Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Quarantine for a Newbie


Hi everyone, so we're now in to the second week of quarantine, some of you may be sailing through it while others are either going stir crazy with boredom or are genuinely struggling to cope.

For someone like me having a chronic illness, my everyday life is like self isolation.  I generally only go out about once a week, sometimes once a fortnight, because going out for the day makes me feel so exhausted and in extra pain.  So as I spend the majority of my life indoors, and because of this I like to find as many things as I can that keep me busy, keep me entertained and things that I enjoy doing because I suffer with depression and anxiety too.  I know, fun!

I also know many of my readers have a lot of the same issues, so I wanted to write a list of ideas to help you beat the boredom and also to try and help if you're struggling mentally too.

So here's my 'How to Stay Sane List' -

1. Keep in touch with people, family and friends - I think this is probably one of the most important ones, it helps you to still feel connected to the outside world and at the moment, as everyone is in the same boat (and for a lot of them it's a new worrying experience), it will help them not to feel so alone.  You can share your tips and ideas to get through the long days and maybe chat about other things in life (ie not just the dreaded virus) to help calm each other and take your mind off the current problems!
One of my favourite ideas is to Skype or video chat with friends that you would normally meet up with.  Why don't you and your friend make a nice drink/food etc, wear something nice and go in a different room to video chat with each other, just as if you were going out to meet them. That way it will feel more 'normal' and make it a bit more fun.

2. Netflix - my absolute saviour on days when I just need to get out of my head-space.  And there is Sooooo much to choose from.  I'll upload a post next week of all my favourite films and shows that I love to watch to give you a few new ideas.

3. Pamper/play with your pets - they will need a lot of comfort just as much as you do, as their routine is going to be very different too.  They will also need something new to occupy their mind and to give them exercise as they won't be able to go out for their regular walks or be able to socialize with other dogs!  Have a look at this RSPCA article, for the latest pet advice, updates and tips on how to best care for your pet while in isolation, as there are some great ideas on there and of course a lot of important information too.  Have a fun play with them and sit and cuddle them, you will both enjoy it and it will be time well spent.  (Currently sat here now trying to type this with a very fidgety poodle on my lap!  But it's lovely.)

4. Pamper yourself - have a relaxing bath, a face mask, paint your nails, do your hair etc, anything to make you feel 'nice'.  Treat it like a spa day!

5. Read - how many times have you started a book and thought I'll finish that one day, now is that day!

6. Get baking - whether you live alone or with family, you can always appreciate some fresh home cooked cookies or cakes, plus it makes the house smell delicious hmmm!  It's times well spent, great do to with kids, and really enjoyable fun, plus you have something tasty to show for your efforts afterwards.

7. Exercise - this is really important even if you just do 5-10 minutes of stretching each day, it makes you feel so much more awake and gives you more energy.  Try doing it twice a day if you feel you need an energy boost.

8. Start a diary - it can be a journal of your thoughts, sometimes writing down how you feel, even a little bit can really help clear your mind and put things in to perspective.
A book of your favourite quotes, I have one of these and I add to it often, because I love quotes and it's also lovely to look through at times when I need a little 'pick me up'.
A gratitude diary, because even though things are not good right now we all still have a lot to be thankful for each day.  Family, friends, pets, good health (if you do), sight, hearing, any little thing in the day that made you smile, it all helps!
Or you could start a bullet journal, there are hundreds of great videos on youtube all about them.  I started one over a year ago for this year and I love just sitting down for half an hour or so and drawing little doodles, it's very relaxing.  I'm planning to film a video for my YT in the next couple of months to show my progress.

9. Start a new hobby or pick up and old one - crafts are THE best way to relax, use your time wisely and you can even make money from them. Anything from painting, drawing, card making, upcycling, etc and you can always get any bits you need ordered online.  Another hobby could be starting a blog, you tube channel, learn an instrument, take an online class (there are free ones around), make a scrap book etc

10. Go in your garden and appreciate nature - for those that can, this is something people are still able to do at the moment, so make the most of it. Feel the sun, get some air, let your dog have a wander and stiff. If you have a small garden close to others I think the government advise not to spend too long outside, but even for a few minutes you can still stand at the back door, catch some rays and listen to the birds!  If you have more of a quiet secluded garden away from others, spend a good bit of time outside when the weather is nice, plant some seeds in pots and make a pretty area in the garden or take a book outside and find a shaded corner to sit and read.

