The power of our thoughts…

The brain is an amazing organ and has a lot to answer for, I would love to be clever enough to be able to fully understand how our brains work and how our thoughts truly impact our physical and emotional health and well-being.

I guess on a day-to-day basis thinking about how powerful our thoughts are isn’t something we usually think about, but it occurred to me a few days ago when I had some physical sensations how our body reacts to situations and our body can be trying to tell us things that we aren’t always aware of.

For example, I will never know if my thoughts had any impact on conceiving my two daughters, however, I believe that my thoughts may well have helped. I’m not saying I believe everything to do with the power of thought, but I am open to the idea. I did a lot of research when going through fertility treatment and came across sights that talked about visualising each stage of the pregnancy right from not being pregnant, to trying to get pregnant, to being pregnant etc. I suppose because I didn’t know a lot about what happens during these stages (other than the basics) I watched a lot of YouTube videos which fascinated me.

This led me to thinking about and visualising every step of my journey. When I was injecting myself with hormones, I would imagine my eggs getting bigger and after insemination up until I found out I was pregnant I would imagine what was happening if it was successful. I watched videos of every stage as if it were happening to help me visualise it. Then because I got pregnant first-time round, when I wanted to try a second time, I knew that I had to do everything exactly the same in order to try and give myself the best chance of becoming pregnant again.

Whether it was coincidence or not, no one will ever be able to tell me, but I got pregnant again on the first try and I remember the clinic being almost shocked my this. They told me they hadn’t ever had a patient who had been successful on their first attempt two times in a row.

Now, just as our thoughts may be able to help with something, they can also be rather mean! This is when our ‘bad duck’ is at play and can give us horrible thoughts, or make us feel physically ill etc. I have learned over the past couple of years to take charge of my thoughts (this is not always easy and there are times when bad duck still wins) and I challenge my thoughts. When I first went for counselling a couple of years ago, I was suffering with bad health anxiety and my counsellor highlighted that when we become fixated on something it becomes exacerbated.

I was told that it I imagine that my toe is really hurting and keep thinking about it hurting, it will eventually hurt, and it is true! This is both quite a scary thought (at how clever and powerful the brain is) but it was also empowering in a way as it highlighted that just because we feel something such as pain, it doesn’t always mean that feeling is genuine.

This then led to me trying to learn different techniques of how to distract my thoughts or break the vicious cycle. Again, there isn’t a guaranteed fix when it comes to our thoughts which can be disheartening or frustrating at times. When we have a physical problem such as a broken leg it is put in a cast, and we know that it should be mended in a few weeks’ time but with mental health its not as simple as this.

Unfortunately, quite often when it comes to mental health people do not either realise how bad things have got or by the time, they do it can take longer to ‘fix’. This is partly due to the stigma attached to mental health, the lifestyle most people lead in Western society and the stiff upper lip attitude and the NHS whereby there are limited services and huge waiting lists.

I truly believe that we need to be taught about our mental health from an early age and how to look after it, just like we are taught to brush our teeth to prevent cavities etc.

There is nothing wrong with admitting that we need to take time for ourselves, and we shouldn’t have to justify this to ourselves or others. Looking after ourselves will look different for everybody, it could be having a bath, going for a drive, reading a book, going for a walk, breathing techniques, baking, archery, meeting up with friends.

The list is endless, but whatever it is that helps keep you ‘you’ is incredibly important.

…..In fact, probably more important than a lot of us realise.

Ration Challenge … Day 6!

Day 6 of the Ration Challenge is complete! I only have one more day to go! I can do this! (I keep telling myself this!).

Another restless night…I did not expect to ache like this from doing the challenge, all I expected was to feel hungry and hangry. I hope my legs will soon recover but it is a small price to pay as I know my life can return to normal on Monday.

Whilst I was tossing and turning in my sleep what struck me was how positive refugees seem to be from the stories I have read. Imagine if you woke up one day to find you had lost your home, you had to leave the place you called home including your job, your friends and family to live in a camp with no money and barely any food to live off. No internet, no TV, no phone, no car, no luxuries, no relaxing bath, no shower, no pampering, no meals out, no shopping trips…instead literally just the clothes on your back. Imagine how you would feel…. I imagine we would feel pretty awful…yet when I read refugees stories, they are smiling in all the photos, and they radiate positivity and are incredibly grateful.

One woman fled Syria with her children and although she is now safe, she has no ability to earn an income therefore she is reliant on rations, but their rations are constantly being reduced so they no longer have breakfast. She talks about how she lived in prosperity and dignity in Syria before the war and now she feels powerless. Yet she remains positive and determined to help other refugees and so she educates and powers other women with love and a smile. What an inspiring woman!

Another woman talks about her memories of life before she became a refugee and what she remembers most was laughter. Now she cannot afford medical care when her children get sick which breaks her heart, and she feels she is unable to care for her children. We are incredibly lucky to have the NHS as that would never happen…your children mean everything, and I know that my children come first, and I would literally do anything for them. I cannot imagine the pain and helplessness she must feel which breaks my heart. Yet everyday she makes sure that they sit down as a family to eat dinner together from the rations she is given.

When I first opened my recipe book which came with my rations, I was surprised with how many recipes there were using a limited amount of rice, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, flour, and oil. Refugees have come up with some of these recipes which is inspiring that out of so little they have thought of different ways to use these ingredients.

I had to choose which recipes to have during this week as I didn’t have enough ingredients to make them all, but I could have also made falafel, crepes, kidney bean dip, mujadara (a lentil and rice dish), rice with milk, fasoulia (like a kidney bean broth/stew), fish cakes (rice, kidney beans and sardines), focaccia, rice crackers, kidney bean rolls and pizza (flatbread with kidney beans and sardines).

I take my hat off to them for having such little variety of ingredients and such small quantities yet making all these different recipes!

I have found the recipes I have tried to be quite tasteless but being able to add salt or a vegetable such as onion, makes a massive difference.

I chose to use my chickpeas to make hummus which admittedly tastes different to the hummus we buy from the supermarket as the shop bought one also contains sesame seed paste, lemon juice and garlic puree. However, I would consider making it again but with chickpeas in a can as it took a long time to make from dried chickpeas.

I have to admit that I do not have a desire to go to Jordan (where a lot of refugees live), however part of me would like to go and see the refugees although I imagine I would find it upsetting as well as humbling. I have had times when I have struggled to afford enough food, but I have always been able to feed my children. It is hard to feel positive when you are struggling yet we have so much help and support available to us…. I am in awe of refugees, and I am so grateful that thanks to everyone’s donations I will be able to help them.

L.O.S.T Mum • Ration Challenge UK 2021