We have all had one of those nights. A long, dark night which reaches out endlessly until the morning and your only companion is your thoughts. Dark, scary thoughts which torture and keep you from rest until the necessity of the next day dawns. I had one of those nights at the end of last year.
The next day I went to see my GP; one of my nipples had doubled in size and was showing red pimples. After examining me, he told me that if my symptoms hadn’t reduced or improved within a week I needed to undergo further investigation to eliminate the possibility of cancer…
Back home I was filled with an intense panic. I was in floods of tears, I couldn’t organise my thoughts. During the previous night before seeing the doctor, I concluded that I was OK about the possibility dying but now it was a real possibility, the idea I would leave my 16-year-old daughter behind without a mum was terrifying me. I repeatedly heard a voice in my head telling me “she wasn’t ready – she still needed me”!!
I brought up my daughter without any support from family who all live in France and without much support from her dad as he moved away soon after the divorce. All the school runs, exam anxiety, high temperatures and sleepless nights had just been us two, sticking together – trying to make it through, a little team. The fear of Ashlie not being strong enough to emotionally deal with my loss was tearing me apart.
I did what I often do, I prayed. Prayers have always been my refuge, one of my coping mechanisms. They are for me, like airbags, protecting me in the middle of a collision.
Do you find yourself in a cycle of eating and soon thereafter, feeling hungry again? Are you gaining weight or know you need to lose weight but can’t stop feeling hungry? Here’s probably why:
Despite our food portions getting bigger, the nutritional value our food gives us is declining. Fast food, ready meals, diet sandwiches, sugary snacks, processed and refined foods – all of these are so poor in vitamins, minerals and healthy proteins that we are starving on a cellular level.
Your body is made from water and living cells that have to be fed vitamins and minerals in order to survive. Our skin replaces itself every 35 days, our liver once a month. Our body makes these new cells from the foods we eat.
When we eat foods that stop hunger but don’t give us the nutrients our bodies need to regenerate these cells, our bodies stay hungry and send signals to our brains to eat more. This constant eating adds to weight gain without giving our body what it needs.
We all know that the ideal would be to fill our plates with fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and lean proteins, but with the best of intentions, our busy lives often get in the way of this food ideal. Even when we try diets, old habits kick in and temptation takes over. When we don’t see results fast, we give up.
As our children approach the ‘exam’ time of year, it is crucial to keep an eye on their anxiety levels. Anxiety can lead to poor academic performance and under-achievement, even in the most capable of students.
When children get stressed and worried, their sleep can be disturbed, which leads to irritability and an inability to focus. This in turn can cause panic and has been known to lead to depression in some cases.
It is important to remember that this stressful period WON’T last for ever, and that once the exams are over, the stress will ease. It’s also worth highlighting that a moderate degree of stress gives us a rush of adrenaline which boosts our ability to get things done. However, it is all about finding the right balance and learning to manage stress effectively so that it doesn’t take over and have a negative effect.
We must also be mindful of our own stress levels and managing these for the sake of our own health, whether we have children going through exams or not.
Here are my top tips for helping to manage stress levels in both ourselves and our children. If you have children undergoing exams, please consider printing these tips and letting them read them for themselves, as this will be far more effective than trying to tell them what to do!
Do you ever think about past mistakes; worry about current stresses and how these could negatively impact the future? Do you over analyse other peoples' comments? Do you read into things that aren't actually there?
The thing is, the more we worry about the things that could go wrong, the more anxious we feel in the present. If you recognize yourself in the above, you are what psychologists call a ruminator (an over-thinker). Ruminating on stress and disappointments can be harmful to your health and relationships.
When we find ourselves in this state of mind, we often push away those that we are worrying about or seeking love from. We become anxious, negative, depressed and not very pleasant to be around.
This is not something that we can turn on or off, but skills that we have to learn, memorise and reproduce again and again. It requires perseverance and work to let go of old behaviours, no longer useful and replace them with new ones.
This is where NLP and mindfulness become useful tools to prevent over-thinking and find peace in the present moment.
Our critical inner voice can have a devastating effect on us, leading to low self-esteem and a debilitated self-image.
It’s important to take a moment to reflect on how strong a critical inner voice we have. Are we permanently berating ourselves for our guilt, our shame, our wrongdoings - and how does this make us feel?
A critical inner voice is a bit like poison ivy, invading us on the sly and then attacking, blaming, comparing and criticising. It can be abusive and judgemental, leaving us with the overwhelming feeling that we are not good enough. We may listen to it for so long that we come to believe that we are fat, stupid, selfish, unlovable, ugly (or whatever it maybe telling us). We may even start to think that this is how others perceive us too!
Listening to this voice could be the only way we know to try and become ‘A Better Us’, or perhaps it's learnt behaviour from our childhood. Either way, we can become so accustomed to the negative things it tell us that our mind may believe what we are hearing.
Enough is enough! Now is the time to stop inflicting this pain upon ourselves, and to replace this old destructive habit with a useful new one. But how…?
Well believe it or not both my daughter and I became addicted to taking one straight after waking up. It is now part of our little routine. I used to wake up earlier and prepare them but after 4 weeks away from home, she missed them so much, she surprised me by getting them prepared before I even got out of bed.
They are warming to the body, something you will experience first-hand when kicking back 2 oz of this nutritional gem. Before going any further believe it or not they are alcohol FREE! In fact they are massively packed with nutrients. They’ll provide you with a mega boast of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Perfect remedy if you feel a cold coming on, run-down or just want a surplus of energy.
It’s ever so simple to make (timed it: 8 minutes incl. cleaning my juicer). All you need to do is juice one apple with approx. one inch of ginger.