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Chronic Fatigue – Are your habits KEEPING you tired? 

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” – Charles Duhigg

Are you constantly tired? Do you suffer from chronic fatigue?  Burnout? Exhaustion? Do  you want to change how you feel but just don’t know where to begin?  Believe it or not, the first place to start is by looking at your habits – all those little things you do every day – and asking yourself why you do them.

Samuel Beckett said: “Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit”.

This has always been one of my favourite quotes – in fact, as a teenager I wrote this quote out on a piece of paper and pinned it to my bedroom wall.  Most of my friends couldn’t understand how I could like such a “disgusting-sounding” quote, yet somehow, more than 20 years later, this quote often still goes through my head.

We all interpret things differently in life and my interpretation of Beckett’s quote is:

If you don’t like how you keep feeling then stop doing what you keep doing”.

The small things we do habitually each day keep us feeling the way we are feeling.  If we keep snacking on biscuits and rusks (yes….I do), then we will keep having energy lows.  If we keep relying on that coffee every morning to get us going (yes….I do), then we will keep being tired every morning until we have had our caffeine.  If we keep drinking too much wine at night (and again…yes…I do), then we will keep suffering from sinus problems.

I find when I work with my patients, they are often “keeping” themselves sick, or tired, or unable to sleep through their little habits and routines.   In order for them to really start healing on a deep level, they need to take a look at what they keep doing to themselves, and, more importantly, why they keep doing it. Do I snack on biscuits every day because it takes me back to that warm, cosiness of my childhood?  Do I drink coffee every morning because I don’t believe I have enough strength to cope with my day?  Do I drink wine every night because I feel I can’t unwind?

We can’t change our habits until we understand why we do them, and we can’t really heal until we change our habits.  So here is a short, but surprisingly difficult, exercise for you to do: write down your “bad” daily habits and then write down why you think you do each one.  Just write them down and think about them. By simply being aware of what you do and why you do it, you will be taking your first BIG healing step and when you feel ready to change that habit it will be easier than you think.

Dr Ruth Hull
www.ruthhull.com
079 525 3354
info@ruthhull.com
#journeytohealth #homeopathdurban#homoeopathy #fatigue #burnout #insomnia

Insomnia

I think almost every single one of us has at some stage of our lives experienced that awful feeling of simply lying awake all night, waiting for the sun to rise so that we can finally get up and have a cup of coffee.  After it has happened for a few nights then that sense of dread sets in – when you spend half your day dreading the coming night because you know you just aren’t going to sleep.  Or you might be lucky enough to fall asleep and then the dog, or cat, or neighbour….or something…will wake you up around 3am and you will spend the rest of your night lying there staring at the ceiling.

When these sleepless nights turn into sleepless weeks a chronic cycle of insomnia develops – a cycle that is very difficult to break and can often need professional help.  Homoeopathy can work wonders with insomnia and does not interact with any daily medication you may be on. Yet in addition to this, there are 3 simple steps you need to take to get a good night’s sleep.  Put these 3 steps into action TONIGHT and after a week you should hopefully have reset your body clock and broken that awful cycle of sleeplessness.

  1. RESET YOUR BODY CLOCK
    • Get into bed at the same time every night.
    • Set your alarm for the same time every morning.
    • As soon as your alarm rings EXPOSE YOUR EYES TO BRIGHT LIGHT for a few minutes (preferably natural) – it is very important that you do this at the same time every day.
  1. HAVE A BED-TIME ROUTINE
    • Do not eat a heavy meal for 3 hours before you go to bed.
    • Have a warm milky drink (see recipe below).
    • Warm up your body – have a warm bath/shower or do some gentle stretching.
    • Get into bed and relax – read, chat to a partner or simply daydream!
      • ABSOLUTELY NO TECHNOLOGY….NO TV AND NO PHONES!!!
  1. CLEAR OUT YOUR BEDROOM
    • Your bedroom is for sleep, relaxation and sex only! There must be no TV, cellphones, ipads, flashing digital clocks etc in your room.  It needs to be a quiet, peaceful place that you can retreat to and switch off in.
    • Your room should be clutter free – don’t have piles of unpaid bills or work on your bedside table. Clear out your room so that you only have things that you love and that relax you.
    • Your room should be as dark as possible so that you sleep well.
CARDAMON MILK

This lovely ayurvedic drink contains cardamon and nutmeg which are well-known for their sedative properties.  It is relaxing, nourishing and full of goodness.

  • Boil a mug of milk on the stove with a pinch of cardamon powder (or a few pods), a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of saffron (ONLY a pinch of each of these)
  • The milk must boil for a few minutes
  • Remove from the heat and add a teaspoon of ghee (also called clarified butter….buy in an indian shop or health shop)
  • When it is at a cool enough temperature to drink add some honey to make it taste sweet
  • Optional: add two tablespoons ground almonds or almond powder (brain food).

good night and sweet dreams

IMAGE SOURCE: https://innerbattle.me/blog/tag/insomnia/

Where is my mind?

