Going blue for M.E./CFS

Feeling grateful for M.E./CFS Awareness Day:

Today – 12th May – is M.E./CFS Awareness Day, and as a sufferer of this debilitating condition, I wanted to write a little post.

I’m going to keep this short, as I much prefer to focus my limited energy on being grateful, being mindful and being kind, which is what Make Today Happy is all about.

And to be honest, I’m struggling with very fuzzy brain fog this week and am finding it hard to write and be articulate.

But I do believe it’s important to spread the word, to help raise awareness, to hopefully help more people understand this often misunderstood illness a little bit better.

The theme for this year’s Awareness Day is #GoBlueforME…

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And I couldn’t resist having a little fun with it…

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If you’d like to read more about this condition, here’s a few of my favourite clips and articles which are helping to spread awareness of M.E./CFS:

1. Action for M.E.’s 3 minute awareness raising video which talks about what M.E. is, the challenges people with M.E. face, and the science behind the illness. Watch it here:

2. The Huffington Post wrote a great feature on the ’10 important things people with M.E. want you to know’. Read about it here.

3. Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian talks about his long-term experience of living with M.E./CFS. Watch it here.

4. Anne Brennan writes so eloquently and informatively about what it’s like to have M.E. Read it here.

5. The Guardian asks if CFS is finally being taken seriously. Read about it here.

6. “#MillionsMissing is a movement to raise awareness for M.E., an underfunded and ignored disease. On May 12th, 2017  13 cities in seven countries will demand change. We  ask for increased government funding for research, clinical trials, medical education and public awareness.” Find out more here.

☆♡☆

Bed Yoga

Being grateful for discovering the wonderful world of yummy bed yoga:

I’ve written a few times about how yoga has been a huge part of my life for many years now (see here, here, and here).

When I’m practicing regularly, I feel its amazing benefits on my mind, body and spirit. I feel calmer and more present, I feel stronger and more flexible, my posture is better, my sleep improves, and it makes my heart smile so big.

I’ve also found that regular practice helps ward off my lower back pain. And not hearing a peep from my lower back is a great incentive to keep rolling out the mat alone!

However, one of the most frustrating aspects of this debilitating and rollercoaster of a ride called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – and of that there are many – is that it’s not always possible to practice daily or weekly, or sometimes even monthly.

As this health condition forces me to be pretty much sedentary most of the time, after a while I can feel my lower back pain starting to edge its way back.

So I try to get back on the mat, if it’s possible. But sometimes, actually most of the time, the mere thought of getting up, moving things around so I can fit my yoga mat in my bedroom, and putting on one of my yoga DVDs on makes me feel exhausted before I’ve even started!

And so I push the idea away, and hope my lower back pain goes away soon. But it never does and I usually have to wait until I feel up to a light yoga session.

Thankfully I’ve come to realise that yoga doesn’t have to be a big, long, challenging session. It can also be short and sweet and super gentle.

Especially now I’ve discovered I came across bed yoga.

WooHooooooo!! What a utterly brilliant revelation!

I found it by accident while browsing through youtube for gently yoga sessions, and discovered bed yoga was an actual thing. It’s literally gentle stretching you can do while lying on, or even in, your bed.

How marvellous!

And so I decided to give it a go. No pressure. If it was too much, I’d thank myself for trying and put bed yoga away for another day.

Thankfully, I’m finding the short’n’sweet sessions sublimely gentle and better still, I can usually manage them.

Despite feeling exhausted and wiped out, it feels so good to gently stretch my body before bedtime, easing my back pain and easing me into sleep.

So I’ve decided to try another #YogaEveryDamnDay in May.

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I loved the first one I did about 18 months ago and want to get myself back into a regular practice.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: I give myself permission to skip a day or two or three if I don’t feel well enough.

Not only this gentle practice help keep my sore back at bay, I know that it will keep my spirits high, my mind at peace, and my body nourished as I continue on this healing journey from CFS.

