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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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My name’s Mayah and I’m addicted to my iPhone. There, I’ve said it. But that isn’t surprising or alarming, is it? As isn’t everyone addicted to their smartphones?

But it’s not just my iPhone. I have a BlackBerry and an iPad. If I’m not on my iPhone, I’m probably on one of the others. They make me a better businesswoman, more productive and just generally feel in control of things. These are some of the excuses I’ve made that make me think my obsession with my iPhone is perfectly normal.

First thing in the morning, before I’ve even opened my eyes, I’m reaching for my iPhone. I check my calls, voicemails, texts, emails, Twitter and Facebook. By the time I’ve done all that, I’ve probably forgotten whose calls and texts I need to return.

Throughout the day my iPhone is either in my hand or no more than an arm reach away. I’m using it to take and make calls, reply or send text and WhatsApp messages. I’m checking and writing emails, adding items into my diary, checking the time, adding reminder notes, checking Twitter and Facebook, listening to music, buying something, recording my diet, checking various website amongst other things. I then come home, and I’m still doing much of the same until I go to bed.

However, whilst I was on holiday with the girls last month, I didn’t use my phone much at all. It was usually on my bedside and I only checked it a couple of times a day. I couldn’t believe how long the battery lasted when it wasn’t in use – half a week! I loved not being tied to the phone or being contacted.

I love the idea of coming home at the end of the day, closing the door, getting into my PJs and turning my phone off. I usually do all this but the latter. I just can’t bring myself to turning my phone off. I may have decided not to answer work calls anymore after 7pm, but I am still interrupted by them. With the phone being on, it’s much easier to just take one quick call as it would be one less thing to deal with the next day. No out it would involve more work from me. By this time I am so drained, I don’t really want to communicate with anyone, I just don’t want to talk. My friends will testify how rubbish I am at replying – luckily, they don’t take it personally. I even take my phone to bed with me and check it right until I fall asleep. If I can’t fall asleep, I’m usually found on Twitter or going through emails. Then first thing in the morning, it starts all over again. Whilst writing this, I can see how unhealthy this sounds.

I have decided that I need to be less dependent on my iPhone. Starting from next week, I will not be taking my iPhone to bed with me. I can’t do much during the day as I rely on it for my business. A while ago I decided to turn my phone on silent when going to bed. I thought no one was really worth waking me up and expecting a conversation during the night. It can’t be good for either parties. I would get work calls at 3am from clients. I’m not a 24 hour service but I started becoming one because I left my phone on. It was getting to the point when if my phone rang at 3am, I didn’t know whether I needed to be in work mode or consoling a heartbroken friend about why she should call him (one of the reasons I would give her is reminding her what time it is – but it’s okay to call me at that time). I’m just about okay with getting calls from close friends at 3am, goodness knows I have made my fair share of 3am (4am, 5am and even 6am) calls. I’m indebted to them.

Not taking the iPhone to bed with me has really taken some planning. I had to buy an alarm clock as I use my phone as one. When I put the house alarm on when going to bed and have switched off the lights, I use my iPhone as a torch to navigate me to my bedroom. I also fall asleep listening to audiobooks so need a replacement for this. I have to move the charger elsewhere in the house as it’s usually by my bedside. I need to get used to leaving the phone downstairs before coming to bed, even if I am going to bed early to watch TV (or my iPad).

In all honesty (despite writing this blog in bed at 1.45am) I do think it interferes with the quality of sleep and lack of sleep. I could be on my phone for what feels like 10 minutes but an hour would have passed. I’m sure the brightness of it when the lights are out must be keeping the brain alert. I may sleep better and for longer if I know I can’t check my phone.

Starting from 1st November, I will be less contactable and definitely not so during the night. Are you the same with your phone? If so, why not join me in leave your phone out of your bedroom and be in for a better nights sleep.

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Life On Crutches

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Last month I went on holiday with the girls. The last thing I expected was injuring myself and leaving on crutches. I have been on crutches for three weeks now and it’s making everyday life quite interesting.

On day 3 of my holiday, I fell backwards off a small platform and hurt my right knee. I immediately felt the pain and my friends tried to play it down by massaging my knee and trying to convince me that the pain would go. It didn’t and my leg quickly swelled up. I knew I had to get it checked out. So my friend took me to the medical centre to get it checked out. I had an X-Ray and was told that I had pulled a ligament. They put the whole of my leg in a cast, so it looked quite dramatic. They had put a plinth at the back, so I wasn’t able to bend it.

