MY LIFE: 5 ways I keep cool in the summer

MY LIFE: 5 ways I keep cool in the summer

Anyone with a chronic illness knows a common symptom is the “constant fever” and inability to regulate your own temperature. So while we suffer in the cold, the summer isn’t always a picnic either. What to do to ward off a flare because of the heat?

Here’s what I use/do:

  1. A cooling towel – This is the one I use. It’s only $7.99 (at time of post publication) and it works quite well. Especially at night, I’ll put it on the parts of me I just can’t cool down enough to sleep. I rarely have to re-wet it, but if I do, it’s no biggie. Just run it under cold water, wring out, and voila! I most often put it around the back of my neck, on my forearms, and on my lower legs/feet, but your mileage may vary.
  2. Drinking enough – Nothing complicates heat problems faster than being dehydrated. I drink water – infused or just plain, Bai5, Diet Raspberry Snapple, and, I admit, Pepsi. I know, I know. Caffeine and sugar: bad. But I’ve got bigger fish to fry than beating myself up for drinking a Pepsi every day or two.
  3. Ceiling fan – Worth its weight in gold. If nothing else, it keeps the air moving, which seems to help keep me cooler. I actually use mine year-round since I’m so hot in bed no matter the season.
  4. Keep using my crockpot – For some reason, many people equate the crockpot with winter, but it’s a godsend in the summer since it doesn’t heat up your kitchen. We all know crockpot cooking rocks – it’s so easy, and if you’re wilting in the summer heat, pull out your crockpot rather than using your range.
  5. Loose, breathable clothing – I wear a lot of capris and sundresses in the summer. If I’m inside, alone, I often wear only a long t-shirt. Why wear more than I have to if no one is going to see me anyway?

This is a very basic list. There are lots of other things you can try – cooling pillows, portable fans, bandanas, and more. What do you use? Tell me in the comments!

MY LIFE: Living in pain and how I do it

MY LIFE: Living in pain and how I do it

Everyone has special things they find helpful when they have really bad days, and chronic illness warriors are no different, except that we have more bad days. So how do I and others survive? Several ways…with a hat tip to Chronic Mom.

Heating Pad

My heating pad is practically my best friend. Even in the middle of the summer heat I’m still attached to it. I have tried every brand of heating pad imaginable because they rarely last me more than three or four months. So far the best one I’ve found is a Sunbeam king-sized pad, which I reviewed here.

The plug comes out on occasion which really annoys me, but it doesn’t have a cover that falls off all the time, and it’s lasted the longest out of all the ones I’ve tried. Its size makes it easy for me to soothe more than one area at a time, too, which is a huge bonus.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salt baths are my lifeline. I initially didn’t believe they did anything because there is very little science behind the idea. When my muscles are really sore it helps to soak in a hot bath with epsom salts by Dr Teals and baking soda (for detox purposes). It doesn’t fix everything, but it does seem to reduce the muscle pain.

Pillows

At the moment I sleep with three pillows, one for my head, one for my arms so I don’t curl up into myself too much, and one for my legs. I’d like one of those cooling pillows, but it remains on my wish list for now.

Snacks

My husband bought me two of these fabric containers to contain the snacks I keep in my bedroom. Even when I feel really crappy, I can roll over there and pluck out something to eat. We all know the dual problem of nausea from not eating and then nausea from eating, but we also know we have to keep eating.

In order to make sure I have good snacks, I keep things like Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed crackers (review here), Planter’s cashews, Bai5 flavored water and my favorite chocolate, for when I really can’t face anything else.

Roku

Roku has been a lifesaver. We have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and a couple of other channels, and that’s all I need. On days when I feel crummy, I can either turn on an old favorite like Pride and Prejudice or Clueless, or find a new show to binge watch. I did a review of Roku here if you’re interested.

What are your favorite things to keep you going when you’re having a tough time? Tell me in the comments!

 

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Self-care Sunday – what is it?

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Self-care Sunday – what is it?

Photo by Sacha Chua, Creative Commons, used with permission

Have you heard of the term Self-Care Sunday? I hadn’t until recently, but I love the idea. I could explain what it is, but this blog post does such a great job, I’ve copied some of it below for you.