☆♡☆

 

For anyone interested in trying some gentle bed yoga sessions, here are a few I’ve found and enjoyed so far:

1. Bed Yoga by Aroga Yoga (specially created for people living with chronic illnesses and pain)

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2. 10 Minute Gentle Yoga in Bed by Candace (she has quite a few lovely videos)

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3. 10 minute Bed Yoga for Beginners by Sjana Earp (I want her bed cover set!)

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4. Bed Time Yoga to Help You Sleep by Dashama (she always makes me smile and also have a great session for lower back pain)

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5. Bedtime Yoga for Deep Sleep by Siya Yoga (this is really soothing)

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If you find know of or find any different bed yoga sessions, I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below…

Insight Timer

Being mindful by meditating every single day with Insight Timer:

After the unexpected success and utter excitement around my Kindness Advent Calendar throughout December, I realised I needed to spend some quality time re-grounding myself. I have a tendency to live in my head, and really have to work hard to stay in a calm healing state rather than a stressed, or even excitable, state.

And meditation has become so crucial to this process.

I’d been trying to meditate for years and years, but was always quick to give up thinking I couldn’t do it because my monkey mind would just not settle and keep quiet. I thought meditation simply wasn’t for me.

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I finally got into a regular meditation practice when I stayed in an ashram in India for a couple of months and have managed to keep up a regular practice ever since.

And then a year ago, I was introduced to the wonderful Insight Timer app which helps to inspire me to meditate every single day. My practice has grown stronger and stronger and I’m really feeling the benefit.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a really easy-to-use app, where you can choose from one of the thousands of guided meditations by one of the hundreds of meditation teachers from around the world – including Tara Brach, Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, davidji, Vidyamala Burch, Andrew Johnson, Elisha Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Kristin Neff, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sarah Blondin, Thich Nhat Hanh.…

Insight Timer Meditation Teachers

There are themed playlists – including Sleep, Sound Healing, Stress Reduction, Gratitude, Relax, Chanting+Mantras, Kids and Teens – so you can choose a meditation depending on what you need.

Insight Timer playlists

I tend to reach for a meditation depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m needing at that moment, whether it’s sleep, welcoming the morning, stress relief, present moment awareness, letting go, or a burst of positivity. There seems to be a guided meditation for most things really and lengths vary from one minute to over an hour.

Or you can also select the timer if you prefer to meditate in silence or with ambient background music. You can choose to have a beginning, interval and/or ending bells or gongs (I loooove the gong) if you wish.

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The app logs your meditations so you can keep track of what you’ve done and for how long you’ve meditated for.

It also connects you to the other 1.5 million meditators around the world, and if you wish you can become friends, or join a group. And one of my favourite features is seeing who’s been meditating at the same time. There’s something really comforting and quite powerful knowing you’re meditating with thousands of other lovely folk all over the world, even though I’m sitting by myself in my bedroom.

Insight Timer Fellow Meditators

And you can send even them a ‘thank you for meditating with me’ message.

I absolutely love this app and what makes it even more special is their mission: to achieve the equivalent of 10,000 years of meditation.

Insight Timer Mission

Meditating daily really does helps me stay grounded, be in the present moment, and have a calmer and more focused mind.

Of course, it’s not always or often easy. I’ve discovered that some days are harder than others in my quest to quieten my monkey mind, but the simple act of gently bringing my attention back to the present moment can make all the difference to my day and how I’m feeling.

Meditation has become an integral part of my healing tool kit and I honestly can’t imagine a day without it.

☆♡☆

If you’re interested in checking it out, visit: https://insighttimer.com/

Merry Christmas!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

And at this most magical time, I would like to say thank you.

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Thank you for all your support this year, it means so much to me. I’m especially grateful to everyone who subscribes, letting me pop up in your inboxes every now and again.

Thank you for your comments. Reading your kind words always puts a huge smile on my face, boosts my spirits, and inspires me to keep going especially when my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms have flared up and I’m feeling really rubbish.

And last but definitely not least, a HUGE thank you to to everyone who’s joined in with my Kindness Advent Calendar this year and has been spreading a little more kindness throughout December.  You really are AMAZING and I’m so excited that together we are making the world a kinder place.

Wishing you all a wonderfully magical Christmas and a brand new year filled with all that you wish for, and so much more.

