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HOW TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES….

 

 

It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children.

We all lack energy from time to time but if it doesn’t improve then you should see your GP.

There are a number of conditions that can leave you feeling lethargic. Iron levels are one of the first things that can affect energy levels and cause tiredness.

An under-active thyroid is another cause of tiredness and the falling hormone levels that occur at the menopause.

Fatigue can also be a sign of diabetes.

If you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) this can also cause fatigue. 

As well as the above, some medications can also cause lethargy, including beta blockers, some antihistamines, codeine-based painkillers and also some antidepressants. Also some sleeping tablets may help to get you through the night, some can cause daytime fatigue.

The main symptoms are – 

Key symptoms:

  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • lethargy
  • overeating
  • irritability
  • feeling down and unsociable

Of course, anxiety, stress and depression are also triggers for sapping energy levels. The best course of action is to go and visit your GP.

NHS Inform have ten tips on how to beat developing the winter blues – 

1. Keep active

Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues. Read more about walking to get fit.

2. Get outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

3. Keep warm

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.

Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).

4. Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Read more about healthy eating.

5. See the light

Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day.

Light boxes give out very bright light at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting. They’re not available on the NHS and cost from around £29.99 or more.

“Some people find that using a dawn simulator [a bedside light, connected to an alarm clock, that mimics a sunrise and wakes you up gradually] as well as a light box can enhance the beneficial effect,” says Pavlovich.

One of the most obvious ways to treat SAD is to get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes a day but Light therapy is the most effective way of decreasing the symptoms. Also it is believed that eating foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.

6. Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, says Pavlovich. “It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on,” she adds.

7. See your friends and family

It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

8. Talk it through

Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what’s available locally on the NHS and privately, or read this article on how to access talking treatments.

9. Join a support group

Think about joining a support group. Sharing your experience with others who know what it’s like to have SAD is very therapeutic and can make your symptoms more bearable.

SADA is the UK’s only registered charity dedicated to SAD. It costs £20 (£10 for concessions) to join, and you’ll receive an information pack, regular newsletters, discounts on products such as light boxes, and contacts for telephone support.

10. Seek help

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.

Read more about how SAD is treated.

Its the sunlight that tells your brain to produce serotonin, which is needed to boost our mood and energy. Lack of it as autumn turns to winter causes an increase in the production of melatonin (which makes us sleepy) and a reduction in serotonin is what can cause depression.

Also they say that Australian research found that taking vitamin D supplements for only five days in late winter improved the mood of people with SAD. It can also prevent osteoporosis, support immunity and regulate weight. Of course the best way to get Vitamin D is through the effects of sunlight on bare skin. Amazingly they say that Vitamin D lasts for 60 days in the body so if you’ve been away for your annual holiday in the summer, it will mean your levels should be fine until November.

Other sources of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and eggs, cheese and poultry.

Research also suggests that eating carb-rich foods helps the brain take up tryptophan. You can also find supplements and The Food Agency recommends taking 10mcg a day.

Source: NHS Inform  

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HAND REFLEXOLOGY POINTS FOR LOWER BACK PAIN…

Most people know ‘reflexology’ as something that is done to your feet but hand reflexology is definitely another technique that is becoming just as popular.

Hand reflexology certainly provides some benefits compared to foot reflexology. The obvious example is that our hands are far more easily accessible compared to our feet, which makes hand reflexology the most usable self-help tool for both adults and children.

Hand and foot reflexology has actually been used as part of medical care since as far back as the ancient Egyptian and classic Chinese times. The basic assumption used by the reflexologist is that each organ, gland and part of the body is reflected in both the hands and the feet. Stimulation of the so-called ‘reflex points’ promotes relaxation, improves circulation and encourages the body to heal itself. This explains why hand reflexologists sometimes use the axiom: “Health is at your fingertips!”

Hand reflexology is also brilliant as a relief from the new stresses technology has placed on our hands.

For lower back pain press the point where the centre of your hand joins your wrist and stimulate it. Always take medical advice if you don’t know what the problem is. This is a perfect antidote to a backache caused by sitting at a computer for too long.

A great site Reflexology Map that explains in detail how to start a hand massage.

YOU CAN FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO START YOUR HAND MASSAGE:

Step 1:  Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room.

Step 2:  Enter a state of relaxation using a bit of your favorite oil hands. Oils and creams are normally not used in professional reflexology sessions, but will not hurt to use them in an informal session.

hand reflexology

Step  3: Rub the cream on your hands for several minutes until completely absorbed. This will relax your hands and increase flexibility in preparation for applying reflexology. Be sure not to use a cream or oil greasy your hands are not slippery.

Step 4: Close your eyes and focus on any area of your body where you feel an uncomfortable pain. Sometimes you just feel as if some part of your body feels misaligned.

