Living with migraines

It’s Monday afternoon, I’m on my second migraine in 24 hours after spending the morning getting over yesterday’s one! MIGRAINES!! The bain of my life, the silent terrorising pain inside my skull. Yesterday I didn’t see it coming, I decided to go out for a run, 3 minutes down the road and the vision in my right eye was blurring, immediately came the swirling feeling in my stomach, I lost my peripheral vision in both eyes and yes… we had a migraine starting. Because I’m stubborn and it had taken me 3 weeks to go out for a run, I decided in my stupidity, that this migraine wasn’t going to stop me, it always stops me, so I thought I’d just going to keep going, for 15 minutes. I did, I’m not a glamourous runner anyway so what would it matter. By the time I got home, and my heart rate calmed down the head pain really kicked in, and I spent the next half hour upset that no matter what I do migraines still strike, even when I try and be healthy

I mainly find living with migraines frustrating, as the trigger list changes whenever it feels like it, this is my list of migraine triggers, and this Is a pretty typical list for most people but I want to highlight this to show how complex and in balance your entire world needs to be in order not to get one.

  • Alcohol,
  • Certain foods, ones that contain nitrates and sulphates
  • Red meat
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Intense work outs
  • Hormonal surges or drops

 

  • Thunderstorms (Changes in barometric pressure causes migraines in some people)

I have found that migraines are impossible to control, I’ve been down the preventative prescription medicine route before and nothing would work longer than 3 months, some drugs felt like horse tranquilizers, others were muscle relaxants, so I would get out of bed in the night and fall over, others would give me constant thirst. So, I decided to come off any medication and just deal with them.

For me a migraine will last about 2 days, the first 30 minutes I deal with the aura, and loss of vision, its at the point that if I’m out I need to head home, lie down in the dark, with a heat wrap around the back of my neck the only medication I now take is 2x Rennies and 2-3 Aspirin. It sounds crazy, but I swear by taking an antacid, sometimes it really helps reduce the intensity of symptoms. I’ve found that taking triptans cause more nausea and side effects on top of the migraine so If I’m able to be at home it’s easier to just ride it out. After 30 minutes the head pain kicks in, some days the pain is worse than others, but there’s no way to tell. The pain will continue until I fall asleep that night. The second day is like the migraine hangover, foggy head, dull ache, upset stomach, fatigue, shaky and off balance…. By day 3 I’m generally back to normal, whoo hoo.

What is the worst thing you can ever say to a migraineur?

How’s your headache?

Let me tell you right now, that is no normal headache, not even close. Imagine Ice picks being slowly gouged through your skull into your brain, and tilted just behind your eyes, or a hammer constantly whacking you on the head. The hours when your dealing with that is un-bearable but you know later or tomorrow there will be less pounding and just a dull ache. Then there’s the nausea, I feel for those who get sick with migraines it happened to me the first time ever last month, that was on another level, one I don’t wish to return to. Dizziness, fatigue, limbs feeling like lead, shaking, numbness in the face or arms, pins and needles are all part of migraine process, some come and go, some last for hours.

“Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.” Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London; Director, NIHR-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, King’s College Hospital London; Trustee of The Migraine Trust

-Taken from the Migraine Trust.

I have my migraines to thank for giving me the push to start Toe to Soul Therapy. 2 years ago, I was suffering with constant migraines, always feeling unwell, never having any energy, taking a whole load of different tablets and supplements, and it was starting to affect my work.

My partner suggested we convert a room in his barber shop and set it up as a treatment room for me to give reflexology treatments, and so Toe to Soul Therapy was born. I stripped back my working hours, reduced my stress levels and as the months went on continued to make small changes. I cut out all alcohol, and meat. Cutting out meat was a game changer; my migraines went from 1-2 a week down to 1-2 a month!! The couple migraines a month are hormonal which I can’t do too much about. Now I set my alarm clock and have a regular 8-hour sleep schedule, I drink 3 litres of water a day, avoid any known triggers, and the second a migraine starts to come on I take myself off to bed and go with it.

