Tag Archives: stress

Top 5 Tips About Turning 40

40When I turned 40, I wasn’t vaguely bothered by the fact I was turning 40. After all, it’s just a number.

But, a lot of people I knew were significantly bothered about leaving their 30s behind. They got depressed, went into denial, all kinds of things.

Why?

It’s not a death knell to having fun and experiencing life. After all doesn’t the saying go “life begins at 40”, and nowadays 40 is the new 30.

In the 16th century average life expectancy fluctuated between 30 and 40 and didn’t actually rise above 40 until mid-19th century

Even in 1905 the average life expectancy was just over 49 years.

So you could say that back then reaching 40 was an achievement and considered pretty old.

Today though, average life expectancy is a lot higher, so why is there still this stigma attached to turning 40?

That aside, here are the top 5 tips I learned as I climbed over the hurdle:

Tip 5 – Watch your weight (aka Middle Age Spread)

You know when you were younger, you could polish off pretty much anything you fancied food-wise and have room for more with no fear that your jeans wouldn’t fit the next day?

Middle-age spread is not a myth.

I’ve always been fairly obsessive of my weight as you know, but when I hit 40 those few pounds I put on were not quite so easy to shift.

In fact, 2 years ago I was probably the heaviest I have been for over 20 years. I mean a lot of people probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I did. My jeans started to feel a little too tight – and this is coming from the girl who always buys a pair of jeans 2 sizes to big to start with – and I just felt uncomfortable.

Nothing I did seemed to shift the weight.

In the end I radically adjusted my diet. I gave up sugar, completely, for about 3 months and the weight fell of. Then I gradually started introducing the sugar again, and when I felt a bit heavy, cut it out.

And I started exercising more. Nothing ridiculous like 5 hours at a gym every day. No. I found some fab workout DVDs which I could do at home – and yes I know you need the willpower to make yourself do it – but they were 10 minute workouts. If I had enough time to take out to make a cup of tea, I had enough time whilst the kettle was boiling to do a 10 minute workout.

2 years down the line I feel healthier than ever. It is now part of my daily routine to exercise and if I want a piece of cake I will have it, but just cut down on the sugar for the next couple of days.

So, don’t forget to watch your weight.

Tip 4.  Mid-Life Crisis

I guess, turning 40 does make you ponder about your life; what you’ve done, what you regret doing, what you regret not doing, what you feel you should have done, what you feel life is all about.

Of course, the answer to that one is 42!

Hitting 40 does whack you with a reality check that life is passing you by.

Some people go out and buy a sports car, others just inwardly panic.

After all you’ve had 40 years on the planet and what have you done?

I haven’t really done much with my life, to be honest. For sure, I went to  university and got a degree. I didn’t use it. I sort of fell into the IT world (and was part of the gig economy before it was the ‘in’ thing to do), went to drama school because I’d always wanted to give it a shot, had a baby (not exactly how it was supposed to be) and kind of floundered.

I don’t regret a thing. After all I would be in the same place I am now even if things had been different. It’s all down to the choices you make, and I’ve been too scared to do anything most of my life.

But when I hit 40, that was when I started rediscovering me and rebuilding myself.

So rather than a mid-life crisis, I had a mid-life re-birth.

Tip 3. Bloody Hormones

Yup, when you reach 40 those old hormones start wreaking havoc.

For us women we have “the change” to look forward too.

Although the average age for the menopause is about 51, it’s actually more about the ‘peri’. This is the transitional phase between the regular, normal monthly gubbins we’ve been used to for oh so many years and them stopping. Perimenopause can last between 4 and 8 years and normally starts in your mid-40s, but can start earlier!!

To be honest, the symptoms of the ‘peri’ are pretty much the same as the real thing, so once you start the ‘peri’ the end is in sight, so to speak.

But don’t think men have it easy. Yes, our estrogen levels may experience a sudden drop in our 40s, but for men their testosterone is on the decline by 1% a year from the age of 30.

So we may get night sweats, hot flushes and soreness in various areas, but men get to join us in the depression, mood swings, decreased libido and weight gain.

So do we all need to go onto HRT?

No!

The simple things, apparently are to make sure you get enough sleep, watch your weight (see Tip 5), exercise and try not to get too stressed.

Tip 2. Go With The Flow

Let’s face it, we can’t stop time. If we could we would all stop the clock at the most amazing points in our life, wouldn’t we?

Yes, we’re going to get wrinkles, begin to go grey or bald (if we haven’t started already), our joints will start creaking and bits of us might stop working properly.

BUT that’s just life.

Just embrace it.

I’m not saying let yourself go, of course not, we’re turning only turning 40. We still want to feel good and more importantly feel alive.

