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9 WAYS TO LIFT YOUR STRESS DURING LOCKDOWN…

At the moment it is understandable that many of us (including me) are incredibly stressed right now. But one of the most powerful tools according to Paul McKenna in Woman & Home is making a daily list of things that we appreciate. So, I will kick of with number …

1. Get a notebook or open a file on your computer, and each day, add at least five things to the list. Then any time you are feeling really stressed read back through what you have written. I’ve ordered a notebook today and plan on trying this straight away.

2. Try and work it out, if you can’t manage an indoor workout then go out for a walk in the fresh air, or do some housework to take your mind off it.

3. Try breathing exercises, whereby you breath out for longer than you breathe in. There are a number of ones you can follow online. The theory is that when you breathe out you signal your nervous system to instruct your body to calm down.

4. During the COVID-19 lockdown it’s been easy to eat all the wrong things especially for anyone who is self isolating but this can have a negative effect on your health, so try eating more healthily. Last week I started a diary of the meals I had cooked during the week so I can look at what we had last week and go for something different this week.

5. Listen to some calming music. Just try and switch off completely by sitting or lying somewhere very peaceful and listen to some lovely soothing music.

6. Apparently we have been watching lots of nature programs during the last few months as they have found these have a very calming effect on children. So, do the same as the younger ones and get yourself in a comfy chair, relax and watch a nature program.

7. Make sure you are drinking enough water every day. Being dehydrated can cause a multiple of different problems. You should try and drink around 2.7 litres for women, and 3.7 litres for men.

8. Read a book, there are so many free and very cheap books to read online now or paperbacks you can buy for a reasonable price. I’ve become hooked on my books and find they help me go to sleep at night. If your having a really bad day there is no harm in binge reading, like binge watching a tv program. If it’s a good book just get yourself comfortable and read it from start to finish.

9. Finally, just laugh and I mean really laugh. It helps to relieve stress big time. If you can’t think of anything to make you laugh you can go online and find funny videos, in particular the animal ones which will definitely have you in stitches.

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF TESTS FOR BACK PAIN PROBLEMS…

The first thing that most doctors will do when you see them about a persistent case of back pain will be to ask you a series of questions. They’ll want to know when the pain started and for how long you’ve been having it. You may be asked if your family has a history of back pain.

All these questions serve a purpose. The doctor is trying to ascertain if you have chronic pain, acute pain or if there’s some other underlying cause. In most cases, back pain tends to diminish and disappear after about a month or six weeks.

However, if the pain persists, there are a few diagnostic tests that your doctor may resort to. These tests have several purposes. They’ll be able to detect if the back pain is due to a tumor, cancer or some other problem.

If the patient has lost bladder control, it could be a serious problem where the spinal cord is under pressure. These tests will be able to detect why the problem is occurring. There are many possible causes from spinal infections to osteoporosis. These are best detected using advanced diagnostic tests.

X-ray

Of course, this is the most popular and common one that doctors resort to in the first stage. The high frequency radiation, will detect bone problems, tumors, infections, etc. It’s a painless process and this test will reveal several issues that aren’t outwardly visible.

Computed tomography scan

Also known as the ‘CT scan’, this diagnostic test is similar to an X-ray and often done together with a myelogram. A CT scan can detect nerve issues in the back, affected discs, spinal stenosis and much more.

Unlike an X-ray which can be done standing up, a CT scan will require you to lie on a table while your body is scanned.

Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI)

Like the CT scan, you’ll need to lie down while the scan is being done. Unlike an X-ray machine, MRI scans use radio and magnetic waves to produce the images that you see on the screen. These scans can detect dehydrated discs, facet joint issues and many other possible causes of back pain.

In many cases, the point of pain may not necessarily be where the pain originates. For example, shooting pains down your leg is an indicator of sciatica. The issue is not with your leg, but your lower back.