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Festive love+hugs, Helen Xxx

 

A warm and grateful heart

Being grateful for receiving kindness from big-hearted folk:

Oh boy, what a month it has been in the life of my Kindness Advent Calendar; it honestly feels like a huge ripple effect of kindness is spreading out all over the world. I’ll write more about this once I’ve got over the shock!

I also would like to acknowledge all the lovely folk who’ve recently signed up to receive my blog posts directly into your inboxes – a huge twinkly, jingle bells of a HELLO to you and I wish I could give you all a great big THANK YOU hug.

Seriously.

But for now, it’s back to today’s post…

All this excitement and activity has unfortunately – well, rather predictably – brought on my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms 🙁

I’ve been feeling utterly wiped out and unable to get out of bed for a few days, and last week I had to switch off from social media for a little while. This frustratingly meant I couldn’t respond to all the amazing blog messages and posts and tweets coming in, of which I’m seriously loving reading each and every one.

But I realised that I needed to be kinder to myself and take the time to rest, recover and recharge – my 3Rs.

And on one day last week, when I was feeling particularly rough and low and sorry for myself, I received a wonderful act of kindness. My folks weren’t home and my mum told that she was expecting a package (cough cough = a little white lie!!) and would I answer the door – which I normally wouldn’t do.

And I’m so glad I did.

Standing at the front door were two lovely staff members from my local Co-op delivering a bag of sweet festive treats.

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You can see from the photo just how rough I was feeling that day, but it was such a magical surprise and I’m deeply grateful for their kindness.

My sleep has also taken a kicking and is being really rubbish, leaving me feeling more fatigued on top of my existing chronic fatigue.

Urgh!

A lovely friend suggested a massage might help, and although it’s way out of my budget, I realised that it was worth a try.

As I was trying to find an affordable practitioner through an online search (a wood-through-the-trees scenario!), I saw that I had a new message on my Facebook community page: spreading a little kindness.

It was from the big-hearted Sue Fisher, a mobile reflexologist who is doing the Kindness Advent Calendar. She saw that I lived in the same neck of the woods, and generously offered me a free session.

Seeing it as a sign, I gratefully accepted and Sue came by the following day.

She explained how she specialises in lymphatic drainage reflexology which has been shown to help people with auto-immune conditions, including CFS.

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[image: In The Zone Reflexology]

It was pure heaven and I’m deeply grateful to Sue for her kindness. I’ve since invested in a further two sessions, and am feeling the benefits as well as it all being rather blissful.

I am so thankful for the kindness I’ve received, although I have to confess I find it so much easier to give kindness than it is to receive. Hmmmm.. a poignant lesson for me to be learning right now.

☆♡☆

Local media love

Being grateful to local media for helping me spread a little more kindness:

I am absolutely astounded by how many people my Kindness Advent Calendar is reaching. In just 11 days, over 220,000 people from 172 countries have visited my blog post… and an incredible 68,000 have already downloaded the calendar.

That’s 68,000 downloads!!!

I’m absolutely blown away, over-the-moon, stunned, overwhelmed, excited, thankful… you name it, I feel it.

But mostly I am deeply heartened at the thought of this huge ripple effect of kindness reaching out all over the world, from Namibia to Nicaragua, Azerbaijan to Antigua, Mauritius to Malaysia, China to Cambodia, Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh to Bermuda, and so many more wonderful countries full of kind-hearted folk.

I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s downloaded the calendar and are joining me spreading a little festive kindness. It’s going to be so much fun.

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I know from my own personal experience how just one small act of kindness can really brighten someone’s day, and also help remind our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours, our children, and people we haven’t yet met, that there is still good in the world.

And there really is LOTS of good in the world.

I’m really grateful to everyone who’s helping me spread the kindness message by sharing my Kindness Advent Calendar. You really are amazing ☆

A big thank to you the Nottingham Post for publishing this article about my kindness mission. A few days after it appeared on the website, the reporter told me that they usually get between 1-2,000 views per article, but the one featuring my Kindness Advent Calendar had received over 10,000 views.