35 Self-Care Tips For People With Chronic Illness

  • Asking for help is ok!  (My family knows how strong willed I am so they don’t want to offend me by doing things for me and many times (ok basically all of the time) when they offer to help me I say ‘no’. Then on the off chance I ask for help, or accept someone’s offer to help I feel so relieved, and things get done (dishes, laundry, a night to myself because someone is babysitting) and it makes the person helping me feel good too!)” (Brittany)
  • “Make a check list for basic self care.  If you’re feeling bad and can’t figure out why, a checklist helps get all the basics accomplished and then you’ll start to feel more clear headed (Have I eaten?  Have I had water?  Have I showered?  Am I wearing clean clothes?  Etc.  It seems like basic stuff to the able bodied and minded but sometimes it’s not so easy for us.)” (Currie Lee)
  • “Make a self-care basket. This way when you really need to take a moment to yourself EVERYTHING will be in one place.” (Yvonne)
  • Talk to someone about how you feel. (I go months at a time fighting this fight on my own, trying to be strong for everyone around me. Put a smile on and fight through the pain. I have a background in psychology so I think that I can handle the feelings and emotions on my own. WRONG! I’ve been to counseling (for other issues, but my health did come up) and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. When I get to a breaking point I talk to my husband about how angry or frustrated or guilty I feel and though he can’t fix the physical pain, just his understanding and reassurance lift a huge weight off my shoulders and make me feel not so alone and very very loved.)” (Brittany)
  • “Forgive your body for disappointing you sometimes. You did nothing to deserve to hurt. Don’t punish yourself for perceived failures. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.” (Kitty)
  • “Give yourself grace and/or meet yourself where you are… the amount of time you have for self-care might be small or the amount of time you can stand to do it even, but you have to know that and meet yourself where you are and relax properly.” (Yvonne)
  • Small accomplishments are BIG Victories!  (I used to set ridiculous expectations for myself. Take care of a one year old monster who gets into literally EVERYTHING, keep the house spotless, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, run all of the errands, while working three days a week and spending every weekend with extended family running here and going there. At the end of the day I’d look around at the clutter and dishes and laundry and realize I had accomplished NOTHING. I would feel so useless and depressed and convinced myself I was a failure. My counselor helped me realize I was being totally unrealistic with my expectations. Now, I make a smaller more realistic list and if I accomplish one thing on that list it’s been a good day. It could be as small as ‘unload the dishwasher’ or ‘take a shower’. I am very okay with that now.” (Brittany)
  • “Accept you are who you are. Your illness might get better but it might not. Working with yourself where you are is the first start.” (Cody)
  • “Sex and/or masturbation are healthy, valid forms of self-care. There is a lot of sex-negativity that people with chronic illnesses face. There is the notion that because we are chronically ill, the last thing on our minds should be our sexuality and that we should not waste our very limited energy on sex or masturbation. We need to fight this sex-negativity and assert our right to be sexual beings.” (Erica)
  • Go outside and breathe even if it is for two minutes. Suns and air are healing.” (Kafi)
  • “Allow yourself to use the Internet without guilt. I’ve found that a lot of people with chronic illnesses (and especially those of us who cannot work) use the Internet more than the average person. And that is okay! Don’t feel guilty about your Internet usage.” (Erica)
  • “I would advise anyone with a chronic illness to build a support network. Don’t be ashamed to ask for that help. You don’t have to do it alone.” (Kitty)
  • “Sometimes you have to allow yourself the easiest solution even if you’ve promised yourself you would stop (i.e. sometimes all I have to eat is bread and I can’t leave the house, even though gluten occasionally makes me feel sicker, I eat it anyway because it’s better than wasting away on my bed being hungry.)” (Currie Lee)
  • “Have a self-care plan. Know that self-care doesn’t have to take a long time. You can do something in three minutes or you can take an hour. A self-care plan will help you look at what you can do in the time you have.” (Yvonne)
  • Find doctors or specialists you trust. Of course, there are certain limitations to this because of insurance plans, but finding someone you’re comfortable with can make a huge difference in treatment, especially if you have to see somebody on a regular basis. If you don’t fully trust your doctor or if you don’t think their approach to your treatment is a good match for you, find somebody else! If you can’t communicate openly with your doctor, they might not be able to provide you with the care you need. Self-advocacy is a huge part of self-care in my opinion.” (Kaitlyn)
  • Acknowledge the body you have instead of mourning the body you had.” (Kafi)

