Improve your health with self-compassion

We all know that if we have regular feelings of gratitude, compassion and kindness towards ourselves, we’re going to generally feel better than if we allow our inner-critic to dominate our thoughts and feelings.

According to Harvard practising self-compassion can improve your overall health and reduce levels of anxiety and depression.

About six months ago I learnt a technique from a psychologist that I now practise daily, it’s similar to practising gratitude but it’s more specific and I’d like to share it because it’s simple and proven to relieve anxiety and depression.

Meredith self-compassionThe practise: everyday find three positive things to say about yourself which can be said aloud, in your head, or written down.

These things can be like “earlier today I offered to make my partner a cup of tea, that was a thoughtful and kind act” or “today I went to yoga and I’m happy I took some time to look after myself”, or “I listened to my friend when she was going through a difficult time, I am a kind and supportive person”.

Even though some days it may seem insignificant or you can’t think of anything interesting to say, don’t underestimate the effects this practise can have, it takes time and like anything if you practise daily it becomes a habit, except this is a healthy habit to maintain which cultivates self-compassion and self-esteem.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

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Floatation therapy

I recently gave floatation therapy a try at Bliss Float.

In case you’re wondering exactly what floatation therapy is all about, it’s basically a pod (see below image) that is filled warm water and salts such as magnesium that allows you to float, the room is quiet and dark and the aim is to completely relax.

Floatation pod

Floatation therapy isn’t new and there are studies that have documented its benefits. Being a health science student, I felt the need to explore these studies myself before signing up to float and indeed there is evidence to suggest that flotation therapy can assist with stress, anxiety, pain and fatigue.

I was initially concerned with feeling claustrophobic, but I quickly realised there was no need to worry, as the pod was completely adjustable including the lid and could be left open if you didn’t want to be completely enclosed. There were soft lights that moved through the chakra colours (colours of the rainbow), if you preferred some light instead of complete sensory deprivation.

So how did I like it? At first I’ll admit it felt strange, I tried to fight the strange buoyant water and alien environment and kept checking the pod lid was open ajar (hello my friend anxiety). After about 15 minutes I noticed a shift, all my muscles relaxed and in fact I forgot they were there until I noticed some leg twitching, then I knew I was in a deeply relaxed, meditative state. I went through phases of being more alert to being more relaxed which I find normally happens in meditation. At the end when the music came on again, I knew I was very relaxed, so relaxed my body felt like jelly. Floating truly felt like a healing experience.

After I managed to drive myself home that afternoon, the effects lingered into the evening, although I experienced some nausea it passed quickly and that night I slept incredibly well. Floating is definitely something I want to do again. Now I’m over the initial strangeness of trying something new, I believe next time will be even more beneficial.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

5 tips for managing endometriosis

I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis in January 2014, at that time and for many years prior I was extremely unwell and could barely function.

Endometriosis is a multi-faceted disease so it needs to be considered from all angles. It doesn’t just include monthly pain – the pain for me was daily, but there was also extreme fatigue, depression, gut problems including bloating, constipation, bowel pain and malabsorption of nutrients.

These days I am feeling much better and rarely experience the symptoms mentioned above. There are many factors that have contributed to my improved health and I want to share with you some of my learnings. Firstly, let’s understand a bit more about the disease:

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside this area and creates inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions, pain and sometimes infertility. It is unknown what causes endometriosis but there are a few factors that may contribute to the disease:

Estrogen dominance is one factor that may contribute to endometriosis. If this hormone is not being expelled appropriately from the body it can worsen the disease and create other symptoms associated with estrogen dominance. There are two key components to maintaining optimal hormone levels; the liver which removes excess toxins, including excess hormones such as estrogen (and xenoestrogens) and the gastrointestinal system which is essential for absorbing nutrients and expelling waste.

Here are 5 tips for managing endometriosis:

  • Find your health care A-team; for example, I have the support of a general practitioner, a gynaecologist (who specialises in endometriosis), a naturopath, a gastroenterologist and an acupuncturist. Make sure the people you do see really understand the disease and are up to date with the latest research. Good health care will make a difference. Take responsibility for your own health though, do your research and ask questions; if you’re not comfortable with what your practitioner is proposing, seek a second opinion, it’s your body and you know it better than anyone. Excision surgery done correctly by an endo specialist is widely regarded as the best way to improve symptoms and quality of life.
  • Establish your support network. Having a chronic illness can be very isolating and can lead to depression. Creating my Instagram account healingyogi and this blog, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; the support from other endo sufferers (along with the support from my husband) was incredible. In addition to social media, you can find support networks through friends, family, local support groups and through a psychologist.
  • Consider your diet. As mentioned earlier, if your body is not absorbing the appropriate nutrients and expelling waste/toxins as it needs to, it’s only going to make you feel worse. There isn’t one diet for endometriosis, but there are a few guidelines that can help:
    • Eat a high fibre diet.
    • Buy food as close to its natural state and prepare your own meals as often as possible – eat lots of veggies!
    • Buy organic where possible and reduce the amount of toxins you consume.
    • Eat plenty of healthy fats found in olive oil and wild salmon as they are anti-inflammatory.
    • Avoid soy products such as tofu as they contain isoflavones which are similar to estrogen and therefore can have similar effects on the body.
    • Reduce your sugar intake (including alcohol). Processed sugary foods and drinks can cause inflammation and will only make you feel worse.
    • Drink plenty of water.

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  • Reduce your stress levels. By allowing your body to rest appropriately it will switch on your parasympathetic nervous system and allow your body to do things such as; conserve energy, digest food and reproduce. Find your happy place! Whether it’s playing sport, painting or going for a walk in nature – just do something that gives you time to nourish your body and mind. Not surprisingly, I recommend yoga and meditation as it provides benefits for both body and mind and can help manage pain. Restorative yoga is brilliant for when you are unwell and not up to doing exercise.