Living with migraines still effects my life in a negative way, I can lose at least a couple of days a week, once or twice a month to them. I cancel social plans last minute, my diet and exercise suffer. Its’ frustrating at how sudden they can come on with no warning, sometimes I’ll know one will be coming that day, because I will feel off and normally freezing cold, often, I’m taken by surprise. It can be hard to keep a positive mindset and motivation however, I’m still in a better place with them than before and for that I’m grateful.

Unfortunately, there is no cure and no definitive cause. I have my own suspicion about auto immunity triggering reactions in the body, through the gut and therefore firing off the wrong signals to the brain, but that’s another story…

For more information or help if you too are living with migraines check these out:

http://www.nationalmigrainecentre.org.uk/

https://www.migrainetrust.org/

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Rebalancing the Chakras

As a Reiki Master I work with the chakras on, a daily basis, opening up and tuning into my own energy flow and that of my client’s.

But what are the Chakras?

Our body is not just made up of the physical body, but also our energetic body. We have layers of energy around us that some will know as the Aura. The energy field interacts with our physical body by flowing through certain energy spots in our physical body. These main 7 areas are known as chakras, a Sanskrit word meaning wheels of light.

These attributes show what the 7 main chakras represent when you body is balanced and flowing.

CROWN CHAKRA: Enlightenment, Gateway to the Divine, Thoughts, Ideas, Thinking, Higher Consciousness, Divine Love, Wisdom, Awareness

BROW CHAKRA: Vision, Intuition, Dreams, Psychic Ability, Connection to   Higher self, Perception

THROAT CHAKRA: Communication, Self-Expression, Truth, Purpose,

HEART CHAKRA: Love, Trust, Healing, Gratitude, Self-love, forgiveness, Compassion

SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA: Confidence, Personal Power, Ego, Self-worth, Clarity, Strength, Instinct

SACRAL CHAKRA: Emotions, Sexuality, Creativity, Joy, Adaptability, Fertility

BASE CHAKRA: Home, Family, Finances, Career, Stability, Vitality, Patience

When any of our chakras are out of balance they have an impact on our thoughts, feelings and how we live our life. Sometimes it can be very subtle, other times if you find the same problem happening over and over, or something can’t be resolved it may be interesting to see which chakra point it refers to and what you can do to rebalance it.

Ways to rebalance your chakras:

  • Reiki Healing
  • Using Crystals
  • Burning Essential Oils
  • Meditation
  • Mantras
  • Affirmations

On my Etsy shop, I’ve created a chakra balancing set which includes crystals, affirmation cards and meditations in-order for people to start to work on balancing their energy, themselves at home. It’s very easy, to do once you get into the practice of it, and along with grounding you can really feel a change in your energy and your connection to yourself.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ToeToSoulTherapy

I believe the power of relaxation is key to reducing stress and therefore staying physically and emotionally fit and healthy. I wanted to create this set as a way for someone who cannot come to me for treatments but who could benefit from what they could do at home on their own. On my website you will find some free meditations that work alongside balancing your chakras.

https://www.toetosoultherapy.com/free-meditations/

 

 

 

 

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Endometriosis Awareness Week

 Endometriosis awareness week is this week, 3rd-11th march.

I wanted to focus on this disease this week as it causes so many women so much pain, and its often overlooked because it’s hard to get a diagnosis and a lot of the time women think that what they are experiencing must be normal. But 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer with Endometriosis.

The actress Lena Dunham has put endometriosis in the press recently as she featured in the March issue of Vogue talking about her decision to have a full hysterectomy at the age of 31 to end her years of chronic pain.

https://www.vogue.com/article/lena-dunham-hysterectomy-vogue-march-2018-issue

What is endometriosis?