Self-Care For People With Chronic Illness | Uncustomary

  • Do what you can when you can. I tend to get discouraged when I set out to do something only to get shut down by pain. I push myself to try but also accept the things my body is telling me. Some days I might want to go for a long walk, or clean the house, or go out with friends but my body isn’t up to it. I do as much as I can and rest when my body tells me I need to.” (Kaitlyn)
  • “Find the right health care professional and use them. (I went through five OB/GYNs before finding one who took me seriously. I tried everything the others recommended and when I said I was still in pain they scratched their heads or gave me more birth control or told me to “just have a baby”. I have finally found a doctor that has been proactive in my treatment. He has uncovered several conditions we all thought were the cause of the pain and he treated each one aggressively and effectively. Though I know something is still not right as I’m still in pain he has not ignored my cries for help. He continues to give me options and takes my personal life and choices into account until the inevitable hysterectomy will  “cure” me once and for all.) Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor something isn’t right, pursue them until they fix it, or find a new doctor!” (Brittany)
  • “It sounds simple, but when my body is hurting my favorite thing to do is to put on fuzzy fleece pajama pants, super soft socks, and a comfy shirt. It actually takes a good deal of pressure off of my body (and my mind) when I’m not wearing tight jeans or uncomfortable shoes. Comfy pajamas can fix pretty much everything.” (Kaitlyn)
  • Communicate. You have to tell your friends and family what you need or else they won’t be able to help you get that time.” (Yvonne)
  • “Don’t be afraid to spend extra money on something if it is going to make your life easier.” (Currie Lee)
  • “Something I always tell myself and taken as my life motto “Take one day (and sometimes one moment) at a time”. Living with chronic illness means that you’re going to have really bad days. Once accepting those days, I think learning to practice different self-care ways as the days come could be very valuable.” (Cody)
  • “Stick to a routine. Getting enough sleep is a key factor in managing my pain. Since I also have disordered sleep, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day is the best way to ensure I get enough. Keeping a routine also helps me notice patterns with my symptoms like what time of day they tend to be particularly bad or what specific activities or situations make them worse. Third bonus: it’s easier to remember if you’ve taken daily medications if you do it at the same time every day.” (Kaitlyn)
  • “Learn to measure your energy in increments and treat your energy like currency. When performing a task or engaging in something, always always ask yourself, ‘Can I afford this?”” (Kafi)
  • “Share your story. Not only will this help you mentally by getting your thoughts and feelings out, you may help others too. Someone may be suffering from the same condition but they’ve been afraid to talk about it before, or they may not even have a diagnosis if they haven’t brought it up with their doctor. You could discover someone you already know has a similar condition and find support there or create new friendships through existing support groups. Spread the word and spread your knowledge! Someone could benefit from your experience and you may benefit from others’.” (Brittany)
  • “Remind yourself your body is still amazing. Chronic illness or no, your body deserves to be pampered every now and then. Get a massage, take a bubble bath, buy some fancy smelling lotion. All the usual self-care tips still apply.” (Kaitlyn)
  • “Find a community. We all deserve to feel a sense of community. Because many people with chronic illnesses cannot leave the house much, our sense of community is often limited. I suggest you seek out some community (either online or in-person). You can join a church (or other house of worship), go to a group at a local library, join some Facebook groups, etc.” (Erica)
  • “Find some hobbies you enjoy. They can be as low-key as crocheting or something more active, like taking dance classes.” (Erica)
  • Follow Through. Make the appointments you need to make; check ups, specialist visits, therapy, testing… all of it. Refill your prescriptions. Don’t talk yourself out of doing these things because you feel discouraged or, on the other hand, if you feel like your symptoms aren’t bad enough to warrant things like this. I’m admittedly horrible about this. I say to myself all the time, ‘Well I haven’t had any pain in a little while. I probably don’t need that follow-up appointment’, and then, sure enough, the pain comes back. If your condition is chronic in nature consistency is key.” (Kaitlyn)
  • Move your body. For those with chronic illness, it may be as simple as sitting up in bed and breathing deeply.” (Kafi)
  • “Invest in a quality reusable heat pad. I got one from Walgreens for about $15 and it does wonders. Mine is electric but there are also aromatherapy ones that go in the microwave.  Try to find one that’s easy to clean. The one I got has a cloth cover that I just toss in the washing machine. In a pinch, soak a wet wash cloth or small towel in hot water and put it over whatever parts of your body are sore. Great for menstrual cramps too!” (Kaitlyn)
  • Think of all the tremendous things your body is doing right instead of beating yourself up for the things that aren’t working so well. Focusing on the positive things and expressing gratitude (even if it’s just in your head) changes your entire perspective and boosts your mood. Yoga is an excellent tool to grow this skill (plus it’s a gentle way to exercise). There are tons of guided meditations or even hypnosis videos on YouTube that focus on body positivity. Even if they aren’t specifically for your illness, they can be helpful to cultivate an optimistic attitude about your body.” (Kaitlyn)
  • “Drink water/Take a bath.. It seems simple but, when you’re dehydrated it’s difficult for your body to heal or even maintain your new normal.  A healing bath has given respite even when my pain levels were off the charts.” (Kafi)
  • Don’t keep friends who don’t listen to your needs/limitations or try to able-splain you.  No one has time for bad friends.  Let them go.” (Currie Lee)
  • “Remember that self-care is an important investment. This investment requires time, money, and energy. Allow yourself to invest in self-care.” (Erica)

Now that you know what self-care is, what will YOUR Sundays (or whatever other day works for you) look like? Tell me in the comments!

