The Importance of Relaxation

I have to admit I’ve always been a stressed out, anxious person. It’s in my nature to worry about everything, and sometimes this worry is completely overwhelming and all-consuming. Coupled with chronic pain, my anxiety can spiral out of control. Being in pain almost constantly is physically exhausting, and can really affect you mentally. When I was younger I acted as if my cerebral palsy and Scheuermann’s didn’t exist. I think this was my ‘coping strategy’, but of course I wasn’t really coping with anything at all, I was just denying the existence of my medical conditions. Since moving to university I’ve recognised this, and during the past year or so I decided I needed to really work out a way of coping with the pain and stress that comes along with chronic medical conditions.

I cannot emphasise how extremely important it is to have rest days and to relax your body and mind if you’re dealing with a health condition such as cerebral palsy. Even if you’re not living with a chronic medical condition, you still need to give yourself time out to truly relax and to forget the worries in your life. When I was younger I thought it was perfectly fine to be completely wiped out from exhaustion after a day shopping, or to be in agonising pain after sitting to eat a meal in a restaurant. Yes, it’s normal for me to be in pain, but my body needs time to recuperate and get back to its normal self. There’s a few ways I do this, and I thought it would be a useful thing to share with you all.

Heat therapy is so relaxing. From a bubbly hot bath, to a hot water bottle and my trusty heat pad, heat therapy is soothing and relaxing for my body. I particularly like the homedics range and I own the shiatsu back massager, shiatsu neck massager and hand held massager with interchangable massaging heads. Below is a link to their products through boots: http://www.boots.com/en/Homedics/

I also love the heat packs that you heat in the microwave. I own a particularly cute one in the shape of a cuddly rabbit! These are relatively cheap compared to the homedics range, and can really help on sore days.

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Having hot baths with some pamper goodies can really help me out, too. The Body Shop stock some gorgeous products and you can always find lots of voucher and discount codes online if you type in ‘body shop codes’ into your search engine. Using high quality pamper goodies doesn’t always have to break the bank, so stock up if there’s a particularly good offer on. Recently my boyfriend purchased £40 worth of products for £20, which is an absolute bargain!

I also love candles. When I’m needing a rest day, I’ll get some reading together and spend the whole day in bed, taking painkillers as and when I need to. Putting a few candles on can really create a lovely soothing atmosphere. I also love my mooncandles, which are flameless and battery operated. You can change the colours of the ‘candles’ using the remote they come with, and they’re really very pretty. I purchased mine from Tesco. You can also purchase them online. I apologise for the picture, but it’s very difficult to capture just how pretty they are on camera!

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Having de-caffeinated drinks is a must when I’m feeling anxious or in a lot of pain. Though I thoroughly enjoy coffee and tea, I find herbal teas are particularly soothing on a stressful, painful day. I love Twinings Camomile and Honey, or the Twinings Peppermint Infusion. I was also introduced to Peanut Hottie at the Hull bloggers meet, and this is becoming a firm favourite. If you’re a fan of peanut butter, I suggest you give it a go!

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For my 21st birthday, I was spoilt rotten by all my wonderful family and friends. My boyfriend did make me a desk top zen garden as one of my gifts, and I’ve found it a really lovely way to relax. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly into the concept of zen or Buddhism, but raking the sand whilst stressed is a great way to relax yourself. Plus, it makes for a very unique object and you can create lovely works of ‘art’ in the sand with a mini rake. Zen gardens are available to purchase ready made online, however my boyfriend made this out of a photo frame. He glued the glass into the frame and turned the frame over. All he had to do then was buy the sand and objects to go into the zen garden, and he let me assemble it myself. It’s such a thoughtful gift, and it’s a true pleasure to own it. For secret Santa, my housemate thoughtfully bought me an oil burner with a selection of essential oils. This is such a fantastic gift for me and the essential oils create a soothing atmosphere in my room. Alongside my zen garden, it creates my very own relaxing space, and it’s really great!