Essentially, it’s when cells like the ones in uterus are found outside of the uterus in other parts of the body, such as the bowel, bladder, ovaries which results in cysts, and even up into the chest for some women. Just as the cells change in the uterus as part of a woman’s monthly cycle, the same thing happens with the cells that are living else-where, so each month they build up, break down and bleed, but the blood has no where to go. This then causes pain, inflammation, and adhesions that build up in the body. It can be incredibly debilitating, and extremely painful.

Often resulting in heavy, painful periods. It can leave women feeling bloated, with fatigue and can have a huge effect on a woman’s fertility, as many as 30-50% of women diagnosed with endometriosis suffer with fertility issues.

The only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is by a laparoscopy, an operation in which a camera (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel. The surgeon uses the camera to see the pelvic organs and look for any signs of endometriosis. If endometriosis is diagnosed, the endometriosis may be treated or removed for further examination during the laparoscopy.

Scans, blood tests and internal examinations are not a conclusive way to diagnose endometriosis and a normal scan, blood test and internal examination does not mean that you do not have endometriosis, it often doesn’t show up in ultrasounds.

Now, there is no cure for endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery to laser away adhesions may be carried out, but it’s not a permanent fix as the cells can grow back. Hormonal treatment such as the pill may be given to stop your monthly cycle, and pain management is pretty much all the can be done.

Endometriosis-uk have lots of information on their website with further reading or what to do if you suspect you may be suffering.

https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/

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Grounding: Why we all need to do it!

Following on from last weeks meditation post, this week I wanted to focus on grounding. What it is, why we should all be doing it, especially therapists, and how do you do it.

I first learnt about grounding techniques through my reiki 1 training. I was taught how important it is to stay connected to the earth so that when I am giving a treatment or even just meditating I don’t just zone out completely and stay in a lovely space, it makes it very hard to come back into reality quickly.

Grounding is essentially centring ourselves, through our breath and visualisation. Its bringing our attention back into our body at a time when its needed and required. A good time is when your starting to feel overwhelmed with lots of thoughts and ideas, or stress and anxiety is creeping in. That is the time to pull the energy down from your head, through your body, out of your feet and down into the ground. It then gives you some head space and a chance to breathe deeply.

There are different ways that people may ground themselves, with mindfulness techniques, through the power of breath or through prayer, each of these encourage you to bring the awareness back into  your body.

The easiest method that I have found that works quickly and effectively is to imagine strong tree roots, growing out of the soles of your feet, down into the ground beneath you, through the layers of sediment and soil, all the way through to the centre of the earth where you will be anchored. Then taking in a nice deep breath, send that breath down your belly, down your legs and out through your feet, taking with it any thoughts or issues you don’t need to hold onto right now. This is a really simple exercise to do and easy to remember, try it and see if you don’t automatically feel a difference within your body.

I now ground myself most days, but always before I meditate or give a holistic treatment. I feel like it gives me a sense of inner strength.

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Meditation for my sanity

My journey with meditation has been a long one, and one that I wish I could say I sit down and do religiously every day for 20 minutes. But I don’t. I started meditating about 10 years ago, pretty much the same time I started learning more about alternative therapies. I found that through meditation I got a lot of clarity about different ideas, I found a place of stillness, and a way to connect with my spiritual side.

Now I try to meditate a few times a week, and I like to switch between guided meditations, or focusing on breath and clearing my mind of thoughts. The guided meditations that I use are on the Hay House Meditation Podcast.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/hay-house-meditations/id955266444?mt=2

There are so many to choose from depending on what you fancy working on at that time. Relaxation before sleep, chakra clearing, regression, grounding etc. They are all under half an hour and take you on a journey of connecting with yourself. When I first started all that I used were guided meditations as I found that was the most easiest to learn how to clear my mind, and learn how to become aware of my energetic body, and most importantly how to ground myself.