My friends were great as they included me into everything. After coming back from the medical centre, two other friends were due to join us for the remainder of the holiday. They were at the apartment as we arrived back from the medical centre. Needless to say, they were quite shocked to see the state I was in. I truly looked broken. I was quite happy to stay in the apartment whilst they went to lunch but they were having none of it. I didn’t want to go out as by the time I would get to the restaurant, they’d be onto their desserts. On the way to the restaurant, I was slower than I thought I would be and really struggling with the crutches (and the pain). I had a tiny bit of a meltdown and started crying. It was the frustration, pain and also couldn’t believe I had done this to myself. Before I knew it, two of the girls took my crutches off me, gave them to the others and they both carried me the whole way to the restaurant and even up the stairs to the restaurant. This overwhelmed me immensely. They were just amazing in making sure I was included into everything – whereas I was happy to just do my own thing at the apartment.

Since being back at home I am still on crutches. I had the week after I returned off work, so I spent it in bed resting. A week later I went into work. I was dreading it as I was still struggling to get by on the crutches at home, let alone outdoors. My hands, arms, shoulders and back were all hurting and I still wasn’t able to put weight on my leg.

On the morning of going to work, I wasn’t prepared for all that was to come. I knew it would take me longer to get ready, but I was quickly starting to get frustrated. I’m lucky to have had people at home to help but it still took so much thinking. I would usually be up and down the stairs countless times without even thinking about it. But after nearly falling down the stairs, I was only going to go down them once. I also had to wear flat shoes, which I don’t do, especially not for work. I was actually quite surprised I owned a pair of flats until I checked my wardrobe. The only ones I owned were ones I bought when I was in hospital the year before. I also had to think of the bag I would wear, and no designer bag would be a good look hanging off the crutches. It had to be one I could put across my shoulders, and also it had to be packed light.

By the time I got into the car to go to work, I was exhausted, and still had a full day of work to face. Everything took so much thought, it was mentally and physically exhausting. On the way to the office, there was a ramp or stairs to get to the entrance. I couldn’t use the stairs, so I thought the ramp would be easier. It wasn’t as I constantly felt I was falling backwards. For wheelchair users this would be ok. If you were on crutches, you may be able to put weight on your feet. If you couldn’t due to an injury, then you probably wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be at work. I didn’t even notice the disabled access door, until that day.

When I met the team, nearly all of them said “I can’t believe you can still look glamorous when on crutches.” I was quite surprised at that comment because it is just my knee that was hurting, not the rest of me. Yes, it took me extra long getting ready but it wasn’t too difficult. The fact so many made comments along those lines really took me back as I couldn’t believe they were thinking crutches and glamour couldn’t go together. After all, I was still the person I was before I got injured, that wasn’t going to change due to a minor injury.

When I went to the toilet, I couldn’t believe how far it was. It obviously hadn’t moved but when you’re actually carrying your own body weight on your hands, everything is harder and further. As I had only just been at home on the crutches, I wasn’t used to opening heavy doors and then keeping them open with my crutches wide enough to get myself through. Also whilst I went on the nature call, I might as well go to the water tank to drink water. I then realised I had to drink water by the tank as I wasn’t able to carry it with me. When I went to the water tank, there was a slight queue but as soon as people saw me, they let me go first. I personally didn’t like that as I wanted to blend in and not stand out. I was grateful that someone read my thoughts and asked me if they could carry my water to my desk. But being taken by surprise and not wanting to put them out, I declined their offer and said my desk was right at the other end and I’d be okay.

However, I think everyone should experience life on crutches for at least a day. I made me think about those who use crutches on a daily basis and how difficult their life can be. I would see people on crutches but I don’t think I really saw them. It’s my third week on crutches and it’s second time I have been in them due to an injury. I was too young at time to really think about it last time. It also makes you realise the kindness of strangers who give you way, open the doors longer and wider for you, giving up their seats or go the extra mile to do something. It’s all appreciated as the longer the day is, the more exhausted you are and this shows.

I’m by no way an expert on living life on crutches but here are tips I have for those who are just finding themselves being on crutches. Also people use crutches for various reasons, so whether you are using them for support whilst walking, or after an injury/operation unable to put weight on your foot, I hope these tips help. These are just my tips, your doctor or physio may give you more advice;

– Realising life will be slow. This has by no means been easy for me. I have only been out the house a handful of times since I returned from holiday. If you can, work from home. This will limit the knocks you get and will most definitely make your life easier. But if you do need to go out, plan your journey in advance, get taxis, lifts from friends/family if you can.

