A New Way to a Familiar Destination

I was planning on writing a blogpost about boundaries this week; their importance, why we struggle with setting appropriate boundaries, tips on how to get going… but this morning I realized that one was going to have to wait.

Instead, I feel the need to write about the “baby-steps” I’m taking to rebuild my strength after a crappy experience of being very ill this past winter.

So BABY STEPS it is!

Those who follow me on social media or who receive my newsletters might remember that I came down with shingles after injuring a nerve on the top of my head last November. (If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, you have the virus that can cause shingles sleeping in your nervous system. With all my heart, I truly hope it never “wakes up” so you don’t have to experience shingles.) Anyway, I was surprised as the only people I’d known of who had shingles were all women in their 70s – I’M NOT THERE YET – and I didn’t realize a nerve injury could trigger it, although in hindsight it makes perfect sense.

So, I had shingles on my scalp, my face and in my right eye. I have never been so ill in my life. I literally laid on the couch for almost 2 full weeks. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed because I wasn’t really sleeping. The pain was incessant and unpredictable. I’m not one for taking medications if I can help it, but let me tell you I was keeping track of every painkiller I took so I knew when I could take my next dose and even then they just dulled the pain they didn’t eliminate it.

My rash didn’t clear up until 5-6 weeks later and my eye is almost completely healed. There is a small patch in my vision where it feels like I’m looking through a smudge on my glasses but it is very tiny and I can live with it!

I barely ate. I barely slept. The pain was unimaginable. I’m so fortunate to have loved ones nearby who could help me out with groceries and getting to appointments as I wasn’t able to drive for weeks.

Recovery was slow. Especially given that it had gotten into my eye. So I tried to go slow as I eased back into my “regular” life.

It took so much longer than I expected!

I should also mention that while not single, I am a Solo Mom and the past few years – even before the pandemic – had been very challenging. I went into this illness already maxed out as far as stress-levels were concerned.

The first time I really realized how hard everything had been on my body was when I went snowshoeing in early January (almost 2 months after getting ill). I have been very active during the winter for 10 years now so going snowshoeing wasn’t anything new to me. We weren’t doing anything difficult, just a nice little loop that would take us less than an hour. Well, my body did NOT enjoy that and I ended up getting extremely ill afterwards which set me back a little bit as far as getting back into the swing of things to say the least.

My nutrition was up to snuff (I have the BEST supplements and shakes which truly got me through the worst of my sick days because I honestly could barely eat anything but my body desperately needed the nutrients to fight the virus and heal), so no worries there. However, my physical stamina was nowhere to be found.

How could this be? I didn’t understand fully because I’ve never been that ill before, so I started asking questions and looking into options to help me heal to a point where I feel stronger and more capable than I had been for a few months.

WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES IN NEW SITUATIONS WE NEEDTO BE OPEN TO FINDING NEW WAYS OF APPROACHING THINGS.

I found I could not do a full yoga practice as I am used to doing. After about 25 minutes I would feel drained (and while I am a yoga teacher and have been for many years, I typically practice a slow-flow sequence so it wasn’t like I was Power-Yoga-ing and then feeling pooped, lol!) So I created mini practices for myself #babysteps. Depending on how my energy levels were, they are between 10-20 minutes which I am just now able to combine to enjoy a half hour practice. Yay!

I discovered that my cardio strength had really diminished and it was keeping me from hiking all the gorgeous trails near where I live. But the weather, my family responsibilities, work schedules, etc made it challenging as to when I could actually get outside while it was daylight. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a regular routine as it makes things so much easier to stick to!

What new way could I build my cardio and stamina from home? One that DIDN’T cost a fortune or take up a lot of room as my home is tiny… I found an old-school stationary bike! And I love it! It is compact, easy to use, and didn’t cost me a fortune. To be honest, I found it for $50 on Marketplace. Yay!

I started slow, because I had experienced what happened when I tried to push myself too far too fast. Ten minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work. Just enough to get my heart rate up a little! The next week I did 15 minutes twice a day. Now I’m up to 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after work and I’ve been able to increase the tension for a better workout! Again, #babysteps to the rescue!!!

