Tag Archives: Yoga

A Day in the Life of My New, Healthy Self

I started in a whole health journaling challenge on April 1. Unfortunately, due to fatigue and depressed moods setting in this week, I’ve not been able to do much of it. I finished the third journaling exercise, which has me envisioning a day as my new, healthy self. It was quite inspiring. Here is what I wrote.

I get up in the morning at 7 or 8AM. I shower, get dressed and have a healthy breakfast of yoghurt with muesli or a breakfast smoothie. I take my medication and brush my teeth. I may go to day activities to do snoezelen, swimming or go for a walk. Day activities will help me find companionship. I go on the elliptical trainer in the morning while listening to upbeat music.

For lunch, I have some bread. I may have another smoothie or some fruit. In the afternoon, I journal and go on the Internet for blogging and reading blogs and Facebook. When I live with my husband or if I have WiFi while in the institution, I watch some old TV online. I may go for a walk. Most importantly, I don’t sleep in the afternoon.

I meditate or pray in the afternoon too and read my Bible. I do some yoga in the afternoon as well. Either this will be the sun salutation I learned from my activity staff or I will hopefully learn some new series of poses.</P

In the evening, I eat a healthy meal. While still in the institution, I try to eat a bit of everything served. (I obviusly do the same when my husband cooks, but he usually cooks meals I like.)

I don’t sleep in the evening either. Instead, I go online, read a magazine or book. I go to bed at 10PM. I brush my teeth again before bedtime.

As you can see, I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll achieve this new, healthy state of mine while still in the institution or once I live with my husband. INitially, after writing this entry, I was completely motivated to start right then and there. I wrote my entry in the afternoon, so I decided to try a bit of everything served for supper that day. I have been doing well in this department – the only thing I skipped this week were mashed potatoes. I also did well in having healthy breakfasts each day. I also went on the elliptical a few times, though not in the mornings.

However, I’ve not been doing well in the sleeping department. I slept during the day almost each day and some nights have been pretty much sleepless. I also still need to get into the habit of brushing my teeth twice a day. My spiritual self-care is a mixed bag: I did yoga and meditation a few times but didn’t read the Bible or pray.

My biggest hurdle so far is to get into a healthy circadian rhythm. I think getting myself out of bed may give me energy rather than the other way around, but I’m not 100% convinced. I need to try this at least.

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

Strategies for Relaxation

If you haven’t figured it out already, I need to make a confession: I am very easily stressed out. As I wrote on Thursday, I have been on or over the edge of a meltdown a couple of times lately. Since we are discussing what helps us relax on the spin cycle this week, I thought I’d list a couple of things.

1. Mindfulness and meditation. I do guided meditations every once in a while. Simply focusing on my breathing for a bit also helps. It is important not to make yourself do anything other than focus. If your attention drifts off, notice it and go back to focusing on the meditation or your breathing. You can also use a mantra.

2. Yoga. I discussed this before. Yoga can be hard when you do difficult poses, but remember yoga is for everyone. If you can’t do a certain pose exactly as experienced yogis do it, there is usually a way to adapt it to make it easier. That way, you are practising self-care, which is important in relaxation.

3. Essential oils. I own an AromaStream essential oil diffuser. It doesn’t use water or heat, so can be left on without supervision or even when you’re sleeping. There are many oils that are thought of as having relaxing properties. Examples are chamomile, lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine. You can of course make diffuser blends.

4. Herbal teas. I have discussed these a few times. I find particularly chamomile, lavender and valerian root relaxing. St. John’s wort is thought of as having antidepressant properties.

5. Soothing music or sounds. I find that, while music that’s a little more upbeat helps cheer me up, if I truly need to relax, I benefit from nature sounds and soft music.

6. Blankets. I still need to buy myself a weighted blanket. However, lots of regular blankets also do the trick of helping me relax.

What helps yu relieve stress and relax? I’d love to read your responses in the comments or in a post of your own. Why not link it up with the spin cycle?