Step 5: Consult a hand reflexology map to identify the points of reflection in your hands that correspond to the parts of your body you want to work. For example, if you have pain in your left shoulder, you have to query the map and see that the points of reflection for your shoulder are located on the little finger of the left hand.

Step 6: Firmly press the reflex point. You can gradually increase the pressure to make sure you’re “activating” the reflex, but loose a little if you feel some pain.

Step 7: Hold the pressure for 30 seconds and release.

Step 8: Wait a few seconds and repeat. You can press either 30 seconds or you can press and release the point of a pulsed for 30 seconds.

Step 9: Use your thumb to apply light pressure technique pressure if you are uncomfortable. To do this, use a circular motion over the same point of reflection for about 5 seconds, then rotates in a circular in the opposite direction for 5 seconds. Repeated several times for each point of reflection.

Step 10: Reflexology applies to all areas in both hands, but lend him more attention on problem areas.

Step 11: When you’ve finished your reflexology session sit quietly for at least 10 minutes. If possible, lie down and rest well for half an hour.

Step 12: Drink several glasses of water after applying reflexology. Water will help to drain the toxins released from your organs and muscles during the session.

 

Hand Chart

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SLEEP SUNDAY – LET’S TALK ABOUT THE RIGHT PORTABLE MATTRESS TO SLEEP ON…

With schools just broken up and Covid-19 numbers still rising I am sure there will be double the amount of people deciding to camp and self cater. But, without the right portable mattress it could end up ruining your holiday and leaving you in a lot of pain.

I’m sure many of you back pain sufferers are similar to me when staying away from home. The mattress that you sleep on can either make or break your holiday. For me personally, to hard and then I am as stiff as a board, to soft and my back wakes me up with every move I make.

I have written a few posts on mattress toppers as they are so important to back pain and fibromyalgia sufferers but I must admit I have not tried any camping mattress toppers. 

I came across the Duvalay, which specialise in mattress toppers for travel and caravans. The Duvalay travel mattress toppers is used by our customers as a portable mattress topper, caravan topper, camping topper, and in a huge variety of leisure vehicles such as boats, motorhomes and campervans.

  • Comes with a zipped, washable protective cover
  • Highest density memory foam for maximum comfort
  • 2.5cm depth foam rolls up and stores easily
  • Secures with straps for easy use and storage

Innovatively designed to promote a restful night’s sleep, this compact topper just rolls out smoothing away all surface lumps and bumps.

For ease of use they recommend using there zipped sheets which only need to be removed for washing. They also have storage bags for all of there toppers

They are all supplied with a luxurious inner stretch fabric cover and elasticated straps that keep the mattress nearly rolled for storage. A must for any back pain sufferer. They start from £79.95

The Duvalay sleep system combines optimum sleeping comfort with incredible ease of use. This clever product consists of a bottom pocket with memory foam (available in 3 different thicknesses) and the top pocket houses a conventional duvet (available in 2 different thicknesses). Simply unroll your Duvalay sleeping bag to use; making your bed takes just a few seconds.

Duvalay memory foam sleeping bags are specially designed for use in your motorhome, motorcaravan, truck, boat etc. Most caravan and campervan beds are at best a compromise, often being designed primarily as daytime seats with sleeping as an afterthought, and a collection of cushions pushed together is never going to make a truly comfortable mattress. The Duvalay memory foam evens out these joins, taking your camping comfort to a whole new level.

Another benefit of the Duvalay sleeping bag is that because the memory foam and duvet are attached all down one edge, you can’t suffer either from the duvet falling off during the night, or from it moving and causing a cold spot against the wall. But unlike a conventional sleeping bag, because the Duvalay is only attached on one edge, you can kick your legs out during the night if you wish.

The concept of Duvalay’s simply ingenious, comforting mattress toppers arose from necessity…

Along with the many millions of people worldwide who embrace caravans as their ‘homes from home’, Liz and Alan Colleran were troubled by the insomnia and back pain associated with caravanning, where the perfect leisure environment is so often compromised by a frustratingly uncomfortable bed. This was the start of their journey which took them onto Dragons Den. 

The Duvalay story rocketed to fame in 2011 when Liz and Alan – along with their much-loved, heroic flagship product, the Duvalay memory foam sleeping bag – embarked upon a nerve-wracking journey to the Dragons’ Den. Their appearance on the hit BBC show led to national brand awareness, as well as a business-boosting investment by ‘Dragon’ and Pall-Ex empire founder Hilary Devey CBE. Fresh from the Dragons’ Den, Duvalay outgrew its original factory and eventually moved on to a new site in Gomersal – complete with its welcoming and homely drop-in showroom, exciting enhanced production line and office space for its growing workforce.