Bibliotherapy: How Reading Fiction Can Help You Feel Better

Bibliotherapy: How Reading Fiction Can Help You Feel Better | The Health Sessions

 

“There are certain emotions in your body that not even your best friend can sympathize with,

but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.”

— Björk, Icelandic singer – songwriter.

 

Stories are immensely powerful.

They move us, inspire us and expose us to exciting new ideas. They let us explore the world from the comfort of our armchairs and take us on a journey inwards to uncover our deepest feelings. Our brains are literally wired for stories. Through them, we learn from other people’s experiences, remember new information better and play out potential future scenarios in our mind without doing any lasting damage. But most importantly, great stories remind us that despite our unique differences, we all face similar struggles and emotions.

When you’re sick, when you’ve lost someone you loved, when your life has fallen apart and you’re feeling lonely, lost and misunderstood, reading the right book at the right time can change your course.

That’s where bibliotherapy comes in. Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have been self-medicating with books, as a band-aid for a broken heart or an antidote to many ailments.

And for good reasons. Studies show that reading puts our brains into a meditation-like state, making it one of the most effective ways to overcome stress. Besides the obvious cognitive benefits – improved memory, vocabulary and creativity –  reading is also a rewarding emotional experience. By identifying with a story’s character, we can see our own situation from a different point of view, gain helpful insights or discover new ways to deal with our problems. 

Of course you can pick up any novel when you’re in need of a healing dose of literature. But if you really want to read fiction for therapeutic effects, it helps to choose a story that’s directly related to your own troubles or one that will most likely put your in the mood you’d like to be in.

To help you get started, I’ve listed over 23 classical reads that will lift your spirits, inspire you and help you find meaning in tough times.

Read more >Bibliotherapy: How Reading Fiction Can Help You Feel Better



Living with Lyme and POTS: Sophia Galpin on Limitations and Listening to Your Body

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 stories and tips. 

Interview with Sophia Galpin: How to Cope with Chronic Lyme Disease and POTS | The Health Sessions

 

Sophia Galpin is a food, health and lifestyle blogger battling with chronic Lyme disease and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). On her blog Spoonie Sophia, she shares her thoughts on coping with chronic illness as well as her passion for creating delicious healthy recipes.

 

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m Sophia, I am 26 and suffer from chronic Lyme disease and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Despite my illness I am a keen baker and a health/food blogger. I live in beautiful Cornwall with my boyfriend and little dachshund pup, Copper. I enjoy nothing more than little trips to the beach; feeling the sea air on my face whilst sipping a hot chocolate!

 

When did you first get sick?

I have suffered from chronic neuropathic pain from the waist down since 2008 (when I was 18). I January 2013 I started getting new symptoms including migraines, muscle pain, weakness, crippling fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, heart problems (tachycardia), and became very sick.

Read more >Living with Lyme and POTS: Sophia Galpin on Limitations and Listening to Your Body



Sink or Swim: What to Do When You’re Adrift in a Sea of Illness

Sink or Swim: What to Do When You're Adrift in the Sea of Illness | The Health Sessions

 

When you’re chronically ill, you’ll probably experience times when you feel like you’re adrift in a sea of pain, fatigue and debilitating symptoms.

In the distance, you can see people running and playing on the beach. But you’re too far out for them to hear you cry for help.

Confidently you start swimming towards the shoreline. It’s tiring and progress is slow, but you’re getting closer with every stroke.

Then, all of a sudden, an undercurrent gets you off course. You desperately try to fight it, but the pull of the water is just too strong. With every passing minute you’re drifting further out into the ocean.

Suddenly you find yourself in rough water. The waves seem to be getting higher by the minute and you’re struggling to keep your head above water. You’re cold, wet and exhausted from treading water and you start to panic. What’s happening? What should I do? How do I get out of here?

With all your might you try to push the thought of what might be hiding under the surface out of your mind.

Instead, you start pondering on solutions. Do I try to swim against the current and put all my power into peddling back to where I meant to go? Do I save my energy and drift along to wherever the wind and water takes me? Do I make a courageous attempt to dive through the oncoming waves, even though I have no clue how to do that or where I’ll end up?

 

The truth is, I don’t have the answer. Unlike the real world, there are no safety guidelines for navigating the sea of chronic illness.

 

Here’s what I do know.

Read more >Sink or Swim: What to Do When You’re Adrift in a Sea of Illness



How to Overcome Summertime Loneliness

How to Overcome Summertime Loneliness | The Health Sessions

 

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”

– Mother Theresa

 

When you think of loneliness, a bright and sunny day is probably not the first scenario that comes to mind. Long, dark winter nights seem to represent those hollow feelings inside so much better.

And yet, summer time can be a lonely season for anyone who’s not able to fully participate in the festivities during these months, like the chronically ill. Family and friends are away on vacation and caregiving facilities can be closed down for summer or short on staff. This makes getting out and about and socializing even more challenging than usual if you have limited mobility.

And it’s not just about literally being alone and not having someone to talk to and hang out with. Loneliness also refers to feeling alone, like nobody understands what you’re going through. Like Carl Jung said, “loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you“. When you have a chronic or invisible illness, being lonely is often a combination of the two, a cruel mix of social isolation and not feeling heard. Because for the people in your life it can be hard to understand why you may not be able to do seemingly relaxing things like spending a day at the beach.

And during summer, the gorgeous weather and ecstatic Facebook updates about festivals, BBQ’s and exotic holiday destinations only seem to rub your nose in the fact that you’re stuck at home, not being able to join in on the fun.

So how can you deal with loneliness? 

Read more >How to Overcome Summertime Loneliness



Parenting with Chronic Illness: How to Take Care of Your Baby and Yourself

 

Parenting with Chronic Illness: How to Take Care of Your Baby and Yourself

 

As soon as you first hold your baby in your arms, you realise that every cliché about parenthood is true: it’s one of the most joyful, love-filled yet hardest things you’ll ever do.

Taking care of a newborn round-the-clock can be overwhelming for any mum and dad, but when you have a chronic illness like MS, fibromyalgia or lupus, parenting comes with a whole extra set of challenges. Unpredictable symptoms, severe fatigue and physical limitations can pose considerable obstacles when you’re looking after a little one.

Here are 12 practical tips for taking care of your baby and yourself when you’re chronically ill.

Read more >Parenting with Chronic Illness: How to Take Care of Your Baby and Yourself