June 2015 Goals

Several bloggers I’ve come across lately list their monthly goals on their blogs. Listing your goals for the month was also the first prompt in the 30 days of writing prompts for June on The SITS Girls. I won’t promise that I will write down my goals each month, but for June, I thought I’d give it a go.

1. Start my health psychology course and study for at least a few hours each week. I enrolled in this Open University course in May, but haven’t heard back from the institution’s educational department on getting me a place to study. This should not be an excuse, since I do have the textbooks, so I can study in my room too. I am resolving to study for at least a couple of hours each week during the month of June.

2. Practise yoga on at least three days each week. In May, I learned to do the sun salutation yoga series and I have been practising it regularly, but not as regularly as I’d like. Some weeks, I’ve practised for five days, but others, I didn’t practise at all. This needs to change. I can always practise more, but I need to practise at least three times each week.

3. Learn to use weights. I asked my husband for weights as a birthday present and he said he’ll buy me some provided I go to the fitness department and learn how to use them. I also want to practise using weights for a bit before I get my husband to buy them for me. If for no other reason, then it’s just to figure out what weight I need and to make sure I won’t give up within five minutes.

4. Lose at least 1kg. I was surprised when I went onto the scale today to find out that I hadn’t gained any weight in the past few weeks despite lots of French fries and candies and pizza and little exercise. Still, I still need to lose almost 15kg for a healthy BMI and have lost only a little over 2kg since being at my heaviest last March. I am starting in a weight loss challenge on a Dutch Facebook group today and hope this will motivate me to actually lose a bit of weight.

5. Nurture my creativity. This is a vague one, I know. I have felt a lot of inspiration for writing and art, but I have not put fingers to keyboard or started creating crafts or art much. I want to change this. Having started reading a book of poetry from a fellow survivor, I think I too can do this. What is holding me back is the fear of not being good enough, but who cares?

6. Read some inspirational writings. I have been browsing Kobo for inspiring books to download, but other than said book of poetry (which was free), I’ve hardly gotten to read anything. I plan on reading some inspirational books and may discover some inspiring blogs too. I plan on reflecting on what I read too.

Mami 2 Five

Ten Achievements of the Past Decade

Today in Blog Everyday in May, the prompt is to list ten achievements of the past ten years. Now I already did my 28 Before 28 post in February, so it’s an extra challenge not to repeat myself. I am just going to write, and if I don’t get to ten, well, screw it.

1. Graduated from high school. This happened just shy of a decade ago. I am not particularly proud of myself for graduating, probably because my parents were super over the top proud of me and I still can’t let go of a little parent-defying. I forgot most of what I learned in high school anyway.

2. Learned to clean and cook semi-independently. I went to an independence training home for the disabled in 2006 and 2007, where I learned many skilsl ncessary for independent living. I lost most of these skills again, but the fact that I learned them once, makes me confident that I can relearn them.

3. Overcame a mental crisis. It surprises me that, in the 28 Before 28 list, though I did include my diagnoses, I didn’t include the actual achievement of overcoming the darkest of aspects of mental illness. In all honesty, and I hope this doesn’t get me kicked out of care before I’m ready, I can say I’m much better able to cope than I was back when I was first hospitalized in 2007.

4. Finished two Open University psychology courses with a passing grade. IN 28 Before 28, I did mention that I took five courses in total, but the achievement of passing two of them in 2009 was largely overshadowed by the fact of the three that I didn’t pass.

5. Was able to let go of some of the darker trauma-based emotions and perceptions. As regular readers might know, I’m a childhood trauma survivor, which largely came to the surface when I was at my old rehabilitation unit in 2010. Though I got no evidence-based treatment for PTSD or dissociation, through a lot of talking and some work done on my own, I overcame most of the classic PTSD symptoms. I still have attachment issues, emotion regulation difficulties, etc., but I am confident that I will overcome the debilitating effects of these too.