– You will soon start to ache. If you can, wrap the handles of your crutches with foam or wear gloves, as this will support you on the move and stop you aching so much.

– Posture is so important. When using your crutches at the beginning, you may be more focused on being able to move as oppose to your posture. However, it is important you are upright and not hunched over when walking on your crutches. Your body will be aching as it is, you can save yourself more aches by walking as you would if you were able to. It is worth checking with your doctor/physio that your crutches are set at the right height.

– Plan your clothing. If you are going to be out and about a lot on your crutches then you may feel something practical is more appropriate. You are going to be sweaty, so layers are important. If you can, have a change of top with you in your bag.

– I am one for handbags. This is something else that needs to be given up. I used to think I could hang off my bag from the crutches handle, but I was wrong. So a bag that goes over the shoulders, or a rucksack will be a better option. I was surprised how much I carried in my bag and how quickly I was able to pack light when I had to.

– Footwear. This is another thing I found difficult to do. I started wearing flip flops as I thought it would be okay as well as thinking it was the only pair of flats I had. Flip flops are terrible as they are so easy to trip over, especially if you’re not steady on your feet. Heels are a big no no too. You’d not want to wear heels either. Flats with a good grip, or trainers are ideal footwear. But of course be weary of the weather, so choose accordingly.

– Speaking of the weather, dress accordingly. If it is raining, you won’t be able to use an umbrella, so pack a hat, cap, scarf or something with a hood. Layers are good, especially if you have a rucksack to put extra clothing in.

– Don’t be rushing. Leave plenty of time. It is easy to feel you need to be rushing, especially if walking with others. But take steps at your own pace, those walking with you can slow down. The faster you’re trying to walk, the more likely you are to cause further damage or even fall completely.

– Plan your travel. Can you get lifts from friends/family? If you need to use public transport, perhaps choose time of travel when it will be quieter. If on the bus, don’t hesitate to tell the bus driver to wait until you’re seated before s/he drives off.

– People are helpful and will notice you. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask, whether it be for a seat, a drink etc. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

I hope this helps. If you have any other tips then please feel free to share in the comments section.

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My Alternative Breakfast

As you know from previous post, I am going for acupuncture. One of the things I have been asked to look at is my diet and what I eat.

I have been a creature of habit with my breakfast. I don’t take special time out for it and nor do I eat the right kinds of food. I actually used to have a chocolate chip muffin for breakfast with my cup of tea. I have since stopped buying muffins and opted for a banana and a couple of Rich Tea biscuits. I have been told not to have so many bananas and have mostly cut them out my diet.

My breakfast now is this;

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It’s granola mixed with tropical yoghurt and strawberries and blueberries added. It looks far too healthy for what I would have. In fact, it took a little while for it to actually agree with my stomach. What I do like about it is that I could have it anytime and if try hard, it d taste like a fruit dessert. Mind you, I always thought it was wrong to mix fruit or anything healthy with something so sweet. I am slowly coming around to that idea now!

On my lazy days when I’m not so prepared, I opt for Belvita breakfast biscuits. Well, if they’re good enough for Lisa Snowdon! Come to think of it, I wonder if she does have them everyday?

If you have other healthy options I could try then please feel free to let me know.

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We all know it’s pretty tough to get up in the mornings during the autumn and winter months. Even when we have got out of bed, it takes a while, or copious shots of espresso to actually wake up. It’s dark when our alarms go off in the morning, dark when we leave work and if we’re working in the office all day, it’s easy to miss daylight all together. No wonder many suffer from SAD (seasonal affect disorder).

I need to be at my best first thing in the morning and often I may get a client call me before I have even left for work. I cannot afford for it to take me until mid-morning to feel awake. I am generally a morning person and as soon as I am out of my bed, I am awake and chirpy. But this changes slightly come the end of October when the clocks have gone back. When October comes, I bring out this little bad boy;

It’s a light box that gives the impression of daylight. This particular one is by Lumie. During autumn and winter, I have this by my bedside. When my alarm goes off, it usually takes me a while to get out of bed. Within minutes of opening my eyes, I turn on the light box whilst checking my emails and Twitter – which usually takes about 15 minutes. During these 15 minute, I get what feels like daylight in the form of a light box. All this without getting out of bed or drawing back the curtains (no doubts it’s pretty miserable if I were to draw back the curtains).

