Month: March 2014

3 Things You Can Do For a Better Nights Sleep!

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Do you have a bad relationship with sleep? Loads of people do. Maybe you associate it with tossing and turning in your bed, frustrated that you can not get to sleep, thoughts running a muck? Maybe you are one of those that feel sleep is a waste of time and  resent it? Maybe you do not think sleep is as important as other things you want to do?

Whatever the reason it is worth spending some time to improve your sleep because good sleep is critical for your health and well-being.sleep Pretty ironic when sleep is often one of the first things to suffer when we are ill or in pain.

Why Sleep is Important

Once it was common to think that sleep was an inactivate state where our bodies and minds were basically ‘switched off’, but that is far from the case. Healthy sleep involves cycling through different stages.  I’ll go into details in another post, the important things to know are that during sleep:

  • Your cells go into the repair process to keep up with the wear and tear of daily living
  • Your immune system replenishes itself and increase some aspects of your defence.
  • Experiences are processed and memories consolidated.

There are many things that you can do during the day, before you even go to sleep, that can make it easier to get a good night’s sleep. If you have a bad relationship with sleep, it is worth knowing more in case you happen to be doing the things that can interfere with sleeping at night, or not doing the things that can make sleep easier!

There are three broad categories of things you can do to help with sleep:

  1. getting your body ready for sleep,
  2. getting your mind ready for sleep, and
  3. getting your bedroom ready for sleep.

Getting Your Body Ready for Sleep

In order to sleep well, your body should be free of chemicals that can interfere with sleep. This includes all stimulants (caffeine and nicotine) as well as alcohol. Avoiding stimulants is probably fairly obvious but although alcohol can help you get to sleep, it also best avoided. Alcohol often causes you to wake up during the night and even if you sleep through the night after drinking alcohol, it still interferes with you getting the type of sleep that you need, and so you will often end up not feeling rested. So for a good nights sleep avoid nicotine and drinks containing caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. Of course you may want to avoid them altogether.

During the day regular exercise is good for sleep, as well as some types of pain if it is advised by your medical team, but don’t exercise too close to bedtime.

If you have problems sleeping at night and you sleep during the day, you should try avoiding the day time naps. Although if you struggle to get to sleep from being over-tired, a short power nap during the day may help.  It is also good to establish a schedule and get your body in a natural rhythm by waking up at about the same time every day, even on weekends, and aiming to go to bed at the same time every night. Over time, you will start to feel sleepy at about the same time every night.

Avoiding eating heavy meals just before bedtime too as this can interfere with the proper sleeping cycle. If you hungry stick to light snacks and a glass or cup of milky drink. Be aware of sugar as some say this can cause problems due to drops in blood sugar while you are asleep and others say it helps reduce hormones in your brain associated with wakefulness! When there is conflicting advice like this, I recommend experimenting for yourself. My personal opinion is that sugar is bad for me but I have not noticed my sleep being disturbed on the occasional night I have a hot chocolate before bed time.

Getting Your Mind Ready for Sleep

Your mind is very good at making associations. If you repeat the same routine every night before sleep, your mind will begin to associate that routine with winding down and feeling sleepy. Ideally, you should develop a pre-sleep ritual that you do every night just before going to sleep. It might involve checking all of the locks in your house, followed by brushing your teeth, ending with some light reading or nice warm bath just before going to bed. If you read or watch TV as part of your pre-sleep ritual, you should not do this while in bed and ideally in a different room so your mind associates your bedroom and bed only with sleeping and making love.

Soaking in a warm bath  containing around 500g of Epsom Salts is a great way to relax in preparation for sleep and the magnesium your body will absorb often improves the quality of sleep you have.

If you have not managed to get to sleep within 15 minutes it is best to get back out of bed and do something non stimulating until you feel sleepy. This way your mind will begin to associate your bed with sleep.

Hypnotherapy can also help here and there are many commercial CDs available that will help your subconscious mind sleep easily and effortlessly at the right time.

Getting Your Bedroom Ready for Sleep

Make sure your bed is comfortable, most people prefer a harder bed to a soft one. Keep the room cool and user a warmer duvet, rather than having a warm room with a thin duvet.

It sounds obvious but try and make your room dark and quiet. I have even heard of people using a white noise generator to block out sounds. Lastly if you are a ‘clock watcher’ turn it around so you can not see it!