Bone scans

This is the type of scan you’d expect to see in a movie. It is very useful for detecting the specific part of the spine where the problem is occurring. The test is done by injecting the patient with a chemical that goes directly into their bloodstream.

The chemical will adhere to parts of the bone that are affected. A special camera is then used to detect the chemical in the body. The parts of the bone that are darker are the parts that are affected. This is an excellent way to detect bone density problems, tumors, infections, etc.

Blood tests

These can help determine whether you have an infection or other condition that might be causing your pain like inflammatory arthritis.

Nerve conduction tests

Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).

I have personally had all of the above except the bone scans and I have found in the past that the MRI and nerve conduction tests have shown up my problems the best but everyone is different. The 4 scans above are the most commonly used ones. You can also find out lots more on the NHS website.

Your doctor will be the best person to advise you on the different tests and which ones will yield the best results when used to diagnose your condition.

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SLEEP SUNDAY, LET’S TALK ABOUT SLEEP AND PILLOW SPRAYS…

Let’s talk about sleep and the use of pillow sprays this Sunday. My top 5 calming pillow sprays for a peaceful night’s sleep are-

1. Grass & Co CALM Pillow Spray 50 ml – £17.50 this pillow spray contains Distilled Aqua, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile Essential Oil), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Essential Oil),  Limon (Lemon Essential Oil) Organic Alcohol, D-Limonene. It is 100% Natural. THC & Toxin-Free, (as recommended by netdoctor). A CALM Pillow Spray balances the comforting aromatherapy scents of luxurious Lemon, relaxing Rosemary and calming Chamomile to quieten your mind and soothe you to your sleepy place. Awake feeling calmed. Mist onto your pillow and bed linen to bring calm, peace and tranquility to your bedtime ritual. This is my favourite pillow spray at the moment. When I wake up in the night ( which I often do) I reach for the spray and soon find myself feeling relaxed and calm.

2. This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray 75 ml – £19.50 this pillow spray contains Fragrance mixture (Linalool; Linalyl Acetate; Vetiverols; Ocimene; Caryophyllene; Terpentine-4-ol; beta-Pinene; d-Limonene; 1-Octen-3-yl acetate; Geraniol). They say ‘Get a great night’s sleep with our best-selling deep sleep pillow spray. Proven to help you fall asleep faster and wake feeling more refreshed. Use at bedtime to help reduce sleep anxiety and improve sleep quality. Award-winning natural, aromatherapeutic Superblend of Lavender, Vetivert and Camomile calms both mind and body, soothing you to sleep.’ This is my second choice as I just adore lavender and in this particular spray it has a lovely strong smell of it.

3. M&S Collection Pillow Sleep Spray 200 ml – £6.50 it contains Aqua, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil, ethylhexylglycerin, lavandula angustifolia oil, disodium edta, and denatonium benzoate. In their wordsCreate a calming atmosphere at bedtime with our aromatic pillow spray. From our Body and Soul collection, the spray helps to bring feelings of tranquillity and sleepiness to your bedroom. Spray it onto your pillow at the end of the day and relax into a dreamy slumber. This is my afternoon rest pillow spray to help me just rest and relax for an hour. It works for me.

4. Neon Organics Perfect Night’s Sleep Pillow Mist 5 ml – £8 the ingredients in this spray is 100% natural fragrances. Their words ‘this really special complex blend using only 100% natural fragrances with 14 of the purest possible dreamy essential oils including English lavender, chamomile & patchouli plus little touches of other perfectly chosen natural essential oils expertly blended to help you relax and prepare for sleep. Use the Pillow Mist for maximum quality and quantity of zzz’s’. This is a great size to pop in your bag for a weekend break.

5. L’Occitane En Provence Relaxing Pillow Mist 100 ml – £19.00 Made with essential oils, this mist creates a calming atmosphere that promotes relaxation and well-being. I was given a sample size of this in a gift with other products and felt I had a good night’s sleep but probably needed to try it for a lot longer but the smell makes you feel relaxed straight away.