FEELING BETTER? – MY PERSONAL RECIPE FOR RECOVERY
By Fiona Worthington (Cognitive Behavioural Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Mindfulness Teacher)
I was unwell at the same time as one of my closest friends. Whenever he noticed a speck of improvement, he would leap up, dash about working or cleaning. I thought he was completely mad. He would push himself hard, but then crash. If there is one tip in all this, please take it easy. It has taken me a while to recover. Each day I improve, each day I can do more, and I am gradually feeling better. Give yourself time and space to get better. Coronavirus is a severe respiratory infection.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
It will tell you when it is up to doing things. After I finished isolation, my family were at me to get up and watch TV with them. They were worried I might be lonely. I did appreciate this, but my bedroom was the best place for me. I felt safe and happy there. It took a while for me to shuffle downstairs to join them, but I knew when the time was right.
EXERCISE WHEN YOU ARE READY
I have played tennis 3-4 times a week for years, but when ill I was struggling to get up and down the stairs. I was so out of breath. Build your exercise back gently and slowly. Maybe start with some short walks and then gradually extend them. Now I am able to hit the park and walk the dog, and have begun some free online workouts with Joe Wicks. I have also restarted yoga online with Cherie at Yoga Mama Wellness. All very basic beginner stuff, but I am at least moving and it has been great for boosting my confidence and my mood.
GET PLENTY OF REST
If you feel the need to sleep, then accept it. Sleep is one of our body’s ways of repairing itself. When the body is fighting off an infection, it needs all the resources it can get. If you are pushing yourself too hard too soon, then you’re not giving your immune system a chance to get what it needs to recover.
I practice and teach mindfulness. Having this in my toolbox was so helpful. I did though struggle with long meditations. Being ill I found it testing to concentrate. I couldn’t watch TV or read a book, so a 30-minute meditation was a touch overwhelming. But shorter ones, a few minutes at a time, were a good place to build from and really helped my sense of well-being. The first book that I read on Mindfulness was “Peace in a Frantic World” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to know more. Their website, www.franticworld.com, is a mine of information and free content including loads of meditations.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Our bodies are made up of more than 60 percent water. Drinking it maintains the balance of body fluids. It’s vital for it to function properly. Hydration is so important. Water keeps us regular and flushes away toxins and waste. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are recovering, drink plenty.
EAT WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for rebuilding your immune system and keeping yourself hydrated. Maybe go easy on the booze though. I did find that I was craving funny things I don’t normally want. I was eating more carbs, maybe because I was feeling a little low and they give us a happy boost. I had a strong desire for fruit pastilles and apple juice. Eat well but allow yourself some delicious treats, that diet can come later.
HOUSEWORK CAN WAIT
I do love a tidy house. I drive my kids and husband crazy with perfectly placed cushions that no-one is allowed to sit on ever… not even the cat! My OCD traits have, though, had to wait. Your home is a refuge. It shouldn’t be a source of stress. So don’t worry if the place is a tip. It’s okay… Give yourself permission to let it go. Quentin Crisp (actor, raconteur and total non-conformist) said “After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”
CHORES AND ADMIN
The morning is the best time to do jobs, when we have the most energy. Perhaps break down your tasks into manageable pieces. Do things in bite size pieces. Sort out one cupboard, rather than the whole kitchen. There is always tomorrow to finish. I found that during recovery I was wiped out after lunch. I used the afternoon to rest, to meditate, read or listen to podcasts. My guilty pleasure was that, between 2 and 3pm, I could be found curled up on the sofa watching the chef James Martin’s “Islands to Highlands” tour of the British Isles. Delicious comfort fodder and it is still on!
WATCH FUNNY TV
TV is great to rest or doze off to. I suggest nothing too grim. I focused on things that made me laugh, I like the endorphin hit. Laughing relaxes us and it can relieve physical tension and stress. It also helps our immune system by boosting antibody-producing cells. So, thank you “Friends” and “Would I Lie To You?”. You have helped me feel well again.
EMAILS CAN WAIT
As I got better, I would have a quick scan to check there wasn’t anything too scary, but for the most part I left them unchecked. They can wait. Remember, if you reply, people will think you’re back.
Keep in-touch with friends and family through whatever social means takes your fancy. Personally, I liked using a phone. I had wonderful messages of kindness and support and calls from friends and family. I was also comforted and reassured by the friends who were going through the same thing. I believe there is a connection that comes from shared experiences and, out of that, a sense of safety. The Longest study on Adult Development by Harvard, now into its 83rd year, shows that “good, warm relationships – with family and friends, work colleagues and those who deliver our mail – are the best predictors of who will be happy and healthy as they go through life.” So, pick up the phone.
LIMIT NEWS BULLETINS
This virus has affected every single person in the world. In this world of 24-hour news, it’s so easy to constantly scroll and watch the updates unfold minute by minute. However, this is not necessarily helpful to our well-being. Check in once a day (or twice if you have to), perhaps in the morning and evening, but stick to the proper news channels. There is so much fake stuff out there. The more news you watch the more anxiety provoking it can be.
Blog post written by Fiona Worthington. Cognitive Behavioural Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Mindfulness teacher at the Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy. Visit her website at www.fionaworthington.uk.com. For enquiries, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07990 514804.