Meditating just by focusing on the breath can be very powerful. Think about all the women who only use the power of breath to endure labour and birth. It really is a powerful tool, that if done correctly can transform your body. Instead of shallow breathing into the top of your chest you want to inhale deeply down into your belly so that as you inhale your belly expands. This is done slowly over the count of 4, then pause before you exhale for another count of 4. As you start to slow your breathing down, you will probably be able to increase your count. Once you are thinking about your breathing it’s hard to start letting other thoughts into your mind.

Starting my day with meditation puts me in a good, positive head space for the rest of the day. Sometimes I like to repeat positive mantras to myself, this is a great way of sending yourself some self- love. Ending the day with a meditation can be a lovely way to relax before falling asleep, and generally if I start a meditation in bed at night, I don’t finish it because it just sends me to sleep. But an evening meditation to clear yourself of any negativity of the day, and being grateful for the positive things is a nice way to end the day.

There are many different modalities of meditation out there for you to try, so find something that works for you and that you’re comfortable with, starting off with just a few minutes a day. I prefer doing it sat at home, others prefer being out in nature, in a yoga class, or in a group space learning mindfulness. Whichever way suits you, you can still reap all the benefits of the peacefulness and hopefully keep your own sanity intact!

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Loving yourself this Valentines Day

Let’s leave the valentines romance on the shelf and focus on a bit of self-love this week. How often do you have a date with yourself? Take time out for you, to do something that you love? I would hope the answer is regularly, but I suspect it’s more than likely to be something that rarely happens. Just like you would pencil in a date in the diary, pencil your me time in as-well. That way, it’s more likely to happen, you can arrange childcare, your work or whatever it is and make yourself a priority. If you can’t prioritise you, no one else will!

Start searching for a workshop, a book club, a yoga class, a craft club, book a treatment, or go out for a coffee.  Just book in something regularly for once a month just for you. Then break it down into something small once a week. Spend an evening reading the book you’ve wanted to start for ages, or listen to a new podcast. Have the soak in the bath. Just some space where you can have some peace, recharge your batteries and focus on making yourself happy in that moment.

I’m suggesting this because the more we go out of our way to make time for ourselves, to treat ourselves, and make new social circles, all empowers us in different ways and takes us on a journey of self -discovery. The more joy you can find in small things in your life, brings you more confidence to try new things, meet new people, form new friendships and attract more love, for yourself and others.

Love has a ripple effect, the more love you have for yourself the more it reaches others around you, you attract more positivity back, once you shift your vibration onto a loving one, life changing moments can happen. I appreciate this isn’t feasible 24/7 but as often as you can consciously try to make a decision to react and just be, in a loving state of mind.

This Valentine’s day, don’t get caught up in the hype, whether you are in a relationship or not, make the focus on you, and treating yourself in a kind and loving manner.

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Natural Remedy Winter Tool Kit

Do you have a Winter health tool kit? My household was hit with the flu over Christmas and it made me think about putting together a winter tool kit. Firstly, we try natural remedies and when that needs an extra boost I will resort to Night Nurse! Some natural remedies that we tried whilst we were ill that you might find beneficial are:

  • Steaming. You just need a bowl of hot water or a saucepan full of herbal tea leaves and a towel over your head. Then you just breathe in nice and deeply and start to feel your airways open. If your sinuses are blocked then try to inhale through your nose the best that you can, after a few minutes it will get easier.  If your suffering with a sore throat breathe in through your mouth.
  • Herbal Tea, my partner is great at concocting various anti-inflammatory teas, and immune boosting teas, so get creative in the kitchen, or just buy some nice soothing herbal teas to keep you hydrated.  A warm tea is nice and soothing.
  • Vitamin C, increase your vitamin C intake. Fruits with the highest vitamin C are: Canteloupe, Citrus fruits, Mango, Papaya, Pineapple and berries. Time to get the blender out and make some fruit smoothies.
  • Salt. This is great if you have a sore throat, just add some salt to warm water and gargle a few times a day, it keeps the natural PH in your throat and mouth balanced stops unwanted bacteria staying in your mouth.
  • Epsom Salt Bath, this will relax your achy muscles and the Epsom salts pull out toxins that your body is holding onto, drink water after the bath to rehydrate.
  • Hydration, drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxins in your system and to help your body regulate properly, you want the virus to work its way out of your body.
  • Echinacea, boosts the immune system, and its best to start taking the drops the second you feel an illness brewing. It’s a herbal remedy used for colds, flu, and upper respiratory tract conditions. I’ve been using this for years, and swear by it during the winter to ward off colds.
  • Rest and get as much sleep as possible, this is when your body recovers the most.