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Finding the funny in chronic illness

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: Finding the funny in chronic illness

Who’s with me on this?

Sometimes it seems as if there is absolutely nothing funny about battling a chronic illness. But there is. Really. I actually have an entire Pinterest board devoted to chronic illness humor.

I think it’s important we acknowledge the ridiculousness of our lives. Hopefully then we can cope with all the conflicting feelings we’re bombarded with every day.

Another truth, huh? Who doesn’t overdo it when you’re feeling well? Who’s not trying to compensate for all those days when you can barely get out of bed?

Then there’s the ever-present desire to scream at everyone around you since they don’t understand the living hell you handle day in and day out. How many of us hear about all these so-called miracle cures from (presumably) well-meaning friends and family? How many of us deal with a lot of “get well soon!” wishes? Apparently the word “chronic” isn’t as easy to understand as we think it is…

And sometimes it doesn’t get better…though a venti Frappucino from Starbucks, complete with two or three shots of espresso added do help a little. A very little…

You know, we should all applaud each other more. If you haven’t heard it lately, you are doing a FABULOUS job. You’re still here, and that makes you fabulous.

For those times when you can’t even. I actually have a t-shirt my mom got me that says, “Nope, not today.” I’ve about worn it out.

A sloth on Ambien? Yeah, that sounds about right…How do you describe yourself?

“I’m so tired, my tired is tired.”
“Enough adulting for today. Naptime!”
“My goal in life? To move enough to prove I’m not dead.”
“I know I’m sick since I go to bed around the same time I used to leave the house to party.”
“I have no clue why I’m out of bed. There’s no reason good enough. Screw it.”
“I need to wash my hair, but I’m too tired to style it afterward.”

How many of these have you thought?

And one last thought for today…

Totally.

For those times when you lock yourself away, there’s Kobo. Did you know my books are on there? Check them out!

GO NATURAL: Indoor plants that clean your air

GO NATURAL: Indoor plants that clean your air

I’ve recently put a bunch of plants around my house. During the first few months post-fibro diagnosis, most of mine died. Being the natural researcher I am, I looked up what plants would be best for my condition. NASA seemed like a reliable source, so I checked out this article. Obviously you’ll notice below there’s information on more than 10 houseplants but it seemed silly to insert more than one graphic. Not all of these are NASA-approved, but they are proven to improve indoor air quality.

Heart Leaf Philodendron

The Heart Leaf Philodendron is a climbing vine that is often best for homes without small pets or children. If eaten, the plant is toxic. However, it is an excellent choice for removing formaldehyde like what is commonly found in particle board. They are relatively easy to care for but again, should be kept high enough that pets and small children cannot access them.

Eucalyptus

The Eucalyptus plant has been used for centuries for all types of ailments. It can be a bit difficult to find in houseplant form but if you can find one, definitely consider adding it to your home. The leaves of the Eucalyptus plant are filled with tannins which can raise healthy fluids in the body’s air passages. Just breathing in the scent of these plants can help to lower congestion problems and ward off colds.

African Violets

African Violets are purple in color which is a health benefit in itself. Gazing at the plant can help to stimulate adrenaline release and can increase the flow of oxygen to the brain which can help you to relax. The plants are small and easy to care for, although they do prefer indirect sunlight. They grow very well in artificial light so they are perfect for those who do not have access to direct sunlight.

Chinese Evergreen

The Chinese Evergreen is very easy to care for and can help to rid your home of a number of air pollutants. It produces tiny red berries that are lovely to look at and can help to remove toxins from the air that are commonly found in chemical based household cleaners. The longer you have the plant, the more toxins it will remove so plan on keeping your Chinese Evergreen for many years for optimal benefits.

Aloe Vera

Many people have Aloe Vera in their homes because of its healing ability. The gel inside the leaves is excellent for helping to heal burns and cuts. Aloe Vera however, is also a great plant to improve your indoor air quality. It is easy to grow (and hard to kill for those of you who do not possess a green thumb) and it helps to keep your home free from benzene which is commonly found in paint and certain chemical cleaners.