11. Keep a routine - even if you're not at work/school etc, still try and maintain a routine, ie make your bed, get up and go to bed at a good time, eat at the same times etc.

12. Do something you've been putting off/didn't have time to do before, like a DIY project, tidy a cupboard, make something, watch that documentary you've had on your watch list for ages, listen to an album you didn't have time to before, clean the kitchen! etc

13. Put on some of your favourite music and dance!  Music is one of the best things to help make you feel happier, it's a known fact.  And you can turn it in to another fun thing to do, go on Spotify and create a playlist of all your favourite songs to dance to!

14. Write letters/emails to old friends you'd love to get in contact with again or distant family that you haven't been in touch with for a while, check up on them.  Maybe start up a new thing with your best friend of writing to each other regularly like Pen-Friends, like when people used to actually write letters to each other instead of just texting every so often.  Add little homemade gifts or photos in the your notes too.

15. If you live with others, make sure to find time to be on your own, even if it's just 5 minutes.  Sometimes just taking a minute for yourself, especially when several people are all stuck in the house together, all feeling anxious, it can get a bit much and a bit stressful.  So it's really important to take a step away, go in another room, do something on your own for a little while, just have a breather away from each other.  Believe me, it will make all the difference

Finally, and this is just my personal advice; obviously it's important to keep up to date with the latest government guidelines and rules, and to know the extent of the situation.  But, try not to dwell on it all, try not to let your mind wander and worry about possible future problems any more than you have to.  You'll notice I haven't mentioned anything about going on social media.  That's because the current world problems are pretty much all everyone is talking about and at times it's better to try and limit your time spent reading through it all, and have a break away from it.

I hope you find this post helpful and if you can think of any other tips or ideas, please write them in the comments to share with everyone.


Most importantly, Stay Indoors and Stay Safe

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Mental Health - Suicide Awareness


Hi everyone, news of yet another suicide this week has prompted me to write this post, as suicide awareness and mental health is something very close to my heart.
Whether it's celebrities we hear about in the news, close loved ones or if you reading this now are feeling this way, suicide is NEVER the answer!

There is help out there for those that are brave enough to reach out.  But sadly not everyone gets to know about that help, or can find the courage to search for it.  So I feel it is our job and our duty to help spread far more awareness, reach out to those in need and help stop the ignorance that many people still seem to have about this issue.
It amazes me that even now in this day and age, when so many people suffer with depression and anxiety, so little is known about where to get help, that SO many people STILL ignore the signs and the whole subject is still a taboo and something people are ashamed to admit they suffer with!

People NEED to start being kinder to each other!  This world is cruel, unforgiving, selfish and egotistical.  And people are suffering in silence because of it, to the point where they feel they don't even want to live life anymore!  That is so absolutely, truly tragic and saddens me to my very core.  Too many people suffer alone and take their own lives every day, so something has to be done to help them!

I have been on both sides of the scale, I've watched two people I deeply care about suffer with such severe depression, they've tried to take their own lives, several times.  Coping with that is incredibly difficult, worrying and upsetting.  Never quite knowing if you're saying the right thing to help them or if the worst might happen and their attempt will be successful.
And, during bouts of my own severe depression, I have been in that frame of mind myself in the past too.  Being in such a dark place and not having the slightest clue how to get out, it's a very lonely feeling.

While in that vulnerable state recently, I eventually talked to my GP who put me on a waiting list to see a counsellor.  For me with my long term issues, it was bearable but I did find it very hard waiting almost 5 months before I could talk to someone and was basically counting the days!  Also many years ago after a bad breakdown, I asked to see a counsellor then, and was told it was a 12 month waiting list!!  Crazy!

These waiting times are absolutely ridiculous and it's purely because there are just not enough counsellors available in many areas for people to see.  Many GPs aren't equipped enough to deal with the level of mental health issues.  If it hadn't of been for my counsellor (when I finally got to see her) I wouldn't of known about some of the helplines and other mental health therapists that are available to talk to immediately, because my GP never even told me about them!  Again this is not good enough.

