Insomniac

Following Monday’s Emotional Intelligence presentation at work I’ve had night after night of dreadful sleep, my mind just racing with thought and body clock thrown into disarray. The past few nights I’ve awoken from what sleep I have gotten at around midnight thinking it was 5 or 6 in the morning, its effects are exhausting for me. Yesterday at least I managed to get back to sleep, but no luck overnight.

Yesterday I used a new mandolin to help quickly prepare my favourite Thai chicken salad for lunches, a slip and despite my using the guard I’m now bandaged and missing part of the tip of my little finger. Due to insomnia and making the salad at 6.30am? Who knows?

I can’t keep this up much longer, will need sick leave if I don’t get sleep soon.

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I just couldn’t …

Our team regularly conducts emotional intelligence sessions at work whereby a team member presents on a related topic. I knew the second I saw Rebecca’s topic on how to handle a team member’s loss that I would struggle.

I appreciated her ability to talk on the topic, she suffered the worst kind of loss about five years ago when her husband was lost to cancer. A several year battle with the disease, she has talked openly about the battle she endured from discovery to his sad, eventual loss.

Our reduced team, several on leave this week, began discussing how did you go about discussing loss when a colleague returns to work, did you broach the subject directly? Would they want you to? Or did you go softly softly?

In my own case I returned to work having been warned that our senior administration officer had emailed the office, except me of course, to inform the team what had occurred, that I’d lost my brother to suicide and would be away for a period. So, when I returned it was already dealt with, I didn’t have people asking where I’d been, and why, they already knew, though there was the initial having to deal with the condolences which initially overwhelmed for the first few minutes.

After those first few minutes I focused on my meditation technique of focus on the breath, helping to calm the emotions. Some in the office did choose to come forward, whilst others held back until later.

Today, almost a year since I returned to work and facing this presentation I found the topic difficult to handle, especially once asked how I dealt with my return to work, I broke down at this point. What they hadn’t known was I’d been struggling with my brother’s loss again in recent weeks, I guess at a low point combined with being exhausted from lack of sleep.

The Four Pillar Plan

Following my brother’s suicide in April 2017 I discovered the Calm app and meditation, it helped me immensely with anxiety at the time, learning to focus on my breathing rather than that which had happened. In recent times the app has introduced Masterclasses, a wonderful addition whereby experts talk on relevant topics such as depression, anxiety, and one I happened to listed to on the weekend by UK doctor Dr Rangan Chatterjee entitled “The Four Pillar Plan”.

Dr Chatterjee’s Masterclass was quite interesting and inspired me to head to Amazon.com to purchase his book for a more in-depth understanding. In his Masterclass he identified the four pillars as being: relax, food, move and sleep. He mentioned having been a traditional doctor, treating the symptoms rather than the causes, but then reaching a point in his practice he felt things just weren’t working.

He had a mother bring in her son one day, he’d cut his wrists and the psychologist had sent them for a script to treat depression. His initial thoughts were to prescribe an anti-depressant drug, but then he stopped, after having listened to the boy’s story that included bullying and taunts of his looks he switched to enquiring how long he spent on social media each night. “Four hours or so” the reply. He prescribed not medication but rather limited exposure to social media for the week before returning. His mood had improved and continued to improve week after week.

The Four Pillar Plan involves looking at four key areas of your life and lifestyle. Relax, the first pillar involves taking time for self and switching off from the world. Here Dr Chatterjee suggests making use of the airplane mode on our phones and considering turning off of notifications that constantly beckon our attention.

The second pillar, food, involves minimising the processed foods in your diet and increasing the ‘rainbow’, having at least 5 different coloured vegetables in your diet each day as well as good fats like avocado and nuts. He mentions research showed eating within a 12-hour window had positive effects on blood sugars and sleep.

The third pillar, movement, involves getting off arse and working towards those 10,000 steps we all hear about in national health programs. Also, include strength training within your exercise regime as he mentions loss of muscle mass independently affects mortality, improves resilience and executive brain function, and our ability to resolve conflicts. He suggests even doing as little as the 5-minute kitchen workout eat day can give benefits, this involving lunges, squats, tricep dips, floor press-ups etc. Also suggested were regular, throughout the day, 2-minute movement “snacks” whereby we get the heart working through mini-workouts.