And another big thank you to BBC Radio Nottingham who invited me to have a live chat with the lovely Mark Dennison on their morning show.

Did you hear me say ‘LIVE’ – gulp!

Despite talking ten to the dozen (well, I had a LOT to say!) and dwelling on what I did or didn’t say, I enjoyed our chat and was delighted when Mark said he would join in (and I think it is legally binding Mark 😊). I especially love that after we’d finished, Mark commented how: “…it’s given [him] that warm glow.”

This is what it’s all about.

I’m really excited about starting spreading a little Christmas cheer with you all and would like to invite you to join my Facebook community, Spreading a little kindness, to share our ideas and experiences throughout December.

And if you do post about your kindness acts on Facebook or Twitter (come and say hello: @HelenCGreenUK), please use the hashtag #KindnessAdventCalendar so we can all enjoy this wonderful kindness ripple we are creating.

I’d like to sign off with this rather apt Howard Zinn quote: “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

☆♡☆

ps  If you’d like to read the Nottingham Post article, please click here.

or if you fancy a listen to my chat with Radio Nottingham’s Mark Dennison:

(eeeek!!!)

Alphabet Gratitude: A

Feeling grateful for autumn splendour:

To shake up my daily gratitude journal writing a little, I thought I’d go through the alphabet.  So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

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And while I could sit here all day long coming up with the longest list of A’s to be grateful for – of which there are oh so very many –  I’m choosing the first A that comes into my mind.

And today, that A is autumn.

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Mother Nature’s glorious palette of golds, reds and oranges is a treat for the eyes…

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… the crunch crunch crunching of the leaves underfoot makes my spirits soar…

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… and the craft of leaf rubbing delights my inner child.

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I appreciate how this season’s stunning beauty softens the blow of summer ending. Of course I’m not keen on the colder climate, the shorter days, and the approach of winter, but autumn’s stunning leaf art outshines all the other seasons.

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I just love those glorious blue sky days when the sun illuminates the trees. I especially love my tree, the one I can see from my bed. And on those dark and dreary days when the sun pops out to say hello, I can’t take my eyes off its gorgeous golden glow.

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Thank you autumn, you truly are one of Mother Nature’s best shows.

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I’d also like to give an honourable mention to my altar. Since I spend most of my time in my bedroom, I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to transform a little part of it into my very own personal altar.

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My spiritual space is calming, peaceful and safe; like a warm, comforting embrace. It’s full of beautiful positive energy, with things to lift my spirits and fill my heart: my buddha, candles, cards, singing bowl and chimes, sage smudge stick, and my sleeping cherub, mini Ganesha and Shiva statues.

I could go on and on with A’s I’m grateful for, but I’ll stop right now 🙂

I’d love to hear what ‘A’ you are grateful for today…

☆♡☆

Hello again!

Being grateful to be back!

Hello lovely. It’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. Well, it’s been almost three months, but it feels a lot longer.

After my one year blog-aversary post, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and thought I’d take a break for a week or two. But then I had a big CFS relapse, which turned out to be the biggest crash I’ve had in a long time.

On top of feeling utterly wiped out and physically like I was back at square one, I was feeling disheartened, frustrated and deeply worried that I wasn’t making any progress in my recovery.

So I took the time I needed to rest, recuperate and recharge. And I took the time to sit with my more unhelpful feelings and gently work through them, trusting that when the time was right I would feel brighter and more positive again.

And I’m getting there. Slowly but surely. Turtle Power Style 🐢

Even though I’ve still been writing in my daily gratitude journal, I’ve recently found myself thinking how I’d like to write a blog post about something that’s made me happy that day. But I couldn’t because I hadn’t written that first post back yet.

I’ve been apprehensive about writing this first post because I felt it had to be something special, really special.

So I put it off for a day, and then another, and then another. And here we are.

Isn’t it crazy the amount of pressure we can put on ourselves sometimes?

But today, about half an hour ago, I suddenly realised that my first post in 3 months doesn’t have to be anything special at all. It can be just like all the others: just a little blog post about a little something that’s made me happy today.

And actually, I think that’s pretty special enough.