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  • Address your digestive problems. If you’re tackling endometriosis it’s important to have your gut absorbing the appropriate nutrients. After many years of gut problems, last year I was finally diagnosed with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) which meant I was malabsorbing nutrients along with some other unpleasant symptoms. At the time I had blood tests completed and was low in iron and vitamin B12; I suffered from extreme fatigue and brain fog as a result. Research your symptoms and talk to a naturopath / gastroenterologist. Find out what’s going on and take steps to address the problem so it doesn’t create additional health complications going forward.

There is so much more I could write about with regards to managing endo, but these are the 5 points that come first to mind. What are your tips for managing endo? I would love to know your thoughts.

Yours in health,

Meredith

Melbourne healthy eats

It’s been a while between blog posts but I’m happy to be back. I just completed my first semester studying nutrition, it’s been full on, but I’m loving learning about how food can help us to heal our body.

Recently I took a trip to Melbourne to visit friends and family. I lived in Melbourne, Australia for my entire life up until a year ago so I have a strong connection to the city. Melbourne is blessed with a diverse culture and as a result it has a unique and inspiring food scene, which includes healthy eateries. During my visit I was so inspired by the food being served I thought it was worth sharing. If you happen to find yourself in this beautiful place anytime soon and are in need of a healthy and delicious feed, give one of these eateries a go:

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  • Coin Laundry Cafe – located in the charming inner city suburb of Armadale, it is a cute corner cafe and a local favourite, it has a friendly vibe and serves up delicious food including excellent gluten free bread (yes, gluten free bread that actually tastes great).
  • Transformer – posh sister of veggie bar in Fitzroy, this restaurant serves up inspiring vegetarian food in a sophisticated atmosphere.
  • Walk Don’t Run – another cute cafe in Armadale serving up organic, locally sourced produce with a menu that allows it’s healthy and tasty ingredients to shine through. 
  • Serotonin Dealer – located in Richmond, this cafe is all about boosting your happiness via your tummy, which makes a lot of sense really when you consider that most of your serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for mood balance) is produced in your gut.
  • Heal Thy Self Co this was my regular when I lived in Melbourne. The delicious seasonal menu is built on bio-availability, eastern medicine and high performance psychology.
  • Tahina – Simple, healthy Israeli street food in Northcote. Try the green shakshuka!
  • MOM cafeif you have gut issues, this is your place. The menu was built by nutritionists, doctors, naturopaths and chefs and it caters for pretty much every dietary requirement you can think of.

If you visit any of these places or can recommend any other healthy cafes then drop me a note below!

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

 

Tackling fatigue

Fatigue is something everyone can relate to, we all get tired and run-down at one point or another in our lives. What happens though when it takes over your life? Constant fatigue, brain fog, lethargy, aching muscles, to the point where even the most simple tasks become difficult. When it doesn’t go away, even with a good nights sleep, you know there’s a problem. This is what I’ve been dealing with for the last 6 months. It’s been so overwhelming that I haven’t been able to work or function normally.

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My naturopath believes I have adrenal fatigue, this condition is where the adrenal glands don’t function properly and below the necessary level. It is believed to be caused by prolonged levels of intense stress and poor health that result in strain on the body. For me personally I have been dealing with severe endometriosis, gut issues (SIBO) causing nutritional deficiencies, I had 2 surgeries last year, moved interstate and my husband has also been tackling his own health issues; when you look at all these factors, it’s no wonder I’m exhausted.

On a positive note, this week after 6 long months I feel like I’m starting to improve, I’m trying not to get too excited and tread carefully because I know I’m still not completely well. So, what has helped? The first step has been listening to my body and resting when I need to; the biggest lesson for me was when I took on a full time job after moving interstate to Brisbane, I struggled from day one and when I could hardly make it up the stairs at work I knew something was wrong, after 2 weeks I quit. Now, about 3 months later I’m starting to feel a little better, so I thought I’d share with you my tips for tackling chronic fatigue:

  • Rest, whenever you feel you need to, sit down for 10-15 minutes (don’t sleep during the day though) and sip a cup of herbal tea or water.
  • Try incorporating meditation and deep slow breathing, or breath regulation and lengthening (a technique in yoga called pranayama), it is a wonderful experience for your body and mind.
  • Cut out caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants. If you’re working, try taking a week or two off, schedule a holiday to get through the worst part of the caffeine withdrawal and help recharge your body.
  • Light exercise every day is important, try yoga – restorative or yin yoga, they are superb for fatigue. Walking is great too, try 15-20 minutes of light walking in the morning and/or evening. Don’t push yourself beyond this though.
  • Get outdoors and get some sunlight, (not excessive amounts of course) it does wonders for your state of mind, along with being the best source of vitamin D which is essential for assisting in the absorption of vitamins and for maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Talk to your doctor to get an overall health check and get a blood test. I was deficient in iron and B vitamins so taking quality supplements has helped enormously.
  • Eat a healthful diet and drink plenty of water, reduce your intake of sugar and eat home made meals made from unprocessed ingredients, including plenty of vegetables. All of this sounds obvious, but in our fast paced world it can be difficult to maintain, organisation and preparation is key.
  • Aim for 8-9 hours sleep a night and get to bed before 10pm. Try taking magnesium – I was waking during the night cramping (a sign of being deficient in magnesium), since taking a supplement powder I sleep like a baby.

 

Do you suffer from chronic fatigue? Are there any other tips that work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Yours in health,

Meredith x