So take the vitamins, buy the anti-ageing stuff (although personally egg-white face masks and olive oil are a wonder), colour your hair, buy a toupee, anything o ensure you still feel good about yourself.

BUT.

We can’t, and shouldn’t want to compete with the 20-somethings.

We have something they don’t possess yet, experience and maybe, just maybe a little bit of wisdom.

Tip 1. Don’t Panic, Just Jump In

Turning 40 does not mean it’s time for the twinset and pearls or pipe and slippers. Definitely not!

It’s time for adventure.

After all, in your 20s you couldn’t afford it, in your 70s you might be too old to enjoy it, so isn’t your 40s the perfect time to start something new and enjoy an adventure or 2?

When I turned 40 I wrote of list of 40 things to do in my 40s – and yes, there are a couple of gaps at the bottom to which I am still open to suggestions. Some of the them are stupid, silly and inconsequential. But they are just things I’ve always wanted to be able to do.

It’s fun trying to think of what to put on there, and even more fun when you do them. I know I haven’t done many of them, but I am confident that I can, and will, get another 10 done this year, at least.

 

The most important thing I have learned is that life is mostly about experiences not things. Things are just stuff, whereas experiences stay in the memory for ever and are priceless.

So, don’t panic about turning 40. It’s easy. Just take a breath, jump right in and enjoy it 😉

 

 

 

 

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Going under the knife!

Well not so much knife – as key-hole exploration and extraction.

Following last Friday’s un-anaesthetised, pain searing biopsy down under, my doctor referred me for a scan.

The scan revealed no obvious nasties lurking in places where they should not be – but did reveal a simple ovarian cyst and a fibroid (possible cause of the ‘just over a month’ long bleeding)

This was then referred to the gynaecologist, who I saw today.

Lovely lady, who is actually the first person to suggest I have a blood test as it probably is all hormonally induced (bloody things), and is going to prod, poke and remove all things that shouldn’t be there – this time thankfully I get to be asleep. (Not that that thought doesn’t fill me with a sense of panic and stress – don’t like hospitals)

I got my paperwork for next week, whilst waiting for my blood test, and rather than worrying about what was going to be done, my immediate reaction was “I can’t stay in hospital overnight! I’ve got SC to look after!”

OK, I’m a totally sad person, in so far as I have never spent a night away from SC. Even when I have been on training courses, I have always got home and driven back the following day rather than stay away.

After speaking to the doctor, I will be able to be sent home as soon as she gives me the all-clear – general alertness after sleepiness I suspect, and pain level – and after a 6pm operation I reckon I can still make it home before 11pm and all the party-goers on a Friday night 😉

I’d better be – I’ve got a charity night to run on Saturday night!

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Can you believe I’ve stopped ….

… drinking tea!!!!!!tea

The unthinkable has happened.

Even though I was only drinking de-caff tea, I loved my cuppa.

With a cup of tea in my hands, all was right with the world 😉

However, after last Friday (Bloody Hormones – Part 5), I have stopped. No withdrawal method, just completely stopped.

And do you know something?

I don’t actually miss my tea. I thought I would, but I don’t.

The reason?

Is simple. Stress does a lot of things and can divert the liver’s attention away from it’s proper job. So I’m trying to detox and cleanse my liver. And one of the first things to go was my brew!

I’ve been starting the day with lemon juice and water – and it’s not as gross as it sounds. Quite refreshing really. And then just drinking water throughout to start flushing the toxins out.

Over the last week, I’ve actually noticed an improvement in my tiredness (or rather lack of it – believe me I’m still exhausted when SC wakes me up at 4AM, as he has done the last 2 mornings) and a slight improvement in my totally stressed out skin!

I’m working up to doing a one day total liver cleanse, where I drink some concoction made from cranberry juice and alternate it with water over a 12 hour period. If I can ever find anywhere that sells cranberry juice – neat. Most supermarkets sell a lovely cranberry juice drink, but I don’t need that. Might have to take a little trip to my lovely health shop.

Still, if it’s proved one thing, it’s proved I don’t actually need a cup of tea to function. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that maybe my daily cuppa has stopped me functioning properly for all these years!!!

Just a thought 😉

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Bloody Hormones (Part 4)

Well, they’re at it again.mr spain

The monthly cycle is all over the place. A couple of months normal, then miss, then floodgates, then normal, etc., etc., etc.

And it is most definitely not [whispers] “The Change” – too young, and no other symptoms.

It’s all due to stress!!!!

That was until this month. And when I say this month, I literally mean ALL this month!!!!

I missed one, and then for the last 4 weeks, yes 4, I have been bleeding. Joyous! Rapturous! … NOT! To be fair, it’s not been heavy, and I’ve had no pain, cramps, etc. It’s just extremely annoying.

