Challenging myself

For a few years now, I have been confined to the house and only went out if I absolutely had to. Lately, though, I have started cycling and going to the gym and have found it has made a difference in how I feel.  Even though I ache the next day, I have noticed that I have a bit more energy than before, so I decided to take on a challenge and visited a climbing wall to do some bouldering and top roping.

Shirley Bouldering 2Oh my goodness, it was SO exhilarating to heave myself to the top of the wall and manage to complete the climb. I am very unfit and overweight so it was indeed a challenge, but I had fun trying out all the different walls.

While climbing, my attention was completely focussed on what I was doing and where I was putting my feet. I had to keep assessing what I could reach and what strength I had to move upwards.  I never noticed my racing mind or troubled thoughts, I never felt the heavy pull of depression.  I felt pleased with myself each time I mastered a new route.

The routes are colour-coded and you have to only use the one colour foot/hand holds.  I was on the black route in this photo.

Once I had mastered the smaller walls, I just had to go for the ultimate challenge and climb the big wall. I think it was 30 feet high. (just a small one apparently!).

This was my chance to really push myself out of my comfort zone and experience the feeling of success. I can’t begin to tell you how good it was for my mental wellbeing. I was on top of the world and the feeling of satisfaction and joy stayed with me all day!

Today, my arms ache and my legs are stiff, but it was totally worth it.  If you are thinking about doing an activity to push yourself, even just a little bit, I totally recommend it – I still feel energised and pleased with myself today!  Go for it 🙂

Me on a climbing wall about 20 feet up
I made it all the way to the top following the green route!

 

 

Caffeine Nap

I suffer from extreme daytime sleepiness partly because of a sleep disorder and partly due to my bipolar meds. Because of this, I have trouble staying awake in the afternoons so I tried all sorts; drinking coffee, having naps, getting some fresh air and even had a go at mindfulness, but nothing helped to helped me fight extreme sleepiness. I heard about a caffeine nap so thought I would give it a try.coffee-171653_640

The idea is to drink a cup of coffee or caffeine product quickly, then have a nap immediately afterwards. It sounds contradictory, and initially, made no sense to me, but the science behind it proved otherwise.

The theory is that it takes around 20 minutes for the effects of caffeine to kick in and the recommended time for a power-nap is 20 minutes. Combining the two together means the caffeine is just kicking in at the point of awakening from the nap. The caffeine cancels the groggy feeling often felt when waking. It also prevents us from napping too long, making us feel even worse.

I decided to give it a go. It took a bit to get used to as I would tend to fall deeply asleep for an hour or more and the caffeine wasn’t enough to wake me. I found the best way to deal with it, was to set the alarm for 25 minutes. This allowed me a bit of time to fall asleep and also time for a brief nap to happen.

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I did find myself still groggy upon awakening, though, so I made the coffee stronger. I also stood up and walked around then made myself busy immediately after the nap to get the blood flowing again rather than just sitting for a while. This helped tremendously and I felt refreshed and awake again.

I have been doing the caffeine nap for a while now, and I find I am more alert for hours after the nap and survive until bedtime without needing another nap.

For people who also suffer from extreme sleepiness, it is worth trying.

Painting for Mental Wellbeing

Living with a serious illness sucks, but I have to make the most of it. I am too unwell to work, at least for the foreseeable future anyway; never say never, though. Filling my time, therefore, can be a challenge. I need to try and keep my brain occupied, but have to battle fatigue and concentration problems.

I have taken up painting as a new hobby, but as I can’t afford, or have room for canvas and paints in my tiny little home, I have taken up digital painting on the laptop using Corel Painter 2016. It’s not cheap, but boy, was it worth the money. I am sure I would have spent the equivalent in paints and canvas over time.

What a fantastic piece of software! It has hundreds of brush types in dozens of different mediums. It has taken me months of experimenting to get the hang of it. If you are interested in taking up digital painting, I cannot recommend it enough. Tip – they have regular sales with significant discounts – buy it then!

It is filling a large hole in my time; I spend most of the morning painting. For someone who finds it hard to concentrate on things like books and tv programmes, it is unbelievable how much I can do. On those long sleepless nights, painting is also perfect for relaxing me and taking away the anxiety of not being able to sleep. Charlie Profile Pic 2nd attempt

The feeling of satisfaction when my creation is complete is worth the effort. It has done wonders for my confidence and mental wellbeing. Although I a loving painting landscapes from reference photos, one of my biggest achievements was painting a picture of my cat, Charlie. There is a photo of him on my ‘About’ page for comparison.

If you are thinking about it, go for it! Here are a couple of my landscape efforts:

Sunset River and Trees_bak

Sea View Bushes