptied the diffuser though and then tried another blend.

10. Sleep. I haven’t had nightmares in a week or so. At least not ones that haunt me during the day. That’s definitely a win!

Yay, I got to ten. I know some are repeats, but that’s okay. And at least I didn’t include a ton of food-related thankfuls.

What have you been grateful for lately?