6. Got married. I don’t usually credit myself for our relationship success, but then again it’s a mutual effort I guess, so I should deserve half the credit. If not, then well, I’m still happy I got married, so this fact still belongs here!

7. Started and restarted yoga. I took yoga classes in 2009 or 2010, but eventually quit because the emotions it brought on were too overwhelming. I recetnly restarted and am becoming quite successful at basic poses and exercises.

8. Was able to participate in group recreational therapy. In my old institution, I used to get individual day activities only. Due to budget cuts, I couldn’t get these for a long while in my current institution so I tried the day activity group. It’s still quite hard, but I can at least usually keep up.

9. Was able to enter the recovery stage with regards to my eating disorder. That is, I comletely stopped purging and recently was able to reduce my binge eating significantly too. I gained lots of weight in the past decade and have only started losing it again little by little over the past couple of months, but at least I’m improving. I also haven’t self-harmed in a few months, but that has not been a conscious effort as much.

10. Am generally much happier than I was ten years ago. This pretty much sums up all of my achievements. I didn’t earn the Ph.D. or get the high-profile job I thought I envisioned for myself ten years ago, but so what? I’m generaly less angry, less hostile and also less anxious than I was in 2005. I’m still not the shiniest example of positivity on the planet, but I’m trying to keep a positive outlook, and that’s what matters!

Found Love. Now What?
The List

Rediscovering Yoga

“The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough.” – Amy Weintraub

I take antidepressants, which are moderately effective. I don’t do talk therapy anymore, since the closest to a psychologist we have on our unit is a recent college grad. The actual psychologist, who is on maternity leave, deemed him not to be a suited treatment provider for me, so she assigned me a psychiatric resident whom I mostly talk practical issues with. Talk therapy has not been all that effective for me anyway. So would yoga be one of the keys to a calmer, happier life?

I took yoga classes at my old institution for a while in 2009. Though yoga helped me somewhat, it also made me feel rather emotional. Crying in a group just didn’t feel right, so I quit.

I rediscovered yoga a few months ago and bought an instructional DVD to practise in my own room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work on my computer. Last week, I finally gave up and searched the Internet for good yoga instructions. Boy, have I been blessed!

First, I came across some Dutch sites which provide step-by-step text and picture guides for many poses and series of poses. I of course can’t see the pics, but the text was quite easy to understand. I tried many of the poses and was relatively successful. I could even do the tree pose, which is a balancing pose in which you put one foot onto the other thigh. I later heard from an activity staff, who used to be a yoga teacher, that this is quite a tough pose.

I also subscribed to YogaDownload.com, which has a large selection of yoga video and audio which elite members ($18 a month) can freely view and download. I downloaded a beginner video in the front room, where we have WiFi access, and played it in my room. It was sometimes hard to follow the video as I practised, but it was very relaxing listening to the calm and gentle instruction.

The activity staff member I mentioned, who used to be a yoga teacher, provides me with individual day activities once a week. She offered to help me learn yoga. Next time she comes, we’re going to practise the sun salutation, which is a relatively easy-going series to warm up your muscles to further practice. When done repeatedly, it can also be used as a work-out.

As I practise on my own, I am finding that yoga is a lot more calming than it used to be when I went to yoga classes. I intend on attending yoga classes sometime again, but for now, I feel much happier practising in my own room. I can’t be sure yet, but I do believe yoga is truly a great addition to my current mental health treatment.

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday and Motivation Monday.

50 Things That Make Me Happy #50Things

I love listing positives and things that make me happy. Therefore, I was so excited to see the 50 Things That Make Me Happy meme over at Mummy Tries. I wasn’t tagged for it and I am not going to tag anyone because I’m too lazy, so consider yourself tagged if you so wish. Listing 50 things that make me happy may be quite challenging already, but I’m going to give it a try.



  1. Daydreaming about living with my husband. Now that we’re trying to figure out how we can make this happen, I’m so excited.