So here I am, just me, continuing to write about the everyday little things that make me happy. And today I’m happy that I’ve realised this!

Phew, what a relief.

And hooray! I’ve just taken that oh so difficult first step, which is always the hardest isn’t it. And it feels good. It feels really good 😊

☆♡☆

Happy Blog-aversary

Being grateful for one year of maketodayhappy.co.uk:

[WARNING: this extra long blog post contains a LOT of gushing 🙂 ]

Yay! It’s one year today that I posted my first blog post on maketodayhappy.

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I started my life as a blogger sometime last July and have been meaning to check the exact date for a few weeks now. And this morning I woke up with a strong urge to investigate and discovered it was today!

Hooray!! Love how that happens.

I’m sooooooo thankful I decided to write this blog – it has seriously done me the world of good in so many ways.

I set out to see if I could stop my gradual slide into the deep dark cess pit of self-pity and depression as I was plunging further into the complicated and misunderstood world of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And I knew I had to find my happy again.

And fast!

I thought it might be quite a challenging task when I spend most days lying in bed too fatigued to move, too brain fogged to think straight, and too fed up to care!

But I had to try, and I’m so glad I did.

Rather than write about the negative issues my health condition brings, I wanted my blog to be a happy positive place to be – for me and for anyone visiting. So I vowed to focus on finding the happy in the everyday little things, through mindfulness, gratitude and kindness.

And to kick it off, I embarked on my 100 Days of Happy project.

I soon realised there are so many things to be happy about:

☆ Watching the wind rustle through the grand sycamore tree outside my bedroom window, listening to the birds sing their happy tunes, witnessing a magnificent sunrise or sunset. How can you not be happy when you focus on the magnificence of Mother Nature?

☆ Enjoying every single moment I get to spend with my young nephews, even though spending more than half an hour at a time with either – or both of them – wipes me out. To be able to share in their joy and wonder of life, to play mindfully with them, getting lost in their world. I’ve discovered how children are such wonderful teachers of how to live in the present moment.

☆ Focusing on all the little things that I can do rather than the things I cannot. Instead of being grumpy that I can no longer go on a weekend hike, I’m grateful that I can take short soul strolls around my neighbourhood, make friends with local dogs, admire the flowers and the scentalicious rose garden, listen to the babbling brook.

☆ I’m grateful to have found my tribe on Happier. Making like-minded friends from all around the world who always brighten my day, provide unlimited support, and inspire me to keep looking for the happy.

☆ And I’m deeply grateful for the love and support of my family and friends who have continued to be there for me, even if my condition isn’t always easy to understand – which I know can be crazily difficult and I don’t always understand it myself! My mum has been such a superstar, she is my rock and my heart is so full of gratitude for her unwavering love, care and support.

I’m so thankful that I have so much to be grateful for!

I’ve discovered how life-changing it can be to open your eyes to everything we have to be grateful for, even with a debilitating chronic health condition.

In my experience over this past year, I’ve discovered that being mindful and being grateful go hand-in-hand, they are such a powerful duo in our quest for happiness.

And kindness makes it a powerful trio.

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When I decided to start carrying out small acts of kindness, I had no idea what a huge part of my recovery journey it would become:

♡ I love hiding kindness cards around my community for people to come across. I love putting together little goody bags, hoping they bring joy to the recipients. And I love sharing inspirational kindness stories and quotes on my Facebook page ‘spreading little kindness’.

♡ I never imagined how doing one small act of kindness could have such a positive impact on another human being. While doing most of them anonymously, it’s always such a treat to hear from people who’ve found one of my Kindness Cards or Kindness Goody Bags; it really warms my heart and inspires me to keep going (for one emotional example, check out the comment in this blog post).

♡ I never imagined how passionate I would become about spreading kindness, how it has become my mission, and how the local newspaper and radio station would pick up on this mission.

♡ And I never imagined how much of a positive effect doing acts of kindness would have on me. My intention has always been to try and make other people smile, and I honestly didn’t expect to feel as happy as I do when I’m planning and carrying out kindness acts. It’s an unexpected bonus and the old adage that the giver benefits as much as the receiver is very much true in my case.

