The Truth About Life After Chronic Migraines

When I began this blog a couple of years ago, my intention was to always give a true and honest representation of my journey, no matter what that may be, through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the beautiful and the damn right ugly, of which there have been many of these moments.

So with this in mind, I felt I needed to share with you the genuine truth about what happened when I finally broke free from the ‘chronic migraine curse’ and began to try and live a so-called ‘normal life’ again. Surely that was going to be the easy part in all of this, right?

Wrong! It was never going to be that simple, was it?

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Now, I want to get one thing straight before I continue, and that is how UNBELIEVABLY GRATEFUL I am to be five months migraine free! It honestly feels incredible and I feel so very blessed every day for how far I have come. Not having to live in fear anymore of an impending migraine truly gives you a new lease of life and makes you realise that anything is possible. 

However, what I want to share with you is that although I may be migraine free, life can still be a struggle sometimes. I may have just ended one journey but a new one has just begun and one that suddenly feels more daunting than the first, for some confusing reason.

Of course, we are all unique and our post migraine battles will be different but for me, mine has been three-fold:

  1. Neck and Shoulder Pain
  2. Tension Headaches
  3. Anxiety

And unfortunately, these three seem to love to work in tandem together. Anxiety causes neck and shoulder tension which therefore results in a tension headache which can then lead to feelings of anxiety. So you can see the pickle I can get myself in here.

Everyday I still have to work hard to strive to live a life free from pain but I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I WILL get there, it’s just a matter of time. After all, if there is anything that I have learnt from my chronic migraine journey it’s that your belief is everything!  

So, as much as I would like to put my feet up, order myself a mouth-watering Chinese takeaway and celebrate my success by catching up on all those glasses of red wine I have missed out on over the past four years, it is just not possible. I still have to practice self-care daily in order to keep progressing and move forward in my recovery. This routine consists of my daily Dr Joe Dispenza meditations, stretches for my tight muscles, deep belly breathing practice, good clean nutrition, occasional massage and working with a physiotherapist to get me back into exercise again.

Despite this, I wouldn’t swap it for the world. The good days have become more and more and the bad less and less and I am so grateful for where I am in my journey today.

Ofcourse I still get those days when I just want to bury myself in my duvet and have a little cry, but those days are far outweighed by the stunningly beautiful and completely magical days when I actually feel like a ‘normal’ person again with no migraine or tension headache! Yes, this actually happens more often than not now!

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In this new world, you face different challenges though. How to integrate into society but still manage your boundaries, how to fit back into a ‘normal’ routine again yet at the still time ensuring that you make time for your essential self-care musts and managing the guilt of letting friends and family down when you know you are not quite ready to take on all of the world’s challenges just yet. I’ll be honest, it’s a balance and a difficult one at that but I am getting there.

That said, I can’t explain to you in words how wonderful it feels to now be able to start rebuilding my social life again, being able to just pop out for a meal with my husband whenever we feel like it, to make exciting travel plans once again, to find a purpose and a career that I am so passionate about, but most of all, to have my freedom back. It’s truly magical and worth all the blood, sweat and tears it took me to get to this day.

So never stop fighting migraineurs, as YOU WILL get there! YOUR freedom awaits…

#Healing #ChronicMigraineFree #MyJourney #UpsAndDowns #Headaches 

 

 

 

 

The Conflicting Science Of Nutrition And How To Truly Eat Healthy

Nowadays you only have to scroll down your Facebook news feed and you will easily be greeted with an array of nutrition based articles, whether it be how to incorporate the latest superfood into your diet or a study about the harmful effects of too much red meat on the body. Whatever it is, we just cannot stop talking about what it is we should be putting into our bodies, and rightly so! Food on cellular level affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and vital organs, so of course we should be concerned.

So why is it then that one minute coconut oil is classed as a ‘health food’ and can help you burn fat and increase brain function, and in the next breath we are being told it increases your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which contributes to cardiovascular disease and heart disease? Wait a second, how can this be?

I am here to tell you that unfortunately, chances are, both could be be correct. Now bear with me here. Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the largest nutrition school in the world, IIN said “Nutrition is a funny science. It’s the only science where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right”. Hard to grasp, but it’s true. Let me give you some examples.

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Take dairy, it has been proven that yoghurt is fantastic in helping you maintain a healthy gut flora due to its probiotic qualities, yet at the same time it has also been shown to be linked to prostate cancer and heart disease. 

Here’s another. The omega three fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack, great! Yet in another breath we are advised to avoid fish such as king mackerel and bigeye tuna to minimise exposure to contaminants such as mercury. 

So faced with this contradicting science that bombards us on a daily basis, here are some of my top tips to help you navigate through the confusion.

It’s All About Balance

As we know already, too much of a good thing in life can sometimes be bad, especially in nutrition. So what we need to strive for in order to create a healthy diet is balance. For example, we all need protein (not as much as society thinks we do) but we still need it, however too much protein can cause bad breath, headaches and constipation.

Try to make sure you vary your diet with a mix of different proteins (plant and animal) such as red meat, lentils and beans, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains, sweet potato and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts.