Do I feel bad about myself because of how I’ve had to scale back what activities I do or how long I do them? NOPE. I feel proud of myself that despite coming up against new challenges and obstacles, I’ve been able to find ways of healing and improving my health that work with how things are NOW.

Things change. We need to be able to change too.

Different isn’t bad, its just different. And sometimes as we shift into something new and different, we need to do so gently and let ourselves take Baby Steps.

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

PS – if you’re looking for some help figuring out your own best next-steps to make positive changes in your life, I’m here! I’m certified in wellness, life, and sleep science coaching and I’ve been teaching yoga for almost a decade. Give me a shout at info@breezewellnessbc.com

Just Tell Me What to Do!

Yeah, I knew…

  • I knew that I was supposed to eat well. 
  • I knew that I was supposed to drink enough water. 
  • I knew that I was supposed to rest.  
  • I knew that I was supposed to make time for play & self care. 

But even though I knew all of these things it was like being caught in a whirlwind of “supposed to’s.” I had all the information but what I really needed was for somebody to just tell me what to do! 

I was so caught up in the chaos of all of the “shoulds,” that I couldn’t do any of them at all. And I paid for it. In every area of my life…

What changed for me? I reached out for help

This wasn’t easy for me, I’ve always been very very independent. I’m still very very independent. But I got to a point where I simply couldn’t keep spinning my wheels any longer. I was feeling like I was totally missing out not only on my life with my kids, but my life in general.

What did I do? 

Continue reading “Just Tell Me What to Do!”

Mixed Feelings for Mother’s Day

Let me begin by saying that being a mom is without a doubt the best experience of my life. And that I am constantly in awe of how much so many moms are able to handle not only while raising their children but also throughout the rest of their lives.

But, like some other holidays we celebrate in our society, Mother’s Day brings up many conflicting feelings and thoughts for me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think mothers should be celebrated, it simply stirs up a lot of “stuff” for me and I feel like maybe I’m not the only one.

Continue reading “Mixed Feelings for Mother’s Day”

You Could Get an Entire Day Back This Way

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut of plunking yourself down in front of the TV and suddenly the evening has disappeared? It happens. We are creatures of habit and sometimes those habits don’t always serve us very well.

I’m not going to be that person who tells you “you should get rid of your TV and never watch it again!” because honestly, this is real life and sometimes watching a show or a lighthearted movie can be helpful. And sometimes, we need a half hour to ourselves to get something done (like dinner!) and if the kids can watch one show while we do that, then so be it!

I will, however, keep encouraging you to decrease the amount of time you watch. And there’s very good reasons for that. Here are just 5 of them:

Continue reading “You Could Get an Entire Day Back This Way”

It’s Time to Get Moving!

It seems like it wouldn’t make sense, right? I mean, you’re wiped-out tired, barely enough energy to get through the day and someone is telling you that you should exercise ?!?

I get it, I’ve totally been there and honestly there are still days that hit like that in my life. But what I’ve learned over the years is that when I’m feeling exhausted, getting myself moving is usually EXACTLY what I need to do!

Why?  Really… why???

Well, exercising not only improves your energy levels YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT, but it also helps improve your overall health and sense of wellbeing… including your mood!  I know I always feel better emotionally after I’ve gotten myself moving.

Continue reading “It’s Time to Get Moving!”

Making Time to Unwind

The Mom Life is a busy one, no doubt about it. But its not very realistic for any of us to expect to be able to go-go-go and then hop into bed and promptly fall asleep, right? I mean, we probably have a little routine when we want(ed) our kidlets to fall asleep and this is your gentle reminder to do the same for yourself!

Unwind time is the signal we send to our bodies that we are preparing to rest and it can be super simple or elaborate if you like! As I always say, not only are our circumstances different, but while we are all made from the same stuff, we are all put together a bit differently… so its best to Be True to YOU and to figure out how you unwind best.