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Buying a bouquet of flowers or a plant for my room instantly brightens up the place and so makes me feel more relaxed. I loved these gorgeous yellow roses. I arranged them in my marmite tea pot, and I thought they looked really lovely.

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I hope I’ve given you some inspiration. Hopefully in no time you’ll have a relaxing place of your very own!

All the best for the rest of the weekend,
Heather

the Balm goodies*

This is a slight departure from my ‘usual’ posts, but when I went to the Hull Bloggers meet I came away with some really amazing goodies and I’d love to share them with you all. I was truly lucky to win an AMAZING bundle of the Balm cosmetics on our raffle, the proceeds of which went to the fabulous Look Good feel Better charity who you can see here:  http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/ .

the Balm goodiesI’ve been using the Balm products for a little over a week now, and having never owned any of the Balm’s products before I’m completely new to them. I have to admit make up serves a few purposes for me. Of course, I love experimenting with new products and styles, but make up is the one thing that can make or break a day for me, especially if I’m struggling and am in a lot of pain. I often find making myself look good helps me to feel my best, and gives me more confidence to face the day regardless of how my body is feeling. I was absolutely shocked to win this prize, and I have been having a lot of fun trying everything out.

First, I’m going to talk about the two eyeshadow palettes I received. I received Balmsai and the Meet Matt(e) Nude. One thing that really stands out about the Balm’s products is their quirky and unique packaging. It’s something I’ve never seen in any other product range and it really brings a smile to your face whilst getting ready in the morning.

Meet Matt(e) and Balmsai

Balmsai is a multi-functional palette, with a mixture of matte and shimmery nude and coloured shades. Each of the shadows are grouped together for ease of use. The mixture of matte and shimmery shades makes for a really versatile palette, and I’ve been finding I’m loving the shimmery shades for the festive season. I haven’t found fault in any of the colours as they’re all highly pigmented and somewhat creamy in consistency, so I don’t have to worry about fall-out all over my cheeks! The addition of the eyeliner and brow stencils means it’s easier to achieve lined eyes and neat eyebrows. This is something that’s quite difficult for me as my hemi hand doesn’t work as well as my other one, so having a stencil enables me to create looks I usually struggle with.

BalmsaiParticular favourites so far are Surfari and Stoked. Theyre perfect for adding a pop of colour into an otherwise natural make up look. As my eyes are greeny/brown, the purple shades seem to complement my eyes really well and I love the sparkle and iridescence in the coloured shades.

BalmsaiMeet Matt(e) Nude is, as you’ve guessed, packed full with gorgeous nude shades that are perfect for an every day look. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a really good nude palette for ages and I’m so glad I have this as it’s everything I’d hoped it would be (and more!)

Meet Matt(e) NudeI also think some of these shades would be suitable for brushing through eyebrows with an angled brush for a bit of definition. Of course all these shades are matte, and like the Balmsai palette, the shadows are somewhat creamy in consistency so don’t tend to fall out after application. I’ve been using my EcoTools brushes to apply these shades and blend them out with my Nanshy blending brush, also a great product from the Hull Bloggers meet.

Nanshy Brush

Next is the selection of blushers and bronzers. The bronzer is Bahama Mama, and it a matte, deep brown shade. It has no shimmer and is great for contouring.

Bahama Mama

Bahama Mama

Next is the blusher Instain, in Houndstooth. This blusher has far more staying power than my usual blushers (Bourjois, Sleek) and is a matte, dark pink. This is great for adding a natural glow to the cheeks and is highly pigmented. I’ve had to be careful whilst applying this as the staying power means you need to make sure you’ve placed it in exactly the right place before blending in.

Instain in Houndstooth

Instain in Houndstooth

Hot Mama is a shimmery, peachy/pink  blusher with gold undertones. It can be used as both a shadow and a blush and adds a lovely glowy, dewy look to the cheeks.