Aloe vera is widely known for its healing property, but it is also considered the most effective plant in terms of filtering out hazardous chemicals and toxins in the air. It lets out oxygen during nighttime, something which is not typical for plants, hence leaving you with a fresher and cleaner air for a more restful sleep. It also produces volatile which provides a positive effect on your immune system. By having an aloe vera inside your bedroom, you can expect a good night sleep.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a beautiful plant and one that can improve your indoor air quality by as much as 60 percent. It helps to reduce the levels of mold spores that grow in the home by absorbing those spores through its leaves and them circulating them to the plant’s roots where they are used as food. In bathrooms, the Peace Lily can help to keep shower tiles and curtains free from mildew and the plant can absorb harmful vapors from alcohol and acetone. The peace lily plant has an ability to filter harmful toxins from the air. Apart from it looking exceptional, it also helps in getting rid of any impurities and airborne microbes that could disturb your sleep.

Spider Plant

The spider plant is a commonly found houseplant and is one that is really easy to grow. Within just two days, this plant can remove up to 90 percent of the formaldehyde in your indoor air. The leaves grow quickly and help to absorb harmful substances like mold and other allergens so it is the perfect plant for those who have common dust allergies. Other than formaldehyde, they are also capable of filtering benzene, xylene, and carbon monoxide.

English Ivy

The English Ivy plant is perfect for those who have pets in the home as it can reduce the amount of airborne fecal matter. It can also absorb formaldehyde which is commonly found in some household cleaning products and furniture or carpeting treatments. Studies show that keeping an English Ivy plant on your desk will help to give you better focus because it can also absorb trace amounts of benzene which is a chemical commonly found in office equipment.

The English ivy plant is a leader when it comes to purifying air, it is also a very hardy plant and thrive in shade. All this makes it an excellent choice for bedrooms. Also, it is discovered to help those who suffer from allergy by purifying the air in its surroundings. With the air effectively purified, you are guaranteed to have a more restful sleep.

Boston Fern

Ferns are very popular houseplants and the Boston Fern is one that offers beauty and healthy benefits. These plants act as humidifiers and can help to restore moisture in the air so they are perfect for those who suffer from dry skin and other cold weather problems. They can also help to eliminate traces of formaldehyde and they look beautiful hanging from baskets all around the home. Remember to keep your Boston Fern in direct sunlight and mist the leaves with water regularly.

Rubber Tree

This great low-maintenance plant thrives in dimmer light, and has a nice dark green leaf. Besides the ornamental aspect, rubber tree is considered as an air purifying plant. It’s proved that growing rubber tree indoors is beneficial as it cleanses the formaldehyde.

Diffenbachia

This plant is noteworthy for its very long leaves and tropical looking appearance. Diffenbachia can grow very large, even up to 5-6 feet high, making it a great addition to  any room décor.  This plant is poisonous if eaten so please keep away from children and pets.

Pathos, including golden

Everyone should take particular notice of this houseplant as it not only removes toxins found in the air we are breathing, but can also pull out toxins such as formaldehyde from soft materials in the home such as couches and carpets. As most houseplants do well in pots, Golden Pathos stands apart as a beautiful hanging plant with leaves and stems that grow down in vines.  Just keep in mind that this houseplants enjoys cooler temperatures and low levels of sun.

Snake Plant

This is a great houseplant that requires very little maintenance and low levels of water to thrive. According to NASA, the snake plant is among the 10 best houseplants that help filter the air. It absorbs carbon dioxide while at the same time releases oxygen during nighttime, hence allowing you to achieve deep sleep. Through this process, you can expect a naturally clean and fresh air inside your bedroom.

Jade Plant

This plant has a beautiful look of a succulent plant and is very easy to care for.  It is a very slow growing plant that can live with proper care for many years.  It does thrive in bright sunny areas.

Red-edged Dracena

If you are looking for a little bit of color in your houseplant, then Red-edged Dracena is just what you want!  It is important to keep in mind that this plant can commonly grow up to 15 feet tall so make sure to provide plenty of open space to grow into.

Jasmine

The jasmine plant features lovely little white flowers and a warm intense scent known to induce relaxing qualities ever since the ancient times. Studies have found that Jasmine has sedative properties and can significantly reduce anxiety levels, thus giving a positive impact on sleep quality.

