Last week I listened to a podcast by Rhritrition who I follow on Instagram. It was the first time I’d listened to one of her podcasts and I just thought I’d try it out to see what it was like. I selected the one with Dr Chatterjee as her guest as I had heard of him and was interested to hear what they had to say about how to live a healthier life.
It got me thinking about how I could improve my own lifestyle. I know I’ve come on leaps and bounds over the last 22 months to improve my own health for the sole goal of feeling less fatigued and having more energy. Yet I know I can do more, particularly at the time of listening to this podcast as I hadn’t been sleeping as well (perhaps I was too excited for Christmas?!!) so I had a look at his blog and then decided to buy one of his books: The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life (second-hand I might add, for those ethical and eco-conscious among you).
It arrived yesterday and I’ve already read most of Chapter 1: Relax. I’d only read the first few paragraphs of the introduction and already I was thinking how what he had written rang true. Then I got goosebumps: he used CFS as an example to explain how the way doctors view health is wrong because it is a condition that they cannot help treat. The reason treatment is so challenging is because there is no one single cause nor one single cure, yet according to Dr Chatterjee, the problem lies in the fact that medical researchers are attempting to find a single cause and cure.
Ever since I started to work out how to improve my health back in February 2019 once my GP confirmed it was CFS, I’ve been very much aware of how important it is to find activities to do that I love, that keep me in the moment and de-stress. As stress is my main trigger I knew I needed to find ways to reduce this. However back then, doing something fatigued me so meditation was the only strategy I could use.
Now though, there are a number of activities that no longer fatigue me but instead help me relax. Running used to help me do this but as this is still too fatiguing to be able to rely on it regularly so I have to find other activities. I’ve always loved crafting and sewing but wouldn’t allow myself the time to do it. I’d use the excuse that ‘I was too busy’, when in fact I now know that I just needed to make the time for myself. We make the time to cook or watch a favourite TV show so why should anything else we enjoy be any different?
Well, De Chatterjee writes it well, that we are too busy looking after other people to make time to look after ourselves. Being constantly on the go day in, day out means we are in a constant state of stress. The cortisol coursing through our bodies can manifest itself physically if we don’t give ourselves time to rest and our body has had enough. When you have CFS, your body reacts to the smallest of triggers so it doesn’t normally take long to display symptoms physically. If you’re someone who constantly suffers from colds, is moody or snaps without knowing why, struggles to sleep…how stressed are you? We’re built to deal with stress but not in large doses, consistently throughout the day.
Then, when we do get a constant cold or start to feel low for long periods, we seek medicine and our GP may give it to us without considering why we are feeling this way. Dr Chatterjee writes that he delves deeper into his patient’s symptoms to find a cause and then suggests lifestyle improvements to reduce and/or eliminate the physical symptoms. He has great results and it speaks volumes.
I’ve only read part of the book but it is so refreshing to read this. I feel like I’m a walking example of how making specific choices has resulted in a healthier me. I’ve not relied on drugs or vitamins to make me feel better. Instead, I’ve changed and adapted my lifestyle according to what makes me feel better and a big part of this is finding ways to help me relax.
So, why do we not rest? Well, I bet you see it as being selfish because you’ve taken 15 minutes out of your day to do something that you love? Well that’s how I used to view it. Now though, my viewpoint has completely changed. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care.
This is a buzzword that I think is misunderstood. Many posts on social media portray it as taking a bath and/or putting on a face mask on a Sunday evening to help you sleep well. Whilst this is self-care, it’s also giving yourself the time, any time of day, on any day of the week, to do something that you love, that relaxes and de-stresses you.
I’ve decided I want to do more sewing so I’m going to improve my sewing skills by beginning to make my own clothes again. When I still lived at home, I made some skirts and a dress but my mum, who is a very experienced seamstress, helped me. A lot. Whilst I’m still going to pick her brains, I’m going to go it alone. This Tier 4 situation is going to help some way towards me not relying heavily on my mum to the point that she comes round to actually take me through it! So I’ve bought some patterns (the ones I have I think are a little old-fashioned) and fabric. I’ve even bought some more sewing machine needles for specific fabrics. Once they’re here, there’ll be no stopping me!
I actually made a top yesterday from some cheap cotton I bought in March to make pyjamas but never did. It took 2 hours as I also had to figure out how to lay the fabric because the instructions were wrong (!!). It turned out well but doesn’t suit me so I will tweak it. A year ago this length of time sewing would have fatigued me and I wouldn’t have been able to complete it in one sitting. This time, I didn’t feel fatigued which makes me so happy. Whilst it was an easy pattern, I know that this goal I’ve set myself is achievable as it does now help to relax me and be in the moment without needing to look at my phone, unless I need to ring my mum for advice!
So, what activity are you going to do each day for at least 15 minutes to give yourself some ‘you’ time? Listen to music without distractions? Read a book? Bake? Let me know below as I’d love to know and how you’re getting on. Also, if you want to borrow the book when I’m done, let me know!