Hot Mama

Hot MamaBelow you can see all three side by side. I am particularly enjoying Bahama Mama as a contouring bronzer, and though it looks really dark in the pan, it’s really good even on my fair skin and doesn’t look at all harsh when blended in well.

Instain, Bahama Mama, Hot MamaInstain, Bahama Mama, Hot Mama

Swatches

Next is the Mary-Lou Manizer, which is a gorgeous, super shimmery highlighter. Again, the Balm’s packaging is so cute, and is really well designed.

Mary-Lou Manizer

Mary Lou Manizer

To compare I’m using my Philosophy Divine Illumination highlighter in light.

Mary-Lou Manizer and Philosophy Divine IlluminationMary Lou Manizer and Philosophy Divine IlluminationThe Mary Lou Manizer is far more shimmery than the Philosophy highlighter, and is great for lightly highlighting the top of your cheek bones and the inner corner of your eyes.

Mary Lou Manzier and PhilosophyNext is the Body Builder What’s Your Type? mascara. The volumizing brush grips every lash. The formula is somewhere in the middle of runny and dry, and so coats every lash in just one coat. It’s great to build volume so you can acheieve either a more natural or more dramatic look depending on your mood.

What's Your TypeWhat's Your TypeSchwing is a liquid eyeliner and is great for creating a retro look. The formula is quick drying and very dark, enabling you to create great definition. The liner itself is very thin, and is fairly easy to use.

SchwingSchwingFinally I’m going to talk to you about the lip products in the bundle. I absolutely love lipstick and lip gloss, so these products were right up my street! The Balm Girls is a cute play on The Bond Girls, and is in the colour Mai Billsbepaid. It is a dark nude colour and very wearable. The bullet of the lipstick is really sleek and pearlescent, and makes the product itself an absolute joy to apply. The lipstick itself is matte in appearance and has great staying power. It stayed on my lips for about 7 hours during the day and only needed the odd touch up.

Balm GirlsThe lip gloss is the Pretty Smart lipgloss in ZAAP! It has a white shimmer in a hot pink base.

Pretty Smart in ZAAP!Though initially it seems really bright, it’s actually very wearable and gives a gorgeous sheen to the lips. It isn’t at all sticky, and has a fruity scent that disappears quickly on application. The doe foot applicator ensures even coverage on the lips. It doesn’t last for ages but I don’t expect lipglosses to have much staying power usually. My lips do feel hydrated after use, which is great in this cold weather!

Pretty Smart in ZAAP!All in all I’m extremely impressed with all the products you’ve seen. As I’ve said above, wearing make up can really enhance my day and I’m so grateful to have some truly wonderful products to use. The Balm has really made my make up bag so much more exciting, and I can’t wait to show you all some looks I’ve created.

I hope you’re having a great Monday!

Heather

The Past Week

I just thought I would give you an update from the past week or so as things have been really hectic and it always feels great to write about everything. It’s definitely cathartic discussing things that have been an issue, and so this is probably going to take on a more personal tone.

It’s been a busy yet wonderful 7 days. Exactly a week ago, I found myself in a room packed full of wonderful blogging folk. We ate cakes, sipped tea, got to try out some brilliant new products and had a generally all round fantastic day. It was really fantastic to meet some new people, and though I’d class myself as a born-again newbie blogger, it was nice to feel somewhat integrated into a community of bloggers. I struck it lucky on the raffles and came home laden with goodies and treats; all of which are jotted down into my blogging schedule to appear over the course of the next seven days. I admit I’ve been somewhat hampered; I cannot seem to access my photos from my SD card, yet on my camera itself it is displaying all the pictures I’ve taken. This is really frustrating, as I had some great things to show you on there. Hopefully I’ll be able to work it out soon, or alternatively I’ll just take some more pictures on a different device and hope for the best! Either way, it’ll buy me a bit more time to really get great use out of the products and hopefully I can provide you with a really useful review of the day itself and the products.

