Mindfulness: Music Meditation

Something a little different this week. We’re going to meditate to classical music. Staying present and mindful, see what you notice, how you feel, and just let yourself stay with the music. Music has many of the same benefits as meditation does, regardless of genre. Combining the two seemed like a natural thing to do.

For those who would like to know the first song if Fur Elise (WoO 59) by Ludwig van Beethoven. The second song is Tarantella (from Studies, Op. 100, No. 20) by Johann Friedrich Burgmuller.

For more on the benefits of music for mental health, check out the episode of Chronically Living – Collecting Chronic Illnesses – where my guest performs for us, and also explains the powerful effects of music on the mind and body. Link to Apple Podcasts below. It’s also available on Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts. If you like Marisa’s performance, then give us both a shoutout in the reviews!

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/chronically-living-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it/id1521945719?i=1000493598325

Convos and Massages

I can never express enough how beneficial I find getting a massage. For someone who has all over body pain, spending 45, 60 or in today’s case, 90 minutes having a RMT deep tissues massage you can completely change how your body feels. Normally, I have a massage very 2 months, for 45 minutes to an hour. Because of Covid, I haven’t had a massage since February. I also normally feel good but sore after a massage. Today I just feel amazing. My body needed it, and needed it more than I could imagine. Luckily, I have insurance that covers it. If I didn’t, I know I would find a way to work it into my budget. Finding an amazing RMT is also something I can’t emphasize enough. I told mine about my hip tear, explained what type of tear it was and how it was giving me referred pain in my leg. She not only worked the hip and the thigh, but made them feel so much better. I know it’s a bandaid of sorts but sometimes that is enough to get you through, when you have chronic pain (or rather I should say ME because I can’t speak for everyone).

bannerImage from: https://www.wellness-within.ca/massage-st-albert

I also always have interesting conversations with my RMT. I know some people like to go and just chill and relax and not talk at all during their services. I get that, and I’ve been like that. I do strongly believe in relaxation and relaxation techniques. However, my RMT is hilarious, engaging, and a great conversationalist. So, I know that when I go for a massage, we will talk the whole time and it will be about very diverse topics. We covered a lot in our 90 minutes today. From systemic racism in the police force and amongst white people in general, to anti-maskers, to Hamilton as seen on Disney+, to the Netflix documentary disclosure and how trans actors should be cast in trans roles. (There were a lot of other subjects by the way, but I feel like this gives you a general picture).

download-1Image from: https://rogersmovienation.com/2020/06/25/documentary-review-disclosure-charts-the-evolution-of-trans-representation-on-film-and-tv/

What I’ve found is that because she’s intelligent and does research, we have these amazing intellectual conversations that are good for both of our minds. I’ve been talking a lot of about self-care in school. I’m taking a group counselling course in my master’s program. Last week, a partner and I ran a group on self-care for a few of our classmates, and this week one of the group’s I’m participating in is on self-care. One of the aspects of self-care that can easily be overlooked is the psychological. We need to engage our minds, whether through reading or good conversation, in things that we don’t normally engage in. It helps with our overall well-being. Reading, writing, watching a documentary, going to therapy, or having these types of conversations can fuel your mind, taking care of it. So, we can say that today I have already done some physical and mental/psychological self-care and it’s only 1pm.

imagesImage from: https://bccampus.ca/2020/06/18/why-self-care-isnt-selfish-caring-for-yourself-during-covid-19/

If you’re looking at increasing your self-care, look at these different areas:

Physical – healthy eating, taking your medications and going to appointments, exercise, massages, physical intimacy with your partner.
Psychological – listed in the previous paragraph!
Emotional – hobbies, pets, social activism, volunteering, being in tune with your emotions
Spiritual – mediation, yoga, forgiveness, church, being in nature.
Personal – setting goals, family time, reading, learning something new, spending time with friends
Professional – not taking work home with you, taking appropriate breaks, taking mental health days, taking vacation time, setting boundaries

Reference:
https://crmhs.org/mental-health-self-care-2/

Fighting off Depression for Chronic Illness and Non-Chronic Illness Warriors

I want to talk a bit about mental health today. A lot of people with chronic illness deal with depression and anxiety. During this Covid-19 post-lockdown period, a number of previously mentally healthy people have been also dealing with feelings of anxiety and depression because of their time in isolation and the different experiences this may have brought for them. While there are many different reasons for people to become depressed, there are some proven ways to combat it. The way I’d like to talk about today is behavioral activation.

behavioral_activation_fig2_what_is_behavioral_activation_en-us
Image from: https://www.psychologytools.com/self-help/behavioral-activation/

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently doing my a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. Last month I took a course on Cognitive Behavioral interventions. Though I am not planning on specializing in CBT, I do find that a lot of the empirically supported interventions are worth integrating into my future practice. Anyway, I’ll digress. What is behavioral activation? BA is an intervention that suggests that doing something you enjoy and/or are masterful at and/or provides social interaction, will decrease your depressive symptoms and ultimately make you feel happy. Before you start to laugh, as I have mentioned, there is a lot of evidence (which I’ll link below) that supports this treatment for depression, including severe depression. If you find you’re feeling more depressed at a certain time of day, that is when you should schedule activities for. Remember, they need to be something you enjoy (or previously enjoyed before depression) or something you’re good at. So, for example, if from 3-5pm every day you feel really depressed, but you like to be outside and walk, then that’s the time you should do it.

behavioral_activation_fig3_activity_monitoring_1_en-usImage from: https://www.psychologytools.com/self-help/behavioral-activation/

Here’s something I noticed during lockdown. Most of the people I know who sat at home and did nothing – just watched Netflix all day or played video games – felt depressed. I volunteer at a crisis text line and a lot of the texters felt the same way by just doing those things – movies and video games. Now, I have nothing against movies and video games and they can be things you enjoy, but not necessarily when it’s all you do all day every day. Those of us who kept busy (I studied, exercised, meditated, did my 30-day self-care challenge, walked, learned a new language, etc, etc.) did not feel depressed. Kind of interesting isn’t it?

