Grieving, Healthy Eating, Reviews, Writing
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What this mummy loved in…September

I have entered a season of change and I have felt the almost overwhelming need to look after myself in the last month. In my last personal post I was talking about taking time off to figure out how things will go from here. Things haven’t been as straight forward as I would have needed them to be, as, in spite of being signed off work for a couple of weeks, peace has eluded me. Hubby suffers from what we now know to be SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and instead of being able to rest, I have been worrying constantly last week about him (as his sadness seems to be much worse this year) and the future.

So, my only way to find peace has been to draw on things that have brought me joy in drops this season. Here is a list of things that this stressed out mummy has found comfort in this past month:

  1. Self-care, in the form of Bach flower remedies as drops into my drinking water, a little pampering session (which included a hair wash and blow dry) and time off from my mummy and house duties, which I used for a reflexology session with Action Cancer in Belfast.

009For people who have been through emotional trauma, like we did last year, taking time off for themselves is essential but not always easy, as keeping busy is a very convenient (but long-term, very detrimental to our health) “solution” to grief and emotional pain.

I was introduced to Bach flower remedies and reflexology on the oncology ward, when Georgie was going through his treatment and I have found them both extremely helpful. My body is still extremely tense at times and my mind is usually in overrun, so adding diluted natural remedies into my drinking water daily and taking time once a week to have my feet massaged are simple ways of ensuring that the tension is being managed in gentle yet efficient ways.

2. Healthy diet and exercise

Being a cancer parent sucks as you are forced to live on poor hospital food for months. We were lucky in this way, as we had a dear friend organise weekly food deliveries to our house but still, I do not recall any other time in my life when my body craved chocolate and crap food so much as it did when we were in the hospital with Georgie.

After he passed away, I was put on antidepressants that made me feel totally numb emotionally and increased my appetite. I never seemed to feel satiated and the weight kept piling on and left me feeling even more miserable and more prone to gorge on calorific rubbish.

This summer, I finally managed to wean myself off antidepressants and the desire to look after myself has returned.

In September, I gave myself a challenge and went the whole month without sugar. I saw dramatic changes to my appetite (which has decreased significantly since I do not sugar spike anymore) and my desire to look after myself, exercise and slim down has grown stronger and has been giving me motivation to get out of bed every day.

I started cooking healthier recipes, using Sarah Wilson’s books, cutting down sugar to a minimum and replacing it with healthy fats and protein:

034So, when Blend Bros offered us the opportunity to review their new protein powder sauces, I was certainly very keen to try them out, as the main ingredient is pea protein, highly recommended by Sarah.

025 (2)We did use the powder several times since we received the products, when making simple family meals like spaghetti bolognese or spicy paella rice. Our favourite has been so far the Mexican Pibil Stew as it adds a kick of flavour to any dish. The powders are easy to use, varied in taste(the available versions include British favourites like curry, Thai and Mexican) and a very simple way to add protein to a meal like pasta, for example. They can be used as a warm savoury drink as well, like the Swiss bouillon, and they are by far now my favourite go to protein aid, as I cannot stand the sweet, artificial, highly processed stuff they sell in health stores. With 40 grams of plant protein and 12 grams of sugar(much less than any ready made sauces out there!) per 100 grams, I do hope the sauces will make waves in the health food industry and become a kitchen staple for many households.

3. New care regime

I was introduced this September to beauty boxes and I loved the concept of getting a number of high quality products or sample versions to discover, try and fall in love with!

I tried several, out of greed curiosity and found the Birch Box the most value for money, at £12.95. I have used each and every single product from the September box and found them all wonderful, from the Foot Patrol relaxing cream to Paula’s Choice Skin Perfection liquid.

I got this month’s box in the post on Saturday and I cannot wait to use my Fat Liquid Eyeliner and Beaver Professional Shampoo, which smells absolutely divine!



I also sampled organic female hygiene products, like Organyc, thanks to a review opportunity and enjoyed the feel of luxury and the clear conscience that the cotton used to make them is not in any way harmful to my body! I was very surprised to realise they are actually very affordable and I will definitely try them again, not only for my peace of mind but for comfort also.

0734. Reading and colouring in for relaxation

Before I had Emma and since I was a teenager, reading has been my main way to chillax.