The final pillar, but by no means the least, is sleep. Dr Chatterjee mentions we are currently experiencing a sleep depression epidemic that is leading to increases in stress and anxiety, and poor food choices. Another side-effect of long-term sleep problems is Type-2 diabetes; increased build-up of beta amyloid protein within the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease; memory decline; and chronic disease. His prescription to improve things? We need to embrace morning light as increasingly we’re staying indoors more and more and not getting enough natural light; a dark room when we go do sleep at night, and switching the tech off 90 minutes before you go to sleep; keep your caffeine intake before noon; and avoid drinking in the evenings.

I’m only part-way through the kindle book thus far, it’s a really good, easy read. I’d encourage your having a read, it’s inexpensive at only a few dollars on Amazon Kindle:

51x9y71vt9lThe 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life
by Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Heart Meditation

At work our Wellness Coordinator’s face lit up at finally having me turn up to something, for years she has been trying to having me participate in something yet my lazy self just never quite made the effort. I’ve been battling with stress and anxiety quite a bit lately, thus I was ‘finally’ interested to make the effort to partake in Fiona’s heart meditation during Tuesday lunchtime.

The session involves first placing your hands such that your fingers meet at your heart, this being used later during the session. We are then encouraged to close our eyes and begin taking a few deep breaths and to smile, first with our lips pressed, and then apart and to notice how the experience differs.

As the breathing continued I started to get a touch light headed, a little too much deep breathing I think. Thankfully, after returning to regular breathing I managed to feel a bit better within a few minutes. By end of the session I noticed myself feeling refreshed, something I hadn’t expected. The others who had joined me needed to return, however I stayed on for a further ten minutes to undergo a form of reiki before we both headed back to the office.

One of the other attendees said he’d been coming to the meditation sessions for the past year, he found it had lead to increased productivity which is certainly a real benefit.

One year ago… gone

It is strange to think that a year has passed since since my little brother committed suicide. Not having seen him for several years prior to his passing, mum’s phone call following confusing messages from extended family on Facebook just gutted me.

Being 13 years older than Haydn I’d helped bring him up, including feeding, changing nappies, playing games with, and teaching various things. I hadn’t been told by some in the family of his intense depression, thus I never had a chance to try help, which I think cuts the most.

The past year has seen me battle my own depression as a result of his loss, though not to the same extent I’ll add. Many a tear has been shed, and I’ve spent many a dollar talking to a psychologist. Sadly the whole experience doesn’t seemed to have changed things in the family, it still seems as divided as it was before, though it became overt once Haydn’s insurance payout came through.

I have been blessed to have the support of a wonderful friend at work, Vicki. I am grateful for her friendship, she has made the past year far easier and less stressful. Thank you xx

Medicines

How is it only children’s medicines are flavoured and yet adult equivalents taste like the might be loo cleaner?

I’m lying here in bed having had to take another asproclear (asprin) as my head is pounding as I try heading off to the land of nod. These things I honestly wonder if they use to cut coke, they’re bloody horrible. Can I not get a chocolate variety so I’m not gagging taking this, so it’s a somewhat more pleasant experience? How has Proctor & Gamble et al not come to realise this market and delivered?

Oh well, rant over. For now.

Massage heaven

It’s no secret I’ve been suffering from ongoing strong headaches for months now, receiving regular physiotherapy treatments in hopes of relief. Sadly, the headaches have only strengthened over time to the point my physiotherapist believes they may be migraines.

Thankfully an assessment on Saturday by my doctor ruled out any likely connection with my spinal cord, especially important following the fall I took in Amboise in June. Following the assessment I decided to have a head and shoulders massage at a rather good massage therapy place in my favourite shopping centre.

As the massage therapist worked on my neck I just didn’t want him to stop as it was really hitting the spot. As I left the store I felt as though floating, the effects of the massage were so good that I didn’t have another headache until three days later, where they had been daily since November.

I can’t wait to return on Saturday morning for further relief, a weekly habit now.