Gardenia

Like the jasmine, gardenia features big white flowers and an intoxicating fragrance that is incomparable– not to mention it also comes with a sedative effect. A study conducted in 2010 has shown that the sweet smell of gardenia flowers has the same effectiveness as that of valium in relaxing the body and brain. So instead of relying on sleeping pills, keeping a gardenia in your bedroom or outside your bedroom window could help you sleep more effectively.

Bamboo Palm

The bamboo palm is great for removing trichloroethylene and benzene, two chemicals which are known to induce respiratory problems, thus a great air purifying plantWith the plant’s excellent filtering property, you can expect a restful sleep when keeping it in your bedroom. It has been awarded a high purifying score of 8.4 in a study conducted by NASA.

Tips to consider when introducing plants in your room

  • Check if they are toxic to the kids and pets inside of your house.
  • Wipe the leaves once a week to make sure the plants can perform their best.
  • Mix your plants with the ones that purify air and the ones that induce deep sleep through their scents.
  • NASA recommends keeping between 15 to 18 air purifying plants in an 1800 sq. ft house, with only a few of them in each bedroom.

 

 

RESOURCES: Chronic Illness Cat, and how he makes us all feel better

RESOURCES: Chronic Illness Cat, and how he makes us all feel better

This might seem like a stupid topic to write a blog post about, but Chronic Illness Cat speaks for so many of us, says things we can’t say…and I wanted to highlight the brilliant, myriad people behind Chronic Illness Cat. Without further ado…

Some of the memes are funny…

Some are heartfelt…

Some just show in concrete terms how sick we are of all this…

What’s your favorite Chronic Illness Cat meme?

 

 

GO NATURAL: How to improve your garden soil

GO NATURAL: How to improve your garden soil

Gardening time is either here or soon to be in your area, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about how to get the best soil for your garden. I know many of us are working with a limited budget but want the best soil we can get. The cheap and easy way to improve your soil is through common kitchen products. I used a wonderful article on Whole Food Home as background research.

3 KITCHEN INGREDIENTS THAT IMPROVE YOUR GARDEN SOIL

EGG SHELLS

  • Rinse out any egg shells you have and allow them to dry for a few days in a bowl on a sunny window sill or by a radiator. When they are dry they crush very easily. This will help them to break down quickly when added to the soil.
  • Crushed eggshells improve drainage and the addition of  the calcium is excellent for promoting plant growth and preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash plants. If you have an old coffee grinder or food processor this will make short work of it.
  • They are also a good deterrent for slugs and snails.  Scatter a generous barrier around any young seedlings to keep the pesky molluscs away. Apparently this is the human equivalent of walking barefoot on broken glass.

COFFEE GROUNDS

  • Coffee grounds can also be added directly to the soil. They act as a general fertiliser, adding organic matter, improving drainage, water retention and soil aeration. As they break down they will continue to add nitrogen which is so good for plant growth.
  • Used coffee grounds will not affect the PH level of your soil unless used in very concentrated amounts. However unused coffee grounds or leftover coffee is always such a wonderful pick-me-up for acid loving plants.
  • Coffee grounds also work very well as a mulch around plants. This keeps earthworms very happy as they seem partial to a little caffeine hit too!
  • Don’t worry if they look a bit mouldy, this is just part of the natural breaking down process and a sign that it’s working.
  • If you’re not a coffee drinker, tea bags are good for the soil too – check out this post!

BANANA SKINS 

  • Adding banana skins is another excellent way to improve your garden soil. They can also be added directly to the ground as long as they are cut up into very small pieces. They’ll break down faster and offer all the micro-organisms in the soil lots more surface area to work their magic.
  • This creates plenty of new organic matter resulting in a light, well drained soil which is full of lovely earthworms. Once the banana skins have broken down they will add a powerful cocktail of nutrients; calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphates, potassium and sodium, all of which help plants to grow well and develop their fruit.

GO NATURAL: What the heck do you use essential oils for?

GO NATURAL: What the heck do you use essential oils for?

I could put up more of these, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, so let’s start small. The information about the benefits of these oils was found on the DoTerra website.

People often ask me which company or companies I use for essential oils. I don’t specifically endorse either company, since I can get in legal trouble for that, but I buy most of my oils from either DoTerra or Young Living. I bought my diffuser on Amazon. I’ve also bought almond, avocado, and grapeseed carrier oils, a set of funnels, roller bottle parts – bottle, roller, top, labels – both for the oils themselves and for the roller bottles after I create my blends, a wooden storage box, and a tool to open an essential oil bottle. It’s not as easy as it looks. 😉

STRESS

Any chronic illness warrior has stress, and that makes our conditions worse. What’s a warrior to do? Besides all the other things we’ve already covered, you can use essential oils to lower your stress.