  2. Coffee!

  3. herbal tea. Since writing this post, I have discovered a few new herbs that I like, such as St John’s wort.

  4. Going for a walk.

  5. Yoga. Unfortunately, I can’t get my instructional DVD working, but I still like what I still know about yoga.

  6. Journaling.

  7. Reading inspirational, helpful and positive books.

  8. Being moderately successful at my attempt at losing weight without much effort. All I basically do is keep from binge eating and exercise some.

  9. Snuggling with my cats. Barry isn’t too much of a snuggler and Harry is quite hyper, but I like them both.

  10. Facebook. I am a big Facebooker, mostly engaging with groups. I haven’t updated my blog’s FB page in forever, but that’s because pages don’t work that well on the (relatively accessible) mobile FB.

  11. Crafting. I haven’t done much of it lately, but since I got complimented on my work by my husband recently, I think of giving it a try again.

  12. Cooking at day activities. I can’t cook independently to save my life, but I can help.

  13. When the head nurse makes us French fries or pancakes.

  14. The fact that I’m getting somewhat fitter. A month ago, I couldn’t even walk to the grocery store without my breathing going fast. Yesterday, I walked for about an hour. I did get tired at the end, but it was rewarding.

  15. Art therapy. I don’t always look forward to it, particularly because it’s in the morning and I’m not a morning person. I do usually like it though.

  16. Music. I recently got a Spotify account and love listening to songs on it. I mostly enjoy country.

  17. Taking a bath or shower.

  18. Nice spring weather. We’ve had some pretty good days lately.

  19. Going to concerts with my family. I wasn’t able to go to Sarah McQuaid’s concert this year because I was ill with the flu. I hope to be able to go next year.

  20. Listening to children’s stories and songs.

  21. Essential oils. I love diffusing them in my AromaStream diffuser.

  22. Hot chocolate. I get a cup each week at art therapy.

  23. Getting some fruits and veggies and nuts out of my parents’ large garden when I visit.

  24. Gardening. I don’t do it often nowadays, but my art therapist offered to get me some herbs in a pot that I could grow.

  25. Shopping online or jus looking at all the lovely stuff I could buy but won’t.

  26. Sleep. My sleep/wake cycle is a bit off though.

  27. When my husband says he loves me.

  28. Planning for possibly going back to distance learning at Open University. It might not work out, but just the idea is nice.

  29. Blogging challenges and writing prompts. I love being able to participate in challenges like the A to Z Challenge, although it’s sometimes frustrating when I have lots of other things to write about.

  30. The singing of birds.

  31. Mindfulness exercises.

  32. Learning about natural health even when I can’t or won’t practise it.

  33. The fact that I have some more energy after starting on vitamin D and iron supplements (and vitamin B12 but that has been discontinued).

  34. Going to church. I don’t go nearly as often as I would like to, but I love it everytime I go.

  35. Reading devotionals and other spiritual writings. I lean towards progressive Christianity in my faith, but also derive meaning from many other traditions.

  36. Reading and writing poetry.

  37. The fact that I overcame most of my classic PTSD symptoms.

  38. Nurturing my inner child(ren).

  39. Having a much better relationship with my parents than I used to have.

  40. The fact that I’m a lot calmer generally and having much fewer meltdowns than I used to.

  41. Black liquorice. I haven’t bought it in a while because it is a binge food for me, but my husband has offered to help me divide it into portions. That way, I will be able to enjoy it in moderation.

  42. Receiving cards and small gifts from people from all over the world whom I’ve met online.

  43. Meeting online friends in real life. I recently traveled to Rotterdam to meet someone I’d known for twelve years but never met in real life.

  44. Hearing my parents tell stories about their life in the countryside. I really hope to live in a rural area someday too. This is weird, because I used to believe I wanted to live in the city.

  45. Going to my favorite restaurant with my husband. When I lived in my old institution, we went there often because it’s in that city. Now we treat ourselves to it on special occasions like our anniversary.