 

 

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De-clutter your life

I don’t know what it is about decluttering, but I love it, I love how it makes me feel, it’s such a cleansing process for me, and I feel great once it’s done. I do it quite often at least every 6 months, sometimes just my clothes or one room. But I started off the year with 1 week off before going back to work, and I had already mentally planned that, week would be spent clearing unwanted things out of the entire flat and re-organising what was left.

I wish I had taken some before pictures so that I had something to compare it too. Clothes needed sorting and refolding, the bookcase needed stripping because apparently it was to be used for all things other than books! The kitchen cupboards, don’t get me started on the state of those! It’s one of those things that living in a small flat you must stay on top of all the time and I don’t, so this is my need to blitz everything occasionally.

I really enjoy the process of creating more space, and to see how effectively I can reorganise something, thank goodness for Pinterest inspiration!! I enjoy taking things to the charity shop in the hope that someone else can get some joy out of what I’m not using. I love having less stuff and I can be ruthless with myself when I comes to getting rid of things. Apart from a few sentimental keepsakes it really bothers me how much I’m surrounded by material possessions, don’t’ get me wrong I do love my creature comforts and technology it’s the increase of other stuff that bothers me.

This has backfired a couple of times in one of my many clear-outs, when my partner has looked for something in the kitchen that he uses and unfortunately (it went missing!!!) Or there have been a couple of items of clothing that I had wished I had kept.

I don’t go all KonMari Method, although I do like how she folds clothes, so I gave that a go. That was amazing for freeing up drawer space, I highly recommend it, I just didn’t wait to see if the clothes wanted to speak to me, there was no time for that I had the other rooms to crack on with.

The plus side of this reorganising was an evening trip to Ikea. I love an Ikea trip, how many more candles or cooking utensils does one suddenly need on a Tuesday night. But because I was purging I resisted for once, we did however buy just what we needed.

By the end of the week I felt lighter, the energy was lighter, I felt mentally better, and the whole place looked tidier and well organised. It’s amazing how powerful it can be just to rearrange your living space and have a jolly good clear out. Why don’t you take a look around your room now and see what you can mentally list in 60 seconds that could go to a new home.

As well as the physical objects I think we can declutter lots of areas of our life, anything that isn’t bringing us joy any more should go. Emotions, feelings & experiences that we are holding onto that don’t serve us purpose now should be released to make room for things that make us happy.

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Reaching your personal goals

I’m having a very motivating January and I put that down to my goal setting at the start of the year. I’ve not bothered with unrealistic new years resolutions for a long time, instead this year I sat down and wrote down exactly what I wanted from life. I firmly believe that if we set small, realistic goals that are achievable we can accomplish great things

The way I work best is with various planners, notebooks, diaries and apps. It all seems to have doubled this year, but that’s ok, I’m putting what I have to good use. I’m a planner person, If I actually, have to take the time to write something down it gives it more meaning, and I’m more likely to follow through with it and in turn it makes me happier. My life planner has my personal goals written down inside, my marketing planner is all my business goals and ideas and my new fitness app has my nutrition and workouts scheduled. “Failing to plan, is planning to fail”, this is my new motto this year, and so far so good!

