Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Self-care: Colds suck

A quick post tonight. I kind of made a promise to myself to write more frequently - say, every two weeks, minimum, but here it is three weeks since my last post.

Not wont to make excuses, it's been a tough couple of weeks. Lots of things wayyy out of the ordinary happening at work, and acquired a nasty little cold in the middle of it which makes minimum functionality challenging at times.
My arsenal (in part)

So every chance I get, I aim to do something that helps me get well more quickly. For example, I:
  • Ingest herbs, vitamins and probiotics: goldenseal root and olive leaf tinctures, some mix of stuff I get at the health food store, adding A & C and doubling D and zinc, and probiotic caps along with kefir and kombucha (tea and coffee actually count, too)
  • Rinse my sinus cavities with a warm saline solution: I use a glass container the size of a large mason jar to mix my salt and water, because really, what's the point of a miniscule netipot?  
  • Drink lots of liquids: my wellness tonic, water, tea, coffee (though diuretic, caffeinated beverages are still liquids and help hydrate)
  • Skip the sugar (mostly; today I succumbed to snickerdoodles made by our new person at work)
  • Eat good food (my go-to sick food used to be Campbell's chicken noodle soup, but I gave that up. I've since found Wolfgang Puck's organic version; I also picked up a roasted organic chicken at Whole Foods so I don't have to cook)
  • Steam clean my head - in the shower, and over the stove, with a towel over my head and a pot of steaming water with eucalyptus or tea tree oil
  • And from childhood - Vicks VapoRub smeared on my chest at bedtime (eau de Vicks is a lovely scent... not, but it does offer some comfort in the olfactory memory)
That first day or two, I found myself empathizing with those who actually have a lung disease (my mom and a dear friend being two). Of course, there's no real comparison, but it occurred to me just how awful that really must be, because even this felt a little like hell. My throat felt fiery and my chest felt like it was underwater and full of sand.

But after those first coupl'a days, I saw incremental improvement. Despite extra stress, I think my tactics worked; some people I know have had this thing for weeks. They can have it. I'm done. It's no magic bullet, but I hate being sick and believe my body lets me know what it needs to be well, and has, largely, what it takes to get there.  

So there you have it. I haven't written but I will revisit this unstated (this time) commitment and aim for regular posts beginning... soon. 


Update 4/5/15 - Cold symptoms went away quickly, except for a cough - which could also be related to allergies; we're full-on into spring now and I react to weeds and grass. Dang cough. Anyway, I still stand by my process outlined above, as I do tend to stay generally healthy when others around me are fighting illness. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Breaking bad habits

A sea of blossoms viewed from the top of
Carkeek Park's South Ridge trail.  
I fidget. I can't sit still, I slide around in my chair, twirl my hair, run my fingers through it, tug at my lips... I even sometimes twiddle my thumbs. I have done these things or a variation all my life. It makes one friend anxious. I make myself a little crazy.

I also shop. Out of boredom. For comfort. I consider this a habit now, too. I associate shopping and having new clothes, in particular, with being loved, left over from childhood. I love fashion and at times consider style a part of my creative expression, but really... While I don't stand a chance next to The Shopaholic, nor am I anywhere near a contender for Hoarders, shop therapy played a big role when I moved to Vancouver, and even more, post-divorce, as a way to feel less isolated. What started as a coping mechanism became a bad habit. Now it's a go-to when I feel alone, even if it's just window-shopping.

...Change is, well... change is.

I woke up this morning thinking about change, largely because there's a lot going on at work and I'm currently focused on change management. I read and write almost every morning, and today, reading about the placebo effect on health, the fog I've been in for the last two weeks finally lifted. It became clear that it was time to refocus, to be intentional about what I want in my own life, and make some changes again (change seems to be a theme of this blog).
My old house has rooms and closets
built for 1907 lifestyles, so I make-do
with shelving and baskets.

I'm starting small while I give more thought to the bigger changes ahead. I am tired of operating by rote, tired of these habits. Fidgeting burns a few calories, but it's irritating, to me and others. And shopping for material goods I don't need takes time, energy and funds away from more important endeavors, and goes a little against my environmentalist grain. I have enough.

It's spring, or nearly, and a good time to make a shift. 


Good question. Some of these are so ingrained it'll take serious conscious effort (as I write, I find my fingers at my lips or in my hair...). I may have to exchange a habit or two for the short term. And... 

  • Awareness is the critical first step, followed by a willingness to make change. Followed by continuous re-commitment to this. 
  • I'll set some rewards and some boundaries - I'm not yet sure what these are since this is still a new plan. 
  • I will at times take it moment by moment, and not chastise myself when I screw up - just note it and start over. 
  • I will put sticky notes around to remind myself of what I want instead. 
  • Maybe add a calendar appointment in my phone as a daily reminder.
  • I will continually ask myself what I want my life to look like and what's most important. 
I'm not aiming for perfection and I'm grateful I don't have worse habits to break. I think my only current addiction is caffeine - which I learned of when I got my first-ever withdrawal headache last fall after a day without coffee.

...I have much more empathy.  

But these are hard for me, and in some ways, it's a test. They may seem innocuous, but they aren't - they impact how I'm perceived, and in some ways even how I feel about myself. It bugs me that I succumb to these. They are habits, not conscious actions, and consequently, they "run" me (to borrow from Landmark's Forum; they're in control).

My mom was a self-proclaimed "creature of habit," and while I loved my mother, I choose not to emulate her. I have quit smoking, and stopped many other unhealthy behaviors. I have changed my language when it made more sense to speak differently. I stopped saying "um" and using other fillers. I have created good habits, like daily journal writing and exercise. I have changed how and what I eat.

I've read it takes anywhere from 21 - 30 days to break an old or instill a new habit, depending on the complexity (I've also read some take much longer). So I'll aim to be patient with myself. I do believe it's possible to change even these insidious quirks. I will report back. And please, by all means, share your habit-breaking tips, ideas and successes in the comments.

- Day one update: It helps to say to myself, "I'm choosing to stop this."
- Day two observation: Identified that, 1) I have the desire to do this and, 2) I believecan do this. - So far, so good!
- Day three insight: I'm not sure I would call this hard... but it requires constant diligence. I am impressively habitual.
- Three weeks later: Still doing great with the fidgeting part. It's not always easy; I think about it frequently. But I am not acting on those thoughts. Shopping, well, a slip... Not a big slip, just a little slip. And gave myself a cash limit. So it was a conscious slip, too. Ah well. Onward. It's been a trying couple of weeks, to say the least. Starting anew each day.