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was dancing to the Pixies and shouting out the words “where is my mind”, yet somehow, somewhere, in the last few decades I seem to have lost not quite my mind, but my memory.  Is this just part of the natural process of having children, ageing, working too hard and a bit too much stress?

Our brains have an amazing ability to continually form new neural pathways.  This is known as “neuroplasticity” and for it to take place our brains need to be ‘healthy’.  In other words, we need to look after them…..rest them, feed them and exercise them.  Just as we try to look after our bodies, so we should look after our brains.

Meditation and breathing techniques are well-known for improving memory and the yogic meditation Kirtan Kriya is now recommended by the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation .  But there are also other ways to “rest” your brain and improve your sleep – simply find something that you enjoy doing that takes you away from the daily grind of your life: walking in nature, playing outdoors with your kids, doing a puzzle, painting – something in which you can switch your mind off and lose yourself.

Feeding our brains is essential to keeping them healthy.  Rather than focusing on what you should cut out of your diet, focus on what you need to include.  With every meal try to eat some “brainfood” – add seeds, nuts, oily fish, avocados, olive oil or coconut oil to your meal to ensure you get a good dose of essential fatty acids and vitamin E.  Your vitamin B- group is also essential for the nervous system and is easily destroyed by stress and alcohol. A B-complex supplement is often a good idea when you are under a great deal of stress or if you are vegan as some of the B-vitamins are only found in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs.  There are also many herbs and aromatherapy oils that can help improve your memory, your sleep and your ability to cope with stress.

If you are like me and you shudder at the word “exercise”, then I apologise for the following statement: regular exercise is vital not only  for the health of your body, but also for the health of your brain. Cardiovascular exercise ensures there is adequate blood-flow to the brain, improves your sleep and helps you de-stress.  Regular mental exercises, on the other hand, ensure neuro-plasticity.  As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”.  Start doing a crossword or brainteaser everyday or learn something new and challenging such as a musical instrument or perhaps even a new language!

Just to end, I found the image for this blog from Tech & Facts which has some great facts about your brain (such as it is 60% fat….so eat your fats! ). Take a look at it.

 

 

Stressed-out hormones

Your internal environment is regulated by hormones and even the slightest change to hormone levels can have a large and lasting impact on your body.

Cortisol, The Hormone of Stress

One hormone, in particular, has a significant effect on your day-to-day life, affecting your ability to cope with stress, your energy levels, your weight, and even your reproductive and sexual health.

This hormone is cortisol and it is primarily released in times of stress via the activation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis.

Circadian Rhythms

Cortisol has many functions in the body and is the hormone that helps you wake up in the morning, gives you energy to exercise and helps you cope with stress.

It is released in a cyclical (circadian) rhythm, peaking in the mornings at approximately 8am and then waning in the afternoons, between 3-4pm. 

This rhythm enables you to get up and function in the mornings and then relax and ‘switch off’ at the end of the day.

Interrupted Sleep, Insomnia, Fatigue

If, however, cortisol is constantly being released into your bloodstream due to ongoing stress, then this natural rhythm and hence your sleeping rhythms become displaced. 

High levels of cortisol circulating in your blood stream in the middle of the night means you will be wide awake in the middle of the night.  When these levels crash early in the morning you will too.

Blood Glucose Levels, Insulin Resistance, Inability to Lose Weight, Exhaustion

Another of cortisol’s functions is to increase the level of glucose in your blood stream.

However, constantly high levels of glucose in your blood stream lead to insulin resistance and the effects of insulin resistance include fatigue, increased appetite, abdominal weight gain, and eventually Type II Diabetes Mellitus.

Poor Immunity, Frequent Infections & Poor Healing

High levels of cortisol also suppress your immune system resulting in frequent infections and poor healing.

Gut Health, Woman’s Health and Pregnancy

In addition, excess cortisol has a negative effect on both your digestive and reproductive systems leading to digestive disorders, PMT and difficulties in conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy.

What is Stress Doing to You?

So if you find you can’t sleep at night, can’t lose weight, are constantly sick or struggle with digestive or menstrual/reproductive problems then perhaps it is time to stop for a minute and take a closer look at your stress levels and how you are coping with them.

Adventure Travel Infographic (1)
REFERENCES
Jain, J.  2005.  Chapter 31, Animal Hormones, Fundamentals of Biochemistry (online). Available at: http://www.cuchd.in/e-library/resource_library/University%20Institutes%20of%20Sciences/Fundamentals%20of%20Biochemistry/Chap-31.pdf (Accessed 26 May 2016).

Welcome…

Welcome to my blog!  I am writing this blog for two reasons – one is to hopefully offer you a bit of information, a little clarity or a fresh insight into aspects of your health; and the other is simply because I love to write,  to research and to learn, especially about the human body.  So what better platform is there than a regular blog on different health topics – some that may challenge me, some that may challenge you.  I hope you enjoy the blogs and please feel free to message me with any topics you would like to learn more about.

However, before I begin, please understand that the information in this blog does NOT in anyway replace proper medical care.  Please do not use this blog to diagnose yourself or to replace “hands-on” and “face-to-face” health care.