Night-time Self-Hypnosis Strategies for Getting to Sleep and Getting Back to Sleep

Here you can use the 3-2-1 technique described in a previous blog, or maybe you prefer listening to a pre-recorded sleep CD, or using another self hypnosis method to quieten your mind down so that you can easily and effortless slide into sleep (or back into sleep). Either way have a technique you feel comfortable with to aid you get that deep restful nights sleep you need.

Relevant Posts

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/02/adrenal-fatigue-help-and-resources-for-healing.html

http://robbwolf.com/2014/02/13/importance-good-night-sleep/

Resources

Epson salts Council

Back to Health One Step at a Time

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For myself and for many of our clients, learning how to effectively manage CFS/ME symptoms is only part of the path to recovery.  In our workshops, Pete and I often observe our clients and see the light bulbs ping on, as they realise how their actions, behaviours, beliefs and lifestyles have been aggravating their symptoms and as they learn what they can do to effectively impact on their symptoms.  It is a great feeling for us, and also for our clients who often arrive at the workshop the next day ready to take on the world.  But it is at this point that we often have to advise them to rein things in and it was the same for me during my journey back to full health. 

There comes a point in time when you can’t believe how good you are feeling, both physically and mentally and you just want to move the body that has felt so awful for so long and delight in the newly regained feeling of health.  However, it is important at this stage to remember that your fitness levels have been severely compromised for being ill for often a long period of time.  You can easily and quickly learn how to reduce and manage your symptoms to increase your health and well-being (our three day intensive workshops our testament to this) but getting your fitness levels back takes time.  During those long days and nights I spent feeling exhausted, achy and without hope, my  muscles were slowly atrophying though lack of use.  Lack of exercise meant that my vital organs were not used to capacity and so my fitness levels suffered.  Like any athlete who has not exercised for a considerable period of time, you cannot expect to run a marathon without building up slowly and this is exactly what I had to do.  It was frustrating at times, as my mindset knew that I was over ME for good, but my physical body just needed a bit of nurturing to get it back to full fitness.

So the journey to fitness would start with frustratingly very slow and short walks with Pete and our dog.  Pete would drive us to the local reservoir or woods and Pete would stride off into the distance, whilst I ambled on at the rear with Sky, our dog, running between us.  After those first few walks I felt like I had run a marathon, my body was so out of condition.  The normal fear would creep up on me; does this mean that I am relapsing?  It took Pete to help me take a breath and gain some clarity to realise that what I was experiencing was what any healthy but unfit person would experience under the circumstances.

I also struggled with thoughts of fear and guilt; ‘what if someone from work sees me?’  This is a really common thought pattern in our experience, which many people with CFS and ME experience during their recovery.  For me, using EFT and tapping on these feelings was really helpful and allowed me to enjoy my journey back to fitness rather than sapping my energy by focusing on negative emotions.  This is one of the reasons we teach you how to use EFT on our workshops as a tool to help you with similar thought patterns which may be impeding your recovery.

Over time, slowly and gradually the walks became easier and more effortless and I could feel my muscles gaining strength and my stamina increasing.  We have seen similar results with our clients; walking seems to be a great exercise to help us to regain our fitness levels.  There are lots of benefits associated with walking, including strengthening the heart and lungs and increasing overall fitness, as well as improving lower body muscle endurance as well as muscle strength.  But as importantly are the psychological benefits of walking.  When you walk your body releases a chemical called of serotonin, which is the natural feel good chemical.  There is also a release of feel good hormones called endorphins.  Both of which mean that you feel good at the end of a walk and should encourage you to keep going on your journey back to health and well-being 🙂

Debbie

Find out More:

Walking For Health

1 Method YOU Need to know to Banish Your Sleep Problems for Good

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sleepI come across many people who have problems sleeping, either getting to sleep or staying asleep. For some it’s an over active mind at bedtime, for others it is pain, anxiety or in some cases the belief that they can no longer have a good nights sleep. Some struggle to get off to sleep while others wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep.

Whatever the reason for your lack of sleep there is a good technique I know which I wanted to share. It gives you something to focus on which is inconsistent with thinking, planning, or feeling anxious, etc. and is known as the 3-2-1 technique.

The goal of the 3-2-1 technique is to give you something interesting to focus your attention on and experience as your mind slows down. It is really simple and works like this:

First, just listen for three things and count them. Any three things that you hear: maybe the sound of your breathing – “one”; or maybe a sound of the heating cooling down— “two”; or maybe the sound of your skin against the sheet — “three”. These are just examples and you can use any three things you hear. They can even be the same thing. Just listen for, hear, and then count three things. It’s that simple.