I have started to read again but not at the rate I used to, as I still find it very hard to concentrate and find my mind distracted quite often. This month’s book has been Dear Zari, hidden, heartbreaking stories from women of Afghanistan. I found it fascinating in the light of the refugee crisis in Syria and seeing the striking similarities in political detail which led to the destruction of a beautiful country and culture and the oppression of millions of women.

51oo8uNsNiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I have tried, rather unsuccessfully so far, to make colouring in into a relaxing hobby. As with everything, I find that discipline is required before habit kicks in and I am still not into the habit of giving myself an hour or more to do something that has the potential to calm my mind. I have printed cute and simple autumn and halloween ones which I will try and do with Emma, as she is better than me at staying on task when it comes to colouring in :-).

61fzdLosncL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_What do you do on a regular basis to look after yourself ? Have you tried any of the above products and techniques?


  1. Oana wow- you are doing so much to take care of yourself and this is fantastic. I find that a light box really helps with the SAD, I literally have mine on all day at my desk and it works! You have been through so much and the most important thing is to be gentle with yourself… Peace be with you x

    • Nadine, thank you so much for your comment, it really makes me feel less anxious knowing that SAD can improve and that hubby will enjoy autumn maybe, one day!xx

  2. I love Bach flower remedies, they got me through some stressful days as a teacher and through losing my Mum too. Reading this and nodding as I took SSRIs (anti depressants) for a hormone inbalance and the weight piled on – so frustrating – like you giving up sugar is the only thing that really worked. Loved reading about your self care measures and hope they keep on working for you. I used to struggle with SAD as drama teacher teaching all day in a darkened studio with no windows – being outdoors lots more and Lumie lamps helped.

    • Penny, so relieved I am not the only one to have gone through that vicious circle of pills, weight gain, lethargy and then, more gorging, as a means to self-comfort. I am determined to stay off them pills and your comment encourages me to carry on doing what I have started already! It is actually astonishing to realise how many people are actually affected by SAD in this country!

  3. It’s great that you are making time for yourself. I’ve also gained weight as a side effect of anti ds and am finding it hard to shift. My husband uses rescue remedy and swears by it. I could do with some self care atm and think I’ll look into beauty boxes. I tried a colouring book but my daughter has nicked it!!

  4. What some fantastic things to look back on – I hope you had a good pamper 🙂 I agree with a previous comment as well a light box is a great buy if you have SAD 🙂 x

    • We will definitely look into getting him one, Sarah, he could really do with a boost of happy right now.xx

  5. Well done for getting off antidepressants and staying off sugar – you’re certainly working hard to try and make healthy lifestyle changes but I know it isn’t easy. I’ve benefitted greatly from the support of Action Cancer since Leah died. Through Action Cancer I’ve received complementary therapy, counselling plus Horace & I attended their two day Positive Living Programme for people who had been bereaved – we had an individual Bach Remedy Consultation at that.

  6. Erica Price says

    Some great things to try out. I like the Bach flower remedies. I don’t feel I need too much of them at the moment in my life thankfully, but I always have some rescue remedy on hand.

  7. What a really inspiring post Oana, i so need to look after myself more! glad to hear things are feeling more positive for you lovely x

  8. I am always running around after the kids and forget about myself but have started taking krill oil which has really helped with my joints

  9. Love that you have been taking extra care of yourself this month – some lovely products here – must try out the birchbox – looks fab!

  10. I’m glad that you’ve found some ways to help you feel better after the dreadful time that you’ve had. I keep thinking about cutting out sugar, as I always crave it. My main way of relaxing is walking.

  11. I love Bach things, they are brilliant products aren’t they. So glad they helped you a little through that time. I keep meaning to cut out sugar as I know its so bad. This is such an inspiring post x

  12. A lovely list of self care items. So glad you found things that work for you. Cutting out sugar is a tough one but it’s funny how once you stop you really don’t care about it

  13. I love Bach remedies so much and have used them often in the past, there’s something so comforting about them isn’t there? Good luck with your journey, it sounds like you’re doing everything in your power to get yourself to a better place and it’s working.

  14. So many great options there, I’ve been reading the whole post nodding like a fool! I do very little for myself in terms of relaxation although I do find going for a wander outside with my camera the best tonic. It somehow makes me forget about everything and just enjoy what’s around me 🙂

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