Rosemary

Primary Benefits

  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Supports healthy respiratory function
  • Helps reduce nervous tension and fatigue

Frankincense

Primary Benefits

  • Supports healthy cellular function
  • Promotes feelings of relaxation
  • Reduces the appearance of skin imperfections

Lemon

Primary Benefits

  • Cleanses and purifies the air and surfaces
  • Naturally cleanses the body and aids in digestion
  • Supports healthy respiratory function
  • Promotes a positive mood

Ylang Ylang

Primary Benefits

  • Provides antioxidant support
  • Promotes appearance of healthy skin and hair
  • Lifts mood while having a calming effect

Cedarwood

Primary Benefits

  • Naturally repels insects
  • Promotes relaxation

Lavender

Primary Benefits

  • Soothes occasional skin irritations
  • Taken internally, Lavender reduces anxious feelings and promotes peaceful sleep
  • Helps ease feelings of tension

Sandalwood

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes healthy looking, smooth skin
  • Reduces the appearance of scars and skin imperfections
  • Enhances mood
  • Frequently used in meditation for its grounding and uplifting properties

Chamomile

Primary Benefits

  • Has a calming effect on the skin, mind, and body
  • Soothes the systems of the body
  • May help support healthy immune system function

SLEEP

Ugh, sleep. An albatross around the neck of everyone battling a chronic illness. We don’t sleep well, we don’t nap well. We’re really, really tired all the time.

Eucalyptus

Primary Benefits

  • Helps to clear the mind
  • Promotes feelings of relaxation
  • Promotes feelings of clear breathing

Chamomile

Primary Benefits

  • Has a calming effect on the skin, mind, and body
  • Soothes the systems of the body
  • May help support healthy immune system function

Lavender

(see above)

WELLNESS

Another huge, all-encompassing topic. The way I look at it, many of these oils we’re discussing today are an overall benefit for those battling chronic illness.

Oh, what a topic.

Eucalyptus

(see above)

Peppermint

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes healthy respiratory function and clear breathing
  • Promotes digestive health
  • Repels bugs naturally

Clove

Primary Benefits

  • Powerful antioxidant properties
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Helps clean teeth and gums

RELAXATION

I’d like more relaxation. I think we all do. There are many things a person can do to try to increase relaxation, but essential oils are one of the easiest, least obstrusive methods. I like cheap (relatively), easy, and unobtrusive. What about you?

Eucalyptus

(see above)

Basil

Primary Benefits

  • Acts as a cooling agent for the skin
  • Promotes mental alertness and lessens anxious feelings when diffused
  • May help to ease monthly feminine discomfort

Clove

(see above)

Geranium

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes the appearance of clear, healthy skin
  • Naturally repels insects
  • Gives hair a vibrant, healthy glow

Mint

(see peppermint, benefits of mint are all similar even with different types)

Orange

Primary Benefits

  • Powerful cleanser and purifying agent
  • Protects against seasonal and environmental threats
  • Provides antioxidants, which are essential to overall health
  • Uplifting to the mind and body

Bergamot

Primary Benefits

  • Calming and soothing aroma
  • Provides skin purifying benefits
  • Frequently used in massage therapy for its calming benefits

Lavender

(see above)

Lemongrass

Primary Benefits

  • Supports healthy digestion when taken in a capsule
  • Combine with a carrier oil for soothing massage
  • Apply diluted after a long run for a refreshing feeling

ENERGY

Oh no, the energy problem! We don’t have enough. Even people who don’t battle chronic illness find themselves looking everywhere for solutions. But for us, it’s crucial to do everything we can to increase our energy levels.

Peppermint

(see above)

Lime

Primary Benefits

  • Supports healthy immune function
  • Positively affects mood with stimulating and refreshing properties
  • Used as an aromatic, topical, and internal cleanser
  • Promotes emotional balance and well-being

Orange

(see above)

Ginger

Primary Benefits

  • May help to support healthy digestion
  • May help to reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion
  • May help reduce occasional nausea

Rosemary

(see above)

Lemon

(see above)

 

RECIPES: Five things to eat when you don’t have energy to cook

RECIPES: Five things to eat when you don’t have energy to cook

There are days we can hardly get out of bed, but we still need to eat, right? How do you handle those days? I have some go-to meals, which I’ll talk about below. I’ve also consulted other chronic illness blogs to find some other recipes. So here we go!