The best way that I have found to set goals is write down what it is you want to achieve and then break that down into smaller manageable steps, this way you can clearly see what it is you need to do to get there. The key to this is in the details, you need to be crystal clear about what you want, why, and how. Write down as many specific details as you can, this is going to make it easier to work towards and sometimes the universe can have a part to play about what comes your way. By being specific I mean putting a date as to when you want to reach, or receive something, write down on a blank cheque exactly how much money you’d like to receive this year, (don’t forget to date it!) Write down the exact number of lbs on the scale you want to lose, don’t be wishy washy and vague otherwise you have nothing to focus, and you need to stay focused.

You want to put as much energy into writing your goals list as possible, this sends positive energy out in a ripple effect and it can be surprising how much positivity you attract back. Another good tool to remain focused on the outcome is to create a vision board. This is a fun activity that you can get really creative. All you need is a piece of paper or card, some magazines to chop up, scissor, glue and stickers, pens etc if you really want to get stuck into it.

Just like going through the toy catalogue when you were a kid, go through the magazines and cut out pictures of what you would like in your life. I think with a vision board it’s good to dream big alongside your achievable goals. Stick on the fancy house, or posh car if that’s what you really want, have fun with it, but ultimately let it reflect what you’d like to attract, and let the magic happen.

So today find time to focus on what’s important to you, or go back over your list and be more specific.

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Castor Oil Womb Packs

Something that I have been regularly doing this year and I think that all women who suffer with heavy painful periods, trying to conceive, or fertility issues should do is castor oil womb packs. This is something that is really simple to do to improve your reproductive health and it’s actually really relaxing and feels incredibly soothing and nurturing.

THE BENEFITS OF CASTOR OIL PACKS

1. Increases Circulation

Castor oil stimulates the circulatory system, fresh oxygenated blood flows through the abdomen to the reproductive organs, which helps them to function properly. By increasing the blood supply it can help dissolve any scar tissue or damage from previous healing such as adhesions which can cause blockages around the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.

2. Boosts the Immune system.

Who doesn’t benefit from an immune boost every so often? The womb pack stimulates the lymphatic system around the reproductive area, which helps to remove waste product, cleanse and heal the ovaries, uterus and Fallopian tubes of any damage.

3.Detoxification & Reduced Inflammation

If the castor oil pack is placed over the liver this can be a great way to cleanse the liver, by increasing the blood circulation to the liver it in turns improves liver function. A good functioning liver is vital to remove hormones, drugs, and waste from the system. A sluggish lymphatic system can result in inflammation in the body. Inflammatory issues which show up in the reproductive system can be ovarian cysts, fibroids, and blocked Fallopian tubes. A castor oil pack is a great natural way to reduce inflammation and reduce the pain if your periods are painful.

4. Stress reduction

The action of taking 30-45 mins out of your day to actually lie down and do the castor oil pack can help in reducing your stress.  For that time period you are going to relax, and be focused on yourself. It’s a good time for positive affirmations to yourself, or meditation, or even to enjoy a good book.

HOW TO MAKE A CASTOR OIL PACK.

You need a few things, castor oil, I found the pukka brand in my local Holland and Barret store.

a hot water bottle, clingfilm, plastic container, flannel, bath towel, tissue/wet wipes (it gets greasy!)

soak a flannel in some of the castor oil, so that its saturated but not dripping. You will use the plastic container to store it in afterwards don’t wash it, just top it up each time with some more oil.

Get everything together, I like to do it in bed the duvet makes it cosier.  Place the soaked flannel over your lower abdomen just under your belly button to your pubic line. Place a large piece of cling film over the top to stop any oil escaping. Next put one half of the towel over the cling film then the hot water bottle and then the other half of the towel. You can also put a blanket or duvet on top of the towel to generate more heat. 

Thats its, lie back and relax for about 45 minutes.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO A CASTOR OIL PACK?

Its soothing to do on the first or second day of your period. If your not trying to conceive you can do it throughout your cycle up to 3 times a week.

However if you are trying to conceive you should only do it during the first 2 weeks of your cycle from the start of your menstruation until you ovulate. After that you should stop incase you are pregnant.

 

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