  46. All kinds of animals. I used to care for guinea pigs and rabbits at my old institution and go to a horse staple to care for a pony.

  47. Making my own smoothies.

  48. Long summmer evenings spent outdoors.

  49. My birthday. I used to dread it but now look forward to it.

  50. Putting on make-up – or rather, having someone else put make-up on me. I don’t get it done often, but when I do, I like it.

Wow, this was a little hard sometimes, but I am so much happier having written this list! It truly cheered me up. Have a nice week everyone!

You Baby Me Mummy
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Mami 2 Five

Positives for the Week Starting February 23, 2015 #HappyDaysLinky

This week has been challenging. I’ve been very fatigued. This is nothing new as I’ve had terrible fatigue for a few months already. I also had a dizzy spell on Monday. Since my blood pressure was fine, there hasn’t been an obvious cause. I’m due to get blood drawn to check for hemoglobin and vitamin levels to see if either could explain the fatigue today.

On the old version of my Dutch blog, I used to post happy moments every now and then. Many other Dutch bloggers do this to focus on everyday enjoyment. I just found out that there’s a linky for this in English too. It’s the #HappyDaysLinky. So let me list some things that were good about this week.

1. Getting my braille display back. I got it back on Tuesday and was so relieved. I honestly hadn’t expected it back till later this week at the earliest. Since I hadn’t received a call from Freedom Scientific, the copany that manufactures them, I was expecting it to take much longer. I’m so glad the thing came back, so that I am now fully able to enjoy my online life again.

2. WiFi at the ward. Another thing that will enable me to enjoy my online life more, is that we got a WiFi connection at the psych unit I reside on. It won’t reach my room as the emitter is at the opposite end of the building, but I’ve been able to take my computer to the front room to enjoy the best signal. I don’t think I’ll be using the connection often except to download digital talking books, but it’s a good thing that it’s there.

3. Chocolate! I bought myself a box of chocolates on Monday and truly enjoyed them. Unfortunately, I ate a little too many and got sick, but that went away quickly.

4. Going for walks. The flu has stricken many of the nurses, so there’s usually fewer staff on my unit. That being said, I have been able to enjoy a few walks with the staff. I had a long walk with a substitute staff member on Sunday. Normaly staff can’t take patients on walks on week-ends because there is even fewer staffing, but apparently it was quiet enough on the ward that one could leave. Yesterday, I had to squeeze in art therapy between breakfast and going to the doctor for the fatigue. It was originally frustrating to have the art therapist arrive late, but I made up my mind that this was a great opportunity to go on a walk instead of doing actual art therapy. After all, by the time we’d reached the art therapy building, it’d almost be time to return to the unit for leaving for the doctor’s. I had a nice walk.

I am hoping next week will see at least as many happy moments. I heard the activity staff are introducing movement-focused activities in the day activity room across from my unit. I am looking forward to participating.

My goal for next week is to spend more me time. I hope to focus on writing and hope to also start yoga again. If not at day activities, then I hope to do it in my room.

What Katy Said

Ways to Cope with Anxiety

A fellow patient was screaming a lot today. It made me feel anxious, yet I was too sleepy to get out of bed until it really got on my nerves. Situations like these are hard to cope with, since the fear is not just “in my head”. Yet I get anxiety that is actually “in my head” a lot too. Some of it takes the form of worry, while other times, the anxiety takes the form of panic.

i was inspired today to write about things that help me cope with anxiety. Of course, different forms of anxiety require different coping strategies. For example, my PRN medication doesn’t help with worry, but it does help some with panic. Meds aside though, here are the activities I can think of now to cope with anxiety.

1. Breathing techniques. I learned some in movement therapy a few years ago, but they usually made me dissociate. Now that I’m generally more grounded, in that I don’t dissociate as often anymore, I’ve found breathing techniques can help me calm my mind. I need to make sure I actually concentrate on my breathing or I’ll go hyperventilate just when I’m trying to relax.