Continue reading “Making Time to Unwind”

The Bedtime Brain Dump

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep is to unburden your brain before bed!

Something I used to really struggle with was bedtime monkey-mind… you know, when you finally get to crawl into bed and get all cozy and then your brain remembers every little thing that you had to put off “til later”! Ugh!

So I modified a creativity tool that I learned years ago and worked it into a nighttime routine to help me clear my mind so I could have a better chance at falling asleep and staying asleep.

Continue reading “The Bedtime Brain Dump”

The Boring Part of Bedtime (and how it works FOR you!)

Getting Up & Going to Bed around the same time each day might sound boring, but let me tell you… feeling great because you sleep well is anything but boring!

For mommas of all ages and stages (and with their kids at all ages and stages), I want to reassure you that disruptions will happen BUT the more consistent you can be with waking up and tucking in, the better your chances are at improving the sleep you get.

As much as mornings can really (really!) suck when you’re already tired, you’ll want to begin by figuring out what time you actually need to wake up n the morning. So you want to factor in your work schedule, getting kids ready for school, that sort of thing and then make your decision about the time you’ll be setting that alarm. It’s easier to get a handle on how much sleep you can get when you start at the beginning of your day.

Next, see if you have an idea of how much sleep you actually need. For me, around 7-8 hours is ideal. Some people need more, some need less. This might be something you’ll need to track for awhile to figure out. But just for example, if you know you do best with 7 hours of sleep and you have to get up for the day at 6am, then you’d best be setting yourself up to be in bed BEFORE 11pm at night (very few people hop into bed and fall fast asleep right away).

Once you’ve got that figured out STICK WITH IT as much as possible. Like, actually 7 days a week.

When we’re just feeling exhausted all the time and we look towards the weekend with those stars in our eyes thinking about sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday to “catch up” we are deluding ourselves… and when we follow through with this plan we are actually making our sleep cycle worse! Our bodies are set up with this natural circadian rhythm that flows with the rotation of the sun. Sadly we often develop habits and routines that disrupt this natural cycle, but we can help retrain ourselves by being consistent!

One tool that I’ve added to my Sleep-Success-Toolkit, is the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. I just have the free version and it gives me great info. I can see when I sleep solidly, when things disrupt my slumber, and track those to what is happening in my life (and in my home!). I get super stoked to check out my sleep regularity progress each morning!

A key part of waking at the same time each day may also be getting exposure to 15-30 minutes of sunlight when you wake up. This light exposure reinforces the body’s circadian rhythm and promotes wakefulness in the morning and then allows you to sleep more easily at night. I live in Canada, so for a good part of the year, it is very dark in the mornings. To help maintain my sleep cycle (and for other benefits as well) I got a Verilux Happy Light light therapy box to use in the mornings. It’s now part of my morning routine that I share with my daughter… we sit for half an hour each morning in front of the Happy Light drinking our morning shake and chatting about life and playing with the cat. It’s a pretty nice way to start the day!

There’s lots of benefits of to waking up and going to bed at the same time…

  • Easier to wake up
  • Easier to fall asleep (less insomnia)
  • Decreased sleep deprivation
  • Fewer naps needed & less dependence on caffeine
  • Improved alertness through the day
  • Better focus and mental clarity
  • Improved mood
  • Less irritability
  • Better immune system function
  • Safer driving

Sounds pretty good, right?

While you are getting into this new habit, do what you can to Avoid Hitting the Snooze Button repeatedly. I’ve been there. Kind of amazed that I never actually broke an alarm from hitting the snooze so much! Here’s the thing, it’s important that when your alarm goes off at your selected wake time, you get up. You don’t want to lay in bed for an hour trying to catch just a couple more minutes of sleep. You want and need consistency, and this might take some real determination in the beginning.

One last note, things are going to come up …, like kids are going to wake you, fire sirens in the middle of the night, there will be some disruptions at some point. No worries. We deal with what we’ve got to deal with, right? But then we get back on tract and stay committed to the things that are helping us feel better so we can get the most out of our Mom-Life!

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