I eventually managed to see my doctor – after trying unsuccessfully to get an appointment for a fortnight, and then by the miracle of telephone triage an appointment became available that day – hoo-flippin-ray!

Now, I explained to the doctor the history, and I have regulars [whispers again] smears, all clear, and I’ve had no spotting in-between cycles whatsoever – which are obviously things we women have to look out for.

After an exam, she referred me for a colposcopy – which apparently is just a big magnifying glass to look inside to see what is going on. It was then she totally freaked me out when she said “don’t worry, 99% of the time everything is normal”

So now to say that I’m not internally freaking out would be an understatement, and if it is all down to stress – which I suspect it is – then this is doing nothing to help my stress levels.

And what better day to go and have your undercarriage examined than Valentine’s Day!!!

(I’m guessing the consultant is not going to be as hot as the new gynaecologist in Spain that all the ladies are queueing up to see – (see photo) he’s an ex-Mr Spain, sends my temperature rising 😉 )

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Cut and Come Again Cake Recipe

When I need my stress levels reduced…I bake.baking

When I feel stressed, worried, anxious, a bit low, or any combination of these and others I find it helps to bake a cake.

Or in the case of today 3!

Wow!

I have a lot on my mind at the moment!

Anyway – I more than replenished the cake supply, so hopefully there should be no grumblings in this house for a while!

But I digress.

I made a simple fruit cake – called a “Cut and Come Again” cake.

I had had this years ago at a friend’s house and she gave me the recipe which I long since lost, but today I thought I would try something different to cupcakes and managed to find a recipe posted onto Saint Delia Smith’s website by someone – it is not a Delia recipe.

It was seriously easy to make, smells amazing and tastes fab 😉

So, here you go recipe for “Cut and Come Again” cake:

Ingredients

  • 12oz (340g) Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 6oz (170g) Soft Margarine
  • 6oz (170g) Caster Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6oz (170g) Sultanas
  • 4oz (113g) Currants (or chopped nuts if you prefer)
  • 4oz (113g) Raisins
  • 3 tablespoons Milk

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C (Fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
  • Grease and line a 20cm/8inch round cake tin
  • Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl, or food mixer
  • Beat well until thoroughly mixed
  • Pour mixture into tin and level the top
  • Bake for about 1-1¼ hours (until skewer comes out clean)
  • Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off paper and cool on a wire rack.
  • Make a cup of tea and enjoy!

My Findings on Making the Cake

  1. This was a seriously easy cake to make – anyone can do it – from measuring out the ingredients to pouring into the cake tin literally took less than 10 minutes!
  2. I never use Caster Sugar in baking I always use soft brown sugar – only because I believe it is less refined and therefore slightly healthier – big emphasis on the slightly, after all it is still sugar! (I have tried fruit sugar alternative when I made cupcakes, total disaster, but that might work better with this recipe as well)
  3. I mixed all the ingredients, EXCEPT the fruit, first with my electric whisk for about 3/4 minutes, and then I added the fruit and mixed for a further minute – for me this seemed more logical, as you can see that everything has been mixed easier than if you have small dried fruit bits floating about!
  4. I put the cake in for 1 hour initially, then checked with the skewer, then I cooked for a further 5 minutes and the skewer came out clean. Everyone’s ovens are different and I would advise 1 hour first and then 5 minute intervals. For those that don’t know about the skewer test, it is purely to see if the cake is cooked – put a clean skewer into the middle of the cake, down to the bottom – if the skewer comes out with cake mixture on you can see that the mixture is still not quite cooked, if it comes out clean your cake is ready.
  5. This cake tastes extremely good when you are sat down with your feet up and a large mug of tea 😉

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco in my car CD player (SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky 😉

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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Stratospheric Stress Levels

Jeez!Not_Waving_But_Drowning

I seriously didn’t think I could be any more of a stress bunny.

But it seems I can.

I know I think way too much than is necessary and this is always bad for me.

I really thought that once I’d told put the wheels in motion to exit my contract the weight would magically lift off my shoulders.

But no!

I still feel that I’m sinking? No matter what I try to do to scrape my way back up to the surface, it’s never good enough, or doesn’t seem to work!

And all the while I feel more and more stressed and panicky to the point of complete, utter and overwhelming nausea! We don’t even mention what it’s doing to my skin, or my hormones!!!

Literally.

I seriously think even 12 months sitting atop a mountain practising chants would not be enough 😉

Still, ever the optimist the glass is always half full, and the stress is only temporary.

I might feel like I’m drowning at the moment, but soon I’ll be waving again 😉

 

Not Waving but Drowning (Stevie Smith)

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

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