Therefore the more people that speak out and ask for help and the more people that speak out to help those in need, the more the NHS will have to listen.  GPs need to be more aware of the needs of sufferers and most importantly, be able to give them some immediate help and guidance so they don't feel so alone and abandoned, just adding their name to some list and left to get on with it!

Here are the contact details I was given and some others that I feel would be of benefit (Uk only) -

Shout helpline (originally called Crisis Text Line) - text 85258 (I highly recommend this one)
Live Fear Free (originally Welsh Womens Aid) - call 0808 80 10 800 (24 hours)
Mind Uk - www.mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm).  Email info@mind.org.uk or text 86483
C.A.L.L. Helpline (Community Advice and Listening Line) - call 0800 107 0900 (Uk) or 0800 132 737 (Wales) or text "Help" and your question to 81066
Samaritans
- call 116 123
Childline - call 0800 1111
You can also visit www.ntw.nhs.uk/selfhelp where you can find loads of various pdf leaflets that cover all kinds of issues from depression to abuse to self harm to bereavement.  You can click to view them or pay a pound per leaflet to download them.  The information is actually quite detailed and there is also a long list of specific helplines etc at the end of each one.

I hope this post helps even just one person out there.  But you (my readers) can help too by please sharing this post or at least sharing the message with those around you to do what you can, to help lift the taboo surrounding mental health and suicide, and help end the silent suffering.


So until next time, be kind

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Learning to Manage Chronic Pain


Hi everyone, over the past 5 weeks I have been attending a Pain Management course, and since I promised a few people, I have written a post all about it to report how it went, what type of things I learnt and if in general I found it helpful.  So here it is -
I have struggled for so many years, feeling very cut off and left alone to cope and manage because all the doctors told me is that I have this condition for life, there is no cure so you're stuck with it.  Learn to manage it, look up tips online, off you go, bye-bye!  And that was it.

I've felt like I'm floundering, just left to pick up the pieces of what's left of my life, just trying to push on through and all the while being in constant pain, exhausted and depressed. I didn't know where to turn, the internet wasn't the best of help because there's just so much online, where do you even start, what is actually the right advice to follow!

In general I am proud of myself, because I struggle every single day trying to get things done and get through the day, sometimes even when I'm in so much pain I'm in tears. But most days I do it, I still push through and I get what I can done!  At least now, after completing this course I have that little bit of extra knowledge and positive thinking behind me, to be able to help me get through life in a little bit of an easier way!
Being able to go on this course has given me that support and understanding I've desperately needed!  It's given me all the answers I've been searching for and more.
  If it wasn't for my councillor (that I see for my depression issues), telling me about the course, I would never have known about it.  As soon as she told me, I said I was definitely interested so she referred me.

I've now learnt how important it is to have people in your life to talk to (friends, family, a nurse or good gp etc) about your health, your emotions and fears, your medications, problems and ways to help solve them and for general support!  Because you should never have to manage alone!

I've learnt how important it is to exercise and stretch!  Even if you're in too much pain to move, which sounds crazy right!  But it's so true. The more you get your body moving, even a little bit each day, the more it will get used to it, strengthen the muscles and help you feel you can move with less pain.  It REALLY does work!

I've started doing my short stretching routine just for 10 minutes every day and it's already made a difference in the last few weeks.  I've learnt that it's ok to just do a little here and there and that things you already do, like housework, walking or playing with the dog etc any movements are classed as part of your 30 - 60 minutes of daily exercise!  It made me feel like I was already achieving something and I hadn't even realised!


I've learnt ways to help plan ahead, not forget important things despite my foggy fibro brain.
I've learnt that it's ok to take pain relief when I start to feel ill rather than waiting until I feel even worse and I'm trying to manage, because I feel guilty about giving in and taking them beforehand.  Because if you wait to take them when you feel even worse they're less likely to work!  So I don't need to feel guilty anymore, plus not only does it seem to help ease my pain better, I find I'm now taking less pain killers than before!

I've learnt that it's ok to feel down and sad but there are so many ways to help deal with it that you can do for yourself, keeping an emotion diary and writing down your feelings, healthy distraction techniques and other ways to turn it around and have a more positive attitude to help feel better!
Breathing and relaxation techniques, mini exercises and even the best ways to help others understand our needs better!