Breakfast:

  1. Here’s one for if you have to be up to get children off to school, so you might as well make yourself some easy breakfast. Break an egg into a pan with some oil, whip around with a whisk or fork until scrambled. Let it start cooking while you grab some pre-cut veggies (yes, they’re more expensive, but these are some of the things we have to do to eat healthy) and cheese, if you want.
    Throw everything into the frying pan and let it cook, moving it around if you want the dish to be more like scrambled eggs than an omelet. If your diet allows wraps, grab one of those, and put it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Remove the egg to a plate and eat. You can also make these into muffin-eggs (eggs in a muffin pan, which you can then freeze).
  2. Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit are really easy to grab out of the kitchen and eat if you like a smaller breakfast. Just be sure you’ve got nuts or something up in your bedroom in case you get hungry a little later.
  3. When you’re feeling good, make muffins. Lots and lots of muffins. Here’s a recipe from a recent post for a blueberry muffin. You can change the fruit if you prefer other berries. Leave maybe a dozen out, put some more in the fridge, and freeze the rest. Lots of Paleo and Whole30-compliant recipes are out there if you’re avoiding white carbs. We use almond flour and flaxseed in ours.

Lunch:

  1. If you’re allowed to eat smoked salmon on whatever diet you follow, you can take that, some avocado, and lemon juice. Put the avocado on the bottom, top with the salmon, and squeeze the lemon juice over all. Eat.
  2. When you have energy, make Mason jar salads. You should be able to keep them in the fridge for a week or two, especially if you get a good seal. I only put the “extras” in these. Then I dump some pre-made greens on a plate and empty the Mason jar contents on top. I keep small containers of salad dressing that don’t need to be refrigerated in my bedroom since I always forget to put on dressing.
  3. Leftovers! I don’t know about you, but I purposely make too much food for dinner. Then the next day I can just toss those leftovers into the toaster oven or the microwave and eat.
  4. Anything prepared, like veggie tray or fruit salad trays. Again, they’re more expensive, but if they’re the only way you get healthy food, you might want to consider spending the money. Other examples of prepared foods are frozen meals (if you choose carefully and sodium intake isn’t a problem for you), cereal (if you can eat grains), and hummus with veggies or crackers (again, if you can eat grains).

Dinner:

  1. The crockpot. What a great invention for chronic illness warriors. I use mine at least a couple of times a week, for just about everything. I’ve done banana bread, turkey breasts, meatloaf, soups, chili, spaghetti sauce, and pretty much every possible chicken recipe possible. Refrigerate or freeze what you don’t eat. My freezer is probably the second most useful cooking apparatus in my house, after the crockpot. Because this post is about eating when you have no energy, I love crockpot recipes since they’re almost always dump and cook.
  2. Takeout. Let’s face it, we sometimes have more energy to go through a drive-thru than we do to stand in the kitchen and make a meal. And you know what? That’s okay. We shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Just try to make smart choices.
  3. Leftovers. Yes, again. They are your friend. Learn them, love them, eat them.
  4. Anything you can get someone else to make for you. Try not to be picky. And thank them.

I’m sure we all have go-to solutions for mealtimes. What are yours?

RECIPE: Paleo blueberry muffins

RECIPE: Paleo blueberry muffins

Cooking Tips:

  • If you prefer you can replace the coconut milk with almond milk or a similar paleo friendly milk.
  • Make sure you beat the liquids together well so they are well combined. If you don’t you may end up with a mixture that doesn’t work very well.
  • It’s important to know that these paleo blueberry muffins or any kind of paleo baking can be very hit and miss. If you’re having trouble getting this recipe to work be sure to check out video above.
  • If you find your muffins are starting to burn on the outside but are still uncooked in the middle. Then you should try covering them in foil. This will help stop them from browning any further whilst allowed the mix to continue to cook.
  • If you can get your hands on any fresh berries, then frozen will work just as well.
  • You should be aware that vanilla essence contains alcohol for those trying to steer clear of anything that is not 100% paleo friendly then I recommend using vanilla bean. Vanilla bean is slightly more expensive but is totally worth the money.

Nutritional Information:

If you’re curious to how many calories that a single muffin has in it then you can find all the information you need below. This information has been calculated using an online tool so it may not be 100% correct. However, it should give you a great indication on whether or not you want to include these delicious muffins in your diet.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 66g
Servings Per Container 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 228 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 22%
Saturated Fat 4.4g 22%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 47mg 16%
Sodium 157mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 22.7g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2.6g 10%
Sugars 10.9g
Protein 5.5g 11%
 
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