Since it’s the run up to Christmas, there’s been some great events on. I’ve had lovely little nights in with friends, cosied up with a bottle of wine and some festive treats, chatting the night away. I’ve also consumed the obligatory festive mince pie and mulled wine, watched a fair few Christmas films snuggled up in bed with only the light of a candle, and everyday I’ve been eagerly opening each little window of my advent calendar with a small piece of chocolate as a reward for my efforts. This is such a wonderful time of the year and I’m really grateful to all the generous people who are sharing it with me.

University work is beginning to pile up, and this is starting to take it’s toll on me both physically and mentally. I thought I was getting over the last ‘bad pain’ phase, but I fear it’s only just beginning. The most frustrating thing about living with chronic pain isn’t necessarily the pain itself, but the things that come along with it. I am so, so tired recently. All I want to do is sleep and this is becoming a real issue for me. When there’s so much to do (volunteering, studying, essay writing) sleeping for 10-12 hours every night takes a massive chunk out of the day. Yes, I could take painkillers, but these make me sleep anyway, and without them there’s a chance I might feel well enough to power through. I am so excited to get home and to try and have as much of a break as possible. Admittedly this won’t be easy considering I have 11000 words worth of essays due in for January, but at least my family can look after me a little bit and take some of the stress away. Cooking is becoming a real chore, and this is really sad. Cooking is a great stress reliever for me, but feeling this exhausted means I don’t always enjoy it as it completely drains me of any energy. However, I’m hoping that over Christmas I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things. In doing so, I’m aiming to start posts including my favourite recipes and food products. I absolutely LOVE food, and I’d love to share any inspiration with you all as I know how tricky it can sometimes be to come up with something exciting and different whilst working/having a busy day. I love quick, easy to prepare meals, as they’re much easier for me to create when I’m having a bad day, so expect some of these in the near future!

This semester has made me realise I need to stop expecting so much from myself. I definitely need a good break and to look after myself a lot more. Sometimes you need things to go a bit haywire to put things into perspective, and I’m definitely looking at things through different eyes.

I hope you’re enjoying the run up to Christmas whatever you may be doing.

Heather

 

Feeling Human Again

It’s been an extremely busy few weeks and I’ve really struggled to make time for myself, but I’m glad to say I’ve managed to get through it. I’m in third year at university, and whilst I won’t say that I think the content of my course necessarily gets harder, the workload has definitely increased and so I’m spending more and more time trying to get everything done! I had two essays due in this week, one for the Monday and one for the Thursday, so as you can probably guess, I’ve been doing nothing but staring blankly at my computer screen, so blogging was completely out of the question! However, these essays formed the last two assessed pieces of work for this semester, so I’ll be able to gradually get back into a routine in no time.

There are a few posts I’m looking at publishing over the next week or so, and some are a slight departure of what I’ve written previously. Firstly, I was nominated for a Lovely Blog Award a while back, so I’m going to crack on with getting that sorted, which should be great! I’m also going to be involved in a fantastic opportunity tomorrow (and I’m extremely excited about it) because I’m heading to my first ever bloggers meet! It’s going to be a fantastic day, but it don’t want to give away too much so I’m going to post all about it after having met all the lovely, wonderful people who have made it possible and I’ll share with you what we did over the course of the day. It will be such a fabulous end to a hectic week! You can check out what were all tweeting by using #HullBloggers . There’s also a great blogging opportunity at the minute called the ’30 Day Book Challenge’, and since I study English Literature you can probably gather that I really enjoy reading. I’m going to look at starting this over the next week, too, as I think it’s a really great way to see what other people enjoy reading and it may give you some inspiration. Finally, I’m hoping to share with you my tips and techniques to help with keeping stress at bay, either during assessment time, or particularly stressful periods at work and/or home. Because I have to always take into account my cerebral palsy and my back problem during my studies and everyday life, I can end up in a serious amount of pain during busy, stressful periods, so I need to make sure I have the techniques in place to deal with my stresses and worries (which are further magnified by my pain). With greater stress comes greater pain, so I hope I can shed some light on my own de-stressing techniques which you may (or may not, of course) find useful.

