As some of you know, I shared a personal post a month ago about post viral fatigue. A lot has changed since then so I’m here with an update, as well as my plan and goals for the future.
After a lot of doctor visits, I eventually got referred privately to see a consultant. I finally got a chance to share all my struggles with no interruptions and a listening ear which was exactly what I needed. I had multiple tests – ultrasound scan on my neck and a lot of blood tests. It ended up being more blood tests as I would have liked since I’m a bit of a “mystery case” as the phlebotomist put it (they can never seem to get blood out of me!). I had 1 on the arm, 2 on the hand and 2 on the foot and they still got nothing! So that was a fun journey of returning to the hospital the day after with my warmest hoodie, a hot chocolate, gloves and some spontaneous jumping around. Got some interesting looks.
Once it was completed, I got all the results back and turns out nothing is wrong. I didn’t really know how to feel at all. I was so relieved there was nothing majorly wrong but I also didn’t have an answer to my problems. I’ve been told by the consultant that it could have been a virus that’s thrown my system completely off, or it could be the result of chronic stress/anxiety that’s manifesting itself in a different way.
The way forward is for me to now tackle my stress/anxiety and live the best possible healthy lifestyle I can, in the hope that my symptoms will fade (which they already are, so that’s progress!).
Here are my goals for 2019/2020!
- EXERCISE MORE
Over the last two years at university, I’ve been exercising through badminton club and the occasional walk around the park/lake. On reflection, this isn’t really enough. Aside from the fact I probably spend most of badminton sitting around chatting and not actually playing, when I do participate in exercise it’s not intense enough, nor is it a good duration. As much as I love badminton, I’m thinking of quitting it this year to focus on other forms of exercise that will be more beneficial (and I don’t want to overcommit myself to both). I’m planning on doing yoga and zumba classes, as well as possibly joining a walking group/club. I’m actually really excited to try something different and I’m feeling positive about the effects it will have on my stress levels.
- DRINK LESS ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE
I say drink less, but to be honest I’m going to try not to drink any at all if I can. Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants which means anxiety/stress feeds off of it. Realistically, if I ever want to reach a consistent stress-free state, I will have to cut out things that will purposefully cause spikes in my progress, so alcohol and caffeine has to go! I think cutting caffeine will be easier since I love chamomile and sleep teas so I will live off of them! In terms of alcohol, I normally only drink it socially anyway, but I’m aiming to avoid clubbing this year because that’s the only time I feel as though I have to drink.
- SCHEDULE IN SELF-CARE
I am the worst person ever at self-care. I spend way too much time working, I get too invested in other people’s problems, and I have a habit of just ignoring how I’m feeling in order to make others feel better. But I’ve decided that now I need to be a little bit selfish, otherwise my health will suffer. I’ve created a list of self-care ideas (which I will probably share with you all sometime) and I’m aiming to complete at least a few of them each week.
- DIVERSIFY MY DIET
In terms of the average uni student, I’d say my diet is pretty good. I eat 3 meals a day, I remember to eat a good portion of fruit/vegetables and almost always buy fresh food. However, I do get into a bad habit of repeating the same meals. To improve my digestion, but also for a little excitement, I’m going to switch around my meals and try some new things, as well as replacing my go-to vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms) with ones I don’t have so often (aubergine, carrot, green beans). I love cooking so this one should be pretty fun!
- USE MY PHONE LESS
Since my phone/social media detox on holiday, I’ve learnt I need to live in the moment more. I’m so much more relaxed this way. I’m going to create more of a distance between myself and my phone and check it less throughout the day (maximum 15 minutes on it). I know there will be times when I break these rules because I can’t instantly change myself, but it’s something to work towards and eventually succeed at.
- PRACTISE DEEP BREATHING
For some reason, I’d got it into my head that deep breathing just wasn’t working for me. My body naturally reacts to it with a faster heart rate and I instantly assume that it’s just making things worse. However, I think this is because I don’t breathe enough; my body is constantly stressed and it’s used to breathing shallowly. The only time I notice my breath is when I’m anxious so it’s no wonder I associate focusing on my breathing with anxiety. To change this, I’m going to focus on my breathing more, regardless of my body’s initial reaction. I’ve found that after 15 minutes or so of breathing, my heart rate does eventually drop. If it doesn’t, I grab a hot cup of chamomile tea instead and that normally does the trick.
I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from all of this is to listen to my body more. I’m starting to notice more and more when my body gets stressed/anxious and instead of ignoring it, I am now doing something about it. It’s easy to feel as though you have no choice but to plow through, but a few minutes out of your day to just breathe, or have an apple, or do yoga, is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
My goal for 2019/2020 is to live a healthier and stress-free lifestyle – what’s yours?
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