Tomorrow is my first day back at work after a week off. I can successfully say that this was my least productive holiday in the sense that I have done f**k all this week! On purpose may I add. The most work and attention has gone into my blog which has been great. It’s been fantastic to have the time to sit down, especially in the day (normally I blog straight after work, completely shattered) and write. Poetry Week has been a total success. I was wary to post my poetry. After reading so many of my fellow peers’ and poets’ work on WordPress, I was not sure mine would compete in the slightest but each one has received some lovely support and likes. I really appreciate that (it’s still pretty new to me!).
Based on your reactions, I think I’ll make Poetry Week a monthly post 🙂
I do have back to work blues. I hope I do not walk straight back into stress again. The last five months have been extremely stressful at work and home hasn’t been much different. However, I am now more aware of my body and the triggers of stress. Hopefully, with the aid of my new-found breathing exercises, I can maintain and keep my stress levels under control.
Today will be my final poetry post till next month. In March, I will begin a series of letters that I wish I had the courage to write in reality. I am hopeful that it will provide and serve me with a little more closure.
March 2nd is also my birthday!
After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).
I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.
A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.
During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.
Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!
Other tips include:
- Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
- Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
- Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
- Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
- Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
- Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
- Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.
I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.
Keep well and look after yourselves.
*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.
First things first: Happy New Year!
It is the first day of a brand new year. We all have a new path to follow, a clean slate, a time to build bridges, a chance to take more risks, we should embrace the opportunities before fear kicks in.
I am going to make a pledge. No resolutions. They don’t work. I can’t promise myself anything but I can aspire to be a better me. Aspiration and hope mesh together. It does not require constant monitoring or worry that you’ve betrayed yourself. Who needs that kind of anxiety? Instead, I am making a pledge of 10 hopes and aspirations for this year. 10 is an easy number to reach. It is not impossible but gives me time to fulfil them.
- Finish my autobiography – I began it in 2010 and it still remains the most difficult task to complete. Only because it requires me to draw up and remember the most torrid of memories, some so bad that I cannot even bring myself to blog about.
- Find an exercise I enjoy – I’m not a gym-goer, I’ve tried but I can’t seem to find any enjoyment in walking on a treadmill – alone, with dozens of fitness-mad people surrounding me. I’m not the greatest fan of the “outdoors”. I’m not a hiker, I hate the English weather. I haven’t tried Yoga, perhaps that’ll suit me more. I love dance. I run the school’s dance and musical theatre club at work each term so get a regular burst of exercise then. But I need to find something more consistent that I equally enjoy.
- Look in mirror again without fear – I need to like my reflection. I do not think this will be an easy task but if I want to overcome my BDD, this may be the only way.
- Take more courses – Last year I went on an Assertiveness course at City Lit in Central London. It is by far, the best thing that I did in 2013. I learnt so much, not only about myself but the way in which others treat me. I am due to take a tap-dancing workshop this month (yes hilarious! I have tap danced before though) so hopefully it will the start of many more.
- Say No – A follow up from my assertiveness course. It will be incredibly fulfilling if I can achieve this. It is time to put my needs first.
- Take a holiday – Surprisingly, this seems to be an impossible task. Money isn’t the issue; it’s time. Although I get regular breaks through the year (I work in a school), my husband cannot necessarily take the same amount off work as me. We will sort it out this year and take a much needed holiday together. Somewhere luxurious please!
- See my friends more – I have become a bit of a hermit. By accident more than anything. This year I must spend more time with friends. I miss them.
- Start writing to agents – It’s a beginning. A new one. I need to focus a little bit and have some direction. If I want something then I’m going to need to put in some work. I want to a writer. I better get on it.
- Celebrate my birthday – I didn’t last year. I went for a quiet dinner with my husband which resulted in a week off work with gastric flu. This year I will celebrate getting older. My life is worth celebrating.
- Believe in myself and what I can do – I must stay positive. I got through a lot worse all those years ago and I need to get my fight and drive back. With hope and a little confidence, I will look to the future with brighter eyes and an open heart. I am capable of many things.
Good luck with all your pledges. I hope you too set some achievable and reachable goals that make you happy.
Love Ros xx