Next, feel three things. Any three things. The feeling of the sheet against the skin — “one”; An interesting tingling sensation in the limbs— “two”; Cool or maybe warm air on the face — “three”; It does not matter what they are. Any three things will do. They can be different or the same. Just feel them and count them,1,2,3.

And then, see three things in your minds eye. Just let them appear, on their own. A rose — “one”; A blue sky— “two”; maybe a beach — “three”; Now after you have seen the third thing, go back and repeat the process but do it for two thing, so hear two things, and count them in the mind. Then feel two things. Then see two things. Then repeat for one thing, hear one thing, feel one thing, and see one thing.

If you’re still awake start again. You will lose count as your mind is experiencing what it hears, feels, and sees and begins to drift to sleep. So hear, feel and see three things, then two things, then one thing and then go back to three until you drift into or back into a peaceful sleep.

Sleep well 🙂

Pete

Other Relevant Blogs:

Healing Body and Spirit Together – I love Meghan’s attitude to sleep.

Rob Wolf’s Blog – has an excellent post by Kevin Cann regarding the dangers of sleep deprivation.

The Nutritional building blocks you need to understand to help you in your recovery from ME/CFS

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When I was recovering from ME, nutrition played an important part in my journey back to health.  Although what I did was trial and error and without the knowledge that Pete and I have since accumulated over the years, the focus on nutrition I adopted when ill and through my recovery has stayed with me now I am back to full health.

I would like to share with you some of the nutritional building blocks I put into place during my journey and also what we have learnt along the way. We cover this topic much more fully on our workshops in which you will get a comprehensive understanding on how to adapt your diet to maximise its health benefits, but the information here will go a long way to help you gain an overview of the importance of good nutrition and how it can help you support your body whilst you recover.

Nutrition plays two parts in helping you break the cycle of ill health.  A good understanding  of nutrition is important firstly to help you avoid foods that put additional stress on your system when your stress hormones are already on overdrive and secondly by teaching you how to support your body’s own ability to heal and thrive.

When your body is already fighting illness it needs nutritive foods to aid it in its recovery. There are some foods which rather than healing the body, put additional stress on the body and it is these foods that we should be ideally avoiding or at least reducing our consumption of (drastically!). Nutritional stressors include stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine, highly processed foods such as cakes, ready meals etc, sugar, refined grains such as white flour, products and white rice and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame; foods that put your body into a state of stress and toxicity. Moving away from such foods will give your body a better chance of focusing on healing, rather than having to digest and process foods which put a further load on an already compromised system.

The second aspect of nutrition which is vital is to include foods which are nutritious and support our health and recovery. To get right down to basics, the starting point should be a focus on our cells. Our body is made up of trillions of cells which can be thought of as the building blocks of our body. Cells are the fundamental units of life the bricks from which all your tissues and organs are made.  If your cells cannot operate efficiently, the functioning of your tissues and organs, which are built of your cells, will become compromised and ill health and dis-ease can follow.  It is therefore imperative to keep your cells nutritionally supported so that your body can heal and thrive.

For your cells to carry out their functions in supporting your body’s health and healing there are certain things the cells need for optimal health. To maintain cell health the cells need a variety of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins and crucially also water. The best way to ensure that you provide the cells with their nutritional requirements is to drink 2 litres of filtered water a day (water, not tea, coffee etc!) and eat a balanced wholefood diet incorporating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit (ideally organic).

Your cells need a full spectrum of vitamins to enable them to produce energy and fight free radicals.  B vitamins are important here.  Additionally, as your cells are protected by a membrane which relies on a good supply of healthy fats, it is important that your diet includes fats such as omega 3 to ensure that the outer membranes of your cells are strong and  healthy.

Your immune system will also need help through nutrition during the time of healing and recovery.  Antioxidants including vitamins C and E are important here so including foods high in these vitamins is often beneficial.

During my recovery my focus was on organic foods with lots of vegetables and fruits, often blended into smoothies or juiced which were easily digested and did not overburden the body.  I personally also took supplements in the form of Vitamin D and Co-Q10 having read studies suggesting that they may also be beneficial in supporting the body when it is fighting ME.

This has been a bit of a whistle-stop tour through a few nutritional building blocks which I hope you have found useful.  If you feel that you would like to learn more about how nutrition can help you, do please sign up for our FREE webinar series which goes into more detail on this topic and others to help you on your road to recovery.