The tutors were completely lovely and so understanding, mainly I think because they had chronic illnesses too. They had all been through it the same as the rest of us attending the class, and they had also taken the course themselves.  It had worked so well for them they had been able to go from bed-bound, severely ill people hardly able to walk to people with lives!!  I think that helped give us all more hope. There were 7 others on the course with me, each of them with very different and difficult conditions but we all agreed how much we had learnt and how much we were all so grateful to be able to do this course.

One of the best things I found for me, was being able to put all their various techniques and ideas into practice in small ways in my daily life, just little changes or added things that have made a huge difference.  Because they taught us in such a way that we could all make the ideas work for our individual needs.  That was definitely a game changer for me and means that I will always be able to keep up with these changes and progress with them to really help me manage my condition in the long term.  Of course I'm not saying it was a cure-all, I will still always have my health issues and will always suffer with being in pain most of the time, but I will ALWAYS be so incredibly grateful for all the help I was given and the information I can now use to help me manage and get through the bad days.

If you suffer from any type of health condition or chronic pain, I cannot urge you enough to go and talk to your gp or health practitioner and ask them about a pain management course. Not all areas have them, but they are becoming increasingly popular and the more people that ask for them, the more chance they will create groups in all areas.
I also highly recommend this book "Self Management for Long-term Health Conditions". This is basically what the course is based around and the tutors constantly referred to it throughout the course. So if you aren't able to get in to a course or you want a head start, go get this book.  It's available to borrow from most libraries and you can purchase them online for as little as £5 from both Amazon and ebay.


I hope this post helped some of you who are in the same position I was and are currently struggling with your health condition.  If you would like any more details about the course or would just like to talk to me, please feel free to contact me via email (crystalsparklydreams@hotmail.co.uk), IG chat (@CrystalSparklyDreams) or DM me on Twitter (DaniJ72), and I will try and help in any way I can.


So until next time, Stay Positive


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Friday, 22 November 2019

Birthday Giveaway Winner Announcement


Hi everyone, it's time to announce the winner of my 6th blog birthday giveaway.  So without further ado, HUGE congratulations to (drum roll please) . . . Jessica Connely.
You are now the proud owner of the gorgeous Urban Decay Reloaded eyeshadow palette :-)

I will also let the winner know on the various social media's and I will notify you when I have posted the palette.  Congrats and enjoy!

Don't forget I will also be running a Christmas giveaway, be sure to look out for that and until next time, Stay Happy

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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

6th Blog Birthday & Giveaway


Hi everyone, I'm not going to make the big song and dance about my blog birthday that I normally would, because let's face it my uploads have pretty much been all over the place this past year or so and very inconsistent, and I do feel really bad about it, I'm so sorry!
But that said, of course I still want to mark the occasion, because I still very much love my little blog (psst, this is also my 200th post!).  And as always I want to give a little something back to you guys.
So for my Blogs 6th Birthday, I am giving away the gorgeous new Urban Decay Naked Reloaded eyeshadow palette!


You know how much I love Urban Decay's products; they are all cruelty free and absolutely amazing quality, I swear by them and I know many of my readers love them too.  Of course we were all deeply saddened by the loss of UD's famous Naked palette but as you can see from some of the shades and similar names, this palette seems to offer us many of our old loved favourites from the original palette.  As always, I thought this would make an ideal gift for one of my lucky readers or why not try and win it for someone else you know would love it!  I've also ordered one for myself and I can't wait for it to arrive.



You know the drill by now - to enter use the Rafflecoper widget below and the giveaway will last for 2 weeks from today.  Please read all the T&Cs below and I can't wait to read your answers to my question.  Good luck :-)

The Rules:
©    To be in with a chance of winning my 'Blog Birthday Urban Decay Reloaded Giveaway', enter via the Rafflecopter widget
©    Please make sure you leave your first name and email address or twitter name in the comments, so that I can contact you if you win
©    There will be only one winner
©    This giveaway is open internationally
©    You must complete all 3 mandatory entries before you can access any of the extra entry options
©    This giveaway will run for 14 days from Tuesday the 5th of November 2019 until Tuesday the 19th of November 2019, 12.00am gmt
©    Once the giveaway is over, I will contact the winner directly via email or Twitter, once the winner has been contacted they will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be selected.

Until next time, stay happy, thank you for entering and good luck

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