8 Genuine Ways to Practice Gratitude When You Don't Feel Like It| The Health Sessions

8 Genuine Ways to Practice Gratitude When You Don’t Feel Like It

Do you secretly swear internally when someone cheerfully tells you you have so much to be thankful for?

When you’re going through dark times, practicing gratitude can feel more like a mandatory exercise than a genuine act. I mean, when you suffer excruciating pain every day, struggle to make ends meet or are grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s hard to feel grateful for the things that are going well.

And yet, that’s exactly what happiness research tells you to do. Study after study shows that gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to feel happier. Being thankful improves your mental health, boosts your resilience and helps you cope better with everyday stress.

“It’s not that happy people are grateful, it’s that grateful people are happier.” – Erik Barker

But how do you cultivate gratitude when you feel sick, sad, disconnected or cheated on by life?

Don’t just go through the motions. True thankfulness goes deeper than rattling off a list of things you know you’re supposed to feel grateful for, like having a roof over your head and food on the table. Practicing gratitude shouldn’t be a chore. You can only tap into a deeper experience of gratefulness when you sincerely like to make your life – and that of the people around you – better.

Here’s how you can feel thankful for the good things in life, even when life is hard. 

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Tripping Through Treacle: Jenny Clarkson on Living with MS | The Health Sessions

Tripping Through Treacle: Jenny Clarkson on Living with MS

What’s it really like to live with chronic illness every day? How do you deal with the physical symptoms, emotional turmoil and practical problems? In this interview series, real life ‘spoonies’ share their experiences and tips.

Jenny Clarkson is a 30-something speech and language therapist from Lincolnshire, England. On her blog Tripping Through Treacle, she shares her story about stumbling through life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Jenny, a 39-year old mother of two who loves reading, music, films, food and crochet. I live with my husband and kids in Lincolnshire, UK and work 3 days a week as a paediatric speech and language therapist. I also have Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS). MS is a chronic disease of the nervous system, where nerves become damaged and unable to transmit messages successfully. Unfortunately, there is no cure and I have my down days, but on the whole I try and stay positive and am so grateful for all that I do have. I blog about living with MS at www.trippingthroughtreacle.com.

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Beyond Bubble Baths: What Self-Care Means When You're Chronically Ill | The Health Sessions

Beyond Bubble Baths: What Self-Care Means When You’re Chronically Ill

It’s the buzz word of the year: self-care.

You’ve probably seen the articles about why self-care isn’t selfish and the lists of activities you can do to look after yourself. The stories invoke images of massages and spa days, sipping vibrant veggie juices in trendy yoga outfits and snugging up with a blanket and a book in front of the fireplace.

But when you’re energy and mobility are limited, self-care becomes a lot less glamorous than the picture painted in magazines and lifestyle blogs. Chronic illness can turn even the most basic forms of self-care, like taking a shower and cooking a meal, into a challenge.

At the same time, our health care systems put a growing emphasis on individuals taking control over their own health and actively managing their illness. We’re expected to eat healthily, exercise, get enough sleep and think positively, or seek professional help whenever we can’t.

Of course that’s a good thing. It’s your body and your life, and ultimately you’re the one who has to take action to make the most of whatever situation you’re given. But how can you do that when you feel sick, exhausted and in pain?

Let’s look into what it really means to practice self-care with chronic illness. 

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Curb Your Cravings: 6 Steps to Resisting Sweet Temptations | The Health Sessions

Curb Your Cravings: 6 Steps to Resisting Sweet Temptations

This past year I’ve been having cravings – strong, insatiable cravings.

During my pregnancy, my stomach became a bottomless pit, constantly demanding energy to grow my baby. It only got worse after our son was born. I was burning so many calories from the nonstop nursing and sleep deprivation. With no time or energy to make a healthy snack, I just grabbed whatever I could get my hands on: cookies, granola bars, even pastry and desserts.

All that sugar only left me wanting more. Because unlike natural sugars in fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains, refined sugar contains no vitamins, enzymes and fibres that help to release sugars more slowly into the bloodstream. Instead, it’s just ‘empty calories’ – pure energy that cause a spike in your metabolism, followed by a crash. This quick change in blood sugar levels leaves you feeling tired, cranky and craving more sweets to get another sugar ‘high’.

And we all know that too much sugar wreaks havoc on our health.

Of course I’ve been meaning to curb my cravings. But there always seemed to be a plausible reason to treat myself “just this once”, whether it was a birthday, special celebration or a get together with friends. I’ve gotten used to automatically (albeit enjoyably!) eating the temptations right in front of me again and simply ‘forgot’ about healthier options.

But I need every ounce of energy to keep up with my kids, work and home life, so it’s time to get control over my snacking habits again.

Do you want to curb your cravings and cut down on sugar too? Here’s the plan.

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How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness

A year ago I wrote a blog post about why acceptance is not the same as giving up. Facing today’s reality doesn’t mean you give up hope for tomorrow. It just means you make the best of the given situation in this moment, instead of trying to change something that cannot be changed right now.

But the question remains: how do you start accepting that you’re chronically ill and may never get fully better again? How do you wrap your mind around the fact that your body, your life, your future are forever changed?

It’s a cliche, but acceptance takes time. It’s a gradual process that has its ups and downs. Emotions may stir up (again) when you enter a new phase in life or a new stage of your illness.

In his bestselling book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra writes:

‘Acceptance simply means that you make a commitment: “Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” (…) You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.(…) Having accepted this circumstance, this event, this problem, responsibility then means the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now.’

Accepting chronic illness goes hand in hand with coping; learning how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings. It’s also about partly letting go of the person you thought you were and the life you had envisioned, and make the best of the new reality you’re handed.

How do you do that? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some psychological strategies to help you.

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