Learning to embrace alone time …

Ever since I was a little girl, I have hated my own company and being alone. Through my teenage years I would hate being home alone, or walking into town on my own, and I have never been very good at going to do anything alone. I would never sit in a cafe alone, or join a new activity. This has been a common theme throughout my entire life, and whilst I have achieved lots of things, being alone for any amount of time is something I still struggle with. As an adult I don’t like to stay in my house alone, and alone time at night frequently results in sleepless nights. During the days when my husband is working I fill my time with seeing friends, going to the gym and wandering around town etc.

Now, following my cancer diagnosis last year, it gave me lots of time! Being unable to work as much, not being able to go to the gym as much or fill my days with seeing friends and family. It was and still is one of the toughest parts of my diagnosis – alone time literally filled me with dread. Alone with my thoughts, feeling unwell and fatigued does not always lead to healthy mind activity!! What I learnt very quickly was that I was unable to fill all of my time as I wasn’t well enough to engage with filling my time.

So … I have had to learn to be some what ok with spending time by myself. I have established morning a little morning routine, which involves making a coffee, some light yoga and meditation. A huge thank you to the healthy penguin for giving me her e yoga book, which has really transformed my morning yoga practice.

In the summer it’s super easy, I sit in my back garden and breathe in the air. I always use a guided meditation or visualisation as at the moment I find being alone with my thoughts difficult. Headspace and YouTube are great for this. I walk my dog with my headphones plugged in to music/podcasts/audiobooks etc these are some of my most enjoyable alone times. I have recently discovered podcasts and they really have been amazing for me, from Simon Mayo’s confessions and the Mimibee magazine to Oprah’s soul conversations and the guilty feminist. All now have a place in my alone time and help me to embrace the time alone.

I spend much more time reading and journaling, where before I would mindlessly scroll through my phone on social media to pass the time of day. I have read some great books this past year and have rekindled my love for books and all things literature. Chemotherapy really affected my ability to concentrate for any length of time so I have also learned that I can enjoy a wide variety of genres too, perhaps some I wouldn’t have picked up to read before.

I have taken part in meditation days at the Brentwood Buddhist centre, this was a great place and experience where I could take the time to be alone, without actually being alone. I came out of the sessions so much calmer and peaceful with my thoughts.

One of the biggest positives to come out of trying to enjoy alone time and down time is the quality time I spend with my husband. I was so guilty of filing our days off with activities so we can have the best time together, when actually I have learned to love our time at home together and realised how powerful it is to spend the day in our beautiful home together, pottering around and enjoying each other’s company.

I think I will always be at the stage of embracing alone time rather than enjoying it, and as time goes on, I hope to embrace longer amounts of time alone.

Be kind to yourself

Helena x

https://www.brentwoodbuddhistcommunity.com

https://www.mimibee.com

https://m.youtube.com

Www.thehealthypenguin.com

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What is someone with Cancer meant to look like? 

So I am 30 something living with a Cancer diagnosis since April 2018. I currently in active curative treatment, praying super hard that I am going to receive the outcome the medical professionals and everyone around me seem so positive about. 

For over a year, I have been throwing around the idea of starting a blog, with a million ideas of things to write about, never really plucking up the courage to start one, I am not convinced that I want my blog to be about cancer, but since my diagnosis there have been a few things that have really struck a chord with me, and all seem to fit under the same umbrella of wellness. So I thought maybe my first post could be about that, so here goes … 

As I mentioned above I have been living with a cancer diagnosis since April of this year, and when I first got diagnosed I suffered a dramatic weight loss due to anxiety and stress. Now for quite a few years I have been a bit of a health and fitness advocate and spend most free evenings and Saturday mornings throwing myself around in one crazy class or another, whilst at home practising a pretty clean diet. So I was definitely not needing to lose weight, and to look at would have been described as a healthy weight. 

However with this weight loss the compliments came flooding in, how amazing I looked, what was my secret, what training was I doing? So, whilst I was seemingly the most ill I had ever been in my life, everyone around me was telling me how incredible I looked. This really gave me food for thought, about how society links thinness with wellness. I myself probably am guilty of this, being very quick to judge someone stuffing their face with a burger and thinking they probably have eaten one too many… or comparing myself to somebody thinner and leaner than me and thinking I wish I looked that, striving for the perfect bikini body. Now to the world I look like I have the perfect bikini body, even to myself with definition in my stomach that a year ago I would have given my right arm for. When now little did the people around me know, they were paying a body compliments that actually was not in the best shape and had something inside that had the potential to kill me. 

It has really made me think how far society still needs to move forward in our thinking around healthy body image. I am grateful that I am strong enough to realise that thinness doesn’t necessarily mean well and healthy, but how easily if I was in a different headspace, how dangerous these comments could be, and how easily this could lead to a slippery slope of skipping meals, dangerous calorie deficit and over training in the strive for perfection. So for now, I am trying to practice a bit more self-love, recognising how strong my body is, and to be proud of the fact, that I have so far remained healthy through my treatment and trying to shift my mind set on linking my thinness to my wellness. 

The second thing that has really struck a chord with me, was how was I supposed to look whilst living with cancer and going through chemotherapy. Before my diagnosis and from the minute I found out I would need chemotherapy, my mind was plagued with images of bald heads, sunken eyes, pale skin and sick people bedridden for months on end. Very early on I made a promise to myself that I would not be that person, I would do my best to be as glamorous as possible throughout this process and I would do the best I could to not be bedridden and sick. I am so thankful to say that so far I have been very healthy and have been very lucky to not be too badly affected by side effects. That aside I also decided to learn how to do my make up properly, I had a 1 on 1 lesson and invested in lots of the recommended make-up and spent hours upon hours on you tube researching headscarf tutorials, make up tutorials and wig styling tutorials. So loaded with my new make-up bag and hours upon hours of you tube tutorials I was ready to be too glam to give a damn. 

With all my new knowledge put into practice, I again was flooded with compliments about how amazing I looked, comments jokingly remarking I didn’t even look like I had cancer …. To which all of these I have been very flattered by, and have politely said “oh, thank you”. But also has led me to think should I look more ill than this? Am I making too much effort to hide being ill?  What are we all hiding behind our masks and persona? So more food for thought and how easily do we fall into the trap of judging someone as being well by the way they look? 

What I have learnt so far on this journey? Wellness is so much deeper than how I look, it is the support of my ever loving and giving family and friends around me, my active lifestyle and my huge cheering squad at the gym, my extremely understanding work place who have supported me from day one of my diagnosis, an amazing husband who is always there to pick me up when I am down and finally myself, to, how I think about myself, my mind-set for the day and my positive to attitude to life.

Thanks for reading

Helena x

I have added some links below which if you are in the same position as me, you will hopefully find helpful. www.michaelrobertswigs.co.uk

http://www.ljmakeupartist.co.uk

http://www.uniqueresults.co.uk

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E-XRGlclD08

https://www.davidjohnsalon.com

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