A lovely friend wisely noted that I’m healing through kindness. And I couldn’t agree more.

And to dear lovely YOU. Thank you so much for visiting and reading my blog. And extra big thanks for your comments, likes and shares. Whether this is your first visit or you’ve come along on this journey with me, I deeply appreciate you.

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It’s always lovely to see you and knowing you’re out there helps to keep me going, especially on the darker days; it’s not all sunshine and sparkles, but it’s all part of life and for that I have learnt to be grateful.

So, here I am, one year on.

I’m truly more mindful, more grateful and more passionate about kindness. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but for now I think I’ll keep on making today happy.

Much love to you,
A happier Helen Xxx

ps I hope you enjoy reading about my journey to make today happy, and if you’ve been inspired in any way to make your today happy too, I’d love to hear from you (in the comments below).

 

Oxygen Energy Therapy

Being ever so grateful for breathing in a little more oxygenated air:

A little while ago a friend asked if I’d like to be a case study for a natural product which is reportedly helping people with a number of conditions including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Of course, I jumped at the chance.

Expecting a new batch of supplements, I was quite surprised to find a small electronic device delivered to my door a few days later.

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And with SoeMac being “the world’s first and only home use Singlet Oxygen Energy therapy device”, I was instantly intrigued and rather excited.

All I had to do was plug it in, switch it on just before I go to sleep, and let it work its magic.

This clever little device – around the size of an external hard drive – works by producing energised oxygen and gently blows it into the air, which you breathe in while you sleep.

It reminded me of how I experienced Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy many years ago, which involved climbing into a chamber and breathing in pure oxygen at an higher than atmospheric pressure.

I remember feeling wonderfully rested, restored and refreshed afterwards and was keen to go back for more sessions, but the high price tag meant that I couldn’t.

So I couldn’t wait to try my very own oxygen therapy machine.

Being lightweight and slender, it easily fits onto my nightstand. It’s recommended that for optimal benefits, to sit the device at a higher level than your bed, so I’ve created a little tower by placing the box it came in on top of my alarm clock.

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Et voila!

Being such a light sleeper, and even more so with my CFS-induced heightened sensitivity to light and noise, I was initially concerned the red light and soft whirring noise would keep me awake. But I simply prop a pillow to block out the light and I’ve got used to the sound – but if it does bother me, I simply pop my earplugs in!

 

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I’ve been using my SoeMac for almost four months now and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the subtle changes I’m experiencing: I’m feeling a little more rested, restored and refreshed.

I feel my quality of sleep has improved; I’m sleeping deeper than before. One of the common symptoms of CFS is awakening from sleep still feeling tired and unrefreshed, no matter how many hours you’ve been asleep.

But now, I often wake up feeling like I’ve had a proper night’s sleep. I feel much better for it and find I have a little more energy for the day ahead.

Of course, I still have the occasional crappy night’s sleep, but my sleep is restful more often than not.

I also feel that my recovery time after a crash or wipe out is lessening. As this means hours or days of complete bedrest, bouncing back even just a little bit quicker is a big deal.

And for that I am very grateful.

As I’m discovering through my own personal recovery journey from CFS, the road to recovery is long and winding, and I’ve still a long way to go. But any improvement in my condition, be it the teensiest weeniest baby step forward, is very welcome and pretty exciting.

And I’m pretty excited.

I have to say, that there are a few other significant factors which I feel are also contributing to my subtle health improvements:

☆ I have recently started private nutritional sessions with the Optimum Health Clinic and a big part of this is being more careful with my diet: I’ve been avoiding sugar, dairy and wheat for over two months now and have increased my protein and ‘good’ fats intake, and am feeling sooooo much better for it
☆ Following recent test results and my practitioner’s recommendations, I have changed my supplements and have added a couple of CFS-related supplements into the mix
☆ And the arrival of lighter-for-longer, warmer days. I am such a sunshine girl and my mood always lifts during the summery months of the year

So while I can’t give SoeMac full credit for my subtle health improvements, I am confident it is having a positive impact and it has become an essential tool in my healing recovery kit.

☆♡☆