So until then, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and take care of yourselves in this chilly weather!

Heather

A Quick Update

This is only going to be a short post, and for that I apologise! It’s probably fair to say that I’m pretty much inundated with university work at the minute and that it isn’t leaving much time for anything else! However, there are a few things I have lined up for when Iv’e handed in my two essays next week.

Firstly, I’ve been meaning to blog about a couple of awards kindly give to me by Jenny over on https://curiousaliceloves.wordpress.com/ , so expect those very shortly! Tjere’s also a few really exciting things going on next week, so be prepared for a post with regards to that very shortly. Secondly, I’m just letting you know that I’ve contributed a small piece for the CP Teens UK website. CP Teens is a great site, set up by the wonderful Ellie, where young people with CP can read stories written by other young people living with the condition. You can also get in contact with some of the ambassadors on the site, and I’m sure it will prove to be a very useful tool for those directly/indirectly living with Cerebral Palsy. I will let you know when my story is up, but in the meantime why don’t you have a look at the page? You can find it here: http://www.cpteensuk.org/ .

Once again, I  do apologise for this post (or, the lack of it!) but I will be back to a more balanced routine by the end of next week (fingers crossed!).

I hope you’re all having a great week!

Heather

And so it begins…

I’ve always been one of those people who have started writing a blog, enjoyed it, then somehow let living my life get in the way of writing it. It’s a similar scenario when it comes to keeping diaries; I say I’ll aim to write a wonderful account in it daily, but then I realise that 1) my life isn’t really hugely exciting, and 2) I find other things to do.

I have tried to fathom out an explanation for my lack of progress many times to no avail, because despite the enjoyment of the blogging itself, I came to the realisation that I’d become disheartened with the whole idea. I never began blogging with the expectation  that I’d draw in plenty of readers from across the globe, (though I did get a fair few followers,) but I just stopped believing that what I was writing was a worthwhile (or even enjoyable) read.

I think the problem was that there was no clear direction for my last blog. It had an incredibly ambiguous and vague direction. If I remember rightly, I labelled the page as a space to talk about my life, which is, in all honesty, nothing more than ordinary. I could probably sum up the generalities (and banalities) of my life in no more than four sentences. I’m no super hero.

What I did find useful and sometimes even therapeutic however, were certain posts I featured on my blog. I live with cerebral palsy, in the form of a mild right-sided, spastic hemiplegia.  I also live with an abnormal increased kyphosis in my thoracic spine, sometimes known as Scheuermann’s disease, which is probably caused by me having cerebral palsy to start off with. These are both life-long conditions. They’re not always easy to deal with. Pain forms a huge part of my everyday life, and coming to terms with my conditions has been an arduous, emotional process. Blogging about my medical conditions helped me to fathom out my feelings towards them, and allowed me to share information with the world that I didn’t usually discuss. It felt good to discuss my feelings surrounding the cerebral palsy, as it’s something people aren’t always aware that I live with, and most importantly for me, those posts provided me with a place where I could be honest with myself. It was hugely cathartic.

In light of this, I decided to start this blog specifically for talking about my disabilities. I hope it will be (at the very least) 1) informative, and 2) as cathartic as previous as attempts.  It would also be fantastic if my silly posts somehow managed to help others in my position, because I know having someone to relate to has made my coming to terms with things a whole lot easier. I’m not going to claim I’ll be updating this daily, because I don’t really know yet, but I will do my best to post whenever I can. It’s a start, and I promise I’ll try.

If you’ve managed to successfully navigate through my (often pointless) ramblings, I applaud you! Before I make this far longer than it has to be, I’ll stop myself right here.

Until next time,

Heather