Eat Mostly Plants

Plants are the key to vitality and health and they were put on this earth for us to consume and enjoy. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables means you are consuming plenty of essential phytonutrients which have been shown to prevent chronic illness, strengthen the immune system and to even prevent cancer. Yes, cancer!

It is also essential to vary the fruit and vegetables you are eating as you benefit from different essential vitamins and minerals from every plant. Another tip is to always try to eat what’s in season as it will taste amazing and the nutrient content will be at its highest.

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Always Choose Quality

Nowadays we are blessed with so much variety on the shelves of our supermarkets, however, sometimes this can lead to confusion as to what to buy. When purchasing meat, poultry, eggs or fresh fruit and vegetables it is always preferable to buy organic if possible.

This means that your produce will not contain any harmful antibiotics, artificial hormones, GMO’s, ionising radiation, herbicides or pesticides which all can negatively impact our health. I appreciate organic can be expensive sometimes, but it does ensure the healthiest outcome for our bodies.

The Avoid List

Now, I know nutritional studies seem to contradict each other, but they stand united in one area and that’s what not to eat! In order to ensure you are eating a healthy diet it is essential to eliminate the following; All processed foods, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and harmful fats such as trans fats. 

Now I know you don’t want to hear it but the reality is that burgers, french fries, sodas, pizza, sweets, cakes, biscuits and baked goods are never going to be healthy. So if you truly want to adopt a healthy diet then do your best to cut out these nasties, as these foods are one of the main reasons that we have seen such a rapid rise in chronic illnesses and obesity in our society today.

Respect Bio-individuality

As much as one person will tell you dairy helps their gut, there will be several others that disagree with you and tell you that it causes them no end of issues. That’s because we are all unique and news flash, there is actually no perfect diet! Yes, it’s true, only a diet that suits you.

Some people may thrive on a diet including animal products and others will benefit from a more plant-based approach. As a Health Coach, I advocate bio-individuality and this simply means that no one diet fits all. One man’s food is another man’s poison so the key is to truly listen to your body and find out what works best for you.

 #Nutrition #HealthCoach #Diet #Health #Food #CleanEating 

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How To Take Control Of Your Migraines With Deep Belly Breathing

Did you know that breathing is the new Botox in the migraine world? Yes, it’s true.

Something as simple as a bodily function has the power to mitigate depression, anxiety and stress, all of which are commonly a result of suffering with chronic migraines and in turn only make suffering with migraines so much worse.

Meditation using diaphragmatic breathing has also been shown to even improve cell health, balance hormones levels and even reduce blood pressure and it’s something that we all have the power to access, we just have to learn how.

 

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How Can This Help My Migraines Then?

In order to explain to you how this can help you, I need to delve into the science behind it first but trust me it’s actually super interesting. So here we go.

Our nervous system is broken down into several different parts but what we are going to focus on today is two areas:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
  2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)

The sympathetic nervous system is connected with our ‘flight or fight’ response which I am sure you have heard of before. This was initially installed in us to protect us from that lion that was trying to eat us millions of years ago. However, our body is also designed to ‘rest and digest’, activating our parasympathetic nervous system after the threat has disappeared and the lion is no longer present.

Unfortunately nowadays, relaxation doesn’t happen anymore and we are all running around in panic mode and chronically stressed, either waiting for that lion (or in our case that migraine) that’s lurking around the corner. Now I know from personal experience, when my migraines were at their worst I spent all of my time in the SNS, ‘fight or flight’ mode’, on edge, living in constant fear of another attack.

However when I started to meditate and just breathe through my migraines and the pain, the miraculous used to happen. They would calm, my pain would begin to lessen and without question the duration of the migraine would reduce and until this day I never really knew the reason why this happened, but now I do. I was switching my body from ‘flight or fight’ to my ‘rest and digest’ system without even knowing it. God I wish someone had told me how powerful meditation using deep belly breathing was when I was super sick but hey, now I’m telling you so that’s all that matters.

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So Why Is Being In The ‘Rest and Digest’ System So Important?

Without returning to the ‘rest and digest’ system, with the extended release of stress hormones in your body it lowers your immunity, makes you more susceptible to illness (more migraines) and means that your body is never able to heal, restore and repair. Deep belly breathing can also reduce tension in the neck and the shoulders which again, I am sure most people can relate to when suffering from a migraine.

How Do I Practice This Then? 

Right, so find a comfortable, quiet space where you will not be disturbed, ideally sitting upright on a chair or a bed. My top tip is do not lie down otherwise there is a very high chance you will fall asleep. Happens to me every time!

Place your hands on your belly, thumbs touching on the navel and connecting your index fingers together so that you are making a heart shape with your hands.

On the inhale your belly will expand as you fill your diaphragm with air which will push your hands outwards and away from your body. Try to do this slowly and to the count of five in your head, hold for a second at the top and then exhale contracting your diaphragm and releasing the air out through the mouth and the hands should fall back towards your body again.

Simple, right? 

Personally I find doing this whilst listening to some calming music such as the sound of waves washing up onto the shore makes this even more powerful.

Now check you out! You’re now a qualified mindfulness and meditation guru!

I honestly don’t believe I would be here today, over 4 months migraine free without learning to breathe and by finding some calm in my pain. This was a game changer for me and I know it can be for you too.

#DeepBreathing #Mindfulness #Health #Meditation #Healing