P0Y5qqmIQzKLJzosqFb3qwLockdown era city hike.

My suggestion is that if you’re feeling depressed, try to start scheduling some activities for yourself, or now that lockdown is winding down, start to see some of your friends again. If you’re severely depressed, I do suggest finding a therapist to help you as well, but don’t be surprised if one of the things they suggest is behavioral activation! Of course, for anyone with a chronic illness, we may not be able to do ALL of the things we could before, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you enjoy or are good at. Take a look at what you can do and go from there.

canadadayHappy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!
Image from: https://www.albertaprimetimes.com/the-bright-side/canada-day-2020-20-facts-and-figures-to-celebrate-the-big-day-2527866

Here are some articles surrounding the efficacy of it.

https://www.verywellmind.com/increasing-the-effectiveness-of-behavioral-activation-2797597

https://positivepsychology.com/behavioural-activation-therapy-treating-depression/

https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/172/17220620045.pdf

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ba12/5cb76b3baa12cc272d9c9bb95e3297eeee83.pdf

Staying Safe During Reopening

I know that with reopening having begun in many places, it’s easy to get the feeling that the pandemic is over and things are getting back to normal. I think what we need to keep in mind is that the pandemic is not over, and may not be over until a vaccine is available, as that is what the researchers are saying at this point. So, as Spoonies and Warriors, we need to make sure we are taking extra good care of ourselves during this time. As I mentioned with my post last week, we may be more susceptible to contracting Covid-19 (and even death) due to our illnesses and medications we normally take.

re-opening-webImage from: https://www.chatham-kent.ca/EconomicDevelopment/covid-19-business-resources/re-opening-and-safety

I was called back into work this week after being on furlough for 2 1/2 months. As far as the staying safe part of back to work goes, there were things I was and wasn’t impressed with. I was impressed that most customers came in with a mask on (and some with gloves so they didn’t have to touch the pinpads with their hands), and that the company provided all workers masks and a few plexi glass screens to keep distance between us and customers upon check out. What I wasn’t impressed with is the ratio in which customers are allowed in the story – it was too busy for the amount of staff, and I was never without a lineup at the front (I was the only person scheduled for returns/exchanges AND transactions for the day). As a result (and probably because I haven’t spent that long standing in awhile) I noticed increased hip pain and decreased mobility in my left hip today.

exR6i3ULStC+sUTdg9vliALook it’s me! Back at work!

Beyond any expectations of the work you are doing if you are called back, there are a few other things to keep in mind. We need to continue with safety protocols such as frequent and proper hand washing (and sanitizing between when you can’t wash as often), social distancing, and personally, I think still trying to remain at home as often as possible. Take care of yourself, because ultimately your health is most important. And until there is a vaccine on the market and Covid-19 isn’t something we reasonably have to worry about anymore, we need to make sure we are staying safe.

downloadFollow the link for the CDC’s hand washing guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

 

One final thought of the week, as I reflect on what’s happening both in my own city and to my American neighbours south of me:

images

Hydroxychloroquine & Covid-19 Deaths…What Does it Mean for Us?

As many of you probably recall, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, both of which are antimalarials and often used in the treatment of lupus/SLE were being tested a few months ago as a potential treatment for Covid-19. US President Trump of course quickly jumped on this bandwagon proclaiming that it was a “game-changer.” This was said, of course, as testing was being started, not because of results of testing that had finished. As a result, I remember seeing many Spoonies, particularly those with lupus panicking because they couldn’t get their medications as quickly. And to be honest, I quickly went and refilled my own prescription. Though I’m only borderline for lupus, my rheumatologist kept me on the drug as it seems to have helped my symptoms over the past few years.

Now, results of the first study have been reported in the medical journal The Lancet. And those results aren’t exactly great… Of those patients who received hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine as a treatment, many of them ended up with heart problems and died as a result. So my question is, what does that mean for those of us who are regularly prescribed these meds? As North America starts to open up again (too soon here in Ontario given our daily cases, and WAAAAY too soon in the States given that they haven’t come close to flattening the curve, does that put myself and everyone else at a higher risk of death if we do get Covid-19?

IMG_7081 2Good thing I stocked up… bad thing it could be dangerous.

Unfortunately from what I read in news articles, I couldn’t find an answer. And no, I haven’t read the study itself in The Lancet (I can only read so many journal articles in a week and I have to read a lot of them for school), so I don’t have an answer. It does make me weary though. I didn’t want to get Covid-19 in the first place, but now I’m feeling more apprehensive about it. I’m very curious how my other Spoonies/Warriors are feeling about all of this and what precautions everyone is taking. Last week I was told to expect to be back at work in the next 2-3 weeks, and I work with the public. And while my company is providing masks to employees, we already know that is just to protect others, and masks don’t actually protect us, which means I have to trust the public to come in with masks as well (based on what I’ve seen, I don’t trust most people). At the same time, as a furloughed employee, I have to return to work when called in. Quite the predicament.

downloadImage from: https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/acts/2020/05/read-my-lips-coworkers-create-clear-masks-for-hearing-impaired-manager-of-lehigh-valley-best-buy.html

Here is the link to a news article from the Washington Post about it:

Washington Post: Hydroxychloroquine Study

I’m hoping more information comes in about hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19, and what the hell that means for us. I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on all of this, so please leave a comment, send an email (janeversuspain@gmail.com) or DM me on instagram (@janeversuspain). Stay safe.