2. Mindfulness. I particularly like the “body scan”. With this, I go from toe to head, concentrating on each part of my body and how it is in relation to other parts of my body or my surroundings (like the chair I sit on). I learned this in yoga a few years back and, like breathing techniques, it could set off some dissociation when done the wrong way. The key seems to be not judging my mind when it wanders off, yet getting my focus back to my body as soon as I notice. Not judging my body is also important. I shouldn’t be overthinking that pain in my tummy or how my feet are wobbly, but just register my body and how it feels and then move on.

3. Reading. Last year, I rediscovered my love of juvenile fiction when I first started buying eBooks on Kobo. I make sure I always have some teen fiction in my Adobe Digital Editions. Teen fiction usually is just involved enough that it requires some concentration and just light enough that it doesn't get boring or triggering.

4. Music. when I’m worrying, I like to pick out music that has strong or funny lyrics, so that I will be listening to them. I have some great German country music on my computer (I understand a little German). Again, it is just hard enough that I will want to concentrate on the lyrics but not so hard that I give up.

When I’m more in a jittery state, it helps to pick music that has a soothing melody, or more often actually music that I can dance to. When I choose music to dance to, I don’t listen to the lyrics, so I might as well pick one of my Latino music albums that I bought when I was into world music.

5. Exercise. Dancing, as I said, can help, but so can a work-out. We have some exercise machines on the unit, so I can go on the stationary bike or elleptical trainer. I don’t usually last long on either as I’m in terrible shape, but even a ten-minute work-out can greatly reduce my anxiety.

6. Writing. Usually writing helps me not to lessen anxiety, but to express it in a safe way. I am still looking for the right journaling program (and no, Notepad still doesn’t feel right). Blogging (as opposed to freeform journaling) however can also greatly help me structure my thoughts.

The List

Goals for 2015

Yesterday on my Dutch blog, I wrote a list of goals and resolutions for the year 2015. Then today, I came across a wrting prompt on The SITS Girls which asked pretty much the same question – what are your goals for 2015? The prompt however suggested several categories, and I’m going to go along with this model for this blog’s post on goals for 2015. That is, I don’t have goals in every category they list and I do have other categories.

1. Blogging. I would like to write more this year. I challenged myself to write every single day on my Dutch blog this year. This is already proving hard today, so no such a strict goal for this blog. I hope to write at least two posts each week though. I also hope to grow my blog interaction by participating in more link-ups, discovering new blogs, and hopefully more people will discover my blog too.

2. Writing. I would like to journal more often, possibly offline. I also saw a couple of good writing courses, at least one of which I hope to enroll in this year. I don’t plan on professionalizing my writing, but just for the fun of it I’d like some guidance in my writing process.

3. Crafting. I would like to improve my polymer clay modeling skills. I would also like to invest in an art journal or something similar. I’ve got a mixed media workshop day in June which I’m planning on going to.

4. Reading. I want to finish some books I started reading in 2014 but didn’t finish. I also hope to discover lots of new books. I hope to focus my reading primarily on (juvenile) fiction and autobiographies rather than non-fiction.

5. Fitness. I hope to lose five to ten kilograms during the year. I hope to lessen my binge eating and exercise more. I asked my named nurse to inquire about me going swimming at the institution pool. I also am thinking about starting yoga lessons again.

6. Mental health. I hope to find a way to cope with my severe mood swings, anxiety and paranoid thoughts. I hope to discover a PRN medication or other method of averting any crisis states that will undoubtedly continue to arise.

7. Housing. I hope to finally get a clear idea of where I’ll be going to live out of the psychiatric institution: at my husband’s, in supported housing and if so where, in a workhome, etc. Ideally, I’d move out of the institution this year, but I’ve almost given up on this hope with the lack of idea of where I’m going at this point.

8. Relationships. Don’t really have any goals other than cotinuing to love and stay married to my husband.

The List
Personal Goals 2015