Best Wishes

Debbie

3 Common Mistakes Women with CFS make that Keep them Stuck Feeling Exhausted all the Time & Frustrated about the Future

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Pete Mulford Therapy and Coaching for Better Health

I really hope you will choose to register for this FREE webinar now because I must say I’m truly excited about what I am offering and I trust you will find it very useful to listen to and watch.

Discover what keeps you ill and the initial steps you can take right away to help you maximise your potential for health. It is a new improved format for us and the emphasis is on value value value! Some of the tips I will be giving away were part of our full programme that cost over £800. Now they will be  free for those that login on the night. The best part is that you will be able to use some of those tips right away.

I also plan to offer free downloads to help get you started. Feedback for those downloads has included the words  ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’ so be sure to download them yourself.

We (my wife Debbie while brining up our daughter, is still active behind the scenes ) have continually modified and improved the programmes we offer to those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), Adrenal Fatigue etc.  I guess it is part of our nature, as professional teachers reflection is an important process, teachers are always reflecting on what has worked and what could be done better. We have approached our work with people like you in the same way. Our programmes have helped many people and with experience and reflection they have become better and better. What if it helped you too?

We have moved some elements of the programme into a webinar format, some of them FREE, so that you can begin to understand better how we can help you, and most people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrcfsome (CFS), Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), Adrenal Fatigue etc. There will also be one day workshops where you can experience the benefits of sharing a healing journey with others and of course there will still be the option of doing everything in one go at a residential venue if you prefer.

Just imagine being in more control of your symptoms, if you like that idea invest an hour or more on the 26th and register now.

Please share the event so as many people as possible will benefit.

Pete

The Lightning Process

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Lots of people ask me how our programmes compare with the Lightning Process, so I will give a brief overview of my understanding of that process.

The Lightning Process is often dThe Lightning Processone by those with physical conditions who understand that the mind and body are linked. This is a scientifically well known fact that is often completely overlooked. There is a HUGE body of growing knowledge and evidence that shows how the stress response impacts us physically. I’m talking about the 1400 chemical reactions that take place when we encounter stressful stimuli that change the way our body functions. Most of that change is harmful long term and certainly reduces your bodies ability to heal and recover from a lot of conditions.

In essence the Lightning Process was developed to teach people how to break the cycle of unhelpful thoughts eg stress (or any other unhelpful thinking patterns) and trigger a more resource state that facilitates the body’s natural ability to heal. It is a training programme teaching you techniques to use rather than something that is done to you. As with most skills it relies on regular and consistent use of the techniques for you to gain the full benefits. You need to give it 100% to get the benefits, but that is the same with most things. Even medication can be less effective if you don’t believe it will help you. That is another scientific fact often overlooked.

The Lightning Process was developed by a chap called Phil Parker and at least initially was based on the techniques from of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). After developing the process he turning it into a business training others to be facilitators. Many people find the process so life changing that they choose to train and offer the process to others. Phil seems like a fairly astute businessman and has created almost a franchise approach.

I have come across many people that have found the Lightning Process life changing and worth the money. In my opinion the techniques are useful in certain circumstances and I have taught similar approach to many people. However, we have also had clients who have previously done the Lightning Process and then lost faith in what was taught. The people that we have worked with complained of little ongoing support, no understanding of why they were doing the techniques or why sometimes it just did not seem to help them. Many Lightning Process practitioners only seem to do the Lightning Process and  perhaps lack a deeper understanding of how to help people. As with Doctors there are good ones and bad ones out there.

The Lighting Programme is only going to be beneficial for those with unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about their condition, because those thoughts potentially mess up your body’s ability to heal itself. We all have that ability and it is well documented. I have also heard of trainers who seem to think that people will magically become physically fit after their programme. By fit I mean able to walk every day and perform physical tasks from being chronically ill. Muscles and physical stamina do not work like that, they do need to be regained gently and slowly.

If it’s ok with you, I’d like to tell you a bit about my approach? Because my approach is rather different.

I have been teaching and coaching people most my life and I find people appreciate knowing a little about why and how things work. That understanding is beneficial because often there are set backs to your healing and knowing why can help keep you motivated. I also teach a several different techniques because some techniques are better than others for some people and some situations. I also believe  ongoing support is also important and offer that via email, calls and top up sessions. The ethos behind both programmes are the same though, that the body has amazing abilities to heal given the opportunity and both programmes aim to teach you techniques that will give your body that opportunity to be as healthy as it can be. However, I also believe that to create optimal health and the potential for healing you should take nutrition, activity, connections and spirituality into account.

If you would like to know more I often run free webinars, you can see those on our CFS Recovery website or find out more about my work on my main website