I don’t believe I suffer from SAD, however, I do believe this little light box sees me through the darker days. I usually have it in the background whilst having my breakfast and getting ready for work. I would occasionally take it to work with me, if I am still finding it hard to wake up and I’d leave it in the background, so it catches my eye but isn’t constantly in front of me.

I see a lot of moaning and just general miserableness on my Twitter feed when I read through it in the morning. I really believe this could help a lot of people and it’s a handy travel size too. If you travel a lot, it’s great for jetlag too. I have had mine for a couple of years and I rely on it wholeheartedly.

Let me know if you’ve tried it. Also, let me know what gets you through the morning.

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My acupuncure experience

Acupuncture. This word didn’t mean much to me until recently. Recently being the end of September. Now I think it is fantastic. Reason being is that yesterday I had my fifth acupuncture appointment.

Recently (for around 18 months) I have been getting ill quite a bit. I get about 4 to 5 flu like episodes a year where I am bedridden and cannot do much. Then in August, I got a kidney infection and shortly after that, I was ill again. I just put it down to being busy at work. I used to work around the clock and often until 2am and get up the following morning to do the same. I’m young, healthy and thought I could do that. However, my mother was getting worried at how regularly I was getting ill. As every time I got ill, I’d run to her to nurse me. After all, there’s nothing better than your own mother looking after you when you’re ill!

So when I got ill in September, I agreed to anything; taking it easy at work, taking vitamins and even going for acupuncture. When I got well, I forgot all about that and didn’t think it was possible for me to take it easy and as for the acupuncture, well that was the last thing I thought I would do. I didn’t know all that much about acupuncture, I just knew it involved needles. My mother and sister have had acupuncture in the past for various reasons and saw immense results from it. This is why my mother was so keen for me to go.

Anyway, good to my word, I made an appointment. I didn’t know what to expect and just asked anyone who had been about how much the needles hurt. They’d tell me it didn’t hurt and I never believed them as I thought they were telling me in order to make me go to the appointment. How can being pricked by needles not hurt?

My first appointment was scary. Scary in the sense that it really opened my eyes to the damage I was doing to my body. Andrew (my acupuncturist) told me that I was on the verge of chronic fatigue. The reason I was getting ill so often was because I needed to rest and the only time I was resting was when it forced it me to, when I’d get ill. Andrew said that if this carried on, it would get to the point where it would stop manifesting itself in the form of a fever but would get to the point where I’d not even be able to get out of bed. He mentioned he often sees these symptoms in high flyers and they’d crash and get ME (yuppie flu). This would scare anyone, if being told this. So I was advised not to work until 2am, take it a little easy and just look after myself.  I took that advice as there’s nothing more important than health and quite frankly, after that wake up call, how can I not?

I have needles in similar places each time; in my leg, on my feet and around my wrist area. I have had them on my head once, just at start of my hairline. I have never found any of them painful or sore. If I am honest, I enjoy having a 30 minute lie down during the day. When the needles are in you, you’re supposed to rest and let them get to work for around half an hour. I have tried to relax and not think about work when I allow my mind to wonder.

In all honesty, I found relaxing really difficult. I didn’t know what that was. To me it was watching TV whilst having the laptop out and catching up on work. That’s how I would relax. I couldn’t just sit there and watch TV, as I got bored with doing that. Also, us women are good at multi-tasking.

If you are considering acupuncture, let me tell you that the needles do NOT hurt. You can hardly feel them. They are so tiny. I would not have believed this until I had tried it, but honestly, take my word for it. If I felt any sort of pain, I would not have had five sessions.

My appointments aren’t just about being put needles into. Andrew checks my pulse and looks at my tongue, as this helps him assess the type of treatment I need. Apparently, by doing these two things, it’s like looking at your medical record. I was also told that there is no point me having the treatments without making the changes. These changes were more than just not working as much, but include looking at my diet and exercise. I have also been given some herbal pills to take twice a day as these will help build me up.

People constantly ask me what benefits I am seeing. In all honesty, it is probably too soon to see any real benefits. Acupuncture doesn’t do any damage and at worse it will do nothing. I do feel I have more energy in the days after my sessions. I have not got ill again but then it is too soon for that and I would only get ill when I was overworked and I have not let that happen too much.

I know every time I mention going to my acupuncture session on Twitter, I am inundated with various stories, as well as the horror stories. Like any industry, there will be the best and there will be the worse. You just need to find a good one, do your homework and like me, go with one that has been recommended.

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